I like to play games (a lot) and communicating about them. I also roam the internet in search for interesting news, not only game related. Last but not least, I love drinking good scotch and bourbon whiskies with friends or alone, if no one's available.
Besides that I like to eat, drink, do a wee bit of sports and having fun with my cats in between. Oh and sometimes I study psychology, if I don't work for my living. One day, I might end up an economic psychologist, manipulating people just to make a dime. Scary stuff.
This blog is a reply to Cliff Bleszinski, among others co-creator of Gears of War, who in his own blog on tumblr supported the video game industry being the revolting capitalist behemoth it nowadays is.
If you want to sync 100% with Cliffy B's thoughts, follow the link above to his blog. In a nutshell, he pointed out for us that the game industry is just an industry like any other, primarily focused on making money (orly). And it is fine this way, he continues, because we as customers have the power to change it by deciding where our money goes, and more importantly, where it does not.
This is a point that cannot be stressed enough, especially in times where day one DLCs, manipulative pre-order baits and effortless ports or re-releases embody a daily menace. Sadly, there are some corroded wheels to consider which jam that seemingly effective mechanism.
The most prominent being just the fact that the flow of money determines the direction the market faces. Because you know, the bad thing is, this world-changing rainbow of colorful cash is nowhere near games which risk being not the norm. It's nowhere near putting effort into a characteristic title which stands on its own in the ocean of mainstream titles, nowhere near satisfying single player experience, nowhere near titles which last you longer that 10 hours or offer some kind of replay value (and don't get me started on senseless collectibles, for f*cks sake!) and nowhere near specific genres but rather pointing towards melting genres into, for example, a role-shooting-beat-up-the-adventure or something.
That IS the problem. I don't know how to describe this mass of people without discriminating against someone or missing out on entities, but we usually call them casual gamers. They seem to have a surprisingly satisfying pay-check on the end of each month and they don't bloody care what to spend their money on. Most of these individuals appear to gadly pre-order titles they know nothing about and are obviously of the opinion DLCs featuring skins or an overpowered armor which ruins the game are genious ways to spend their cash. Oh, and they love mainstream titles. Don't feed them casual gamers, eh! (This might seem discriminating, but let me give you an example. Should bike manufacturers stop producing high quality bikes just because the majority of their customers buy average stuff? I hope your answer is "hell no")
But the industry feeds them, of course. For good reason, as Cliffy B pointed out. Concentrate your efforts into the direction the bulk of the money comes from, and get rich, which, if you remember, is, why get out of bed early in the morning in the first place. And they do know where to put their efforts into. Cliffy sure as hell is right when he states publishers hire market analysts who tell them exactly how their customers behave. They hire these people to be enlightened in which ways they can manipulate the crowd into spending $$$ on their product, these being teasers, trailers, (increasingly fake) demos, shoppedy shopped screenshots, pre-order bonuses, DLCs and their sometimes bigger brothers "expansions". And most importantly, create a game everybody can play, don't bother with genre titles, they are niche products, stay the HELL away from them or your family might get hurt.
It's the same problem the country I live in (Austria), or any democratic-ish country for that matter suffers from. Just recently our population got to vote whether to continue forcing adolescents/young adults to serve in the army for 6 months or do social work for 9 months - OR rather stop that bullshit and introduce a "Berufsheer" (meaning no more underpaid forced-into-duty soldiers and social workers) which without exception consists of well-paid soldiers. You know what happened? Against all reason, the tradition to force young people into underpaid service was allowed to continue. Voting behaviour was analysed, revealing that the majority of pro-voters were elder people. People who have barely any connection to young people, who know nothing about their ambitions or challenges and who will obviously never suffer from being forced to do underpaid work or to discontinue their education on the state's whim.
Do you see the similarity? Gamers who don't consider video games their main hobby decide how the industry supporting our main hobby develops, for crying out loud. That's because, sadly, these know-it-all (and they do know it all) analysts made developers and publishers aware of the fact that most money can be made tapping into undisclosed market, transforming non-gamers into gamers by focusing on making games more intuitive (aka dumbed down), easy to play (aka taking out the garbage becomes the most daring task of the day) and easy to get (aka availability). Games are shifting to mobile devices for just that reason, and while I think that everyboddy being able to game is a good thing, it ruins the market for hardcore gamers, who seek challenge, specific genre titles and devices, known as consoles, pretty pleasejust for gaming.
Considering all that, it comes as no surprise that a large number of the best titles hardcore gamers get to experience nowadays are indies. Excellent ideas getting kickstarted, some developers search for new ways to get funding and fondling for their games and ideas. While it saddens me that AAA titles mutate into up-yours titles, it's great to see not-so-much-profit titles getting stronger and stronger, and especially, being acknowledged as serious stuff by more and more gamers. I had more gameplay fun with Chivalry than I had with Skyrim, and Amnesia (as some of you may have read) teaches most triple-ass horror titles how to cower in fear, just to name examples.
Now onto my closing words. I am sure I told nothing new to many of you. I wrote that blog equally to let off steam, to hone my writing skills, to make some people aware of what may be going on and to get into contact with you guys, so please let me think what your thoughts are on that topic. I myself am trying to remain optimistic, and upcoming titles like The Witcher 3 or existing titles like Dark Souls give me hope that my optimism towards the future of major titles is justified. That does not mean that I am going to swallow everything the game industry throws at me though, and I URGE you to do the same. For the limited power we have, let us use it. Put thought into what you buy, even if you have enough money to don't give a damn. You mold the future of video games with your wallet. If you find errors in this blog, you may give them to a wealthy person. Peace out.