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A "Back In The Day" Kinda Blog

Taking a look at the gaming industry today, you couldn't say that there was ever a time that it was bigger; at least demographically. In many ways, it's a good thing that gaming is as big as it is today. There is still a stigma about it, but it carries far less weight than it used to. Many differing themes and styles exist, all coming from new minds with new ideas and new ways of improving on the old.

Why then am I reminded of Rome, the Later Han Dynasty, or indeed any Empire that's grown fat and large? It is, after all, a well known concept that something can get too big for its own good.

I've been gaming for about 25 years now and today I saw a picture that sparked a memory inside me. A memory that got me to thinking about gaming today and how all the good that has come with its current size has also come with a lot of bad.

This was the picture, a typical "meme" pic that I'm sure everyone has seen.

When I saw that picture, the first thought that came to my mind was "I actually kinda miss that feeling."

That image hearkened back to a much simpler time of gaming. That feeling of waking up as a kid on the weekend, putting the tv to channel 3 and playing some NES or SNES games for as long as I could. The child like excitement of a brand new game, the punishment dished out from those games, and the simple nature of putting in a cartridge, turning the console on, and just playing.

I do miss that feeling.

Today, there is still excitement but it's not exactly the same.

There's also all the problems and complexities surrounding gaming, and if I really had a chance to sit all the publishers and developers (and in some cases journalists) down and talk to them as a gamer, this is just some of what I would say.

Console Wars: Don't pretend like you don't perpetuate and foster this kind of "competition" and "animosity." It's human nature to want to compete and have something subjectively "better" than your peers and you know this. Don't treat us like fools telling us that the very "war" you help to keep going should stop and all the "online hate" needs to end. You say this with one breath, and in the next you're putting out tabloid style articles, rumours, and comparisons that are meant to make us duke it out in every arena we can because you want word of mouth to sell your product for you.

You attempt to play on the ignorance of the newly initiated and divert attention away from being excited for an actual game, to being excited for the graphics in that game, or some other minutia. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and words, but don't act like you don't egg the whole situation on.

Corporations vs Consumers: Back in the "good ol' days", all a game publisher did was fund game development, market the game, and release it. Marketing was as simple as some tv ads, magazine ads, flyers, and word of mouth. Sure, getting the latest news about games wasn't always easy, but the relationship between publisher/developer and gamers was a simple one.

Today we have DLC, Microtransactions, DRM, conferences filled with secret showings, secrets, all manner of unnecessary complications that merely increase tensions between gamers and those who provide us with games.

Do you want to know why gamers get upset over on-disc DLC, day one DLC, Microtransactions, and DRM against used games? The answer is simple and twofold.

First of all, the ones most upset by these things are the gamers who've been doing it for a long time and know where gaming has come from and what it used to offer. We know that it was never an option to pay money for a color palette swap of a character. We know that it was never necessary to allow people to buy their way to victory, and we know the kind of friendships or exposure to new experiences we could get with trading or buying used games.

The second reason should be obvious. In a world where some of the greatest economies are trillions of dollars in debt, where the cost of living outpaces the living wage earned, where the cost of products either goes up every year or remains the same but gives you less, we are all trying to save as much money as we can just so that we can get by day to day.

When you give us day one or on-disc DLC, you're telling us that you didn't want to finish the game. That you took out content just to try to bilk us out of more of our money which we worked hard to get, most of us hating the job we have but doing it because we have to. When you put microtransactions in the game, you're sending the message that what's more important to you isn't that people enjoy your game the way you designed it, but that people can buy their victory in the game. When you try to lock us out of being able to trade games with our friends, or pay for a pre-played game, you're telling everyone that you think you deserve the full price paid to you multiple times for one copy of the game.

For those of us growing up with cheat codes that unlocked secret characters, button presses that changed the colour of our favourite Street Fighter's outfit, or in game challenges that unlocked hidden levels that we didn't have to pay for; none of the aforementioned cash grabs sits well with us. It seems that developers were willing to offer more 20 years ago than they are now.

Development and its costs: Some of you bigger publishers just need to be stopped. Your business models are unsustainable and needlessly bloated. AAA game development doesn't HAVE to cost 50 to 100 million dollars. Though you'll see a lot of graphics nuts on the internet, I'm pretty confident in saying that most of us remember games that play amazingly or have fantastic stories/characters more than games that sell themselves on how good they look. Give us an experience instead of a showpiece and most of us won't care about how many pixels appear at what speed on the screen.

There is so much more I could go into, but this blog is already long enough. I haven't touched on things like "make the games you want to make, but stop telling gamers what we like and don't like" or "stop releasing unfinished games with the intent of patching it later and then making excuses" and "stop releasing the same game later on and trying to charge full price" and countless others.

