All posts by Caleb Smith-Sims

The sorry state of video games

Triple-A games today are terrible.

Triple-A games are mainstream and high-budget games made by the largest development companies in the business. Game franchises like Call of Duty, NBA 2K, Grand Theft Auto, and more. Form and function, the companies, and by reflection, their games have suffered. Between the companies overworking and mistreating their employees while functionally destroying themselves from the inside. These game developers also injured their reputation with broken promises and game leaks. Companies have built a horrible reputation with gamers between criticism, scummy sales tactics, rushed quality, and lousy rapport with fans because of recent letdowns over heavily anticipated games. It is important to say that this is not the case for every AAA developer, but the frequency of these issues in recent times warrants being addressed. 

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On December 10, 2020, CyberPunk 2077 was released. This game was under development for nine years under CD Projekt RED. This game was anticipated to be the game of the decade, but has since fallen into obscurity. This game is an example of one of the recent trends of “Release now, fix later.” The gaming industry has long development processes and “due dates” that usually last between 3 and 5 years. These games don’t see the light of day until at least a year before release via trailers. Projekt RED made a terrible business decision and relied on customer patience. By expecting customers to wait even longer for a game that was already in development for 7 years by that point, they had given themselves a time limit. The game eventually could not stop the deadlines and was released as a buggy mess, an incomplete story with a considerable lack of promised features, and no improvement in sight.

In 2013, 2K games continued their profitable series of NBA 2K in which they added a new element of progression through micro-transactions. Fast forward to 2017, when its players started to notice the trend. The game comes out with a premium edition that costs upwards of $100. The people with the money to spend (or otherwise) will start the game with a steep advantage. Those who do not purchase the core game for $50 or $60 are forced into a vicious cycle of working for a few in-game rewards in VC (virtual currency). The use of VC becomes a problem as everything in the game costs VC. The more people complain about the micro-transactions, the more the games get abused by YouTubers and content creators, and all this happens in 9 months. 

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As big an issue as micro-transactions and unfinished game releases are, they are not the only issues. As presented on crappygames.org, and in my own personal experience, DLC (downloadable content) has been one of the worst gaming issues. The most recent example I can think of is Destiny. The second installment in the series, based around fighting using the power of good and evil to destroy your foes in space, has amassed $200 million since 2017. Destiny was initially released as a complete game with a full-length story and set of endgame content achievable after completion. In 2018 the game released a significant expansion called Forsaken. This content was a completely new storyline, with entirely new content. They repeated this process twice with Beyond Light and Witch Queen expansions, with another expansion on the way in early 2023.

The problem isn’t inherently with the expansions but with everything around them. For perspective, if someone were to purchase the deluxe packaging for all these DLCs, they are expected to pay around $350 alone, outside the minor content. This game does not force you into paywalls for aesthetic equipment or progression, but asks for extreme amounts of time to be equipped with satisfactory equipment. They also decided to change their game model halfway through its life cycle. The game was released at $60 and progressed into a free-to-play model. What does this mean for people who have already bought the game? Nothing. No reimbursements, just more content to spend more money on.

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When it is all said and done, the tactics, micro-transactions, etc., could change if it weren’t for the players. I understand this is a hobby for a major population of people, but I also know that we, as players hold immense power in our wallets. All we do is feed the greed in these companies when we continue to consume what is displayed in front of us. We could make gaming a much better place if we all express our criticisms and say goodbye to complacency.

Caleb Smith-Sims, Senior

Caleb Smith-Sims is a senior member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.