Big Game Studios Are Killing the Video Game Industry

Dann Albright 11-04-2015

The big names in gaming—like EA, Square, Valve, Blizzard, and Ubisoft—have a big problem. They’ve become part of the corporate culture that eventually infects most industries, and they’ve lost sight of their most important market: gamers.


The situation is dire, with bad stories hitting the papers and blogs on a weekly basis. We’ve seen three big problems with the AAA gaming scene in recent years, and I’ll break them down here.

Disappointing Games

This is possibly the most damning. These studios are in the business of making video games, and if consumers are going to spend $60 (and potentially a lot more, if you include downloadable content), they need to be impressed by the quality and entertainment value of the games. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been happening.

If you look at some of the games that have been on recent “most disappointing” lists, you’ll see something in common. Call of Duty: GhostsAssassin’s Creed: UnityTitanfallWatch DogsDestinyThe Crew, and The Order: 1886 were all over-hyped. Don’t get me wrong—not everyone hated these games. In fact, a lot of them were pretty well-received. But none of them lived up to the expectations that developers and marketers built up for them.


Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the latest in a long line of generally good games The True History of Assassin's Creed Read More , was filled with bugs on release, almost to the point where it was unplayable. Watch Dogs was supposed to be a new kind of game, where the main character is a hacker and can use his environment to his advantage against his opponents, but only managed good reviews, and not great ones.


We were blown away by early views of Destiny, and it was fun for a while, but the hollow story and soulless post-campaign grinding got old quick. Titanfall was hyped as the next Call of Duty, but has received mixed reviews from players. The Order: 1886 had some of the best graphics we’ve ever seen, but totally fell flat Is The Order: 1886 Worth Buying? The Order: 1886 is here, but is it the PS4 exclusive you've been waiting for? Read More with a very short story, little character development, and boring combat.


Possibly with the exception of The Order, none of these are bad games, but we were promised great games. Ground-breaking experiences. Titles that would change how we thought about next-gen gaming and shake up the industry that’s been stuck on the same old stuff for many years now.

Obviously, my choice of example games is related to my personal feelings for the ones that have come out over the past few years. I loved Tomb Raider. And The Last of Us has been one of the most well-received games in a long time. But for the most part, the games that have been very well-received haven’t come from big studios.


A quick look at the game charts on Metacritic shows ResogunHelldivers, OlliOlli 2, and Ori and the Blind Forest near the top. These are not big games from big studios. Helldivers is only the fourth game released by Arrowhead Studios. Ori is the first release from Moon Studios (though it is now part of Microsoft). All of these games are in the 80s on Metacritic.


Where are the games that get 90+ ratings from critics and players? Where are the ones that go on to be classics, like Half-Life and Bioshock? We just haven’t seen anything from big studios lately that breaks the mold and blows everyone away.

But we have seen some very impressive games like LimboYear WalkflowerThe Binding of Isaac, and Braid. After I finished The Order, I played Apotheon, an ancient Greek platform action game, and spent at least as much time getting through that as I did The Order. And it was significantly better. It was the third game from Alien Trap, a relatively unknown, small developer.



Despite the firestorm of comments I’m sure will follow the use of the term “indie,” it’s these studios that are making the best games 10 Indie Games So Good, You’ll Forget They’re Indie At All There may be times, however, where you want something different from the indie norm. A game that follows indie values, yet is made with the quality that top-shelf AAA games are known for. Titles like... Read More  right now: small, independent, and relatively new. They’re not bogged down by marketing, ridiculous release schedules, or a focus on generating income at the expense of making games that people love to play. They don’t overhype: they take risks and make games that don’t follow in the steps of others.

Unfortunately, these studios are often being bought out by larger ones and either assimilated into their corporate culture or just dismantled. THQ and Maxis both saw their demise recently. PopCap was bought by EA and has gone from being a promising small publisher to a less-than-notable shell of its former self (more on that in the next section). Acquisition isn’t always a death knell, but it seems like it can be a challenge to creativity.

Be that as it may, indie studios are leading the way in gaming today.


Money Grabbing

There are few things that irritate people more than micro-transactions in games. Even so, major game studios are pushing forward with including them in as many games as possible. Here’s EA’s chief financial officer speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference:

We’re building into all of our games the ability to pay for things along the way, either to get to a higher level to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever it might be . . . Consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of the business.

