Holy shit it’s that time already? We’re more than half way through 2019 and it’s not long until we reach 2020? You know what that calls for don’t you? Time to take a look back at the past decade of gaming and see how games have improved since the 2000’s… oh wait, they haven’t. They’ve just been getting worse and worse since 2007 and in 2011, gaming hit an all time low.
Before we talk about how terrible this decade has been for gaming as a whole, we first have to take a look at what I like to call the videogame drought. The videogame drought took place in the year 2011 and ended in the year 2014. What a pathetic 3 years of gaming that was, A time where JRPG’s were almost nonexistent, save for a few budget titles that overloaded on fanservice out of desperation in order to cater to a smaller demographic. Aside from the Tales series, finding a JRPG was like looking for a needle in a haystack and because of this, I had to turn to other genres such as FPS and open world action games because that is pretty much all there really was for the most part. Sure there was the odd exception such as Kirby’s Adventure Wii which breathed some life into the dying Wii but aside from that, 2011 was barren and dead.
After 2011, things didn’t really seem to get much better, games like Farcry 3 were the highlight of this year but those types of games were not fulfilling to me. Sure they gave me stuff to do and the gameplay was admittedly fun but I felt that the games lacked the hand crafted feel that games of previous generations due to their overly formulaic design, making them soulless and hollow by comparison. It was as if game developers had completely run out of ideas and were desperately clinging onto formulas and praying that they would maintain our interest.
Of course we all know by now that this isn’t the case, the real reason why games are clinging to these formulas is not because developers have run out of ideas, rather it is the publishers that are the problem, because they are too big for their own boots, they know this and because of this, publishers have to take fewer risks to maintain consistency in their sales, they have to target a broad demographic that can guarantee success and pump tonnes of money into marketing to make sure that everyone knows about it, at the game’s expense.
Now of course there is a lot of good that has come from this terrible 3 years of gaming… for me that is. For starters, the state of gaming was so bad that I decided to focus primarily on playing games from the precious generation, the sixth generation. The PS2 and the Gamecube are without a doubt the pinnacle of my gaming experience and if it wasn’t for the terrible state that gaming was in at the time, I wouldn’t have found out about games like Valkyrie Profile 2 or Grandia 2 as I’d be too busy playing newer games instead, causing me to be ignorant about the existence of those games for what could be the rest of my life. For that reason, the videogame draught was kind of a blessing in disguise, it has helped expand my knowledge on games and has allowed me to experience something wonderful that I would have otherwise missed out on.
Eventually we would reach 2014 and this was the beginning of the current console generation of gaming. For many, this was a time of uncertainty but for me, it was a time of extreme cynicism, gaming was so bad at the time that I wasn’t really expecting much from the next generation of consoles, in fact I had already made the decision to convert from a console gamer to a PC gamer as consoles just didn’t seem worth it to me anymore. I will say however that 2016 was a pleasant surprise for me. With games like Star Ocean 5, Exist Archive and Odin Sphere Leifthrasir all being released in the same year, it felt like gaming was starting to return to form.
As much as I enjoyed this game, there’s no denying that it was a low budget title that could have been so much better than it ended up being.
2017 on the other hand was not quite as impressive. Aside from YS VIII which I wouldn’t play until 2018, and Nier Automata, nothing really managed to catch my interest in that year. While Nier Automata certainly tried, it failed to live up to my expectations mainly due to its lack of focus. Nier Automata tried to be a bit of everything and nothing really stood out as a result… except maybe the music and the design of its semi-open world which while not the best I had experienced, definitely stood out from many other games in the current decade (see my review for more details). Still, it had nothing on the Odin Sphere Remaster and YS VIII which were more focused games that knew that they wanted to be and focused on being the best in their field as opposed to being an all rounder like Nier Automata. YS VIII was pretty much the only thing 2017 had going for it if you ask me.
What of 2018 then? Well to be honest I didn’t really play many games released in 2018, the only games that I can think of are Bloodstained Curse Of The Moon which I enjoyed and Warriors Orochi 4 which I have only recently played in 2019. It was a pretty “nothing” year for me, much like the drought. You could argue that I was still catching up with 2017 and playing other games from the sixth generation. There have been quite a few announcements made in 2018 that caught my interest, but many were delayed until 2019/2020.
