Saturday, February 22, 2014

Where did the fun in making games go?!

Hey all,

I figured that I would chime in on my perspective on my thoughts on modern gaming, because this has been something I've been meaning to talk about for a while.

Honestly, I'm a little peeved at the gaming industry, mostly at mobile. It feels like big money has gotten their hands onto gaming and put it in a stranglehold. I'm not innocent in terms of not contributing to this, I didn't really realize it until recently.

The pattern really began when I noticed that fewer and fewer games were keeping my attention. I also noticed the fact that 2013 saw such blockbuster hits as Aliens: Colonial Marines and Ride to Hell: Retribution. Let's not forget the post E3 fiasco with the Xbox One, or the terrible sales of the Wii U, or the - never mind, let's just say 2013 was a terrible year for gaming.

Games feel like they're taking fewer risks, trying to figure out how to best gain profit first, then figure out how to make the game fun and polished. Never is this more apparent than in mobile. I can't tell you how many times I've integrated another ad sdk, Facebook sdk, metrics sdk, you name it, delaying the product another month, which has NOTHING to do with how fun the game is, and has EVERYTHING to do with getting the game exposure or money on the side. Seriously, with almost any game you play on mobile, every single button you press is probably being recorded and sent for research purposes, so that companies can figure out how to best market to you.

I have seen game release schedules delayed many, MANY times because the marketing department wants to track more activity or wants to integrate another ad sdk to generate more money which, as I said before, have NOTHING to do with making a fun game.

Let's talk free to play games. I swear these titles are built primarily around how to convince you to spend a dollar, more so than being built around clever mechanics that test your wit. I have seen design sessions for free to play games where everyone was talking about how to get money from the player rather than actually coming up with fun mechanics.

"What if the game is like real slot machines where you put in real money?"
"What if the game allows you to gamble real money on fake races?"

A more honest free to play idea (and better, in my opinion) would be:
"How about an on rails shooter, like Killer 7, with branching paths and puzzle solving. The puzzles will be brain teasers with clues to the solution being strewn about the level. If the player wants to see past the puzzle, they can either solve the puzzle or use a key. Keys can be either bought with real money or found in a treasure chest the player can open once per day. Guns can also be unlocked by earning in game money through beating levels, or can be bought with real money directly." I literally wrote this on the spot.

I feel like money has started to make game development into more of a chore, and less than fun. It seems like the fun in game development has moved onto the indie scene, and has left the professional space. It just feels like professional games have become all about money. I understand the need for a business to stay afloat but, at the same time... Where did the phrase "Do what you want and the money will follow." go?

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