Are Modern Games Being Dumbed Down?
Jess McDonell chats to industry heavyweights from Cliff Bleszinski to Team Meat to find out whether games really are being simplified and if so, why?
by Jess McDonell on
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yes!! gears of war has pissed me off making the game for noobs, new players. thats something us gear heads hated sense gears 1 and it seems that they have done nothing but make it worse. i was a die hard gears fan but when gears 2 was such a disappointment i left it so quick. screw retros and sawed offs and all the little other things they made to getting kills easier. its bullshit. yall dnt kno how enthusiastic he made me admitting it on this video cause ive been wanting to tell them that for years. but i dont hold any hatred tored him (even tho my favorite game of all time got blewn out of the water) at the same time a part of him sounded like him and his team had no choice for the reasons he said hollywood/media. i just say screw it. as a hardcore player i my opponent to be challenged just as much as i am.
Edmund was right about Diablo 3. It is definitely stupid, when you leave a gamer to play a game without difficulty options. Maybe I do like to play on easy setting, but there are also numerous gamers that want to play a game on harder levels from the beginning.
As for Cliff saying about dynamic difficulty setting, I'm not in for it. If I don't like the game genre, I will play something else as there are thousands of good games on market. Every game has a core and if you split that core, you've just killed the game instantly.
Bioshock Infinite was numbingly easy on Hard and 1999 mode was the same except the penalty for death was higher. The amount of times you die though is roughly the same, so if you plan ahead you need never have a problem.
Games being difficult has a line. Games shouldn't be difficult for the sake of difficulty. Skyrim, Oblivion, Fallout 3 are not games you play on Legendary difficulty unless you know every aspect of the game from head to toe and know exactly where the best armour is or how to exploit skills to make the most tanked up character possible so it is impossible to die. This is because the difficulty is primitive and the only change is enemies do more damage you do less. That isn't fun, especially not when the game mechanics are so simple that you can't really do anything to vary how you go about situations. You can run it or sneak, but if you are 1:1 with a character there is very little variation. So the only option is like I said to tank yourself up to such high levels that you can survive.
Contrast to Dark Souls. It is hard but the game feels do able. You learn enemies and move sets and actions to overcome an enemy and progress, it isn't a matter of exploiting the game. On the first run through of Dark Souls I got killed by the Drake, probably six hundred times. On my second play through on a new character I killed it first time. I played, I died, I learned, I overcome and I am now a better play because of it.
I still can't get through some caves on Skyrim on Legendary if I don't use the alchemy, enchanting exploit to get 100,000 defence armour, and 50,000 damage swords. So what is the point in having it as an option?
My feelings are mixed on this one. I not a real fan of difficult games, I never play a game for the challenge but the story, the experience and the world it immerses me in. That said I'm not for super-easy gaming, and I think boss fights should be tough, especially the final boss. You really can't beat that feeling of euphoria when you take down the last boss in a game.
However I do have one gripe - game over screens and in particular ones that send you back to your last save. I see no real purpose for this, its as if the game is punishing me (lol) when I'm forced to lose hours of progress. Sure you can shore up against this by saving often, but why should I have to protect myself from a deliberate game mechanic? My reaction to the 'game over' screen is the same as that if my computer crashed and my progress was lost - anger and frustration.
I'd opt instead for being kicked out of the area or having to restart the fight - but not losing your progress i.e. levels, gear etc. I also think the problem of difficulty is so easily solvable by introducing difficulty options which should be the norm whenever possible.
Yes dumbing down bothers me. Batman Arkham City on hardest difficulty felt somewhat weird and not as challenging as Arkham Asylum. For me probably the best game in recent years to offer difficulty, intencity and everything is Alan Wake, therefore it was 10/10 game for me.
Also the new Counter-Strike Global Offensive is just awesome for staying true to Counter-Strike in general.
the classics of the final fantasies had the right model for difficulty and player reward. Oh you could start the story and get through a good deal of it, but finishing the story was still a contingent upon your improvement. If your experience, strength and spells wasnt up to snuff after awhile the random encounters would eat you alive and youd see a lot of story, but youd be left on a cliffhanger moment.
