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I honestly think I'm finished with modern gaming

Ita Bear

Dec 8, 2020
Hello folks,
I don't want this to become another DLC-bashing thread (though DLC and its rampant abuse are one of the many factors that helped me reach this point), but I wanted to share my thoughts to see if my sentiments are echoed elsewhere in the community. Computer gaming in 2024 is just not fun any more for me. There have been some serious shifts in the industry that I just can't get behind and, in my opinion, have led to the ruination of the gaming industry (I know the gaming industry is far from ruined - it makes billions per year - but any semblance of fun has been utterly pulverised). Let me go into a few.

Firstly, and perhaps most perversely, is the bizarre evolution of the customer/developer relationship. I seem to be in the minority here, but I'll say it straight: I have no interest in communicating with you. I don't care about your development processes, the choices you made and why you made them, what your goals are and what your ten year plan is. I want to purchase a game from you and enjoy it. That's it. Many developers now, particularly in the strategy game area, think it appropriate to lay bare every facet of game development and let the community critique every single aspect of their game. Developers respond to player queries and comments in forums, discord, reddit etc, with what seems to be the goal of building up a camerardie between players and game designers. This is easily exploitable as a marketing tactic - if players think developers care and will listen to their feedback, they are probably more likely to purchase the game in the hopes their suggestions will be listened to. It's not my job, as a consumer, to help or give feedback to developers. I expect you, as professional game designers, to have the knowledge, ability and resources to put together a functioning and enjoyable game. I don't recall this being standard practice 20 years ago but it must be effective as so many developers do it now. I just find it exploitative and frankly a bit weird. No other industry tries to blur the consumer/provider relationship quite like gaming does.

Another point: game development has become absurdly long. This is in no small part thanks to the massive dependency on DLC production. In the 90s/00s, it was common practice for a game to be released, receive 1-3 expansion packs in the following years and then production begins on a sequel. See: Civs II-V, Half-Life, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon, Age of Empires to name a few. Games were released, kept fresh and updated with some additional gameplay, and then used as a basis for the next game in the series. Games never outstayed their welcome. There was movement, progress and innovation. Some games now, and Paradox very much leads the charge here, are in development for over a decade. Europa Universalis IV was released in 2013 and is still receiving DLC to this day, with the full game costing hundreds and hundreds. The game remains popular, but for me it's nothing but a bloated, tacked-together mess of mechanics made in separate decades. It means that, if you don't enjoy a particular game in a series (as is the case with me for EUIV - I enjoyed EUIII), you have to wait 1/8 of your life to get a sequel that may or may not tickle your fancy. It means that, when a sequel does eventually come, 80% of the mechanics added through DLC will be dropped (or, in best corpo-speak, streamlined) so they can be resold in a slightly different flavour in the following decade. It means that fans, rather than enjoying a game for what it is, become what I like to call content junkies. Browse any game forum and you'll see any number of posters expressing delight at having more "content" to increase their hours played. They don't care what it is, they just need the content injected directly into their veins. Again, it's so exploitable. Get them hooked and you have a customer for life. Or 1/8 of it, anyway. Gaming is so stale, progress is dead. I was colonising North America in EU4 as England in 2013. I'm still doing it now in 2024, just now I have to press an extra 15 buttons to do it.

Creativity is dead. Reboots and remasters are easy money. Why bother gambling on a new game when you can sell DLC to a game released in 2015. "Professional" gaming is determined to ruin any and all fun it can. Despite representing 0.1% of the playerbase, game developers will constantly tweak and balance their games until virtually all strategies become irrelevant. The meta will rule supreme. Age of Empires II is a fantastically varied game with over 40 civilisations to choose from, but if you don't go for a Feudal archer or knight rush, you're almost certainly going to lose. That's what people what to see on Twitch, so that's what's catered to. Physical media are dead - Steam's virtual monopoly forces everyone to use their storefront unless the developer is gracious enough to allow a DRM-free version on GOG. It's just so darn toxic. Trash-talking has always been a part of gaming, but what used to seem good-natured banter now seems genuine hatred and vitriol. Any discussion board is a mess of arrogant, venom-spitting players shouting the same old abuse if you dare criticise their game. That's a you issue. Skill issue. You're so entitled. Rose-tinted glasses. You're a shill. You're a hater. It's just all so vile, yet not surprising. Modern game design encourages content junkies that sink hundreds, thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of hours of their lives into a single computer game. If someone started criticising something you spent literal months of your life on, wouldn't you get tetchy too? Games get constantly patched and updated. Fixing issues is a good thing, but not when it causes its own issues - a recent Baldurs Gate III update forced me to uninstall and redownload the entire game. Some patches introduce more bugs than the fix. Where's the quality control? Where's the care and consideration for the consumer? Gone a long time ago.

I've had enough. I've enjoyed games all of my life, but modern game development has broken me. The gaming golden years were around 1997 - 2007, give or take a few years, and I yearn to go back to them. I have far more fun replaying or discovering older games than I do anticipating and playing newer titles. The current state of the industry is pitiful, and unless there are monumental improvements made, I cannot see myself coming back to modern gaming. It's tiring, draining, toxic and, worst of all, boring. I'm done.
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