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What’s Driving Me Away from Video Games
by Benjamin Quintero on 05/22/12 06:04:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

[reprinted from...]

When I look at the state of the industry, I sometimes ask myself if it is worth it.  This may sound a lot like the grumblings of someone who remembers the past more fondly than they really were.  That is entirely possible; but soak in the list and just extrapolate where we will be in another 10 or 20 years of gaming history.  Does it make you proud to be a part of that future, to be a contributing factor in it?

I've found myself picking up new hobbies in recent years, forgoing potential gaming time for something more... well... gratifying.  I feel like the joy of games, at least what I enjoyed about games, is nearly gone.  What was once a blinding experience is little more than a faint glow in the modern game experience.  I'm not just talking about the game content itself, I'm talking about the experience of purchasing, playing, and beating a game; from beginning to end.  I'm talking about the sensation of finishing a game without the sinking feeling that DLC is around to corner to tell you the true ending, for another $10.

Playing

If freemium or "free"-to-play (whatever you want to call it) becomes the dominant form of gaming, it will probably be the moment I stop gaming.  I'll move on to photography or some other thing that doesn't ask for my credit card every time I press the button.  Shareware worked for me because you knew exactly what you were paying for.  With freemium models, I'd rather not download it because the point of friction can happen at any time.  If I can't pay a flat amount for a complete experience I don't even click on the page.

I've never made an in-app purchase, or bought DLC, and likely never will.  This has a lot to do with my previous statement about purchasing a complete experience.  If the content was intended to be a part of the game, it should be a part of the game.  If the experience is incomplete without the DLC, I'll kindly spend my money someplace else.  Maybe it also has something to do with digital products.  The fact is, I probably have like $20 in Microsoft Points that have accumulated over time from various reward programs.  It's not even my money and I can't bring myself to spend it on something that I know I'll never actually own, I'm just leasing some bytes from them until the day I close my account.

Purchasing digital products from Steam, XBLA, PSN, and others implies that you're spending large quantities of cash to lease the rights to that game.  With digital download services you don't own anything.  That just sounds crazy to me, that someone could spend literally (ten's of) thousands of dollars in entertainment that could go away tomorrow.  You can only hope that these distributors will make good to their customers, but the logistical reality of getting all of those publishers to allow someone like Steam/XBLA/PSN to unlock the DRM on those games is highly unlikely.

I miss the days when I went into a store, purchased a disk, put it into my CD/DVD drive and it just worked.  I didn't have to spend my first 30 minutes creating an account with their DRM service, entering validation codes, personal information, DLC codes, and downloading updates, then sit through 3 more minutes of splash screens before I got to the main menu.  The experience of playing games has declined for me, and it feels more like having to sit through the credits of a movie before you get to watch it.

I'm bored.  For the younger generation, there is a definite sense of "If I haven't seen it, it's new to me."  But for someone who's been playing games since Atari and even Colleco, gameplay hasn't changed since 1985.  The graphics are crisper and the animations are smoother, the color depth has increased and the sound is 16 bit now.  With the exception of Wolfenstein 3D and Dune II defining new genres, I just haven't been amazed by any gameplay.  It all feels like shooters, platformers, and simulations games.  It might not be Mario who is climbing that ladder or jumping on weird turtle ducks, but the concept is the same.  And if I am only playing games for the story and exhibition of the environment, at some point the 20th century gameplay is just getting in the way.

Development

Ever since video games have attracted non-gamers, the industry has ballooned into the same mess that every other industry has.  When the people in control stop caring about the craft and more about increased revenues you end up in the same seedy pit as Hollywood and Music.  Creative freedom was how genres were invented.  Now, we rely on the free labor of enthusiastic young upstarts to show a faint glimmer of creativity that we can siphon into our AAA productions.

The value of your work as a game creator has forever been tarnished by the race to the bottom.  "Free" and $0.99 games have conditioned an entire generation of people to think that a grande-latte is worth 5x more than 20+ man-years of you and your team's life.  With rising expectations and plummeting prices, your endless sleepless nights are as valuable as dropping a bag of tea into some hot water.

