The price for quality games is not owning them – Reader’s Feature

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The digital future has its dangers

A reader worries about the negative consequences of digital downloads, with an over-reliance on patches and the lack of trade-ins.

In a non-Internet-connected era, games were released and were doomed to fail or would ride high in the charts based on how well the developer had crafted it. There was no option for a v1.20036 or 46GB patch fixing the shortcomings of a game two weeks after its release, saving an overpaid game executive’s job. Publishers had to have sensible expectations of sales based on the game’s quality. Today, games get more chances and can be iterated.

Don’t get me wrong, quality games are quality games and they will shine through, but with game hyping, early access, beta versions and pre-ordering, the financial expectation and pressure that developers are under today means we, the consumers, are treated with contempt. Ironically, we pay to be part of the testing process for developers, which focus groups and professionals once handled.

I appreciate that your common or garden developer probably has the best interest of a game’s quality at heart but the way game development is funded nowadays risk is managed by trying to generate revenue as soon as possible, which (several recent examples come to mind) is clearly to the serious detriment to our enjoyment and faith in the system. Should we really put up with this and if it wasn’t like this in the past, why should we put up with it now?

Waiting for a game to be released, pouring over scant details and pictures in the traditional print media for months before the expectation and excitement can’t be taken any more is almost impossible today without taking absurd and unreasonable steps to ignore what’s happening in the world. Over-hyping creates unrealistic expectations and often underdelivers, leaving us feeling like fools for being taken along for the ride.

Some developers and publishers are known for drip-feeding information (Nintendo for example), but it is sad that gamers today can’t experience the absolute joy and satisfaction of when a highly anticipated game delivers on its promise. Rose-tinted spectacles and all that, but it’s time gamers voted with their wallets and rejected the creeping effect, which is happening in a number of ways and is sadly eroding my overall enjoyment of gaming.

Another example is the impending move to digital distribution and potential inability to trade or part-exchange downloaded games. Surely the next step for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft is to create walled gardens around their systems, owning the whole value chain and controlling how we consume games and redefining how we ‘own’ them. If I can’t trade in a bad game I took a punt on on release day, I’m stuck with it and the lingering bad taste in my mouth from making that mistake. Surely that isn’t the spirit of gaming where choice and flexibility have ruled for generations?

Recent years have seen some of the best games ever released, but what price will we pay for this in the future? I hope that the next generation (which I can’t wait for) provides multiple ways to consume and own games and learns the lessons from the early part of this generation.

By reader Derks Shelmet

The reader’s feature does not necessarily represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.

You can submit your own 500 to 600-word reader feature at any time, which if used will be published in the next appropriate weekend slot. As always, email and follow us on Twitter.

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