Coming to grips with getting older and forming a new perspective on gaming…
I really miss the “golden era” of gaming, which for me was the 8bit and 16bit generations. I’ve always preferred 2D sprite based graphics to 3D, and although gaming has (semi-)recently borne witness to the return of the 2D platformer, the overall direction the industry has taken is disheartening.
Because my available time for gaming has shrunk so dramatically, I suppose I place more emphasis on enjoying the time I do have. Long gone are the days I could entertain tackling some JRPG, grinding for hours just to advance the plot. I didn’t even make it 20% through Skyrim before stalling out. Games have now become too long, a complaint I don’t recall having very often in the past, with perhaps the exception of Okami, and Windwaker which had obvious filler. But have games gotten longer, or has the time I can commit to this hobby simply decreased substantially and I just perceive them this way?
Consoles that are always online are a nightmare. They allow publishers to rush games to market well ahead of when they’re ready, and then fix them later with patches. If you’re lucky.
It took EA damn near a year to get Battlefield 4 up to a level I would consider playable. By that point I had long since given up. EA got my money–I got months of frustration.
I just picked up Bloodborne, and the load times are atrocious. This is a game where you are going to spend a lot of time dying; me, perhaps more than most. I loved Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls, but played each using their “easy modes”–Royal and Pyromancer respectively. My play style in these types of games tends to be fighting from a distance, with heavy use of a shield in close quarters. So far in Bloodborne–there is no shield. I have to learn a new way to play, which is fine, but it is exceedingly difficult to learn from your mistakes when you are forced to wait 45 seconds between them.
That might not sound like a lot, but when you wait for 45 seconds, then spend 30 seconds running back to the place where you died only to be instantly killed again, you realize you are spending more time waiting for your game than playing it.
Cram that pattern into a 15 minute gaming window and you have a recipe for disaster. I actually shut the game down–my only release-day gaming purchase in a year–because all wonder–all sense of exploration–all excitement had drained away. I was angry and dismayed.
And this sensation is not a new one.
I refuse to pay to play online. I’m not sure if that’s my roots as a PC gamer where it’s always been free or my insistence on getting fair value for my dollar. In either case I was astounded that people would pay a monthly fee when Xbox Live was first introduced, but of course it went over like gang-busters.
To use your Xbox360 online you have to set up a Live account. You get Silver for free, and you pay for Gold. Initially it was teased that Silver accounts would be able to play online for free on weekends, which seemed like a great option for casuals who couldn’t justify a monthly fee for something they would use so infrequently.
It never materialized. Instead, Microsoft kept clawing back content behind their paywall in an effort to increase subscriptions. Game demos began being delayed for Silver members, and online services like Netflix were introduced behind the Live paywall.
So you had to pay your ISP for internet access, Netflix for Netflix access, and then Microsoft for access to the Netflix you’d paid for.
It was enough to shock and enrage any sane consumer, but of course they kept making money hand over fist because–and you’ll forgive me here–most people are sheep.
While Microsoft’s Xbox360 continued milking the golden goose of Live, a dash of hope appeared as Sony bucked the trend and allowed free online multiplayer with the PS3.
But it was not to be. The Xbox360 dominated and Sony could not ignore the revenue generated by their rival’s online paywall, joining them in a dressed up paywall of their own called PS+.
Of course PS+ includes a games rental service which is admittedly added value by comparison, but allows deluded consumers to tell themselves they aren’t paying for online gaming, but for “free games” instead.
At least now all the consoles can access third party apps like Netflix without an additional paywall, but Microsoft only let that one go because they couldn’t conceivably continue the practice after so much bad press.
I’m all for system updates that, forgive me, improve stability or add new features, but internet connected consoles brought with them a whole new level of crazy; system updates that remove features from your console.
When the PS3 was first hacked, Sony went scorched earth and decided to do away with Linux support altogether. You were given a choice–either lose support for something your console did when you bought it and continue playing games, or keep that capability and lose access to any game released from that point onward. What a “choice”.
I kept my console on the old firmware out of sheer principle. To allow a corporation to retroactively remove features from a product is a mind-boggling precedent, and yet it seems most consumer were like “Linux-what? Why would I care about that?”. Big-picture thinkers they are not.
Besides, I’m a big supporter of homebrew, and there are some really amazing things you can do with a custom firmware (CFW) PS3. Backing up your games to play off a HDD, or better yet–your home network? Hellz yes.
Later I picked up a second PS3 used, for next to nothing. I didn’t want to reward Sony for their behaviour, but I wanted to continue supporting the developers of the games I enjoy. I bought most multi-plats on the Xbox360 anyway and I buy multiplayer games on PC.
System and game updates should have the option of being transparent and automatic. If you are going to force me to update my system to use the damned thing, then do it at 2am when I’m not gaming. An no, I should not have to pay you for this feature; it should be built in and automatic.
I’ve lost count of the number of times a system or game update has devoured the tiny window I had set aside for “gaming”, that instead became “console maintenance”. Unacceptable.
And to all the corporate apologists who snarkily reply to make sure to run all the updates the day before you intend on gaming I say “Really?“.
Hey jackass, of course you can’t watch the World Series right now, you failed to set aside time the day before to run all the updates your television needs!
Come on son.