For the last little while I’ve been very harsh about the state of affairs in gaming, especially in the console space. Specifically with Ubisoft, EA and Activision. Console gaming exploded onto the scene in the last two decades and the 90s was perhaps the most important decade for gaming and gaming innovation both in PC and the console space. Technological leaps and graphical bounds happened during this decade. The Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, and Playstation revolutionalized the 3D genre for consoles. I have never before or since enjoyed a console as much as the N64.
In the PC space, I remember buying an additional 4 Megabytes of RAM when DOOM II came out. I paid about $230 dollars for it. I also paired the RAM with a 16 bit Soundblaster sound card that cost me almost $150. I walked to the Futureshop at the town center with my older brother to pick it up. He was my insurance policy or rather muscle just incase someone was tempted by $400 worth of computer equipment. $400 was a lot of money for a 13 year old. It was an exciting time to be a teenager during those days and to be passionate about computers, computing, and computer games. But those days are long gone and now the Gaming industry has turned in to a perverse capitalist machine. A machine that is more concerned about profit than releasing a good functional product. I’m sorry to say it but the indie gaming industry is not immune to the above statement either.
These corporations are trying to churn out a game each year in every one of their Intellectual Properties. Recently I even read somewhere that Ubi said they’d like to release a new assassins creed game every year. These game budgets have swelled to millions of dollars, and there are so many people on these projects that the product comes out incomplete, buggy, and usually with a day one patch. The right hand is not talking to the left hand. The reason these games come out like this is because these companies are run by CEOs that have no idea what the game subculture is actually like, and I think they are trying to mimic the model T assembly line that Henry Ford championed but with games. If this happens you can pretty much guarantee the death of the creative and innovative. The industry is sucking the life out of gaming and all the naive kids that accept mediocrity are buying the garbage that these companies are flogging.
If anything the last two years has been a great example of how not to do business within the gaming industry. Evolve was the perfect poster child of gaming mediocrity masked by the illusion of original content and thought. The game was plagued by repetitive play, then came the DLC content overload. I read somewhere that if you bought Evolve and all the silly DLC that does not come with it by default you would spend about $200 on the game. If that isn’t a cash grab I don’t know what is. Then the broken game of Halo Master Chief Collection was another blunder. The online portion of the game wasn’t playable for 3 months after release. Guess what you consolation prize was for buying a game and not being able to play it? One free week of Xbox Live, ha ha ha, what a fucking joke. Don’t get me started on the actual operating system of the Xbox One, it is broken, and it is broken badly. The online experience is painful at best, there are so many bugs and glitches in it that most online play is met with frustration and anger.
All this leads me to the Wii U. I was always a firm believer that the only honest company and the only one that cares was Nintendo. Their games, albeit few and far in between, almost never needed a day one patch. You could usually play them straight out of the box, and their DLC prices for Mario Kart 8 were extremely reasonable. They were driven by gaming and creating fun games based on their already existing IPs. I was always a firm believer… but I was wrong!
Insert the amiibo. The amiibo is essentially an NFC enabled figurine that allows you to recall data associated with said amiibo. Well at first I was ok with these figurines, as they would mean a new revenue stream for Nintendo and the kids would have something cool to put in their rooms. I though it would be a sort of memory card that would hold your characters stats and you could carry it over to your friends house, tap it on their controller, and voila your character appears. Well I was completely wrong. Not completely wrong but overall wrong. You can still do with amiibo’s what I described above, however that is not all that they can do, let me tell you about the dark side of the amiibo. Some amiibo’s unlock game content. Tor example the Toad amiibo unlocks extra content in the game Captain Toad Treasure Tracker. I kid you not, and that is not the worst part either, the worst part is that Nintendo is doing limited runs on some of these. What does that mean? It means you are shit out of luck, unless you want to pay $30 CDN to someone online, where the retail price is $13.99 CDN. What about the coveted Gold Mario amiibo, $50, fortunately the Mario amiibo has 3 versions at this moment so any content locked behind the Mario amiibo can still be accessed with the other two figures. In the end Nintendo has created a black market for their amiibo figures. In my books this is worse than any of the other sketchy business practices that the console industry employs. With that said goodbye Nintendo, and finally, goodbye console gaming. You will wither into obscurity as mobile gaming is gaining traction and replacing the casual console gamer. PC gaming was and always will be my mistress.
Update: Someone recently said to me.. “Consoles haven’t ruined gaming we’re just getting old.”. Nah, I don’t believe this at all, I still play games, I just play them on the PC where there is variety in gaming and the prices are not ridiculous. Also I can pinpoint exactly when consoles ruined gaming, this happened as soon as they became online capable. As soon as online capability was no longer a pipe dream for consoles DLC became a prevalent presence of the profit margin for gaming. This was true for the Xbox 360s and the PS3s. With the newer generation of consoles the Ubisofts and EAs took this a step further, now these companies would release broken games and with the online necessity of the Xbox One and PS4 they would patch the games as they see fit. This multi-billion dollar industry needs to be regulated, there needs to be a set of standards. Everything else has a lemon policy, and software should as well.
Update 2: COD Black Ops 3 was recently announced and with it further proof that gaming is just a cash grab for the industry. I haven’t for a long time nor will I ever again suppor this franchise. Check out the price.I rest my case!