Since the inception of video games there have always been defining titles that will forever stand in the history of console and computer gaming. These games are innovative. They surpass all other games and drive the player into entirely new depths of virtual experience; these games are more commonly known as Blockbuster, or AAA games.
I’m not talking about the company that charges $20 to rent a game either, I’m talking about the big games worth up to three-hundred dollars apiece. Collector’s edition, Legendary, Original, Game of the Year, Platinum, Gold… All the same game, some just dig deeper into that old stained wallet in your pocket. I’m here today to ask: what’s wrong with AAA games?
It’s no great secret that most titles released in the past decade have publishers reaching farther and farther into your pockets than ever before. We’re all presented with incentives to buy a collector’s edition copy and receive a miniscule statuette of the character, or a map of the city in the game (didn’t Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas do that for free?). Not to mention first day DLC releases, and content that should be a DLC is oft released as an entirely new game.
That leaves myself (and I’m sure plenty of other people) wondering: are we getting what we pay for? With each passing year campaigns seem to be getting shorter, in-game shops are opening up with the option for real currency as payment, and more games are being revisited, continued or overdone. Developers are being told to rush the game and to use old textures in order to cut down the production process to a span of a few months. Are we as players just pushing forth a new era of gaming where there are only two or three innovative games released per year?
There are plenty of companies nowadays that get up on the big stage of E3 and Gamescon to preach about their new and improved game every year. They offer ideals such as new animations for your character, new and lush forestry in the background of the game, new engines to create and render the game, new multiplayer options, modified customizable skins you can buy with points... the list goes on. It seems as video game consumers we have to look forward to innovation through graphical adjustments rather than engaging and immersive storylines that leaves the player frozen to their seat for hours on end.
At what point did anyone agree to sacrifice rich and enticing character development for a f@#!ing high definition birch tree in the landscape of the gameplay? Are developers really being rushed to re-hash old game technology just to meet a quicker deadline, or are they making these decisions because they actually think it’s a good idea? There is of course a large appeal to a wider audience if the aesthetics of the game are great, but that doesn’t mean jack when you load up the campaign and you find yourself drifting to sleep because of the same bland gameplay mechanics being used the entire game.
Who is more scared?
I can count the number of mind blowing and truly incredible games I have played in my life on both hands, I may be select in the games I play but I like to be drawn back to a game after I have to sleep at 4AM because I’ve been playing it for too long. It could just be a blessing that there are only a few worthy titles released every year that get to chunk my wallet (otherwise we would all be broke right?). But when there are so many big budget, big name games with big opportunities released every year, some that still use cut and copy mechanics or art styles from the early 2000 era, it leaves room for some serious questions to be asked.
It seems that publishers and developers have sunk into a “safe” stage of making games. They would rather make the graphics to please everybody playing and not take the risk of expanding their repertoire of additions in their game. Can you imagine if the franchise Call of Duty took longer than 6 months to come out, and instead released with an actual gripping storyline and phenomenal character development with the likes of a game like Dark Souls? There is absolutely nothing harmful with throwing a small amount of thought into what the story should mean in a game, not just what it will accomplish.
When the dust settles at the end of the day and our wallets get lighter each year, the only thing stopping people from buying a game most of the time is the company. Even then it may not dissuade consumers from picking up a game simply because they played the last one. EA Games was rated worst company in North America two years in a row and still managed more sales than some lower budget, yet enticing games. Thus leaving the question; who is more scared to step forward and take a risk, developers, publishers or consumers?
How about you? Where do you stand in this discussion? Join in on the debate in our forums here.