2017 and the Triple A(nger) state
I’m sure the happenings to be quoted in this article won’t be the last to be seen on the year, and sadly, much less on the context. We are all to expect though, that there is still a single drop of respect even while it might seen impossible. Besides that, I can only please you to think one more time about the way you see and support the actual state of the gaming market after reading what is here exposed.
There is a simple way to start what we are going to talk about in here. Back around 2010, when Indie games such as Super Meat Boy and Braid started to take the gaming community attention, it was common to find discussions about how unique they were inside themselves, and in most of the cases further comparisons to what was outside the Indie scenery were not needed. Now, note how Indie games are all about everything they offer and represent in contrast to the rest of the gaming market nowadays. Indie games not only grew enough to be a topic outside of their own scenery, but the Triple A companies decided to grow higher in the term and shrink to the worry besides money. We had No Man’s Sky on 2016 and thought things could not get worse. It was not long until we discovered they could;
Dear reader, I present to you with all the disgust: The year of 2017 and its Triple A companies. It might end up being massive, but it is an intentional measure to show what’s been around. Let’s try to stay firm, shall we?
We could start exposing how extremely uninteresting and predictable E3 2017, the most anticipated gaming event of any year got to be in comparison to what everyone is used to; but believe me, there are many better ways to show the shame most of the huge game developers should be worried about due to the way they’ve been acting recently and will probably keep acting while it works. As even though critics are around, the money is still coming as it used to… And not being as well spent anymore.
One of the first huge disappointments of the year was supposed to be an “example of a new generation”, a result of a 5 years dedication and 40 million dollars. It was indeed impressive; just not in the way most expected it to be, and sadly almost a true example of the new generation that was to come.
From animation horrors to intense technical issues, jokes and tough critics started to take over the internet a few hours after the game was released. BioWare, the studio responsible for the Mass Effect franchise, decided to take a position on the situation and exposed that EA (The publisher) was the true responsible for the game to be in such an state, claiming there was a rush for a release date. You might be thinking: “They spent entire 5 years, right?”, They did and they might be blamed for part of what happened, but they didn’t decided to release the game and bring up all the hate for selling it at the price of a well finished game as EA did.
EA, unsatisfied with both the way BioWare defended itself and the results of Mass Effect Andromeda, decided to put the Mass Effect franchise on ice and merge the BioWare studio with EA Motive, also owned by her and localized in Montreal. Previously, on 2015, EA shut down Maxis, the responsible for the Sim City and Spore franchises, and this year, EA also shut down Visceral Games, the responsible for the The Dead Space franchise. On all the cases, developers showed the dissatisfactions they’ve been through while they were working for the publisher.
Bad receptions were yet to be seen innumerable times through the year, and between the most varied situations. One of the best examples is the creation of the “Creation Club”, “a collection of all-new content created by Bethesda and partners for both Fallout 4 and Skyrim”. Basically, Creation Club is all about disguised paid mods. Rings you a bell?
Triple A companies are true veterans of the gaming market. They should know errors are not to be repeated.
Back on 2015, Bethesda tried to introduce paid mods to the Skyrim’s Steam Workshop and went through a huge flirtation with the gaming community, which led the idea to a fiasco. The core is, if a company wants to reward the part of the community that develops content for it’s games, it should be the one doing that besides allowing the selling of the fan made content. It is best both for the company and for the gaming community.
On August 29th of this year, Bethesda officialized it’s ignorance for the feedback they received during the 2015 situation, officially launching the “Creation Club” and even materializing a satire exposed in a past PC Gamer issue, which intention’s was to criticize the well-known “Horse Armor” downloadable content, officially released for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, enabling the player to equip it’s horse with an useless piece of armor for 2.50 dollars. The “Creation Club” is now as satirized as the Horse Armor itself.
The ways by which Triple A companies often act and get to sound ridiculously rude are still around. Recently, a lot of criticism came around EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 Beta, which was already filled up with loot crate progression systems that could easily get the game to be a huge pay to win. EA responded to the complaints, and while admitting the game needs changes, it also admitted players that pay will still have advantage over players who don’t. In addition to the explanations given, EA rewarded Beta players a free loot box as an excuse for the frustrations. It is worth reminding Star Wars Battlefront 2 is being sold for 60 dollars, a common, full-game price.
Nowadays, hearing the gaming community as a Triple A developer is more about opportunities to create excuses than a chance to enhance creations.
It gives me chills to think about all the market ideas Triple A companies might’ve once created, but never applied. Past month, an Activision patent that could get multiplayer games with micro-transactions to be a true hell was uncovered, and a huge fright surrounded both Activision and the gaming community;
Even before Activision got to explain what it was all about, a text in the patent register made it well clear that it was about using matchmaking systems to get players who bought micro-transaction items to be satisfied with their purchase and then get to think about a next one. For example, a player who bought a weapon would, through a matchmaking system, be put against a player who essentially would be in severe disadvantage to the one who bought the weapon, “boosting” its effect.
