I remember, back in the day, when you bought a game. You’d take the game home and it would be challenging, no matter what audience it aimed for. After all, Crash Bandicoot was aimed at kids and a few hours in, that game got ridiculously difficult. However, this meant the game lasted you far longer and provided a far deeper sense of satisfaction when you finally beat it.
It appears now that game developers are afraid to push this sense of challenge too much for fear of losing appeal to the wider audience. In other words – for fear of losing out on profits. So, instead they have opted for a more cinematic approach.
Over the course of the last generation, developers tried time and again to give their games a more cinematic twist, making them seem more realistic with integrated cutscenes throughout gameplay and all of a sudden QTEs were the next amazing thing since electronic keyboard music in 80’s movies. Sure, this was done to spectacular standards near the end of the last generation, as seen in The Last of Us or God of War 3. I just can’t help feeling that this insistence on realism is perhaps not the best direction for the games industry as a whole
So is it any wonder that the press are suddenly blowing up about how indie games are the future? They never were the future. We already had them, played them and loved them and so I am not surprised that Sony has sold more consoles than Microsoft on the pledge of more indie games. Now that we’re here in this generation, many gamers with a PS4 will have fond memories of the older platformers or side scrollers and I’m not at all surprised when I hear people saying ‘yeah, y’know what? That was way more satisfying and fun than Call of Duty’.
As I said in my first review for this site, there is importance in the attitude of ‘less is more’. The simpler your game, if done right, the more addictive and fun it will be. To the games industry I say – all we need are gold coins to collect or score multipliers. We don’t all need a Michael Bay-esque attitude of FX to the face from start to finish.
That said, the games industry remains a fantastic outlet for original and artistic work to come to life. It just depends on what kind of mood you’re in I suppose. I just can’t shake the feeling that the massive game companies could be innovating and thinking outside the box far more than they already are. A few special mentions include the Portal games, Journey, Flower, or Heavy Rain.
All of these examples bar the latter are pretty much violence free and we had tonnes of enjoyment from them and they even served to be a more cerebral experience. What I loved about Journey was that nothing was explained – you simply had to figure things out for yourself as you floated across its eye candy, soothing landscapes. Again, we don’t need a slew of headshots to feel great. In fact, if more game developers took on the ‘less is more’ attitude, the media may end up taking a different angle with the games industry instead of scapegoating GTA every time a new release comes out for whatever societal problems we may be suffering at that time.
Many game developers are worried to challenge the player to think because they feel they will lose out on sales and as a result, we have far far less stealth games and puzzle games (although they are gradually creeping back). Here I am on my own thinking ‘I used to love those games’. Each of the two genres encouraged us to think outside the box. Especially puzzle games like Simon the Sorcerer or the Monkey Island series. These kinds of titles possessed such wonderful scripts and dialogues.
Simply listening to the characters and laughing throughout was enough to stamp upon me a very memorable experience indeed. Thank god Tim Schaffer (Brutal Legend, Broken Age) is still around. He is one of the few (alongside Micel Ancel) propping the games industry up with charismatic games like Brutal Legend or Monkey Island. These games had character, charisma and class. Now think current gen… The closest thing I can think that still ticks those boxes is The Witcher 3.
If you’re still firmly rooted in the department of Michael Bay-esque, wham bam thank you maam games, lets take a look at how the industry has changed there too. Let’s take my recently reviewed Mortal Kombat X. I love this game but it has succumbed to a disturbing trend we’re now seeing more and more. I played the older games on PC and I got the whole package when I bought it. All the characters were there and it was filled with content that I had access to from the start.
Now, we get three quarters of the character roster with the retail release and the rest come out in dribs and drabs over the next few months for about £8 each. Irrefutably a concerning trend in the games industry. Why don’t devs just delay the game a few months and give us the full package when you, as developers were ready? Sure devs have deadlines to work towards. Yet self published games like Resident Evil or a majority of Ubisoft’s titles can work around this?
To add insult to injury, when I load up the game an actual selectable option on the menu is to go to the Playstation Store and spend more money! This reminds me of when I was in the cinema and saw an advert for a £74,000 BMW. We’re all hard up for cash and I take exception to having products rubbed in my face that myself and about 80% of the population are not going to buy.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I will continue to review games on my site to the fullest extent possible. I may even succumb to my desires and get the DLC sometimes. But when I see a character skin or a hat going for anything more than £2, I am out. These game developers are laughing at what suckers we are, while they gleefully smell the dollar notes in their hands.
As I said, this is a very disturbing trend in the games industry and I have noticed more and more outspoken bloggers on the internet discussing this. The Witcher 3 developers CD Projekt Red actually made an interesting statement. After release of their game, they made 16 free DLCs available to people who bought it. FREE. This was proof that developers actually don’t need to extort us. Sure CDPR also have paid DLCs down the line but they have provided me with hundreds of hours of gameplay and extra free content first.
Only at that point have they done me a fantastic service as a customer and only then do they deserve more of my money if I choose to spend it. Honestly, I salute them. This is the polar opposite of what I am seeing more and more now. Just to drive my point home a bit, Star Wars Battlefront is coming with a £50 season pass… That’s a hundred quid you’ve parted with for just one game.
Have you come across any daring developers giving you actual free stuff? If so, I’d love to hear about them. Drop me a line on All Things Playstation 4 over on Facebook. Or leave a comment below