As someone who most people would probably view as a “hardcore” gamer, I have been pretty irritated about many aspects of the gaming industry for a long time now. I am mostly going to be talking about FPS games but this applies to gaming in general.
Back when I was a little kid playing games like Quake 3, Tribes and Counterstrike, games were actually awesome. They were considerable cheaper, higher quality and more challenging. Most importantly, they were FINISHED games at release. Also, when new content was added to the ames, we didn’t have to pay a dime for it. It was free. The gaming community was different then as well. We had higher expectations for games and didn’t take any crap from the companies. If companies back then would have tried this DLC crap or releasing unfinished games, they wouldn’t have liked the response from the community.
******The Casual Gamer Craze******
There are quite a few problems in the gaming industry that I want to address here. I will start with one of my biggest peeves as a competitive gamer; the fact that today’s games are just too easy. The main reason for this is the industry’s decision to cater almost entirely to the much larger demographic of casual gamers on the consoles. You know who I am talking about here… The type of gamers who go crazy for the latest annual release of another painfully dumbed-down Call of Duty game and all of the other cookie-cutter games like it.
If you think about it, Call of Duty and World of Warcraft are the two franchises that really created the big casual gamer craze, which started the dumbing-down of the entire FPS and MMO genres. Other than resulting in the dumbing-down of games, casual gaming isn’t necessarily a bad thing itself. After all, it brought a much wider demographic into gaming, which in turn resulted in more profits for the developers. More profits means more money to spend on game budgets. Unfortunately, the problem is that most of the developers decided to focus only on the casual players and ignore their core (the hardcore gamer) audience that got them to where they are in the first place. Before console and PC gaming went mainstream, it was the hardcore gamer who kept the business going. This casual craze has also caused the decline of the PC gaming market much more than the piracy issue. PC gamers generally have higher expectations for products so you shouldn’t expect huge sales when you give us a bunch of half-assed console ports and dumbed-down games.
Games have become worse and worse during the past several years with most other developers trying to immitate successful casual games like COD and WoW. You pretty much can’t buy an FPS game anymore that doesn’t have the casual “bells and whistles” like achievements, unlockable weapons, leveling, full-stat tracking, various over-powered and easy to use weapons, etc… When I was a little kid playing games like the Tribes series and Counter Strike we didn’t need any of those things to remain interested in our games. It was all about game-play. And don’t even get me started on the MMORPGS and their easy to follow objectives where everything has a big arrow pointing at it or quest items are glowing. These games treat casuals like they are complete idiots.
******Bugs! Bugs everywhere!******
The gaming industry definitely doesn’t believe in quality over quantity. Far too often we see companies releasing games before they are actually finished so they can increase those quarterly profits, which means we are essentially paying $60 to be beta-testers. Even some of the biggest companies in the industry do this pretty often. Remember that buggy mess known as Skyrim when it was first released? Battlefield 3 and 4? The Sim City disaster? These days companies don’t bother with much beta-testing and just rely on fixing all of the bugs through patching after release.
******The Price of Gaming******
The cost of gaming has risen to an insane level during the past several years as well. So we’re getting lower quality games at higher costs. Whether they are running their franchises into the ground by releasing annual versions of their games or giving us an endless stream of DLC, games are far more expensive than they were when I was first starting out in gaming. It has very little to do with prices going up either. Yes, the base games are a bit more expensive now at around $60 each but that is just one of the problems.
Downloadable Content (DLC) is probably the worst thing to happen in the history of gaming. Now companies release half-finished games and want you to pay for the features that games automatically included at one time.
The common practice in the industry seems to be to release incomplete annual versions of their games, worry about fixing the bugs later through patches and charge us $5-$20 for features, maps and items that should have been in the game in the first place. Right now we are spending around $100 per game on a lot of them. But you don’t HAVE to buy the DLC right? Wrong. In the case of FPS games with DLC maps, you pretty much have to buy them unless you want to play alone half the time. Eventually most servers are using the latest DLC maps. DLC just segregates gaming communities and forces everyone to buy the latest maps if they want to play with their friends. And worse, in the case of weapon DLC, it can often create an unfair advantage for one person.
What is worse, is that developers will often cut out parts of the game they are making just so they can release it later as DLC, which means we get shorter games with less features for the SAME price that we used to pay for full games.
"A long time ago there were expansion packs. These were 50% of the base product and gave you about 75% as much content. Then came DLC, often costing 20% of the base product and giving you 5% new content. Now we’re in a world of microtransactions, where 3% purchases give you 1% content. Respectively, the cost per content is like: 1.5x, 0.25x, 0.33x. Developers are giving you much less content at much higher profit margins. So much so it’s all they seem to talk about before the game is even released. To me, that shows a brazen amount of disrespect to its consumers." That says it all.
And just when you think it can’t get any worse, a game called Evolve comes along. The developer is actually BRAGGING about how the game is basically designed around DLC and promises to nickel and dime us to death “more so than any other game before.”
How long will it be before we are paying around $200 for a complete game?
******Its time for another crash******
Many of us either weren’t alive yet or were too young to remember the last big crash of the gaming industry but we could see one in the near future if things continue at this pace. What caused the last crash was an endless stream of low quality games that consumers were tired of buying, which is only ONE of the problems we have in today’s industry.
* We also have the complete lack of creativity and innovation. Far too many developers just create clones of other popular games instead of working on something different. Even those few that dare to be different at first will often begin to slowly turn their games into copies of others. This is especially true with MMORPGS (copying WoW) and FPS (copying COD) games.
* Then we have the bug-riddled unfinished games being pushed out by the people in charge.
* We have the ever-increasing base prices along with all of the extra (DLC) costs. These inferior games are getting more expensive.
* People are being burned out by the annual releases of so many popular franchises just so companies can try to milk them as much as possible.
This could all very well lead to another industry crash if the consumers decide that we have had enough of it again. We are already starting to see signs of this, considering that many formerly popular developers have either been going under or they are in financial trouble. Personally I think a crash could be good for the industry much like the last one.