2011′s Worst Things In Gaming
What’s the worst thing to happen to gaming this year? Online passes and the increasing prevalence of ridiculous, take-the-piss DLC. That’s all I should have to write, really, but I suppose backing up your opinions with more words is how we’re supposed to do this – so here we go.
DLC has been a learning curve for developers – horse armour on Oblivion is often cited as one of the ways in which the piss was most taken, but it should be remembered that this was early days; the system was still being learned. No, it’s things like Street Fighter X Tekken’s gem system – buying yourself some more powerful gems to completely unbalance the experience and make things completely unfair. Or the costume packs on Street Fighter III – things that were formerly activated in the game by pressing a different button, you now have to pay for. Or Shuma Gorath and Jill still not being included on-disc with UMVC3.
And, really, a lot of Capcom’s DLC output. But it hasn’t just been them, and we’ve seen more and more games release stupid extras – cheats, for example – that cost money. Why? Because publishers have found they can get away with it. Publishers have found you will pay money for a subscription to a stat-tracking service that could easily be offered for free on a website as part of the whole package, for example.
This isn’t against DLC in principle – there’s some great stuff out there and I’m happy it exists. I just don’t like the thought we’re being taken for a ride, and that seems to be how things are going.
The sooner we nip it in the bud, the better.
But nothing has been worse, more irksome or harmful for gamers this year than online passes. Horrible, stupid, gouging techniques invented for no reason other than to limit player choice and force them into paying more for something they’ve already paid for.
And the worst part about it is how many gamers feed off the crap fed to them by publishers: it’s to ‘prevent piracy’; ‘second-hand is harmful to the industry’; ‘servers cost money’; ‘it will never encroach on single-player’ OOPS.
Piracy is close to being an irrelevance in console gaming. It exists, but it’s nowhere near easy or prevalent enough to cause real problems for any company. And I’m still waiting to be shown a development studio that has been forced to close down entirely as a result of piracy’s impact on their earnings.
Second-hand gaming is half the reason the games industry still exists, and the fact that real life gamers have commented on this very blog saying buying second-hand ‘is the same as stealing’ makes me want to weep real tears. Protecting revenue streams and blah de blah – fair enough, it’s a business – but good god it annoys me when people buy into the notion they shouldn’t have freedom to operate as they see fit, within the confines of the law, when it comes to the buying and selling of goods.
Servers cost money? Yeah, they do. Costs can be covered in part by sales of first-hand games, then backed up with reasonable, worthwhile DLC – even microtransactions. A £10 flat tax is bullshit, frankly.
And yeah, we’ve seen that online passes encroached on single-player this year thanks to Batman: Arkham City. Indefensible.
So that’s my worst things to happen to gaming this year. Don’t agree? Talk about it in the comments below. Or shout and rave, whatever.