Gone are the days when videogames were made by honest developers who wanted to produce art, beauty, and spread enjoyment. It’s not to say that all videogames nowadays are bad, but there are so many gaping flaws and shady practices that have certainly tainted a once noble industry.
Vidoegames today have plenty of development and business-related problems, and these problems ultimately reflect into the final product. We look at the top 10 biggest problems with modern videogames in this article.
You’ll be surprised to know that players have just as big a hand as developers/publishers when it comes to these issues.
Don’t Innovate; Recreate
You wouldn’t ever have seen Call of Duty games beyond Modern Warfare and countless rip-offs if this simple yet effective cancerous business strategy wasn’t in implementation.
Developers have gamers in a perfect little trap formed by fanboyism, marketing, reward mechanics that allow them to simply toss out annual releases of the same exact formula and watch it thrive.
Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Battlefield – all are culprits of simply recreating the same thing over and over again. The sad part is that it leads to business success, and it’s the very reason why developers and (especially) publishers are content with this formula.
We’re guaranteed to see new Assassin’s Creed and CoD iterations every year, and no matter how bad some of them are (I’m looking at you, Unity) as a product, they’ll still sell, they’ll still succeed, and this process will go on until the gamers themselves do something about it, which leads me to the next two problems.
Fanboys can actually be beneficial for the progression of a franchise, especially when they stay loyal to an idea instead of staying loyal to the brand. This is where you differentiate fans of titles like FROM Soft’s Souls-borne franchise from the fans of franchises like Call of Duty, Destiny, and Forza.
Fans of Demon/Dark Souls are loyal to the philosophy and innovative mechanics brought by Hidetako Miyazaki – not the brand itself, which saw ruthless and admittedly excessive criticism aimed towards Dark Souls 2 for its deviation from the gameplay and design that made Demon Souls and Dark Souls 1 such amazing titles.
Fanboyism towards a brand is however problematic, as their defense is not of the intricate design decisions made in the game but actually the franchise of the game itself.
Fanboyism grants overwhelming acceptance to repetitive, uninspired reiteration and ruthless intolerance towards any sort of criticism. Criticism in itself is an extremely essential part of a franchise’s development.
A good example is Dragon Age – the second part saw heavy criticism to such an extent that BioWare was forced to make an expansive, wonderful world in the form of 2014’s Dragon Age: Inquisition.
Over-catering to the Casual Gamer
Let’s make this clear: I have no problem with casual gamers. It’s completely fine and acceptable to see games as recreation and stress-relief, and not an integral part of your life.
However, the major issue here isn’t the casual gamers themselves, but the way they are made the primary targeted audience for majority of the titles. This again leads to the issue of lack of innovation, and also makes games incredibly easy and simple. The biggest factor though is it earns publishers big bucks.
Most casual games are culprits of bad design implementation: in order to appeal to the casual gamer, they’re extremely easy to get into, but they don’t offer much of a reward if you do decide to become engaged in the game.
The gameplay mechanics of such titles are so oversimplified that they don’t have a wide-spectrum that would encourage players to actually get good at them.
Even when a player does get good at them, there’s always a way for the more casual gamer to match a skilled player, simply because the mechanics are designed in such a way. Anyone who has played Advanced Warfare will know what I’m talking about.
A good counter-example of a casual game made perfectly is Rocket League. That’s a game where both casual gamers can have a lot of fun, but it also offers plenty to those looking to get a little competitive.
Micro-transactions in Paid Games
Oh dear, this one that almost everyone seems to hate, yet it manages to survive for some odd reason.
Micro-transactions are completely fine and acceptable in free-to-play structures that would grant a player no tangible benefit over others for having spent money. However, when micro-transactions essentially encourage a pay-to-win culture in certain games, that’s when it becomes problematic.
The biggest sin however is to include micro-transactions in games that you actually had to pay for. When I pay $60 for a game, I want everything that was designed at the time of release to be available to me.
Micro-transactions are nothing short of deliberately induced cancer in paid games because they demand you empty your wallets for items already featured in the game you already spent money to buy.
Unfortunately for Call of Duty players, their franchise seems to fall in every category so far. Black Ops 3 has you paying micro-transactions for supply drops that are based on terrible RNG, and essentially encourages gambling by players in hope for them to acquire something truly unique.
Don’t be the kind of person who gives reason for such horrible income strategies to exist in videogames.
The only game that I’ve ever personally pre-ordered was XCOM 2, and that’s because I know just how loyal Firaxis Games is to its PC gamers. Apart from that, I never fall victim to the preorder scheme.
The preorder culture is one of the major problems with games because it allows developers to false-advertise, create excessive hype, and then release a dumbed-down version of the product to minimize development cost and maximize profit.
