As a true fan of playing the Devil’s advocate, I’m finding it harder and harder to maintain my pessimistic stance on popular gaming trends. The industry is awash with negative attitudes, and pitchfork salesmen seem to be going gangbusters within the gaming community. Every week, we’re treated to stories of a new broken title, dirty marketing tactics, or a developer’s social media outburst, and it’s making my job as the resident naysayer extremely difficult.
So in order to satisfy my role as Satan’s spokesman, I’ve decided to plant a smile on my face and take a positive stance on some of the biggest backlashes the gaming industry has already had to face in early 2015. While it kills me to think happy thoughts, this is done for the sake of deciding whether or not we have a reason to be so irked, and I’m doing it all for you. So let’s take a look at some hot ticket items that have the industry giants in even hotter water.
Day-One DLC Didn’t Kill Your Dog (That Was Your Neighbor)
The launch of Turtle Rock’s team-based shooter Evolve was met with more vitriol than a confectioner at diabetes convention. Before consumers had the chance to figure out if the final product was any good, everyone and their mom flew from the woodwork to point out the $136 worth of DLC sitting alongside Evolve at the store.
While holding additional content for ransom at the time of launch sounds like something worth being upset over, the fact of the matter is that this happens all the time in the form of pre-order bonuses. Let’s face it, the in-game garbage you get with pre-sale collector’s editions is identical to the type of items available in most day-one DLCs (barring a Mass Effect 3: From Ashes debacle). If you’re willing to spend money on special edition pre-orders for virtual boondoggles, then you should be just as willing to buy it upfront when the game launches. If you aren’t in the mood for parting with money to get a polka-dot skin or unique avatar, then you have no reason to be upset in the first place. Those items were destined for sale and would never have found their way into the vanilla build, and being upset over that is like crying because your Economy ticket doesn’t get you into First Class.
Broken Games With Working Launch Dates
My past opinion regarding the slew of half-baked games awkwardly shuffling onto the playground is certainly well known (at least it is if you’re one of the eight people that read it, or my guinea pig), but a second, closer look at the entire situation has me changing my tune a bit. The two greatest examples that immediately come to mind are Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Assassin’s Creed Unity, and yes, I understand these games launched in 2014, but the fact that major patches (at least for the former) are still rolling out makes them prime candidates for this analysis.
If the question is whether or not consumers had the right to be angry after discovering that neither MCC nor Unity ran properly when first launched, then the answer of course would be yes. We pay for working games, so it’s only fair that we expect as much in return. This much I can completely understand. What doesn’t make sense to me is the continued crusade against these developers long after they’ve done their best to make amends with the community. For example, I don’t spend three months berating a waiter who brings out a dish that differs from what I ordered, because it usually means I end up getting what I originally wanted for free, and this is somewhat the case with 343 Industries and Ubisoft.
Yes, they mucked up the launch and spat out a half-assed attempt at a money magnet, but they also owned up to the gaffe by offering free games, DLC, and online subscriptions. Was it a combination of buying our forgiveness and legally protecting themselves (looking at you, Ubisoft)? Sure, but the end result was the game you already paid for, plus a bunch of freebies. If anything, we should hope for this to happen again, if not for the sake of eventually getting more than our money’s worth.
It’s Not The Size of the Boat, But the Motion of the Ocean
Not more than a week before launch, The Order: 1886 had its skirt lifted by an unfortunate gust of wind, revealing the exclusive title’s seemingly starved amount of actual gameplay. Even before Ready At Dawn’s founder, Andrea Pessino, could once again tweet to the game’s defense, the community came down upon it with the fury of Mjölnir. A full price game that doesn’t require me to wear a diaper and intravenously hydrate until I reach the end of the storyline? How can that ever be worth $60? Emotions ran high, some pre-orders were cancelled, and in the end, the majority of people who actually played the game left feeling satisfied. It was all rather pedestrian, really.
The sheer amount of caterwauling from critics and consumers-to-be ended up being founded on almost next to nothing. The leaked footage turned out to be an intentional dash through the storyline, and the whole experience ended up averaging 8-10 hours, putting it in good company with the likes of Bioshock, Destiny, and Uncharted, to name just a few. Even after the facts surfaced and all-around positive reviews began to flow in, consumers stuck to their guns and cried foul, feeling cheated for having bought a game that didn’t meet their arbitrary quota for number of hours spent searching crates or crafting battle armor. It’s not a crime to use quantity as a factor when purchasing a game, but if there’s ever a point where you ignore the actual gameplay in favor of judging it by its length, then you’re not looking for a game, you’re looking for a chore.
My point in all of this is to draw attention to the positive side often not registered by the media. Yes, the three issues mentioned above do retain a sense of gravitas within the industry, and yes, some of these were genuinely worthy of consumer concern, but if you step back and take in the big picture, you might just see that the market has never looked so promising, and maintaining that rose-colored perspective might actually contribute to the betterment of the community.
Plus, the sooner you all get back to feeling positive and upbeat about the future, the sooner I can return to my half empty glass to pout.