I think there should be more thinking involved in some video games, not in the terms of puzzles, but make everything require you to think, and let you choose your own path.
games are just like movies when they first started making them...innovative, creative, passionate even.....good n smart....but now its all flash and no substance and a bunch of crap....bad n for stupid people
Every aspect of the games from older times and modern days seem to show what the creators seem to think will obviously make the gamers happy. In the end people complain about every new game that comes out. Everybody seeks a flaw in every game to make them better or to bash them. Though I've been a gamer since the game boy has been a block, a game needs a story or a challenge for the average gamer where they managed to barely survive. For hardcore gamers, simply up the difficulty, then you just barely survive. That's what gamers are looking for to express self accomplishment. I appreciate the efforts of every game type but these days I become bored instantly. To keep the gamers happy the industry releases the best story lined games, put all their psychological time into it, satisfy what most are looking for, and create their dream piece. To keep evolving is tough because a game requires a good story, game play you can manage to emerge yourself into, to put our brains right into the game, then satisfy everyone with the ending. I think when you get attached to a character and they die, that makes you feel into the game, progressing from there, but not the main character obviously. People want to see a struggle to learn from or relate to. I really appreciate Dishonored, Prototype series, Halo, Gears, Call of Duty community developed a lot of young people around eleven years old etc. Games also require a great community. So through all of this, will gaming become developed into something better or worse? It all depends on the people as a whole.
Ha!! Its great to hear someone speak about this out in the open. As a Picky Gamer, I Often find myself looking for video games with challenges that leave you feeling satisfied without frustration. The Challenge we seem to face today with the newer games, vs the older ones is the LEARNING CURVE. Games like Fifa by EA have such a high learning curve, that it discourages people like me from wanting to play. Why do i want to spend all of my time learning to lob the ball, when I can do it in real life w/out Effort? Or play something like Lost winds which make Jumping the challenge?? The answer to this issue should be obvious. Providing consumers with games that have a LOW/Simple learning curve should allow casual gamers, and the like to ease into gaming, while leaving the tasks at hand, ie Gameplay to remain the challenge. If the game idea itself is good, and it can be delivered well, it will appeal to BOTH Hardcore and Casual gamers. How do you transition a gamer into the Hardcore realm without making it obvious? As Cliff Mentioned on the Video, in a perfect world there would be a way to appeal to those that enjoy the puzzles, as well as a way to appeal who just like to go in Guns Blazing. It is Possible to create such Systems.
Many new games definitely feel like they are holding your hand for a very long time before letting you go into the world that takes very little thought to survive in. Most of the guys making these games grew up playing those old, challenging games, so how come they are doing this to us?
games are now more expensive and require high budget,I have decent pc and still not play modern game that I can call it challenging game,I hate the level design of modern games,in doom and duke days,you feel like the game never end,lots of level and each one is game by it self, nowaday you can't find complete game,rpg and fps fill the market,I like old psx days,I have big collection and I still play some from times to time in my mobile
yea, either very easy and linear or nonsence hard, and all of them use similler eng, games became sooo repetitive, unlike gamecube and nintendo 64 those were the golden days of games. pc game were diffirent than consoles, games takes houres to finish sometimes days.
Jess McDonell, please do this but for rpgs. It's probably a lot worse for rpgs than any other genres. Just look at the magic system for Baldur's Gate 2 and Dragon Age.
I think it all started back in 2003.... Deus Ex: Invisible War came out simultaneously for PC and Xbox.... What a BIG mistake. On its own it's a good game. As a sequel to what I consider to be one of the best games ever made, it was a huge disappointment. Dumbed down, the RPG elements all but completely removed.
So, to make my answer short, not only are games getting easier (ALOT easier), but the stories are becoming two-dimensional and BORING.
Groundbreaking entertainment is inherently risky and takes substantial investment that just isn't there at the moment. I don't think that it's quite fair to criticize games for dumbing down and not taking as many risks because that is the natural consequence of the economic downturn of the last 4 years. Games aren't as good in a bad economy, but they aren't alone. You'll find the same trend in other forms of entertainment like movies, which seem to be taking less risks these days, or network TV, which certainly has been better than it is now.
