In the current generation of gaming, we’ve seen many things come and go. The Wii U and PS Vita died, Microsoft was forced to do a complete 180 turn on their ideas for the Xbox One, Sony got off their high horse and allowed crossplay. Those are just a few examples of the things we’ve seen so far. There are also a few alarming trends that have recently come to rise, and it’s time to take a look at them.
Six trends in particular were dastardly enough to deserve being put on this list, so here they are.
1. Loot Boxes
Easily the trend that’s received the most publicity even outside the realm of gaming is loot boxes. Although it seems to be dying down again now that legal action was taken in some countries, it’s still very much a trend. Without any guarantee of getting anything worthwhile, loot boxes are annoying enough when purely for cosmetic purposes, so that only those who have enough money and a few other lucky people will have the cool skins and the like. That’s a problem by itself, but it’s not the main problem behind loot boxes and the whole reason for the fuss behind them.
The main problems arise when you get a situation like with Star Wars: Battlefront 2, where loot boxes are filled with items that help you progress. The game becomes not only pay-to-winbut RNG-based pay-to-win, where the wealthiest always has a massive head-start. You could argue that that makes the game more realistic but that really is beside the point. The point is that companies using loot boxes to make players pay out of their arses to have a shot against those who maxed out on day one by doing so is absolutely unacceptable, and it hasn’t been a major problem before this generation of consoles.
2. Expensive Season Passes – Without Any Info
You know the story. You want to buy a brand new game that just came out, so you waltz into the store, pick it off the shelf, stare at it, do a little happy dance, and go pay for it. After the usual to and fro about loyalty premiums and the lot, the cashier asks you “do you want to get the Season Pass for this game?” You’re bewildered. What season pass? The game just came out and they haven’t even announced anything more than cosmetic DLC.
It’s honestly baffling why developers (or most likely publishers) started thinking it was a good idea and even more confusing why gamers started buying into it. Either way, it’s something that’s almost inseparable from certain publishers nowadays, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. Especially not when some of the biggest publishers around are the ones doing it. I don’t have to name any names for you to know exactly who I’m talking about right now.
3. Announcing DLC Before The Game Comes Out
Another massive sin is something that even usually trustworthy developers have been doing recently. Announcing DLC before the game is released doesn’t come across well. Even announcing it the day after or so is much better, but announcing it beforehand is really not a good idea. It shows that you were working on more but didn’t put it in a game. Forgive me for sounding like a broken record here, but DLC used to be something that developers worked on for fans after the game was fully released. Now it’s evolved into something chopped off the game to be sold separately (and probably was more the publisher’s choice than the developer’s).
I feel old when I have to say that I remember when DLCs were a large, often worthwhile addition to the game, but it’s true. For many gamers, announcing a DLC before the game is even out is a sign that the developers didn’t give their all for the game itself, and it’s bad for everyone involved (except those making money).
4. Hold Button To Interact
This is less a financial annoyance, a business decision that pisses me off or in general something that you notice at the store. No, this is something utterly stupid that developers have put in some new games that really doesn’t make all that much sense. Having to hold a button to interact instead of having a separate interact button is something that some newer games have been doing. You have buttons that do all kinds of other things, but when you want to interact with something, which usually isn’t all that infrequently, you have to hold one of the buttons that you’d usually press to do a different thing.
You have to hold it long enough to actually do the thing, and you have to then let go to keep going after you’ve done the thing. It makes the game slower, and it leaves so much room for mistakes where you end up reloading a bunch of times instead of actually doing the right thing, and the fact that you take longer because you have to hold the button means that split second decisions to open a door as cover or turn something on quickly are completely invalidated. Who needs speed when you have an annoying decision that pisses people off.
5. Goodbye Physical Releases
This is probably the most controversial entry on this list, because it’s something that not everyone is against. For ages, physical games with discs were the status quo, but recently we’ve seen more and more games that are digital only, to the point where you sometimes can buy a box in-store that comes with a single slip of paper in it for the code. It’s idiotic that this should be a thing, as it ends up being a waste of paper, plastic and space, too. It also sometimes even costs more, for whatever reason.
It’s also a massive pity because right before this shift happened, we also start to lose manuals, which were always an awesome part of buying the game. They were often so much more than a basic manual with tips, art, and character info so that you knew something about the game before you started. It also meant that tutorials weren’t really needed, so now that manuals are gone, we’re getting more and more tutorials for people to find out how to play the game, because apparently, we can’t read anymore.
6. Microtransactions – In Single-Player Games
Last but not least, one of the most absolutely pointless things in gaming. Microtransactions. Well, not just any microtransactions, but specifically microtransactions in single-player games. What publisher was going through their developer’s game design document and thought: “This is neat and all, but what if we make the game harder and make them pay for progression?” How ridiculously out of touch with gamers did that person have to be to think that that decision would go down well in anyone’s books? It’s anyone’s guess why they did so, but nonetheless, we had it in Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, we’re seeing it right now in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, and both times, it caused an uproar. The latter example had much less publicity for it than the former example, but it wasn’t just taken lying down either time.
Single-player games don’t need more purchases, they need more quality, and longer stories. They need moments that’ll stick with you. For life. That’s what publishers should focus on. The kind of game that’ll shape a generation. Or smaller games that you can play with friends and just have a blast. Anything really, as long as a single purchase seals the deal, and not twenty purchases for half a game.
Honourable Mention: Gaming Candles
I just want to know this: Why? Why does my room need to smell like rust, blood, and atomic decay, like snow, dragons, and murder, or most confusingly, like sweat, mold, and festering flesh? Why?
Cultured Vultures is a site by writers, for writers. We like words.