5 Ways the Videogame Industry is Killing Itself

December 10, 2014 by

Though it made threats in the past, we never thought for one second the Gaming Industry would actually pull the trigger. Unfortunately, we were wrong…

From an outsider’s perspective, the world of videogames and associated media has never been brighter. Millions of dollars are spent perfecting AAA titles, developers are working hard to produce unique gameplay experiences, and consoles sport technology smart enough to navigate to the moon and back. The community is growing and it finally seems like videogames are reaching a level of respected acceptance from the outside world.

But for those of us who have finally managed to pry off the rose-colored lenses superglued to our faces, the truth is a little bit darker. We see now that the sunshine skybox of the gaming world is marred by ominous clouds, and at the center of the gathering storm lies the Game Industry Ouroboros, slowly consuming itself into nothingness as players and developers alike fall victim to Hubris and greed. Because I care about the community and I’m afraid of any number higher or lower than five, I’ve listed below exactly that many trends showing us how “The Industry” is blindly hopping into a bathtub with a toaster in its hands.

5. The Dwindling Number of Differences Between Consoles

Which one hides Cheetos dust stains the best?

What I’m Talking About

When I finally got around to actually looking it up, I found it was far from surprising to discover that the top two consoles, the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One, were really just the same damn machine in two separate shells. Now before you one-side-or-nothing puritans get on my back about the fact that the  PS4 has an AMD GCN 1152-SPU while the Xbox One has an AMD GCN 768-SPU, let me say that for the sake of this comparison I’m really only looking at the big picture (and not your petty spec gripes). Both have the same CPU, both provide 1080p and 4k graphics and 7.1 surround sound, and both pretty much offer the same games and media content. The difference is negligible and it really only boils down to which one your parents bought you for your birthday.

Why It Hurts The Industry

While a part of me would like to believe this is a good thing in that it may finally end the hotly-debated console war (and when I say hotly-debated I mean completely ridiculous), it carries with it a foreboding sense of gaming communism. Sure Microsoft and Sony are still two separate entities, striving to maintain a sense of self-identity, but public demand for the best graphics and fastest performance will bottleneck both companies when it actually comes to being creative. Soon enough you’ll only buy one over the other because you prefer their logo and nothing else. There’ll be no sense of ingenuity and no aspect of diversity, and you’ll be driven to choose between the two tedious products of MicroSony or turn to Nintendo, who will no doubt still be sitting in the corner sticking pencils up it’s nose.

4. The Use of DLC as a Crutch

It’s okay need help occasionally, Batman

What I’m Talking About

Though downloadable content is a great way to add in thoughts after the fact, there seems to be an alarming trend of tacking on content that ends up being heftier in size in comparison to the original game. The first example that comes to mind is the Catwoman DLC in Arkham City. Though new users had instant access to the expansion, those who bought a used copy were forced to pay before they could actually play half of the game. The Assassins Creed, Call of Duty, and Battlefield series all have the same issue, pushing out loads of content that dwarfs the original game it’s simply supposed to compliment.

Why It Hurts The Industry

The obvious result here is that games are going to get shorter and shorter. In ten years you’ll boot up the latest Black Ops 15 to find an achievement pop up once you press start on the menu screen, congratulating you for beating the game but reminding you to buy the $20 DLC coming out next week. If developers know they can get away with charging the same for less, and then charge again a month later for a little bit more of the same, why the hell wouldn’t they? The golden DLC goose is being squeezed for all its eggs the same way you squeeze the throats of the neighbor’s cats when they defecate on your lawn.

3. The Sublimation of Television into Videogames

I didn’t change a thing, the game knows

What I’m Talking About

For as much grief as you think you’re going to give me for what I have to say next, I must let you know that I stand strong in my convictions and know in my heart of hearts that you’re both wrong and easily lulled into complacency. *Ahem* I think episodic games like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones (or anything made by Telltale games, really) are complete garbage. I now understand what parents meant when they used to say watching television for too long will rot your brain, because that’s exactly what these show-game fornications have done. We’re slowly becoming a community of watchers.