Clone, clone, clone.  It's too easy to make a game anymore.  If your game has not shipped yet, and it has made a single headline in any of the major outlets, assume that it will be cloned and posted to the AppStore in under 6 months.  Now that they've published first, who is the real clone? You!?  That's how the uninformed world will see it.

Yarrr, pirates be smarter.  DRM is almost pointless unless you are running the game logic on a validated secure server.  If more than 1k copies was downloaded, you can almost guarantee that at least one of those copies was downloaded by someone who is working to crack it.  Someone will always feel like they were entitled to play your game for free, and they'll find a way; then they'll complain about it on the forums.


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Comments


Bob Johnson
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Yeah it is a young person's market. The industry doesn't have much product for the more experienced older gamer.

Also there are only so many game mechanics to go around. Fps games, for example, are, at their core, 3-d Space Invaders.

Joe McGinn
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The writer of the article sounds hopelessly jaded. I'm almost fifty and I disagree passionately with almost everything he said...

On freemium: he's just complaining about it being done badly. TF3, Riot Games - this is the way forward, not Facebook 's rightly derided "compulsion loop", or paying microtransaction to advance a variable.

On digital distribution: I don't miss physical discs at all. I'm annoyed at console for dragging it's slow-moving feet. Why on earth should I have to go to the store, and buy a box, and store another physical thing in my house, when what I am buying is bits?

On game mechanics: there is so much innovation these days, especially if you move beyond the big budget console market.

on development, iOS, free, and 99 cent games: this is a GREAT thing, the best thing about modern game development. Finally there is a viable commercial outlet fo0r the small indie developer. That hasn't been the case for *decades*.

Eric Schwarz
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One thing that's doing it for me is the loss of games as a complete experience. I enjoy games that take time to play, but a lot of titles, especially in genres I enjoy (RPGs) are centered around the endless grind, the idea of gameplay that can go on forever... see Diablo III for an example of a game with theoretically thousands of hours of gameplay, but after about 10-20 you've seen all of it. I'll never feel like I've truly explored or mastered that game, and I found myself having less fun the longer it went on. Now that I've finished the story, I have very little desire to actually continue.

Same goes for the focus on multiplayer. Yes, shooters sell well, and yes people buy map packs. Yes, people like playing with friends. But I don't have the time or will to play online shooters hours a day, and even when I do very occasionally, I find myself growing bored at how empty and unfulfilling it is. Maybe it's a result of understanding games from a design standpoint and seeing the mechanics and systems for what they are, and realize how many of those are designed specifically to be manipulative and time-consuming with little reward?

Ian Fisch
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You honestly sound like a curmudgeon. I'm 29, so I can feel some of your pain, but I'm not sure if I agree with some of your recollections.

Videogame installs, especially on the PC, were never especially easy. If you could overcome compatibility issues, you often had to enter a code to play online.

If you go back even further (DOS, early Windows), you had the validation codes you had to look up in the manual every single time you started up the game.

With Steam, I might not have a CD in my hand, but I can install a game that I bought 7 years ago, right now on my new laptop. No searching for a CD I probably would have lost by now. That, to me is progress.

Michael Joseph
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Curmudgeon?... not so much. Sounds more like someone wanting to be "talked down" from that ledge of dispair.

I think the good news is that independantly funded games along with 3rd party tools making game creation easier will simultaneously result in more meaningful games as well as nudge the big money in the industry to concede the need for more richer gaming experiences.

So the greater ease of making games in my opinion is overall a good thing. I look forward to when things are even easier so that dedicated individuals or small teams can do even more than they are able to do now in a reasonable amount of time.

We need to reach a point where the creatively gifted have the freedom to make medium and large sized games without having such a huge dependance on the technically gifted.

Benjamin Quintero
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Ian, haha. Hold on let me find my cane. Okay, where was I?

I honestly never had issues with PC installs, I read the spec requirements. The bad rep for PC games came from little billy buying a high end PC game for their dusty old machine. It was a different world then, because PC was growing by 2x power every 6 months.

I never said digital was all bad, but I had to theme the post or it would have been a feature length article! Steam is great, just dont assume it will live longer than you. Shtuff happens.

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Ryan Marshall
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I can't play the diablo II game of which I own on discs, but I had no problem downloading a working copy of Fallout from a legitimate retailer just a few months ago. From a practical standpoint, letting your game "ownership" license reside on some server somewhere is just better than owning a physical thing, which still feels terrible even if it's true.

