Fixing the industry

Started by Dawn 1 Week Ago 10:30 AM
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Dawn

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I think (or I hope) that we can all agree that the game industry has a lot of serious problems that don't appear to be going away anytime soon, and in some cases just appear to be getting worse and worse. Some are worse than others, but there are plenty of problems to go around. So let's have a little fun with this - what in your opinion are the biggest problems with the game industry today, and how would you go about fixing them? What does the industry in general need to do to make itself a more consumer-friendly and developer-friendly place...and how likely do you think it is that these problems will ever be fixed?

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Curly Brace

I have tried all of your remedies

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$60 games that are clearly not worth $60 (idk how much games on other consoles are). Just...make them cheaper. I'm not really sure why it took Nintendo so much deliberation to even consider lowering the price of Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, and only that title; hell, they don't even give their first-party games discounts on holidays. Maybe it's hubris? I've seen people claim that Nintendo is the Disney of video games because of how expensive they make their games, even if they're literally just remasters or ports (Super. Mario. 3D. All-stars). As easy a solution slashing a video game's price is, I can only see the monetary value of video games go up, which sucks especially given that next-gen consoles will be even more expensive than the last.

I mean, we can talk about microtransactions too, but I'm not too well educated on that.

FlameChrome

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Firstly let me agree that there is some major issues, like with any other industry. Along with i agree also on the $60, its standard on every platform, console or pc and there are a good portion of games that are not worth $60 and people will be like wait for a sale and now that playstation is raising the standard game price to $70, only makes it worse. I sense one day, a standard game price is gonna be like $200, unless its a AAA game it should not be $60 and there just some that are not worth it what so ever.

Though the one i wanna point out is how there are games that are quite unplayable and quite ugly if your using lower end hardware or a console. They optimize it greatly for the high end hardware, where you get the best graphics, fps, etc. Granted its nice seeing a game push the graphics on a computer to its max, but sometimes you just dont have the money to upgrade or whatnot and just wanna look at a nice game on your cheaper pc or console and get stuck with terrible graphics. Sometimes the games arent even needed to be that heavy on the processor or graphics card, but they are just because they can they do that. I can understand at a certain cheapness of hardware its not gonna look good no matter what, but for some of the hardware thats out there, you think it should be able to run more than 10fps while looking like crap, but that is not the case. Great example was Cyberpunk 2077, which took that too the extreme, but an example of what i mean none the less. The companies dont need to be like, trying to optimize for 10+ old hardware, but at least make a better attempt at optimizing each of their graphical tiers (low, normal, high, etc.) so it actually does more than just make it look like better or crap.
Edit: Also just remembered that some games even on their low settings dont look any different, dont perform any different, least for the most part, so sometimes its like why even have the setting

Megan

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But by upping the price they don't need include those gambling mechanics that are incredibly lucrative because addictive that will sooner or later be shoehorned in anyway because profit! D:

What I don't understand is how they can justify upping the price while having managers and shareholder rake in hundreds of millions all the while the developers end up on unpaid overtime just to make an arbitrary deadline (which gets then pushed back anyway or it doesn't and the game ends up being a mess).

It's incredibly broken, but it may also be "working as intended". I think the USA in particular need more unionizing. And the employees really need to hammer that into their emploeyrs heads that they can't just continue this sort of exploitation.

Dawn

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Time to throw my list of unrealistic fixes out there:

Ban microtransactions, lootboxes, and DLC that is not substantial from any title that is not free-to-play. By “substantial” I mean story-based content, significant new features – e.g. additional characters – and similar. Character costumes, "time savers" like EXP boosters, and item packs etc. need to go. The $60 price tag is a lie that developers have been skirting for years by cutting out pieces of their games and selling them back at a premium, and fostering a has-and-has-not economy by making them seem like an essential part of the experience...which they often are. If they want to make "deluxe editions" that cost more with cheap plastic tat/steelbooks/soundtrack/whatever else that's fine, but there needs to be a standard edition, which is a complete game in and of itself, at no more than the maximum RRP. It's time companies stopped ripping off consumers. The F2P economy has no place in video games with an upfront cost. Also, the same game cannot be released as a "Complete" or "Game of the Year" edition any less than two years later, and this can only happen ONCE per console generation. Because no, you are not allowed to release a game multiple times with one or two more DLC expansions included each time, for full price. Which you can bet some companies would try to do if this got enforced.

