In the last five years there’s been a massive shift from relying on how a game looks and plays, into building hype on empty promises. I get that the industry relies on money, and that you need to concern yourself with earning money as a company. Yet, since the middle of last gen, it’s become a PR machine instead of showing gameplay and letting the product prove itself on its own merits. Examples of putting celebrities, codes and content on consumable goods like soft drinks or chips show that the hype machine has gone completely out of control. Now you get a game revealed before it’s sure that the game is even to get a release in any form.
E3 is the prime example of what gaming has become, for good or ill. It has become the norm to show off a game two or three years before release, often using fancy sleight of hand to mislead consumers as the what the final product will be. As a fan of games, I am now used to the fact that, if you get a cinematic trailer, that means the game is at least two years away. Gone are the days where the game is announced and released in the same year. You get to hear so much about games before they are released that I often lose interest in the game long before release.
With games being constantly in our face, it completely loses the joy and excitment for a game when you get carefully selected content that reveals nothing substantive. Instead of hearing the developers honest opinions, you have a PR machine that carefully directs soulless suits to tell us what they think we want to hear. If you really want a recent example, just take a look at Konami handling any interviews this year and making it clear to everyone that no one had the permission to ask about Hideo Kojima.
The entire industry is making people tired of hearing about games, instead of making us excited for them, which is a tragic circumstance for all gamers. Hearing PR talking when it comes to games isn’t what we want to hear, we want to hear developers tell the truth and deliver great games.
Giving the publisher, or a developer, huge amounts of money before a game is even out is not good for the consumer. You are effectively giving away your hard earned money without knowing if the game is good or not. There are no advantages to pre-ordering a game anymore, you might get some extra content but is that worth the full price+ of the game before its quality is known? It really isn’t, especially if you’re even a tiny bit patient, you will likely get the DLC you missed out on with the myriad GOTY editions and re-releases that come out later on, sometimes mere months later.
There is no advantage whatsoever in this day and age of actually pre-ordering a game. You, as a consumer, don’t get anything that won’t be bundled up for sale later on. Money speaks volumes and the gifting of millions of dollars before launch says it’s alright for these companies to release broken or even bad games, the disastrous Battlefield 4 and Sim City launches being notable examples. Thankfully, the advent of Steam Refunds may have enough of an impact to dramatically reduce those types of game launches but we’ve seen this way too many times by now and it just needs to stop. We as consumers have all the power in the world, we can choose which companies we want to get behind. By not giving our hard earned money at launch, we will send a message that gamers will only accept the best from them.
The mess that pre-orders have created is also getting out of hand. When you need a huge map just to go over all the content different pre-order versions will get you, that is totally unacceptable. Just look at the example with Watch Dogs:
We’ve seen the deals they’re trying to push to lure people to buy it early, but, as we’ve stated, there’s no appreciable advantage to buying games on day 1. Any extra physical items will most likely be on sale on Ebay or Amazon within days of launch. With all of the broken games and patches that get added on release, the games are quite often not in a state that is acceptable. This toxic combination of bad business practices and cheap “bribes” has created an awful situation for consumers as a whole.
The solution is simple: Wait until the game is out and has been patched to a working state and the reviews are all updated to reflect its current condition, if you are satisfied then go get it. You can get the game cheaper, in working condition and often with more content if you’re patient. Unless the game is always online or has draconian DRM, it’s always going to be a gamble if you can even play it or not. For the most part though, the advantages of being patient far outweigh the short-sighted “advantages” pre-ordering a game can deliver.
The advent of refund options on the Origin and Steam services has shone a glaring light on the major console manufacturers, as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo lack the option for refunds on their consoles. Now the big 3 actually need to show that they’re consumer friendly, as they don’t offer any refunds for broken games at time of writing. It’s a hard and long process, even if you actually manage to get your money back. This is something that needs to be fixed right now, as it should have been there a long time ago and definitely from the start.
I have never been a big fan of Origin or even Steam, but I manage to see when they’re doing good things for the consumer. The console manufacturers still have a long ways to go when it comes to consumer rights. The refund policy is non-existent at the moment and even when you get hacked you don’t get your money back by refunding the games that were bought. Sony has had several bad costumer service incidents that have made people question their customer service. I, for instance, did not have the best experience with a season pass for the Sam & Max episodic games, Where I was told they couldn’t do anything, even though I had purchased it.
