The Video Game Industry Can’t Go On Like This

The Video Game Industry Can’t Go On Like This
A screenshot from the 2014 Windows game <em>Trace Vector</em>. (Screenshot: <a href="">MobyGames</a>, <a href="">Vexel Games</a>)

At about this time next year, we’ll have a pretty good idea of what the next generation of video games will look like. New consoles will likely be shown off, bold new streaming initiatives will begin to launch, and we’ll see all the wonderful kinds of games they will bring us. All these new things will come, and we’ll close the book on a generation that saw the industry that makes games come under greater scrutiny than ever before, as studios shuttered, developers burned out and toxic work culture fostered environments hostile to marginalised people.

These are not problems that have been resolved, but the wheels of the games industry keep turning, in spite of the strain. So how much bigger can video games get? Video games are only getting more costly, in more ways than one. And it doesn’t seem like they’re sustainable.

There’s the human cost, which Kotaku has chronicled extensively. Contract workers are continually undervalued and taken advantage of, as Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 developer Treyarch is reported to do. Artists who work on gory cinematics integral to games like Mortal Kombat suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Unrealistic demands and lofty investor expectations lead to disastrous development cycles for video games like Anthem, which in turn leads to developer crunch. Every week, news breaks about the toll video game development takes on the people who make them, and we carry on as if it’s all going to be fine.

ImageMortal Kombat 11 (Image: NetherRealm Studios, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)

That’s only the start of it. When you adjust for inflation, the retail cost of video games has never been cheaper, and it’s been this way for some time. The $80 price point for a standard big-budget release has held steady for nearly 15 years, unadjusted for inflation even as the cost to make big-budget video games has risen astronomically with player expectations. (Here’s some maths that gives you an idea of just how absurdly expensive games are to make.)

Since changing the price point seems to be anathema, we’ve seen the industry attempt to compensate with all manner of alternatives: higher-priced collector’s editions, live service games that offer annual passes or regular expansions a la Destiny, microtransactions, and free-to-play games.

Then you have loot boxes, which in many cases boil down to slot machine-style gambling inserted into retail and free-to-play games alike — something that is coming under increased legal scrutiny in some countries that might potentially cut off what has quickly become a major source of revenue in the industry.

These aren’t all necessarily responses to thinning profit margins in the face of rising inflation. Game publishers are often publicly-held companies, with investors that need to be shown endlessly increasing profits that are then used to justify ridiculously large executive paychecks. Perhaps that’s a problem that needs solving, too.

Because of all this, $80 is often just the minimum buy-in, the ante in the pot, for some of the biggest releases. If you want every character in a game’s roster, or every map in its playlists, you’ll have to pay more, and increasingly, you have to. Big-budget single-player games that deliver a single-serving experience with minimal strings attached have largely disappeared from the lineups of major third-party publishers.

ImageSea of Solitude. (Image: Jo-Mei Games, Electronic Arts)

Let’s run down the Big Three. We’re more than halfway through 2019 and Electronic Arts has only published one single-player game, the indie Sea of Solitude. Last year was much the same, with two indies as its only single-player releases: Fe and Unravelled 2.

Activision’s portfolio of single-player games looks even thinner: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is the only exclusively single-player, non-remake game that the publisher has released since 2015’s Transformers: Devastation — which itself is no longer available, thanks to an expired licensing agreement.

Ubisoft is an exception, regularly releasing entries in single-player game franchises like Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed. But it buttresses them with aggressive microtransactions and extensive season pass plans. (And the occasional diversion like Trials Rising and South Park: The Fractured But Whole.)

The big-budget single-player experience is now almost entirely the domain of first-party studios making marquee games for console manufacturers, which bankroll games like Spider-Man and God of War. The economics of first-party exclusives are totally different — they’re less about making money by themselves and more about drawing players into the console’s ecosystem.

This is worth considering, because as big publishers prioritise live, service-oriented games, the number of games on their schedules has dropped. If you look at the Wikipedia listings for EA, Ubisoft, and Activision games released by year, you’ll get a stark — if unscientific — picture of how each big publisher’s release slate has thinned out in the last five years, relying on recurring cash cows like sports games and annualised franchises and little else. In 2008, those three publishers released 98 games. In 2018 they released just 28, not including expansions.