The price of a game should reflect the quality of that game. This is a tricky thing to quantify, but there need to be rules and procedures written down, testing conducted, and evaluations made by objective, independent experts. This is to stop companies from overcharging for video games (and, by the way, the $60 price ceiling needs to stay) and also stop them from sneaking short DLC campaigns under the radar as separate products...which is something that used to happen in earlier generations, unless I'm misremembering. But ports and remasters absolutely should not, under any circumstance, be selling for full price. Remakes are another story - and no, the line between a remake and a remaster is very easy to define, so passing off an HD remaster as a remake isn't going to happen. There are a lot of factors that could go into determining quality, so this needs to be flexible - performance, length (charging $60 for a game that is less than 5 hours just isn't acceptable, unless that game has SUBSTANTIAL replay value), budget and time spent developing the game, and so on. Really, they should go by quantitative data rather than qualitative data, so as to be as fair as possible.

...also, if it's digital, it should absolutely not be the maximum price. That maximum price includes the cost of production and the portion of profit that goes to the store selling it, it is NOT all for you, you greedy pieces of muk. That there is absolutely no ownership in a digital license also means that it should be cheaper to purchase. And unless the game is developed by an indie studio - defined as one whose revenue is below a certain threshold - a game CANNOT be digital only. Preservation of gaming history is important, and whilst I know executives salivate over the thought of making consumers pay for content over and over without owning it, that is frustratingly irresponsible and anti-consumer.

Also, artificial scarcity? Banned. Psyduck you, Nintendo. There will be no more Disney Vaulting products in an effort to drive up sales. Any game developed should be manufactured for the duration of that console's life cycle. You can't just pull it after a year. Enough quantites of a game should be made to meet demand, too - let's not have an Amiibo fiasco again. If you want to make extra money, do it through Limited/Special editions or whatever, don't make it at the expense of the consumer.

All companies need to be put through an annual (at least) audit. This audit needs to examine business practices, working conditions, employee health and mental well-being, and so on, as well as the usual financial things. Crunch culture is unacceptable. Abuse is unacceptable. All findings need to be made publicly available in a format that can be understood by consumers, too. Let people see exactly what went into the game they're going to buy, if they care about such things - and people should, because a company that makes its employees work 100 hour weeks NEEDS to be held to account for this. Also, for crying out loud, the amount of money that executives make positively SCREAMS fraud. The amount of tax that some companies pay cannot be legal, either. I am not going to deny that people in managerial positions deserve a higher salary for the work they do, but...lord almighty, within the boundaries of sense, please.

News needs to reported responsibly and accurately, too. Hype is a cancer that fosters bad industry practice and creates an extremely toxic culture that only makes dev's lives worse. Demo footage needs to be representative of the final product or state VERY clearly that it isn't. Review copies need to be distributed to give journalists sufficient time to play through the game and give their OBJECTIVE opinions. Review scores also need to be done away with to support this. Contrary to popular belief, you can conduct an honest marketing campaign. Game Freak. Looking at you here in particular. Nobody should have their life threatened over a video game, and whilst you will always get people like that, the media should not be exacerbating the problem with irresponsible reporting, and representatives of the company should be as transparent and honest as possible when conducting interviews. Sell a product based on what it is. This isn't politics.

...there is more. I'll come back to this.

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FlameChrome

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I agree with mostly everything you said dawn. The one thing im like, eh about is the digital only, i get your sense about it, but thats also like saying CDs and DVDs (or Blurays) should never stop being created either. If it wasnt just more convenient for the people to buy it digitaly they would get a physical copy too, in my sense only the collectors and people who just absolutely hate digital versions only care about having physical copies, yes i agree sometimes its nice just holding the disk in the hand. And whether you like it or not, everything is moving to digital, and the general population seems to not care or not care enough to make a rupture about it.

i will say the day one patch is ridiculous, and a concept that should be thrown away, its only hurting being able to play the games in the future if the servers dont wanna give that patch anymore.

The worst part is that the game will stay at $60 for like 2 or 3 years before finally taking the full price/regular price down to like $40, even then it should be like $30, 3 years after release your just trying to milk every penny at that point, you get it the first year or 2, but beyond that its ridiculous to keep it that high. By that time has passed, the demand for it has also went down, so should the price, but most of the time it takes years to go down to a reasonable price.

