14/01/2012

2011-2012: Signs of Warning.

English: A US Sega Saturn console, shown with ...
Last year, 2011, we saw an evolution in games, FPS is thriving, MMO's are stepping out of the WoW monopoly after the release of the new Star Wars MMO, RTS got to see the comeback of Age of Empires and so on. But it wasn't just good things, it was also a year of repetition and nothing less.

So It starts where I took off in the last post, nostalgia. Remember those games that you would take ages to figure out how to make your way to the end, the never ending try-and-die method? Or those games with extreme depth in the story that made you connect with the characters? 
It was awesome, you would feel proud for ending that game, even though we wouldn't have any recognition to prove it, or how you would cry man/woman tears if you saw one of your favorite characters die. That feeling right there is missing in todays generation.

Everything changed, and this is noticeable by the survival one console, the Playstation 2 who still demonstrates that it can outlive todays generation by still selling consoles and games so something must be very wrong here. Something either changed or died in this generation. We could do the blame game into who has the fault but its the consumer who has the ultimate fault, we have fallen into a paradigm in which people think that games are just like movies, taken the fact that you pay four times more for a game and so the quality bar expected isn't what we should have raised.

But this is not in a general sense that all games are bad and should be reworked, some are really worth your money, some of them are really examples that should be shined through the rest of the companies to learn and to evolve from a concept that others created, and not copy the formula and hope it sticks and sells so great that you could condense the same thing on a sequel until people get bored of it and stop buying.

The industry at the moment is in trouble, people might not acknowledge it, they might discredit it saying its nonsense and that the gaming culture has never been so vibrant like before but in my opinion its just sand in the gamers eyes. Developers and Publishers are starting to have some sort of attrition between themselves or their competitors, which in turn gets the media all rallied up.

The independent developers are actually getting more famous than AAA products and this, don't get me wrong, is good and bad. Good because its the indie developers who actually create new concepts of playing which they are finally getting recognized, and bad because high end publishers and developers don't actually see this and keep with the original milking of the cow until it withers and dies and then move on like a nomatic tribe in search for sustenance.

When talking about games the AAA studios and their games, that when the proverbial feces hits a rotation mechanism, they are stuck in a gaming concept that they seem to be addicted by it, everybody knows its getting old and boring, but they keep on repeating the same recipe and, once again sorry for the repetition, hoping it will stick and it will be a huge success. In 2011, we possibly had more sequels than original and fresh new IP's, now I won't say that its a given fact, but when strolling down Gamestop or Game shops, you can just see games with a digit in front of it.
An example of what I'm trying to say is Modern Warfare 3, its the continuation of the same batch of mechanics, with a fix here and there, with the continuation of the story and is one of the best selling games of 2011 and my question here is why is that?

The term if it isn't broken don't try to fix it comes to mind when trying to answer this question, but is it really a game that we want it standardized and made an example so others can follow? Do we really want extremely short single players (remember this is an FPS example) but with such gimmicks that look like it came out of a Hollywood movie or buying half of a game that comes with the full price and then the ludicrous DLC system that makes you buy the rest of the game for more money?

Well, the general population seems to disagree with me, we already seen that companies shot out a intensive scheduled plan to release tons of DLC, and a price I might reckon of 20€ per DLC, so if they release 100€ worth of content is it still worth it?

This is getting worse by the day, it's started to be like owning a car since we now have the need of services that you pay for monthly that shouldn't exist since you already pay a lot of hard earned cash for the game and DLC content that topples the game price. When was the last time you would buy a game, that was the complete package, and I'm not talking the GOTY edition of Complete OMGWTFBBQ edition? You can probably count by the fingers in your hand the games that you didn't had a DLC luring.
For me, DLC is something that I welcome with a mix feeling, because we know its another scheme to suck more money out of our wallets, but we also know it also adds more longevity and fun to the game you are currently playing, but does it really really add that much longevity? Lets talk about R.U.S.E. It was a great game, that I enjoyed it thoroughly and even played online from time to time, and the funny thing is that even though there were a couple of DLC to download (4,99€ a pop at the time) I never, ever bought it, and never needed it, it didn't made any sense, and the same goes for Mortal Kombat DLC's or my personal favority MAG DLC's. The latter doesn't make any sense at all being at the price that it is now, the game is practically a ghost town since the release of Special Forces from the same company, people moved on, but the DLC price is at 10€ las time I saw it, ridiculous.


We are getting more and more complacent with what the market is giving us, which is lowering our standards and the result of that is giving us small "demos" with a multiplayer component (which now seems to be like cheese in a pizza) for like 50€-80€, and a wide variety of DLC and Services to enhance your "skill" that might cost you 10-20€ a month. I wonder if at the time of Atari, something like that would be implemented it would be the worst experiment ever to mankind.

Well in conclusion, and for those who TL:DR, this text is nothing more than looking at the warning signs and actually be prepared to either take action or get the consequences, we are heading into a very dark and sinister path that won't have a way out, we are already seeing a DRM being implemented (but struggling), and specific requirements to actually play a game and soon we will pay the triple of what games are now and it will turn into a higher class leisure activity and not for everyone who wants to have some fun. 
I guess this is just a little snowflake on a much bigger avalanche and that I only skimmed the surface, what's your thought on this?

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