Five things gamers never asked for

There are things that occur in life that can leave you puzzled and wondering “how did this even become a thing” or “did I mention anything regarding this at some point?”. Like when you order a burger from a fast food joint and it either has something you explicitly asked to be removed, but it made its way on there anyway. Not that you’re allergic to it or anything, you just didn’t want it to make an appearance in your meal. This can ruin your meal and make the experience less enjoyable at times, but it sticks with you and you become extra cautious about this when (or if) you decide to return to the said restaurant. You then think of all the times when you never had to deal with an issue such as this. A simpler time when everything was just right and you got your money’s worth.

But, things have changed a lot since you delved into the world of electronic entertainment. New rules, features, restrictions and beguiling component made its way into the industry and you can’t imagine anyone going “oh wow, I really enjoy this feature!” Here are five such inclusions in the gaming industry that have left me personally baffled and even pushed me to the edge of feeling unfulfilled or just plain confused.

Loot boxes

Yeah, this list will either have some of you triggered or agreeing with me, but, let’s face it. This is just one of those features that has crept into almost every piece of modern gaming experiences out there. Everything from an RPG to racing games now has some sort of mechanic that rewards you with a chance of getting something. A chance to either get something you really wanted or something you couldn’t give two tugs of Kratos’ beard about. That little shiny box that appears on your screen to “reward” you for your efforts during your playthrough. “Treats!,” you think to yourself. Depending on what type of game you are playing, the outcome will differ based on the reward but can still leave you thinking: why did I get this?

For instance, when you play Forza and you crack open those loot boxes and get cosmetic items for your avatar instead of that 1969 Chevy Camaro that the needle skipped over during your spin. It leaves you feeling like all your efforts were in vain and the game is secretly laughing behind the confetti and sound of celebratory trumpets. Or when you roll the dice in Overwatch and you spent money on aid boxes and get one of fifteen cosmetic items you already own, or FIFA player packs that spew out the same average players every time. When you spend money on it, it’s essentially gambling. You bought the game and now your spending more money to get a chance at something unique. Not a choice, but a chance. If I could just buy what I want outright this wouldn’t be an issue, but this is not the case. I asked for choice and now I’m sitting with a gambling mechanic that rewards me when it sees fit. Yay…

No single-player included

I know that the reason for some games taking this route is because there’s longevity in it beyond its single-player offering, but I can’t understand how a game that was born from an experience that we decided to delve into with every new iteration just decided it’s not needed. For instance, when Black Ops 4 had its gameplay reveal and there was no single-player experience to found, the immediate reaction to it all was “why?” The reasoning for it was because the majority of the consumers apparently play more multiplayer than single-player. Look, I get that, but I’m considering not adding it to my ongoing collection of the Call of Duty franchise simply because it only caters for a specific type of player. Those who enjoyed the single-player experience associated with the franchise are now left in the cold.

Some feel cheated as in they paid a full price for a game that only has one or two components now when it used to have so much more to it, and that’s understandable. I also feel that the new direction has played out well for the game, but imagine if it still had single-player how much higher the day one sales numbers could have been. When it comes to Call of Duty I always looked forward to how they will approach the war shooter next given that almost every avenue has been covered. Now, we’re left to wonder whether we’ll ever see another campaign in the future and if this trend will slowly creep into every other game that has a dedicated multiplayer component. And to me, that’s scary.

The many game editions

Back to the burger talk (I must be hungry). You walk into a burger joint and stare at the menu. You’re not staring because you haven’t decided which meat and bun combination you want, but because you don’t know which meat and bun combo is worth it as each one of them has something you want and something you don’t want. At this point, you wish you could just build your own combination and I wish I could say the same for game editions that are floating around nowadays.