There is also the case of physical media degradation (discs wear out, but you can always download a fresh install).

Benjamin Quintero
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Ryan, that is a valid argument. And I was shocked when Blizzard allowed me to register my product keys for old Blizzard games without having to repurchase them like some other (Steam) services might force you to do. That was a bold move. I would love to register my physical copies with Steam and use it as a backup service.

However, I'll have to disagree with you on one aspect. You don't own the games you purchase digitally, as you imply. No one reads the EULA anyway =), but they reserve the right to shut down without legal recourse. If services like Steam were in fact a way to save a digital backups of our games and their product keys then I'd feel much more comfortable. The reality is unfortunately much darker than that.

If I could enter my physical product key and get a steam key for my games I'd do that. Like you, I have the CD but no key, or the key and no CD for many games. A digital storage would be useful if I could do that without spending thousands of dollars again just to obtain what amounts to a digital lease agreement.

Ryan Marshall
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It's not legally or officially a backup, but it serves as one for practical purposes. I've downloaded a couple of games over the years, and it's always been easier for me to sort through my emails and find the download keys than it would have been for me to sort through my boxes and find a disc.

Both methods have obvious failures, but in practical terms I have found the downloads to be more useful for now, and I don't see that changing in the foreseeable future (10 years out).

k s
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These are all valid concerns, the two big ones for me are freemium/DLC and the race to the bottom/mass marketability.

I grew up on classics like commander keen, quest for glory, dune II, command and conquer, etc, and as such these are the kind of games I design and develop. I don't expect to reach the largest market but I don't want to either, for to reach that market I'd have to sell my soul. I'll sell my games to nerds and geeks (geekerds) because we created video games to entertain ourselves and snakes in suits(businessmen) have corrupted our medium just as they have done to others before.

James Coote
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It's something I've seen pointed out in a number of places. You just don't get those medium-sized games anymore. It's all either big shiny AAA or something to play for 10 minutes on the train home

Adriaan Jansen
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I mostly don't really agree with you, but I see where you're coming from. I'm not charmed by the freemium model as well, but to be honest, one of my best game experiences yet comes from a freemium model. It was awesome. However, everything was also available for free if you just were good enough and had enough time. Which I did. I also like League of Legends and alikes freemium model.
DLC is a double edged sword. Somewhere it's cool that if a player finishes a game he loved, someone is working on fan service to supply him with more. But on the other hand it's not cool that parts of the experience seem to be missing, because DLC is already out there. I liked Civ V's DLC, I didn't like Dragon Age's DLC. It's a fine line I guess.
DIGITAL DOWNLOAD IS AWESOME! I understand the problems with digital download, especially the ownership part. I just think playing and making games is made so much easier now with digital distribution. A lot of games wouldn't have ever seen the day of light if it wasn't for Steam. To be fair, I also think the digital-doomsday scenario of Valve turning Chaotic Evil tomorrow is kind of, well far out there.
No innovation in games? Now you're just sounding like my grandpa talking about sixties rock. We got a lot of awesome games in the past 25 years, who really defined their own special way of gaming. Dota, Minecraft, Joust, Populous, Ico, Sands of Time, Limbo, Warcraft 3, Shadow of the Colossus, and so many more. If you're not seeing the progression or the innovation, it's because your expecting to be blown away as much as you could be blown away back then as a kid/teenager, while that's just very unlikely to happen. Or you're just not that into games, and they all sound like the same. Like my grandpa tends to think about sixties rock.

Benjamin Quintero
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There is a divide between progression and innovation for me. Progression is good though; God of War is a progression of the beatem up genre, Warcraft 3 is a progression of Dune 2, and many of the titles you listed were vast progressions in storytelling. Though Id argue that much of Team Ico has innovated in the area of silent storytelling, the controls and game mechanics were not top tier even for their time and certainly not now. Its not like the lone hero on a journey hadnt been done, but Shadow did a good job of making the killiing meaningful.

David Serrano
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I'm an older player and while my interest in gaming as a form of primary entertainment hasn't decreased... my interest AAA gaming is completely dead. Due to the focus on multiplayer over single player and the toxicity of the multiplayer audience.