When a console manufacturer like Sony won’t give a person his money back when someone hacks their console, there’s something seriously wrong. These companies should do the right thing and implement this in their their policies as standard. I have done some consumer advocacy myself; I’ve contacted the consumer rights organization here where I live to try and force them to put it into their policies, because, as they currently stand, they go against the consumer laws here. Thankfully, I recently got an answer from them and they will be taking a look into it. I don’t know the time table of when they’re actually going to do anything, but at least I, and they, have tried doing something regarding this.
If you feel that these companies are not doing the right thing you should exercise your consumer rights and contact the companies or your local consumer watch dog. Give them the information and get them on the road to changing their current policies.
Have you had a bad customer experience on the major consoles? Got any horror stories to share?
This is going to be my personal opinion of all the conferences and games that were shown during E3. I am going to critique what I, personally, liked and not necessarily what was good for the console or in general. I am going to go through the games that I liked the most and which got me most excited during E3. I am also going to rate each conference by what appealed to me.
Bethesda started the whole show by firing off a big opening salvo with the reveal of DOOM. It wasn’t just some sort of teaser, they showed off almost 20 minutes of gameplay. They also revealed modding/map maker content coming with the game next year. The gunplay seemed tight with shotguns taking center stage and the chainsaw making a return in the series. It also seemed to be very similar to the old Doom, with gory graphics and updated graphics. Dishonored 2 also made its debut with a pre-rendered CGI trailer that didn’t do a whole lot for me, as it doesn’t really show the game itself. It only tells the setting of the game and introduces the characters. The announcement of Dishonored 1 for the new consoles and PC, also doesn’t really do much for me. I know a lot of people were looking forward to Fallout 4, but I didn’t have that much hype for it myself. It looks to be a solid game, and I hope they can get rid of the bugs that Bethesda is so known for in their games. I would say that it was a solid conference, with no nonsense and a straight forward approach.
Microsoft showed off footage of their biggest upcoming titles, but to me it felt like more of the same. It was Halo 5, Fable Legends, Forza 6, Gears of War 4 (and the Ultimate Collection) and last, but not least, Rise of The Tomb Raider. Tomb Raider is only a timed exclusive though, and will eventually be coming to other platforms. You had a new IP in Recore, but it was only a cinematic trailer for the game (albeit one that showed off the principle mechanic). You had a F2P game in Gigantic and Rainbow Six Siege, now with more flash bangs. The only game that actually interested me was Cuphead, which looked unique and refreshing. The biggest announcements Microsoft had weren’t actually games, but options for the console. Backwards compatibility was a big thing, and then you had the demo of the Hololens using Minecraft. The demo was amazing to look at, and blew my mind. The thing that gave me a bad taste in my mouth was that the field of view was later revealed to be much more narrow than Microsoft showed it. The Backwards compatibility doesn’t really phase me, as I still have my 360. The console also still has problems with older games, dipping under 20 frames with Mass Effect, so unless the performance issues with each game are ironed out, my expectations are tempered.
The only thing that actually got me the most excited game was the gameplay shown for Rise of the Tomb Raider and Cuphead. Both of those you can get on other platforms however.
The biggest mixed bag of E3 was EA. They finally showed off Mass Effect 4, now Mass Effect: Andromeda. They showed off the feel of the game, the Mako, space travel and combat. It’s what I expected a Mass Effect trailer to be, and it excited me for what they’re doing with the series. The new Need For Speed also fulfilled the needs of fans clamouring for a third installment in the sub-series of the franchise: Underground as the similarities to that sub-series showed, with the tuning of cars and racing at night. They even showed off gameplay of the game itself, even though it’s over a year away. That in itself is very impressive, but I also have to be critical because the game might not look like that upon release. If it is anything similar to the Underground series, I think it’s going to be very good. A big issue I have with it though is the DRM, that is nota concern to shy away from.
There was also a new expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic called Knights of the Fallen Empire. Bioware promised that the game is going to include more storytelling from Bioware. If this means that there are going to be more class quests, then sign me up. Then all of the sports games took center stage, which was something I could not care less about. As a big football supporter it was nice to see Pele, perhaps the biggest footballer ever. Even with all the nonsense EA was throwing around, it was nice to get a talk with one of the biggest players of “the beautiful game” as he himself calls it. I also don’t like the focus on the female players in the upcoming game, because it shifted attention away from massive server issues that have plagued FIFA the last few years i’ve played it. Use resources to fix that, and then add all the female teams and players EA wants.