ImageSekiro: Shadows Die Twice (Image: FromSoftware, Activision)

In short, the single-player game was not sustainable. So why should we think the current model is?

The smaller release slates make for a precipitous state of affairs where too much is riding on too little, a shaky foundation for big-budget game development to rest on. Granted, there are other publishers, like those in Japan, that are still very interested in single-player games.

Independent games have also filled the single-player void and achieved greater visibility than ever before. But each of these alternatives face their own challenges in a volatile market, one where just five years ago conventional wisdom held the Japanese games industry was dead.

Independent developers, meanwhile, continue to fight for the smallest slice of an impossibly crowded market. No matter where you sit on the games industry ladder, stability remains elusive.

That’s the present of video games. Let’s talk about the future. The intersecting trends of games-as-a-service and the increased emphasis on streaming mean an increased reliance on off-site computing with data centres and server farms distributed across the globe.

Microsoft’s Project xCloud wants to use the company’s data centres to provide high-end console and PC gaming to anyone with a good enough internet connection. Google Stadia is a service that pitches something similar if not even more wide-reaching, angling for the big-budget video game experience in a web browser. And Sony already offers a streaming service, PlayStation Now, which is likely to expand in the next generation.

Editor’s Note: Australian readers will know that PlayStation Now has not launched in Australia due to a variety of reasons that include internet speed and capacity.

A 2016 study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory gives us an idea of the sort of things to consider in this arena. The outlook gives reasons to both be alarmed and also be hopeful.

The foremost takeaway is that while data centres are growing in number, their energy consumption is starting to plateau out of necessity, as the dramatic increase in cloud computing has actually forced tech companies to become more efficient. The biggest companies, according to the Berkeley Lab report, are actually remarkably efficient.

Data centre efficiency is measured by power usage effectiveness (PUE) rating. PUE is found by measuring a facility’s total power delivered divided by the power used by its IT equipment. Under this rating, the platonic ideal is a PUE of 1.0: power input and output perfectly balanced. Google, then, is in pretty good shape as far as this standard goes, with the average PUE of all its data centres currently at 1.11.

Efficiency, however, can remain good as power consumption increases, and consumption is going to remain a problem.

Data centre energy consumption has been a concern for some time now, particularly in the United States, where data centre energy consumption dwarfs that of the rest of the world at 1.8 per cent of all energy used in the countrySmaller data centres, which estimates say make up 60 per cent of data centre energy-use, are inefficient compared to the biggest players and with no legal standard or universal benchmark, there’s no way to ensure that efficiency gap is closed.

ImageGoogle)” loading=”lazy” > A Google data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa. (Photo: Google)

Making this problem even more dire is our current political climate, where developing sources of clean, renewable energy is an idea met with hostility by countries like the United States throwing their weight behind fossil fuels, only 40 per cent of it is properly recycled.

And all that is before you even start to think about climate change, and the urgent action needed to avert a major crisis in our lifetime.

Video games cannot do this forever. If any of these things were to collapse — the people who make them, the economy they’re sold in, the ecosystem we’re all a part of — it would be catastrophic. All of them at once? That’s a disaster we need to talk about, openly. Because there are solutions to these problems.

Some of them are small, like making sure you know how to properly dispose of e-waste, should you need to throw out a busted console or peripheral, and doing what you can to live sustainably, even though climate change certainly requires the sort of large-scale action that only governments can enact.

To that end, you can take more involved action, like calling your local member and asking if climate change and environmental concerns are on their agenda, and keeping apprised of any upcoming legislation.

Other solutions are harder to parse. How do we account for the data centre sprawl of tech companies and their energy consumption? Is it ethically sound to use a service like Project xCloud or Google Stadia or Playstation Now, knowing all this?

Should we push for a global green tech agreement of some kind, so companies that contribute to server sprawl and energy consumption do so in a sustainable way? A carbon tax seems like a good start, but this is a problem in need of many answers, not one.

Some solutions are, thankfully, underway. Labour practices have come under scrutiny and developers are beginning to discuss organising in earnest.

