Sunday, January 9, 2011

Random Musings of a Gaming Generation

Happy New Year to all, I hope your holidays were safe, enjoyable and of course, fun. Apologies for the lack of content over the holidays, we need holidays too!

That aside. This is going to come off as a lot of ramble... At this time of year, like in the November/December period, I usually stop to look at upcoming games, or the games coming out for the holidays and such. At this time of year, 2-3 years ago, I sat here and browsed through the upcoming ps2/xbox/GC game lists and would usually see at least 10 or more games on the upcoming lists for the year that I'd have an interest in. Today I sit here looking at the upcoming lists for the year, and see barely a handful, if even that.

It just makes me wonder how did we ever get to this point? Looking back over a decade ago at last few generations of games, there are many games I look at fondly, and am proud to own. Ever since the PS360 generation, there is not a single purchase I can look at proudly... Instead I look at these titles and think of how much cut content DLC or disc locked content is in the game, and how we will never own a complete game.

Steam had an awesome holiday sale, as they usually do. My wallet is on life support because of it. I look at the 30-40 odd games I bought during the sale, and they all had one thing in common: Every single title is at least a generation old, if not older, and contains no Withheld Content/Disc Locked Content. Guess what? Those old games, like Neverwinter Nights 2, are still going to be far superior games to anything comparable in the same generation from the current gen. Why? Simple.

1) They are complete games.
2) They have no scam DLC
3) They contain LAN play, or options to run a server. Using NWN2 as an example, the game's shining point is multiplayer and custom content/3rd party mods/3rd party created content. All of which *gasp* IS NOT COMPRISED of nickel and dime scam DLC.

Lets look back at the current PS360 generation. Has there been a single complete game released, at all, for the 2009-2010 period? At all? Just one?... I for one am unable to think of a SINGLE MAJOR TITLE that does not contain withheld content/disc locked content DLC. Every single major game released in the last period was prevented from becoming great games by the fact they were loaded with enough cut/scam content to leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

I used to have a saying applicable to MMORPG's, especially free2play free2pay MMORPG's:

"The only thing preventing MMO's from being great games, are the fact they are MMO."

There are a lot of MMO's out there, which, if the core game were made into a single player WITH optional multiplayer game, or a multiplayer game that could be hosted via dedicated 3rd party servers... would be a lot better game than they are in the MMO form. Yes, you do lose the huge fantastic persistent world of most of these games... and you lose the 'crowd' and high population... but if you consider that a large percentage of these games are populated by BR's with terribad english, nothing of value was lost at all.

Now I have to amend that statement somewhat to apply to almost any current, and upcoming gen major title.

"The only thing stopping any modern game from being a great game is the fact it's not a complete game."

The era of DLC potentially had a lot of promise. It was a way for developers to fix bugs discovered post-master. It was a way to deliver ADDITIONAL new content. The potential was there, everyone saw the promise it held. But what it should have been, and what it is are always two different things. So far the DLC era has been an excuse to allow for developers to release unfinished games such as Fallout: New Vegas (day one bugs, anybody?) with more cut/withheld content in the pipeline to come. It's also been nothing but a convenient vessel for developers/publishers such as Bioware to release chopped up bits of games such as Dragon Age and the upcoming Dragon Age 2... Announcing DLC even before the game has shipped? What do you think you are? An MMO?!

We understand that devs and publishers have to earn money. Fine, nobody wants to work for free. But, while you (devs/publishers) may believe that your work is worth $100+ per title... We, the gaming public, believe otherwise. So far you have given us more and more reasons to not buy, or to pirate your games, than to buy your games. Of course you're going to stand up on your soapboxes when you're only able to afford one Ferrari this year instead of two and scream that piracy killed the gaming industry... But, more and more gamers who didn't grow up during the DLC era are looking back at the quality we used to have, and the unfinished crap released as finished games today... and wondering what the hell went wrong.