To me, it feels like there was an evolution which needed to, and should have taken place in AAA gaming between 2005 to 2007. But it never occurred and over the past 5 years, the games have slowly devolved. Because practically all developers and publishers began to exclusively focus on serving a demographically narrow, minority segment of the core audience. So the types of games older players need to keep them in the market simply don't exist and the games being developed are not worth $20, let alone $60 to them. So for all intents and purposes I, like other older players, have been forced into retirement. If or when the industry comes to it's senses, I'll be more than happy to dust off my keyboard or controllers.

Chris Daniel
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Same with me. In the last 10 years I only played the Half life and Portal AAA games while Half Life bored me after 2h with repetition of running and shooting.

I don't care about the rest anymore. And so do my friends. They ALL quit playing games in their twenties. But they still read books, watch movies, go to theater etc.

I did not play a single game between age 20 and 25 before I came back because of the Indie movement. But even the shining Indie perls cannot deliver the emotional or intellectual exitement like a movie or a book can.

But I feel it can be done. That's why we have to applaud guys like Jenova Chen and Blow for trying.

Something is missing.

Ryan Marshall
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It really depends what you mean by AAA games. These blockbuster, mass-demographic, hundred-million dollar, Hollywood-esque games that everyone is focusing on can only *be* made because they focus on a particular demographic that has proven itself willing to keep spending on these types of games. There's not much overlap between that audience and the core gamers from previous decades.

In general, AAA games are made for other types of gamers, and I'm okay with that.

The regular A games being produced by today's second-string companies are still better (gameplay-wise, stylistically, etc.) than the killer games from the previous generations, just because the medium as a whole has come so far since them, so I'm still happy. We have games that are every bit the quality of Square or Capcom from back in the day, being independently created by devoted fans and available at a fraction of the cost.

What other people have, be it a AAA mega-hit or a freemium pay-to-win or even a legitimately cheap casual game, that changes nothing.

David Serrano
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@Ryan Marshall

"These blockbuster, mass-demographic, hundred-million dollar, Hollywood-esque games that everyone is focusing on can only *be* made because they focus on a particular demographic that has proven itself willing to keep spending on these types of games."

This is the backwards logic that's ended 15 years of nearly nonstop growth in the AAA market and is forcing many long time players out of the market. Because the reality is... the "target" demographic is a sub-segment of 10 to 15 percent of the core audience. And statistically, they only purchase a fraction of the number of games as the average non-hardcore player in the audience. So 13 to 23 year old male hardcore multiplayer fans are the tail wagging the dog in terms of the overall focus and direction of game development.

I mean, this should be a matter of common sense. There's far less risk involved for developers and publishers to develop games that will appeal to 20, 30 or 40 percent of 90 percent of the audience than there is in developing games they hope will appeal to 100 percent of 5 to 10 percent of the audience. It's the difference between losing money each time they fail to hit a home run or earning money each time they hit a single, double or triple.

Tony Downey
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So if I made a free-to-play game and published it, and a bunch of content was locked behind a payment gate, you would never download it.

But if I made a free-to-play game and published it, a bunch of content was locked behind a payment gate, and I called it *shareware*, you would...?

Not all free-to-play games are treadmills where you buy endless consumables, ya curmudgeon.

Benjamin Quintero
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I assume you are joking. There are a lot of terms and it's important to know their distinctions. free-to-play, shareware, trialware, freeware, freemium, micro-transactions, DLC; they are not the same. So just calling something shareware doesn't make you shareware.

David Serrano
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It may be comparing apples to oranges but virtual worlds like Second Life have very fair and non-intrusive free to play models that indie and AAA developers should consider.

Ryan Marshall
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How is the core game less awesome just because you have the option of expanding it later if you really like it? Are people incapable of enjoying something for what it is, on the grounds of what it could be? Does the rose smell less sweet because the vendor has a pair of optional scent-enhancing goggles that you could buy?

I mean, I get that people might *feel* deceived by this, but obviously not enough to not buy it or else they wouldn't keep making DLC.

Personally, I really like the DLC model. I can buy a complete game for a reasonable price (used game debates aside), and then have the option to support the developer by paying more to extend the experience - but only if I really like it. The people who only kind of enjoyed the game are free to be done with it at the nominal end, and the ones who are crazy about it and play it for hundreds of hours and find every secret can have a little more to enjoy - and they know they'll play it enough to get their money's worth.

