Saturday, July 2, 2016

Let's Talk - Video Games, Gaming & The Gaming Industry

It's been a while since I talked openly with my readers about my thoughts on the current path the gaming industry has taken. I've definitely had a lot on my mind in regards to it, but I've mostly confided in my one close friend who joins me for gaming sessions on a regular basis, because she listens. She's been coming to me for advice on what games to get, when it's best to adopt a new console, and where I think the gaming industry is headed. While I hated to be the bearer of bad news for her since she's new to modern gaming I had to be honest. Even though there are potentially good games on the horizon, and good games already released I can't help but think something is amiss in the industry. Something that could send gaming to an abysmal grave. The heart and soul of what gaming once was is simply no longer there. You have developers shoveling out sh*tware, console creators who are doing practically the same thing, and a universal focus on getting as much money as possible while putting in as little effort as possible. There is a sort of desperation in the air. You can feel it as you play some new game releases, and even in the world outside of gaming. We are faced with uncertain times, and I think industry providers are well aware of this. I feel that's why they are selling you crap. It's why they are begging you for money to support kickstarter projects that may never happen, and why they are still figuring out new ways to charge you extra for pieces of a gaming experience that should be complete at the sixty dollar price point.

As far as games go you are seeing a huge influx of remasters, HD upgrades, and re-imaginings of well known franchises being sold to gamers on the new consoles. Capcom has done this plenty times over as have IFI, and a handful of others. Some of the kickstarter mega hits have also been boasted as being a "spiritual successor" to this, or that. Nostalgia FTW, right? Thinking about this very thing it seems to me as if gaming has become as stale as other outlets in the entertainment industry. Movies being a prime example of this very stalemate. Long gone are the innovative, original, and stand alone gaming experiences that had us gripping our controllers tightly as the stories unfolded freshly through our applied actions, and reactions. Everything seems to be borrowed, or inspired by something else these days. Part of the fault I believe lies with the outcries of millions who want specific features included in, or excluded from their games. Either that or the outcries of gamers looking for that golden age gaming experience from years long gone. Even censorship has crippled the industry innovation to a point that developers are constantly churning out cut up, and demanded crap to those who would have never played those types of games in the first place. It's all about those undeserved day one sales, and pre-orders. That, and the failure thereof.

Something else that concerns me is the rush to get out the NEXT next-gen consoles. Never in the history of console gaming has the next step in evolution been so rushed. Gamers are concerned it's going to be a dividing point for players as are the developers who are developing the games for these new systems. With the promise of newer, and greater hardware also comes the unavoidable truth that we may never see them released. The economy is on the brink of a meltdown, and with the economic uncertainty unfolding it kind of puts a damper on lucrative possibilities. This in itself makes you wonder why these companies are pushing out high dollar products knowing they may never be viable sales items in a poorer society. I'm willing to bet that they are banking their all on the hopes that this boasting, and bragging will earn them some pre-order sales. Pre-orders alone could earn them millions, and like kickstarters this is an easy way to get rich without ever having to produce a product. I'm not saying all content creators think this way, but you can bet your bottom dollar that a good majority of them do.

Another thing that is troubling, and is shaking the foundations of the industry as I type is the growing lack of trust. There's a lack of trust in gaming journalism. There's a lack of trust in the development side of things from the paying players' point of view, and there's a lack in trust of overall gaming management. One thing that pains me to this day is the utter lack of concern by console creators such as Sony. They have effectively gone out of their way to limit resources for maintaining a healthy online experience, and purposefully so. Players such as myself continue to be grieved at the hands of the gaming majority (not to be mistaken with "minority"). With the PSN being Sony's Playstation foundation you'd think they'd be going to bat for the paying gamer to ensure them a fun gaming experience, especially since such gamers are now forced to pay a monthly subscription fee for the service. That is not the case though, and this is not made more evident than through Sony's removal of the only viable form for consumer complaint. Sony has removed the official website's complaint form, and have all but hidden the limited grief report options on their newer consoles. Not only this, but the grief report options that are made available to PS4 players fall short of pinpointing a majority of the problems facing players in the online environments. You'll not find anything for cheating, hacking, or modding listed in the grief report options. The fact that cheating, and console/game exploitation is on the rise among the PSN community only makes the situation all the more worrisome. This is another reason I see gaming meeting it's demise sooner rather than later.

I personally would have thought with Sony's last major PS3 hack attack, and the continued DDOS'ing that they'd put all their efforts into better online security, but it has become evident that there are no plans to buy better servers, or employ a larger more educated staff for proper security monitoring. I can tell you now that despite having non-viable options for reporting offensive gamers I still report them only to be met with quickly updated generic replies that mean nothing. I know the moderators don't look into it properly, because they do not understand my complaint, and further because I still run into the people I've reported while playing online. Their "Grief Report" options are so generic that anyone looking at a sent complaint could not figure out what the player was complaining about. Thus it resolves nothing.

In closing I'm going to boldly state that I think gaming is sh*t for the birds. I think it's about to hit a dead end, and I think the longer it lingers until that day the worse the experience will get. Not even nostalgia will bring us back that loving feeling from the festering corpse that is gaming. The best advice I can give anyone looking to buy into the hobby now is, don't. Don't buy into it, or if you do go for the retro consoles. Modern gaming is a lost cause for many reasons. Sure, you may find a gaming gem here or there in single player form, but when connecting online competitively you are best leaving it be. Those are the cold hard facts. Take them as you will.

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