Where did we go wrong indeed? How did such a promising vessel (DLC) for quality turn into nothing but a vessel for cash scamming/grabbing without a care or pride for the game itself? Even on PHONES now, you have 'in-app' purchases... which is... yep... more scam DLC. More and more games on the iPhone App Store are now coming out as PAID titles WITH a 'premium' cash shop inside. Gamevil and Capcom I'm looking at you here. The fact that the scam DLC era has moved to PHONES is beyond sad.

So, happy new year... I'm sitting here looking at the upcoming release lists for the year and trying to spot complete games being sold. Someone let me know when they see one. It looks like I may finally be able to save money, as all the cash grabbing, DLC scamming companies like Bioware, Capcom, Bandai Namco, EA, Activision and many more... are just so drop dead insistent on pushing away my business by choosing to not sell a complete game.

I don't know whether if all of this cash bleeding is deliberate foolishness or if they just truly, honestly do not get it. Do they honestly think that people have money hidden away somewhere, or a money tree in the backyard and by using the current dlc scams/cash bleeding tactics they are... that they're actually going to somehow magically get access to this hidden stash? I've ranted and hated on the scams they pull many times but often I am also left seriously wondering: Do these companies HONESTLY not get it?

People aren't really hiding or withholding cash the way you companies withhold content... Most gamers have a budget set aside for X number of games a year. They WON'T spend more than that budget allows simply because it's outside the budget. If a gamer had $120 put aside to buy 2 games in the upcoming quarter, and then he realizes both games he wants are unfinished/chopped up games with cut content... Do you honestly think he's going to continue to spend the $120 on both games and then SOMEHOW magically pull out MORE money to buy all the cut content DLC? Sorry, that isn't the case... What the guy is going to do is going to weigh up the two games he wanted, buy the one he wants more, and then buy the cut content... So out of that $120 he was going to spend, he would have spent $60 on one of the two games he wanted, and then maybe an additional $20-30 or maybe even $40 if it's a Sucktivision game on the cut content... and just go without the other until the budget allows or it falls into the budget bin. So out of $120 that he would have spent on two complete games, one company has lost out completely on a sale and the other company has gotten maybe $100... indeed the lion's share of his gaming budget, IN ADDITION to leaving a nasty, scammed, bitter taste in that gamer's mouth which most likely is going to deter him from buying any future titles from that same company.

At the end of it all, the gamer loses out because he had to pay more for less, and got scammed/burnt... The company may have 'won' by getting him to spend $100 on one game instead of $60... But they lose the war in the long run when the gamer decides to stay away from X company due to being burnt by scam content the first time. Rather than keep the gamer happy and constantly coming back for more and more new titles, you bleed them so hard on ONE sale, you'll get your pound of flesh, and then they never come back.

Penny wise, pound foolish. Do these companies honestly not get it?... It boggles the mind sometimes.

I wonder how it will be next year... Or will we be in the age of paying $20 for a title screen and $5 for the ability to Press Start, and then an additional $5 for the ability to begin gameplay... and $10 to save your game. When the PS360 generation dies, is the next generation going to require you to pay $1000 for a console, and then pay $20 to even be allowed to turn it on, and another $20 to create an online account to use the console at all... and then another $20 to be allowed to insert the disc, and from there... another $20 to see the title screen?

I know for a fact I will not be buying into the 'next gen' of gaming. I also know an increasing number of people are starting to feel the same way. I suppose it's a good thing that there were so many quality games released in the last few generations... With this current gen sucking more and more, and the future looking bleaker and bleaker... it's a great time to go back and play the older titles I put aside as a 'I'll get around to this someday'.

1 comment:

  1. Phew - *wipes bile from face* thats a lotta hate.

    I agree that some companies use DLC to sell useless crap to people, but I also believe that DLC can be used to enhance a game which is already good.

    There are a few titles this year which I'm really looking forward to. Batman Arkham City, Portal 2 and Guild Wars 2 - probably the main ones.

    ANet have already stated that they will have quite a fair amount of DLC for GW2, and considering its one of the only decent F2P MMOs I can't blame them. As long as the DLC doesn't provide a significant advantage to players who decide to invest, over those who don't, I'll be happy.