I was born in the 80’s. I was there when Atari had an abomination of a blinking “Pac-Man” game. I was there when Nintendo saved the video game industry as we know it today and I was there when Nintendo had a “seal of quality” that meant something. As it stands right now I am 29 years old and am a gamer in a state of transition. On the one end of the spectrum I have my nostalgia-fueled gaming gems of Bubble Bobble, Harvest Moon 64, Super Mario World and Ocarina of Time.
On the other end of the spectrum I see my gaming future of annual sequels, day one DLC packs, gaming patches and digital content that may or may not be transferable to the next generation of consoles.
Geekenstein’s very own Craig Kandiko may refer to himself as the “official gray bush” of Geekenstein (seriously, it’s in his bio) but if you listen to me talk about games I couldn’t sound more like an old man waving my cane in the air bitching about the good old days of gaming.
So gather around kids and listen to your old man tell you the story of why I hate modern gaming.
Assassin’s Creed IV: So Very Tired
On October 30th 2012, Assassin’s Creed III was released in North America to mostly favorable reviews. Slightly more than 4 months later Ubisoft announces that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is coming to current and next-gen consoles and all I could think was “Didn’t Assassin’s Creed III just come out?” To be honest, I really enjoyed the first two Assassin’s Creed games and I have finished their stories and I do intend to buy Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and finally Assassin’s Creed III just to work through the story and see how it all pans out. The thing is though, that I honestly could do without an Assassin’s Creed game every year – I need time to miss it so that when it does come back it feels fresh rather than tomorrow’s leftovers.
Just for context:
- Assassin’s Creed – Released: 2007
- Assassin’s Creed II – Released: 2009
- Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood – Released: 2010
- Assassin’s Creed II: Revelations – Released 2011
- Assassin’s Creed III – Released: 2012
- Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Announced and to be Released: 2013
- Uncharted: Drakes Fortune – Released: 2007
- Uncharted 2: Among Thieves – Released: 2009
- Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception – Released: 2011
I like Assassin’s Creed, a lot, but I can’t help like feel that the franchise has been milked a bit too much. It’s like eating your favorite food; the more often you eat it the less special it’ll become until you are eventually sick of it. Yes, businesses need to make money but this could easily become the next Guitar Hero/Rock Band; games that are no longer produced that used to fill up store shelves and sell like hotcakes.
DLC, Easy as ABC
For the longest time I was a huge defender of DLC but now I seriously can’t stand it. If I buy a game I want the whole experience because that is what I paid for, but that is not the world we live in today and I can’t help but wonder why that is. Yes, DLC is divided into different categories which I lovingly like to call: “Fluff” and “Carrots.” Here let me explain;
“Fluff” are the little bits of clothes for your avatars, or gaming pictures or custom skins for your in-game characters.
Now “Carrots” are the little bits of content that the game companies dangle in front of your gamer face that probably should have been included in the game, but were taken out to squeeze just a bit more out of you.
There is also a third category of DLC that I’m going to call “Dessert.” “Dessert” is the DLC that is for the gamers that have finished the main campaign and just want to play more of the game and are willing to dip into their pockets for new missions, side-quests or game modes.
I’m going to be honest, which seems to be something I say a lot, but anyways, I can forgive the game studios for the above DLC types, but what I cannot forgive them for is “Day one DLC.” There should be a rule that DLC cannot be released until at least 6 months after the game is released because otherwise I’m going to think that it was either something that was in the game in the first place or that it’s more special than it really is. Lastly before I leave the topic completely I want to gripe about another form of DLC and that is game patches. My Gamecube didn’t need patches. My PS2 didn’t need patches, but this last generation it has become more than apparent that games are on a deadline and that come rain or high water, bugs or no bugs, that game needs to be released and the term “we’ll patch it later” is as much a feature as it is a reality of our modern gaming world. Yes, I know games are becoming more and more complex but if it requires a day one patch, should it really have been released in the first place?
A game about pixel blocks is one of the biggest games in the last few years. Is there something wrong with this picture or is it just a sign that gamers want something pure and simple to play?
One of the biggest games that has been released in the past few years also looks like something that would have been big in the 80’s/90’s and it goes by the name of Minecraft. Minecraft is one of those types of games that you’ll either love or hate based purely on how much imagination you have. You see, it is up to you to craft your world and explore a randomly generated world made up of blocks and dungeons. I cannot help but think that the reason that games like Scribblenauts, Minecraft and Angry Birds made it so big is because they take you back to the very root of gaming; games are fun. You’re not trapped in an epic story, with epic graphics and endless sequels with movie tie-ins and graphic novels. Scribblenauts will never tell you to “frag out bro, stay frosty and kill the unknown thing that threatens your way of life” but it will ask you to come up with three solutions to get a cat off of the roof of a house and it’ll make you smile.
Crash Into Me
“Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.” – Edmund Burke
The year was 1983 and gaming as we knew it was over. Twas the year of the great video game crash and had it not been for Nintendo, we probably wouldn’t have games around today. It is a scary thought because some of my closest friendships were forged when we realized that we had a common interest in games. The first podcast I ever listened to was a podcast that featured video game journalists. One of the biggest things in my life was a video game and it was called The Sims 2 and it even inspired me to become a part of the community. To think that any of this wouldn’t exist terrifies me to my core, but it is also something that we should always be aware of.
“There were several reasons for the crash, but the main cause was supersaturation of the market with hundreds of mostly low-quality games which resulted in the loss of consumer confidence. The full effects of the industry crash would not be felt until 1985.” – Wikipedia
Nintendo was the industry savior the first time but it seems ironic that because of the Wii they just as easily could have been the cause of another crash. When you look at the demise of THQ, game studios that are killed off when a game fails to meet the required quota or Sony who are scrambling to restructure themselves and are selling off office buildings and shares to get some quick cash because they haven’t made profits in a couple of years, the game industry isn’t as stable as people think it is and I can’t help but think that milking franchises, DLC, shovelware, gimicky consoles and buggy releases are gonna be the undoing and we might not recover as easily as we did before.
The Future Looks…
Meh. I mean I don’t know, unless something totally makes me excited and no, not even an HD remake of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker makes me want a Wii U. No I need something that makes me believe that the console I bought will be better and different than what I already have and honestly I don’t feel it. The Wii U and PS4 have not impressed me in the least and Xbox 720 or Nextbox or whatever it is gonna be called had better bring it’s A game and transferable digital content from the previous generation to even have a shot at ending up in my place. Honestly, I feel that PS3 and 360 are going to be the last consoles that I buy and that kind of makes me sad.
On the one hand, yes we have gained awesome graphics and neat game play concepts but what has it cost us? We have games that are milked to death that will either die or just become so stale that you wish it was dead. We have games that are sold to us in snack-sized chunks or have parts that are locked behind pay gates and subscription models. We have games that don’t contain the whimsy and magic or joy that games used to bring. Have we gained more than we lost or did we lose more than we gained?
[Written by contributor Shane Peltzer]