After that, there was footage from the new Mirrors Edge: Catalyst. I personally have never seen the appeal of the game, so it didn’t really get me excited. Then EA commited one of the biggest sins possible as they dedicated a big portion of their show to showing off mobile games. This wasn’t anywhere near what Bethesda did, by revealing a new app to play for those who want to. This was them pushing several games that no core gamer wants to play. This was probably the most boring part in all of E3 for me personallly. Then at the end, EA showed Battlefront. A game i’ve been waiting the last 10 years for. Even after all my personal scepticism of the game, I recognize good gameplay when I see it. Even if it was heavily scripted, I still liked what I saw. That doesn’t erase all my concerns, but makes them less of a factor. Overall a good conference with a few very bad parts in my humble opinion.
The Ubisoft conference started with a big surprise. A new South Park game got announced called: The Fractured But Whole. The creators said they now knew how to make a game, and wanted to try again, even with all the stress of The Stick Of Truth’s development. A great announcement, I must say. I didn’t really care for the game For Honor, but I did enjoy the new footage from The Dvision. The most interesting part was how the pvp actually worked with loot as you could do a risk reward type of thing. Being in the extraction zone with other players mixing pvp and pve. The cherry on top was that the last man standing left his team members behind, taking all the loot. It looks really interesting, and it looks like a game I am going to be playing next year, though I will have to see more before I actually choose to purchase it. The only other games that interested me during the conference were the new Ghost Recon: Wildlands game and Trackmania coming to consoles. Those two are games I am probably going to get down the line if they both hold up and are good games. Ubisoft had a pretty solid conference, but it also had the most cringeworthy moment of the entirety of E3. Jason Derulo came up on stage to perform some of his “hits” and proceeded to just have one of the worst performances possible. It didn’t just stop there, he wanted Aisha Tyler to come on stage, she refused and he continued even after the song was done. Trying to hit on a married woman live in front of millions is just freaking bad. Otherwise the whole conference for my part seemed really solid with gameplay shown pretty much for every game.
Sony just blew this one out of the water now didn’t they? The Last Guardian, which has been the Half Life 3 for Sony, was finally shown. I’ve been fascinated by the games made by Ueda and I am looking forward to what this game is in the future. Final Fantasy VII being totally remade is incredible. Square has also said that they’re also considering doing it with the other entries as well. The conference showing those two games alone made them win E3 for my part. We can only hope those games are going to be good as well. I want Final Fantasy VII also to stick true to its roots, and not change the combat to what Final Fantasy XV is doing. Shenmue 3 was also a huge announcement for many, but not for me. I’ve never really been into the first two games and they never appealed to me personally. Media Molecule announcing Dreams is really interesting to me. This developer has always been one of the most creative in the industry. I need to see more before i can totally judge it, but it’s looking good. Guerilla Games showing off Horizon: Zero Dawn was the best new ip of the whole event. Dinosaur robots and third person RPG looks really good. The graphics looked stunning and the developer said they’ve been working on this for 4 years.
It’s safe to say that it shows promise as an exclusive game for PS4. No Man’s Sky also had a great gameplay demo. Showing how the planets are actually going to be like, gathering resources, Alien species and spacebattles. That looks to be a huge game! World of Final Fantasy looked interesting, because I am a really big fan of turn based battles in the series. There’s not a whole lot otherwise in the conference that interested me in particular, but the rest wasn’t bad either. I thought it was a solid conference in showing games, Which is the most important thing about E3.
Square Enix was the conference which had just the overall worst pace of them all. There weren’t a lot of games that were shown that interested me, or anyone else, in particular. Kingdom Hearts 3 and Hitman being shown was pretty good as I am looking forward to those games. The most important thing was gameplay from Kingdom Hearts 3 being shown. Hitman Absolution was very good in my opinion and I hope it is a quality entry in the series. They did show a few other titles, but they didn’t really interest me at all. It was an ok conference for me, but I hope they do better for next year.
This was the overall worst conference of them all. EA had some big screw ups with their mobile and sports games, but at least they showed games most people were interested in. They should have just called the Wii U dead this E3, because there was nothing that actually made me slightly interested into that console. I was getting really close to actually buying the Wii U a year ago, but then they rolled out their youtube partnership, which just stifles and censors content creators. Also them not showing worth anything for the Wii U for me is not making it better. They showed of some good games for the 3DS, But games for the 3DS just don’t interest me anymore. Them also releasing a new version of that handheld console doesn’t make it any better. Nintendo needs to come back down to earth. For Iwata to lecture that people didn’t “get” what the Wii U was is not their fault, that just says it all about Nintendo’s arrogance. It’s your job to make a console appealing, not us as consumers trying to figure out what you’re actually selling. It was a disaster and it’s a shame for all the developers actually making good games at Nintendo.