Unionisation is not going to solve every problem, but it can lead to meaningful progress in a lot of ways that trickle outward into other arenas. More equitable practices can mean the relentless pace of development is slowed down, which could make for fewer, better games and a course correction in supply and demand. Or it might only make things marginally better.

Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all have stated sustainability initiatives and reports, but these programs are buried in corporate sites and paperwork — a better approach would be to make sustainability as big a talking point as load times or ray-tracing. Something we could look at and compare to the previous year, and make note of how better off we are.

These are big, insurmountable-seeming problems, but like all incredibly big projects — like, say, game development — they’re things that can be done, slowly, a little bit at a time. We just have to start.

It’s unlikely that video games will ever truly go extinct. We’ll probably always have something called “video games,” but what those games will look like is still very much in flux. There’s no guarantee that the way games are currently made will remain viable for another 10 years — games aren’t even made today the same way they were 10 years ago. They will look different. They will change because they can, and because they must.

Hopefully, all the ways games change will be on our terms — otherwise disaster will change them for us.


  • It’s a noble fight, but the reality is that it’s one that has already been lost. In roughly 150 years we broke the planet. Global population prediction for 2050 is close to 10 billion – most of those people will want to eat tasty cows and drink their milk. Look around you – plastic everywhere. Recycling is a scam. Most of it ends up in the dirt or burned. Some of it is recycled *once* and turned into a product that is not recyclable again. The only realistic solution would be a massive population cull and a dismantling of corporations and capitalism as a concept, which is incompatible with long term sustainability etc.

    • You don’t even need to cull the population.

      It turns out that if you guillotine the 70 people actually responsible for climate change, you can solve both problems at once.

    • 80% of the trash in the oceans comes from 2 rivers 1 in China and 1 in India, does that mean we should yeet those 2 countries first and see where we are at after that?

      this population cull your proposing are you planning on deleting half your own family and friends?

      last thing, you state the dire predictions for population in 2050, we could always limit growth instead of culling people, and the other thing i never see is any optimism regarding technological advancement by 2050. Is it at all possible we will have nearly solved all these issues by then?

      nuclear power may not be a solution but its cleaner that coal etc and it buys us time but every-time someone tries to go that route a bunch of hysterical dribblers show up that know nothing about nuclear power other than “all hippies agree” it’s bad.

      maybe we should give up on saving the planet and just work out a way to crash it into the sun…

      • Rumour has it that the Chinese have invented an artificial moon which they plan to launch into orbit within the next decade ; so we really are almost halfway there, or just live long enough until the earth DOES eventually crash into the Sun …

  • I always see figures adjusted to account for inflation, et cetera, but I’m wondering if there’s anything in regards to portions of people that are now consumers of video games compared to previous years/decades?

    Like, sure, putting forward the “games are still the same price when adjusted for inflation despite costs increasing” might seem like an “oh shit” kind of perspective but if now there are a million people buying a game compared to maybe ten thousand a generation or so ago, then it’s clearly not so cut and dry, let alone being portrayed as such a dead end scenario.

    • These journalists and pundits always rub me the wrong way when they do not account for growth in sales.

    • Yup. This is it. It’s the same principle behind discount vouchers. You sell your product for less, but more people buy it. And that’s EXACTLY what’s happening.

      The global market for video games twenty-five years ago was not ‘billions’.

      People can’t claim that the costs of making games are too high when they’re breaking profit records year after year and eclipsing literally ALL OTHER MEDIA. You just can’t. It’s mutually exclusive. If games are too expensive to make, then they can’t be pulling in the money that they are. The expense is clearly worth it.

      And the human cost is irrelevant to the equation.

      The Powers That Be don’t give a shit so long as people keep buying. And the invisible hand of the market doesn’t give a shit, either – RECORD PROFITS, MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY. This seems to bear repeating over and over again.

      The United States has immigrants in cages too tightly packed to lie down to sleep, with worse hygeine than any prison in the world, insufficient food and no medical treatment, but sure, we’re going to dismantle capitalism because of game dev crunch. Y’know, for context. What the US alone is willing to tolerate from a ‘human cost’ side of things is literally innocent people in cages.

