The Death of Video Games


It’s funny how the most routine situations can trigger the deepest sub-conscious thoughts that we haven’t come to terms with as humans (Wow, what a mouthful to begin a post about video games) but this happened recently when I was talking to Doug about getting a Nintendo 3DS. He was telling me how great the device is and saying I should get one, and I was listening but not really interested. Then he told me that the Nintendo marketplace had NES and SNES games available. At that point, I was immediately curious and very nearly bought one just so I could gain access to those classic games before realising that I could just play them via an emulator. But after that conversation I realised that the only reason that I was interested in a 3DS was because of the old games (many of which were produced before I was even alive!) did I come to the conclusion that the video game industry is dying.

But this is not a new revelation. My actions have been screaming this for quite some time, and I’ve just been too big of a dumbarse to realise it. Ever since Mass Effect 3, I’ve totally disengaged from the platform. Yes, I did buy an Xbox one. Yes, I have purchased multiple games like GTA V, Halo 4, Forza, NBA 2K and Madden. But I hardly played any of them. And for someone who is was a hard-core (not a competitive gamer. Calm down, virgins) gamer at the time, to have a bunch of games that I had no intention of ever playing, well I’m surprised that it took me this long to realise how bad things had come.

To put things into perspective, when the Xbox 360 came out, I geeked out Madden 06 and NBA 2k6 (and Halo 2, because it had backwards compatibility) religiously. That continued until Gears of War and Crackdown came out, and the rest was history. But here’s the thing: those games were incredible. It wasn’t just some fad. Next gen (at the time) NBA 2k was revolutionary in terms of AI and dynamic situations (players getting hot, not playing well with other certain players etc.). I remember playing an entire season with the Lakers. I put Kwame Brown at centre, with Odom at power forward alongside Luke Walton at the 3. Kobe was the starting shooting guard, and the point guard was Smush Parker. Kobe averaged 40 PPG (sounds insane, but it was only 5 points above the real life Kobe), and I played all 82 games and finished by winning the championship. It was the first, and only time, I played every game of a season.

That was nearly 10 years ago and I remembered all those details off the top of my head like they happened yesterday. I have NBA2k14 on the Xbox one and I can’t tell you one thing about my MyPlayer apart from the fact that I keep getting traded, or that I keep getting disconnected when I attempt to play pickup basketball in the park. The only game that I have enjoyed playing has been Ryse, and that actually triggered some of the same feelings that I had on the 360, so it isn’t me simply outgrowing video games and maturing, it’s the industry that is sucking balls. It is the hyper aggressive marketing of the bigger companies like Activision, 2K and EA that are destroying the industry’s future while they make a quick buck today, and if anyone dares to be critical of developers these days, they get labelled as being entitled.

This narrative has become very popular as a PR move to place the blame onto the customer rather than the faulty/ crappy games that are available, and that consumers should essentially shut up and be happy with what we get. I’m sorry, but anyone that thinks along those lines can go fuck themselves. For anyone that is dismissive of someone that has purchased a dud of a game (especially with so many paid/ sponsored reviews out there) is callous and personally, I cannot wait until they endure some misfortunes in their life so they can be taught some humility and hopefully some empathy.

But the whole idea of compassion is a massive distraction to the topic itself. This is classic public relations B.S., where you distract and divide the audience instead of addressing the issue. Instead of people talking about how broken Battlefield 4 is, or how the servers on 2K still can’t handle a 2 on 2 matchup, we’re diverted into whose fault it is and not how crappy the games are. Here’s a headline: It is not, and never will be, the paying customer’s job to run quality control. That’s what testers are for. The fact that we need (or are expected) YouTube, message boards and Metacritic to research before we make a purchase illustrates exactly how big of a minefield it is to buy an enjoyable game.

It’s simply not worth the hassle anymore. If the industry wants to exploit the things that we as gamers enjoy, and then turn around and blame us for being dissatisfied, then it is them who is killing the industry, and not the consumer. Eventually consumers do turn on companies for this kind of garbage, just look at how big Guitar Hero used to be and how quickly the bubble can burst. If someone who loves games (like myself) is willing to say that “I can’t be bothered anymore” and is willing to dig out the old PS2 from the closet and buy games to play on that rather than their Xbox one, then I’d say the tide is indeed turning.

Yes, the videogames industry is a business, and all businesses care about is making money. I get that and am not disputing that. But it is so short sighted on their behalf to churn out crappy title after crappy title, and not to mention suicidal to then blame their own customer for being pissed off instead of addressing the issue. But if we go along the philosophy that is just a business, then the exact same line of thinking must be applied to the customer: If they are not being satisfied with their purchases, then why would anyone expect them to stick around whilst they continue to be not only ripped off, but blatantly insulted when they voice their opinion about something they have purchased? It is the company’s reputation and livelihood that is on the line, and it is much easier for the consumer to walk away.

Just like I have.