If you’ve been around the gaming scene longer than the current generation you’ve noticed a number of stark differences that utterly change the way we game. While I’m often yammering on about the good old days there’s no denying that the gaming experience has improved vastly over the years and it really does no good to attempt to turn the clock back on every issue. Still, I think we’ve got a few problems that need to be settled lest our games continue down a worrisome path.
I think the reason so much of this has gone unchecked is because gamer displeasure tends to be spread across a number of titles instead of infecting them all. Imagine one game, or all games, having all of the new barriers that have popped up to our gaming experience.
It began with mandatory installs. Where we used to pop in our game and play it, many of the bigger titles require a large install. It has become a big enough deal to always warrant a headline when the install exceeds about 5 gigabytes. Then came the day one patches. Day one patches are a constant reminder that developers are releasing games that are unfinished, but they are hardly the only reminder. Game breaking bugs like the framerate slowdown in Skyrim come to mind. In such cases we come to the patch, which never fixes the issue entirely and often causes other problems besides.
Depending on who you talk to DLC is also a major barrier to gaming. It seemed like a good idea originally: sell some fun new content for fans of a game in order to extend the life of it. Bethesda had the right idea with their expansions to Oblivion and Fallout 3, offering plenty of new missions and areas for a reasonable price. Other games would sell you new multiplayer modes or costumes, maybe vehicles and special weapons packs, but it didn’t mean you had to shell out to get everything from the single player campaign. Things are changing though, single player episodes that are needed to get the full story are going up for sale. We need to lay down cash to see all of Lightning’s story in FFXIII-2, Bioware is planning some DLC that’s supposed to amaze irate fans displeased at Mass Effect 3’s ending. Doesn’t that imply they will be selling you a better ending? Speaking of Mass Effect 3, gamers are wondering why that day one DLC wasn’t included in the full game. Day one DLC only shows that things are being held back to squeeze you for more cash. Sure you don’t have to pay it, but gamers have trouble buying a product they know has been chopped up. Though Bioware has said they finish their games months ahead of time and DLC is handled in other studio locations, that sort of thing only raises more questions.
Here at OnlySP we have been unashamed to ask whether or not multiplayer and single player should be separated; it isn’t the worst idea since we keep getting stuck with unneeded tacked-on multiplayer that nobody is buying the game for anyway. Sure plenty of people are checking out Mass Effect 3’s new MP now, but how long can that last? I personally think I’d prefer to be offered just the single player campaign at a more reasonable price in the case of games absolutely dominated by online multiplayer like many FPS’s this gen. My point? The fact that games are coming to us unbalanced right out of the package just by virtue of the fact that multiplayer is getting too much attention for some, and not enough for others. The same can be said of the single player campaign in many instances. Whether SP and MP separate or find a way to co-exist, I don’t think anyone is happy about the tug-of-war going on or the obvious implication that one mode tends to affect the other no matter what the company’s press liaison says.
Moving on, we have another offender that has been an accusation for a long time and is now starting to be proven more and more. Thanks to some interested (and probably well-meaning) hackers we now know that content in Mass Effect 3 and Street Fighter X Tekken that is sold as DLC is actually right there on the disc. This means all you are paying for is an authorized unlocking of the content. I know gamers have said they should have included day 1 DLC as a part of the game but this isn’t exactly what they meant.
I’m sure there are plenty of other little annoyances, but it isn’t my intention to savage the way games are deployed these days but merely to bring attention to some recent changes that ought to be considered at length before we move into a new generation.
Not all is bad of course, some positive game changers this generation include downloadable titles that are fun and exceptionally creative. The ability to patch games has an upside just in case gamers don’t react well to something. Legitimate DLC expansions that are worth the price do exist. And having a game console function as your main entertainment hub can be quite handy.
Thankfully so far no single game seems to over-offend in numerous categories but if these technological and social issues aren’t addressed we could wind up with a seriously cramped experience when that elusive next generation finally shows up.