I am an old-school gamer.
How old-school am I? I can remember when Pong was an arcade game. Yeah…..I’m no youngun.
I remember when if you wanted “the arcade experience”, the only way to get that type of experience was to go out and………go to an arcade. In the 70’s and 80’s, home systems started popping up, but the experience was far from the arcade that we would go to after school. The graphics were very blocky, not as fluid, but we still enjoyed them for the simple reason that we could actually play them at home without having to go out.
This was true for a long time. I remember the ColecoVision was the closest we came to it, but of course, it wasn’t quite as good as the arcade, but we were very happy with it. The Nintendo (NES) came out with Super Mario Bros., and this was actually a perfect replica of the arcade – there really was no difference. Granted, not every game was arcade-perfect, but this was our first glimpse into how we could actually duplicate what we saw when we went out to the local arcade. Over time, games started being as good, if not better than what you saw at the arcade.
This……began the decline of the arcade as we knew it. Granted, there were games that featured fancy cabinets, and some had controls that were just way too complex to be truly duplicated at home, but for the most part, the game experience had migrated from being an out-of-the-house experience to an in-home one. Game companies still made money – they just made it differently – from sales of the games to the home consoles. People were happy and getting the experience they wanted without leaving the home. It all seemed to be a pretty ideal existence between gamers and the game companies. People found the games they liked, and it provided a full and complete experience (provided the game was done well and didn’t suck).
That was the catch…………..a full and COMPLETE experience.
In recent times, things seemed to have changed – and not necessarily for the better. The trend nowadays was first experienced with the advent of the “expansion pack” – an add-on adventure to continue on in the same universe as the original game. There was a nominal cost for said expansions – usually nowhere near as much as the original game, so it expanded on your adventures in that world so you could do more while there. Then came the next change…………..
The downloadable content (or DLC)
This expanded on the whole “expansion pack” thing, but now included smaller items, such as individual map packs, various weapons, enhancements, upgrades, color schemes – just about anything that could be added into a game was explored. This also bled over into another innovation – microtransactions. Even smaller items that could be purchased, in-game, for a small fee. The only problem is………..there was, and still is, and over-abundance of such small items that can be purchased, that many gamers feel cheated out of their “full and complete experience” by having to buy at least part of the game they already paid for – some of this stuff is even content that is already on the disc, but LOCKED!
I think game companies are getting just a touch greedy with this new add-on craze, offering “season passes”, optional DLC, and instituting microtransactions……….all just to make some more money off of a game that people already paid $50-60 for to begin with! I can see buying an expansion pack or a season pass…….but only if there is enough content offered to make the expense worth it, but some games don’t even go that far. I’m almost afraid to see what is going on with the Batman “Arkham Knight” season pass. They want forty dollars for a game that we already will be paying sixty dollars for. This had best be the ultimate, gold-plated, cannot-do-without add-on to justify spending that type of money on a game that is already expensive by many people’s standards.
Another thought about this is……….maybe this is the way for the game companies to recoup some of the money being lost to people who only buy games on the secondary markets, or waiting for the games to drop in price/go on sale. Places like pawn shops and GameStop are huge sellers of games on the secondary market – not to mention being able to buy games used online at places like Amazon and eBay. Many games I play, I usually wait to play until after it’s been out for a while, or wait for some of the reviews to come out – that way, I have more of an idea of the game I’m interested in rather than just watching the hyped-up trailer that the game company puts out, which usually does not have any in-game content included, but rather just cinematic elements that most often do look better than in-game footage if the game is not done very well.
Ever been to a movie, and then left thinking “Dang……..all the best parts were in the trailer!”. Yeah…….pretty much the same thing when it comes to games. Also, conventions such as E3 really up the ante, and have been known to really over-hype games prior to launch (yes…….we are looking straight at you, Destiny). Over-hyping a game prior to launch really tends to hurt the reputation of the game company, because they are expecting a well-polished apple of a game – a joy to play……….not a well-polished turd that is pure agony to even contemplate booting up on your console or PC.
Duke Nukem Forever – in development purgatory for 12 years, and then finally released. The experience was not what gamers were expecting – at least most of them. No, it was not a Gears of War or Call of Duty. It was dated and crude…….but maybe that’s the way it was supposed to have been done, and we just got spoiled on more recent IP’s that companies put out. Watch Dogs suffered backlash due to the PC graphics not matching those of E3 2012, but then people found out that the settings could be unlocked, unleashing the beauty that was supposed to be there at launch.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we weren’t headed for another video game crash, like what happened in 1983. Companies are so wrapped up in how many ways they can get your money, that they have neglected the one basic, core, necessary element in a game………….to make it FUN. It’s not fun if controls are broken, bugs are found all over the place, and most annoying…….you don’t even get the full game!
If companies don’t start stepping up, and soon, the gamers are going to take notice……..with their wallets. Who knows…….that trend may be already starting, or in full swing. Only time will tell.