Young not quite that young I'm 41, and I review what I write before I post. so if your trying to say that the power of the console has nothing to do with how smart a developer can make there Ai. and I think that's what your trying to say as your post seems to be a little bit schizophrenic. GPU and processing power = how many enemy's can be rendered on screen at any one time and how smart the developer can make them. its that simple. By the time these dirty little consoles are replaced they will be approaching a decade old. that in computer years as far as computational power is concerned relative to the modern pc makes them look like T model fords. Go and calm down and have a cup of tea. Its ok your going to be fine. Or even better go and roll your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 into a dirty big joint and smoke it. It could be a bit harsh on the throat, but it may do you some good. ;-)
I'm 41, and I review what I write before I post. so if your trying to say that the power of the console has nothing to do with how smart a developer can make there Ai. and I think that's what your trying to say as your post seems to be a little bit schizophrenic. GPU and processing power = how many enemy's can be rendered on screen at any one time and how smart the developer can make them. its that simple. By the time these dirty little consoles are replaced they will be approaching a decade old. that in computer years as far as computational power is concerned relative to the modern pc makes them look like T model fords. Go and calm down and have a cup of tea. Its ok your going to be fine. Or even better go and roll your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 into a dirty big joint and smoke it. It could be a bit harsh on the throat, but it may do you some good. ;-)
McMillen seemed to come the closest to my thinking. You guys are overlooking us old farts that have been freed from their brats and want to get into gaming. They have the time to play, and the money to buy good games instead of watching their kids and grand-kids spending it for them. They may be new to first person shooters, or simulator controls, and may need to learn how to use the game and its controls; but they do want quality. Take the time to show them how to play it like Nintendo did, (and then Nintendo abandoned by not putting many worthwhile games that were challenging or fun). And then watch sales zoom.
Oh yeah, and don't group us with the mouthy arses that think that being fast on repeatedly squeezing the trigger makes them aces. We've done it for real and know there's a lot more to it than mindlessly using ammo. We may be slower, but we're still good.
The kids are gone, Real Life is taken care of, I hate golf, and just spent a bundle on simulator accessories. You want that money? Design and develop good games.
Watching some of these "gaming guru" morons do a play through and see how oblivious they are to the most simple of instructions and repeatedly fail or die shows how stupid the "avg consumer" is. The issue is games used to be for "Smart people" now it's for everyone. When you INCLUDE everyone your product must be tailored to the overbearingly stupid.
What I want is some game developers from EA and Activision to sit in an open forum and answer these sorts of questions from an audience of people with various gaming preferences. These companies are the most guilty of streamlining/dumbing down games in my opinion. They are also the largest and seem to have the most corporate mentality. Having said that, just because they are large, and are in it for the money, does not necessarily mean they don't care. The gaming industry is huge, possibly larger than it has ever been, and with ever increasing investment in these companies, larger returns are necessary for the companies to stay viable. This does mean playing to the crowd to a degree. Unfortunately, the crowd can sometimes be kinda dumb.
I see a time in the near future where these companies are really going to have to rethink their business strategy and come up with a new model for development and marketing for their games. Tablets and digital downloads I feel is a bit of a tipping point on that. I don't know that I like the DLC model that has been growing for the last few years, but it shows they are thinking. Kickstarter is fantastic for those smaller companies playing to the smaller crowd, as long as they have loyal fans. Kingdom of Amalur should have used Kickstarter rather than taking out that huge loan. They might still be around if they had thought of it.
Yes, games are more "dumbed down" especially when it comes to onscreen prompts. Games should have more interface options like Dishonored where you can turn off contextual prompts & waypoints. Do we still need an onscreen prompt telling us how to open a freaking door 5 hours into the game? Why do we always have to have an arrow telling us exactly where an quest/mission item is? Let us look around for it on our own. Batman Arkham City got very annoying with onscreen prompts, especially when countering.
what I want to see is more powerful systems so when we up the difficulty theirs more enemy's, unfortunately todays consoles are so old and archaic that's its just not possible to do. get rid of the old things, they have had there day.
what I want to see is more powerful systems so when we up the difficulty theirs more enemy's, unfortunately todays consoles are so old and archaic that's its just not possible to do. get rid of the filthy old things, they have had there day.
Do games require controllers? Wtf kind of question is this? YES. The overwhelming majority of all games in the past 15 years are completely brainless - difficulty due to bogus damage/health levels is not the same as difficulty due to incomprehensibility or complex puzzles.Dark/Demon Souls isn't hard due to complexity, it's hard due to damage and health amounts and due to the fact that the game literally drops you in and says, good luck not getting raped.
i can't stand what difficult setting has turned into. Now days all i see when i play all my games on the hardest is dieing more cheaply before u even has a chance, gotta get lucky or just giving the AI insane health.
