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/SKILL | September 21, 2021

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The State of Content [Opinion]

The State of Content [Opinion]

I remember the golden days of the video game market. Back when a video game would release only after all the intended polish was applied. Sure, there were rushed releases. Some games were total garbage that the human race didn’t deserve to be exposed to, but… you know what? A purchase of a video game meant that the game, in its complete form, was yours. No more purchases, no more updates. The next piece of related content you’d get was a sequel.

But, friends, these are different times. With the ready availability of digital funding, whether it be PayPal or credit/debit cards, it’s much easier to squeeze more pennies out of the dedicated gamer. Alpha (or pre-release) games. App store microtransactions. Downloadable content. What happened to completion? Why should we pay for the same game on multiple occasions? With purchase prices of games at a definite all-time high, vanilla content games are already almost unaffordable. (Please note, I’m poor. 60$ is a LOT of money to me.) DLC is usually out of the question when on a budget until the ‘Game of the Year’ release. Simply not affordable, in my situation (seriously guys, I’m that poor).

Using a game so dear to me as an example in such a scathing article burns me; but take Destiny for instance. There are two content packs releasing for destiny, both within 6 months of the game’s initial release. We know the content is most likely either completed, or very near being completed. When they could have set back the release of the game and included this content with the initial release, they chose to hold out and charge more money later. The price of each will mostly likely be between 20 and 40 bucks. With the content from these two expansions, Destiny would have been a more complete, more in-depth experience. Not that it wasn’t brilliant, I play the hell out of that game, regularly. But let’s not soon forget that THE STORY WASN’T EVEN COMPLETED IN THE INITIAL EFFING CONTENT, GUYS. Hats off for good marketing tactics, but the gamers damn sure get put on the bad end of this particular situation, in my opinion.

The Steam store is simply rife with games that aren’t completed yet. Some publishers even have the stones to release a game before it’s even playable, and slap a 25 dollar price tag on a steaming pile of unrevised code (Yeah, I’m looking straight at you, developers of The Forest). Many of these games are stuck in a state that I’m dubbing as ‘Alpha Stasis’. Always a fix, always a patch. Always a promise of content to come that may or may not be fulfilled. Yeah, some of these games follow a well-planned development schedule and see a release at a decent time after the Alpha’s beginning. Good for them for breaking the mold, but reasonable to absolute completion of a game should not be a rarity.

Microtransactions are the bane of my gaming existence. They are sole reason for the hours that I’ve spent on the Android app store trying to find a game that will entertain me for a few good hours without bending me over a barrel for a dollar every 20 minutes of a gameplay. One of my favorite online games, Marvel Heroes, became unplayable for me. Can’t I just play as the Silver Surfer without throwing my wallet into Gazillion Entertainment’s hungry digital maw? Well, sure, for an unachievable amount of some specific in-game currency, I could avoid the purchase. But it’s a game. It shouldn’t be about tiptoeing around spending cash. It should be about playing and enjoying yourself.

I might be a bit irate on this topic, but it’s one I’ve been processing for years now. It’s gotten progressively worse, and now many game companies are becoming giant gluttons for your hard-earned cash. I realize not everyone has such difficulty with paying for things, but there are many people who do. Gaming used to be a much more welcoming and accessible industry, but now it’s almost become something catered specifically for those that have money to spare. It’s not something that can likely be changed, because as we all know, the issue will always come back to money. However, it’s something to be aware of. The state of gaming is changing, and could change again. We gamers are, after all, a stubborn bunch.

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