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Indie game dev, Videogame writer, Game enthusiast, Guitarist,

zerocrossing

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The games industry: Pushing consumers toward breaking point

I honestly believe as gamers we enjoy the best hobby available, video games.

Games, unlike most other forms of entertainment are capable of providing us with a combination of other great forms of entertainment, such as the cinematic experience of movies, the emotional depth and subtle sub text of music and the gripping plot lines, characters and unique worlds of classic story telling.

The classic games of the early 80's and the mid to late 90's where able to be fun and entertaining regardless of their technical limitations, creating great gaming experiences through original gameplay and memorable characters. Even to this day we experience incredible games that are able to push the boundaries of art and story telling, and immerse us in breathtaking and original worlds with memorable characters and original story lines.

With the help of advancing technology games have never looked better and with the next generation of games consoles currently on the horizon the possibilities for where gaming can take us next is near limitless.

That being said, as much as I love gaming there are some notable negatives, many of which have come about since gaming entered the main stream. Compared to 15 years ago games cost a ridiculous amount of money to produce/develop, mostly because of this many larger companies tend to shy away from developing mediocre titles that aren't practically guaranteed to be huge hits, and instead aim to create AAA games, a "AAA game" is a term used to describe a game with a huge production value, usually created in order to spark a franchise or as a continuation of one, the problem however is that when creating games with a huge budget developers tend to avoid taking risks and that can often lead to games becoming unoriginal and uninspired, the milking of popular franchises is a negative trend that all too many pubs/devs are responsible for, even just these two things alone are contributing greatly toward stunting the creativity in the games industry at large.

CoD, Gears of war, Assassins Creed and now even God of War, are amongst game franchises that many are saying are currently being put through the milking machine, in order for the pubs/devs to squeeze as much cash out of them as possible before the fanbase gets bored, now for a hardcore fan of a franchise it's all too easy to excuse this kind of behaviour especially while you're still enjoying the franchise, but that does beg the question, when should a game franchise be laid to rest? For example, GoW: Ascension, is it necessary? It's a question that is being thrown around quite a lot on the interwebs, and the fans of the franchise are almost unanimous in saying "yes, it is necessary" (usually along with some colourful uses of the English language) well, Im not about to argue with that, however I'll pose this question instead, how many more God of war games need to be made before a new game in the franchise isn't necessary? Before it becomes stale? Well, some would say that it's becoming stale now, I personally haven't played Ascension yet so I can't really comment either way, but having been gaming for over 20 years I've seen many games come and go and believe me the people in games industry will almost always milk a game franchise to death if you let them.

Remember Rockband and Guitar Hero from some years back? they where huge!, but EA and Activision milked them to death by applying crappy business practices (Like expansion packs sold at full retail price and by yearly sequels) that reap huge profits quickly but inevitably kill of a franchise due to over saturation, or better yet, to use the term Cevat Yerli of Crytek coined a week or two ago, it causes "Gamer Fatigue" ...Which Basically means gamers get bored of being fed the same thing over and over.

As if milking of popular franchises wasn't bad enough, gamers of today have to contend with, Online passes, locked on disc DLC, day one DLC, day one patches for broken games that absolutely should not have been on store shelves to begin with, microtransactions that exist to sell you content that was held back from the finished product just to be sold to you at a later date, coop modes being forced into franchises that don't require it isn't a negative in and of itself, but it becomes a negative when it starts to affect the main single player mode. Many could attribute Dead Space 3's rather lackluster single player campaign to that of probably being put to the side in favour of creating a more fun and enjoyable multiplayer/coop experience, is that a negative? Well if you're playing DS3 for the survival horror factor, yes it absolutely is a problem.

Just look at these recent examples of unacceptable business practices in the games industry, a few weeks ago we had Gearbox's absolutely appalling handling of the Aliens IP with Aliens: Colonial marines (we spent what was it? 6 years waiting for this game) The trailer looks great and the hype was at maximum, then the game gets released and it's broken and buggy, looks nothing like the trailer not to mention the graphics look 7 years old, (btw still waiting on that apology Geabox) and now we have Simcity 2013, DRM killed simcity, or at least pissed off a good portion of the fanbase, I may not be a huge sims fan but there are plenty out their, EA chose to limit the game to only being playable on their servers, the servers weren't up to it howerver which led to many people who bought the game being locked out of playing it, think about this for a moment, people spent their hard earned cash on a product that they couldn't even play because a company is forcing you to play on their serves, servers that we all knew where not up to the task, so you can prove to them that "you" purchased the game legally, what gull! that they should demand we prove ourselves to them when they can't even provide a service that actually allows us to play their game, it's absolutely unacceptable.

My point of this article is this, how much more are we willing to take? the games industry as it stands just keeps thinking up more ways to nickel and dime us, the consumers, we pay more now than ever, yet we also have more now getting in the way of us actually playing and enjoying games than we have ever had before, a lot of people who have gotten into gaming last gen probably don't mind so much since they are used to this crap and probably aren't even aware it's a problem, but mark my words it will only get worse if we let it and there is a breaking point, the games industry (the pubs/devs I mean) would do well to remember this and stop pushing the consumers until we hit breaking point and decide stop tolerating their mispractices and stop supporting them altogether.

Thanks for reading my blog, it's a bit of a rant I know but I feel I made some good points, or at least I hope so lol, anyway please feel free to leave a comment, thanks.

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SilentNegotiator1233d ago

Publishers are grossly self-destructive these days, and they always redirect blame at us. It's incredible that some of them think more microtransactions and DRM will improve things.

As for annual releases...Guitar Hero and Rockband, as well as Madden to an extent, should be beacons to the fact that annual releases are a horrible idea.

s45gr321232d ago

Well said is one of the many reasons why I no longer purchase games at launch or at $60.00 and decide to wait for a price drop. With games needing patches, updates, day one dlc, the online portion is slow or broken. I mean three or two months later the game is fixed.

