Saturday, August 15, 2015

Let's Talk - "Numbers vs Quality"

This topic has been weighing heavily on my mind for the past few years that I've been into the retail part of the journalism biz. The topic in question being, "Numbers vs Quality". It's obvious through my rants, and ravings that I think greed has taken a firm grip of many entertainment outlets including that of the video game industry. A grip that developers, PR, and publishers just won't loosen. Industry makers see numbers in the form of possible monetary income, and sales percentages. Sure that's an important part of running a business, but if you give the consumer less, and constantly ask for more you begin to look like the greedy corporate pig that you are. On the opposite end of the spectrum gamers simply want to spend their hard earned money on gaming experiences that are of the highest quality. Experiences that are not plagued by day one patches, broken elements, or other fun negating issues. They simply want to get their money's worth in the form of a fun time. Of course as it stands there is no middle ground meeting on the plain of "Numbers vs Quality". It's a one-sided scale that is usually offset to one side, or the other by number crunching businesses, or the cries of gamers who are getting fed up with being force fed the same excuses as to why they are not getting their money's worth. There is no balance to be found here.

As an example of what I'm talking about I'll begin by pointing out that Netherrealm Studios, one of the fighting industry's legacy companies has produced two newer fighting games in the recent years that had a ton of potential, but that fell flat on their virtually created faces due to mismanagement, poor development, and the dreaded DLC greed that has become commonplace with the current gaming industry business model. 'Mortal Kombat X', Netherrealm's more recent creation, earned it's respectful place among fighting games as a top seller, and all around quality fighting game experience. Even I got mesmerized by it's new-gen graphics, gory details, and in-game offerings. As I began to spend more time with the game though (and I'm talking serious time) the reasoning behind it's success became more, and more of a mystery to me. I just could not fathom how it was ranking on the top games listings, and sales charts. I could not understand it at all. The game is functionally flawed on so many levels it's sad. For one thing the faction standings are the most unfair part of the MKX experience. I've been with the 'Black Dragon' faction for 6 weeks straight now, and we've yet to lose our standing as top faction contenders. It even looks like we'll win again this week.

Outside of the faction standings you'll also find flaws in both MKX's offline, and online modes of play. In the offline scenario, for example the Tower opponents, and matches often times have embedded abnormalities that seem to be intentionally geared at trying to make the player behind the controls lose. I'm not talking about difficulty settings either. You'll find character slowdowns, unusual fluctuation in opponent AI, features like the X-Ray not working when they should, and even mutually shared stage modifiers working against the player behind the controls. It's almost as if the development team at Netherrealm Studios is trolling the gamer, and is wanting them to lose. It's a slap in the face to those who bought the game, and the DLC. I imagine the staff at Netherrealm throwing money up in the air, and dancing around gleefully singing, "We've got your money, and there ain't nothin' you can do about it! LOL!!!". Seriously.

When it comes to MKX's online experience it has suffered the same fate as that of "INJUSTICE: Gods Among Us". By that I mean it's damn near unbearable to play online with randoms if not wholly unbearable. The cheating is serious. The trolling is happening all the time, and the sad thing is no one gives a damn. If you are looking to get MKX I'd highly suggest steering clear of the online entirely as it is not the great experience people are saying it is. Even the offline is flawed to a point that it only serves to aggravate the legit fighting game enthusiast even more. It may be a game that's good for governed tournaments, or local couch play, but it is not an inviting game for those who can only enjoy it on a solo level like me.

This brings me back full circle to the point of this article. I used MKX as an example as it speaks volumes about the ongoing "Numbers vs Quality" conflict. Just yesterday I saw a tweet on Twitter stating that MKX sales had surpassed Terraria/Minecraft. Who gives a rat's ass, right? Regardless of this famed achievement the game still remains a broken mess that only those who are glutton for punishment, or those who have local friends to game with can enjoy. Numbers definitely do not reflect the quality of MKX's experience. I have personally been unable to enjoy it for week's now. I can't find a legit gamer online for nothing. Long story short, games like MKX are only business friendly, and are not gamer friendly. Companies like Netherrealm, and Warner Bros., and the middlemen that are some gaming journalists want you to believe it's worth your money, but it's not. The numbers lie, and the quality is definitely not there. Gamers need to stop buying into the hype/lies, and seriously need to start speaking with their wallets/purses. Industry providers/creators also need to stop churning out flawed products. The 'less for more' epidemic needs to halt as well. There needs to be a middle ground where gaming industry businesses can thrive, and where gamers can be happy with their purchases of industry offerings. Sadly, the scale currently weighs in the industry's favor. Until we stop giving into the greed mongers, and bad business practices the scales will only tip further into their favor. In that sense numbers do matter. Subtract some of their numbers (a significant amount), and make the income, and sales percentages reflect the quality we as a gamers are experiencing. Maybe then industry providers will get a clue, and the gaming industry will see another golden age. I do hope so.

2 comments:

  1. this story is reminiscent of gta5. have you played that? it's really engrossing in light of offline. in my book the offline part lives up to the hypes out there.
    online,on the other hand,is not all it's cracked up to be. that said, the online content itself is impeccable,they offer loads of things to do and you can play absolutely free of charge.
    the biggest flaw in the online play is it can be extremely laggy and the game freezes pretty often. and as with recent games gta5 was infested with cheaters. however i'm content with the game all in all
    offline part has more content than a game can provide offline and online combined and i was able to enjoy online to some extent. definitely cheap for the price.

    the title numbers vs quality gives me food for thought. it's gut wrenching when a good game doesn't sell well and vice versa. i'm of the opinion that the primary goal of gaming journalists is help fun but obscure games sell more through articles.

    sorry if all this sounds rambling as hell. and i hope to hell that influential companies like the one that made MKX wise up and lead the industry in the right direction

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    Replies
    1. I'm sure there are a lot of games out there whose publishers, and developers are too preoccupied with cash earnings to be concerned with giving the gamers a thoroughly enjoyable experience. I've heard of GTA5's many flaws, and MKX definitely falls into a similar category.

      Most of my rogue articles are meant to be thought provoking, and I'm glad you experienced that when reading this article. I try to leave all of my articles open for discussion. I only wish more would take the time to comment. As far as journalists goals go we are here to provide people the truth about current game offerings no matter what they may be. Unfortunately not all journalists tell the truth. I personally like to bring to light the more obscure games, and will seek them out when I can, but I think I do a variety of every genre.

      I do hope that developers, and wise up about their bad business practices before it's too late.

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