Everyone can agree that we are living in a golden time for gaming. People have more choice, it is more affordable and more mainstream than ever. Surely it is a universal state of happiness, isn’t it? If you scratch under the surface there is a deepening problem that sums up what is wrong with gaming in the modern age. It is centralisation, globalisation, the industrial revolution or whatever metaphor you want to attach to it. Gaming is now suffering from its own success. The next quarter shows that more than anything.
The first quarter of 2019 has a game release schedule that many people would be amazed at. Here is a list of games that can be considered non-indie scheduled for release in the first quarter.
New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
The Walking Dead: The Final Season Episode 3
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes
Resident Evil 2 Remake
Kingdom Hearts III
God Eater 3
Far Cry: New Dawn
Dirt Rally 2.0
Dead or Alive 6
Devil May Cry 5
Tom Clancy’s The Division 2
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Yoshi’s Crafted World
Just wow. If you stop for a moment and add the standard price tag beside the 25 games above and then look at your bank account you can see the issue. Gaming not so long ago was about playing the newest game at the same time as everyone else and experiencing the hype together. Midnight launches for the latest COD and straight home to play it, seeing your friends list all playing the same game and many other social aspects of gaming.
Now we have the opposite. Of these games, I can realistically afford maybe 5 in the quarter. For me, it will be Resident Evil, Ace Combat and Metro with two spaces free depending on how long they take. I have already spoken about the issues of super lengthy games in 2019, this release schedule just compounds it. Some of these games were obviously moved to avoid clashing with Red Dead Redemption 2 but others needed the extra polish. Let’s take two examples. Anthem and The Division 2. In reality, this is no different than when FIFA and PES release, two-game same genre but different takes. There will be a winner and then the millions spent on currency, server farms, and marketing will have gone down the drain on the other when it could have been better spent on a different type of game. Maybe a new Star Wars Game EA?
Now Instead of attaching a money value beside the games, you want to try attaching an hour’s value. Of the 5 games, you will be talking a minimum of 25 hours to get the most out of them. That’s 125 hours of spare time. Fine if you are in your teens or early twenties, but the people who can afford to buy these games are the ones who will have no time to play them. So, we have a paradox in the gaming market. The people with the time to play the majority haven’t the financial means to buy them, this leads to the success of games like Fortnite, PUBG, Cod4 and others and has shifted game development to focus on the games as a service module.
These games hit the halfway house as anyone with a console can download them and sink hours into them at little cost. Unfortunately, with any gaming success story, it becomes the trend for everyone else to copy for the next few years, meaning we are stuck in this limbo where companies throw games that were on development before the market changed out for release at stupid times. In the past, you could see this in isolated examples such as Titanfall 2. A truly excellent game shoehorned between Battlefield one and Call of Duty. While superior to both it was the game that was always going to miss out. Despite being a famous example, early 2019 has shown that this is now the norm. Great games are going to be lost in the fight between Anthem and The Division. People waited nearly a decade for Kingdom Hearts and a considerable amount of time for a numbered Ace Combat sequel. Are these games going to be the ones that suffer financially or even worse suffer by being bought and banished to the pile of shame for the rest of eternity?
Last year God Of War was the most important game released. It was fantastic, a bona fide 10/10 game, but more than that it was single-player, bereft of DLC and had an ending. It should have spawned a new generation of high-quality complete experiences. Not open-ended or stretched out games. Of the list above maybe Metro and Resident Evil fit into this mould, many of the others are games looking to be the only game people play for six months which unfortunately is not the normal gamer mindset. Normal gamers are like magpies, easily distracted by something shiny and new unless developers begin to realise this then we may never see completable games again.
The industrial revolution of gaming is here and all we can see for the foreseeable future is 80hr plus experiences that only the few will see the end off. Unless developers go back to what brought them to the table and stop trying to replicate the success of others then gaming is doomed to lose what made it special.
How many people today would get to Sephiroth, defeat Gannon, rescue the princess, use the gravity gun at its most powerful, or learn the truth about Andrew Ryan? If the Red Dead Stats are anything to go by about 25%, certainly not enough to build legends.