So that is my review of E3, what did you think of the whole event? Do you agree with me or am I totally wrong? Let me know!
There used to be a time where anualizing games was a strange phenomenon. Games came out left and right but most of them used to be new IP's. It started with sports games. FIFA is the most known and it started this whole trend (editors note: Dennis, being from Europe, Refuses to acknowledge Maden NFL which technically started the trend 2 years earlier in 1988, which is reasonable, because you rarely use your feet with the ball). Sports games followed this as a whole, my favorite sports franchise, Pro Evolution Soccer, was not a game that was released every year. The competition pressured Konami into releasing it each year and the quality suffered at first. EA is largely to blame for this trend, but you can't forget Activtion in all this.
You can criticize Konami for all the stuff they've done lately, but in my humble opinion they release the best football aka soccer games. The franchise would have been better each time it got a release if it had more time to develop the game. There are other games that followed this structure and you can see the quality of the series taking a hit. Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty and others are relying on the yearly sales and are not making anything new anymore.
Assassin's Creed 3 and Unity both were games that were rushed way too fast to the market. One was a mess because it had a new / barely tested engine and tried to rush out a complicated story while Unity was a buggy mess right from release. Call of Duty seems to be the same game each year with no real change to their games. Instead of actually doing something new in the series, it's the same brown shooter that it's always been. It's the same for some of the sports games as well. The same game every year. NHL 15 even had fewer modes and options than the year before.
There is no risk taking or anything new coming from these games. They're the same as the previous games for the most part with very few exception. What I am trying to get across is not to award stagnation in the industry. Everyone in the industry wants to be able to make money of their product, that is a given, they are a business after all, but when these developers are holding the industry back by just releasing the same game every year, it holds everything back and ingrains the idea that new is bad.
When the rest of the industry sees that they can make a lot of short term money from this, it will stifle the art-form that is games, slowly killing its growth and the money that comes with that. In the end we have to make a conscious decision as a consumer and not reward these practices that hold gaming back, and to recognize good games and award them with your time and money.
Nintendo makes fantastic games, but ever since the N64 there hasn't been anything that has interested me in getting a Nintendo console. To me there haven't been games like Golden Eye, Mario Kart 64, Super Mario 64 or even the original Super Smash that have appealed to me. Exclusives have always been excellent and polished, but ever since the Gamecube, Nintendo consoles have seemed to not peak my interest at all. It's the overall experience that makes me interested in a console.
When the 6th generation of gaming console were coming out, nothing interesting came from Nintendo that caught my eye. Instead of trying something new, I felt they were doing a lot of the same games that they were before. Therefore I didn't buy the Gamecube and got a Sony console for the first time instead. The PS2 had third party support, lots of different games and a DVD player installed in it. Gamecube didn't have any of that.
After that, came the Wii. The Wii had an appeal with allot of people because of the Wii Sports games that you could play with others, otherwise there wasn't really anything that caught my attention for it. I played the Wii Sports games, and it was fun when you had someone you could play it, but you couldn't play online and playing just alone wasn't really appealing. It had its share of good games, but again it lacked in third party support. Even though it had games like Zelda, Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart, Last Story, etc. There wasn't really anything making it appealing for me as a gamer, while the 360 and PS3 had games like Arkham City, Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, etc. It was still releasing the same old games on that console.
Now we have the Wii U. Now it's not just the games and the library that is lacking, it's the attitude towards its audience. Gamers who love Nintendo want to show it off their videos online, but they're not allowed to with out going through some major hoops. Nintendo is stuck with their old ways. Don't get me wrong, not everything that's old is bad. Like not releasing DLC for every game is good, you know you get a full game when you buy Nintendo. Even with their good practices on releasing good games, this doesn't excuse them from being anti-consumer when it comes to the online world and videos, something that is a major draw for gamers. It seems that some companies like Nintendo don't get that. That's the biggest reason why I haven't given them any money. They frankly don't deserve it from my point of view.
I don't hate Nintendo, I actually admire Nintendo and the way they make games. But that doesn't excuse them from making an outdated console that's a fraction as powerful compared to the other two consoles that Sony and Microsoft have released. If they can listen to developers and the consumers more, I think more people would actually buy their games and consoles.