What i want to see is more flanking, not one line path ways, let us control where we go in areas more, AI gets smarter not insane heath and cheap crap
Since this was a question, here is MY answer. Yes, games in general are being dumbed down for two reasons. First, there is this nostalgia these days for those old "platformers" from the old Atari, Nintendo and Saga days. Nostalgia is fine but look at what we had back then. It was not complicated because the devices these things ran on were not CAPABLE. PCs were not capable. That is not to say that there were not some great titles (at least for PC) back then. And for the capability of those early consoles, those were fine games. However, today's consoles and today PCs are much more capable of providing a deeper experience with MORE to that experience. But, developers are now thinking "quick buck" and WE do not get what we should.
Frankly, I am not buying into the "bring back Contra" type nostalgia crowd. I want new. I want challenging. Stop re-packaging what we have already passed by.
All we need is a way to configure our gaming experince.
A game control panel with :
- auto balance world (on/off)
- class system (on/off you choose your points)
- savegames 1,2,3,4, unlimited , everytime or at control point
- human needs on/off /if on you need to drink , eat, sleep and so on )
- AND SO ON
Just examples .. if developers understand this..... there would be no discussions.
yep board of these easy stuff, loving steam sales on old game i get a challenging more fun game for a fraction of the price of the AAA games, but actually get the challenge i want,
who really want to watch a 9-16 hour action film, sod that.
Very messy work to my taste - was this a report, a discussion, a complaint? Where is the side of the companies who ARE dumbing down the industry? Even Cliff Belzinski, creator of a series that you could actually feel the dumbing down of title by title was representing the "core" party that "hates" modern easier games.And how exactly are core gamers, who are no longer the majority of the people these games are meant for, supposed to vote with their dollars? How can we possibly compete with parents, grandparents, children getting allowance, COD and BF junkies, and random people saying "hey I like Diablo once I must be a core gamer!"?The only way we can keep gaming the way we like is keep the Indie market alive and not "vote" at all for mainstream. You want SMB 2? support the developers and buy more of their titles, cause all the giants in the industry are bullies that make indie nearly impossible to be profitable.Honestly, as a consumer, I am happy with where things are. I can wait for a major title like "Bioshock" or "Dishonored" to come along where I put my big bucks in, and for games I truly enjoy like Trine and Super Meat Boy, I am not required to pay that large amount of money, so I could spread my money around, get more games for a price that seems fair to me, and every once and while make a big purchase with titles that genuinely seem worth it (XCOM comes to mind from recent days).
Also, another way of looking at it is, years ago when gaming was niche, there was a certain number of hardcore games, there are still that same number of hardcore games (or even more), however the EXPANSION of the gaming industry has been into more dumbed down games. COD is a prime example - the biggest franchise on the planet, and yet it dumbed down to the max. Personally I welcome the demographic the Wii and iPhone have brought, I don't see it as detracting from gaming as a medium, but adding to it, albeit in a way that I don't want to play, I still get Bioshock, Dishonored, Max Payne, Skyrim, the Witcher, Demon Souls. And yes, I'm sure there's an argument for some dumbing down in each of them, but also they're damn good fun. My conclusion - the argument that gaming AS A WHOLE is dumbed down is utterly untrue, but the article is sparking a good debate.
gamers from this era.....love SKYRIM,people from previous era love dark souls
and games like half life,bioshock,fallout 2,diablo 1/2,vampire the masquerade bloodlines,legacy of kain,godhand,castlevania symphony of the night,comix zone,contra hard cops.....these all games have one common thing GAMEPLAY and people who play these games doesn't give a rat's ass about anything else but nowdays they are massively making new hardware and there is no implementation of it thus they make games just for selling the hardware they are making and people nowadays just love shiny shit and worst thing is they are happy about it like they are gonna install a game and compare with other friends that they got the best fps on crysis,cod(yes they exist)...shit like that.if there is any hope for pc gamers,it will be japan....the only people who make games for fans not only for money....pc industries are being purchased by publishers and there are very few good pc games companies.the only good thing which has come to pc nowadays are indie game makers..like kickstarter...the only company that is making some good games is ubisoft(although ac series sucks after the first,but farcry 3 looks awesome) there are others but they are facing many problems like budget...etc.for example S.T.A..L.K.E.R 2....sorry for my bad english
If we want good games for our dollar then let yourself be heard. I like difficult, easy, and in the middle difficult games. I do I agree every game in every genre is getting dumbed down, not just in difficulty but story as well. When we pay $60 or more for a video game we expect we are getting more for our dollar but it it the opposite. I'm more into the gameplay of a video game because what is the point of paying $60 for a video game and all you get is a half complete game and all your paying is the story and graphics and they sell the other half of the game as DLC's especially having to pay $10 for an online pass on the consoles store which is 100% bulls**t, I understand these companies need to make money but milking our wallets is one of the reasons we are being pushed away from DLC's, I understand paying $0.99 to $5.00 for an DLC on the PS Store EA/Bioware are still charging $39.99 for a 12hr DLC. I don't mean to get off track, I haven't bought many games for this generation of consoles is because they are broken, half complete, or stripped of all the stuff that made the previous game worth playing I understand trying something new but they need to quit stripping the fun/awesome stuff out. The stories in some of these games are just stupid beyond understandable when we play video games that got a story that is worth not skipping it has to make sense and not all other place like Saints Row: The Turd I'm sure everyone can understand where I'm going with this video games is just another way for a greedy little monkey to get rich by selling dumbed down games.