So here we are in 2019. So far I have played two games released this year, those being Devil May Cry 5 and Bloodstained Ritual Of The Night. Devil May Cry 5 was a game I never asked for but was mildly interested in because it is Devil May Cry and I was curious as to whether or not the series could remain relevant in the current generation. Sadly, despite keeping the same combat as Devil May Cry 4 with a few minor adjustments, the game was pretty disappointing for me overall. Like I said, I never asked for a new Devil May Cry game, I knew that nothing could ever top Devil May Cry 3 for the simple fact that the dynamic that made Devil May Cry 3 so great could never be done again and any attempt to do so would backfire. Devil May Cry 5’s story felt like a mediocre fanfiction written by the fans of Devil May Cry 4 who wanted Nero to take center stage, I hated Nero, I hated having to use him again and I hated how the game made me switch between multiple characters, fucking up my muscle memory and forcing me to relearn the entire game from scratch which was fucking annoying.
Thankfully though, Bloodstained Ritual Of The Night did not disappoint though it didn’t exactly exceed my expectations. I enjoyed the game quite a lot and it maintained my engagement for quite some time. So I would argue that 2019 was a better year than 2018 for me, though not by much. Still I would like to shed some light on these two games and the companies behind them. While Bloodstained Ritual Of The Night was developed by a renegade development team with the goal of bringing back a series that was beloved by fans, Devil May Cry 5 was developed by a AAA publisher’s development division.
Just to be clear, I don’t think Devil May Cry 5 is a bad game. After all, the game brings back the exact same combat system Devil May Cry 4 had, so there’s still quite a lot of fun to be had in the game… when it isn’t annoying you by changing up your entire moveset every so often. They should have just stuck with 1 character or maybe given each character separate stories rather than having them constantly switching throughout the story.
This may seem like a pretty biased correlation but my interest in AAA titles is growing more and more distant with each passing day. It feels like every time a AAA game comes out, it ends up being either disappointing, bland or absolutely dreadful. While I am glad to see Capcom recognizes the value of their IP’s again, I don’t think they or any company can make those games the way they used to. Devil May Cry 5 was full of fanservice and throwbacks to previous Devil May Cry games to the point that beating it only ended up making me want to go back and play Devil May Cry 3 again, because it is better.
I mean don’t get me wrong, Devil May Cry 3 was a masterpiece and the very thought of a game like Devil May Cry 3 being released today is mind-blowingly awesome but deep down I realize that such things are too good to be true. If a game were to come out that could match Devil May Cry 3, it wouldn’t be a Devil May Cry game, why? Because it’s already been done. We need something new, something that can go beyond what the Devil May Cry formula allows and for a Devil May Cry game to do this, it would have to sacrifice it’s very identity, therefore I believe that Devil May Cry has run its course and quite frankly, I was always mixed on the series as a whole to begin with. I do hope that Itsuno can bring another 3D Beat Em Up to the table in the future, just one that isn’t Devil May Cry and only has me playing as one character instead of being forced to change character every few stages.
Bloodstained on the other hand is very much a Castlevania clone as it was intended and what we got was a game that offered a lot of great new ideas but as a complete package, didn’t manage to reach Castlevania Symphony Of The Night’s level of greatness, causing many to be disappointed and to be honest I expected this to be the case, it was just another metroidvania in a sea of metroidvanias. The genre has expanded greatly since Symphony Of The Night and Metroid and with the rise of the indie market, more metroidvanias would enter the fray, creating a new standard for the genre. While Bloodstained undoubtedly met that standard, it felt like just another metroidvania game, for better or worse. Still it was undoubtedly an enjoyable experience and gave me a bit of hope for the future of gaming.
Now as of writing this, there are still games coming out in 2019 but it seems that the ones I care about are being delayed to 2020 (or in Descent’s case, released right at the very end of 2019). Therefore I think I can safely say that based on how few games I have enjoyed in the past decade, this is arguably the worst decade that gaming has ever had, for me at least. Sure the 70’s and 80’s were primitive but that’s kind of to be expected, gaming was in its infancy back then so it isn’t really fair to pass judgement on that era of gaming. Though the industry may have crashed back in the 80’s, it was a learning curve which led to better games in the future.
Nowadays however, there is no excuse. After having experienced so many incredible games in the previous two decades, this one is an absolute joke by comparison. While there have been some great games like I mentioned previously, there’s nothing compared to what we had in the previous decade. To give an example as to how terrible this decade is compared to the previous decade, I will pick out two of the best years in each decade and list all of the games that I enjoyed that were released in that year.