DonJogHurt1233d ago

A very good blog post! I feel this quote accurately sums up the games industry in an nutshell:

"Blow millions on advertising to trick as many people as possible to buy some broken unfinished game you can patch later, if you feel like it. Charge money for every piece of worthless crap you can and even things that are normally free. Treat your customers like empty husks who only exist to impress advertising onto. And basically just be a huge sellout whore while maintaining the illusion you’re some pretentious artist or Hollywood star or some shit." - Jaded X Gamer

zerocrossing1232d ago

Thanks! Im glad you enjoyed it :)

And that's a great quote, it pretty much somes up all the negatives regarding the industry these days.

Bimkoblerutso1230d ago

Sadly this has happened gradually with EVERY artistic medium that has ever existed.

Even sadder, though, is that video gaming presents a rather unique opportunity for publishers to screw over consumers more than any other medium due to it's intimate ties to digital distribution.

I'm not so jaded as to suggest that we should just give in, because I honestly believe that even losing battles are worth fighting, but make no mistake...it's a losing battle.

Big business exists because they have become EXCEEDINGLY good at exploiting every natural flaw of the human psyche.

DonJogHurt1229d ago

Couldn't have said it better my self.

Bubble up!

TuxedoMoon1233d ago

Games aren't cheap to make. So they do all this to make as much money as possible. I do hate this generation for the rise of incomplete games and DLC, which killed unlockables. I was really angry finding out that all the good costumes in DOA5 had to be bought. I was hoping that they would pull a capcom on me...but they did. It was just last console generation that i was able to get 20+ costumes and find cool guns by simply PLAYING THE GAME. Now I have to put down extra money to get something that's on the disc already...

DLC, like expansions, are worth the money. Selling off endings and characters for fighting games is just plain dirty. Characters (for fighting games) and endings are needed!!

It's sad to think that there will only be more of this in the future...

s45gr321232d ago

Is it possible for us gamers to change all the issues we experienced this generation.

zerocrossing1232d ago

Voting with your wallet can help but It won't fix the problem if millions of other gamers are still buying, many gamers will put up with the games industries poor business practices because they feel the that the games they enjoy make up for it.

I don't know what we can do other than complain and stand united against it,and not purchase big titles because we refuse to support their business ethics (or lack of them) Pubs/devs will just keep pushing and pushing until we don't accept it anymore, that is when things will have to change IMO.

s45gr321232d ago

I like the blog and while everything on it was fact. I am wondering what can gamers do to change this and turn it around for the better. There has to be a way besides speaking with your wallet.

SilentNegotiator1232d ago (Edited 1232d ago )

I have two things to say about the voting with your wallet theory.

1) Voting is ineffectual if the "nays" have zero weight. When the uninformed masses buy a game anyway, the nays mean nothing. "voting" nay does not subtract from their profits. A million people say yes and a million people say no....they make a million customers worth of income, anyway.

2) The mouth (and keyboard) are mightier than the wallet. Look at all of the issues resolved (or attemptedly resolved at the least) by gamers speaking up; Mass Effect 3's ending was worked on with DLC (the first of which was free), Hitman added context to the final game for the scene that everyone saw as an odd display, DayZ was pulled from Steam and refunded while they fixed things and changed the inaccurate text, etc. These games managed fine with sales (actually, no idea on DayZ, but still), but because fans spoke out, action was taken.

Blogs, videos, tweets, etc...these publishers fear the negative publicity. We have the power to change things. We have voted with our outcries for change, not with wallets.

magnetite1225d ago

There's nothing wrong with Mass Effect 3's ending. It makes sense, fits in with the lore, and doesn't contain any plot holes. There's an article titled "A Logical Breakdown of Why the Mass Effect 3 Ending Makes No Sense" of someone who compiled a list of arguments to explain the ending using information that's actually in the game. In other words, being constructive about it.

Instead, gamers basically took to the forums with their flaming pitchforks and demanded that the ending be changed. That is rather being destructive about the situation and is honestly making the rest of us gamers look bad.

One of the things the devs said they wanted from feedback about the ending was something constructive. So deleting the much hated Starchild from the game isn't really constructive.

There was a conversation that took place during the first game that explains the Starchild scene quite well. Direct exposure to the Reaper signal turns you into a mindless slave. Or eventually you stop thinking for yourself.

Well Shepard doesn't seem to think for himself much during the ending, he just believes whatever he's told. Certainly isn't acting like his usual self.

As for choices not affecting the ending and the ending being the same. They specifically told people, the entire game is the ending and previous choices affect how the game as a whole plays out.

Certain people will show up or not depending on what happened in previous games. Or you'll have fewer war assets and therefore won't be able to get the ending where Shepard lives.

Bottom line though, the gamers complaining about this stuff are a vocal minority. Most people who buy games today are casual gamers. So I hate to say it, you're fighting a war you can't possibly hope to win.

zerocrossing1232d ago

Voting with your wallet is just one step in fixing the problem it's not enough to make it go away all together.

Complaining is good because devs & pubs hate bad press, but they will try to spin it making us look ungrateful, childish and/or entitled.

I think the only thing that will really help is we can all unite together and refuse to tolerate poor business practices by making a genuine boycott of a popular franchise because we have are against the company's behind it, but people probably won't do that out of fear of loosing a franchise they enjoy...

s45gr321230d ago

I understand but would it not be better for gamers to lose that franchise and move on to a new one made by a developer that doesn't screw the customer.

a08andan1232d ago

Concerning "Gaming-fatigue": http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...

A blogpost I wrote nearly 2 years ago :)

Anyways, nice read and I also believe that milking is a danger to gaming as a business :)

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