Joey Sack, ’17, Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Video games can be a fun escape from the stresses of life and an engaging adventure with groundbreaking storytelling and gameplay mechanics, but one thing that gamers must keep in mind is the fact that the video game industry is just that: an industry. That industry has to make money just as any other business. As such, video game companies have to come up with new ways to make money, and that can lead to trends in the industry. Not all of these trends are beneficial to everyone, however. A lot of trends can be ineffective, annoying to consumers, or a downright rip-off. In this editorial, learn about five video game trends that in this writer’s opinion need to stop or change.
1: Extensive and Expensive DLC
We all know what downloadable content (DLC) is at this point: it is additional content for a game that developers release after a game is released. At least, that was the idea back when DLC first came along. Nowadays, when you buy a video game at the typical price of sixty dollars, expect to put up to fifty more bucks aside for a season pass, expansion packs, or other forms of DLC. It’s understandable why video game companies do this: they want to extend the shelf life of their games and get as much money out of consumers as possible. But the danger in DLC is what happens if people don’t buy it? In some cases, they could end up with an incomplete product. If developers insist on making more and more DLC for games (which they will), it should be something that adds more to the experience of playing the game, not something without which the game feels incomplete.
2: Over-focus on online multiplayer
This one is a bit vague, but keep an open mind. There are countless people in the world who play video games, and each one has a unique style of playing. Some people like playing single-player games for the stories or the experience of being that game’s hero, others prefer online multiplayer games where you and a group of friends (or complete strangers) have to work together to achieve your goals, and others might like a mix of both. But two things may make online multiplayer less attractive to gamers: Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus. Both of these services are now necessary to play online against friends or total strangers, and if you’re a gamer on a budget, it makes online multiplayer less appealing. So what is a gamer to do when multiplayer isn’t an option? Play the single-player campaign? Good luck when that campaign is mediocre at best and almost non-existent at worst. As a result, video game companies lose the interest of part of the gaming world who like single-player campaigns as much as multiplayer, if not more.
3: Buggy finished products and insufficient patches
Look at games like Assassin’s Creed Unity or the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight, and you can see the kind of damage an unfinished game can do to a company’s revenue and reputation. Ubisoft had to make some restitutions to gamers who were unable to play Unity thanks to all the bugs and patches, and Rocksteady Studios has offered PC gamers who purchased Arkham Knight a refund before the end of the year; that’s money that isn’t going toward more games or paying game developers. And when those unfinished products have to be refunded, it shakes people’s faith in developers specifically and big releases in general. It’s difficult when these developers have deadlines to meet, especially when that deadline has to be pushed back by a few weeks or even by several months, but gamers would prefer to have good games right out of the gate rather than having to wait for changes to be made.
4: Incremental yearly titles
There are some video game series that people want to see continue for years to come, while others have run out of steam. One that comes into mind, at least up until this year, was the Assassin’s Creed series; Syndicate has made some improvements and Black Flag was a refreshing new spin, but other than that, there aren’t too many big changes and improvements aside from graphics and a few gameplay elements. After awhile, series that come out with new titles every couple of years or every year can get boring when they get into a rut of sorts; if a big change isn’t made, like what the Assassin’s Creed series did with Black Flag, it can be a problem, especially if gamers don’t voice their concerns.
In the opinion of some, including this writer, this is one of the banes of gamers’ existence. Microtransactions are probably more common in mobile games, but they could become more of a problem for console and PC gamers in the future. This is where certain features in a game such as better weapons are either locked behind a certain number of experience points or levels, or they can be unlocked ahead of time by paying in real or in-game money. In online multiplayer games, this can give some players an unfair advantage if they have more money to throw at their screens, and in other games it’s inconsequential, adding nothing of real value to the experience of playing the game. In those cases, it’s just a way for companies to offer people an alternate way to unlock everything in the game, thus subverting one of the things that make playing games fun in the first place.
To sum up, these are only five trends in video games that probably shouldn’t be encouraged. There are sure to be many more, so feel free to share some of your thoughts.