The whole Batman: Arkham Knight Pc port debacle and after listening to Rich of ReviewTechUSA talk on it. It has got me thinking about all the shit problems us gamers face this generation, which was not a problem in the past.
Not stating that this generation lacks in providing quality content. In fact there are several great things about today’s generation that has elevated it to such high standards within the industry. However, there are several flaws within the industry that really makes us question whether these changes were good.
DLC’s are fantastic when done right. They are much like expansion packs from back in the day, which adds extra new content to increase the longevity of a game. Some games that did DLC’s right this generation are- Fallout 3, Skyrim, GTA IV and Borderlands 2. What made them stand out from the rest was that they offered actual new content to the existing game that added variety of new features and play-time like an expansion pack should. But unfortunately some developers take it to too far by splitting games into small bits and selling them separately or worse locking content within the disk behind a paywall.
This DLC trend has gone so far that developers have started to price and create DLC’s for games before they are even released, which in result can cost up to 80-100 dollars on release. Just look at Batman: Arkham Knight, they are asking $40 for their season pass… $40 freaking dollars you can buy a whole game for that price. Another game that infuriated me recently was Mortal Kombat X, fantastic game but disliked the way they approached to DLC. First of I have got no problem with them releasing new characters outside the MK universe like Jason Voorhees and Predator. But when you start charging for players like Tanya who has been a part of the MK universe, it’s like being sucker punched by the developers. Back in the day if there was a secret character, you could unlock them after completing a few challenges, not by paying for individual fighters. Second the release of easy fatalities, who on earth thought it was a good idea to release and charge for it? Fatalities is what differentiates the MK series from all the other fighting franchises, releasing these kind of DLC’s and charging for it was a complete desperate move to make some quick cash from their side.
I understand developers need to cover their costs in producing the games, as they are becoming more expensive to develop. But instead of milking the shit of gamers for small content, they need to change their approach to pricing and content in DLC’s or the community is just going to give up.
Similar to DLC’s but are smaller in content, they are most commonly found in mobile games and free-to play titles. Micro-transactions usually unlock things that range from- game currency to cosmetic items for characters. Therefore, you gain instant access to things you might normally need to grind for. Schemes like these are expected from a game that is especially free to play, as they have to generate money in some form. But unfortunately developers abuse this feature by making it to a point where it is essential, unless you are ready to spend an ungodly amount of time on it.
But things become worse when AAA-titles use micro-transactions, at least those other games were free to download and play. Two major titles that implemented micro-transactions in their games were; Fifa and the Call of Duty series. Especially Fifa for their online FUT sessions, which has you opening packs for players. The only way to get enough Fifa coins is to either invest real life cash or grind through the game till you have enough to build a squad. But it does not stop there, Fifa releases its game yearly and you might think the game would allow transferring those player cards you have gained from the previous game to the new title. Well it does not work that way, in order to build a squad you will need to re-grind or pay up. Ain’t that swell!
Going back to how it was in the past, you got everything in the game you paid for; nothing was broken down into small chunks of content. Just imagine how it would have been if you had to buy 1up mushrooms in a super Mario game.
3- DRM (digital rights management)
I understand the need for such systems are to prevent games from being pirated and what not. But what boggles my mind is when companies think it is a good idea to implement always-on DRM to games. Games like Diablo 3 where you are required to log into Blizzard servers to even play the single-player campaign are absolutely ridiculous. Remember the outrage that ensued when players were unable to log in to Blizzard servers, first few weeks after the games was released. These kinds of changes are completely unacceptable, especially to franchises that focus on single-player campaigns and yet EA thinks it is good idea to implement always-on DRM to their new up-coming Need for Speed title. Even after experiencing backlash on SimCity’s DRM.
To make matters worse, what happens if the servers slow or break down or in worst case scenario the developers decide to shut the servers down? That whole game becomes useless, it’s almost like you are renting these games rather than owning them. There is no harm in issuing games to be copyright protected by the use of a code. But going as far as making it always DRM is something that should just be dropped.
Back in the day when games were released they did not have the technology to patch them after release. Therefore, if a game was developed poorly it was reflected and there were no means of patching it, so developers had only one shot in finishing the game with minimum amount of bugs or glitches. But unfortunately in today’s industry it is more about releasing the game first and patching it up later.
In recent years it has slowly become a common trend for games to receive a patch on release and the patches are not small either ranging in gigabytes, which really does not make sense. Do they not go under some quality check before they are released or are the publishers in such a hurry to release it as soon as possible? There have been several cases where AAA titles where just broken on release. Take Assassins Creed Unity for example, the game went through several patches for months to be on par with other titles or the PC port of Batman: Arkham Knight which was so poorly optimized developers had to take it down from Steam.
This is a serious issue that breaks the whole concept of console gaming. We already have to wait for games to download its data to the system when inserted for the first time and now we also have to go through the hassle of patching the game. Long gone are the days where we simply insert the games and play.
This is one trend I seriously hope dies as time goes on. Back in the day pre-orders meant receiving the title as soon as it was released. Now it’s all about removing small bits of the finished game and labeling them as “Pre-order exclusives”.
Bringing Mortal Kombat X back to the spotlight, they made Goro; one of the most iconic character that has existed within the MK universe since it was released in 1992, as a pre-order bonus and what happens to those who did not “per-order” the game they have to pay for him of course. Same goes for all the other titles that come with “per-order” bonuses, if you want to access them without pre-ordering the game, you need pay a little extra to get the complete game. In some cases pre-ordering games from certain retailers will unlock special content, which ranges from Skins to missions and what happens to those who don’t have these stores in their countries, simply wait a few months and then pay for it.
Stuff like this never happened back then, if you paid for a game up front you got the whole game and in this age where games come with day-one patches you are not even guaranteed to receive a fully functional game.
It is a topic that has been discussed by others several times, but these issues have been lingering in my mind for a while now and wanted to share my thoughts or opinions on it. I am still optimistic to what the industry has to offer for this generation, but if shit hits the fence I got a decade of games to rely on, which is going to be one hell of a nostalgic ride.
Anywho, what are your thoughts on these?