For instance, when you go to the respective online store for a game you’re looking to purchase and come across an array of options for the game. Each version is named in such a way that begs the question of “what do I get with it?” Back in the day, it used to be the vanilla version versus the collector’s edition with some extra goodies and memorabilia. Open the store now and you’re met with the Standard, Day One, Deluxe, Collectors, Founders, Ultimate, Gold, Silver, Platinum and Unobtainium editions. And to top it all off, neither one of them offers something similar as it either skips one or two features. This leaves you so confused about which one to get, so much so that your require a graph or spreadsheet to determine which one you want to spend your hard earned money on because if you don’t you might miss out on certain experiences in the game. Assassin’s Creed’s recent offering left me not purchasing it (yet) because I just couldn’t determine which one I wanted because I felt I had no idea which one is more worthwhile getting. Either splurge all the money and get everything or just get the standard. That was an easy choice to make based on how much cash you had available or how much of a fan you were. Now my choices require sitting with a consultant running through each detail of every edition and calculate which one offers the most for my money. Life’s hard already, don’t complicate things for me, please?

DRM

Piracy is a thing. We all know it, we can’t completely avoid it and it’s going to be a thing no matter how hard we try. Everything is online and most of us purchase content from dedicated online vendors. The one thing that I can’t completely agree with though is that every game, whether it be single- or multiplayer, now requires an online connection in order to play it. No internet, no play. This is obviously to determine that you actually purchased and own the game so it does online verification to that end, but what if I’m currently having internet issues and would still like to enjoy the game?

For starters, I’d love the option to play a single-player game offline. I don’t see a reason why I shouldn’t be able to. At no point will I have the opportunity to play online with others because the option simply isn’t there, but the game won’t start because I’m not connected to the internet. Imagine you getting stoked for God of War or Spider-Man only to find out that you can’t play it while offline simply because of the DRM mechanism built into it. Sure, this only goes for digital purchase and you can get a disc version of it, but what if there’s a near game breaking bug that requires an update, so you’ll have to go online to get the update? That I can deal with, but not being able to play a game you purchased online because you need to be always on makes little sense.

Pay to win

You knew this was coming…

Have any of you woken up one day and thought “I’m tired of being a n00b. I’m going to buy all the things so I can be ahead of the curve!” I sure haven’t and I haven’t met many that have decided to do the same. This could be because of their moral compass or their wallets. Some companies know that this little ego monster exists though and have capitalised on it with no hesitation. When it comes to vanity items it’s no big deal. You’ll look different, but you won’t have an advantage over everyone else. But when you’re able to spend money on upgrades that render you unstoppable, then there’s something definitely wrong here. The balance is no longer there and you don’t require skill to be competitive or simply enjoy the game anymore. I’m pretty sure the majority didn’t say: hey, can I pay to be better at the game?

But, it exists. And the only reason I can think of why it exists is that the publishers can make money off of it. For some games, your wallet dictates your ability, like when EA released Star Wars: Battlefront 2. Those that could afford it were always a step ahead. NBA 2K18 has a similar approach to the game, but if you have no real grasp of the gameplay mechanics then those superstar stats won’t do much for you simply because you don’t have the skill, but the option to get you to a higher level is still there. It’s part placebo and pay to win mechanic that can easily give the advantage when it falls into the right hands. FIFA also falls victim to this, but it’s coupled with the previous loot box mechanic, so you have a chance of paying to win based on what you get.

If you really wanted to point a finger at where this mechanic originated from it will most likely be the mobile gaming industry. Candy Crush, Clash of Clans and the like have certain paywalls in place that require you to spend money to progress faster or build a greater gaming experience. Warframe also comes to mind when you think of a game that is free to play but has a few pay gates here and there. With that said, the game has a well-balanced mechanics though that doesn’t urge you to keep spending money on it to progress. It might put you at a higher mastery rank and birth egos here and there, but it doesn’t really deter you from playing the game as it doesn’t directly affect you negatively. When it comes to more competitive multiplayer arenas though, it’s definitely not something we’ve asked for.

Is there anything you guys would add to the list of things we never really wanted in games?

I Game, I Design, I wish I could Game Design.

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