      Teaching, disabled/aged/child care, retail, hospitality, all are getting chewed up and spat out to a degree that the author would call ‘unsustainable’. And guess what? Debt slavery is keeping them in those jobs out of fear of what’s even worse.

      The only – and I do mean ONLY – way to solve the litany of problems the author keeps digging up is to replace capitalism. That’s literally it. Everything else, and I do mean everything, leads back to the same place, eventually. All you can do with every little industrial relations action or gambling law is buy some time.

      • The only – and I do mean ONLY – way to solve the litany of problems the author keeps digging up is to replace capitalismWith what? Because so far the alternatives have all failed. I totally get that the US-style hyper-capitalism is awful and totally unsustainable, but socialist economies haven’t fared any better (in fact often worse) in the modern world. Social democracies are still inherently capitalist in their markets.

        I really want to know – what’s your solution outside of ‘replace capitalism’? Because if it’s any sort of command economy system I can’t see video games actually benefiting from the state telling them what to produce.

        • Personally, if climate (and other environmental issues) do become the doomsday scenario that is being predicted, I think a shift to more authoritarian styles of government and economic management is the most likely outcome. Which will result in a whole lot of conflict.
          I think we natural assume that the way we currently live is the “normal” situation. But really, it’s exceptionally abnormal.

        • Well, first of all, the claim that all alternatives have failed assumes that all alternatives have been tried, that htere needs to be a label ‘ism, and that the failure was something occurring in a vaccum in and of itself, rather than because of deliberate sabotage by competitors.

          In a hypothetical world where it’s actually possible to replace capitalism in the first place, it’d also be just as plausible to shield it from the factors that caused the alternatives to fail.

          Frankly, though, there isn’t one. There is no solution. We’re doomed. The human race will not pull back fast enough from the brink. The poor will continue to get poorer, the rich will get richer, apocalypse will come in the form of slow squeezing of resources and collapsing economies, and people ‘just trying to get by’ dealing with the fallout of it. There will be no great, heroic, concerted cooperative effort between nations until it is far too late to save any but the most privileged from literal extinction, in small-scale solutions that will not preserve the billions currently alive.

          Much the same way as we all tend to avoid thinking about our own mortality because there’s not really much you can do about that beyond try to live a reasonably long’ish, healthy life for maybe 7-10 decades, there’s also not really much we can do about the not-too-distant future extinction of humanity. I give it two or three more generations, tops.

          • Humanity as we know it maybe, even the worst (realistic) possible outcomes don’t spell the complete extinction of the human race i.e rising sea levels, over population, limited resources.

            Other than an extinction level event like some sort of primordial disease, a massive solar flare, asteroid impact or gamma ray burst not much could totally wipe us out.

            In saying that I’m sure another World War or total destabilisation of the ruling governments is likely in 50-100 years.

          • Shrug. We’ll self-destruct. Climate change is already squeezing many agricultural and fishing industries. We’re losing species at an unprecedented rate of extinction. Water scarcity and food scarcity won’t be occurring in a vacuum. Every nation that loses farming will also have rising unemployment and increased consumer costs as they switch to importing. They’ll face internal conflicts, political upheaval, and will turn to isolationism and protectionism. They’ll self-destruct and there’ll be refugees. Each time this happens, it drags everyone else down. Fewer imports, fewer customers for exports, higher costs for food and water, unbalanced economies tapping out… it’s a domino effect.

            By the time enough climate change dominos fall to start looking more like the apocalypse scenarios, with rising sea levels, increasing numbers of superstorms and unquenchable bushfires/wildfires ravaging what argiculture we have left, we’ll already be in a very shitty state of record-breaking numbers of civil wars, failed states, and refugees fleeing from both, which their target haven nations will be unwilling or unable (or both) to support.

            Something’s going to give. There will be massacres at borders. There will be camps. There will be wars. Someone’s going to take it too far. There’s a LOT of WMDs out there. Not just nukes. It only takes one crazy failed nation to put a gun to the head of the world, demanding that the wealthy nations ensure its survival or the whole earth gets it. We’ll still survive that (barely), but the losses will be catastrophic. And that’s just the rogue nations… the superpowers have already in the past flirted with “if we can’t remain superpowers, no-one can,” and it only takes crazy factions within those super-powers to set off irreversible war damage to vast tracts of now even more essential resources than ever.

