Gaming has changed over the last few years, and trends have waxed and wane – some more annoying than others.
We’ve gone from complete games that released without the need for DLC, updates or pre-order incentives, to games that have more DLC than the initial game release.
But it’s not only DLC and pre-orders that make games so different these days, it’s a long list of things that make the gamers of today struggle with ridiculous obstacles when all they want to do is have a little fun.
Pre-order decisions are downright absurd
A new game is announced, and before you even see the gameplay, right after the teaser trailer, you get the deep voice saying, “Pre-order now for instant beta access and the Nuke Town exclusive map.”
Right at the bottom of the pre-order screen, you see the faint words “Nuke Town map is exclusive until early 2016”.
So what makes all of this so exclusive if what “exclusive” really means is that after 3 months, the entire world will be able to buy it?
Or, to drill down to the bedrock of our frustrations, why are those of us who refuse to purchase a game prior to its release being punished with lacking content?
We’re essentially being punished for wanting to wait for critical and peer review, or to wait and see how well the game actually works first, a legitimate concern given recent trends… *cough* Assassin’s Creed Unity and Batman: Arkham Knight *cough*
And just to add insult to injury, even when we do pre-order the game, because the confounded DLC incentive is too important to pass up, we don’t get another piece of DLC we want because we ordered it from a different retailer.
Season passes that add no real value
If pre-order incentives weren’t bad enough, you then get Season Passes that strive to offer “value added content” to the post game experience.
These Season Passes are often quite pricey at around $50 (R500 – R700) nowadays, depending on the game.
Most of the time, these passes have content that comes in the form of player skins, story missions and even multiplayer maps.
That’s great, until you realise that the Season Pass consists primarily of “light” content that really doesn’t add all that much, and the rare story mission or two is… well rare.
We’re not going to argue that Season Passes can’t be great, like Battlefield’s Premium service, adding a good amount of post-launch content.
But when the first bit of DLC drops too soon for the developers to have done anything but intentionally cut it out of the initial launch, well that just stings.
There’s never enough hard drive space
Games are not tiny anymore; they weigh in at over 50GB and at times reach over 65GB when you have downloaded maps and content and whatever else these games come with now.
Having a cupboard of 40 games does not mean that you just pop the disc in when you want to play anymore. There’s updates and installations to be done.
And after all is said and done, the consoles arrive with absurdly small hard drives.
Launch day, day one, patches
The bane of all launch days, the day one patch. Because no game is ready for launch anymore, and requires an update to fix the bugs that developers “conveniently” find while the game is in transit to retail.
These patches ruin our launch days and, at times, make the game unplayable online due to the size of them.
I remember picking up The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, only to be welcomed to a 15GB update on day one, making this online MMO nothing but a pretty box until a day after release.
A post “day one patch” patch
So the day one patch failed to fix less than half of what was promised, those darn frame-rate issues keep appearing, the inventory is still a mess and for some reason there is no rain in game with a supposed dynamic weather system.
We then get fed another 3GB patch to try and sort those issues out, as well as the issues the day one patch introduced.
So, finally, after another 4 hour download and 3 days later, we can finally play the game.
Unfortunately, it’s just a matter of time before the next patch is released, one that includes “hotfixes” for the game.
Strangely enough, this patch weighs in at over 6GB… for a “hotfix” patch.
So you install the patch and carry on playing the game, and while you’re exploring the world, you stumble upon a placeholder for what is undoubtedly upcoming DLC.
Granted, DLC is a legitimate business practice we can get behind, when used correctly and with restraint, but all this does is advertise how incomplete your game is without the DLC.
It’s dodgy marketing, is what it is.
Delay after delay
The game that you so badly want to play; the game that finally releases next month, it’s been delayed again.
Let’s disregard the fact that gamers on another platform have been at it for near on a year already, but it does suck a little when you finally get hold of it for your platform and a sequel is announced.
We accept that delays are a reality nowadays, as development gets tougher, costs rise and more optimisation is needed for the sheer variety of platforms.
The strangest thing happens though, these “delayed” games are often more buggy than the ones that come out on time.
The Second Screen
Every game comes with an app now.
These apps “extend” the gaming experience from your console to your mobile phone and allow you to unlock certain in-game items and content by completing tedious puzzles and other tasks.
Want to open that chest in Assassin’s Creed Unity? Sorry, play the mobile app and get to the final level either by paying extra money or grinding for hours.
Or how about having to go to a game’s website if we want to learn about it’s world or experience its lore and narrative. Thanks for that Destiny.
What struggles do you face every day being part of a modern gaming world? Let us know in the comments and forum.