Business Poison

The state of the video game industry, as many of us are most likely aware, has become all too… well, messy, for lack of a better term. And this is because somewhere along the line (I’m going with around 2006/7), business heads took a look at the gaming industry and said, “Blimey, hasn’t this gotten rather popular. Let’s make some money out of this.”

From then came an influx of a new part of gaming called DLC, wherein gamers could pay for additional content within the game. And initially, I don’t believe this was a bad thing, because DLC was treated like a kind of alternative to expansion packs; we got more Fallout 3 content, for example, more Bioshock Infinite. The reason this was good is because it wasn’t simply businessmen saying “Make us more money out of your game”, but “Make more of your game so we can get more money”.

This became more and more exploitable, however. The real change I began noticing was when Halo and Call of Duty map packs came out; they seemed horrendously overpriced to me. And let’s be honest, they were, and still are. I don’t want to pay £30 for a couple of new Zombies maps which you could have just included with the base game (which sorely needed more Zombies maps in the first place). DLC went on to become more (or, technically, less) than expansions. Sometimes you could buy an extra car pack, or a skin pack, which was cool because it wasn’t necessary to own them. The problem was that DLC was becoming more and more like the “addon” content which it is today.

And then there’s in-game currency and pay-to-win. Remember the days when you could look up a cheat code to get more money in GTA: San Andreas? I’ll hand it to Rockstar, they did add cheats to GTA V. But paying real money for GTA money in Grand Theft Auto Online is where it begins to bother me. It’s not one of the more extreme examples I could use, but it’s definitely a sign of what’s happening:

Corporate heads are pressuring developers into changing the fundamental experience of the game in order to create more opportunities for microtransactional shortcuts, where once the player could simply have gone and looked up a cheat code.

Furthermore, the issue we’re seeing more and more in this generation of consoles is rushed games. I’m not going to lie, I’m looking specifically at Ubisoft for this. Assassin’s Creed Unity is the elephant in the room so let’s address that first. From what I’ve heard (as I’ve not played the game myself), once you get past the bugs and glitches and hideously giant “micro”transactions, there lies a decent Assassin’s Creed game. And that tells me that game’s actual developers put a lot of hard work into making this game as good as possible. It’s fairly easy to see that Ubisoft rushed this game out the door so they could make money quickly, as opposed to letting the developers fully polish the game.

It’s always good to be fair with an argument and not avoid the games you love, so let’s do that: World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, despite being a fantastic game, had an awful launch. Diablo 3 required at least a year of patching before it was enjoyable. And as much as I hate to say it, the Ratchet and Clank HD Collection feels like it hasn’t been through QA at all, which adds to the argument that these HD re-releases of games are just more moneyheads mining for gold.

So, how do we fix this? I’ll repeat popular Youtuber TotalBiscuit’s advice: Stop pre-ordering games. The moment you pay for a game before it’s finished being developed, the corporate moneybags have no reason not to rush the game out without fully polishing it into the best experience it can be. Why? Because you’ve already given them your money. Wait until the game releases, and if it’s a buggy mess, don’t buy it. If these business-heads can only understand feedback in money, we’ll give them feedback in money. And perhaps then they’ll stop smothering the game developers and give them the space to make the games we love. Same goes for microtransactions; stop buying them, and they’ll stop being seen as effective.

Anyway, apologies for my first post on here being a negative one. I thought I’d better get that this-gaming-industry-has-gone-to-shit post out of the way so we can discuss more cheerful matters. Watch this space!