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Top 10 Gaming Trends That Need to Die

Donkey Kong Drinking Beer We are nearing the end of an era. The current generation of consoles is on its way out. They brought a lot of joy to an immense number of people, but along with that joy they also introduced some new trends I’d like to see retired with with the consoles. Most are too profitable to be retired and will likely be tied to the next generation of consoles as well, but a man can dream. Here’s a list of 10 gaming trends I would love to see met with a brutal demise.

Online-Only DRM

SimCity DRM If Diablo 3 and SimCity taught us anything, it’s that online-only DRM is never justifiable in the slightest outside of a MMO or an 100% online game, like online chess or one of those cheap free-to-play FPS games. Games like World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 have to have an Internet connection to play, because the entirety of their worlds – including player locations, world events, and even their commerce is always updated in real-time to give players the most immersive experience the genre can offer. While games like Diablo 3 and SimCity do have a high focus online-play, they could easily be played solo if it weren’t for the online-only DRM. I don’t think any fans of those games would complain if only the online portions were restricted during server outages and Internet-breaking midwestern thunderstorms.

DLC Endings

Asura's Wrath I may be in the vast minority, but I didn’t hate Mass Effect 3’s ending. Well, the original ending that is. The fact that I now have to specify which ending is a pain in the ass,  but the original wasn’t as bad as everyone made it out to be. Due to ridiculously over-entitled gamer backlash, Bioware ended up releasing a different ending as DLC, which really digs up old emotions regarding the “games are art” debacle. You don’t change the ending of your creation! Going back to it and adding stuff or updating the visuals is one thing, but to drastically change such an important part of your artistic vision over fan backlash completely undermines what makes art, well, art. If that’s not bad enough, Asura’s Wrath took it one step further and released the game without an ending. Seriously, the final chapters had to be purchased as DLC. It was even marketed as the “true ending” by Capcom!  The “lost episodes” are easily forgiven as they aren’t key to the plot, but the final four episodes of the story were priced at $6.99. It doesn’t stop there, no. But a couple of episodes had extended cuts and were priced as $1.99 each before the final four were released. And speaking of games as art…

“Video Games Are Art”

Games Are Art Everybody knows that video games are on the same level as film, television, music, and that painting of dogs playing cards. They are art, plain and simple. And you know what? Nobody cares. It seems gamers and developers have taken the opinion of Roger Ebert a little too personally and set out on a personal vendetta against an old man who is understandably disconnected from the culture surrounding video games. You don’t expect a child to know how to spell “encyclopedia” by the age of 3 or expect a Mormon to be taken seriously, so why are we as a culture trying to convince an old man what’s new, hip, and acceptable as a form of artistic entertainment? The argument is dead and has been for some time now, but every time an indie game with colorful aesthetics pops up, a million gamers feel the need to shout “Look! Games ARE art!” across the Internet in an attempt to prove an old man wrong. Get the hell off of his lawn and go play a game, your whipper-snapping delinquents.

Season Passes

Video Game Season Pass Amazon hasn’t even shipped the copy of your most anticipated game yet, but the developer is already announcing an entire season’s worth of DLC for it. How does that make you feel? Most of the time, details are scarce about what’s even going to be included in the season pass because the content is still early in the creation process. Why would you want to give them money for something you know nothing or next to nothing about? It’s a stupid business model that relies solely on customer trust. A trust that can easily be shattered when the same publisher pulls a “GearBox” and treats a beloved franchise the way Aliens: Colonial Marines was handled. Instead of wasting resources on season passes, some game companies need to focus on improving their games instead of creating content gamers might not even want, let alone buy up front.

