As a few of you already know, I’m an avid video gamer. Hell, I even design video games, so you know I’m pretty damn loyal to the video game community.
However, as of late, I’ve been finding it harder and harder to convince myself of one simple thing; gaming is fun.
After looking at the upcoming generation of game consoles, I’ve come to the sad realization that these magical game machines no longer exist, at least not in the form that we all imagine. You see, when I think of a video game console, I imagine a console that plays video games. I imagine some form of controller, hooked up to some kind of box. I imagine a television, and a tiny little avatar running around a virtual world.
Video games no longer have the same imaginative designs that they once thrived on. Instead, you’ve got guns, and grenades, and soldiers, and tanks. You’ve got explosions, and bullets, and rockets, and frags.
Here, see for yourself.
Call of Duty: Ghosts
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2
Metro: Last Light
Far Cry 3
So, what do you see there? The games listed above look practically identical, wouldn’t you agree? Sure, some minor changes here and there in graphical design, and possibly a few gameplay updates between iterations, but by the end of the day, you’re playing something that you’ve already played before. I’m not just talking about Call of Duty or Battlefield, but rather most of the video game industry as a whole. Seriously, name one triple A video game that does not in any way resemble any of the above images.
Most of the top quality video games that featured any kind of originality released 5 or more years ago. Seriously, go ahead and name a game that was entirely original, in both general design, gameplay mechanics and overall features. Really, go ahead. Name one. (indies don’t count, talking big studios only)
Here, I’ll tell you what I can recall. Be warned though, it’s a pretty small list.
2…. See #1.
What the hell happened to the video game industry? It’s as if all of the once-fine developers gave up, and started releasing repetitive garbage every few months.
Seriously, this entire industry has gone to shit, and with the next generation “game” consoles releasing in a matter of weeks, I can’t help but question why I am so devoted to an industry that has grown stagnant.
Also, why the quotation marks? Well, that’s pretty damn simple, actually. I just don’t consider the PS4 or the Xbox One to be video game consoles, as when you really sit down to think about it, they’re not game consoles, but rather home entertainment units with social media interaction and sharing functionalities. Honestly, gaming isn’t about connecting with a social network, or viewing live streams of other people playing. Gaming is about having fun, and engaging yourself inside of an immersive world that differs greatly from our own boring reality.
It’s about imagination. Creativity. Uniqueness. But above all, it’s about having a fun time.
Except, that’s not what gaming is anymore. Now, gaming is all about shooting virtual enemies, while blowing shit up for no good reason. Gaming is about engaging with others in epic online battles. It’s about socializing with people you don’t actually know, yet consider friends nonetheless. It’s about paying high prices for lackluster content, all while paying additional fees to access certain features, such as new multiplayer weapons, maps, modes and other stuff that could have otherwise been included free with the game, or updated in free of charge.
Also, don’t give me the “it costs hundreds of millions to make this game and that game” response, as you’ll just make yourself look like an idiot.
Sure, developing the video games of today do in fact require millions upon millions of dollars. Basically, the more flash you want, the more cash you need. Sadly, gaming of today is all about the flash. You gotta have $200k voice acting contracts with a full studio of actors. You need high end motion capture equipment, and then you need to hire people to wear those silly suits. The actual development of the game itself tends to be the cheaper part of the whole operation, which is rather ironic, given the name of this industry.
However, what most people do not realize, is that a quality and well promoted video game can sell insanely well. Just look at Grand Theft Auto: V, and check out Rockstar’s first week sales performance.
So, do publishers like Activision make their money back with each Call of Duty release? Does Electronic Arts make money off of the Battlefield franchise?
The answer to both of those questions is a simple and stern yes. So, why are they trying to sell additional downloadable content packs, or enforce microtransactions? What about DRM technologies, and always-on internet requirements? The answer to those questions are also quite simple… Greed. They want your money, and then they want more of your money. That’s just how this industry works, and the upcoming generation of consoles only promotes their greedy ways.
Now, I know they are operating a business, and it is their job to make as much money as possible. I run a business myself, so I know the ins and outs.
However, video game publishers and developers should put fun over all else, as if the product that they release isn’t fun for the masses, people won’t buy it. That’s the consumer logic.
The problem is, people do not have any alternative options right now, and are practically being forced to buy these so-called AAA games. Sure, you have indies doing their thing in the corner, but they’re a very unknown part of the industry. Yes, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are all trying to shine a public light onto indie developers, but when that light is tinted ever so slightly in the AAA’s favour, is it really fair to call them indie anymore? They’re no longer independent when they’re following someone elses light, as they then become full studios with actual publishers, and they must scramble to meet their publishers demands, whether it be Sony, Microsoft, Valve or Nintendo. If they are relying solely on a service to publish their content, and if they have reached some level of recognized success, they’re no longer indies. They’re now verging on the Triple A monicker.
I’ve seriously begun to question my love for the video game industry. There’s just too much going on right now, and none of it good.