If you’re reading this, chances are that you care just as much about the gaming industry as me. Like me, you want it to thrive and succeed, but you want it to happen in the right way. Unfortunately, over the past year or two, gaming has suffered because of lazy developers creating games that simply aren’t meeting their full potential.
Firstly, to expand on the point made above, we are constantly seeing so-called “triple-A” games rehashing old mechanics, stories, and other ideas by planting them in sequels of games that are, for the most part, unnecessary. A prime example of this sub-standard quality of game development is Call of Duty and their respective developers and sole publisher, Activision. Whilst, in my opinion, Advanced Warfare innovated just enough to spice up the gameplay and differentiate it from what has come before, the series has fallen from grace. Consistently, the consumers’ shared desires have been ignored. I hope Treyarch and Activision can put an end to this tragic streak by creating a game the fans evidently want by setting it in World War One or Two, as opposed to making a Black Ops sequel. Alternatively, they could go even more historic by setting the next game in, for example, the American Civil War or Revolution. Even further out there is the possibility of creating a Call of Duty game that is set in an alternative reality. For example, to take a note out of Wolfenstein’s book, what if Hitler hadn’t lost World War Two? These unexplored settings would require innovation on the developer’s part as new animations, locations, characters and storylines would have to be created in order for it to work. With the alternative reality idea, it would allow Treyarch to experiment with the basic RPG-style system that we got with Black Ops 2.
Lazy developing doesn’t just take the form of repetitive gameplay, however; it can also be identified in short games. Of course, I’m not slating all short games. Indie titles, for example, are often extremely fun yet short. This, however, is OK as indies don’t have the same funding and resources that are at the disposal of larger companies. Also, indie games tend to have a much lower price, which makes the short length of a particular game excusable. Bigger name developers, on the other hand, cannot be excused for less-than-satisfying stories that are packaged into games at full price. Even at a considerably reduced price tag, gamers aren’t too keen on high-profile titles hitting below the four to five hour mark. Just look at Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes as an example: it was sold at retail in the UK for £20-25 in most stores at release (which is half of what most full-priced games sell for), yet gamers were still outraged by the length of the game.
Secondly, deadlines are a major issue with gaming today. Deadlines of yearly, triple-A titles are forcing developers to cut corners in certain areas. Last year, Ubisoft’s games were a prime example of this. Watch Dogs was just disappointing as a package, whilst Assassin’s Creed: Unity was a game that should have been amazing but was instead filled with glitches and frame-rate issues, as well as a non-functioning multiplayer segment at launch. If Ubi hadn’t been so focused on pushing out two games at the same time (AC: Rogue was released on the same day as Unity), and instead extended the time to release by delaying it in order to work on the game and polish it, they would’ve created a truly fantastic and ground-breaking game. However, they chose to mislead people into buying a broken game through hype and then release massive patches in an attempt to fix it. I sold my copy long ago and so couldn’t comment on whether these patches have partially or completely fixed the game (they hadn’t at all by the time I sold it), but I know that one thing can never be fixed: gamers’ trust, and that’s more valuable than any game.
It’s ironic to me that by being lazy in order to make more money in the short term, both developers and publishers will lose even more money in the long-run as less people will be willing to pre-order or even buy any sequels in the future. Well played, gaming industry. Well played…