Publisher-Specific Clients

EA Origin Like most of the gaming elite, I love gaming on PC’s because of the freedom and ease of purchasing, downloading, and playing games. Sure, you can do the same on consoles these days, but the PC has perfected the digital game market thanks to online retailers like Steam and Amazon. Of course, good things can’t last forever. It’s only fair that of all corporations, EA would be the one to set PC gaming back to the dark ages with their strong focus on ruining everything we know and love. EA and Ubisoft are the main two offenders, requiring all (or at least most) of their games to be purchased, downloaded, and launched through their attempt of a Steam-like experience – which has always fallen short of everyone’s expectations. Sure, expectations were low to start with, but EA and Ubisoft manage to push the interest of digital game purchasers into the negatives whenever their game client is mentioned.

Game-Altering Pre-Order Incentives

Pre-Order Incentives I understand why retailers want to offer preorder incentives, but I don’t like it. When a new game is about to come out, I want to buy it on Amazon or pick it up at the closest store that sells video games. I don’t want to waste my time scouring the Internet for which retailer offers the best bribe to get me to buy the game at their store. I have no problem with a cheap hat or lanyard being offered, but we start treading on rocky ground when the incentives are offered in-game. An in-game outfit or skin is one thing, but pre-order incentives that alter the game or give select players an advantage are another. You know 14-year-olds with something to prove are going to flock to GameStop’s 50+ XP preorder incentive over Amazon’s weapon skin, leaving gamers without an option to buy it at a certain retailer left in the dust.

Physical-Priced Digital Games

Physical vs Digital Games Video games can be expensive. The average for a console game is now $60 and handheld games are generally around $40-50. You’d think that buying games digital would not only save you the hassle of going to a story, but would also be less of a burden on you wallet. Sadly, you’d be wrong for thinking that. In a shocking turn of events, most new releases are made available digitally for the same price of their physical counterparts. There was a time when PC games were slightly cheaper than console games, but that ship has sailed thanks to good ol’ fashioned corporate greed. While game codes aren’t necessarily plucked out of thin air, they do lack the noticeable environmental burden of manufacturing a case, cover art, booklet, a disc or cartridge, and shrink-wrapping it up. That’s enough to warrant at least a $5-10 difference between the two.

Online Multiplayer Passes

Battlefield 3 Online Pass “Hey, Dave. Want to play Battlefield 3 online? Oh, never mind. I forgot you’re poor.” I’m not one to buy used games. If I do buy a game post-launch, it’s usually still new thanks to Amazon or NewEgg. The introduction of online multiplayer passes really separates gamers in ways that were previously only reserved for console fanboys too stubborn or willing to swap systems. If you buy a used game and have to pay an additional $15-20 for a pass to access the online portion of the game, you aren’t really saving any money. It’s like a huge “fuck you” to the middleman. Not only that, but online passes can even have an expiration date. Yes, like spoiled milk. If you buy it new but enough time has passed since the launch window, you’re still stuck paying an additional fee to play online. If the game isn’t very popular and the playerbase is nonexistent by the time you get around to buying an online pass, then you’re screwed once more since you can’t return your pass.

(editor’s note: What makes this even more ridiculous the that retail stores like GameStop will give a customer less money for trade-in due to the online pass, but then sell the used game for the same used price as a non-multiplayer pass game.)

Paying for On-Disc DLC

On Disc DLC Releasing DLC for a game is now a highly profitable business model, so it’s not going anywhere. In fact, DLC doesn’t really bother me. What does bother me is paying for “downloadable” content that doesn’t even need to be downloaded since it’s already on the disc. I mean, that’s pretty low. When you download DLC, you see the size of it. Gamers are kinda tech savvy  so we know that an all-new game mode will be bigger than 20kb and no map pack can be downloaded in seconds unless you’re one of the few lucky enough to have Google Fiber. At least have the common decency to lie to consumers by making downloadable content seem bigger than it is by only allowing us to only buy it by bulk.

