Open Letter: Video Game Industry

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*Warning if you are not into gaming and you have no idea what companies I am referring to later on in this article, then may I suggest going to another article. No offense, there is just a lot going on and this article is long enough without going into detail and what companies did what. Thank you…you could always look it up then come back.*

‘New Video games!!’ They were once the best words an avid gamer could hear. Now those same words bring trepidation and hesitation!

Back in the 90s, anytime a video game came out, we were excited! We would be so amped to dive head first into whatever new adventure the big gaming companies created for us.

Game developers and publishers didn’t just create games, they created entire worlds! For the parents, video games just seemed like ‘a thing for kids.’ But to the gamers young and old, they were so much more than just a video game. They were an escape from the everyday. They were interactive movies that drew their audiences in with compelling stories and incredibly interesting characters.

 

This is saying a lot because back then, games were a little more than a group of small colored squares on our screens. When 64bit games came out, we got polygons! Jagged looking characters with sharp lines and color pallets that looked like the developers spent too much time in an 80s nightclub or watched way too much children’s television.

But you wanna know something?! Those jagged lined characters and the color schemes were great! Because they had a story behind all of it that made the characters come alive. This was their world! They lived in it even when the game was off. When I was a kid at school, I would be sitting in class thinking, I need to get back to that game. I wonder what the characters are doing now while I am away! More importantly, what will they do next when I get back to the game? Yes, yes, there are a couple of movies out that depict this; but that is beside the point.

Nowadays, the major video game companies are more concerned with getting money than they are about creating a creative and unique experience.

In fact, some video game companies have completely forgone the campaign side of their video games and have opted to just make stages and environments for their fans to play strictly online. It seems like the companies now are thinking; if we give the players just a place and a set of rules they will create their own fun!

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This could not be further from the truth. Gamers, at least the ones I talk to, like to have a story in their games. As I stated before, it brings the characters to life! It makes the world feel REAL, instead of just a map and some characters.

I remember the first installment of, what is now, one of the ‘best first-person shooter franchises out there’. Call Of Duty. There was no multiplayer! At the start, it didn’t really feel like anything special. It was just me, as the main character, who was part of this airborne platoon during World War Two. I knew next to nothing about the other characters; but the environment, the score, and the story so far drew me in. In my kid mind, I was thinking, This is my platoon! And when the Sergeant character gave his strong ‘no-nonsense’ speech after we took back the first town in France, I learned a little bit more; not just about the Sergeant but about every member of our little platoon. One character just got a letter that his girl back home was pregnant. Another joined because his brother was in the army and he wanted to be just like him.

All of this information was given, not during a cinematic or cutscene that lasted fifteen minutes, but a small five minute part of the game where my character was locked into place while the Sergeant spoke.

That kind of storytelling in gameplay is what brought that franchise, and for that matter next to all franchises, their reputations as creators of ‘good games’.

As these developers direct their aim more toward online gaming and ‘player driven narrative’ … which, in my personal opinion, is code for ‘We didn’t want to spend the money on writers so we just made a massive empty map, scattered a few things around, and leave it up to the player to come up with a “story.”‘ …back to my main point here, with the developers gearing more toward online gaming and less story driven games we are going to be left with large hollow gameplay. I think there is one game that came out this year with that exact problem, along with a few others.

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With all that being said let me speak directly to the developers and publishers.

I understand and I am sure other gamers understand that above everything the video game business is still a business, thus making money is a priority. However, there is making money and then there is greed. Before anyone goes quoting the movie ‘Wall Street’ (1987) let me amend the quote: “Greed, for lack of a better term, is not good.” At least when you are talking about companies that take it too far.

As your customers, we don’t want to see you fail. As I said, we liked you when you started, and because of that, we helped you grow in hopes that you as developers would make better quality games. Somewhere along the line, you evolved into something ugly You became too focused on the bottom line that you have thrown away the parts that brought you to where you are. Instead of making quality content, some of you are copy and pasting the same game year in and year out with bugs and glitches….and MICROPAYMENTS & LOOT BOXS!!!…sorry, sorry.

When gamers pay $60 a game, go home, plug it in, and wait for it to install; I still don’t understand why that’s a thing now; there shouldn’t be a need for a day one patch that takes six hours, and over 30 GB to fix. We should be receiving a FINISHED PRODUCT the day we get the game.

I am just a boy standing in front of an industry I liked; asking them what happened? What happened to having pride in your work? What happened to standing up for what you believe is right? I know not everyone in the  development and publishing companies is jaded to the point where caring about your product is something “you just don’t do anymore.”

Now, I know this is running a bit long. But as a long time gamer, and someone who has wanted to work in the industry since I was a child; I have a few words to say to my fellow gamers;

It’s high time we start holding these companies, publishers & developers alike, to a standard. I will not buy one more game from these kinds of companies until the games they release come out as they are meant to come out! FINISHED! No day one patch, no micropayments, no loot box BS, and a campaign that is WORTH SOMETHING! I am DONE with the campaigns that are tacked on like a bloody afterthought that someone slapped together a few days before launch. So if you are as fed up with the video game industry as I am right now and the companies that fail to make complete games; then join me and save your money!

 

Your INRAGED gamer,

C.S.

 

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