The preorder culture needs to stop in order to force the developers to get their shit together and actually create games that are worth it.
Pre-ordering gives devs a sense of security and leverage that allows them to alter their business model during development to leech from gamers through an unfinished product. Just imagine how silly those who preordered The Order: 1888 must’ve felt after they finished the game (if they did at all).
It’s not all on the gamers for preordering though – a vast majority of those who preorder simply fall victim to false marketing.
Ubisoft is one of the biggest culprits of false marketing in the videogame industry. Almost all of their presentations are pre-rendered, their press-released screens are all bullshots, and the final product is almost always different from what they show.
Watch Dogs, Far Cry 4, and even the recently released The Division all have been falsely advertised prior to release. Another greatly overhyped title was Destiny. Bungie claimed before its release that it would change the way first-person shooters multiplayer is played, that it would redefine the genre, etc.
In reality though, Destiny failed to live up to even 50% of its marketed hype. Yet publishers know that no matter how average their product might turn out to be, clever false marketing is going to get them lots of sales.
Preorders and manipulated reviews have a large part to play in all this, and publishers are now dumping the larger part of their budget in the marketing pool than the development of the videogame itself.
Manipulative/Tedious Game Designs
You might curse when you get absolute crap after dominating a crucible match in Destiny, or perhaps you’ve been killed mobs in Diablo III for hours with no legendary drop.
Grinding and farming can be fun if it’s rewarding you at a regular interval, but when it’s a deliberate mechanic to get you to play the game as much as possible, it becomes a nuance.
Unfortunately, it’s become a major part of most multiplayer games, especially MMOs. Grinding and farming is tedious, and is often made so in order to force players to either try other features of a game they don’t wish to, or punish them for not using micro-transactions.
A fine example of the former is Mass Effect 3, in which one of the more acceptable endings was nearly impossible to achieve without having to play multiplayer. Destiny is notorious for its horrible RNG system and grind-encouragement, and slowly the market is being saturated with these mechanics.
The Division itself forces players to venture into the Dark Zone if they wish to acquire the best loot possible, and although the Dark Zone is indeed brilliant, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, especially those who just want a good singleplayer experience.
Forced Multiplayer Component
There are good multiplayer games, then there are games that have no business having a multiplayer but have one for the sake of it. Not only that, some of these games will force the multiplayer on you even when you don’t wish to participate in it.
Games like Mass Effect 3 and Uncharted 2 honestly had no business with multiplayer, yet they had it. We’ve already talked about how desperately the former wanted you to play multiplayer just to improve your chances of a half-decent ending during the singleplayer campaign.
Multiplayer games are fun, and they make sense in shooters and MMOs, but it’s not something you need in every game.
Multiplayer in 2013’s Tomb Raider was utterly pointless, and the resources used to create it would’ve been better utilized to enhance an already excellent campaign that had great potential to be a bigger experience.
I don’t know about you, but I’m personally sick of MMOs. Massive multiplayer online titles were a great experience a few years ago, but now every second title is one, and it’s becoming incredibly oversaturated and admittedly boring.
Not only does it clog the market, it also greatly restricts the diversity available to gamers in-terms of genres. We’re going to be seeing more MMOs as time goes by, but as history tells us, only a handful succeed in managing sustained success.
It’s incredibly difficult and tedious for those involved in MMOs to take a break and come back without having to grind and spend hours getting on par with how fast everything has progressed.
Obviously, MMO isn’t the only genre that becoming oversaturated; multiplayer first-person shooters are also facing the same issue. This problem goes hand in hand with the first one described in this article: Don’t Innovate; Recreate.
One of the biggest issues with modern games is their release structures. DLCs are a major reason for this, as they are deliberate ploys to add content to the game that could’ve been added before but were omitted so extra money could be earned from it.
Mind you, I don’t dislike all DLCs. Some paid DLCs are absolutely essential as they add innovative concepts and new storylines, greatly refreshing the game and giving a reason for players to pick it up again.
However it’s the day-one paid DLCs, the DLCs that are parts of the game clearly left out, or simply DLCs that make it impossible to play a game without paying for it that make me want to burn publisher buildings.
DLCs openly speak, “Give me your money to play a game you already paid for,” without any shame, adding small bits of content that could’ve been incorporated in the retail release or simply be optional.
Destiny is the biggest culprit in this way; since the release of The Taken King (a whopping $40 DLC), it became impossible for Destiny players who didn’t own the DLC to do anything anymore.
After having already played $60 for the game and $40 additional for The Dark Below and House of Wolves DLCs, you’re having to pay $40 more to play the game you’ve owned for two years.
That’s a combined $80 to play a game you already owned. Is it worth it? You tell me.