5 Things Hurting the Video Game Industry

One look at my entertainment center or my favorites in Firefox reveals that I am in love with video games. It’s really not that hard to hide. On top of being in love with the games themselves, though, I am also madly in love with the culture of gaming and the history behind it.

Looking forward to the future, I continually fall in love with this lifestyle even more. However, there are a few trends that are starting to emerge that I am simply not a fan of. While these ultimately won’t break gaming, they are definitely detrimental to the overall community. Here are 5 things that are currently wrong with the video game industry.

 

Reviews

review
It has been said before, and it is worth repeating: the review system for video games is currently broken. When did a 7 or an 8 become a mediocre score? At what point did this become the “fail” point for most gamers? To me, it seems that the gaming grade rubric starts at about 7 or 7.5 and then slides up from there, particularly from some of the bigger names in journalism. The highest marks should only be reserved for generation-defining titles, and we hand them out every Christmas it seems.

On top of all that, reviewers don’t even seem to fully finish games before reviewing them any longer. To me, this should be a standard in journalism, but it clearly is not. In order to get a review of a game out before the game is released, many reviewers rush reviews and have only played small portions of the game. Most of the GTA IV reviews seem to only take into account the first island, which is easily the best one. So, developers, take note: make the first 5 hours of your game rock, and you’ve got a perfect score in hand.

 

Game Prices

gamestop
While I’m not one of those people that is going to complain that games have reached the $60 mark, the fact of the matter is that not all games need to exist in that lofty stratosphere. I understand that you want to make your money back, EA, but you should not ask gamers to pay $60 bucks (plus $10-$20 for DLC) for a game like Mirror’s Edge that can be easily bested in about 4 or 5 hours. Heck, Call of Duty: World at War shattered sales charts this Christmas, primarily because of its low pricing point.

Likewise, (and I know this is GameStop’s doing, but they are a huge driving force in the industry now) used games have gotten out of control. There’s no reason that a game that is over a year old and already has a sequel out should be $45 or $50 used. That’s just robbery.

If more gamers took a stand on this, maybe the industry would wise up. But sadly, we keep shelling out our dollars.

 

Hype and Sensationalism

pop
Is it just me, or has gaming journalism gotten out of hand? The thing that people don’t seem to realize is that pageviews equal dollars for these bigger sites with big advertising deals. The nastier or more provocative the headline (even if it is misleading), the more pageviews, the more money in the site’s pockets.

Am I the only one that remembers “Fallout 3 PS3 is broken” because people on Bethesda’s forum were reporting bugs within the game. I’m not going to defend busted games, but glitches happen, and gaming journalists were quick to paint it with a bright red brush. Likewise, the flack that games such as Prince of Persia received for having a death mechanic, that in reality was a slightly streamlined checkpoint system, bordered on the absurd.

These people create news and controversy in order to get more hits, and really, it’s gotten to where I can barely read some of the stories I see. I understand offering your opinion in your post, but show a little more integrity. It’ll do the industry some good.

 

Too Many Copycats

halo31
The name of the game in the industry this gen has been playing it safe. Because games cost so much money to make, the investments are that much bigger, and the risks are that much smaller. A lack of risk-taking leaves you with, unfortunately, more of the same cookie-cutter games we’ve always seen.

Look no further than the casual games for the Wii, designed to make a quick buck. Or even glance at the myriad FPS and music games that litter the landscapes of the PS3 and Xbox 360. I’ve gotten so tired of shooters these days, it’s always refreshing to play something like Valkyria Chronicles or even Civilization Revolution.

Unfortunately, gamers are completely feeding into this by purchasing this drivel over and over, try as we might to invest in something new and exciting. With the economy being the way it is, expect this to get worse before it gets better.