If DLC didn't exist, then that extra content wouldn't get made and then nobody could enjoy it.

Tiago Costa
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I would agree with you, Ryan, if only the DLC were extra content, what I am seeing these days (Assassins Creed 12 and 13 level, Deus Ex missing weeks,ME2 DLC and ME3 day one DLC, etc), is that part of the actual game is extracted and sold as DLC.

I can understand game expansions and DLC that expands the game, like Skyrim's future DLC, Just Cause 2 DLC, disgaea 3 DLC, uncharted etc... because the main game is complete. What I cant understand is playing a game where the character dissapears for three weeks (deus ex) or goes to help in a major battle in forli (AssCreed 2) and then the game mentions this later on even if you did not buy the DLC, if you dont see this part as a problem then by all means continue, I simply do not like that at all.

Also I hated on how in Mass Effect 3 they reference the Arrival DLC and batarians blame me for blowing up batarian space when I wasnt even near the bloody system since I havent bought the DLC.

DLC has put me on a state that I tend to what for complete or GOTY editions in order to feel that I will have the complete story when I start playing.

Good DLC expands the game, bad DLC completes the game.

Unfortunately we all tend to get more of the latter these days.

Benjamin Quintero
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I must have left my rose colored glasses in my other pants :) Have you played a Capcom game this generation? Asura's Wrath comes to mind; the final act of the game is DLC. That is obviously one of the more blatant examples, but I doubt they'll be alone for long.

In a good and honest world where everyone helps old ladies cross the street then I'd be right there with you. But as it stands, we are seeing publishers push the envelope of how much they can sell after $60 and it's not going to stop. The final chapter of single player as DLC or Online passes may very well become a standard for all games, new and used, and people will pay.

Roger Tober
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I'm kind of in this weird place where it's more fun reading about games than it is playing them. They're really too directionless for me. I have too many options, which everyone else seems to be cool, but I find to be sort of trivial. I'm sick of waking up with no memory and deciding what I want to be. Hardly anyone plays these games through even once, but everyone is wrapped up in replayability. I think the only game that ever interested me was the puzzle game. It used to be fun solving puzzles, but they were mostly abandoned because they aren't replayable.

Glenn McMath
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What you said really hit home for me. I'm exactly the same way. I find that the potential for what a game or concept could be is much more interesting to me than the actual game itself. I spend much more time these days reading about game design philosophy and opinion pieces like this one than I do actually playing videogames.

Most games these days feel soulless to me. They lack heart or personality, and I find it's tough to engage with them. I wish more games meant something, or had something interesting to say. Videogames can expose you to situations you would never experience in your day to day life, and even let you live the life of someone else entirely. Understanding this immense potential, I guess it's not surprising that I have a hard time getting excited about being some badass super soldier fighting aliens... again... is this really the best people can come up with?

I know my tastes probably differ from yours substantially, but it seems like we've both found ourselves on the outside looking in. Hopefully the accessibility of dev tools these days will let someone create games that we can actually enjoy again. Or we may have to do it for ourselves.

Al Nevermeyer
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Me too, finding myself in exactly the same situation like you. I just came to Gamasutra to check if there is any criticial analysis of this year's E3. So I'm glad about Benjamin's entries covering a bit of my interest and finding people having the same issues with gaming in its current state.
Actually it has been a while since my last personal play. And it's weird; somehow I feel the need to play, immersing myself in a game in such a way that it can give me more than just temporal stimuli-driven satisfaction.

But yeah, you said it: just look a the current line-up of E3 and you are overflooded with triviality. Building up a franchise is not a bad thing, but diluting its core feature is. Making a ****load of money is not a bad thing, but delivering poor quality CR-wise, sustainability-wise, design-wise is. Pushing games into the main stream of medial attention to appear as a coequal entertainment medium like books and movies is not a bad thing, but actually delivering a public appearance which could not be more immature and shallow and without any artistic value is.

And don't start with all of these exceptions I could find under all those super-smart indie-games out there. I know that there are some perls, but my focus lies upon the wide range of gaming and where its general course seems to lead to.

