The video game industry has been experiencing a tremendous upswing in the last few years. More people than ever before are playing video games and they intend to keep doing so, as is indicated by the tremendous sales of both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
With the games industry at an all-time high, it’s an important time to address some of the issues that still plague modern day gaming. For as much good as there is to be seen in the gaming world’s last few years, the growth has led to some trends that could use some changes.
Below are four trends that have popped up within the video game world that could stand to be re-evaluated. With the amazing potential of the next few years in gaming, a change within some of these practices could help usher in a new golden era for the video game world.
4 – Brown and Bloom First Person Shooters:
The staple of the PS3/360 generation, the military, brown-washed shooter has seen almost too many releases to count in the past couple years. Following the success of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – which sold at an alarming rate thanks to its addictive multiplayer and visceral campaign – tons of developers wanted to jump on the proverbial ‘Brown and Bloom Gravy Train’.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with one specific style of game jumping into the limelight, oversaturation of these military FPS titles led to a period of stagnation within the genre. As developers tried their best to capture the Modern Warfare magic, most were met with disappointing sales and middling reviews.
As we look forward, it is in the industry’s best interest to expand past these genre staples. Call of Duty has long established its dominance within the genre, and developers grasping at a chance to gain market share only leads to disappointed gamers playing less than stellar games.
Thankfully, with the new console hardware and powerful PCs available to both developers and the general public, the time for innovation is now and the potential for some unique shooters is at an all-time high.
3 – Overabundant Microtransactions:
The rise of microtransactions within the video game industry is a relatively new concept. Stemming from an increased interesting in mobile gaming, microtransactions have become more accepted on games of larger scales.
Seemingly inconsequential in premise – paying a few cents for an extra powerup here or bonus lives there – the acceptance of the microtransaction model has given way to many games adopting what is essentially a ‘pay-to-win’ format.
From mobile games to many MMO titles, the microtransaction/pay-to-win model has begun to take the game out of many video games. No longer is effort or dedication the best way to advance within a video game, but rather having the means to continually purchase better gear.
An increased effort on balancing games can be a quick fix for the microtransaction issue, specifically within the casual, mobile gaming market. While developers and publishers are able to make money hand over fist by charging a little extra, they are essentially creating an unhealthy gaming community.
2 – Day-One DLC:
Few things will make video game purchasing consumers feel more marginalized than day-one downloadable content. The notion of releasing what is touted as a full game and then immediately putting out content – often at an additional price – is a relatively new, and frustrating, idea that has become a hot topic of debate.
Issues have arisen in many of the biggest video game releases in the past few years that the day-one DLC associated with them is essentially making consumers pay more for what should be – or is – already included on the game’s disk.
Day-one DLC’s attention was at an all-time high with the launch of Mass Effect 3 and its launch day release of the ‘From Ashes’ expansion. Gamers cried foul at the notion of paying extra for content that was shown to be already included on the game’s disk, whipping the internet at large into frenzy.
While there is nothing wrong DLC as a whole, asking consumers to shell out sixty dollars and then demanding a few more bucks to unlock more content on the same day as a game’s release feel like the cheapest way for a company to generate additional revenue.
1 – Streamlined Video Games:
Games, despite bigger budgets and larger audiences, have begun to feel simpler and more linear. The video game world was once filled with games that felt in many ways larger than life, filed with tons to explore and uncover as the player fumbled their way throughout a game’s story. Even with hardware limitations leading to games that may not have been as pretty as they are now, the sense of wonder and adventure that came from a more open approach to gameplay was what the majority of gamers sought from a video game.
The video gaming world’s increased popularity and user-base has led to bigger budget releases and an emphasis on a more ‘cinematic’ video game experience. Similar to the aforementioned points, there is nothing wrong with video games going for a bigger and better look; it is the dearth of gameplay that all too often comes along with this move that is making the industry for the worse.
As video games attempt to cater to a larger audience than ever before, the need to accommodate and coddle newer players becomes a focus, forcing games to simply become more linear than ever before. The once massive journeys of the games of old are now being replaced by what can best be described as corridors upon corridors only interrupted by movie-like set pieces.
Streamlining is most often seen in AAA games with an emphasis on the single-player experience. Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIII was seen as a betrayal by longtime fans of the series who were raised on the massive worlds and exploration of previous Final Fantasy titles when they were given XIII’s more linear approach to gameplay.
Even online-centric games have become more streamlined in recent years. Blizzard’s behemoth of an MMORPG, World of Warcraft has seen its once huge instanced dungeons become replaced by smaller, more linear ones and party-making buttons do much of the recruiting for said instances, essentially chopping away at much of the communal aspects of the game.
With the potential to make games bigger and better than ever before, it truly is in the best interests of game developers to eschew the convention of streamlining games. No one is going to complain about a game feeling too big, but rather than it feels too small.
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