Dawn

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Hmmm...yes and no. The sales are there to support the popularity of digital games, but that is it. The idea that "everything is moving to digital" and that is the preference of the general population is a narrative being pushed by the industry and isn't entirely accurate...I mean for starters there is no way to measure something like that; sales don't tell the whole story. The primary motivation of that idea was to kill the second-hand market, which is something that these corporate executives can't profit from. I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that a game on the digital storefront costs the same as a physical title too, and surely a physical game costs more to produce, so that's eating into their profits. Basically, it's corporate greed and nothing more. It's exactly the same thing as the idea that mobile gaming is going to replace handheld gaming: they said that over and over, and whilst mobile gaming exploded in popularity, the success of the Nintendo 3DS - and more importantly, the Switch - proves that for the lie that it is. Just because the atmosphere is changing somewhat doesn't mean that the old way of doing things has suddenly become undesirable and obsolete. Digital popularity does not automatically mean physical is on its way out.

If you want to use the DVD/Bluray comparison, I only said that the games should be produced for the life cycle of that console, so in a way that is exactly the same thing - after all, nobody makes VHS anymore, and I'm sure people will stop making DVDs once that has been completely phased out. Interestingly, vinyl records have experienced a resurgence in popularity despite the shift to a digital market in music too. So there are similarities, but to say it's exactly the same...yeah, I can't get behind that. After all, there is more than one company dedicated to making physical versions of older titles and those that get digital-only releases, and I don't see any companies daring to make their newest releases digital-only, much as I am sure they would like to. So it's pretty clear that not only collectors care about physical products, because I doubt they make up a very large percentage of the gaming population. I don't see the problem with having a physical version as a requirement, and it's actually beneficial to a company to make this happen, because it allows them to reach a wider audience...and it's not like they can't afford it, if their financial performance is used as a metric to determine it. But to look at other markets as well, the popularity and convenience of things like Amazon's Kindle hasn't erased the need for physical books, and news websites haven't killed off physical newspapers. This may or may not change in the future, but if it happens in our lifetimes I will be very surprised.

But just because it doesn't matter to some people doesn't mean it doesn't matter at all, and digital remains problematic as a medium because there is no ownership and no preservation. It might be more convenient but in every other aspect it is distinctly anti-consumer. More than one game has been lost because the license has expired, and once the servers go down, people lose access to what they purchased. Which isn't acceptable. Companies should not be able to deny people the right to something they purchased. The move to digital-only would require more safeguards than what are currently in place - the services provided by Sony, Nintendo, and even Microsoft aren't acceptable for supporting a digital-only platform. Game Pass is the closest, but for a viable digital-only environment you need to introduce rentals, keep things on there permanently rather than rotating them in and out, and make sure the subscription cost is affordable and represents value for money. You also need to introduce refunds and trade-ins which would allow you to get back a portion of the money you spent - at least half, irrespective of how much time has passed, but more if not much time has passed and you haven't played the game much - so that people can get rid of games they no longer want or aren't satisfied with.

It'd be nice if this happened anyway, because NSO and PS+ are both disgustingly poor quality services (and no, the cheaper price does not excuse NSO, especially when you compare it to the Wii U's Virtual Console) but I think a split digital/physical environment is the more consumer-friendly option, and companies should not be able to do away with physical games just because they don't like the second-hand market. A lot of people would lose their jobs if the physical production of games came to a halt as well, and it'd effectively create a monopoly because the only way to buy these things would be off the digital storefront, leaving consumers at the mercy of companies, who would without doubt jack the price up to maximum each and every time. Also, not everyone has a viable internet connection for digital gaming - even just downloading the things. Given the situation with ISPs in the US especially, a move to digital-only would be an absolute disaster for consumers. You would need to fix many other industries and apply significantly more regulation to ensure a fair marketplace, and really nothing you could do would be as good as having a physical alternative. People might not care enough now to cause much of a ripple, but you can bet there would be waves if companies were allowed to do as they pleased with digital-only products and the physical alternative disappeared. There's also no guarantee they would just get used to it and accept it in the way that DLC and the recent price increase has been accepted - I mean, even if it was a publicity stunt, Microsoft's intentions to double the price of Game Pass received a massive wave of backlash, as one example.

Depreciation of games is a very problematic and erratic thing that should be addressed with Nintendo titles especially, because those literally never drop in price. It is a bit of a farce to see games several years old going for full price, but at the same time for physical versions at least they need to make a profit, so I'm...not sure there. But this is partly why the second-hand market is so crucial: it gives people more options, and makes thing affordable. Whilst you can't expect something for nothing, contrary to popular belief, less affluent people deserve to have fun too, and games are well on their way to stonewalling people with their outrageous prices, which is often just the entry cost since things are cut out and repackaged as DLC and all the rest, plus the online play subscription costs. Gaming is a bloody expensive hobby. But anyways, at the very least, digital games should drop by 20% in value year-on-year via straight line depreciation (a fixed 20% of the original cost, rather than 20% on the current cost) until they're half price, because there's no excuse. It's an absolute joke that digital games cost more than physical after a few years.