 

Fanboys

chad-warden
While fanboyism has always been bad, something about the pervasive nature of the Internet coupled with more access online than ever has lead to a deluge of fanboy battles in this generation more than any other. Be they Sony, MS, Nintendo, or PC fanboys, they are all equally annoying, and all equally detrimental to the industry. Interestingly enough, I think that all of the factors I’ve listed above play into this.

Prodding fanboys with sensational headlines is an easy tool for sites to gather pageviews. Trying to land the next big hit has developers afraid to take risks, which leads to gamers viciously clinging to the few original IPs that they have in vehement defense of their console. Heightening game prices makes people desperate for their console choice to be “right” (see Sony fanboys’ blind defense of Killzone 2… before it has even been released), and dishing out high scores to console exclusives (see inflated scores for any game in the Halo franchise) gets the discussion rolling all over again, which brings us full circle to pageviews.

I don’t understand the need for people to be so loyal to billion dollar corporations. What have they done for you lately besides take your money? Just be happy with your purchase, and play the games you love. And most of all… Chill. The. Hell. Out.

 

So, what do you guys think of the issues laid out in this article? Do you agree that they are hurting the video game industry?

Written by

I write about samurai girls and space marines. Writer for Smooth Few Films. Rooster Teeth Freelancer. Author of Red vs. Blue, The Ultimate Fan Guide, out NOW!

20 thoughts on “5 Things Hurting the Video Game Industry”

  1. I’ve never understood why GTA IV was considered overrated. I loved all the islands and so far love the new expansion. I could see how it would be dissapointing to long time fans (You guys) but to a lot of us it’s a great game. No one I’ve asked has really given me a straight answer. Could someone please explain?

  2. 1. Nobody likes IGN. lol But honestly, I think that blogs and such media outlets are going to be the new biggest source for reviews.

    2. Blame the recession. Just hope that Valve takes over the world and lets us buy games over Steam for $20 or what have you.

    3. Meh, if a company wants to create hype, they’re basically condemning their game to be a disappointment.

    4. FPS’s are pretty straightforward, and a “good” FPS follows a single formula. For the most part, the FPS is coupled with the RPG, and they make an excellent couple. As for copycatting overall, that problem will most likely remain for as long as video games exist.

    5. I find fanboy wars hilarious frankly. Most of the time, the arguments begin based on fairly weak points, and then dissolve into ‘your mom’ battles. Priceless. Chadwarden is the only true ballin’ fanboy out there.

  3. Great post, I really agree. Especially the one about reviews. I bail-out of lot of games after reading some reviews from famous sites.

    I sometimes feel bad for the developers who made a game that took more than a year to develop, and get feesees thrown at from gaming review sites. Thats cold…

  4. i dont think halo was an over rated game at all. i mean look at what all the other games are getting. halo:ce is easily the best game i have ever played. (2 and 3 go downhill, but compared to whats out there and what there rated, its ligit) so i dont think there inflated scores (altough i do wish they would make a game from the books as they kick ass, hope to see the other spartans in odst) but ya, i do agree with most of this. another thing that bothers me are games that are under rated. world in conflict brought some new things to the rts genre and really had a good story line (look into it, its cool) and yet barely anyone i know is jacked for its console/ expansion release this spring. it even got scores similar to killzone 2 and gow and no one knows about it! and the price for this stuff! i like what criterion did. they took the racing game of the year (burnout paradise) and made it 20 freaking dollars. NEW. ya. i never would have even considered buying it at a higher price, but 20 bucks, i figured why not. easily in my top 3 favorite games of this generation. i beat the single player game, but for 20 bucks it took me a total of 73 hours (there’s an in game clock). plus they to have free dlc. (they hide it in “updates”) so for 20 bucks i got way more then what i asked for, and it really made me enjoy the game a lot more. i think the company’s who want to make money(z) should do that, because if 50,000 people buy a game at 40$, its a lot better then 30,000 people buying a game at 50 bucks. and a lot of time when it comes to cookie cutter games, price is the deffining point. other then that good article. i like it 🙂