While there certainly are some people out there who enjoy micro-transactions, I have yet to see an outpouring of appreciation for EA’s decision. Consumer reactions to the inclusion of micro-transactions in Dead Space 3 and Grand Theft Auto Online haven’t been overly positive. When micro-transactions show up in free or very inexpensive games, it’s one thing. When it’s in a $60 console game, it’s another.

But even when they’re in small, mobile games, they can still cause a serious amount of consternation. Let’s look at PopCap. Plants vs. Zombies and the Bejeweled series were massive hits, and people loved them Plants Vs Zombies Is Still One Of The Most Fun Things You Can Do On Mobile [iOS] The world of iOS gaming moves fast. Games come out, generate hype, and are forgotten all in a matter of a couple of days. On consoles, gamers will stick with a game longer, but with... Read More . They were also willing to pay for its games, because they were really fun. But after PopCap was acquired by EA, things changed. EA had already taken some flak for turning Real Racing 3 into a freemium game 5 Warning Signs For Avoiding Freemium Games That Want To Suck Your Wallet Dry Many games are free up-front, but bombard players with an endless array of in-game purchases, some of which are impossible to avoid if you want to complete the game. Read More , saying that “the market was demanding games with this model.”

Plants vs. Zombies 2 was subsequently released as a freemium title. It’s possible to get through the game without spending any actual money, but the fact that power-ups, add-ons, and advances are offered on a regular basis throughout the game made many players feel pressured to pay—and few people want to feel like they’re being sold to while they’re playing a game. Unfortunately, game developers are good at taking advantage of the feelings of commitment that we develop to co-opt our decision-making processes Do You Think Twice About These Online Shopping Traps Before You Buy? Retailers and marketers are using cutting-edge behavioral psychology to get you to buy their products, whether you need them or not. Do you know how they're targeting you? Read More and make micro-transactions seem like a pretty good deal. That’s not the way to go about things.


It’s not just free-to-play games that have some players feel like they’re being scammed on the price front. Downloadable content for full-scale games can also feel like a money grab. The first Destiny expansion, The Dark Below, cost $20 (or £20 in the UK, which is quite a bit more), and got even lower reviews than the base game.

It opened up a few new missions, a new raid, and new level caps, but didn’t do much to alleviate the problems with a lackluster story. And some people felt like it made the grinding worse. Of course, you could just not buy the DLC, but then you can’t do the weekly strikes in the base game. To get the full experience, you now need to have ponied up $80.

Evolve‘s gun and monster skins cost $2 and $3 respectively, the Hunting Season Pass is $25, and the Monster Expansion Pack is $15. Which means that, on release day, you could have spent aver $150 on Evolve DLC. If you were to buy all of the Mass Effect figurines that come with exclusive DLC, you’d be looking at almost $275. When Forza Horizon came out, buying the season pass would cost an additional $50, making it a $110 game.

And the list goes on. This graphic on the future of DLC makes gamers’ feelings pretty clear:


And it’s not just game manufacturers. Let’s not forget Microsoft’s attempt to saddle the Xbox One with DRM Everything You Wanted to Know About The Xbox One One box to rule them all - the ultimate entertainment system. A single device to control all your living room entertainments needs - instant on, voice and gesture control, and no more remote controls. That's... Read More that would have given publishers the right to decide whether or not their games could be resold. If not for a public outcry, that would be in place right now.

Poor Relationship Management

Okay, so I’ll be up front about this: this doesn’t fall completely on major studios. Minor studios, gamers, journalists, bloggers, and other companies are complicit in it, too. But it has to stop somewhere. Major developers have had one bad PR event after another. The ea_spouse blog showed the abysmal conditions of EA workers. Other developers have shared horror stories of crunch time before a game release.

There was an outcry over “incentives” and “gifts” given to game reviewers by studios, who don’t seem to show any sign of contrition or changing their ways. (Again, this whole “game journalism ethics It's About Ethics in Stealing Games Journalism: Why AdBlock Needs to Die A simple, free browser plugin killed Joystiq – and is ruining the Internet. Read More ” debacle isn’t completely the fault of major studios, but they didn’t do much to make it better, either.)


Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, made it clear that he didn’t care about players who had enjoyed Tomb Raider on PS4 and wouldn’t be playing the sequel because it’s an Xbox exclusive. EA and PopCap released Peggle 2 as an Xbox exclusive instead of making it available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Nintendo, and Xbox, like the very popular first entry.