The last games I played extensively were Portal 2 and Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines (I know it was a bug feast, but thank god there are still awesome fanbases out there). Both games offered intelligent dialog implemented in a way that just fit in very organically. Both were challenging enough to keep me going and not getting bored of hints and tooltips etc. Both scenarios created their very distinctive and accentual ambience which totally sucked me in. Man, I want to game some good play again..

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Alex Leighton
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I tend to agree about shorter games. Honestly, I've found so many games I've tried to play lately are just too long, and I get bored with them before I finish them, then I feel like I'm not getting my money's worth, so I try to play them again, then I realize why I got bored with it in the first place.

Portal 2 was the last game that I played that had me hooked from beginning to end, it was the only game in recent memory where whenever I wasn't playing it I was itching to get back to it. I beat it over the course of a weekend, and it ended up being a really short experience, but it's one I'll never forget and which was worth every penny.

Keith Nemitz
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There is a parallel industry that's doing it right, board games. European board games continue to supply diverse products appealing to young and old. Their only limit is required, in-person multiplayer (usually). Some are being ported, good ports, to video devices. I've been a bit surprised by how well Dominion hands my ass to me on iPad.

Another, fascinating vector, Rock-Paper-Shotgun. Could they (and Steam) be credited with re-igniting the PC gamer? I'm a grognard reborn due to them. I think, without RPS, Steam would have half the titles, and a lot fewer indie titles. Is RPS the de-facto curators of PC games?

I feel very similar to how Benjamin feels. It's hard to find games that appeal to my love for depth without a lot of busy work, and games with themes that respect an experienced life, and games I can pick up and play a little bit at a time like a paperback novel. Instead of just saying that, I make games that try to fulfill those preferences.

Maybe we need stronger curation for mature games. Hello, this is the age of the internet. How do we rally the millions of NES/Genesis/i286 gamers who are hitting 30's,40's plus? Where's our CaneLawnOutrage.com? Oh, right, Valve owns Old Man Murray too...

sigh

Bryce Walton
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Couple thoughts:
1. I agree with you, the magic is dying. The evil overlords of financial chaos are sucking out games souls. Crowdfunding may be the glimmer of hope here, allowing niche products to come into being with souls intact, but that's still on the fringe (as in not AAA).

2. I think this longing for a deep, challenging, authentic experience is why I loved Dark Souls so much. It offers me the depth of a 60 hour adventure and the challenge that every enemy is deadly (regardless of my power). When I think of Dark Souls, I think of it as an experience, not just a game. I felt the tension of barely surviving combat, the terror of each white door, the panic of trying to recover my souls, and the loss when I failed to do so. The multiplayer was encouraged, but the game was built around a solid campaign. The only aspect Dark Souls missed was polish, with awkward abbreviations in item descriptions and other such blemishes.

Daniel Gooding
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Happens in the music industry.An artist decides to change their sound. Then fractures the audience.All the old fans start bitching about the new sound, and how it isn't as technically beautiful as their favorite song from the past

But there are a lot of people enjoying the new experiences.The new audience could care less about aging cynical gamers, drm, and downloadable content.

If you don't enjoy games anymore, then you probably should find a hobby outside of gaming.
That way if you go back to games, the 1 or 2 games a year you play will actually mean something again.

Glenn McMath
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I don't think people who find no appeal in modern mainstream videogames should abandon videogames altogether. It isn't very productive to say "This doesn't work for you? Well fuck you." Likewise it isn't much use sitting around bitching about how things aren't like the good ol' days anymore.

Every advance the industry has ever made has been a double edged sword. There are a lot of good people who have become disenfranchised with the direction of the industry at large, and to shed them like dead skin is to lose a lot of created and talented people, or a lot of (formerly) dedicated and loyal fans. I'm not calling for a halt to progress, but I DO want to see some of these people stand up and show the world that videogames could be different from what they are right now. There is an immense opportunity, both financially and creatively, to advance the medium in more than one direction; and from a business perspective it might not only be lucrative, but also essential to the survival and health of our industry.