  5. Well, I agree with almost all of that.
    True, the prices are high, but thats just supply and demand economics. But seriously gamestop $50 for a USED game thats 2 YEARS OLD, now thats just not right.
    As far as reviews go, I say that its a combination of high AND low standards. Meaning if the games by a large company, people have low standards for it. If the game developers are little known, they demand outlandish standards that they must require. And companys may just be paying for a good review… may explain your Kane and Lynch pic!
    And Copycatting will be found in any form of art, I do believe video games are a form of art. Look at literature, and movies, how many times have you say the same old shoot-them-up movie with no plot, but loads of explosions. Or how about the same old crime drama book, oh my god its the janitor… again.

  6. Oh, and i forgot, the fanboy thing is so true! There will probably some kind of war over this one day! aka world war 3.

  7. 1. You don’t say? Branding a game with an arbitrary number score is bad? I wish that game review sites would be a little more impartial, at least. The irony is, the more ‘professional’ a video game reviewer is, the less likely his review will be unbiased.

    2. “EA: Taking nickels and dimes to a whole new level!” That is all.

    3. Hype is really unfortunate. Many gamers need people to hold their hand and constantly tell them that their game will be good. Remember when a few screenshots every few months was enough?

    4. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

    5. Fanboy wars are funny, and I have no problem allowing them to continue, in the same way that I have no problem with safaris or zoos.

  8. [quote comment=”4653″]I’ve never understood why GTA IV was considered overrated. I loved all the islands and so far love the new expansion. I could see how it would be dissapointing to long time fans (You guys) but to a lot of us it’s a great game. No one I’ve asked has really given me a straight answer. Could someone please explain?[/quote]

    It’s not that I think GTA IV was a bad game, not by any means. The problem was that it was universally declared as maybe the greatest game of all time, or the “Godfather” of video games by people that by and large hadn’t even finished it yet. The game was well done, but after the first few hours, grew stale. No reviews mentioned that, and it’s received tons of praise and awards based off of critical success awarded to its prologue.

  9. I remember reading GTA IV reviews and I think most of them finished the game. IGN, 1up and so on.

    However, the reviewers were taken to a secret Rockstar location and allowed to play over a day or two. Thats not an ideal setting and I don’t care for that practice.

    The fanboys are getting bad. Yeah, Killzone 2 is being hailed as the greatest game ever by people who have yet to play it, but look at metacritic’s user reviews: it’s like a 6, so clearly the 360 fanboys are feeling insecure about it as well.

    I, for instance, did not care for Prince of Persia’s Elika saving you thing, but it made sense because they took out the ability to rewind time. So it was appropiate for their game. I just liked the rewind feature better beacuse it meant I had to be careful.

    Eddy , you hit on a lot of things here and I agree with you on all of them.

    Scarface got a 7 or 6 from most reviewers, but I bought it and played the hell out of it, because I know what kind of games I enjoy and from what i read IN the reviews, that was a game I was going to enjoy. People need to not look at the number, but READ!

  10. You know, I thought to myself “Fanboys have gotta be one of these” Then “Wait, no, they’re kinda helping the industry”. Then I look down the page, and BLAAH, Fanboys. Also, Eddy, If you want a game site that gives out decent scores but uses 1 to 5 (No half marks) then you should check out giantbomb.com. Sorry, It’s not my site and I’m not selling out, I just think it would be worth your time to take a look see. A quick look see, look you.

  11. Valve is the one gaming company that is devoted to their fans and doesn’t rush the release of their games. Look at Half life 2 episode 3 in 2008 they said it was going to be released in 2010 which now a days in the gaming world is a year to long but Valve doesn’t care and takes time and releases better games. Valve is also so much more devoted to fan happiness then other companies. Valve releases free DLC for all their games (that they release DLC for and they also release the SDK’s for their games so fans can make their own games. Microsoft on the other hand just tries to guzzle your money from you at every turn.