We’ve heard countless stories of female game developers being harassed by men within the industry, a fact that has alienated and pissed off who knows how many female gamers. Sexism is absolutely rampant 3 Ways Game Studios Still Reinforce Negative Body Images For Women [Opinion] It’s 2012. It’s been four decades since video games first began to emerge as a form of entertainment for consumption. In those decades, game complexity has improved, massive online worlds have been constructed, and 3D... Read More in the video game industry, both in games and behind the scenes. You can talk about gender-related issues in video games for days, but that’s another story.


It’s clear that major game studios have a big problem with their relationship with gamers. Again, I’ll point out that not all of these things come down solely to the studios.

There are a lot of other parties that are complicit. But the major studios are the ones who can bring forth a change in the culture of gaming and how they relate to their customers. This blatant disregard for their relationship with their market is bad for business, and can’t last.

Time for Change

The AAA gaming scene has some serious problems, and if it doesn’t make some changes, it could face some hard times in the years to come. I won’t go as far as some and say that major game studios are dying, or that AAA gaming is on its last legs; gamers will always be willing to pay for the biggest, baddest, best-looking game out there, but only if it’s good. Which means AAA will always have a market.

But it’s clear that there’s a lot of potential that’s not being realized in the major games market, and that it comes down to a misalignment of priorities and goals between the developers and consumers.


Major developers are forced to prioritize yearly release schedules, ever-increasing production values for stunning graphics at the expense of gameplay and story, and stringing out the collection of money through as many iterations of DLC as possible. It has to stop before we lose the companies who can make mind-blowing, stellar games.

At the moment, indie studios are leading the field. But there’s room for balance—Shovel Knight and Tomb Raider can co-exist. Players deserve to play things like Grand Theft Auto and Limbo without having to buy multiple consoles and gaming PC setups. Developers deserve to be treated with value by their employers.

There’s a lot wrong with the AAA gaming scene at the moment. But not all hope is lost. Let’s make it clear to the big studios that we feel strongly about the changes that need to take place.

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  1. Marcus Harmony
    July 9, 2017 at 8:10 pm

    I agree with much that you say in this article. I was surprised however that you didn't mention technological missteps as well. I mean this in the sense of poorly optimized ports and/or porting games between platforms at all. For me personally, this is a determining factor in whether I buy a game outright, wait for a price drop or ignore the game all together. I refuse to pay full price for a game that isn't optimized for my platform of choice. If I'm using a console, I want my game to respond properly to my controller. By the same token, I don't invest in building a PC for the sake of having a better "console-like" experience.

  2. Dennis
    July 3, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    The game industry has lost sight of things. They are straying way away from their roots which got everyone interested in the first place. Take call of Duty for example. They are making things way to sci fi and more "imaginative" than based on actual weapons and or similar events. They have made it very far fetched. Several other game franchises have followed suit, and i have heard and seen numerous complaints from many other gamers about said problems.

  3. Tom
    May 20, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    I feel that the improvement of technology and consumer expectation are also part to be blame.

    As technology improve game can cramp in more details and effects. But this also mean much more work but to get the graphic work. In the past it's just a simple model and environment and developers don't need to care too much about the details because of technical limitation they won't appear anyway. Now they need to care about physics based lighting, texture simulation, cloth simulation, mocap.... It's an overwhelming amount of work for small improvements. Even a piece of fruit or grabage need to be rendered! Even worse people did ask for it. Even slight degrade people will complain like crazy. Like fallout 4, it's a stunning game both graphic and a brand new art style but people still complain it looks bad.

    Also consumers are getting very demanding. It's either ur game get praise like god like witcher 3, legend of zelda or deem rubbish like deus ex mankind divided or new hitman. It is true some of them have bad business practice or bug but they don't deserve such bad rating. Developers still put a lot of efforts in it. And is especially true with today's game complexity there are so much more running underneath than what player see. This praise or die atmosphere really discourage developers.

    • Dann Albright
      May 29, 2017 at 8:52 pm

      That's an interesting point; as technology has improved, our expectations have changed. And that's had a big effect on the industry giants. I hadn't thought about it that way!