            As more nations collapse into independent (and dramatically de-populated) city-states, the global infrastructure required to prevent even more catastrophic climate change impacts won’t be available. The new technologies that we’re relying on as a ‘hail mary’ pass to keep more than a billion people alive on remaining agriculture and drinking water won’t be manufacturable, won’t be able to be spread far enough.

            We won’t go out with a bang, but a whimper. Isolate communities and mere shells of nations devastated by the increasingly frenzied weather effects unable to respond to newer diseases which target not only humans, but their livestock and crops, rendering entire populations unable to survive the starvation. From there, the further fragmentation and isolation required to survive in subsistence will just result in a lack of genetic diversity making us further vulnerable to deformities and inability to adapt to conditions.

            We may not go textbook ‘extinct’ in the next 2-3 generations, but we will be decimated and in the process, quite possibly trigger the nuclear apocalypse that would in fact render us extinct. Best case scenario I can see, we ‘survive’ in that diminished state, but never leave this rock unable to source the resources required to advance, and unable to respond to the next big asteroid which will finish the job.

          • Minimum viable population is really interesting first heard about it reading Arthur C Clark, it’s 50 people to prevent inbreeding, it’s not ideal and extremely unlikely to work with our current technology.

            As for water, even heavily contaminated water can become drinkable, raw sewage can be made drinkable and also creates an energy surplus, (there is a deficite though of somthing like 50%) combined with desalination I don’t really think water will be an issue.

            Food, I’ve seen some ideas about sky scraper farming were one self contained building could feed a whole city off of GMO’s grown with a combination of aquaponics.

            There is so much we should be doing but we aren’t and a lot of things that would combat most if not all of the possible crisises that look like we are heading toward.

            I personally think that most of these things are only being stopped from going full scale due to a lack of necessity, sufficient technology and of course price.

            A good way to look at it is how we would survive on Mars, Biome’s and such, not saying we’re going to live in such bubbles on earth just that the tech is there, all this requires every nation on earth becoming self sufficient so they won’t be reliant on aid so there people won’t starve, or New World Order.

          • Man I hate that so much of the time when I see you around here these days it’s always in discussions of the doom and gloom that’s upon us. I mean I’m hardly a font of optimism myself but it bums me out that it’s weighing on you so heavily (/that things have gotten to the point where it has to).

            That said, if (when?) things do go all Mad Max I’ll totally roll with your posse.

          • I’ll have kids by that point, I assume, and I also assume I’ll be doing… literally anything it takes to ensure they survive.

            I’m not… too bummed out about it. Everyone and everything dies, and the older I get the more I’m confronted with having to come to terms with that; in my 20s it was more something that happened to other people, and wasn’t really something I needed to think about. And that got easy to make the status quo. It’s just a shame to think about the grim realities of the future when I think back about how great it was in the 90s and even 00s, with all the optimism about how far we were coming in terms of scientific and social progress. It felt like things were always going to be changing for the better.

          • deliberate sabotage by competitors

            are you trying to say that the reason socialism always fails is because of sabotage… wow

        • The alternatives have all been utterly destroyed by capitalism or have been fascism wearing a wig.
          I’m making zero comment on what I think is a better alternative, but the fact is that nothing else has reasonably been tried. It’s not like there were separate petri dishes and an experiment was performed to see which one survived the best. The only thing that isn’t specifically protectionist capitalism that hasn’t been stamped out with extreme prejudice in the last century or two has been fascism, which is a brand of capitalism, anyway.

          It’s simply inaccurate to say that socialist economies haven’t worked because they’ve never been allowed to. They have all been utterly gimped by external capitalist intervention in the form of embargoes, calculated attacks on political stability, contra group funding, espionage, or just outright blowing shit up.

          Besides, replacing capitalism isn’t an all or nothing prospect. It’s not like in order to remove capitalism we need to just forget money ever existed – A generic fiat for exchange of goods or services is a useful thing to have – it just means that the accumulation of money needs to stop being the driving force behind all human existence.

