Haters gonna hate
Gamers can be an emotional gang, prone to overreaction and superlative. If they like something, it’s the best thing ever and absolutely everyone needs to agree–and if they don’t, the people responsible can burn in the layer of hell reserved for pedophiles and CEOs. Sometimes they’ve got a point–publishers can be money-grubbing monsters, and developers sometimes act with no regard for gamers’ lives.
Except… that’s not usually the case. More often than not there’s a perfectly good reason that game makers do the things they do, and usually their actions are in direct response to market trends set by–you guessed it–gamers themselves. We’ve rounded up the seven things we see gamers complain about the most, and we have explanations as to why they’re blowing things out of proportion.
7. Casual games
Because… they’re stupid, simple, and dumbing down games. We can’t post an article on GamesRadar about the iPhone without commenters arming themselves with pitchforks and torches, complaining about how Farmville and Angry Birds will be the death of the industry. Even games as big as The Sims are often seen as flagrant assaults on the sanctity of gaming, turning the focus away from “real” games and towards experiences that require less commitment than sprawling 100-hour long RPGs. The horror.
Except… maybe the billions of people in the world that aren’t you are allowed to have games made for them, too? Casual games are great for hooking new gamers, and the more people there are playing games, the more people there will be making them. There will always be developers creating awesome games that’ll scratch your hardcore itch, but as the industry grows and expands, there also needs to be teams of talented people catering to those who might want to play Words With Friends instead of The Witcher II.
6. Online passes
Because… any barrier between opening your game and playing it is an unnecessary hurdle. Typing in a code, downloading an activation, waiting for it to unlock–it’s all a waste of time, punishing you for trying to play a game that you responsibly and legally purchased. You bought the game, and it should work perfectly fine the moment the disk enters the system. Hard-earned money was spent to buy that product, and it’s supposed to function.
Except… typing in a code only takes about a minute–PC gamers have been doing it for over a decade–and the only people online passes really effects are those who buy a game used. And you know what? That actually makes sense. Running a multiplayer server costs money, and if you buy used, that developer owes nothing to you. Not a penny of the $45 you spent on Battlefield 4 at GameStop goes to the people who made the game, it all goes to the pawn shop that flipped it. Usually you can buy an online pass for $10, giving money to the people who made the game and still paying less than the price of a new game. Everyone wins.
5. Tacked-on multiplayer
Because… not every game needs multiplayer. Who is buying Far Cry 3 for co-op? Who wants to play Tomb Raider multiplayer? Why does Spec Ops: The Line need a watered-down Call of Duty online clone? Even the game’s producer said that Spec Ops’s deathmatch modes were “rammed onto the disk like a cancerous growth.” Developing a multiplayer component is a huge undertaking, and takes time away from the development of the single-player campaign, resulting in a weaker overall product–and for what?
Except… there are more examples of strong multiplayer components being added to single-player games than there are instances of single-player experiences being hindered by multiplayer. Hell, we wrote a Top 7 specifically on that, and found that there were bountiful examples where the multiplayer was a success, and none where it actually hurt the rest of the game.
4. Free-to-play games
Because… free-to-play games are hardly ever actually free. More often than not, you’re asked to spend well over the typical $60 price tag to get an experience even remotely similar to that of a retail game. You’ll be hassled at all times to buy new weapons and better items and other things that should just be free. Worse yet, these purchasable things often unbalance the game, creating a “pay-to-win” situation where spending money unlocks better stuff. May the best wallet win.
Except… the industry is changing, and free-to-play games are getting better and better. Though there are examples of cash grabs and games charging for more powerful guns, companies approaching F2P that way are failing. Instead, you’re seeing developers who respect their audience succeed, and games like League of Legends, Hawken, and Path of Exile rise up above the rest, setting the standard for free-to-play and showing that “free” doesn’t equate to “cheap.”
Because… game developers are intentionally withholding content from the game and releasing it separately, nickel-and-diming consumers to make a quick buck. Fighting games release new characters, RPGs pluck out quests and charge for them later, and multiplayer shooters are releasing with fewer maps than ever so the developers can charge for them down the line. Some DLC even comes out on release day, proving that developers are just repurposing content made during development as downloadable content.
Except… most people actually like being able to spend a few bucks for additional content, and DLC creation usually occurs after the developers have finished work on the game. Bethesda’s Pete Hines recently explained it, saying that in order to get a game manufactured and onto store shelves, “the content people stop making new content a fair amount of time before it ships; its not like in the old days when it was like the day before or a week before. What do they do during the time between going hands-off and the game releasing? Well, they can work on DLC, so that’s what they often do.
2. Yearly sequels
Because… they’re the antithesis of innovation. Companies get into a cycle where they have a studio pump out regular sequels, each more derivative than the last. With games like Madden you’re paying for a roster update–which could easily be made available as downloadable content (or, you know, as just a patch)–while games like Call of Duty essentially re-skin the previous year’s game and add a few new elements that do nothing to improve the quality.
Except… that’s not how the industry works. Companies that make yearly sequels do so because of demand, and have multiple development studios working year-round to create new entries in the franchises their fans love. Activision has two core studios trading Call of Duty releases, but they’re also helped by a slew of other, smaller developers. Ubisoft has an army of programmers, artists, and designers working on a number of Assassin’s Creed games at once–they’ve turned yearly sequels into an art. Even Madden changes greatly from year to year, with fantastic changes that can only come through iteration.
Because… whereas online passes only really affect people who buy games used, DRM creates roadblocks that make it a hassle for gamers to play new games as well. You’d think bigger publishers would have figured out how to make this seamless, but EA flat-out botched the SimCity launch, and Activision Blizzard’s release of Diablo III was hindered greatly by DRM. And now there are rumors that the next-gen Xbox will include an always-online requirement, despite the fact that we’ve been let down time and time again by this system.
Except… gamers have brought this onto themselves. Maybe, just maybe, if there wasn’t a 90% piracy rate with PC games developers wouldn’t have to impose draconian tactics in attempts to stifle rampant piracy (and, for a second, come the fuck on, seriously? 90%? What the hell is wrong with people?). Does it suck? Yeah, absolutely, it sucks major suckage. Have gamers earned their punishment? You bet your ass they have.
Where is the love?
There are valid reasons to be angry about things–that’s one of the reasons we celebrate the Week of Hate–but sometimes gamers need to actually think about things before launching into boycotts. Then again, we get to write news stories when people boycott stuff, so… actually, never mind. Hate away, gamers! Hate away.