By Joe Strange
List of demands is a strong, blackmail-y word, so I’d rather not use that phrase… But on Monday I made my list of demands for Hollywood, for lack of a better word. But as you all know, movies aren’t the only thing we love here at Axby, and so I’ve taken it upon myself to take on the next behemoth of the entertainment industry and suggest a few changes that the gaming industry should definitely consider making in the coming year, or else.
Joking aside I should say that these really only apply to AAA games, indie developers keep doing what you do, you guys are swell.
Finish What You Start,
Okay, so this has been a pretty big issue, especially later in 2014, and mostly it’s with games released on the PS4 and Xbox One, but so many games are shipped without all that we’re promised, and some are sent out without major features, like the ability to actually play, Assassins’ Creed.
Destiny, one of the most anticipated games of this past year, wasn’t released ‘unfinished’, but the slew of updates and fixes in the weeks that followed proved that it wasn’t quite as polished as it should have been, even without a pretty comprehensive beta period, or so it seemed. All of these nano fixes just made the game that was already lacking in the story department seem even more underwhelming.
But to be fair to Destiny, Bungie were trying to do something different, and they had an awful amount of scope and some ambitious ideas behind their game, in the end, the mechanics were untested in the long run. On the other hand, Halo Anniversary’s online multiplayer had major issues when the game first launched, and Halo is famed for its multiplayer, it’s both an important part of the franchise and has had multiple iterations, the entire system not working just wasn’t good enough.
But even these hiccup pale in comparison to the ordeal that was, and still is, Assassins’ Creed Unity. Between major frame rate issues, more bugs than the Amazon and multiplayer issues there was so many issues and so much inconvenience caused that Ubisoft have given out the games’ first DLC, Dead Kings, for free. Which leads me to…
Give us the full game,
It’s no secret that games aren’t cheap, sinking £40-50 into a game isn’t a small commitment, not to mention the time we spend playing them. So it’s a bit of a kick in the teeth when we’re given a game that has content already blocked off from us, and we have to pay more to play it.
But DLC isn’t all bad, extra maps, more missions and content to keep you playing a game is good in moderation. Season passes may be part of the problem, but if you’re committed to playing every part of a game, they can be a pretty cheap way of making sure you get every thing out of the investment.
What is a real bane is the industries insistence in the reams of pre-order bonuses that are offered up for buying a game that hasn’t been released yet. James wrote a great piece earlier this year about the subject, but when embargoes are put on reviews, as was done with Unity earlier this year, it gets even harder to see whether the purchase was worth it.
Extra skins and cosmetic bonuses, in my opinion, are fine, missing out on these things don’t affect the fundamentals of the game, there’s no change in mechanics by getting a slightly different cape. If they’re not merely cosmetic and they change up the gameplay then players are missing out on new opportunities, this is even more important to avoid when these bonuses carry over to multiplayer. It’s hardly fair if you lose to someone because they pre-ordered a game and got a rocket launcher that fires flaming knife tornadoes.
Leave of the annual releases,
This one’s been around a while, but that doesn’t make it less of a problem. Annual releases seem great on the surface; if you like a series then you get one every year, awesome right?
Well the issue with this is that they’re often not developed to the series’ full potential. Sure, some studios trade out every other year, like the Call of Duty series, with a different developer taking on the next instalment every two or three years, but that’s not always an option.
Imagine if you had one studio working on one game for two years, with more hands, more communication between departments and more time, the end project is more likely to be more polished, less jarring and more fulfilling. Compare this to half a studio working on a game for two years, while the other half works on getting the next year’s release sorted. Well, the maths isn’t hard.
We get that you want more games out to get more revenue to make even more games and the like, but when you rush a release and have to give a whole piece of DLC away for free? You’re just losing money, and respect.
I realise that this entire article has a very entitled and whiny attitude to it, it sounds like a tantrum because things aren’t as cheap, or not up to gamers incredibly high standards, and in some cases this year, that was true, but when games just don’t work, or when full retail releases feel like an extended piece of DLC, they’re definitely not without merit. But sometimes we gamers can be a bunch of babies, so I’ve got just one more piece of advice, this time for the gamers out there; Let’s not be assholes this year. The industry is competitive, crowded and hard work and while we should expect a high quality to our goods, miracles take longer, and are far more expensive. So maybe think about that angry comment next time a game’s frame rate slows down a fraction.
By all means though, if a game is broken to high hell, you tell them. We get free DLC that way.