The state of the industry as I see it...
I always wanted to be involved in the gaming industry in some way when I was younger. Whether that be a programmer, a level designer, a tester, or just a journalist of some sort for gaming related news. When I was growing up through the PS1/N64 days gaming was a magical thing to me. I'd go to the store with my family, see an awesome new game on the shelves and beg my parents to get it. Every time I opened a box or a case, there would be a booklet with color art profiles, tips on how to play, and some even contained cheats. Back then, it always felt like I could have fun with a game. Even if it wasn't considered a "good" game. With the limitations systems had back then, it seemed as if developers could find more creative ways to do things in games. As if those limitations are what made the games so great. They were first and foremost about gameplay over anything else. That was a time in my life that I very fondly remember, before I began to feel that the industry was stagnating.
The past few days have been very trying for me, with some real shifts in my life happening that have really gotten me down. I love my gaming hobby, and I will always love talking with others about it. It's why I come to N4G every single day. Yet as I sit here and really think about the gaming industry today, I find it hard to lie to myself any longer by saying I want to get into it. I still have a certain spark that wants to strive toward being a game journalist, but I can't help but look at the state of things right now that really put things in perspective. I continually see claims of journalists or sites being paid to review games highly, or ones that put their personal feelings into reviews rather than keeping an open and unbiased mindset.
I would strive to be the type who would turn down any money incentives, would give the entire truth, and would keep my personal opinions out of the mix. Yet with how things are now, would that really matter? There are so many out there with tainted opinions, which I'm sure had good intentions when they started but slipped as time went on. It's hard to separate truth from fiction in most cases with gaming journalism (any journalism for that matter). You can't exactly tell if you're getting the entire truth, and it hurts to think that's where this industry has headed.
I look at Capcom for example. Their games brought a lot of joy to my younger self. I loved them up through the PS2 era. Now, they've become my most hated developer. They outsource their games, produce copious amounts of DLC some of which is actually on the disc you buy yet locked away in the coding, do not seem to listen to their fan base, and make unwanted changes to their series'. Then you have a company like CD Projekt Red who make the Witcher series. They give you a beautifully made game filled with content, allow you to have the game DRM free so that you don't have to worry about restrictive issues when buying it, and even went out of their way to include a MAJOR update to the Witcher 2 for free.
A lot of developers are going for the quick cash grab. Make a game that looks really pretty in the quickest amount of time possible and get it out so you can start selling. Sure, I understand these are businesses, they need to make money to continue going on, that's their purpose. Though I can't help but wonder why anyone would make something they're not proud of to get money. If I'm involved in something, I want to make sure it'll be something that I put my all into. Even if people don't like what I did, at least I could say I put forth my best effort regardless. I can't help but feel games these days hardly try anymore. They know what audiences are going to buy and cater to that rather than trying to make something to the best of their abilities. It's disheartening to see that a majority of developers and publishers seem to have fallen into this pit of copy/paste tactics. They're giving us the same game again and again with fresh coats of paint and not pushing the envelope enough.
I'm not saying there haven't been good games this generation, there really have been some gems. Things just don't feel like they used to however and I suppose it just makes me feel a bit lost as an old-school gamer. Maybe one day I'll strive to be a game journalist if I ever get the opportunity, but I'd want to stay true to who I am and keep the moral values I hold dear. If you read through this, I appreciate it and would love to hear your thoughts. Gaming is a huge part of what makes up who I am. It's given me a lot of great life lessons through the years, and I'm sure it's made me a better person because of those things. I just don't want to lose what made games so special in the past because of sleazy tactics, paid reviews, or biased journalism. As it stands right now, indie games are poised to take the stage away from the "AAA" titles and I'm fine with that. If that's what it takes to get gaming back to how it used to be.
Whether you're an Xbox fan, a Sony fan, a Nintendo fan, or even an Apple fan. We're all gamers here sharing the same hobby. Which is why it pains me to see fans of different systems bickering among themselves. Why squabble over systems when the gaming front is so lackluster this generation? We really need to pull together and send a message to some developers to try and change things for the better. Yes, I realize this is a pipe dream at best, but if I can inspire even a single person with any of my thoughts, then I'll be happy. Love & peace my gaming brothers and sisters. :]