      • Frank
        September 29, 2017 at 5:29 pm

        But that is no excuse to make a sucky story or a game to repetetive.
        Or make a game full of micro transactions.
        The problem is that the developers are under to much pressure to deliver a game each year while people don't rly care to wait little longer aslong the game is rly good.

  4. Gab
    December 26, 2016 at 1:27 am

    Spent hundreds of dollars on warframe an important glitch ruined my game. I went on the forum they said make a ticket. The ticket to support was ignored. I lost all pleasure in the game due to glitch. I'm out all my money and can only ask to shut down my account. They replied to this. Just to identify me.

    • Dann Albright
      January 5, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      That's rough. I'm not familiar with Digital Extremes, the publisher, but that doesn't bode well for their customer service. Have you heard anything since?

      • Gab
        January 5, 2017 at 4:23 pm

        No, they have not replied about the glitch or shut down my account. On their forum other users have reported the glitch and also say they are being ignored.

  5. CF
    November 25, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    I feel like indies are doing more damage than anything. There's so much trash out there it's hard to actually find good quality.

    • Dann Albright
      November 28, 2016 at 2:23 am

      Really? There's definitely lower-quality stuff out there, but I think the volume of games that's coming out is a boon for the industry, especially when titles from big publishers are causing the problems they are.

    • Ovted
      February 7, 2019 at 11:38 pm

      on another end though compared to the past our ability to sort through the trash by indie developers is easier than ever with steam review system and such. I wish there was a source for all games and not just those via steam. meta critic appears to be the only one.

  6. Person genericname
    November 5, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    One of the major things i want to see before i die is the death of the AAA publishers.

    • Dann Albright
      November 12, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      I don't know that getting rid of them is the answer; they do produce amazing games that are very ambitious and stunningly gorgeous. But making them more accountable to gamers would be a good start.

  7. Kraig Lyons (aka Vinji24)
    January 5, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Let me throw in an example of the greed and lack of care for customers these AAA gaming companies have. In this example, I'm going to use EA Bioware:

    Dragon Age: Inquisition
    Release Date: November 18th, 2014

    This was a game that my daughter and I were waiting to come out. Our excitement overwhelming. I drove to GameStop in a snow storm to wait outside for at least 1-2 hours. Though the line was small (possibly weather related in my area), I picked up Dragon Age: Inquisition and headed home. My adrenaline pumping! Unfortunately for my daughter, she was going to have to wait to play until I picked her up later that day. I pulled in my driveway, running into the house. Game unwrapped and opened, into the PS4 it went. Frantically waiting... waiting... hurry download... single player installed, multiplayer looks to be installed. Up for hours waiting, taking the next 2 days off of work with my friends, but still waiting on multiplayer to install... really? While waiting, let's play single player. Immersed in a the Dragon Age world, off I went. About 3 hours in, and probably about 4-5am at this point I get a text, "my multiplayer download is finished". I check mine, "Yes! my is done too", I text back to my friend. It is time. We try to connect to a multiplayer game for the next few hours but continue to get "Dragon Age servers unavailable". My friends and I were able to play 2 full multiplayer games and 1/2 of a multiplayer game over the course of the next 2 weeks.
    Now let's talk about their greed. I paid $70 for the 'Deluxe Edition' upon release. What does this give you... A bunch of useless $h1t! Though I'm not upset at originally paying the $70 or what was provided. The disrespect and greed from EA Bioware comes from when they recently released the 'Game of the Year' edition. This edition includes everything the following:

    • Story Packs: Jaws of Hakkon, The Descent, Trespasser
    • Item Packs: The Black Emporium, Spoils of the Avvar, Spoils of the Qunari
    • Multiplayer Pack: Dragons layer Multiplayer Expansion

    The cost of the 'Game of the Year' edition is currently $40-45. This is already $25-30 less than what I paid for the game on release date, however, this is not the issue at hand. The issue is that they expect us that paid for the game at release to pay $45 for the DLC content that is provided in the 'Game of the Year' edition. This would but my total cost up to $115 for what a person just playing the game could get for $40-45. I don't understand how this is even legal, but I'm not getting into that. EA Bioware should at least provide the DLC as free content because that is what they are basically doing for new customers but not for their dedicated fans.
    In all the gamers who actually care about these games, want them to be great, and not just playable are the ones getting screwed. If 1 person at EA Bioware see's this post then I suppose I did my job. If I could say one thing to the president of the company it would be, "Go F*&# yourself!" I'm sick of AAA gaming companies like EA ripping off their customers and putting out bad products (though Dragon Age is pretty fun, it didn't meet expectations and the multiplayer is garbage!) NHL 2015 was the single worst game I've ever purchased! I'll never see that $60 again, but EA should refund anyone who bought it. DLC's need to go. You should buy a game and get all of the content with it. AAA companies need to have some heart and soul go into their games like some of the "indie" game developers put into their games.