  12. Great points man. I’m actualy very surprised that games are still being priced so high. Its funny, because more and more people are learning how to properly “rent” games before buying them. Why would I pay 60 bucks for a game if I dont know how its going to play/feel, ( especially on PC, all the potential issues, etc). Just like with Music. Ironically, this actualy raises the prices for the future, so its really a lose-lose for the gamers as well as the industry.

    I think if more games had good Demos as opposed to just releasing Trailers that are actualy just cinematics without any in game footage. Take F.E.A.R 2, anyone tried that demo? It successfully gave you a taste of a Lot of the weapons, some of the mech play, and a glimpse of the horror. I dont need to steal the game to know that I want to play this; which I wouldnt say about other games that had 1336 trailers (yup, they failed by just 1).

  13. [quote comment=”4667″]Valve is the one gaming company that is devoted to their fans and doesn’t rush the release of their games. Look at Half life 2 episode 3 in 2008 they said it was going to be released in 2010 which now a days in the gaming world is a year to long but Valve doesn’t care and takes time and releases better games. Valve is also so much more devoted to fan happiness then other companies. Valve releases free DLC for all their games (that they release DLC for and they also release the SDK’s for their games so fans can make their own games. Microsoft on the other hand just tries to guzzle your money from you at every turn.[/quote]

    So when Square Enix delays a game to ensure its quality, they get blasted, but Valve gets praised.

    I agree that delaying a game is better, but why does the media and fanboys freak out on Square and not Valve?

    This is part of what Eddy was referring to. Great points.

  14. 1.I really wish reviews were more reliable as they’re one of the deciding factors for me when choosing games. Point 2 is another major factor.
    2. Over here £30 – £40 is the standard price for new releases. I feel that these are fine provided we get our money’s worth (ie. DLC doesn’t come a week after release). I like Criterion’s view on free DLC when Edge, I think it was, interviewed them: “Why is the DLC free?” “You bought the game.” A big Up Your’s to all the guys at Ubisoft! I send my love.
    3. Not always too bad, provided the game lives up to/close to the hype. Few manage this though. Very few.
    4. Ah, the whole ‘who copied who?’ arguement. Halo is a definite ‘inspiration’ to other games but this means that developers who try to do something new within the genre still get penalised for copying because of very minor similarities like ‘they’re both FPS’s’.
    5. We can all slip into a degree of fanboyism at times, but you do specifically mention the extremists who will willingly wage a jihad upon the rival’s piece of tech. I feel this is stupid. I like my PS3 over my PC or my friend’s 360 but I’m not so childish as to go onto Metacritic solely to lower a game’s score. These babyish pricks ought to be put down. Hard.

  15. [quote comment=”4682″]That’s cold, Nick. That’s real cold.[/quote]

    That’s nothing. When Eddy texted me and told me about this post, I asked if he listed “Japan”.

  16. [quote comment=”4685″][quote comment=”4682″]That’s cold, Nick. That’s real cold.[/quote]

    That’s nothing. When Eddy texted me and told me about this post, I asked if he listed “Japan”.[/quote]

    LMAO JAPAN!!!

  17. <3Japan.
    1. Yeah, I plain & simple don’t trust any reviews. Period. I wish more games had demo’s =/.
    2.Game Prices are wayy expensive. If they were lowered. Even by 10-15 dollars, they’d probably sell double. 20-25 and they’d sell triple. That’s all there is to it.
    3/5.Hype is kinda whatever. Get suckered into it if you wish. It’s kinda fun sometimes anyway. Same with fanboys. They’re basically just stuff to laugh at now. Kinda with the Tom & Jerry idea behind them; everyone yells and gets angry & pissy or gets all hyper/uber happy and we all get to point & laugh.
    4. Eh. Copycats will always exist. Just look at the whole creating-copyrighted-levels thing on LBP. It’s a form of expression in a way. Granted, it’d be alright if the number of copycats vs. the amount of new content was balanced but alas.

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