Accessibility - My most hated word of this games generation
As the current games generation moves towards it`s end and the next one is soon going to start I wanted to go over my most hated word during this generation.
This word would be: ACCESSIBILITY
During this generation accessibility was term used rather often. In itself it means to make something more accessible or user friendly in order to reach more customers and increase sales. If done right this can be a good thing, but unfortunately this generation it was often synonymous for dumbing down. As my main example I will pick World of Warcraft even tough it isn`t a console game and it was released before the current console generation, but it is the easiest for me because it had a fluid change towards being more accessible compared to playing certain games for a few weeks per year till the next sequel comes out.
I wouldn`t be able to say what games started with it, but I remember my first experience I had with accessibility in a game and what it was leading to. My first experience with that term came during the times when I still played World of Warcraft. I started playing the game when it launched and as I was at university I had plenty of time to spend playing the game. During the classic times we had 3-4 raids per weeks going for most of the night and outside those times farming all the materials to make flasks, better equipment etc. Post classic things started to slowly change, the add-ons didn`t have anymore 40 player raids and instead they had 25 and 10 player raids. Over time the need to farm for materials was gone, raids got more accessible and easier to finish and the looking for raid feature was implemented that allowed random players to play the raids.
Having just random people thrown together going for the first time into a specific raid dungeon and killing any boss at all was hard to believe during classic times. Looking for raid dungeons are easier with loot that has lower quality over the normal or heroic raid so there is balance there. I can relate to having raids easier and the need to farm constantly removed so people that have less spare time can also see and experience the high end content. It`s also certainly not a negative point that leveling is faster now compared to how it was during classic times when the last 20-25 levels really dragged on. But somewhere along the way while making the game more accessible and also in many ways better something went wrong that put myself and other long term players off. For me personally raid bosses feel easier in their mechanic now and it`s less likely that the raid will wipe.
As things got more accessible the requirement for communication got lower plus there was an influx of new players. During the old times even on high population servers the different guilds that raided talked with each other and I knew many of the other people and spent a lot of time talking with them via in-game chat or TS. Over time most of that was gone, in part because people stopped playing the game and in parts because all that communication wasn`t needed anymore.
For my second example I will pick the Assassin`s Creed series. While WoW had many changes that made the game better when Blizzard decided to make the game more accessible AC failed to improve by making it more accessible in my opinion. Most people who played the first AC game can agree that it had many shortcomings such as very repetitive missions that need to be done before the actual assassination, but that the foundation the game was build on had a lot of potential. UbiSoft managed to show that potential with AC2 that fixed the problems from the first game and they released an excellent game.
AC 2 was followed up with Brotherhood and Revelations and last years AC3. With every new game game after AC2 a pattern started to emerge. Combat got easier, free running got easier to a point where it feels almost automated by the time AC3 was released, gone are the real assassination missions and missions started to feel more linear and more restricted. People that played the first game know that traversal wasn`t as easy and you had to press more than one button to swiftly run around. It wasn`t particularly hard, but it need some hand eye coordination. Comparing this to how it works in AC3 it is clear that accessibility changed traversal to a point where non gamers could run around without issues. The actual assassinations is another big point for me. In the original game the player had the choice on how to approach the mission and what he wants to do. That quickly changed to having only a linear approach and in AC3 they where easy and very anticlimactic.
There would be other games as well, but I only wanted to ramble on about two games for this time. I`m very curious to see if this trend will continue for the next 7-9 years or not. We had certainly a fair share of games this generation where the developers didn`t spend their time making the game more accessible and focused on making a good challenging and fun game such as Demon/Dark Souls, Super Meat Boy, Dead Space 1, Vanquish, The Last of Us and so on.