Devil May Cry 3
Castlevania Curse Of Darkness
Atelier Iris 2
Midnight Club 3
Need For Speed Most Wanted
Pokemon XD Gale Of Darkness
Shadow Hearts From The New World (yes I enjoyed this despite the crappy story)
Tales Of The Abyss
Grandia 3 (I enjoyed this as well despite the crappy story)
Star Ocean Integrity And Faithlessness
Exist Archive The Other Side Of The Sky
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
Now to be fair, I haven’t played every single game released in either years and the list is biased towards my personal tastes but there are many other games released in 2005 that don’t interest me and that many other people love that I don’t such as Shadow Of The Colossus but I played these games for a reason, it’s because I am interested in them to begin with. So many games in 2016 do not interest me so I didn’t bring them up but based on the ones that do interest me that I played, you can clearly see a massive difference between both years and I haven’t even played all of the games that interested me in 2005 yet, I have played every single game that interested me in 2016 though.
You could argue that I may be pleasantly surprised if I try something else in 2016 but you could argue the same for 2005. The point is that there were numerous games I was interested in, played and enjoyed in 2005, in 2016, there is only 3 and that is pretty much the best year of the entire decade if you ask me, 2005 is one of the best but I cannot say for certain that it is the best unlike 2016 because it has a lot to compete with other years in terms of game releases. Heck we haven’t even talked about games like Painkiller, Valkyrie Profile 2, Grandia 2, Warcraft 3 or Mount And Blade Warband, all released in the previous decade and are my favorite games of all time. Only one game released in this decade managed to get on my top 10 list and that’s Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, a remake of a game that was originally made in the previous decade, kinda sums it up really.
So what’s the problem? Why has this decade been so awful for me? Well the answer to that question is something I have been trying to figure out for years but I have a rough idea as to why this is the case. For starters, the biggest thing that I believe has had a negative influence on gaming in recent years is the internet. Sure the internet has been around for years now but it didn’t have as big of an influence on gaming as it does now, mainly because publishers and the media in general did not know how to properly utilize the internet to influence consumers. Nowadays however, the internet is arguably the biggest platform for videogame marketing as it allows for information to reach countless people.
The popularity of online gaming has caused split screen to be removed from most modern games. I miss the days of playing games together with friends in the same room on the same console. Online gaming just isn’t the same, now both players need to own a copy of the game to play with each other. Sure game sharing is a thing on PS4 but it’s just not the same as playing locally with a friend in the same room.
Previously, if you wanted to know about the latest releases, you had to purchase a videogame magazine. These magazines came with reviews, previews and sometimes a demo disk for the price of around £6.00. Nowadays you can access all of these things for free via the internet so why would you waste money buying a magazine filled with information that you can already get for free? Publishers have certainly taken advantage of this luxury, as have consumers. It has come to the point that information on new releases is thrown in your face at every opportunity to the point that it becomes overwhelming. It is nigh impossible to avoid gaming news these days and personally I tire of hearing about the latest games on social media as it’s obnoxious hearing about the same games time and time again just because they are new releases.
Sure I’m just as guilty of releasing the occasional news article every now and again but I try not to make a habit of it and only do so to express my thoughts on something that is coming out (plus I never front page my news articles because I consider them to be filler). Mass media outlets on the other hand throw out news articles all the time, this can get really annoying to me and I’m sure it’s equally as annoying to others. It shoves the games in people’s faces, teasing people with inside information. This encourages more discourse about it which inevitably serves to build up more hype. Because of this hype culture, publishers can sell games more efficiently by throwing money at marketing to attract impulse buyers as opposed to building loyalty by investing in the game’s development to make a strong brand that consumers will support over time. The result of this is lackluster games due to underfunding.
Then there’s games like GTA 5 which had a lot of money invested into the development but most of the money invested was put towards gimmicks, graphics and pretty much anything they can show off in trailers as opposed to investing in a more focused project with more refined gameplay, hence why the character/vehicle’s movement feels so slippery and it blends really poorly into the gameplay because they don’t want to invest in reworking the movement from previous games as despite being such a vital feature to get right, it doesn’t help sell the game so they leave things as they are.
Consumers are partially to blame for all this as they are ultimately the ones who purchase these products but I can’t completely blame the consumers as they are being misled by the media. I’m sure there are those that are deeply passionate about certain games and want to buy them day 1, that’s fine. The problem is however that many people purchase a game day 1 just for the sake of buying games day 1 to be in with the cool crowd and this is a massive problem, most of which is caused by games becoming overhyped.