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FlameChrome

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2nd hand market, yeah i think that be something thats needed, and i think it be pretty neat to see that transition into the digital market of games. Theres already a country that sued or is sueing steam over not being able to sell their copies of the game to others (idr if that lawsuit ended or not yet). I do agree however, if we were (or should i say continue the transition to fully digital) there should be uptight regulations in place, to make it similar to the physical market, that i do agree with, since prime example, nintendo. Just lower your prices and have more sales already. Nintendo and the currency of the switch atm, is a prime example we dont want xbox, PS, or even steam becoming.
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... I'm only going to be frank before I go off into a spiel.

Game's don't feel like game's anymore. They don't even feel like idea's being fully explored or experience's worth experience.

They feel like over-budgeted movie's you press button's to cycle through and pay $$$ out of your wallet to enjoy it; like the end of the game and the middle is something you have to pay $ you bled and sweat for to RENT that ending, which is either the most unsatisfying thing you we're ever saw or the most disgusting thing you ever touched that you told the waiter to take it back, tip the waiter enough to spit in the Chef's Face before deciding to lock the door's to the kitchen and burning everything down from the outside.

That's what I think and the most short answer to just what I think. My spiel is below as I wanted to prevent or spare the casual reader from listening to me complain and give them a short simple answer.

My thought's in depth or my 2 cent's:
Since this whole idea, this huge shift in game's to where now EVERY company has to be more careful about what they say or think or even publish, otherwise, social media will net them negative review's, distance from their customer's and a heavy drop in sales. So, the people who change are folks like Disney, Marvel and Sony as they're trying to be more 'progressive' in what they publish. Because they now walk this road, any IP or brand under them that publish's now has to adhere to a standard that it either need's to promote or need's to be wiped clean of before it hit's a certain store front. There are bigger offender's here, but Sony is the most glaring one of this whole group; to publish a game under PlayStation on any platform from PS3 and up, it has to go through a rigorous battery of test's under their censorship policy and I do mean rigorous in a very extreme sense. If your game fails at any point, your game's application is trashed and sent back. The time before, this was mostly censor ship of extreme nudity, sexual activity's or something very over the to in term's of blood and gore to where it was either too senseless or too violent for even the biggest horror fan; it was still difficult to publish a game under the platform, but the rule's made 'some' form of sense , even if it was ridiculous, at the time. Their rule's of censorship now are so engorged that to publish a title, any title or any game that it's just a waste of money to do it. As companies need to fork over $$$ per application attempt and the bar is set so high that only team's and developer's deemed pure in their eye's are the only game's that will get published or attain any leniency. There are folks on youtube, twitter, facebook and everywhere else who can describe this a lot better than I can; but the way everything is setup in such an environment that it's uninhabitable. No idea's can be explored, no new thought's or new world's, everything with them is chained up so tightly that it has to either 'fit' in or it can't fit at all anymore.