I think one of the absolute worst side-effects of dumbing down games is that gamers slowly lose their gameplaying skills over time because of this. I noticed this in myself as well. Last gen, with the og Xbox, I was playing loads of great triple A games. Then the the first Ninja Gaiden comes along to show me just how out of practice my skills had become. After realizing Ninja Gaiden was the path I was looking for to put my skills to the test, I was eventually able to kill and maim my way through the game with the artful precision necessary that only a skilled gamer could accomplish.
My point is that we need, and want, games like Ninja Gaiden to put our skills to the test, to keep us primed for combat. Who knows whats around the next corner and if we'll be up to the challenge. Simple video games are more detrimental than just boring gameplay.
I know games (in the last ten years) have taken a more corporate style of development. What I mean by that is if your average pot head cant complete the game on the hardest difficulty then its to hard. I understand they want to make as much money as possible but, they are doing a dis-justice by dumb down the games. It really insults the real gamers, tbh all that the true gamer can hope for in this money driven world is that the game companies throw us a bone now and then and give us games like darksouls.
I feel like the option of making a game easier at points is better than just a straight difficulty without any deviation. I seriously cannot have a few beers and sit down to play dark souls because absolute concentration is needed and I end up wanting to throw my PC out the window. I'm not a casual gamer but there are times I use games to relax and get my mind off of school or work. It's a different story and time we are in then in the older days, where there was a single difficulty and single linear route on getting to the end. Even games like Super Mario were unforgiving, but that is imbued in the essence of how it was made and what you are trying to gain. Not all games pull this aura off successfully now.
Good games are the ones that make sure gamers are immersed in them and keep trying to reach the end, not the ones with low difficulty or the ones that are dumbed down...
@xanox1981 Totally agree. Too too easy, takes me an evening to build a profitable. high-density city - then I just get bored and quit. :(
@gamer4365 I feel like Hitman: Absolution did a pretty good job of this
@FabledVisionist Wow for someone who been playing games sence the Game Boy. You clearly do not know any good games. Halo, Gears of War, CoD? Those are all games that this video is talking about. Those are all dumbed down games.
Second To make a game that everyone will like it to dumb it down to the point only the fake gamers like.
Your comment tells my that you are one of the problems of this dumbed down games. No everyone should be able to play games. Not if they are a cancer that only hurts the gaming indursty.
@martiandynamite LOL you are so dumb, difficulty is not about the quantity of enemies, it's about how smart they are. It's about console's power, it's about developing. You must be very young to think that way.
@k2theswiss I agree. A smarter AI makes more since than a stupid super strong one. I would find a smarter AI more challenging and also more flanking, as you suggested.
@blighter I also think like you, there's room to everyone.
What does concern me and maybe that's where most of the rage is directed is the fact that even though there are still good games as you mentioned (and hopefully always will) they are less and less of those while on the other hand there's an increasing number of dumbed titles.
And that can be linked to the amount of money invested in games nowadays that have to sell tons and tons of copies to break even (remember Kingdoms of Amalur? Sold 2+millions copies and the developer went down anyway. I know in this particular example there were other issues but the result is that it went down).
My point being that the increased demografic brought a whole new market to be explored and created an unreal expectation on publishers where games has to sell as much as COD or run the risk of being disregarded as a failure (and killing developers in the result) and the only weapon found so far was the "dumbing" of games.
Hopefully all this makes sense to someone else and not only in my head. :)
@Vodoo no one cares