Microtransactions such as this wouldn’t exist if people stopped buying the games that have them. They will continue to exist so long as game sales continue to generate income. So stop buying games from publishers who put microtransactions in their games!
It doesn’t help that the consumer base for videogames is becoming broader and more divided with each passing day. I did a video discussing this a while back, breaking down each side of the consumer base and how their priorities differ. When discussing politics in gaming, many people think of censorship and journalists expressing offense over controversial social ethics in games. While this may be a problem, it’s pretty insignificant to the real politics surrounding the gaming industry. The real political battle revolves around the business practices in games and the type of games we have today. Games as service models for example have claimed a massive chunk of the consumer base and that chunk of consumers are the opposition to my political agenda. As for me being an opposition to their agenda, I really don’t see how that can be possible but it certainly appears that there is no reasoning with them and they will continue to be in opposition.
There are many arguments made by the opposition claiming that publishers need to implement microtransactions/day 1 DLC because the costs of game design are going up and that always online DRM allows for a more seamless multiplayer experience which is somehow beneficial to people. My arguments are that publishers invest the bulk of their money into marketing, pushing games to be gimmicky and eye catching in order to attract sales. This makes sense from a corporate perspective but from a consumer’s perspective it is a waste of resources that could otherwise be spent on designing something truly ambitious that focuses on being the best in it’s field. A focused, handmade game that is built for the purpose of giving players a refined experience that leaves a lasting appeal on them. This is what the industry badly needs.
YS VIII is one of the few games this generation that delivered a focused, refined experience without the budget issues of an indie title. This is possibly due to the fact that Falcom is not a publisher like other companies such as Square-Enix, Namco and Atlus.
Now a lot of you may be saying “but these games still exist in the indie market”. This is only half true. Yes handmade games do exist in the indie market, there is no denying that. Focused games also exist but to a lesser extent, however the budget of these games is so low that it’s difficult for indie developers to bring the best out of their games which is a shame. To make matters worse, there is also a big problem concerning the indie market. This being the oversaturation of indie game developers. Now of course it’s natural that making indie development more accessible is going to attract a large quantity of amateur game developers looking to create their dream games. The problem is that your “dream game” isn’t necessarily a game the industry needs right now. This is the very reason why I started my Theorycrafting series, to show the pragmatic side of game design in order to empower and inspire indie game developers to create something valuable that people will want to play. Of course this alone is not enough to help indie developers gain the success they need to take over the industry as no matter how great their games are, so long as publishers continue to shadow them with their excessive marketing, indie developers will fail to receive the exposure they are entitled to.
Many would argue that mass media outlets have made attempts to cover indie titles but it’s pretty obvious where their priorities lie, as with the priorities of consumers, AAA games. You see it’s easy to point fingers at the media and publishers but without the consumer’s support, these companies would either be forced to adjust or cease to be. Gamers want news on AAA games, not because they need it, because publishers have conditioned gamers to feel like they need it. E3 is the centerpiece of publisher propaganda, it is a major event that is highly anticipated by gamers, allowing them a sneak peek as to what new games are coming out. It’s the publishers way of saying “This is what you could have, now submit!” and people do so immediately without question, all because of a single trailer that only showcases the product at its best with all of its gimmicks on show.
I can tell you right now people, the hype is never worth it, all it leads to is disappointment. I know this from experience. The hype built for Final Fantasy XIII was so immense that I pre-ordered a Japanese copy for £60.00 to get it early, needless to say, I paid dearly for this mistake so do yourself a favor and avoid watching these E3 conferences, avoid listening to other people on social media hype these games up and wait patiently until year after release to see if the game still holds up and read up all the reviews you can on it to figure out if it is for you or not. Now of course if you have personally been anticipating a game for years and it has absolutely no scummy business practices related to it, feel free to risk a day 1 purchase. If it does have scummy practices and you really want it, wait for a second hand copy. I purchased a second hand copy of Devil May Cry 5 not so long after release on Ebay so you can too. That way you do no damage to the industry, only to yourself… possibly.
By avoiding E3 and all the hype, you liberate yourself from the wants/desires that you feel obliged to purchase and by doing so, not only do you free up time in order to get through the backlog of games you’ve built up through the years but you also save money. Your purchase is more impactful towards publishers than you think. Each time you purchase a game day 1, you are giving publishers your consent to keep doing all unethical business practices associated with it. Sure 1 purchase isn’t going to make or break a company but if enough people condition themselves to be cynical and to willingly abstain from purchasing games day 1, they will cripple the publishers responsible for all of these unethical business practices and slowly help Indie developers work their way up the ladder of influence.
