Disclaimer: I have no fucking idea what I am talking about. This is the opinion of one person who has read 4 articles and now considers himself an expert.
This is a list of Reasons Why I Regret my Decision to Study
Computer Game Design.
The obvious financial issue that is currently affecting everyone in some way in the country is the recession. Business are cutting corners every way they can, in the games industry this means publishers are signing on less and less new, high risk IPs, sticking with what is most popular namely the First Person Shooter genre, and even then these are showing decreasing sales and popularity. The developers themselves have had to cut back on hiring the highly trained individuals that go into making a game as the costs have become too much for many small developers to afford to produce a new title with a full team. These financial issues within the company decrease the quality of the game, making the title seem less appealing to the customers who must be selective with their purchasing as they have less money now than they did four years ago. Instead of making a good game developers would rather create the illusion of a good game, hoping the gagging acts they place on reviewers, so they can’t post their opinions till the game is already launched, will allow them to trick enough people into buying their glazed turd.
The costs of creating a game has sky-rocketed over the years, namely because of the power of the consoles they are being made on. If a game does not push the processing and graphical capabilities of the console it is being marketed for, the masses just don’t feel it is worth the forty to fifty pound price tag. All this takes a lot of time, and with the nature of the highly trained, degree wielding designers they expect a high pay for the time they spend creating the game. With the production and marketing costs being so high it is rare for a game to break even, with only 20% of finished games actually turning a profit.  Considering the majority of games released are independent games or ‘shovel-ware’ titles, this figure is not a huge surprise, however when a large games company takes a huge loss like EA did with the PC version of Assassins Creed when it was leaked online 3 weeks before release, they really feel it. AAA titles have budgets anywhere between £20 million and £50million (GTA IV had a budget of £62 million) Taking a loss at all does irreparable damage to a company’s coffers and their reputation among the gaming populous. Some developers get the fine balance of budgeting slightly wrong, leading to disastrous consequences and a lot of embarrassment when it comes to release day. The Zombie, action RPG Dead Island became a viral sensation because of its stunning cinematic trailer which wowed viewers and drummed them into collective hype. The developers begged the audience not get over-hyped about the game based on the trailer as it was entirely CGI and not based on any of the games assets. The general feeling of the critics after the game was released was that the budget for hiring Axis Entertainment to create the trailer and drum up interest in the stagnant zombie-action market, should have been spent on the actual creation of the game with did not live up to the expectations of the thousands. No-one and everyone is to blame according to the internet.
Piracy has always been a huge thorn in the side of anyone creating a distributable media product. With today’s high speed internet connections full games are just hours away, whether it be through legitimate digital distributers like Valve’s Steam, or through torrent sites like thepiratebay.se. Many people choose to get the game for free rather than support the developers that make the games they love, spouting bullshit justifications like it is the developers fault for making their games so expensive or filled with DRM. Attempts to stop piracy are hindered by each country having their own laws on what constitutes copyright infringement. Many of the sites exploit countries with laxer copyright laws like Sweden and Russia so they can operate completely unhindered by the American Authorities that wish to support the big businesses. Anyone that pirates a game is directly harming the industry as a whole, not just one company. If you pirate EA’s published games it is less likely they will take on any new IPs which means we will stay in a stagnant pile of brown shooters. Last time people were too scared to try anything new the gaming industry nearly collapsed in 83’ and we wouldn’t have this wonderful hobby we all share.
The second-hand games market is the source of income for many physical game distributers because of how little they re-purchase the game compared to how much they re-sell it for. This hurts the publishers and developers because royalties are only paid on new games. Digital distribution services are a way to counter-act this, but this leads to the death of physical stores just like the collapse of the giant GAME. It’s an ethical and legal quandary. Do you, after purchasing something, have the right to resell it without royalties? I don’t feel I can give an opinion either way, there are strong arguments for either side but it seems, at least for another generation of consoles people will still be allowed to sell their games.
How consumers are ruining everything by continuing to
enjoy the wrong things.
