Published on March 19th, 2012 | by Shawn Long, Features Editor
The Top 5 Things I’m Sick of in the Gaming Industry
The video game industry is a constantly changing, billion dollar monster that continues to bombard the world with creativity. Even in a slow economy, video games continue to rise as a viable medium for all ages to play and enjoy. Truth be told, I’ve seen a lot in my 23 years of gaming, but there are some current trends that just piss me off. With that, these are the Top 5 Things I’m Sick Of in the Gaming Inudstry.
5. Buggy games and the press doesn’t care
This issue has been eating me for years, and it seems like it consistently gets worse and worse. They aren’t bad games, but they are so riddled with bugs it is absurd to think that no journalist anywhere witnessed any while playing the game for a review. Look at Oblivion and Skyrim. Good games? Sure. Great games? No. Yet, the amount of 9s and 10s and ‘Game of the Year’ awards Bethesda received is rediculous. Back before online patches, if a game was buggy it was considered crap, end of story. Developers had to fine tune and craft their game before release, and didn’t have a luxury of a downloadable patch to fix all these problems. No matter what the industry says, it has caused laziness to emerge because hey, you can fix it later. Defenders of this are quick to point out that the games themselves have become so large that you can’t control every little thing. Well here’s an idea. If you can’t handle a game of a large spectrum, DON’T MAKE IT.
Also, the arguement is invalid, because there have been games this size all along. They are called RPGs. Imagine playing Chrono Trigger or Grandia 2, and you see a flying enemy or some severely glitched town, mutated horses, and characters with disappearing limbs. You would say “hey, this game is crap!” Nowadays it’s just considered a “kink in the armor” and will be patched at a later date. EA at least had the common sense to see that the NBA Elite demo was so bad they it was beyond repair, and instead of doing the patch option, they cancelled the game. Also, it’s not just huge open world games that are subjected to this. Look at this past year’s WWE ’12, aka “Wrestling With Glitches”. Online that doesn’t work, wrestlers who morph randomly, an atrocious physics system, yet the game has another reputable website giving it a ’91 out of 100′. Wow. And speaking of WWE ’12, this brings up my next point.
4: Yearly game franchises
Activision used to be a cutting edge game publisher that brought fresh looks at dead genres. Remember playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on PlayStation and thinking “Wow, skateboarding is fun!”? Remember when you first popped in Call of Duty 2 on Xbox 360 and said “Woah, this is amazing!”? Well, you spoke too loud, because Activision heard you. So get your wallet ready, because you are getting a yearly version of this franchise until you bleed out your eyeballs. There have been seven “original” Call of Duty games on the Xbox 360. Why the hell do we need that many games? That’s right, because people will buy them. At least the Tony Hawk game franchise died a slow and painful death, but you know Activision wanted to make more before burying it for a few years. Guitar Hero suffered this same fate, with every game basically being a new set of songs. Like I previously said, the WWE games are a yearly occasion, and always release with a terrible roster, idiotic story line, and a change to the control scheme that was never asked for in the first place. At least sports games try to freshen things up yearly, by adding a new mode or whatnot. But even they could easily adapt to a two year system, with keeping up with roster updates and everyone would be happy. We all know that this is a business however, and if it sells, it will be made.
3: Graphics over gameplay
With new systems comes new power and new graphics. In today’s gaming industry however, if you have rock solid gameplay but poor graphics, don’t expect to make a dent in the charts. This also works in reverse: a game can have incredible graphics yet be dull and reminiscent of FMV games and point-and-click games, yet be heralded as a masterpiece. Heavy Rain is a great example of the latter. I’m not saying it’s a bad game, because it’s not. It’s just a very bland game with a horribly confusing and erratic story line but features graphics that are simply phenomenal. Those graphics are what made it become the hit it is, because when you strip that away, you have a very early PC or Sega CD-like experience with pointing, clicking, and Quick Time Events (QTE). It was cool in Shenmue, but that was over 10 years ago. On the reverse side of the coin, if your game doesn’t have amazing graphics then expect it to be in the bargain bin shortly after release. Which is amazing, considering retro games don’t feature 1080p and widescreen, yet are still sought after and played to this day. Why? Because of the amazing gameplay, that’s why. One publication comes to mind when dealing with this. You want coverage in its magazine? You better have some amazing graphics. Graphical juggernauts, such as RAGE, get high marks in its magazine, yet lesser known and under-the-radar games don’t even get a mention or review in its publication. The cover of each magazine totes “The World’s #1 Video Game Magazine”, but don’t feel very “informed” about games unless they are big blockbuster releases.