Remember when this game got announced? Remember how hyped and excited you were for it?
Of course supporting Indie developers is highly encouraged though I don’t think you should do so for the sake of supporting indie developers (not saying that you can’t if that’s what you strongly desire to do), rather you should support the games that interest you. Indie developers have a responsibility to cater what isn’t being catered. It is the responsibility of Indie developers to provide quality hand made games for the consumer. Should they fail to do so, they too should be removed from the industry (I’m looking at you Digital Homicide).
It’s not just games that are suffering, consoles are becoming worse and worse every year. Why is this you ask? Well I think that partially has to do with the lack of a wow factor due to graphical differences from a previous generation’s games and that cannot be helped sadly. By the sixth generation, games already had the ability to render smooth 3D models in detailed environments. Take a look at Valkyrie Profile 2 for example, a side scrolling game that features highly detailed 3D environments. It is truly a monument to what the sixth generation of gaming is capable of in terms of graphics and few games can match it, even today.
This is what a 9th gen game should look like.
However this does not excuse the fact that console manufacturers enforce the use of their own services to all users and in doing so, charge for things that users should not be charged for. I’m talking about online paywalls and the biggest culprit for this is the company that single handedly ruined console gaming, Microsoft. Microsoft are hands down the worst of all three console manufacturers as they successfully pioneered this method of exploitation now used by all console manufacturers. That’s not to say that Sony and Nintendo are saints as they are just as bad nowadays but Microsoft instigated the whole thing so they deserve most of the blame for all this bullshit.
So what is the argument for having an online paywall then? Well apparently it is to pay for server maintenance but I call bullshit on that. For starters, PC games do not have an online paywall yet their servers manage to survive just as long as they do on console. Why should console gamers have to pay for something that PC gamers get for free? Well the good news is that there is a simple and effective solution to solving this problem that benefits everyone, it’s called transitioning from console to PC. Don’t let all of these “PC master race” stereotypes deter you from making the best decision you will ever make as a gamer, now is the time to invest in a PC! Start saving up all your money (which should be easier if you stop spending money on games day 1) and get either a pre-built or custom made PC, I don’t care. Just make sure you know what is inside the thing and you’ll be good.
Despite the fact that many PC games are ported to consoles nowadays, there are still many great games out there that are only available on PC.
Once you have a PC, not only do you have access to free online with every single game you purchase (that isn’t a MMO) but you also have access to many different storefronts. I recommend GOG and Humble as I believe they offer the best services but it’s up to you. You might notice that PC parts can be expensive to purchase but you need to realize that PC offers backwards compatibility or just about anything… and if it doesn’t, there’s usually a way to get things working with a bit of know how, just ask around. Seriously it’s time people stop being scared of the expense and complications of PC gaming. It might be tough at first but once you get used to it, it’s not that big of an issue, you don’t need to upgrade every year, you’ll still be able to buy all the latest indie games every year so long as you have a 750TI (or better) and an Intel I5 (or better) because they are not as demanding to run.
On consoles though, if you don’t buy the latest, you miss out on these indie titles as they will be exclusive to only the latest console. If that doesn’t convince you, then the prices of games will. Now obviously the fact that PC is predominantly digital may seem like an issue to those who want to boycott these publishers but there are other ways of getting their games without handing any money over to the publisher. For starters you have sites like G2A, a platform for people to sell their unwanted codes. Nothing harms publishers more than buying their games off of G2A, just don’t make a habit of it and certainly don’t buy indie games from there or games that do not have any unethical business practices associated with them, by doing so, you are only causing harm to ethical companies which is not a good thing. Also you do so at your own risk because if your key was stolen, then you are not only funding illegal activity but your game may be deactivated on Steam and that’s bad.
Videogames are no exception.
Of course there are also those who will choose piracy over actually purchasing games and quite frankly i’m not going to tell you not to do it but I’m not going to advocate piracy as a whole as I believe that pirating indie games from genuine indie developers is unethical. Those people shouldn’t have to work their asses off and not get paid for their hard work. If everyone pirated their games, it would prevent them from paying their bills and discourage indie developers from making quality products as a result. Do what you have to do, that’s all I’ll say. I’m not one who judges those who commit piracy, to me you are just as much of a gamer as the rest of us. All I will say though is to be aware of what you pirate and the harm it does to companies.
