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.
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.
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
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
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.
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?