Some are going to come in here and say "if you want gaming to be the way it was, then go play Super Mario Bros. on a NES or NES emulator" and then go on about progress. To that I say "you shouldn't defend companies trying to gouge you, rip content from games to sell to you later, and call you a criminal all in the name of progress and better looking games."

Today, gaming is an industry worth billions. Hundreds of millions of people game of all walks of life, all genders, age ranges, and cultures. In many ways this has been good for gaming. More money means more ability to create new and unique experiences. But sometimes I think back and just wish that for one day, gaming could go back to that moment where you'd put your tv on channel 3, pop in your game, and know that you were getting everything out of that game.

I don't think I'm the only one.

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dedicatedtogamers1780d ago (Edited 1780d ago )

It's partially gamers' fault. On the one hand, we demand better graphics and bigger worlds and more voice acting and longer stories (and we give those games our money and our high review scores and our GotY awards, etc). And of course, to keep this going, costs need to go up. DLC needs to be added in. Pre-order bonuses and Game of the Year Editions need to come out to recoup the costs. And yet we keep demanding.

And then you have good ol' fun games like Wii Sports or NSMB Wii and we turn up our nose and say "those jaggies" and "such a casual game" and "there's no depth", even though those games were fairly inexpensive to produce. Those games emulated the "good ol days" of arcade twitch-based gameplay and what did gamers do? We wrote them off, we ignored them, we DIDN'T give those games our attention or our high review scores or our GoTY awards.

I really think the Wii and DS were the future of gaming, not because they used motion/touch (respectively) but because they channelled the spirit of "the good ol days" while maintaining very low development costs. Back in 2005 Iwata said that Nintendo needed to fight against disinterest because the market was headed toward a rough patch. And then Nintendo got cocky and made the 3DS and Wii-U which were in total opposition to what the Wii and DS represented.

Nicaragua1779d ago

I don't think the relationship between fun, quality and budget needs to be that black and white though - people turn there nose up at jaggies because there is no need for it in this day and age.

People can be very accepting of a quality game with realistic expectations of itself. Resogun is a budget title and is regarded as one of the best PS4 games, further examples are Journey, Don't Starve, Wipeout HD - all quality games without the big budgets, and priced reasonably.

The spirit of the old days can still exist, it does still exist. The problem is that there are big budget mega success stories (GTA, COD) and so companies have got the idea that the way to make the big money is to go big budget as though one guarantees the other.

I think we will see this change this gen.

s45gr321779d ago

Is mismanagement that is the problem. Look at the forest a team made of one or two people yet the game is huge, with visuals that rival mainstream gaming. Look at Hawken a team of 12 people or less the game looks amazing. Even Routine, Outlast, hell throw the amnesia franchise along with Arma 3 small development teams of 12 people or less that demonstrate amazing visual tour de force games. The moment gaming went corporate is the moment mainstream gaming die. The publishers/developers got greedy and huge mismanagement happen look at the developers who made L. A. Noire all of them fired. Meaning there is no union or legal protection for game developers. Like Phil Fish got harrased by gamers sadly he quit. What I am getting at is one gamers need to stop believing what the sell out gaming media says. Like this blog pointed out the media uses the console war against us. So at mean as competitive as we are in regards my platform is better than yours and I am guilty of showing preference for Steam and PC. Anyways the media controls the opinions and mentality of gamers plain and simple. Second gaming in general needs to get out of corporate immediately. Lastly why no one mentions kickstarter for crying out loud there is hundreds of game developers seeking the help of gamers to fund their risky projects like Stomping Lands, Distance, Among the sleep among others. We as consumers are given the chance to publish our own games this blog already explained what publishing a game is. You want risky innovative daring games then publish or buy gamer published games.

Roccetarius1779d ago

My hope is that CDPR doesn't become a bloated developer, with unrealistic expecations as well. As long as they stay on the right path, i'll support them.

They don't even spend 50 - 100 millions on their games, which is impressive with their quality.

Ashlen1779d ago (Edited 1779d ago )

The games don't cost that much to make.

The reason the budgets are so high is because 50% or more of the money is going to pay executive salary and things like legal teams and marketing.

I'd be willing to bet that if you broke down the cost on any big budget game that less than half goes to the people who actually do the work, aka artists and programmers ect.

isarai1779d ago

here's the thing, i grew up the same, and yes i agree some things were better back then, but so is just about everything when looked through the eyes of a child. Games have improved in so many ways it would literally make your younger self fall into a coma from being so mindblown. My issue with these perspectives is that the main gripe is all the "negativity", "complications", and "issues" of today compared to then. the thing is, those issues have ALWAYS been there you just weren't aware of them. The internet has only gave people a clearer view into the dark side of the industry where cold calculated business practices and underhanded techniques are riddled throughout the beloved hobby. The issue is no one can stay away from the internet, so you spoil everything for yourself. I see young kids today experiencing the same magic of video games as i did growing up, hell maybe even more so when they can experience things like Journey, Lego City, Mario 3D, Disney Infinity, etc when all we had were little 2d sprites in 12min levels they have entire worlds with endless possibilities at their disposal.