Paying For The Right To Play

Pay to Play You just bought a $500 console, $60 game, an extra $60 controller for the flithy hands of your friend, and now you’re ready to play online with the “lovely” Xbox community. Oh, wait. You can’t. You forgot to pay an additional $60 to access the online services that are available for free on other consoles. Kind of regretting that purchase right about now, aren’t you? Sony seems to have been making up for the PSN’s incompetence in the past with the benefits of PS Plus, the service that actually pays for itself, unlike Xbox Live. It’s even $10 cheaper than Xbox Live’s yearly Gold subscription plan. If anything is heading the way of the dodo, it’s likely pay-to-play subscriptions like the one Microsoft offers with Xbox Live. Corgi

Not every unwanted trend could make the list, but these were the 10 I personally would like to see die. How about you? Agree? Disagree? Is there any gaming trends you loath and I didn’t include?

Tell us in the comments.

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Like any good gentleman of the evening, Dustin has been around the Internet more than a few times. He's co-founder of Geekenstein Media, a regular co-host on the Nuts and Bolts podcast and co-stars in the Broke and Bored video series. He does a lot of co-things.
  • http://twitter.com/Xx334xX Terrence B.

    All spot on but you already know me as a Sony lover Dustin I gotta ask how is Sony incompetent(minus the past security issue and updates)?

    • http://www.dustintriplett.com/ Dustin Triplett

      Do you really need another reason? Those are big ones.

      • Austin McDowell

        riiiight, like Sony are the only people who did wrong…

    • captain_pudding

      February 29th, 2010 comes to mind lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/miguelvilhena5 Miguel Vilhena

    Paying for the right to play isn’t going anywhere. Sony announced that it will be implemented in the PS4, so it is only fair Microsoft won’t back down with the next Xbox.

    I may be pessimistic, but I can’t see any of these trends being abandoned as publishers look for bigger profits.

  • http://twitter.com/shanepeltzer Shane Peltzer

    100% agree with you on all fronts Dustin.

  • http://www.geekenstein.com/ Craig Kandiko

    I personally am a fan of season passes. Examples are Gears of War 3 and LA Noire. With past games, Epic Games had additional maps they always produced as the game evolved. You could buy them in individual packs. For the hardcore fans, this was ten bucks a pop. so once 4 packs came out, you were spending 40 dollars. Which for a game I love I didn’t care. I enjoyed the extra content. When Gears 3 came out and offered the extra content. They said the pass would allow for 4 DLC’s but for only 30 bucks, so a savings of $10. I bought the season pass because of past experience with the games quality.

    I thought it was a good way also to keep a games excitement going. How many times does a game’s multiplayer die after a couple months? The season pass keeps the excitement going, and accomplishes what the publisher wanted, people don’t trade games in.

    But I see your point. now publishers are using it for different uses. But think about this. If it’s a game you really love like Gears of COD, they people ARE going to buy the map packs and the extra modes. Gears of War Judgment will offer permanent 2X multiplayer EP plus other bonuses exclusive to people who purchase the season pass.

  • Get my Lego

    Mass Effect 3’s ending sucked either way. How can a developer leave so many questions unanswered and tell us our decisions matter, when they don’t at the end?

  • K. Bennett

    I have been screaming forever about how jacked up it is that if I buy a gme on steam I am paying just as much as someone else who gets a physical copy that is on a isidc in a case with a book in a box in a wrapper that is then shipped and sold in a store fore a profit. ESPECIALLY WHEN IT IS PURCHASED FROM SOMEONE LIKE EA, WHO MAKES THEIR OWN DOWNLOAD SERVICE WITH NO MIDDLE MAN,

  • Rafael

    The only thing I don’t agree with is the price difference between physical and digital. The case, cover, disc, etc represent a cost of cents, I think not even $5 in total. They wouldn’t give that little discount to consumers and make retailers furious, after all you are giving “incentive” for online purchases, where does gamestop, walmart, best buy etc stand on that… It’s too much corporate trouble for little discount to us consumers, that would end up suffering consequences is those retailers stopped selling games or something similar.

    • http://twitter.com/Elvick Elvick

      Tell that to Sony who does give a discount on all first party digital releases. They started it with Vita. And have been doing it with PS3 games, and will probably do it with PS4 too.

      And some 3rd parties have done the same on Vita as well.

