Friday, August 10, 2012

Lowered Expectations


I hope you all had that voice over from MadTV playing in your head when you read the title. If you didn’t, you’re not old enough to be here. :)

It’s obvious that the gaming world is changing. Not just because of a slump in sales, even the NASDAQ blog is talking about it. These guys don’t understand that the big titles of the year have yet to release. Watch November. It’ll explode. But as a whole, our climate has been shifting. We’re not the gamers that we once were 5 years ago. Even 2 years ago we’re expecting more out of our games and developers aren’t delivering the goods. Why pay $59.99-$79.99 on a product that isn’t finished.

BioWare has been the brunt of the blows lately. Backlash from DragonAge 2, Mass Effect 3, and The Old Republic has been brutal. The games sold well initially because BioWare is BioWare. People are going to buy their products no matter what at this point. The same with EA games. Oh wait. EA owns BW now. Damn. Well the point still stands. While we keep asking for change, we’re not making a statement as gamers to not support the products. I.E. We keep buying their stuff!

In the case of TOR having been the first group into beta and the last one out, our community knew that the game was not ready to be released. We kept on that fact with the devs and on the forums. It wasn’t just technical glitches but lack of content that we knew would hamper the game. And here we are 8 months later and TOR is looking into a free-to-play model. Subscriptions are way down. The hype didn’t live up to the expectations. Honestly…I still blame EA. Though I blame them for a lot of things.
We’re not getting the games that we want. Our tastes and expectations are changing.

But we’re still buying these products.

E3 is a testament to how much we need the industry to change. It sucked this year by everyone’s account. It sucked a lot. But what’s going to happen? People are still going to buy these games.

“Well that’s all that’s out there.”

No it’s not. And you don’t “have” to buy a game just because it’s available. Consumers have a voice. We can collectively stand up and say no, we will not buy your products until you give us quality games. It works all the time! People are too lazy to do it or have no will power. All you’re doing is not buying a game. Enough of us don’t buy it and explain why, they’ll listen. They are a business afterall.

Look I want to support game companies as much as I can. I value original thought and creativity. But what we’re getting in return is a corporate mess, similar to the one that has dominated film and television. When was the last time you saw something “new” at the movies? Good luck naming it. It’s probably a re-make or a book or a play that’s been redone for a film format.

What developers need to do is get back to their roots and re-examine the current trends. So many of us are moving away from boxed games, not because we want digital but because of lack of content. Lack of creativity. And mostly lack of freedom. We all clamor over Minecraft for it’s uniqueness. It’s a simple game with pixtacular graphics. But at its core the element of player freedom to create and explore is something we all want in our games. It’s why I spazzed out over LPB2 (which I still love). Some of the best games I have played in years were generated through the LBP2 engine.

We also need to let devs make mistakes…so long as they’re willing to correct them. Because this is a business, people don’t want to put up money for things that will fail. Which is why we have so many Call of Duty clones. They know people will buy those products, so they keep making them. We may cause a rabble afterwards, but it doesn’t prevent us from buying the next game from the same publisher and the circle continues.

2 things to help reinvigorate the market:

1. Dev’s need to be allowed creative freedom.

2. Consumers need to stop spending their money on names/devs if they’re disappointed.

Simple as that.

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