So now you know how to boycott publishers, you should be able to take action against them. All it takes is a little self-discipline and the knowledge that by doing so, you are making things better for not only yourself but for everyone… except those publisher scumbags. Before I conclude on my anti-scummy publisher tirade, I should also address another argument that has come my way “what about all the people who lose their jobs as a result of these publishers going bankrupt?”
“Each time you purchase a game day 1, you are giving publishers your consent to keep doing all unethical business practices associated with it.”
To those of you who work under these scumbags, I strongly suggest getting out as soon as you can. You need to have a plan B. I get that you have families to feed and bills to pay but it’s better to leave prepared than to be made redundant later and believe me, whether the company goes bankrupt or not, it will not save you from redundancy, you mean absolutely nothing to these companies, all they care about it money and if you are a needless expense to them, they will strip you of everything (look at what Activision has done to its employees). You absolutely need a backup plan. Companies that do unethical business practices are dangerous to work for as consumers do not tolerate bullshit… at least in the hospitality industry. If you have ever worked in the hospitality industry then you will know that unhappy customers leads to guaranteed failure. The same should apply to all industries and gaming is no exception. It’s always sad to see people lose their jobs but that’s just reality, it sucks but you can’t expect us consumers to keep paying for your wages when the company you work for screws us over. Don’t go down with a sinking ship!
Either ways, the only hope we have of improving the gaming industry is to get shut of all these massive publishers who hype up hollow products designed to exploit their audience and empower the small indie developers who need our support better than anyone and if this means that they are to go bankrupt then so be it. No doubt they’ll be bought out and then if they continue the same bullshit, we force them to go bankrupt too until indies manage to overtake the AAA. Take a look at how seething games journalists are today due to the popularity of Youtubers taking away their influence. The same could happen to videogames, we just need to stick to our guns and not let scummy publishers take our money.
Publishers are far from being the only problem with the industry though. Like I said before, consumers are also an issue. Even if we get shut of publishers, we would be digging our own graves if we carry on being the way we are. What am I talking about you ask? I’m talking about impatient videogame consumers, you know… the people who have demanded Mount And Blade II Bannerlord to be released early. These people are becoming a big problem as they have helped cause countless games to be released in a poor, buggy state due to their own impatience. Now It’s been 15 years since the last F-Zero game, a series I love and want to see more of and sure I have brought up the desire to play another F-Zero game but quite frankly it’s not a big deal whether I do or don’t. Why? Because I have countless other games to play, that’s why!
The same goes for Valkyrie Profile. I want Valkyrie Profile 3 more than I want a new F-Zero game, I honestly do but Valkyrie Profile 3 moreso as I believe there is more potential in the series. The chances of getting a new Valkyrie Profile game are like the chances of getting hit by a lightning bolt in a rubber suit. It just isn’t happening, at least not right now. I accept it and am willing to move on so that I can play other games instead. You know, I’ve just about had it with people who want everything now. Don’t you have better things to do in the meantime? I mean sure there are people like Biophoenix who have played countless games and I respect that they have fewer options compared with someone like me who has yet to play all the hidden gems of 6th generation but I’m betting that many of you are in the same boat as me, in which case you should focus on finishing the games you have or finding games you missed out on back in the day and trying them out. What do you think I’ve been doing for the past 10 years?
I’ve been too busy having fun to care about modern games…
You see, as pathetic as this decade has been, I’m grateful that it has given me a chance to seek out these hidden gems and give them the appreciation they deserve, I am thankful that I have saved a ton of money from not buying games, I’m thankful that I haven’t had to fork over money for a Nintendo Switch since it has no F-Zero on it. It feels liberating to be in control of what I can’t spend money on, I know it sounds silly but it’s true. By avoiding purchasing something, I am making a meaningful decision, a decision to not subject myself to a tedious slog of a game or to make a stand against publishers. It’s so easy nowadays for me to avoid purchasing games, so much so that the gaming industry as a whole feels completely foreign to me. I have barely played any games released in this decade compared to the amount of games I have played in the previous decade and in doing so I have saved so much money. In the worst case scenario that I do miss out on an amazing game, I can get it cheaper later on anyways since games don’t maintain their value nowadays.