You want that magic again? take a long break from both the internet and gaming till you get that urge to play something. Go into a game store and just browse by simply the info on the box to look for what you're itching for, and dive into the game blindly and experience it with pure surprise. trust me, you'll feel that magic again :)

DragonKnight1779d ago

I'm sorry but I have to disagree. The underhanded business tactics are far worse today than they ever were back then. In fact, probably the worst business practices back then came from Nintendo's censorship more than anything else.

I get excited for games no doubt, but it's not the same today as it was then. Even among gamers like us you see arguments over nonsense like framerates and resolution far more than whether the game is good or not.

I mean, look at Titanfall. Look at the furor that erupted because it was 6v6 instead of a bigger number. That's a B.S. thing to argue about.

And what about the publishers and developers blatantly showing their greed? You know, the only developer I can think of that was as greedy then as they are now is Capcom. They released super and turbo and ultra editions of their games during the SNES days and it was just as inexcusable then as now.

Those 2D sprites and 12 minute levels were responsible for some the best gaming experiences ever made. I don't look back on those as regrets or limitations or anything like that.

To tell you the truth, the internet doesn't spoil much for me. I don't try to watch every single trailer for a game, or absorb every bit of news as it comes out simply because that doesn't really interest me in the same way it does others. My biggest issues are that the priorities of gaming today are terrible and consumers like are just being shafted over and over to play games that have half the depth and have the "experience" of games made during gaming's golden age.

s45gr321779d ago

Terrible idea because then gamers may end up with a game that they need to pay to play online, one day DLC, patches galore (basically the game is broken), updates, etc. The problem is we know the issues and yet we still support it like Gran Turismo 6 it has microtransanctions but the fans or Playstation fanboys say is good microtransanctions. Like Call of Duty we know is the same game yet people buy it. Hell they can put microtransanctions in say Mario or Uncharted and people will still pay $60.00 dollars for it like the morons that pay $60.00 for Diablo 3 with microtransanctions plus Simcity no offline mode for also $60.00 and then cry like babies because of the issues at hand when they knew perfectly well the issues of say game before they bought it. That's retardation at its finest. Yet people wonder why the gaming industry is in bad shape we use the Internet we k now the issues of the games we are waiting to buy yet we buy them because we are idiots or we get off the Internet buy the game find out is incomplete, buggy, and DLC/microtransanctions galore. No we need to be firm and not buy unethical business practices that is included in our games use the information given to us over the Internet for our benefit not against us. I keep saying over and over kickstar the game is only a $1.00 if you are that cheap. Kickstarter is another solution for risky, innovative games and you only need is $1.00 or $5.00. Wake up gamers there is more to Zelda, Mario, Uncharted, Halo in gaming. Oh the gaming industry needs to get out of corporate immediately.

isarai1779d ago

It ill say if you need to pay to play online, or you can ask the clerk, you don't need day 1 DLC(what's it gonna be a tacked on mission or shirt?) don't get how updates are a problem, GT6 micro transatcions are a poor example as you can earn everything in game which is unchanged from previous games, and i have yet to see them implemented in a full retail game to the point where it affects the game negatively, the case will also say if it needs to be online all the time.

Basically all your saying is that somehow DLC and optional microtransactions are bad, but they really don't affect the player at all, what you're describing is exactly why i say to stay away from the internet. If i were to go buy GT6 right now without ever hearing info on it on the web then i would be none the wiser about any micro transactions or day 1 DLC and it would just be a regular standard game purchase, all the negativity is coming from going on the net and simply staying away from it will let you appreciate your purchase a LOT more

DragonKnight1779d ago

The point isn't "needing" day one DLC or microtransactions affecting YOUR playthrough. The point is that Day One DLC is indicative of an unfinished game and microtransactions are indicative of the publisher telling everyone that it's perfectly fine to pay to win instead of playing the game the way it was designed. Why bother actually experiencing the game if you can just pay $20 and win? And then there's the cost of some of these MTs. They have numbered in the hundreds of dollars.

There's also the real, and actually proven, probability that MTs will affect the design of the game such that gaining what you could buy in game will be infinitely harder than just buying it. We've already seen this on PC and mobile games, do you think it's NOT headed to consoles too?

s45gr321779d ago

Amazing blog, it reminds me of how gaming use to be then compare to now.

thorstein1779d ago

Nice blog. Great read. Sounds like my childhood, TBH, but the images that always get me are the early Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior(Quest) imagery. Just plain, awesome fun.

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