Why It Hurts The Industry

While they seem to be making loads of money off people who probably get the same thrill scrolling through channel listings with the remote, the industry itself will inevitably feel the sting of such an indulgence. You see, point-and-click games are the fat kids on the playground. Sure they may have a great personality and really know how to tell a good story, but the most action you get out of them in the end is a handful of QTEs, leaving both them and you wheezing from the strain. By allowing consumers to become complacent with just watching a videogame, developers will soon find they’ve boxed themselves into a creative corner because people no longer have the will to play anything remotely (and I strain to use this word) active.

2. The Torrential Flood of Indie Games

Help Pick The Next Games On Steam…To Burn!

What I’m Talking About

For those of you who haven’t taken time out of your day to check, Steam Greenlight currently has 1,489 indie games in the Greenlit phase, and while these haven’t joined the 3,521 indie games already released through the same process, they have proven to be well on their way. Now, if you’re dense like my Golden Retriever and can’t see what I’m getting at, then I encourage you to start working on your own indie game as it seems you’ll be in good company. Yes it appears the sheer magnitude alone makes it nigh impossible to parse out anything of worth, and it’s hard to give any a shot because really how do you pick from the 5,010 RPG-Roguelike-RTS-Adventure-Mystery-Arcade-Survival-Crafting amalgamations that ooze from the pus-filled canker of Steam’s store page?

Why It Hurts The Industry

With so much crap flooding the market and gaming community, it’s hard for otherwise talented teams to successfully promote a decent game and receive the credit they deserve. AAA titles will always have the money and reputation, but real underdogs worthy of a spot at the big boy’s table will starve to death before they wade through all the artistically dark or ironically wacky indie catastrophes crowding the way. I’m not saying we need an Indie eugenics program, but would it hurt to force developers to sit before a council for approval before going full steam ahead with ideas their mom encouraged out of pity?

1. The Conscious Decision to Release Unfinished or Broken Games

Lovely dress you have there, M’lady

What I’m Talking About

The number one spot on the list of self-destructive behaviors the industry’s psychologist is worried about is reserved for the most heinous act of greed known to gamerkind. Overlooking abominations like the broken body of Colonial Marines and simply gazing back at this last year alone yields plenty of examples of what I’m talking about. Whether it’s Bungie’s glass-not-even-poured-yet Destiny, Ubisoft’s bug-infested Unity, or 343’s online embarrassments with the Master Chief Collection, the number of AAA games released to the market with the expectation that we’ll buy it at full price is astounding.

Why It Hurts The Industry

Except it shouldn’t be so surprising. The industry knows how secure it is in guaranteed sales from dedicated fans. They understand that we’re all just chomping at the bit for even a taste of what they have to offer the second E3 rolls around, and they prey on it in the same manner I prey on Pizza Rolls. Sure this helps immediate pre-sales the first few times developers do it, but there comes a point when the old saying, “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me,” will never seem more poignant, and soon frustrated gamers will tack on a third line: “Fool me thrice and I’ll shove this disc in the microwave and hunt down your developer team.”

About Johnny Ohm

When his nose isn't diligently to the grindstone, Johnny can be found skulking around the dark corners of San Francisco's many pubs. You can contact Johnny via Twitter or ouija board.
  • professorai

    6. The nerd jihad against women in the industry.

    • PlayerHater_of_the_Year

      7. The Feminist Jihad against White heterosexual males in the Industry.

  • usrev

    wow this is the most wrong article I have read in a while.

    the console are only growing. in fact, the “sameness” of the consoles is helping them sell more games. so you were wrong here.

    DLC as a crutch I agree with, but it isn’t a crutch so much as greed.

    television video games have happened since forever. the difference is, now we have some GOOD TV based games. so you are wrong here again.

    the flood of indie games doesn’t hurt the industry at all. there have always been bad games. if anything indie games help the industry. so you are wrong yet again.

    I can agree with releasing broken games. so you got something right.. but people only remember the issues, not the successes of the year.

  • Bongo1138

    I hate you and Telltale makes GREAT GAMES.