Most of us play video games because they bring us joy. They provide us with an escape from the world which is not always the happy place we wish it would be. And there’s nothing quite like having a long tough day, and just collapsing on the couch to explore a magical world, defeat an evil monster or score an amazing goal.
Unfortunately, while most of us are in it for the right reasons, there’s a fair number of things that the industry we’re a part of (in one way or another) could work on. We’ve spoken about some of these things on the site before and Marko, in particular, has some excellent opinion pieces that you should check out here and here. And in a similar vein and with the goal of highlighting some of these issues again in order to increase awareness and encourage each of us to think about what we can do to improve the current landscape – here are three things the video game industry could do without.
1. Pay-to-win microtransactions and similar predatory mechanics
It’s probably an idea most of us could get behind without too much hesitation. And, sure in an ideal world, I’m sure from a consumer and player’s standpoint we’d be happy if we somehow managed to scrap anything even remotely resembling loot boxes and microtransactions. However, let’s be realistic. This is undoubtedly one of the biggest sources of income for many companies (and a particular blight in the mobile game industry). It’s going to be near impossible to remove as a whole.
That being said – as a player of several sports games and a fan of the potential of mobile games I cannot help but echo the voice of several important industry figures out there. Pay-to-win microtransactions and similar predatory mechanics should have no place in video games – particularly when they border on gambling and especially when they seem to target children and those that suffer from debilitating addictive disorders. It has to stop and the only way it can – is if we vote with our wallets by not buying the games.
Video games for better or worse are part of the world’s entertainment machine. Therefore, like movies, music and other forms of art – I feel they are absolutely worthy of criticism. There should be a space to express our opinions; explain why we like or dislike a game. Unfortunately, online anonymity, the surge of particularly negative groupthink and a seeming overwhelming presence of baseless entitlement has lead to this ideal becoming truly dysfunctional.
Often, opinions are expressed before games are even tried. Even when a worthy opinion is offered it is often laced with such a staggering amount of anger and malice that it loses all rationality. At it’s worst this toxicity includes threats, violent ‘us-vs-them’ divisions and vicious bullying. All of which has led to some horrifically tragic outcomes. We can probably all improve in this particular avenue. So let’s be friendlier, kinder and more accommodating. Let’s be better.
Back in April, Jason Schreier wrote a hard-hitting article about Bioware and Anthem and the issue of development crunch hit the headlines once more. Schreier had actually been talking about the issue for years. It’s a topic that had been bubbling under the surface. However, for many, it exploded into widespread consciousness last year because of a series of big-name AAA flops and sensational quoted figures including ‘100-hour workweeks‘. However, sensationalism aside – the issue of crunch is a real one.
Development teams are too often overworked and underpaid. The results are not only physically and mentally draining but often cause permanent damage. And even if and when a game launches – internal mismanagement, public opinion or a myriad of other reasons could cause it to tank. And when that happens, large scale dismissals and closures are often the rewards for years of harmful toil. It’s a reality that is hard for us to directly improve. But adjusting our perception of how video games are made, remembering that real people are involved in the process and developing patience no doubt can play a small factor in getting higher-ups to change the status quo.