GameCentral readers share pet peeves from the current state of video games, from day one patches to loot boxes.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Blitz, who asked what’s your least favourite aspect of modern gaming? What gets you most upset about video games today and why?
There were lots of different suggestions, from common gameplay elements to publisher practices, but the two most common were games being too long and having too little respect for your time and the toxicity of gamers themselves.
Leave it out
What always annoys me is role-playing stuff in games that don’t need them. I am sick to death of skill trees and experience points and, especially perks, in games where they don’t need them. God Of War is one that sticks out to me for this. There is zero reason the game needed any of that, it was amazing as it was why do I have to constantly have to add these pointless little trinkets that never seem to make any real difference?
It’s just boring complications meant to give the illusion of depth. If in doubt stick a skill tree in it and you can say your part role-playing game. Yeah, the boring part! If you’re not crafting your own character, which you can’t with games like God Of War, it feels especially pointless and one of the reasons I never got on with The Witcher 3 as much as others.
A real role-playing game is great, I enjoy lots of them, but you do not need to try and jam all their busywork into other games in order to make them seem clever.
I think gamers in general are an incredibly entitled bunch who, every generation, come up with some new quibbles to gripe about.
Of course, I am about to join the heaving throng to put down my biggest complaint of the PlayStation 4/Xbox One era.
In all honesty it’s not even a problem for the majority of people, just me, and my ever-dwindling spare time. The simple fact is games have become too large. This mostly accounts for the open world giants such as Assassin’s Creed, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Far Cry. Though as the game design framework grows ever tighter, even the linear single0player adventures have started regularly adding open world elements.
As a child or teenager I would be lapping this up right now but unfortunately that is not the case anymore. My situation is not going to change anytime soon, even in the lockdown stage I couldn’t play more, what with home schooling and the constant presence of my little darlings in every waking hour!
I admire the craft and the sheer scale is dumbfounding but for me it will never be truly appreciated. My mind wanders all too readily when confronted with this much choice, and I long for a focused streamlined experience that can be conquered in under 10 hours. Quantity should always lose out to quality in matters like these.
I am also acutely aware of the escalation of development budgets which have to be reduced, as there is always a danger that the gaming sector could collapse alarmingly when the chances of any kind of profit diminish with every passing year. Creativity will always be stifled in such cases.
baby machine 5 (PSN ID)
Modern gaming is goodish
To be honest there is not a great deal that bothers me about modern gaming. I’ve been in a Nintendo bubble since 1992, so microtransactions, big day one patches, etc. haven’t particularly affected me. (I did buy WWE 2K18 for Switch, which is shockingly bad and requires a massive additional download to play but I still quite like it every now and then because I can play as Stone Cold, The Rock, and Mankind).
The only thing that does worry me is that my 10-year-old could potentially get dragged into an online argument with either his friends or some online random. He’s good, parental controls are in place, and he doesn’t really engage in that type of thing but it is a different world to playing Street Fighter 2 or Super Tennis on my sofa with friends. In my mind it is very different when you are face-to-face and having a bit of a laugh, things can be misconstrued when you are remote.
Other than that I think modern gaming is pretty good.
PS: SNES is better than Mega Drive.
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It seems like an old complaint really but the first thing that comes to mind for me is sequels. Actually, not so much sequels themselves but the almost complete lack of new franchises to balance them out. Everyone likes a good sequel to their favourite game, I know I do, but we new blood as well.
This generation has been terrible for new franchises, with console manufacturers being just as bad as other publishers. Sony has made some effort, more than most, but after seeming to make an effort at first Nintendo has gone back to the old standbys and Microsoft never seems to have tried at all.
EA, Activision, Ubisoft… they all rely on the same small group of franchise again and again. When one gets a sequel it’s onto the next until the whole loop repeats again. It is possible to create new ideas in old franchises, that’s something Nintendo are very good at, but it’s much easier and less restrictive to just create a whole new game.
At the very least you don’t end up reusing the same characters again and again, which really does get old. How many times is Master Chief going to save the universe or Mario jump on a gomba’s head. Obviously you want to make more of a popular thing but some of this repetition is totally unnecessary.
There’s a lot not to like (and also loads of good stuff) about modern gaming; developers exploiting their staff really doesn’t sit well with me in particular.
There was an excellent Reader’s Feature a while ago, which I’m sure plenty of people still remember, that argued the worst thing about gaming is the gamers themselves, and I think that argument holds a lot of water.
But the aspect of modern gaming I dislike the most is streaming, or more specifically streamers exploiting their subscribers. There are good streamers and bad streamers obviously, but there’s a minority proportion of these people who are making a proportion of their living by soliciting donations from mixed-up, vulnerable, often depressed, young adults in exchange for essentially just saying their name. They have no idea whether the person on the end of that donation could really afford it or not, and it doesn’t really seem like the streaming platforms offer much in the way of strong controls to protect these people either.
There have been a few ‘my child spent £xxx on streamers under my nose’ stories in the press which are bad enough, and we all have a good tut at those, but I’ve not really seen it touched on why the child saw fit to do it. What emotional hole were they trying to fill by going and paying for validation from someone filming themselves playing a game on the internet?
When that child is 21 and they’re living on their own it’s their own money, there won’t be a news story, there will just be a sad, poor person waiting for payday so they can PayPal some money to a millionaire so they’ll pretend to be their friend for six seconds.
It’s not the most widespread problem I’m sure and it’s only really a gaming-adjacent issue, but I think it’s a really nasty one and a bit unseen.
It’s got to be day one updates for me. Finish your damn game before you release it! With physical sales now almost non-existent it’s not as if you’re rushing to get a disc pressed anymore. Finish the game, make sure it works properly and all the features are there, then release it.
It’s crazy to me that this almost never happens any more and is considered strange and novel when it does.
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Humans are the real monsters
My least favourite aspect of modern gaming could easily be among the suggestions GC has listed, with certain monetisation principles almost being tantamount to some sort of dystopia that would make Orwell or Huxley blush.
‘You’re paying us for a game because you want to play it but we’ve now designed it so you feel compelled to pay us more on top in exchange for you not having to play it.’ Tell me that isn’t fitting of some sort of fictional satire.
I feel like these phenomena can still be avoided relatively easily, though, and my enjoyment of gaming remains preserved since I know where to go to ensure this. So I’m going to take this opportunity to condemn what clearly winds many of us up about modern gaming, and that’s gamers themselves.
Whether it’s this simultaneous insistence that games should be taken as seriously as any other hobby or art form but that any form of political and social expression also isn’t welcome in gaming; or the fact that so many seem to be falling over themselves to reward ridiculously cynical business models like that outlined above; or the most unsavoury and uninformed also appearing to be among the most prolific contributors on the biggest communication platforms; the lack of real world perspective compounded with unrealistic entitlement and disproportionate self-empowerment; the inevitable argument that a positive or negative criticism of a game is underpinned by corruption and agenda-pushing (but that such accusations are magically agenda-free)…
So many of these represent issues with online culture in general but they feel particularly distilled within gaming, I imagine partly because there are so many juveniles who can pass themselves off as being just as influential as sensible adults.
I just wish some of the mainstream sites took more assertive action to put these people in their rightful place but there’s probably a recognition that they’re responsible for a decent chunk of their revenue and therefore need to be handled with ineffective delicacy, if they’re even acknowledged at all. That only functions to make them feel even more empowered, though.
I’ve sent this on Monday morning. If we can make it to Friday without another story connected to any of the above, it’ll be considered either a good week or a very quiet one.
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