  • Tyler Durden

    The fact that A) to play games you have on Steam you have to be connected to the internet. B) You don’t OWN the games, you are buying the RIGHT to play them.

    • http://www.dustintriplett.com/ Dustin Triplett

      Not necessarily. I’ve played many games through Steam’s “Offline Mode” during times of without Internet. And you do own the games – minus the ability to resale.

      • Dude

        Yea, you only have to be online to sync your saves and “cheevos” to the cloud.

        TD is correct on point B though, you are simply paying for a very limited license to play the game (and only to play it in certain ways). Typically this is inconsequential, but sometimes it can nip you in the ass. A common occurrence is breaking Steams TOS, as they claim to reserve the right to revoke your licenses and ban you from your library.

        • Thiemer

          So what a Game company isn’t allowed to protect there copy rights because you want to take their $60 game and shotgun it to every one on the internet for free? all that just cause “Well I paid $60 its my game I can do whatever I want with it” actually read the terms of use. they reserve the right to revoke your Licenses, and ban you from your library so they can protect things such as copy rights, and prevent hacking. game company’s have been doing that with physical copy gamers since late 1990’s when the required CD key started being used. I remember my friend had his CD key for Diablo 2 being banned because he gave it out to about 12 people.

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  • http://twitter.com/Elvick Elvick

    Only one I disagree with is online passes. I don’t care, I buy new. Odds are if you’re buying a game new, way after the fact like you suggest, then not having the code won’t matter. It probably will be dead online anyway. Most games are after a year passes, unless it’s Halo, CoD, or something like that.

    There are many ways to save money buying games new, and not needing to wait that long. Shop around better. It should just make you be a better consumer, not make you start whining.

    And I don’t see “video games as art” to the extreme example you stated. Just games where it is really evident. Like Journey.

    • higuide

      it is art only from the eccentric point of view in a weird hippie esque sense also its a good defense from people jack Thompson video games are protected by freedom of expression.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Craig-Millington/572571966 Craig Millington

    My biggest one is DLC that is announced before a game is released. Or even more so, seeing dlc content on psn/xbox live store the day before a new game is released.

  • patrick e. dethomas

    i love video games, but they aren’t art.

    • Kirk

      I remember reading on a Game Informer mag a couple years ago where Hideo Kojima himself did not consider video games art. I do to a point I guess, makes me feel emotions like a movie? but that it really where it ends and becomes simple software to me. Especially if it really begins to feel like a game, as retarded as that may sound. Best example for me is Ghost Recon: FS. After the 5th level you can’t help but realize it’s the same exact thing every level with 1 or 2 more bad guys to stir up your sync shot strategy. Scared me to a point I thought I was too old for games and lacked the imagination to get immersed into it. Thankfully that was only on GR: FS.

    • Higuide

      calling art is one of the of things protecting the gaming industries from anti-video gaming movements. in a certainly eccentric aspect it is art.

  • http://twitter.com/yvanbroeck Yannick Van Broeck

    you know what, i agree with every single point you make..

    I’m sad theres so many points of them nowadays :(

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MRULVXZTEBTV7FGK5QOALY5VLI AvangionQ

    Corporate greed might be the fault that marks the end of quality gaming ~ correction, quality gaming at reasonable prices … I’m still hopeful to find a few gems worth playing that don’t try to hassle me with annoying DRM restrictions, or gouge me with expensive DLC afterthoughts … I’ll wait for games to be thoroughly reviewed before I buy ~ as a bonus, their prices would have fallen in the interim and they would have been fully playtested and patched … anytime I see a game that’s an `ultimate edition`, with all DLCs already incorporated on the disc, I check the reviews and if worthy, consider getting it …

  • Silverwolf

    Video games are art in the same way a pick-a-path book is literature.

    This isn’t me saying you are wrong or right to think they are art, but me making it clear why I couldn’t give care less rather or not some one thinks or doesn’t think they are art. Art is usually fucking pretentious anyway, I would rather play a game.