          • So basically socialism has always failed because people either have to be forced into it, or because it’s everyone else’s fault.

            I think socialism is inevitable once we have widespread automation and abundant energy/resources, because there will be no workers to exploit. Until then though people won’t willingly accept restrictions on their economic freedoms (and personal freedoms), and command economies so far haven’t had great track records with efficiency or been associated with high personal liberties.

            Money itself isn’t the issue – replace it with any valuable thing (hell it could be water in the impending apocalypse) and you’ve got the same greed. The idea that socialism somehow eliminates personal greed or self interest is bullshit.

          • Star Trek/ The Orvile future, utopian abundance of everything, people don’t get paid money/credits it’s more like stature/street cred.

            Instead of replicators/matter synthesizers, automation in the form of A.I/robotics and with enough time clean renewable energy that’s cost effective as well as being comparable/scalable.

        • I’m a pretty big fan of anarcho-communism myself. Get rid of nation states, end property ownership etc etc.

          • This is easily the most interesting comment thread I’ve ever read on here. Thank you everyone

          • Everybody who thinks this is a good idea would inevitably be crushed by whatever system moves in to fill the vacuum. We will never have large scale societies needed to basically do anything with an anarchist philosophy. You may as well kiss your video games and all their devices goodbye if you really think this is preferable.

          • I get this a lot, and it’s almost as if people think I would somehow cease to be if video games went away.

            The truth is that video games could vanish off the plane tomorrow and I wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

    • Not to mention, the price of actually distributing the games. Cartridges were expensive to produce, CDs were cheaper, DVDs were cheaper, Blu-Rays were cheaper, now we’re moving into an age where the majority ofgames won’t even have physical media and you just download them all (much like PC has more or less already done), which basically makes distribution costs to the developer/publisher practically nil. The manufacturing and distribution used to need to be accounted for in the price when publishing games, but over time this cost has got less and less until now it’s practically zero.

      • digital distribution is the only thing in this whole discussion that is worth talking about the rest is nonsense, considering everything now is becoming digital physical media will probably become obsolete.

        Combine this fact with the extreme far lefts push to make everything offensive a criminal offence and when they can’t do that they settle for getting you fired, with regards to games and digital distribution and the fact that for some reason these companies always capitulate to the outrage mob, how long until all your PS4 games are digital and your account gets yeeted coz some stupid snowflake loses their mind because you called something gay.

        That is potentially the same as being fined several thousand dollars and having all your hobbies progress deleted because someone got offended.

  • The video game industry can and will go on like this, much the way humanity is. And then we’ll be extinct. All luxury industries will probably evaporate after we start clustering in the biodomes, but that’s about the earlier end-point. Any who survive will re-form entertainment industries.

  • From my perspective the bigger issue is that I have over 500 of some of the best games in my steam library and a pile of PS4 games still to play. When a new game comes out I put it in my wish list for several months until the price comes down to a level that I’m willing pay – usually in the $20-$30 range, or less. I have so much sitting there to choose from I don’t need the very latest releases. The last game I bought at launch was Just Cause 4 and didn’t that out work well?! Ahem…

    • Thank you for illustrating my point: you have enough games to last you for the rest of your life, and every time you buy another game you’re just wasting money because it’s just getting tossed on the pile. So if the entire video games industry crashed tomorrow, then as long as Valve survived and kept Steam online, you’d be absolutely fine. We don’t NEED the “triple-AEYYY” games industry. We have enough games.

  • Independent developers, meanwhile, continue to fight for the smallest slice of an impossibly crowded market.Well that’s because they’re all struggling to make copies of successful titles in the hopes of making more money. The indie sector is a mess of outright noise that clings to different fads in the hopes of getting visibility on Steam.

    • The indie sector is a mess of outright noise that clings to different fads in the hopes of getting visibility on Steam.

      Or GOG. Or Humble. Or Twitch. Or Epic. Or Nintendo eStore. Or wherever else they can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond, competing against fewer titles.
      Now THAT’S unsustainable: hopping through an endless parade of new marketplaces to temporarily capitalize on how few titles are there to boost discoverability until they’re drowned out by everyone else following suit.