Nintendo would be the next on my list, though my thought's on them differ. While they allow more mature content on the Switch platform was a decent move; they have a stick up their butt made of cacti, and they're pushing it up another inch every year. They take big chance's on hardware, and smaller chance's on software... To explain a little, the past few consoles we got from Nintendo go from the awesome Gamecube and it's controller, top the Wii with the TV remote Controllers. The Wii U with the Screen and now to Switch to what the Wii U should have been. In term's of software, Super Mario Sunshine, Luigi's Mansion and The legend of Zelda: Wind Waker. Big wager's, but lasted and remain in a few people's top ten list... Luigi's Mansion 3, feel's like it babies it's player's sometimes as it tries to center it's story mode on co-operative play; there's some challenge to the puzzle's. Super Mario Odyssey was awesome, though it doesn't seem we'll get an Odyssey 2 anytime soon as well as it sold and for Mario's big birthday, they republished Mario 64, Sunshine and Galaxy and it doesn't seem they're intent to publish Galaxy 2 on it... In-fact they've been republishing a lot of their back-catalog on there to make up lost number's. Some of us buy into it because we never bothered to before on the older console's, other's don't as they already own the game's. Breath of the Wild was an awesome game, one I've sunk a lot of hour's into, though if I can quote a Youtuber, the challenge's and the quest's feel like test's. None of them feel like a fight; none of the enemies adopt new strategy's as the game's level rise's, instead it's to give them a better weapon and have the game pre-set the weapon's element's before fighting you... I know programming enemy A.I. is difficult, but the illusion of strategy can still be there such as when you climb a wall to attack a moblin camp above you. Maybe the moblin's have some boulder's placed up there to stop intruder's. Maybe have some of them without weapons and follow an A.I. Branch where they push them off... Small touches like that. Then There's Super Smash Bros.... Which I'm not even going to touch, there's pro's and con's with each one and I want to leave it at that.. Beyond their whole 'play safe' attitude with their IP's, they're also incredibly vicious of people who create work's to celebrate them. Custom Joycon's from Etsy get taken down because Nintendo registered a trademark with the word 'Joycon.' AM2R, the best if not perfected remake of Metroid 2 OVER Nintendo's 3DS published title was brutally taken down. Pokemon Uranium was brutally taken down along with any pokemon based MMORPG's. Mother 4, an awesome, if not, beautiful PC built Earthbound by the fan's was Brutally taken down and forced to change their name. It's release date is in the dark now and noone has heard from them since... Nintendo has been playing hands to protect their IP's as if it was a bloody battlefield. I have seen the problem's with a stolen IP of anyone, but there's more benevolence than malevolence from these fan's who build these thing's. It's like dealing with a 5 year old who is ok letting you borrow it's toy's, but will beat the muk out of you with power tools if you try to do anything else with them other than play with them as they are.

Bethesda: Google Bethesda and Lawsuit in your search. I don't need to explain the troubles with them. Do the same with EA while your at it and Blizzard.

Then there's what we have now. Newer independent studio's are wrestling for their time in the limelight with Covid as it is; though most of them don't even feel like games as they're idea's that either follow a blood covered agenda to force a moral down our throat's, fill a niche crowd, try to follow another company's success with the DLC and Slot Machine tactic's or all of the above. There's only a fist full of them that are publishing thing's that don't meet that scope that have that form of fun factor where it's less message's and moral's and just as a game should be; a game that's just trying to entertain the player with a world, an idea and challenge's that get harder to make the player want to play again and beat it; Though, sadly, with very little polish or too much.

Folks who know my topic and just glance at it know what I dive through to add to that list; lately I've been doing tribute post's with a fistful of exception's though most of the stuff I'm digging through and finding that meet the criteria is older stuff from early 2019 and down; I haven't found anything new that meet's the criteria now worth posting about, even if I we're to break one of my rules like I did with Scott Pilgrim. I've had to head to Itch to see if there is anything better and the only few I found we're mostly incomplete to write a post for with the only exception being World of Horror. The other two are Wave Crash, being a puzzle 'fighting' game, which they demo'ed at an anime convention I took part in and enjoyed that I pre-ordered the game on Itch.Io to support them and it's not done yet. The other is FireWing 64, though the game was built in Unity and though they got the feel of a classic N64 platformer, the control's both Keyboard and Controller are rougher that the highest grit of sandpaper and the developer's have back away from the community.

.... Though this is just me dronning on. If we had game's that didn't treat player's like complete idiot's and gave us a challenge worth playing without having to shove a message or morals down our throats, forcing us to conform or don't play at all, then the industry might have a better shot... Otherwise, it's heading for an ET Crash Event... And there will only be so few to pick up the pieces from the ashes and make it anew again...

If there's any company doing something better I had to point too, it would be Sega. I'm not a big Sega Fanboy nor am I advocating for them; but they're a lot better than Nintendo and Sony in far more ways than one. They support their fanbase, tend to hire on people who create Sonic fan games like they did with Sonic Mania. They don't bother with DMCA take down's often or if they do, they're not as stingy as Nintendo. They seem to embrace the community since their fall on Dreamcast. They might be the company that survives all of this if everything crashes or at least be the last man standing on the sinking ship, still breathing. They've made goofy choice's and terrible one's, but they're still struggling and still trying to deliver something and the 'something' they deliver is at least something we can explore and be apart of. Heck, folks who play PSO2 in Japan use the Fan-Made Launcher than the original Sega Published, even the company is informing folks to use that launcher instead. When folks we're making phoney Japanese account out here in America, they didn't care as it was taking a long time to port the game out to the USA that they've never bothered to delete the USA account's and left them as is.

Sega ain't the biggest thing, the best or the newest. But they might be onto a better solution for the industry. Is it the solution? World no; though their practice's with consumer's are a better improvement in comparison to other's at the moment.

.... And I'm sorry, that's a lot to say and get off my mind.