Sunday, November 16, 2014

5 Things That Are A Drag To The Gaming Industry

The gaming business is really thriving nowadays (some even saying that it is growing four times as fast as the U.S Economy), but if we take it from a research and development point of view, it has become stagnant in many ways and for a number of reasons. Today we are going to see 5 of those reasons why the video game industry is dragging its feet from a technological and innovative stand point. It is important to say that there are still good games and good business practices, but the bad ones you are going to see on this article are starting to become a real drag, so let's see.

Games with less features
1) Reckless technical advancements (this for that)
We all know that several game publishers are their own version of Mr.Crabs from Sponge bob, so they will do anything if it means them saving some money. Been things like this, it means that sometimes when a game gets the modern tech treatment it doesn't really improve, but changes priorities. For example one game that gets to have the most advanced graphics up to date, can become really short, have its content to be dumbed down or suffer from crippling bugs and glitches. All this because they so often focus on novelty trends and not on the aspects of what makes good game. It is a known fact that everything in a business runs within the so called "Iron Triangle", but if they can't bend the triangle, then they should at least make a stronger effort in order to maintain the quality of their products while working within its constraints.

Fanboy spotted

2) Fan boys frozen in carbonite.
Let's get something out of the way first. Designers and developers do make mistakes and most of the time need a healthy dose of user feedback, but the ones we are talking about are not feedback providers but fan boys that loved one iteration of a game and will stay with it for all eternity, frozen in time. This type of fellow is the one that whenever a new iteration of their favorite game comes out, it doesn't matter how much their creators tried to bring new things and innovate, for them it is just awful and "lacks the excellency of the original". The games and communities that feature this kind of obsessed gamer will not be mentioned, but if you are one of them you will know and will probably be looking at the screen like this. Be aware that this isn't the same as wishing some game genres to return or stop changing for the sake of change, because the one we are talking about is more about specific games and not the whole spectrum.

3) The "a game per year" business.
The moment when companies decided to spawn some of their big franchise games on a yearly basis was the moment when quality started to go down. This is when some bad practices started to become the norm, with things like recycling the same resources year after year, making the games to be shorter and over-simplified and/or refusing to make new engines in order to make use of the latest technologies. All of these wrong doings need to stop and for that to happen we need to stop giving money to them in exchange for a half-done job. Feeding these yearly franchises not only sets gaming innovation back, but also gives an incentive to gaming companies to stop caring about new projects and concepts and stay hidden in their comfort zone. Luckily for us, sale numbers have shown that the success of franchises that are stuck in this business model is starting to go down, so it seems like the gaming community is waking up on this one.

4) The Imitation Game
Some gaming studios and companies (including some of those who used to be fan favorites) have just become trend machines and this is very unproductive. If there is something that gaming history has told us is that game market competition is done in showdown style which is 1 vs 1 and not a whole bunch of companies imitating each other and doing the same thing. It is either a showdown or a bunch of games with moderate success with no clear winner, so they should stop trying to mimic what they see as "trendy" because most of the time they won't get to be the underdog who wins it all in the end like in the Rocky movies. This has caused a lot of franchises to lose their focus and their identity in the company's effort to cash in on the success of others, even turning some legendary companies from trusted developer to the laughing stock of the gaming industry. Stick to your guns people, do what you do best and stop trying to be something you are not.

5) Treating games like normal household appliances.
The gaming market is a very complex one that has a lot of variables that need special attention before coming with a product strategy and most companies are ignoring this. Many of these are treating video games as if they were just another household appliance, with the same metrics and marketing strategies and this is awfully wrong. Selling a frying pan will never be the same as selling a console or game, but they are been treated as if they were the same thing because the higher ups in many of these companies don't know anything about games or they lack the passion that is needed to work with them.

A gamer is a very elaborate type of consumer, but these non-gamer business guys in high places seem to think that we are the same person that you would sell a frying pan to. Because of this, they feel like innovation and high quality doesn't have to be the norm because we will buy anything they throw at us. To be fair, the blame doesn't fall entirely on the business people as the gaming community is indeed feeding this practice by buying their products and falling for every one of their tricks (incomplete games, DLC that shouldn't be DLC, pay to win schemes, half baked ideas, limited content, etc). It is kind of hard to understand why so many gamers think this is acceptable as the industry itself takes a hit every time that a "frying pan" type of game has success. Stop giving them incentives for cutting corners!

Wrapping it up
Shifting resources instead of increasing them, fan boys that force developers to do the same thing over and over again, releasing a game per year even if it feels like a copy paste, companies imitating each other and treating a game as if it were something as simple as a frying pan. These things are part of what is making the video game industry to become a slow and procrastinating entity that doesn't improve itself very often because it feels like it doesn't need to. Part of the blame is on gaming companies with their shady schemes and the other part falls on gamers who accept these bad practices. Do we as gamers have to sacrifice so much in order for the industry to survive? The answer is no, so gaming companies should step up to their game and gamers who accept these kinds of blunders need to wake up soon.  

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