      Steam has the right of it – better match the type of game to the type of gamer who plays that type of game. Antyhing else is just hoping.

      • Steam doesn’t really do that though, but even if it worked as they’d like it to, there’s still hundreds of indie roguelikes (for example) made by devs crying that they’re not getting adequate exposure. At some point the volume exceeds the capacity for recommendations or even free time for gameplay.

        Even if Steam did recommend me things I cared about, about half of the ones I’d look at I wouldn’t have time to play. I only buy and play stuff in fairly certain I know I’ll like and have been positively received. “Good enough” or passable games aren’t enough for most people.

        • Well sure, there’s definitely no solution to trying to sell to someone who won’t buy, but they don’t really expect to sell to everyone they get to see their titles on the store (or at least, shouldn’t).

          Where all non-Steam systems fall down is there’s only so much screen space to show me games before I’m looking at a blur and tuning out. Using that screen space to show me a bunch of MOBA, Sports, or Racing games is not only wasting the time of those titles who I am never, ever, ever, ever going to buy, but also nudges out and prevents me from seeing titles that I would be more likely to buy, such as RPGs, turn-based tactics, 4X strategy games, etc.

          That’s not matching the perfect game to the perfect user for a guaranteed sale, like they have ambitions to do… it’s what should be the absolute bare minimum that it appears ONLY Steam is doing: not wasting everyone’s time showing pages of shit that doesn’t fit.

          At least Steam is working on solving THAT problem, the very first filter of, “I am not and never will be interested in this title or anything like it,” that none of the other storefronts appear to even be looking sideways at. (God forbid they bear the wrath of devs who hear, “We will let your game not be seen by users who don’t like your genre,” and freak the fuck out about how special they are and an exception to the genre and how labels are bad etc.)

    • The market is so full of trash and a lot comes from Indie developers, finding a diamond in the rough is hard enough when you have games made by big developers that keep players playing.

      I think I spent more time playing each Mass Effect game and The Witcher individualy than all the Indie games combined.

      • I am a huge, horror, atmospheric, thriller style game fan. So I play a lot of indies, more than anything else.
        I have to agree, the vast majority of indie games out there are trash.
        There are a small minority which have potential but the dev didn’t see it through or attempted things our of their skill range and even smaller number are good, but what keeps me looking is there are those few one in a million that are great.
        Indie devs don’t need more exposure, they need a decent product.

  • But here’s the good news, kids. It may take some wrapping you head around, but if you can grasp it, it makes everything fine:

    We don’t NEED the video games industry!

    Really! We don’t NEED it! Enough great games already exist that, even if no new game was ever made again starting from today, every single gamer in the world would have access to enough great games to last them the rest of their lives! Hell, barely a day goes by that I don’t turn around and look wistfully at my shelves of old games that I never got around to playing, and curse myself every time I lack the self-control to stop myself buying another game I don’t need just because it’s on sale. It’s only this mindless obsession that’s been drilled into us by the companies that we always have to get the “new” games that make us keep buying them, even when they’re worse than old games (except for ever-shinier graphics, which have LONG passed the stage where they actually matter any more). Hell, even if Valve went out of business tomorrow, Steam was shut down and I lost access to the hundreds of games in my Steam library I’d STILL own enough other games to last me until I died of old age. A lot of old games have aged gracefully enough that they’re frankly straight-up BETTER than the blinged-up, microtransaction-infested, overpriced garbage the industry is crapping out today anyway.

    All you need to do is grasp the concept that you don’t NEED any more new games as long as you can get hold of existing old good ones (why do you think the big “triple-AEYYY” companies are so opposed to emulation or rereleasing classic games other than because that would obstruct you from buying their new overpriced crap instead?) and you don’t have to give a fuck about the state of the industry. OK, it’d be a bit of a pain to lose online gaming and all the big online titles that simply wouldn’t exist any more in the event of another big industry mega-crash, but we’d survive- we were gamers before Ultima Online, we’ll be gamers after the entire industry has been reduced to a blasted wasteland. So as far as I’m concerned, this industry can go to hell. It took us for granted, but it needs us more than we need it.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I should go and get back to playing King’s Bounty again. I have a whole 3 1/2 campaigns still to get through.

