3 Trends in Gaming that Have to Stop
From the pixelated classics like Doom and Wolfenstein to the modern beauties like Witcher III or Far Cry IV, gaming has undoubtedly come a long way over the last couple of decades. However, while technology continues to progress towards a truly cinematic, photo-realistic gaming experience, the industry is no doubt being held back in other areas. Following are some of the more obnoxious trends in gaming that are enough to make any serious, old-school gamer cringe in revulsion:
1 – DLCs
There used to be a time when you would buy a game at your local high-street store for a one-time price and then play it through to completion. Sure, major expansion packs rarely came free, but the whole concept of DLC (downloadable content) has reached the stage where it has become nothing more than a parody of itself.
Most DLCs are very minor pieces of content or, worse still, parts of a game that you have already paid for that remain locked behind yet another purchase. DLCs quickly became infamous when Bethesda Game Studios released the Horse Armour DLC for Elder Scrolls IV, costing $2.50, in spite of the fact that there was already a vast amount of free, user-generated content available for the game for free.
Video games certainly haven’t got any cheaper in recent years either, in spite of the ubiquity of DLCs. In fact, a post on Destructoid in 2012 claimed that it would cost you around $870 to buy Mass Effect 3 along with all of the additional in-game content and other accessories that came with the Collector’s Edition. Even worse was Train Simulator, which sported over $2000 worth of DLCs!
DLCs have been controversial ever since their inception, and with the vast majority of mainstream video game developers and titles now using them as a way to get more money out of their customers post-purchase, this trend certainly doesn’t appear to be abating. Critics often claim that it also stifles user-generated content and creativity, since developers are now less likely to support user-made mods.
2 – First-Day Installation Woes
If you have a slow Internet connection, downloading a modern game, typically weighing in at 10-25GB, is probably not an option for you. Instead, you decide to get your games in the old-fashioned way by going to a high-street store and getting an installation DVD. Most excited with the new purchase you’ve been hankering after for months, you get home and install the game, only to find that you’re a long way off from actually being able to play it.
One of the most common annoyances is first-day patches, and it’s not uncommon for these to be several gigabytes in size. Worse still, many games don’t even allow you to play them until they have been updated, leaving you waiting while your Internet connection downloads and installs the patch at a snail’s pace. Video game publishers sometimes release their games before they are truly ready, necessitating a major patch upon release and sacrificing your convenience for their incompetence.
Video game publishers and distribution platforms such as Steam, Origin and Uplay don’t appear to realise that not everyone has a 100Mbps fibre-optic broadband connection, and that the reason they buy their games on DVD is to avoid long download times. However, many gamers also berate the fact that many single-player games demand that you be connected to the Internet just to launch the game, even once it has been fully updated. Unfortunately, because of these issues, gamers have to either have a fast broadband connection or a lot of patience.
3 – Freemium Gaming
Closely related to DLCs and microtransactions, freemium gaming has become extremely widespread, particularly across mobile devices. In fact, you can safely assume that almost any ‘free’ game available for your tablet, smartphone or Web browser is actually anything but free. The curse of microtransactions extends to buying virtual currency, power-ups and a variety of other virtual goods that are completely worthless in the real world.
Many gaming enthusiasts fear a looming free-to-play future in which people end up spending many times more money on games than they ever used to before. Such games are often disparagingly known as ‘Pay2Win,’ particularly in the case of multiplayer games where players who are prepared to spend more real-world currency often end up having a significant advantage over their opponents.
Even mainstream titles of the kind you actually pay good money for aren’t immune to the freemium/microtransaction model. For example, Mass Effect 3’s multiplayer allows players to purchase ‘booster packs’ to give themselves an advantage over others, while the world’s most popular MMO, World of Warcraft, now allows players to exchange real money for in-game virtual currency.
Unfortunately for the enthusiasts and old-school gamers, freemium gaming certainly isn’t showing any signs of disappearing, and it continues to expand beyond the casual gaming market. In fact, freemium games are overwhelmingly popular, with critics decrying the devious, manipulative way that publishers use to get their customers into an endless spending loop.
While the vast majority of popular and highly acclaimed titles are guilty of at least one of the above, there are always exceptions to the rule. Some developers, particularly smaller independent ones, are more likely to offer free additional content and/or extensively support player modding. Others, recognizing the fact that obnoxious, money-grabbing marketing techniques serve only to encourage video game piracy, are offering much more for your money, even if it does involve paying for a DLC.