In a haste, Activision claimed the patent was never used on any of its games. “This was an exploratory patent filed in 2015 by an R&D team working independently from our game studios,” an Activision spokesperson told Glixel. For our nightmares to stay, the saying “It has not been implemented in-game.” doesn’t means it won’t ever be seen around.
Besides the unexpected surprise, Activision had two other situations it should for sure not be surprised to hear complaints about. The first one is the changes made to the Destiny 2 shader system in comparison to the first game of the franchise. Which was considered one of the best parts of Destiny, came to be a punishing experience on the sequel; not only are the shaders uglier and less varied, as the ones acquired through micro-transactions are not unlockables, but single-use items. The second one sprouted when tons of players who bought the PC edition got banned a few days after the official launch, for not well-stated reasons but the use of third-party softwares, which could well be and was reported to be any kind of code injection, such as OBS Studio and XSplit, essential softwares for streamers and video-content producers.
According to the latest information from Bungie, all bans that were not already overturned are to stay permanently, and it claims that while they do indeed block programs from injecting codes into it’s game, Bungie is not banning for that. In contrast, many players who are unable to play due to the ban are sure they were banned for using harmless code injection programs and call the action an steal, while no further reliable information from the developer seems to come around, or the search for further explanations is either treated as “internet bullshit”.
The next happenings are about buying a single layer of cake for the price of an entire, to acquire inedible golden cakes or to be truly backstabbed. Do you still remember the time in which special editions were called “special” because they featured tiny extra contents instead entire new experiences? Now, we’re under circumstances in which the concept of “Full Game” is a thing to be discussed.
The funny concept of “Full Game” created by Ubisoft under an Assassin’s Creed Origins pre-order page is not the single oddity seen this year around the special edition scenery. We Happy Few, the interesting game announced in E3 2016 that for everyone’s disappointment got to be a generic survival experience, received an update just as it was announced the project was acquired by Gearbox Software, a not so pleasant company. It was not long until the Triple A’s business model started to sprout: A peculiar collector’s edition of the game — that is, if i can say it is an special edition of the game — was announced for 150 dollars with no game included.
In addition, Gearbox Software stated the game price would then be the double it’s original price, with the excuse it would be now in hands of a huge developer with plenty to offer. Jim Sterling talked about the acquisition and the way it happened with interesting subject-matters on “The Joykilling Culture of ‘AAA’ Games”, a title that could well be applied to our context at all.
And that is because the “Joykilling” part comes from the most diverse manners, such as the complete impossibility to trust on Triple A’s promises. Capcom, considering several complaints regarding all the different Street Fighter IV editions released, promised, when announcing Street Fighter V, that there would be no other version but the one that was being announced. On January 16 of 2018, Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition is coming for PC and Playstation 4 for 40 dollars.
In most of the cases, it is possible to relate the editions topic to unfair prices. The Collector’s Edition of Dragon Ball FighterZ goes for 140 dollars and was announced to not include the Season Pass; It is utterly depressing to say “At least, the game is included”, after the We Happy Few situation previously quoted. I’m sure, by the way, that none of our feelings will be more apparent than the one exposed in one of NBA 2K18’s developer’s face during it’s hasted E3 showcase.
This is once more a chance to quote an expensive collector’s edition with unsatisfying content, being sold for half the price of the gaming system that runs it. The Switch Digital Edition of “NBA 2K18 Legend Edition Gold” is being sold for 150 dollars, providing a few micro-transaction benefits.
Micro-transactions are quite the topic to enclose the article with, as they’ve been around gaming for a long time already, and only grow, now taking part of full-priced games besides only free-to-play market models, a true source of fights and issues. Games expected to be a solid, plain experience such as “Deus Ex: Mankind Divided” and “Middle-earth: Shadow of War” got to be a true nightmare filled with micro-transactions, and many games are under the risk of being through the same situation, due to the invention of a simple profit system: Lootboxes, or either, Lootcrates.
The micro-transaction style has already been through heavy criticizing and straight fire between light defenses and tough oppositions, but is still largely being a choice for Triple A game developers and no further barriers to the system have been officially created so far.
These are the Triple A companies amongst what haunts the gaming scenery.
There are a few comments i would like to make about everything above;
I did not spoke about expensive and unworthy collector editions or true market scams as a general thing, and that is exactly to show the proportion it happens is more than close to unacceptable, as seen throughout the article.
It is known that many of the things quoted above happened before, but there are different situations to consider and it is important to understand my objective is not to bring up discussions such as: “Should lootboxes be considered gambling?”, besides the fact i do indeed have an opinion for that. My intention is to show Triple A companies grew to something we should not be supporting; These companies are overlooking quality for profit and for that underscoring crucial consumer rights, or even a simple respect we all deserve.
It is just as up to you to recognize which Triple A companies are doing fair as to question yourself: “Are Triple A games worth my time and money?”