These days everyone is either casting broad shallow nets for fickle casual gamers, or doubling down on a relatively small niche market (14-24 year old males). These strategies are working out for fewer and fewer companies every day. Casual games are becoming more and more exploitative, because they only strive to monetize and retain their audience through compulsion, not provide worthwhile experiences through legitimate enjoyment and engagement. On the flip side, "core" games are shedding players constantly as they race for the lowest common denominator of their primary demographic.

The glossy finish, the compulsion loops, the style with an absolute absence of substance, all of it will only last so long before people start to feel unfulfilled and see these sorts of games as worthless wastes of time and money. It's already happening. That's why we're here having this conversation.

I don't think it's too much to ask for a compelling and satisfying alternative to the empty games we get today. But I also don't think it's enough to sit around bitching about how it could be (or used to be) better.

David Navarro
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"With digital download services you don't own anything. That just sounds crazy to me, that someone could spend literally (ten's of) thousands of dollars in entertainment that could go away tomorrow."

How's that different from keeping your money in the bank as opposed to in a sock under the mattress? You run a risk in exchange for convenience.

At any rate, even if radical advances in game mechanics ended with the move to 3D, I don't see it as a problem. Cinema as a narrative medium hasn't advanced noticeably since the talkies, but that doesn't mean that we don't get some excellent new movies every year.

And personally, as someone who has been playing games since coin-op Pong, I know enjoyed myself a lot more playing Skyrim last year than anything I played during the 80s or 90s.

Benjamin Quintero
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The difference is that your bank account has a $150k insurance policy.

Marc Cram
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I've been in the video game industry for a long, long time and this is not the first time this model has been used. They're called slot machines and the only reason slot machines are still around is that every once in a while a slot machine gives you some money back.

Axel Vindislaga
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'Once Bitten Twice Shy' The gaming industry bit me. It conned me with fake reviews and false promises. How did it do that? It offered features that have been floating in my mind since very early in my gaming experience it lied and the features weren't there. I have a picture of myself happy with my copy of Oblivion and so happy to have paid too much then to have my mind so totally and utterly reject the experience. I must have tried easily 15 times to 'get into' Oblivion but each time come away shaking my head in disgust, not really need to mention I didn't even look at Skyrim. I loved TA and Supreme Commander I supported the developer and was hugely proud of my skills, SupCom2 was an insult since I have seen that genre evolve from hex maps then step down from glory into console retardation. I noticed a trend of games becoming dumber and dumber even though I thought of myself as supporting the 'smarter' PC gaming market.

I have money I have time I seriously have the need....bored gormless here. I get the argument that players can ages flavours can change but from where I am seeing this it really isn't the case. Where are the new genres for a person to say that things have really changed? Depth has been lost but essentially things are the same. I have ideas but how do I get them out there? My friends and I discuss ad infinitum new game ideas and features to add to existing titles in order to make a truly excellent experience and I happy to see that some of them are getting there on their own. Arma2's zombie mod yeah! Sadly though at this point it would be embarrassing to admit to the depths we have fallen and list game currently played. (not console)

For me and my mates we supported and followed games and their developers only to watch our hopes for future releases dashed before our eyes. Personal hate list 1:Bethesda 2:Creative Assembly 3:Dice Each of these companies had me buying every release till screwing it up bad.

Ryan Marshall
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Out of curiosity, what did you not like about Oblivion? What did the fake reviews falsely promise?

Axel Vindislaga
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Interesting isn't it. Expectation. Hype generates sales and Shader 3 really delivered hype. The major things I found advertised that raised my expectations was the Radiant AI. Its like no one can be held accountable for impressions developed in a consumers mind. Until of course the consumers stop spending.

Isn't amazing AI the holy grail of RPG? A character that will play its own role. The advertising led me to believe that as the player moved around the environment the population would not merely wander around purposelessly, that they would all be setting about their own goals. I can see how they might have been impressed with themselves at the progress but it really wasn't something I think they should have been trying to make a selling point. I found scripted quests and encounters, npcs wandering purposelessly as usual and no Radiant AI to speak of.

I found many features from Morrowind missing, sacrificed for no real gain.

We get chided and flamed for complaining but what is the other option, hang our heads and mope? I think I can boil my sentiment down to this one statement. "The gaming industry is vulnerable to passive resistance." I am going Gandhi.... in fact I might broaden that to claim that a consumers power is only expressible as passive resistance.


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