image by Flickr User: marioanima

Things Have Actually Changed for the Better!

image by Flickr User: marioanima

Nostalgic individuals like myself often like to look back and reminisce about the good old days of gaming; When effort was put into every single game and large publishers didn’t know about the phrase “annual release”. Yep, those were the days alright. No crummy movie tie-ins, template games, or silly controllers. Only one problem though, those days never existed. Excluding DLC, just about every problem a person can have with the video game industry has existed since almost the very beginning. Video game companies haven’t changed all that much since the days of the Atari 2600. Indeed, for as much as we like to complain about the modern state of the industry (and I do so love complaining about it!), we are most likely better now in this day and age than we’ve ever been before.

There are three things that greatly affect game developers in this day and age that we have a great deal of control over. Three things that keep them more in check than they’ve been in the past. Those things being Coverage, Accountability, and Access.

These are the days of games being popular and accepted. What’s more, these are the days of the internet, of nothing being secret for very long. Thanks to the coverage provided by the internet media, developers are now held more accountable to their customers than they ever have before. If a developer tries to pull something that could be considered “shady”, such as that “on-disk dlc” controversy Capcom started, it inevitably gets brought to light and the offending developer then has an PR firestorm to deal with. That kind of coverage makes for a nice deterrent don’t you think? Imagine if Nintendo tried pulling today what they did with Super Mario Bros. 2 back in 1988? They’d have an incredibly difficult time living it down. A bait ‘n switch of that sort would be all over the internet for months to come!

Furthermore, unlike 10 – 15 years ago, game information is very accessible these days thanks to the myriad of gaming news site and blogs. Even a cursory search for a game will tell you whether or not it’s worth your time and money. Sure some still get made, but such paltry effort no longer yields the reward it once did. Bad games just don’t sell well anymore, we simply don’t let them.

To further discourage making bad games, we have indie developers. Game development has never been more accessible than it is right now. Anyone who has the inspiration and determination to make a game now has access to all the tools they need thanks to free development tools and crowd-funding platforms like KickStarter. Indie games are growing ever-more popular and even now pose a threat to those traditional developers who still think they can get away with phoned-in offerings. For the first time, we are in an age of gaming where AAA developers actually have real competition for our gaming dollars, and the more they realize it, the better the games they’ll produce. Publishers especially, since the more indie games succeed, the more obviously irrelevant they’ll become. (I’m of the opinion that publishers hamper innovation more than they help it.)

Of course there’s things happening in the industry that are still worrisome; the continued push to redefine games as a service especially. Seriously, how isn’t it enough that we pay $50-$60 for each game we buy? Do those pushing this really think that they only way gaming can continue is if they have a record for every single second we spend with our games?!

Anyway, there’s still plenty wrong with the video game industry, and we do have problems that didn’t exist before, but on the whole, it’s better. We’ve gotten wise to the old shady practices, and more and more gamer’s are learning to recognize when they’re getting ripped off. All we have to do now, is do more to leverage these powerful tools we’ve been given!

What long-term problems have you noticed in the gaming industry? Would you say we’re better off as a medium today than we were 10 years ago? How would you keep the problem companies we still have in check?

4 thoughts on “Things Have Actually Changed for the Better!”

  1. I actually don’t know a lot about how the industry has changed, but I have noticed how everything gets more publicity, which I definitely think is to our advantage. When Microsoft wanted to make people log on to the Internet daily to play the Xbox One and weren’t going to allow people to play used games, everyone got upset, and they didn’t do those things, after all. I’d bet Sony probably wanted to do similar things with the PS4 (at the very least, I bet they, too, were thinking of not allowing people to play used games), but they sure didn’t after seeing what happened with Microsoft.

    1. I know right! If they had wanted to pull something like this when they didn’t have to deal with the publicity everything they do receives these days, they would have been able to do it without much issue.

      Aside from hearing about new games coming out, all we seem to hear is how bad things in the industry are or all these terrible-sounding policies being adopted. It’s nice knowing that they can’t just do whatever they want. They’re still accountable to their customers.

  2. I have to agree. I’d never want things to go back to the way they were in the early days of gaming. As you say, there are still bad practices going on in the industry, but the things going on today aren’t nearly as bad as all the behind-the-scenes wheelings and dealings that occurred early on. And nearly all of it was bad for gamers. Sure, the late 70s and early 80s saw the release of classic games that still hold up today, but there were so many more awful titles and consoles produced for an “ignorant” population that was clinging to a “fad.” It’s much harder for today’s game developers and publishers to hide behind their corporate walls, and many don’t want to anymore. And that’s a good thing for the gaming masses.

    1. I don’t know much about what went on in the past when it comes to gaming, but it’s always better when the companies that create games and consoles can’t hide what they’re planning. Like I said in my comment earlier, Microsoft may have gotten away with a lot of annoying things with the Xbox One (such as not allowing gamers to play used games) if people weren’t aware of such things beforehand and put a stop to it.

      Plus, they can’t make a bad game and expect people to buy it so much now, since we have so many reviews to tell us if a game’s good or not and Youtube videos to show us a game without us having to buy it first.

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