I’m not gonna lie though, it does sadden me to see many of the series of previous decades die out. In fact, if we look back at the sixth console generation, there were entire series of games that started and ended in that console generation.A few notable examples being Shadow Hearts, Onimusha and Baten Kaitos. What happened to those games after the sixth console generation? Why did they die out? That’s not including series that had been going on since the fourth and fifth generation that died out in sixth gen. What is with Sixth generation marking the end for so many game series? Do publishers not have the balls to bring them back or are developers simply unable to make more of these games? Perhaps these games were perfected and didn’t need a sequal? Regardless, I can safely say that I enjoyed these games back in the day and it’s kind of sad to see them go, many of those games make a mockery out of the games we have today which is an even bigger shame.
Onimusha got a remaster of the first game but that doesn’t count, it’s the exact same game all over again and still has that god awful water puzzle section that should have been cut out. I’m so sick of people hyping up remasters.
It’s not nostalgia that has blinded me, that’s for sure. Many of these games I experienced in the recent decade due to the lack of good game releases and I noticed that these games were simply better in quality, generally speaking of course. Sure there are some games that have aged badly but some that did age badly, improved and spawned better sequels in the sixth generation. What bothers me is that publishers are pushing for games as service and games that follow the same bland open world formula. Sure there are games like Devil May Cry 5 that tried to breath new life into its series but all of its issues aside, it felt like it was nothing more than a throwback that only served to make me want to play the older Devil May Cry games.
I’m starting to think that game companies have completely lost their way nowadays. Either they release games that harken back to the good old days with barely any identity of their own or they don’t release new games in a series at all. This further strengthens my desire to see AAA publishers disappear from the industry since they clearly aren’t bringing anything of value to the table regardless. Even if a Valkyrie Profile 3 were to come out, the reality is that it won’t be half as good as Valkyrie Profile 2 (prove me wrong please), why? Because it will be poorly funded due to the fact that Square Enix doesn’t see any value in the Valkyrie Profile brand.
It’s up to indie developers to pick up the pieces now and start again. I have hope that gaming can continue but Indies need to be empowered to do so, not just with finance but with knowledge as well. Now is the time where intellectual discourse about videogame needs to happen the most and we need game developers to understand what made the games of the previous decade so enjoyable. It’s not throwbacks, it’s not having the same gameplay with a few minor gimmicks to help stand out, it’s good game design and I don’t think a lot of Indie developers understand this, they are too busy in their own little fantasies and I can’t blame them.
On a slightly related note, what has happened to the Arcade racing genre as of late? It seems that AAA publishers only want to make simulation racers now and any arcade racers they do make are being ruined by microtransactions and always online DRM. I mean there are some indie racers out there but it does hurt to know that this means we won’t ever see a good arcade racer with licensed cars aver again. I know it might sound like a silly thing to complain about but I enjoy the fact that I get to pick from many different real life car brands and race in cars I would never be able to drive in real life, in an arcade racer.
Ironically, many of my favorite racing games just happened to have been published by EA… which explains a lot. Such a shame.
Nowadays it is impossible to do that and it really pisses me off. Need for Speed has been crucified by EA, Midnight Club is nowhere to be seen, F-Zero is dead, Burnout is dead (and if it was still alive EA would ruin it) and all we have left are games like Forza, Asseto Corsa, I Racing and Gran Turismo. These games just aren’t fun to me, I don’t want to have to hold down the brake before turning a corner, there’s no satisfaction in slowing down to turn a corner. I want to drift around corners at high speeds not slow down because “realism”. This is a videogame goddammit!
It seems that now that technology’s capabilities have improved over the past few years, many games have been aiming towards being more realistic. The racing game genre isn’t the only genre to suffer from this issue. Now we have games with hunger meters and games where you have to sleep or become fatigued. The biggest offender of this would be Kingdom Come Deliverance. The game throws way too many needless features for you to manage on top of being a open world medieval themed RPG and all it does it make the game feel tedious. I also hate the combat system in the game for being extremely unintuitive and the fact that the character starts off swinging his sword really slow.
Unfortunately because Kingdom Come Deliverance is the worst game of 2018, the only screenshot I managed to get from the game is of the loading screen because I waited for ages and it was still loading. Anyways this load screen hint tells you all you need to know. Even if you aren’t caught, everyone knows you did it and will be an asshole towards you. Also guards are magically able to detect stolen goods in your inventory because they are magically branded with the word “stolen” on them. Seriously it’s a carrot, how can you tell that this carrot was the one that was stolen? It looks no different from any other carrot but it’s got a red mark on it in the menu so the guards automatically know that the item was stolen, realism my ass. Fuck Kingdom Come Deliverance, it’s a retarded game.