The time of every game requiring days’ worth of preparation has come to an end. The easier a game to pick up and play, the higher its chance for success because of the growing casual gamer market. I’m all for the casual gamer please don’t think me an elitist. My grandma loves her Zelda and Mario games and I wouldn’t want to deny anyone the joy that comes from games just by making them technically difficult and complex. However, DON’T you fucking dare stop making hard, overly complex, barely any fun at all games. For me, the only way to know I’m having fun is if I am red hot with rage and covered in a thick glaze of sweat. It is much easier for a developer to release a £6 iPod app that costs them £5000 in production, but sells millions of copies because of ease of purchasing that comes of the Apple AppStore, than produce a game for £20 million that may not even recuperate the production costs. The term Casualization has come about on internet forums for developers that tone down the levels of skill required for a game so it appeals to a wider audience, some say this is gaming elitism, some say that they are right to desire varying degrees of challenge from their games.
Developers have caught on to the trend that the most successful video games of the past half-decade have all predominantly been violent action based first person shooters with a competitive element. The race to find the next Halo or Call of Duty franchise is at the top of most publisher’s wish lists, not to find a game that revolutionises gaming as an entertainment media and art form. This endless churning out of bland FPSs is reminiscent of the gaming crash of the 1980s just with grey and brown shooters instead of pong. The only people trying anything new are the indie-devs as they are forced to make new and interesting games so they stick out of the saturated independent video games market. Every time an indie game comes out that sells well, hundreds of other developers try and copy the idea to try and get in on some of that success.
When a film, television show or even book becomes hugely popular, a scramble for the rights to develop the IP into a game ensues. Huge money can be made from tie-ins as they have already built up a huge fan-base for the original media format it came in, all craving another way to experienced there much loved interest. The cost savings are huge, the story is already developed meaning a team of writers isn’t necessary, and if it is based on a film there is no need for a huge team of concept artists to envision the games characters and environments. The Harry Potter franchise has become one of the most popular books, films and video games, every new media it is created on it becomes hugely successful because of it giant, dedicated fan base who will buy anything ‘Potter’ related.
Free-to-play to some can spell the impending doom of their favourite MMO as they know it, or can mean a breath of life into a MMO that is losing popularity. However you as a gamer feel about FTP, it is becoming an incredibly popular way for developers to maximise income from their multiplayer games. Through micro-transactions, cash shops, DLC and real world currency many users spend far more on unlocking the full game than they would have done buying a full game in the first place. You can easily play and have fun without buying the bonus content but to real you in they hold shiny objects ever so slightly out of reach with level caps, hero selection, weapons or other content to people who don’t pay. The popular MMORPG World of Warcraft, has recently added the ability for a player to experience the game for as long as they want up to level 20, to continue they must purchase the full game. Blizzard have also added a cash shop where players can use real world money to purchase in-game items, this method is rare within a subscription based MMO but has proved incredibly successful.
This ‘endless purchasing’ business model is becoming the only way for game developers add longevity to their game so that it will for one, stay out of the pre-owned bin, and two, ensure a profit from their hard work as the game will continue to generate bonus revenue after the initial purchase. Eventually all game purchases will be digital, the market has been going that way for years and it is inevitable. This could mean greater revenue for the developers as it would cut piracy and second-hand purchases, however video game stores would struggle to survive unless they are willing to adapt and offer something online stores cannot.
Releasing a new IP is a risky move on the part of the publisher, however if it takes off and the game builds up a huge fan base this can generate huge revenue on the sales of the original game. The real money however comes with sequels as the enamoured fan base will continue to buy each installation of the series as long as they are of a good quality. If a studio works quickly they can develop the next game on the same engine before it becomes outdated, saving on costs. All of the Call of Duty Modern Warfares have been built using the same engine,  meaning they have saved both man hours if they were to create their own engine, or money if they were to buy one from another developer.
I would like to make a change to the industry, leave a mark on it that shows I have made a positive impact on games and gamers everywhere but I doubt I will. No company will ever let me be in the public eye because of my uncanny ability to insult almost every group of people simultaneously just in regular conversation. I am effortlessly a horrible person.
Everything seems to be going to shit in the industry all because of money, companies got too big to support themselves so they are forced to churn out terrible games, just to keep themselves afloat and their employees in a job, and of course we eat it up because what the fuck else are we going to do with our time and money? Spend it on loved ones? Go traveling? Learn something new?
I learn new things every day and it’s all fucking terrible.
Make better games so I can stay in my safe gaming cocoon and preferably never talk to anyone ever again.
Two sources to show I’m legit.