I love gaming and I love gaming culture (most of the time). I wanted to make that clear, in case this sounds like an attack on the medium as a whole. It is precisely because I love gaming that I feel the need to raise the following issues. The industry today is far from perfect, and a lot of things need to be addressed before they get seriously out of hand. You’ve probably heard a few of these complaints before, but they are still worth mentioning. So here we go. Problem number one.
Recently an EA executive (Blake Jorgensen) said this, “World War 1, we were worried that many of the younger consumers out there didn’t know that there was a World War 2 or Vietnam, so World War 1…”.
What? Firstly, we all know that by “younger consumers” Mr. Jorgensen means people who are under 18, basically admitting they market their adult rated games to teens and children. Secondly, what? How can this man possibly think that a significant number of consumers won’t know what WW1 was? Am I crazy? Surely most people are aware of WW1. Obviously, he has been proven wrong by Battlefield 1’s critical and commercial success, but I still shudder when I think that a man so out of touch with his own consumer base wields so much power. He could have easily stopped the game from being made (and nearly did according to reports). I really hope this is just a one off. Executives at Gearbox also deserve a mention for the recent G2A fiasco. I understand that big publishers need to make money, I just wish they were run by people who were actively invested in games and gaming.
This years E3 (parts of it at least) was another perfect demonstration of how woefully inept many of the industries higher ups really are. Go back and watch the various YouTube “personalities” desperately try and whip up hype for games they clearly know nothing about. I cringed. I cringed a lot. Whoever decided to wheel out these poor people clearly had no idea who they were and failed to realize that YouTubers are the last people who should be parroting corporate mandated fluff. Being a YouTuber is an inherently individual profession. You dictate your own rules and schedule, you are your own boss. Once again, the people running our industry displaying a shocking level of ignorance. In their eyes, it was this simple, so-and-so is popular! Whack him on the stage! That’s just not how it works. Maybe a few twelve-year-olds got a kick out of it, but for the rest of us, no thanks.
It’s finally happened. You can no longer trust what now pass for “Gameplay trailers”. There are a thousand subtle ways in which the AAA sector will attempt to fool you with these paper-thin puppet shows, later graphical downgrades, scripted sequences and chat between players, early builds of the game, the list goes on. Watchdogs and No Mans Sky, both used what they labelled gameplay in order to get people excited for a product that was really only an illusion. We can also look to the recurring villains, Gearbox, and the now infamous “gameplay” trailers and screenshots for the dreadful Aliens: Colonial Marines. The reason for all this is obvious, pre-orders. If a studio can generate enough hype to make money long before the reviews come in, they absolutely will. I feel like this is a very harmful attitude, the growth of pre-order culture is getting out of hand and that saddens me greatly. Games like Evolve have actually advertised pre-orders before any gameplay was even shown.
Pre-orders are a separate issue, but if anything are even more concerning. In most cases, the publisher is simply trying to get your money before reviews or word of mouth can convince you not to buy. Even worse, most pre-orders now come with DLC and other extras added on. This splits the player base immediately and proves that any ideas of simply ensuring you a copy are far from the publisher’s thoughts. In almost every case, do not pre-order a game.
Open-World Games Gone Wrong
Ubisoft are mostly to blame for this one. Somewhere along the line we seem to have lost sight of what an open world game should be. It should be a game that encourages player freedom and experimentation and allows for truly meaningful exploration of an engaging world. It should not be big area in which to complete the same repetitive tasks over and over again. Even using real cities and countries as a map is somewhat missing the point as far as I’m concerned. Ubisoft are the main culprits here, but I have seen bits of their design start to appear in other games, which worries me. Mad Max and No Mans Sky were both worse for everything they owe Ubisoft. So much can be done with an open-world, don’t let Ubisoft dictate how they are made in the future.
I know this was ranty and a bit disjointed, but I’ve been wanting to say this stuff for a while now. Disagree with anything? Please let me know!