10 Assumptions we wish the industry would stop making

 

I was sitting thinking about all the things I haven’t done in ages and realised that amongst this massively growing list is that I haven’t written a Top 10. I also realised that we haven’t really done a serious one yet and as I’m feeling a bit acidic I think we need to rectify this. I can’t possibly write a list without my fellow Brit and TVGB partner in crime, Will Georgiadis, so I’ll be dragging him along, as well.

Before we go any further, please let me make one thing abundantly clear. These are our opinions and we absolutely aren’t attacking anyone. Well … maybe a bit, but we aren’t attacking anyone in particular so please don’t get offended. There are things in this list that a bunch of big players in the industry are guilty of so please see it as more of a general rant than a specific anything. With this little disclaimer, let’s get on with our list of 10 assumptions we really wish the industry would stop making.

Generally I can cope with a bad game. Just because I don’t like something (rightly or wrongly) doesn’t mean I don’t think the Devs have worked hard on it and that they will likely learn from their mistakes and do better on a new release or with updates. What I can’t deal with is laziness. Nothing annoys me more than publishers following certain tropes not because they know it’s what we want to see, but what they know makes them money. You will likely see plenty of examples of what we’re getting at below, and we’re starting with a cracker.

10: It’s a franchise so there needs to be another one, right?

WRONG! My god it doesn’t get more wrong than this. A franchise only needs another game if it’s going to further the story and hopefully throw in some new, clever mechanics. What we don’t need is a new iteration of a tired, milked to death theme because if it’s pushed far enough down our throats, we’ll buy it. So let’s take an example of this. The Batman Arkham series needed three games. They were brilliant games in their own right but this was an ongoing story and it made total sense to have that broken up over more than one title. I have my own axe to grind with this series but we’ll come back to that in a moment. Assassin’s Creed, on the other hand, doesn’t need to be on its seventh or eighth iteration. This is just a case of rushing a game out for Christmas each year because it will sell, not necessarily because gamers want it. I’m not just going after Ubisoft here. There are tons of publishers that do the same thing with different games. Please put you efforts into giving us something new. Speaking of rushing things out …

Now where’s that dead horse? I’m in a flogging mood.

9: It has to be out by Christmas!

It only has to be out by Christmas (or whichever random holiday has been picked) if it’s finished. Even then it only has to be out for the holidays if it’s been promised for the holidays. I don’t get why there needs to be this weird notion that if a game doesn’t make a very specific deadline, the world will end. Way too many games are released in an incomplete state and packaged up in a nice big £60 ribbon simply because there’s some weird deadline that has to be followed. If I’m going to pay that kind of money, I don’t want a buggy mess, thank you very much. I want something I can play and genuinely enjoy. If it’s not ready, don’t release it and follow it two days after Boxing Day with the “this should probably fix all the horrific glitches” patch; we know what you’re doing, we aren’t daft. Just release it finished two days after Boxing Day and we’ll not only love your game but also applaud your openness and show of moral fortitude.

Do you remember Age of Conan being shipped as a complete game? No? Neither do I.

8: This new hardware will make the end of the series look so much better!

This is something that really makes my teeth itch. I’m coming back to the Arkham series here. I played Arkham Asylum and Arkham City and absolutely loved them. I would possibly go as far as to say this is one of my favourite franchises of the past ten years. So I’ve played those two games to death and hear on the grape-vine that Arkham Knight is going to be released. “Brilliant!” I think, “I can finish the story! I’ve been looking forward to seeing how it’s going to end.” Then I found out the last game was being released on PS4 and Xbox One and that my 360 owning arse wasn’t getting it unless I upgraded. Sorry but this is a really shitty thing to do. Would you like it if I picked up your favourite trilogy of books, took the last one and said you could only read it if you gave me lots of money? No, of course you wouldn’t. I’m not saying don’t bring out brilliant new games on great new hardware, go ahead and fill your boots; just give us last gen owners a version we can play, too.

I don’t care if it’s pretty, I want to complete my series!

7: Nobody wants single player games anymore.

This little beauty makes me want to bang my head off a wall. What this should read as is “we can’t load single-player games with as many micro-transactions or make a ton of cash on DLC so they just aren’t profitable enough.” This is by far one of my biggest peeves when it comes to gaming. Generally as a human being I don’t like people. I play videogames because it means I don’t need to be around other members of my species. Stop forcing me to play with them because you want more money. I like sitting in a dark room, on my own, playing something engrossing with a lot of story. What I don’t need is to lose thirty minutes of my life being told by snotty twelve year olds precisely what they want to do to my mother because I’m not playing the way they want me to. I’m more than happy deciding how I’m going to spend my time without other people getting involved. I’m also, thankfully, not stupid. If I want to extend my gaming experience, I’ll go find some DLC. I don’t need to be told to fork out on something that’s either cosmetic or that I don’t generally need but might get more of the aforementioned mother comments if I don’t have.

Yup … it’s Fallout 76 , the multiplayer apocalypse

6: DLC makes for a better gaming experience.

