The state of gaming has been on a downward slope in recent years. If we are not being overcharged for useless extras bundled within special editions, companies extort us for extra money post-release with downloadable content (DLC). Today we will be looking at areas where games companies have been found to working against the interests of their customers.
Long ago, developers released additional maps, extra characters or new units for games in free, easy to install patches. I personally remember bookmarking the Total Annihilation website to check for the regular units Cavedog Entertainment released in the months after shipping. Those days are long gone though, as often developers now choose to place paid DLC on the disc! In the case of the recently released Street Fighter X Tekken, Capcom explained this ‘as a matter of compatibility and file size’.
I have no problem paying for addition content, but I would expect said content to have been developed once the base game had gone gold. If I buy a game, I should be entitled to all content on the disc. Maybe I do not have the ability to unlock it, but the opportunity should be there.
Some companies go as far as offering players all future content packs in the form of a ‘season pass’; an early payment that offers a reduction against buying all the packs separately in the future. Personally, I will just wait for the inevitable game of the year edition with everything bundled in together.
I have posted my thoughts on methods of authentication software on this website before, so I shall not go on at length. We used to own content on any discs we bought, with the ability to make backups if we chose. Now we are lucky if servers are up when we have time to play.
Now, I am all for buying my games digitally. I have draws and shelves full of games that I hardly play anymore. I look forward to the day when everything I want to play can be installed overnight, or even in the background while I play something else. What I do not approve of though, is being charged over and above what local games shops ask for new releases.
I could buy the latest SSX for PlayStation 3 from Amazon for twenty-four pounds. I could walk into game and purchase it for thirty-eight pounds. Charging me fifty-eight pounds for the pleasure of downloading it straight away from PSN? No thanks! Even buying Borderlands 2, released today in the U.K., we pay twelve pounds more through PSN than online retailers.
Valve is an example of how digital distribution should work. Anybody who has a Steam account likely has a game that they impulse bought during a sale, but never played. This is the power of Steam sales, we throw money at them even if we have no intention of playing games right away! Sadly, a greater number of publishers and traditional retailers are entering the digital market. Rather than creating competition online, this creates a situation where gamers require multiple accounts and passwords for different distribution networks for each game they want to play.
The Decline of Single-Player
Another topic already covered on the site, this time by Deimosion. Fewer games today offer a serious, in-depth, involved storyline. This could be the reason I find it hard to play a single game for long sessions as I did in the past.
By casual, I do not mean portables like the 3DS or the Vita, instead I refer to the rise of Facebook games and free iOS apps. I do not wish to be sent annoying messages every few hours because my aunt needs help on her farm, nor do I want to pay money to do something now that I could do later for free if I wait an hour.
Developers in this space are often happy to rip off ideas from successful brands and reuse them in mediocre titles, sectioning off large amounts of content if one does not pay for premium items, often running into hundreds of pounds to collect everything.
The golden age of gaming is dead. We are not even in the silver age. What we have right now is a stone age where everyone is trying to reinvent the wheel. While some are happy to make apologies for the companies they choose to buy games from, the majority of gamers should stand up to these shoddy practices and vote with their wallets. When these methods are no longer profitable, we should see our industry become great once again.