    • Dann Albright
      November 12, 2016 at 10:57 pm

      EA has a particularly bad reputation for things like this. Although I can understand server errors happening to just about anybody, especially for huge releases. I mean, they SHOULD be tested and running, but tech problems happen to everyone. As for DLC . . . yeah, that pisses me off too. The only game I've played where I've downloaded a lot of it is Destiny, and I've been reasonably happy with the price-to-play-time ratio for those. Games like The Witcher 3, though, really have it down. Tons of content, free downloadable stuff, no online problems (at least while I was playing). Obviously it can be done; it's just a matter of whether gamers will demand it.

    • Robert
      November 29, 2016 at 12:03 am

      You are paying more for accessing the content sooner.

      Think of it like a movie. Your family of four goes to see a movie, it will likely cost 40 bucks on top of an equal amount for snacks. So a total of 80 bucks.

      If you wait 6 months to a year, you could buy the movie on DVD for 20 bucks and get cheap snacks from the store (an equivalent amount of snacks would likely cost less than 10 bucks).

      So 80 dollars v 30 dollars.

      The difference is time. You get to watch the movie right when it comes out and talk about it with your friends and online peers when it is the hot topic. If you wait a year, you can see the movie on the cheap but it will not be all the rage. It will be old hat at that point.

      • Dann Albright
        November 30, 2016 at 2:43 pm

        That's a very good point. Greatest Hits and Game of the Year versions are almost always cheaper, likely because you'd have trouble getting people to pay full price for a game that's at least a year old. That being said, I still think we're not getting $60 or $80 worth of game when they come out. The number of bugs that have plagued AAA games upon release over the past few years is staggering. Most of the time they're just annoyances that get fixed, but sometimes they make playing the game impossible or nearly so. I'm happy to pay $80 when something comes out . . . but only if it's awesome, and most importantly, it works.

  8. AdamH
    November 27, 2015 at 3:37 am

    The growing video game industry has been faced with an increase in anti-consumer business practices with the advent of high-speed internet and mobile gaming mechanics becoming mainstream, but a larger worry may lie in recent trade agreements and corporate abuse of copyright. Microtransactions models, the dependance on additional downloadable content, the outbreak of day-one patches, and simple inability or unwillingness to innovate has left a pretty sizable bad mark, but with recent trends showing how these corporations are looking to control the market with unethical legal action has revealed a greater problem. The Trans-Pacific Partnership and a troubling increase in anti-copyright or digital-rights management programs only brings about another hurdle the industry needs to overcome.

    • Dann Albright
      November 27, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      I don't know enough about the TPP to know how it could affect gaming studios, but I'm definitely interested in hearing more. What do you think the effect of the legislation will be?

      • AdamH
        November 27, 2015 at 10:30 pm

        The TPP makes some changes to current regulations regarding corporate secrecy (cracking down on things like WikiLeaks or other whistleblowers), the full criminalization of DRM, and incentives for ISPs to take down content suspected of copyright violations, which is something often abused.

        • Dann Albright
          November 30, 2015 at 8:53 pm

          Ah, interesting. I'll definitely have to keep an eye out for any effects the TPP has on the gaming industry. Thanks for pointing that out!

