I must be getting old. I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember and various moments of my life have been supported by the video games that I was playing at the time. In fact, as sad as it may seem (depending on what you think of the medium), some of my best and most potent memories are of playing particular games with certain friends or family members.
The consoles I’ve owned and the titles I’ve played have accompanied my life and its milestones like cheese and fine wine, like Sonic and Tails, Mario and Luigi, Master Chief and Cortana – you get the idea.
I grew up alongside the platformer as it evolved and as various titles competed with one another on the Sega Genesis and Nintendo’s latest offering. As I matured, so, too, did the Gameboy as it implemented colour, backlit screens, two screens, and then three dimensions.
Microsoft stepped into the market just as I could start buying games on my own, and various iterations and generations of consoles have followed as I surpassed my teens and entered adulthood. Excuse the dose of nostalgia, but video games have been infused with my life since its earliest days.
With that said, the last two years have been troubling for me as an adult and as a gamer. With the debut of the current generation of consoles came significant issues in the video game industry. These didn’t come without warning or by complete surprise, but they became blatant and troublesome as of recent.
Games are being shipped as incomplete and buggy messes, downloadable content demands more money from gamers even with a day one release, and a slew of games have become more dependent on multiplayer modes rather than on fleshed out and detailed stories – even if the franchise was formerly known for the latter.
The past two years have made me question my future as a gamer. Years previous, I could depend on a company and support them early in their development process by pre-ordering a game and being comforted by the fact that they would deliver on their promises, but times have changed.
This year, I have cancelled more pre-orders than I have made. Betas have left me uncertain of a game’s full potential, and many of the games I have picked up have been played with dissatisfaction, as I feel I must get my money’s worth to make the purchase worthwhile.
I’ve been lured by the sponsored word of reviewers to buy games because I used to depend on their guidance, but today it seems even the most hailed games leave me with a bitter taste in my mouth and the thought that it could have been much better.
With the price of games rocketing to over $80 in Canada, I find that my choices have become limited, and that soon, I may stop the practice all together. Reviewers, developers, and distributors can no longer be trusted. Video games are far too expensive of a hobby to be disappointed.
Developers are preying on the birthday money and allowances of young gamers by filling their heads with empty promises, and I find that to be the most despicable trend that has emerged in these recent years.
They should feel ashamed that our hard-earned money has been wasted on a game that they never planned to complete, or on a game that demands more money from us to fill in the blanks that they intentionally left open. I get that this is all a business, but I refuse to believe that these massive companies are struggling to earn their keep.
To be frank, there was no great game that was released this year. There was not a single title that surprised me in being inventive, or in trying something new. Every title that was hyped on award shows or in E3 did nothing different or exciting. Most just followed the years previous, relying on their franchised monikers to bring in the dough and to be the top-seller come the Christmas season.
So, I lied. There is no list. While there may be some bad games, and some good, there was nothing that captured my attention, and on such a profound level, that I feel it deserves notation and recognition. Sure, there were titles such as Fallout 4, Witcher 3, Halo 5, and Arkham Knight that devoured some of my schedule, but none of them ever compelled me to return to my console.
They were played out of boredom, as an escape from work and life when I needed a moment’s time to relax and collect myself. But they all felt the same. They felt stale. And they sent a strong message that every AAA title must have an open world and a competitive multiplayer mode to succeed and thrive in this entertainment business.
I’m just tired of playing the same game rehashed into something “new”. There were days that I ran home to play a new game, weekend mornings where I woke up and wished for nothing else than to give myself to the story and to take in all that it had to offer.
The older I get, the more I long for such a feeling, but nothing as of recent has been able to satiate that desire. There were days when a new game felt like something I never played before, but I struggle to remember the last time I felt that way.
Maybe I’m getting too old for all of this, or maybe we aren’t asking enough of these games that take so much of our time and money.
In fact, I’m curious who is really playing games nowadays – gamers or the developers?