I come from a time before the internet had fully taken over the world, a time where if you bought a game from the shop it was complete in its creation. The world was bright, full of butterflies, rainbows and birds singing happily in the trees. We had a MegaDrive, a PS1, a PS2 and an Xbox so all was well.
Then the Xbox 360 came along. Things grew darker with the emergence of Downloadable Content (DLC) and online patches. Armour for horses, unfinished games and parts of games taken out to be sold back to you. Games could be released broken or unfinished as they could improve them later. Children cried, shrieking in terror as they witnessed how a full game couldn’t just be bought anymore. The inclusion of the internet was like setting fire to a beautiful meadow.
As the meadow burned we saw the release of Season Passes which in theory were a good thing, grouping together the extra content for one slightly reduced price. However the contents of the Season Passes were often unannounced so players were gambling on whether what they’d bought would be anywhere near expectations. One game was basically just a demo if you didn’t buy everything with it.
(It’s only fair to note that some genuinely good DLC has come out over the years like Oblivion’s Shivering Isles or Borderlands 2’s Assault On Dragon Keep.)
Among the downloads the sports games were doing dodgey deals, selling randomised digital players in ‘packs’ for competitive play. This randomised purchase system eventually blew up across the gaming industry as the great Loot Box Microtransaction debate which was so big it hit international politics. The idea being that all the sweet little chipmunks were putting in more and more money to gain something unannounced which was basically full on gambling. These online casino mechanics weren’t aimed at the kiddos though. No, it was a big game hunt for Whales. (The idea of a Whale is someone that’s probably got mental issues and will just put everything they can in, it’s the sort of customer that predatory casinos go after.)
After the Microtransaction debacle finally started settling down and the world saw peace again we saw the new terror, Battle Passes. Purchase a Pass to gain access to unlockable items in game, but you must be fast as there’s a timer. This idea bolstered the addictive nature of games, keeping players invested for the long term so they’d buy the next Battle Pass driving the cycle on.
We’re now seeing higher prices than ever before for new games which paired with the idea of exclusive games is driving us closer to only the wealthy being able to play. The Season Pass problem has multiplied as the games that still have them can have more than one which doesn’t feel as good as it used to. There’s too much preying on people for their fear of missing out.
There also seems to be a trend in rehashing, remaking or remastering old ideas, using nostalgia in every creative industry to squeeze the money pig… Poor little oinker.
I worry about the trends with games companies. I worry that they only value profits and not the players that make them possible. I worry because there’s been a definite decrease in the expected quality of newer games. I now struggle to get any sort of personal hype for new games which is all because of bad practices and greed in the industry. I’ve not fully lost hope as I know it’s usually not the developers fault, so I hope we see some improvement in future. Maybe the grass can be greener and the skies much bluer again.
Sorry to seem so down. Thanks for reading and enjoy your day.
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