  9. Anonymous
    September 29, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Personally, I think that corporate greed has a big influence in the problems of gaming industry. Example, Ubisoft showing Watch Dogs on a PC high spec graphics on E3 show-floor, over hyping the shit out of it, attracting many consumers. This "GTA killer" was not only downgraded, it was shit. Combining many gameplay aspects of other various Ubishit games like Ass Creed and Far Cry, without actually improving nor evolving, even worsen these gameplay mechanics. (climbing/clearing a tower to fast travel for example). Then they released Far Cry 4, or should i say Far Cry 3.5, or Far Cry v2. The reason behind the positive reviews of far cry 4 was because ITS EXACTLY THE SAME as Far Cry 3, which was amazing because of the NEW and IMPROVED story/gamplay/presentation. Far Cry 4 and Watch Dogs are perfect example of corporate greed, JUST GIVE ME MONEEEEYYHHH! Dont get me started with EA and the steamy bull shit they Battlefield Hardon.... The more I write, the more im face palming. BF HARDON is basically BF4 with "new" texture models. BF4 itself wasnt groundbreaking either, borrowing many gameplay aspects of BF3 while trying to make it "fast paced" to comply with the market (to attract COD players). BF3, BC2 and maybe BC, are the only good games where the developer's head wasn't completely up their fat ass. I wanted to write a well constructed comment, but it has now turn into more of a rant. But I cant help myself, these companies who made great games before are truing into something dark and malevolent, or maybe they were always like this but the success of mobile gaming and micro transactions has brought the problem to the surface. Kojima recently recently left Konami because the company is now focusing their workforce on mobile/casino slot games.(facepalm) why? its like having a brand new rainbow colored, custom built Bentley, and then dissembling it, mold it into a fucking Nissan Tsuru. They both make $$, but guess who makes more. Last thing I want to point out before I relieve myself from this extensive rant. Not all major game companies are like this, I like to demonstrate 2K and its success with their gaming series: Grand Theft Auto. They have been building, improving, modifying, and changing everything from the ground up, ever since the first top down GTA, and thats why GTA is so "amazing" unlike COD, Ass Creed, Far Cry, BF series, latest Batman games, Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth, the list goes on... I wish they would stop, I rather have 1 game every 10 years or even 20 by game developers, but solid and polished with great improvements over its predecessor, instead of a yearly money grabbing, pile of shit thats not even worthy to be an ass wipe.

  10. Anonymous
    August 31, 2015 at 4:18 am

    I've found my people! This article, the comments, a million times over! As a 42 year old gamer (since Pong), I've been railing on about this, only to be blankly stared at or shouted down as being a curmudgeon. I can barely stand what has become of my most passionate pastime, yet don't want to stop gaming all together. Nice to read I'm not alone on this, and I really, really, REALLY hope things change for the better.

    • Dann Albright
      August 31, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      Well I'm glad to help you discover that you're not alone in these opinions! A lot of people are getting frustrated with big developers, and it's looking to me like the second half of 2015 is going to be a make-or-break time. The Witcher 3 has been very well received, so that's a good sign. Metal Gear Solid V looks to be really good. If Final Fantasy XV and the new Battlefront game have good releases, I'll definitely be willing to retract some of my criticism. As it stands, though, the industry still has a lot to prove.

      • Jason k Wilson
        August 17, 2016 at 9:40 am

        We need to make a gaming players Association/ Union make a charter of what as gamers we expect in game (story) fun game play OK graphics, great is just + . Now to the big AAAs in line let's go after there money if that's all they care about, let's show them we can take it away just as fast as we give it to them, Pickit out side of game stop when a new release comes out and has DLC that crap has got to go, it makes game companys complacent, brings them to that "we can do that later and patch it in" in days of cartridge console games, you would either rise or fall from the content of that game, you had to put everything into it and the Developers knew this because it was on the line, and great games where made out of great adversit, as all art is born out of. Thay worked hard then because they believe in what they were doing, that's what's missing, that's what's been lost in the big AAAs

        • Dann Albright
          August 21, 2016 at 3:54 pm

          The money driving the industry is really tough to compete with, especially when the big studios are making the vast majority of their revenue on the big releases like Assassin's Creed and Call of Duty. And it's going to be hard to organize against that, because a lot of people just don't care. They just want to play the new big release, and they're not concerned about art or even really customer satisfaction. As long as the latest shooter works, they're cool. Which makes it difficult to convince a lot of people that there's a serious problem. But I hope you're right: I hope someday people get organized and show the studios that we're not happy with how the system is working.

  11. Anonymous
    July 30, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    The "AAA" (What does that stand for anyway?) games industry not only destroys the entire focus of "fun" but it also introduces the worst overly glorified evil humanity has to offer; the entire premise of "gaming" has become focused on shooting at something with either a Gun or Arrow, the idea of a moving reason to shoot with said weapons for the sake of "peace" is really one of those things that makes the entire community, look like sadistic retarded autistic children being told that shooting at X = Y reward, and yet the rewards aren't even there!