The essence of what DLC is has changed a lot over the years. At one stage this statement was actually probably true. Once upon a time, games were far shorter and while you waited for the next sequel to your favourite franchise, you needed something to fill the void. Publishers gave you something that would scratch the itch by being enough of a game to warrant your money without the cost of buying a brand new title. They were used as a bridging mechanism if you like. I like that mindset. What I don’t like is that DLC is a broad cover-all term now for every cruddy microtransaction and disguised con. DLC only makes for a better gaming experience if it genuinely enhances the game. If it artificially enhances the game because you’ve built a sky high pay wall and it’s the only way of climbing over it, it’s not DLC, it’s making players pay to stand a chance and it’s really unfair.

Customary – The-Witcher 3 did-DLC-perfectly comment.

So now that I’ve made myself really cross and I’m grumbling obscenities under my breath, let’s see what makes that little vein in Will’s forehead stick out like an upturned middle finger. I certainly wouldn’t expect him to be any less sour than I am. Take it away, Will.

5: They won’t want split-screen. They’ve all got more than one telly.

This one’s personal. Remember the days when you could sit down with a friend or two and just tear into each other on an old-school FPS? I mean hell, even the most rudimentary of games had the capacity for co-op play: I can remember playing a Chronicles of Narnia videogame that allowed another player to jump in as either the Lion, the Witch, or the Wardrobe (okay, so I might be a bit confused on that). And I mean I get it, games are more technically demanding these days, but all I want is to be spared having to carry either my PS4 or my entire gaming rig – monitor and all – to a mate’s house just so that we can play together.

I hate watching other people play games. It is boring and smelly. Remember 4 player split-screen on the good Call of Duty games? Yeah, you do. I was the snotty brat that Alex is complaining about.

4: They love collecting things. We need more fetch quests.

Horizon Zero Dawn was one of my all-time favourite games. In fact, it’s one of the few games that I’ve ever grabbed a platinum trophy on PlayStation for: I’m not a completionist, I don’t 100% games, but boy was it satisfying to hit every achievement on a game I loved more than my girlfriend.

But d’you know what wasn’t fun? Forcing poor Aloy to traipse up and down every hillside, to endure the relentless and pitiful assault of a motley crew of prehistoric robots just so that I might find every flower, or knock over every practice dummy. Ubisoft are the main culprits here, as we all know from the 100-or-so feathers you had to collect in Assassin’s Creed II to consider the game complete.

Enough is enough.

Sick of botany now … but mountain diving sounds like fun.

3: Retro is so in right now! The people need more remasters.

The problem here is that, well, we do want an endless slew of remastered games. Crash Bandicoot was a huge success, and all being well I expect Spyro to go the same way. But while I am all for the nostalgia-fuelled reverie that these remastered beauties ignite, I can’t help but feel like the gaming industry is at risk of becoming the film industry: leaning heavily on half-decent reboots as any creative talent gets purchased by Netflix.

Individuality needs all the help it can get in the gaming industry, particularly given the franchisable nature of videogames; so maybe it’s time we stopped drooling over the latest Todd Howard Special Edition and started appreciating new stuff with original ideas.

Okay … maybe just one more remaster. Only one mind.

2: They won’t like the game if it’s not big enough. This has to be an epic.

This relates to that one about collectibles. Doesn’t matter if it’s an open world the size of real-life Texas; a list of side-quests longer than my real-life to-do list; or a choice of cosmetic items broader than a real-life shopping complex. If there’s too much going on, it’s very easy to switch off, particularly if like me you’re strapped for play-time of an evening. The worst thing about excessive amounts of superfluous content is that not only are you never, ever going to have time to see/do/get it all, you’re also going to feel guilty, or that you’ve missed out on something significantly game-altering. News flash: you haven’t.

A slow influx of new content is always appreciated, and obviously it helps if it’s free of charge. But when you’re being pulled in seventeen different directions by challenges, achievements, quests, characters, and your wallet – and you’ve only just finished the tutorial – then maybe it’s time to reconsider.

TOO. MUCH. TO DO!

1: We have to create a lasting bond with the NPCs. We have to have them together all of the time.

I’ve yet to play a game that utilises this well. I love chatting to the characters that populate a given world, and I am a huge fan of the subplots that are often more entertaining than the main narrative. But nothing ruins the immersive experience more than watching the companion that you’re meant to follow get stuck on a felled tree; arguably, nothing dumps the player back in the real world like finishing the scripted conversation with an NPC mid-walk and then having nothing else to say for the remainder of the journey.

We’ve all been there. You rarely follow someone from town to town in the real world, and you certainly don’t ever feel the need to run ahead of them because they’re just so painfully slow (alright, maybe you do). Just scrap it, guys, it drives me insane.

There’s something to be said for being on your own.

So now you know what grinds our gears. Let this be a warning to all the developers and publishers whose misdeeds have been listed here: you are being watched, you beautiful, assumptive bastards, so behave yourselves. Or else we’ll have to write another strongly-worded list of grievances that may or may not ever see the light of day.

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