What ho, denizens of the L.coms. It is I, Oliver Motok here once again to talk about videogames and such. Truth be told, I have not really been playing many video games of late – this is largely due to my inability to buy the games I want, which leaves me bitter and unwilling to play any games at all – but notwithstanding the current rift between my true love and I, I have an obligation to this site and its readers to churn out a bi-weekly article. So, why not channel some of this bitterness and talk about some of the things that suck about playing videogames in today’s world? Everyone likes a good rant, right? Right. Let us get to it, then.
These are five things, in no particular order, that suck about modern gaming.
Remember when a perfect score was a monumental occasion, a landmark in the timeline of gaming history? Once in an age, a game would come along that, while not necessarily perfect, was so artful, powerful, and impactful that journalism hubs all across the land would be compelled to give it perfect scores.
These days, if one were to go to GameRankings and browse through the scores for, oh, just about any AAA big-budget title, chances are that they would come across at least a few perfect rankings. The point is, the perfect score does not seem to carry much weight anymore. It is a surprisingly no-never-mind affair. Grand Theft Auto IV raked in dozens of perfect scores. As did Metal Gear Solid 4. More recently, Uncharted 3 and Skyrim have been awarded more than a few 100 percent rankings, and I can personally attest that the former deserves no such accolades.
Now, while I am sure none of our well-educated readers give a twopenny damn about Famitsu, here is a statistic that might help drive this home: Famitsu has awared 18 perfect scores over its lifespan. The first nine were awarded between 1998 and 2008; 10-18 have all been awarded between 2008 and today. In short, Famitsu has given out as many perfect scores in the last three years as they did in the ten years prior.
The most recent addition to Famitsu’s “hall of fame”? Why, none other than Final Fantasy XIII-2.
Firmware updates, patches, and the like
Alright, so this is sort of a nitpick. But whatever. Sometimes, I miss the days when the games and systems I purchased remained as-is, and did not require constant patching and updating. I mean, every time I turn on my Xbox I have to download SOME kind of stupid something-or-other, and it is just a little annoying. Just a little. Granted, it probably only seems that way because I rarely play my Xbox, but again, whatever.
The same goes for games. What did developers ever do before they had the ability to fix unpolished crap through constant patching? One wonders.
Kinda in the same vein, but worse, because developers charge money for it. But what is worse is that people buy it. Who came up with the idea for DLC? Who came up with the concept of holding back parts of a game and releasing them in pieces, over time, for a price? I know, I know, that does not always happen – sometimes developers really do put time and effort into these DLC packs. But it is the principle of the concept that is tough to justify. If the developers already had the content on-hand (and in many cases ALREADY ON THE DISC) then why not just give it to gamers to enjoy? After all, we are already paying sixty dollars for the game. And if the DLC truly is an all-new undertaking, initialized only after the full game was completed and released, why not direct those money and efforts to something else? Like a sequel? A true expansion pack? Anything else?
Can anyone out there speak in defense of DLC? Has anyone ever had a game or experience significantly enhanced by DLC? I am honestly interested in knowing, because I have always viewed it as a benign institution at best.
Anyone who regulars Lusipurr.com is surely kept well up-to-date on recent developments in the world of DRM, thanks largely to our resident DRM Expert and Noted Alcoholist, Julian “SiliconNoob” Taylor. As much as you might hate DLC, we can assure you – he hates it more. (Actually, with Julian, one could say that about practically anything. Excluding Fosters, perhaps.)
DRM can take several forms. It can be in the form of draconian verification measures for PC games – such as Ubisoft’s practice of always requiring its users to be connected to the internet to play their titles on PC. More recently, though, it has become the weapon developers use to wage an all-out war on the sales of used games. The use of online passes and codes has become almost universally adopted, and we now live in a time where if one wishes to utilize the online features of practically any game, one must purchase that game brand-new, or shell out an extra ten dollars for a code. And it does not always stop there – want to play as Catwoman in Arkham City‘s single-player (yes, single-player) offline campaign? Gotta buy the game new. Sure, that may be the only example of its kind right now, but with the precedent set, one can be assured it will happen again and only become more prolific.
Is DRM a huge, huge deal? Maybe not, but the principle of the thing, once again, just sucks. I like used games. I like used movies, I like used anything. (Well, except for used electronics and undergarments, both of those scare me.) The fact that game developers think they are somehow above sharing the market with used sales points to a sort of controlling greed that makes my heart sink. It is a sad, but telling indicator of just how commercial-oriented my favorite pastime has become.
Shoehorned Multiplayer Modes
Multiplayer modes! Every game needs a multiplayer mode! It is not a valuable purchase without a MULTIPLAYER mode! Gamers are not interested in a game without a MULTIPLAYER mode! Silly me, I thought BioShock was one of the most gripping and immersive interactive experiences of all time, but turns out it was suffering all the while from the lack of a MULTIPLAYER MODE! Thank goodness BioShock 2 came along and fixed that, right? It was a totally worthwhile addition, right? Just like Dead Space 2‘s multiplayer mode, right? And these multiplayer components are handled by totally different teams, so there is no possibility of the single-player campaign suffering as a result, right? Of course.
Thank goodness Mass Effect 3 will FINALLY have a MULTIPLAYER MODE! When I am deeply engaged in the story-driven sci-fi epicness that is Mass Effect, I constantly find my heart yearning for a way to share the experience with up to three other players!
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Hm. I could probably go on. But I said five things, so I must hold true to my promise. What say you, readers? Has anything I have said here today struck a chord? Or am I merely completing the transformation into “bitter old gamer-man”?