In 1983 the video game industry passed away. Due to tons of crap games, corporate greed, and a huge lack of quality control. Ever wondered why Nintendo felt like it needed a Quality assurance seal or why they were so picky about what they released on the NES? Now, almost 34 years later I fear we’re on the verge of another collapse. It’s one of the most widely loved hobbies in existence and it’s up to us to save it (sound familiar?). George Santayana said it all with, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
“My Humble Beginnings”
It was 29 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I had snuck down into the basement at my Aunts house. As a kid I always wondered why the adults would randomly retreat to the place I affectionately dubbed the Bat-Cave . To be honest I referred to any subterranean hidey holes as Bat-Caves. On that day though, I had somehow just wandered my way down there, not sure how, I was two years old and don’t recall any kind of supervision.
I sat down on that motorcycle and raced parallel with the sunset for the first time. Dirty black Joystick in hand I raced and raced for what seemed like ever (it was probably like 20 minutes) losing and still feeling like a winner. Growing excited, palms becoming sweatier each time I’d start a new race or pass another racer. I had so much fun even though I never won a race (pretty sure I never even came close) or really did anything other than go in one direction.
Once I had my fill of the race track I moved on and took to the jungle with haste. Continuing my journey to the right side of the screen I now faced pendulum-like vines and huge puddles that housed the heads of crocodiles that look strangely similar to cheap green plastic clothes pins. None the less, I pressed on through the dense rain forest finding random shit and wishing I could kick scorpions and snakes in the fucking face.
Those were my first experiences in video games. Motocross and Pitfall were some of the coolest things I’d ever seen. They were so pure, just about the fun. It wasn’t about DLC, map packs, or season passes, it was about trying to get through what ever gauntlet through Hell the developer decided to put us through with limited lives and continues. Back when difficult meant hard, not these enemies do tons of damage and take none. It meant near misses so close the giant bullets would part your hair and timing the next jump was key.
“WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED!”
It used to be about making video games that had substance, depth and character that kept us enthralled with the worlds and their inhabitants for what felt like years until the gods deemed it time for a sequel. developers and publishers busted their asses tho produce fresh ideas and a game only got a sequel if it was meant to happen. Now though it seems like things have shifted into a much darker state of being.
I miss the days when the companies took more chances and seemed to live outside of the box. Back when every game felt like a journey to another universe. Back when you would play the same games over and over to achieve that next milestone. Inching just slightly further each time you tried and died. The whole process was a learning experience, patterns, reading comprehension, puzzles, and general problem solving were all on the menu and they were all fucking delicious.
We used to sit huddled around small square tvs with short corded controllers for countless hours. Just sitting together playing a game to unlock the next character, that next kick-ass costume, or a gun that can see and shoot through walls. We were given reasons to play the same game multiple times and to keep it for years. They used to want us, now it seems like they have no problem just saying, “HEY, GIVE ME MORE MONEY!”
“Thar be some dark waters yer treadin’”
Flash forward a few several console and handheld generations and holy shit; Now things are completely different in comparison to back then. What’s that? You don’t want to have to actually play the game to unlock things by actually earning them while experiencing the meticulously crafted story and throat stopping emotional cinematics that took years to create for you? Here you can buy those! Want more maps? Buy those too! Awe, are you reminiscing about those skins and characters you used to get for beating the crap out of fighting games? Oh no, they can’t be letting people just have things for free (apparently your loyalty to their brand and games or your time don’t carry a monetary value).
Making a habit out of ritualistic DLC that segregate your player base into those who can afford to give you MORE money for the game they already bought and those who can’t afford it is a fucking terrible idea! Using it as an excuse to cut corners, remove features, or otherwise water down a game (this ones for you Destiny, shitty move Activision) just to parse its content out to the people who love and support you is just evil. Ego and greed have done some dark things to the industry in the past few years and it really, truly pains my heart.
“But why, why did this happen?!?!?!”
Now don’t get me wrong here, I DO get it. Development costs are far higher these days, take much larger teams, a lot longer to make, and everybody needs to eat. See, I do get it! I’m also aware of all the people it takes outside of the actual game studio. A grand game takes a grand budget of time, money, and effort. Game studios just aren’t making even close to the money that they would’ve back before the leech known as GAMESTOP hit the scene.
Companies like GAMESUCK and the loads of blanketed brands they own are a tumor on the industry and I theorize that they are reason #1 for the massive shift in the industry. It all seems so innocent, trade games, get credit, buy game, YAY! Now you’re happy right? STOP, now let’s think about this deeper.