2: The lack of respect Nintendo gets
First things first, if it wasn’t for Nintendo, you would not be playing video games right now. Simple as that. They brought the industry back from the grave after the video game crash of 1983, and since then have been about one thing, making games. Now days, Nintendo is looked at as a “kiddie” company because it doesn’t have boobs and blood in its games. It’s funny, when the PS3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii were all released, it looked like the Xbox 360 would be the sales king. Yet Nintendo dominated it, so what did it become? Not competition. The Wii didn’t have hi-def graphics or deep online system, so it was criticized and touted as being for kids. The system was for casual players, and didn’t have any “good” games. Really? I can easily sit here and run off a list of games that were on the Nintendo Wii that were good, even without the precious hi-def graphics. Silent Hill: Shattered Memories was one of the best and freshest games I have ever played. You want an online shooter? The Conduit, Call of Duty, and GoldenEye 007 were all represented on the system and are awesome. Sure, you didn’t have the precious voice chat feature in some of these games, but I’m fine without listening to a homophobic racist 13 year old shouting in my ear the whole time.
Epic Mickey, Super Mario Galaxy, and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword were all absolutely amazing platform adventure games. Muramasa: The Demon Blade was one of the best ninja games in the past 10 years. You enjoy playing classic games? Download Nintendo, Super Nintendo, and N64 classics, along with original titles on the Wii Shop service. I’m not saying the system was perfect, because it was far from it and had a ton of shovelware. But every system has that, and all because it might have been pretty shovelware on PS3 and Xbox 360 doesn’t mean it was any better then the crap released on Wii. Also, after years of scrutiny of the “motion controls” that the Wii brought about, what does Sony and Microsoft do? Release PlayStation Move and Xbox Kinect, respectively. The PSP may have been a better multimedia system, but the DS was the better gaming system. If I want multimedia stuff, there are tons of cheaper and better alternatives that I can use. I use my handheld gaming systems as a portable way to play new games, not console rehashes. The “hardcore” gamer community pushes this all aside though, and just sees Nintendo as a novelty and something for little kids. Which actually brings me to my final point…
1. “Hardcore” gamers
With this final point, everything comes full circle. I come from a time when a hardcore gamer wasn’t the trend follower, but the trend-setter. When did Call of Duty and Madden become hardcore games? These are the games that get the big contests and tournaments nowadays, which attract plenty of “professional gamers.” That’s not a hardcore gamer to me, though. A hardcore gamer is the guy who is 40 hours deep into the latest RPG while sleeping for under four hours a night. A hardcore gamer to me is finding an old arcade and trying to demolish the top high scores on an arcade cabinet. A game does not need blood and gore to be a hardcore game. To me, a difficult game is a hardcore game. A Boy and his Blob on the Wii is a hardcore game. Nanostray on the Nintendo DS is a hardcore game. Shadow Complex on Xbox LIVE Arcade is a hardcore game. Wow, you threw two touchdown passes and had a 14-kill killstreak? Well I just set the top score record for all of North America in Nanostray. I just don’t understand why the industry made this shift to where your run-of-the-mill shooter or latest sports game is now the ‘hardcore’ crowd, when your fighting games, arcade style games, RPGs, and difficult games have become pushed to the way side in terms of sales, and gathering competition. It’s a sad state of affairs, and one that seems like it will never change.
At the end of the day, this editorial is my view of things. It doesn’t reflect my co-workers or the website as a whole, but me, as an individual gamer who has been playing since I was 3 years old and have been writing about video games since I could pick up and pen and paper. I was blessed to live through the 16-bit and 32-bit wars, and I’m blessed to see the industry as it stands now. Not all of it is doom and gloom, and there is a ton of positive things happening at this moment that are simply amazing, and technology is growing at such a rapid rate that things will only get bigger and better. I just feel that a lot of gamers and gaming publications turn a blind eye to these topics, and I wanted to bring them to the forefront. I’d love to hear some feedback, so please feel free to use the comment box below to let me know how you feel.