The gaming industry tends to run in cycles. Before E3 the news revolves around leaks and rumors, after E3 it’s about reveal trailers and what did (and didn’t) get shown and trying to predict the future. Before and after major holiday releases we get dry spells of new games from major publishers and indy devs get to shine. As time marches on cycles fade away to be replaced with new ones and the landscape of gaming shifts to a new shape.
There is one cycle that never truly goes away. This cycle, the tectonic plates of the gaming landmass, grinds along with no care for anything but it’s goal: more money. That cycle is the “next big thing”, the new fad that has taken the gaming world by storm, the great innovation. And as they do with everything, the games publishing world sees it as nothing more than the next cash cow and like a tick on a dog it will suck out every drop of blood it can.
This has been happening since the early days of gaming. Every time someone comes up with a new concept that does well in the market, the flood of copycats isn’t far behind it. Look at any 1-3 year period in gaming and you can see whole subgenres dominate the release schedule. Dark and gritty shooters, rythym based dance games, music games with instrument controllers, colorful hero shooters, and that’s just what I remember after a minute of thinking. Now it’s battle royale games.
Activision and Treyarch just announced COD: Black Ops 4, and guess what it has!! If you said innovative changes that revolutionize the FPS genre then you’re the bad kind of special. It has a battle royale mode. Why would they include this mode? Because they felt they had an interesting take on that game mode? Nope. Because the existing game structure lends itself well to that addition? Not that either. Because PUBG and Fortnite are getting a ton of press and making a fortune? Winner winner chicken dinner!! #dontsueme
That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Someone is making money on an idea and AAA publishers have to abandon everything to chase that. Oh, and there’s no single player campaign. A cynical person would look at this and think that they cut content to replace it with something that could more easily be pumped full of micro transactions or some other crap. That cynical person would be right. Do I know this for a fact? No. Would I be willing to eat my own shoe if you could prove me wrong? Yep.
The worst part of this cycle is that it’s a downward one and it’s getting faster. Like a turd getting flushed. With all the advantages of our always online world, trends can come and go faster and these greedy leaches can find a new exposed patch of flesh to latch on to faster than you can say “why is this slug biting my taint?”.
Right now you’re probably thinking “well that’s a terrible mental image” and once you process that you’ll probably think “what can I do to help stop this horrible agenda of greed and malfeasance?” First, malfeasance is a good word and I’m proud of you for using it. Secondly, in many ways we can’t. I know that’s not the attitude of defiance that you’ve come to know and love since The Revolution began last week. But don’t despair just yet. There are ways, subtle though they may be, to help turn the tide.
To start with, support developers and publishers that don’t do this crap. There are plenty of great games out there made by people who treat their customers right. By supporting these people we can not only play games right now, we get more great games later!
We can also continue to be vocal about how we feel about things. Customer outrage has been having more and more positive effect recently. Middle-Earth: Shadow of War is removing microtranactions after the backlash. That’s a huge win. Star Wars Battlefront 2 has become an embarrassing failure for EA after all the negative press. Booyah you greedy jerks! We are winning.
So as we soldier forward through another Monday, in many walks of life and many parts of the world, remember that we ultimately control the fate of the gaming industry. Our voices have power and we will use that power to punch the greedy in their metaphorical throats. And I will be here to guide you and encourage you as your fearless leader.
Fight the power!