    Truly the market to which "gamers" are known for are children or men with minds of children; they are children being taught into the stupidity of war preventing other wars, or war = saving humanity, it's insane.

    Also, the entire "goody vs bady" premise is far too repetitive; the originality is dead, there isn't a single reason for example to shoot, and yet the game teaches these mindless kids how to shoot "at the enemy." Which enemy? Who are they? Why are they there in the beginning?

    Literally there's no creative assembly or a stroke of genius - intelligently designed work of art out there. it's just madness. Copy and Paste Copy and Paste Copy and Paste.

    It's mostly a war simulator in all those "games", don't even get me started with the upcoming Doom game.....

    • Dann Albright
      August 10, 2015 at 1:01 pm

      You bring up a point here that's much bigger than the problems facing AAA gaming today—the moral landscape of videogames is a complicated thing to analyze, and people have spent a lot of time doing it. You're right about there being a lot of war simulations, though—Call of Duty is one of the most popular games of all time, Halo and Destiny are big sci-fi shooters, and there are tons of other FPS games that could arguably influence people's perception of violence and good vs. evil.

      There are games out there that break the mold, but they're small and independently produced; you just have to look a little harder to find them.

  12. TPL
    April 30, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Great article! Two other things I wish you'd mentioned are the death of single player RPG, and the misuse of licenses like D&D or Star Wars.

    Any successful single player RPG rapidly dies a death via MMORPG, because the ginormous studios want to make more money (Elder Scrolls being a teetering holdout). KOTOR, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars - all discarded magnificent, beloved franchise single player games to chase the MMORPG money. Some people like them, a whole lot of others (like me) despise them because of the greed and the degradation in the nature of the game (the immersion and story disappears).

    The other issue that fits in nicely with your them is the use (or lack thereof) of huge licenses like Dungeons and Dragons and Star Wars. Both led to magnificent games (Tie Fighter, KOTOR, Baldur's Gate II, Gold Box games). But once those licenses became successful, the corporations moved in, and either squabbled over (D&D) or just plain misused (Star Wars, Might & Magic) the licenses, and killed the potential for great games.

    I'm old enough to remember the exciting young days of gaming in the early-to-mid 1980s, and there is no question that gaming started dying a quick death when it started making big money and the corporations moved in.

    • Dann Albright
      May 5, 2015 at 6:11 am

      Ah yes, I also lament the death of the single-player RPG. I loved Final Fantasy VII and VIII, but haven't been able to bring myself to play the newer MMORPG entires in the franchise. I've just had too many bad experiences with online interaction with other gamers. And I totally agree about losing the immersion and story; that was certainly the case with Destiny, which I had high hopes for.

      The licensing issue is an interesting one. I'm not very familiar with D&D games, but I've played a lot of Star Wars games, and they've been generally underwhelming as of late. There have been some great standouts in history—Battlefront II, LEGO Star Wars, TIE Fighter—but a lot of them just haven't been all that great. And that's a shame, especially with the size of the hardcore Star Wars fanbase. I have really high hopes for the new Battlefront entry!

      Thanks for comment—it was really interesting to read!

  13. Ross
    April 22, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    I really do afraid of the day when every single game will require you to be constantly online and will have screen resolutions as DLC, This unlikely, of course, but still possible, and it is my nightmare. See, Rome II: Total War releases graphic options as DLC, Mortal Combat X releases additional controls as DLC... and, of course, uPlays, Origins and Steams everywhere. I really miss those days when you really could just buy game on CD, and it will be really full game, and you could give it to a friend freely, and have some LAN play and stuff... Good ol' days, RIP. Gaming industry is dying for me.

    • Dann Albright
      April 26, 2015 at 2:57 pm

      Yeah, those days do seem to be over. And while I'd love for them to come back, it doesn't seem likely. I think the best we can hope for is that publishers commit to making higher-quality games that have more replay value, are better-prepared for launch, and don't have tons of things ferreted away for DLC.

      Here's hoping!

  14. YellowApple
    April 14, 2015 at 5:46 am

    No mention of Kerbal Space Program, which has basically become among the greatest (if not *the* greatest) indie game of all time and it's not even finished yet? :)

    But yeah, this is how it's been throughout the history of gaming. Indie developers make lots of money on great games. Big companies form to make even more money. They succeed for awhile until customers are disillusioned. Development shifts back to indie efforts. Rinse and repeat.