  • http://twitter.com/MewMew34 Mew Mew

    I think the only way people can say games aren’t art, is if they just don’t understand what “art” means. Art isn’t just a painting by some long dead guy hanging in an expensive museum somewhere. Art can be anything, literally anything. I see Skyrim to be art, for sure. The scenery is beautiful, and I could spend hours simply sitting at my home at Lakeview watching the sky at night in Skyrim. Until I can travel somewhere to see the real aurora borealis, Skyrim is the best I can do.

  • http://twitter.com/sporeboy100 simon perry

    rehashes (CAPCOM and EA sports games) and the Game of the Year Edition releases with no freebies for original buyers

  • AngryVideoGameLover

    i just want dlc to dai FOREVER!!! >_< INCLUDE IT IN THE F**KIN GAME im fine with extra quests and stuff but srsly ALTERNATE ENDINGS?! thats just bullsh*t

    • higuide

      go yell at M$ or sony about that. dlc like new maps and/or new story line add-on what devopers originally CANNOT, devopers have time constraints and budgets. even if they did have enough time literally have to work with the parameters and limitations of the disk (as i said go yell at M$ or sony) of course the data goes directly to the hard drive bypassing the capacity issue. as i said it adds on to the game like things they could not fit in original. shame alot of good ideas get scrapped or the game gets butched heavily during the process of making a game, this is compensated by dlcs. season passes save you money its true its a good marketing tactic, simple buy it if you like it or simply don’t if you’re not interested.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vrindar.banker.3988 Vrindar Banker

    completely agree with all of these… even though i make games for a living..

  • Riff

    I’d like to see consoles themselves abolished. Just put everything on one box already! Computers and television are already merging pretty nicely, so why not video games too? PCs, laptops, even handhelds get more powerful and versatile with each new generation, so why have a separate box for video games from each company? Just put them all on a PC, or a laptop, or a cell phone. You know programmers are just going to do that to your games with emulators a few years from now anyway, so why not just skip a step and cut out the middle man? Put it all on computers and be done with it already.

    • higuide

      biggest problem with PCs its easiest to hack as well as pirate don’t even needed novel certification to know to do, child’s play .not everyone has $1000+ in pc parts have to replace your entire computer specs just to run ONE game anything within those parameters, wait you have to just the settings if your game slows down better buy a video card. whoops your motherboard does not support, it better replace it. waste more more in parts than games if you want to run them. pc gaming industry actually hemorrhage money from either pirates or errors and mistakes on launches

  • http://www.facebook.com/benjaminthemaster Ben Jam In

    I AGREE WITH ALL! ESPECIALLY SEASON PASSES!

  • name

    GAMES ARE ART YOU 00S KId WITHOUT BRAIN

  • Higuide

    before anyone else yells “incomplete game” its understandable if you need to pay extra for costumes themes or what ever kind of edge (i would get it anyway). dlc like new maps and/or new story line add-on what devopers originally CANNOT, devopers have time constraints and budgets. even if they did have enough time literally have to work with the parameters and limitations of the disk (go yell at M$ or sony about one) of course the data goes directly to the hard drive bypassing the capacity issue. as i said it adds on to the game like things they could not fit in original. shame alot of good ideas get scrapped or the game gets butched heavily during the process of making a game, this is compensated by dlcs. season passes save you money its true its a good marketing tactic, simple buy it if you like it or simply don’t if you’re not interested.

    • Thiemer

      if it was intended to be in the game from the start why am I paying $1.99-$14.99

  • Kamikaze Scotsman

    There is a very good reason for downloadable games being just as expensive as physical games. They’re not cutting out the middleman, just replacing them with a different middleman. Some of those downloadable games can be very big. Not only do the companies that supply those games have to pay for the infrastructure to host those games, they also have to pay their ISP for the bandwidth used to download those games (at GBs per game, that adds up really quickly).

    Serving online content can be very expensive. Very, very, very expensive.

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