    • I see what you mean, but…

      When I see the opportunities allowed by innovations like ray-tracing and the like I immediately make comparisons with older games. And it makes me dislike the older games.

      Wasted opportunities if the industry just outright stopped.

      Just me maybe.

      • That is indeed just you and your problem. New games coming out doesn’t make old games bad; maybe bad “by comparison” but if you don’t do the mental comparison you can have just as much fun with a game today as you could on the day it came out 10-15-20 years ago. If a game was fun when it came out, it will ALWAYS be fun, even if another game comes out that improves on it. Super Mario Bros 3, for example, is still one of the best 2D platformers ever made, and always will be. Why do you think there was such a boom in “retro” games deliberately recreating the style and gameplay of old games over the past few years?

      • Not just you. With every new game, my old favourite title loses just a little bit of its sheen until my new favourite title comes along. Repeat ad infinitum.

        I still play old games just to see what i’ve missed, but there’s nothing quite like diving into the new and unique ideas that i’ve been anticipating since the intial announce trailer.

    • You can still buy old games. They’re just asking $15 for a game that was released 20 odd years ago which is a tad too much.

  • Aside from fuck capitalism, personally, I would like to see a return to the 10 hour self contained game.

    Games like Hellblade give me hope this might occur, but the reality was it was an indie game that got amplified rather than a born AAA title.

    I don’t want a game with four hundred bajillion hours of gameplay, which by necessity, turn into boring fetch quests, but something that does what it sets out to achieve, and does it well.

    IMO, I think this would go a long way to solving the issue of crunch, and if actually true and not bullshit (pretty sure this is bullshit, game market has exploded in consumers), cost of games to make vs revenue generated.

    • Okami has always been one of my favourite examples of this.

      What a wonderful half of a game.
      What a boring, long winded, samey half of another game that got shoved into it because a 20-30 hour game would make people vomit their lungs out of rage.

    • I played Final Fantasy 10 for around 250 hours, blitz ball was responsible for at least 200 of those hours, it never felt like a grind just really enjoyed that one aspect of the game a lot.

      Same with Mass Effect, I’m a huge sci-fi nerd and between all four games I have a good chunk of my total gaming hours.

      • I openly admit to dozens of ME1 playthroughs just to max my stats, especially all those free paragon and renegade points you get a play through.

        • And give everyone the advanced Spectre gear which took at least 2.5 playthroughs, except for Ash I leave her to die on Virmire everytime, Kaidan and Garrus bromance for the win.

          • Once I was starting on the dozens of runs after having played ME2 and getting set for ME3, knowing that Tali was romanceable for Male Shep meant Ash had no chance to survive. Unfortunately for Kaiden, the same was for my main FemShep since Liara had her heart.

      • I stayed with my brother for a while, when he was playing FFX. It seemed to me like he spent the entire fortnight JUST playing blitz ball. I saw him explore a temple, once, but it was mostly blitz ball.

        My God I learned to hate blitz ball.

  • We are heading back to a time that looks remarkably like the 1930’s with countries favouring nationalism and protectionism rather than cooperation which could lead ultimately to another global conflict.

    As for games. The only thing that matters is that investors get exponential growth each quarter even at the cost of employees and customers. Heck Activision recorded massive profits and proceeded to gut it’s own staff.

    I have a massive backlog of games on Steam but these days that’s a blessing due to seeing a new game and wondering “what are they trying to do to screw as much money out of me as possible this time” with a new release

  • Shit games are shit, and there are tons of them. Picking up dedicated players along the way, thins the crowd. By the time the population finds something reasonable to play, they are out of cash or the option of multiplayer is either so limited or so toxic. Single player games need to step so far above the current standard. Game industry can’t go on like this is correct but i feel they are not looking at the right data. Stop reinventing the wheel, i’ve already played that game enough. Try getting one thing right for a change. Stupid side example….I can’t watch every twitch channel at the same time.

  • Really insightful arguments and discussions on this thread, have not read such interesting stuff for quite a while; thanks guys…

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