You trade in your game/s (most of the time for peanuts, let’s be real, you only ever get decent “credit” for a game they know is going to fly right back off of the shelf). They then proceed to resell those games for usually just under whatever the new cost of said game is. Now you’re out of games because you traded all of them in (except all the dlc you bought, it’s yours forever) so you don’t want to get the NEW game because then you’d only have one. Instead you get used because that means you might be able to get another cheap game from one of the bins full of obsolete annual titles or have some credit for next time(so they know you’ll be back).
“Let’s Talk Numbers”
The issue here is that the people that spent years crafting (insert game series here) aren’t receiving anything for their work! Game releases at 59.99, but holy shit it’s 54.99 used! When GREEDSTOP or any of its other names sells a game NEW, the Game developers and other people involved. They make next to nothing on new product. No, instead when They sell a USED game they make all of the money. Someone sold it to GAMECOCK, now it’s their property that your buying. they paid $3.00 for it, now it’s $24.99 and a new copy is $29.99.
All they do in most cases is drop the typical amount of profit that they would make from a used game (~$5.00) and sell it for what THEY pay for a new copy. So let’s say they sell 1 copy of a new game for $60.00 that then gets traded in for $20.00. Now that same copy get traded in and resold another 10 times for $54.99. Do you see the problem here? The Developer and publisher and all corresponding people needing paid make $54.99 while they make $549.90 off of that same ONE game!!! And they’re trained and told to ALWAYS push used over new because that’s where they make all of their money, even when a game is a new release and those numbers matter the most to the developer! On top of all of that, their used Sells DO NOT COUNT towards a games global units sold! Seriously, it’s literally cancer to the gaming industry!
It might seem like you’re saving money, and I guess for that moment you are. A wise person somewhere at sometime or another said something about all things glittering and them not being gold, this is one of those times. By supporting this practice you’re pretty much saying, “Hey game maker peoples, find more ways to make the money you need from us the consumer.” Even though GAMESHIT is the one screwing us, the Developers, and the publishers at the same time. Do you think LAMESTOP cares about any of this? PFFFT! Chances of that are about as good as a pedophile getting a high-five in prison.
“But I Digress.”
The point of this piece was to reflect on my love for gaming and to look at how the industry has shifted over the years and I seem to have gotten stuck on GAMEFLOP. I feel like there’s something to take away from that though. I didn’t even realize how much they pissed me off until I started writing it and then it was too late, it just wouldn’t stop (Like their employees trying to get you to trade in all your shit). SEE! It’s becoming involuntary at this point!
I don’t feel like it’s too late though. We can still save our princess! We just have to start shopping in another castle. That’s not to say I’m totally against used games, it’s quite the opposite in fact. I grew up in flea markets and Pawn shops trading and upgrading with the solid 2-for-1 trade policy (which I always felt was fair to both parties) and/or trading with friends. I also love DLC that add fresh content and new things to out favorite worlds to spend our time in, but I feel like there’s another way.
“My Solution Would Be To…”
As a consumer you should just buy your games NEW, digital, or straight from the publisher even if you wait for them to go on sale. That way they get the money they deserve and you know you’re getting a quality product and not someone elses ex-coaster. You should always make sure you share the games you love and get involved in communities that are centered around them. Spread the word and help your friends see that saving 5 bucks isn’t really worth it. If we cut out the middle man we’d all be better off.
As far as Developers go why not make it so that players who spend their time and money on your product doesn’t feel like you’re trying to wring every cent out of them. Stop segregating your player bases and allow us to fully enjoy games like we used to. Micro transactions have turned out to be a huge success, but make sure to pay attention here, I said “MICRO-transactions”, you know small things. Like special skins and such, don’t try to fucking sell us everything. Be generous, we will be generous in return. It’s way easier to give when you get. does that make sense? If you just give people the option to buy things, they will. I personally have bought way more than my fair share of purely optional content and the best thing about items like that is it doesn’t put up a wall to separate your player base from romping through your video game together.
You know, like cosmetic items and shit. Make it to where Spending more real money is an option, not a requirement. Allow us to earn currency in games to purchase premium items. Don’t alienate people because they don’t have the money, it seems like you’re forgetting the huge role EVERY player plays, They keep your game alive and keep servers full of people to play with. If you give people the OPTION to buy, a good majority will still do so in lieu of spending the time it would take to earn it. I just really don’t want history to repeat itself and I feel like together we can Stop it. We could at least try right?