I get it from a thematic standpoint but this just isn’t fun to play for me. I don’t want to have to block in all directions, heck even Mount And Blade has an auto guard feature which makes it easier to guard. Kingdom Come Deliverance doesn’t have such an option so to someone like myself who has little patience/willingness to invest their time learning ridiculously complicated gameplay mechanics, the game is unplayable and I dropped it only a few minutes in despite paying $39.99 for it. Fuck me. I love the setting of the game and how it’s like realistic in its narrative but I don’t need that shit in my gameplay. I don’t want to live the life of a soldier in the middle ages, I want to play a game that is set in the middle ages with a gritty storyline. The sad thing is that the story of Kingdom Come Deliverance from what I played seemed to be quite interesting.
Now another thing that I am sick and tired of in games is elitists in the gaming community who complain that gaming is too easy and that easy modes shouldn’t be allowed in games. Because of this, we have games like Dark Souls that are marketed solely as being a “hard” game. Some idiots seem to have it in their heads that challenge is the core of what makes a good game. Those people have no idea what they are talking about. Sure challenge is an important component but it isn’t the core of what makes a game.
It’s not the challenge that attracts me to F-Zero GX, it’s the feeling of adrenaline you get when you’re navigating complicated race tracks at high speeds, it’s very satisfying.
The core of what makes a game is presenting players with a goal with obstacles for them to overcome in order to reach that goal. Sure challenge can add to the appeal of this but it isn’t everything. There are many other factors that games need to consider and those factors are the rewarding elements I brought up in my theorycrafting video. People need to realize that people prioritize rewarding elements differently and I personally prioritize mastery the least. I couldn’t care less if the game is challenging, I just want it to be fun to play, it’s the same reason why people play the Dynasty Warriors games, they aren’t challenging (though some of them can be frustrating) but they sure are a lot of fun to play. If games like Dynasty Warriors exist and sell well enough to stay alive, how can challenge be the core of what makes a game? Dynasty Warriors games (at least the modern ones) are easy, you just button mash your way through and mix things up if you like with charge attacks. That’s really all there is to it. Yes you can die/fail but it’s uncommon to do so in most cases.
I’m sick and tired of people telling players not to play a game just because they want an easy mode. I’m tired of people saying “git gud” whenever someone complains about games being hard. People have a right to complain about these things, especially if the game lacks an easy difficulty. Being good at games isn’t a vital life skill people. Some people have other priorities in life, clearly by telling them to “git gud” you have no respect for anyone with a full time job and a family. Even if you have a full time job and a family, you need to respect that everyone has different priorities and that’s one thing that the gaming community fails to do. They have zero respect for anyone who wants something different from them and that’s why we are in the situation we are in. Gamers are too busy bitching at one another to unify against all the bullshit these publishers are throwing at us. It disgusts me and we all should be ashamed at the state of the gaming community. It’s a joke.
Why can’t we all just get along?
Gaming community aside, I think when it comes to the games themselves I do have to acknowledge the fact that the developers of the previous decade aren’t going to last forever. Sooner or later we’re going to need some new blood in this industry and that new blood will shape the future of gaming. The problem is that because of the state gaming is in now, I don’t know if this “new blood” will be able to out perform the industry veterans of today. Maybe they will surprise me who knows? All I know is that 2010 was the end of an era. I hope that 2020 can mark the end of this terrible era of gaming and that a new era can begin, an era where great things will happen in the industry but let’s face it, so long as EA, Activision, Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony are around, the chances of that happening are very low. Perhaps I just have to accept that gaming will never be as great as it once was and I should stay cynical, miserable and pissed off about it for the rest of my life till the point that I’m screaming at a brick wall.
One thing is for certain though. One of these days I’m going to get old, when that day comes, I don’t think I will have the energy, nor will I care anymore about the state of the gaming industry. Perhaps I’ll be one of those people still playing SNES games only for kids to think that I’m weird and uncool for doing so. Gaming makes me feel older than I actually am and it’s kinda bothering me. Am I really getting that old? Or is gaming just an absolute joke now and people refuse to admit it? I don’t know but one thing that’s for certain is, the gaming industry is abysmal and I am ashamed to be a gamer right now.