    • Dann Albright
      April 14, 2015 at 9:37 am

      I've never heard of Kerbal Space Program, but maybe I'll have to check it out!

      "Rinse and repeat" is right. Ad nauseum.

  15. Grogknurd
    April 14, 2015 at 4:57 am

    The record industry found itself in a parallel situation in the 50s and 60s.
    It all blew up with the "payolla" scandals that rocked the industry.
    It seems that the same thing is going on today with game reviewers that was going on with the DJs who could push record sales.
    This has never ended well in the past, what makes ~anybody~ think this time around will be any different?

    • Dann Albright
      April 14, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Interesting; I didn't know about the record scandals of those decades. I can definitely see a parallel, though! As for why people thought it would work this time . . . humanity tends to repeat its mistakes. A lot. :-)

  16. Robert B
    April 14, 2015 at 1:23 am

    I agree with everything that you had to say in your article, I have been a long time gamer having caught the gaming bug back in 1986 on my first computer the Commodore Amiga 1000 and I still own it. It was not too long ago that any self respecting game developer would offer a free demo of their new game. Back then you could try out a game to see if it was your cup of tea and the other thing that it prevented was over hyping of a game. It was what it was in the demo and if you bought it you just got all of the content. Today the vast majority of AAA games are over hyped to the point that the developers and publishers out and out lie to the gamer. I was duped by this when I pre purchased Destiny on the PS4. I feel just like the asses at Bungie mugged me on a street corner and sole $100 of mine. Well Bungie Destiny is the first Bungie game and the last I will ever buy! I have more fun playing UT 2004! Destiny is simply not fun, it is more work than when i was working and I have not played it since January of 2015 and even though I paid for it I have no plans of ever playing this damn game even after the 2 DLC is released. Bungie and Activision has stolen the last buck from me. As for EA, hell I have not purchased anything that EA has produced in about 4 years. I do not appreciate that EA treats their paying customers like criminals due to the draconian DRM that they choose to employ which does not work. Just check out the newest releases via bit torrent. At the moment the only games I buy are purchased via and the only AAA game developer that is worth my money and attention is CD Projeck Red and their Witcher series.
    In my opinion the only effective tool for change is for the majority of gamers to ban together and pick the worse offender, EA would be an excellent choice. Boycott anything that they publish for a period of at least 2 years or at least long enough to put them out of business. If the rest of the publishers did not change their ways then a second worse one should be chosen, perhaps Ubsoft or Activision would be a good candidate. The most effective weapon we have as consumers is to vote with our wallets.
    To me the worst trend in gaming today that I think is coming from the mobile apps is the so called free games but the most are pay over and over just to have a chance to win with in app purchases. I personally do not even waist my band width downloading such games.
    At this point the gaming industry has pretty much lost me as an avid gamer and I now am devoting much more of my time and money in getting back to long neglected but much more productive endeavors. I am doing much more digital art creation and I am making attempts to rekindle my interest in music creation and am attempting to learn to play keyboard and guitar.
    So to the money grubbing gaming executives Go Screw Yourselves, I do not need your BS. My PS 4 is mainly used for watching Netflix, Amazon instant video and HBO Go, and not for gaming because 99% of the games on this platform are not even worth my time to play let alone spend money on. If I did not prefer the interface for these media apps I would have put it up for sale long ago on Ebay.

    • Dann Albright
      April 26, 2015 at 2:55 pm

      A massive boycott would be good at sending a message, you're right about that. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem likely to happen any time soon. Especially with EA . . . as much as the gaming community hates on them, they publish a lot of really popular games (I'm thinking back to my college years and how many of us spent hours and hours playing Madden games). If a boycott were to happen, I think it'd have to be against a smaller publisher . . . but that likely wouldn't have the same impact. Hopefully if we have enough discussions about this, people will stop pre-ordering games and the sales of sub-par titles will fall.

      Thanks for your comment!

      (Oh, and I totally agree about free demos; those were great.)

  17. Daniel Saner
    April 14, 2015 at 12:53 am

    To some degree, the hype that comes with big-budget games of course makes it more likely for them to turn out disappointing, even if they're objectively still very good games. But well-funded PR machineries working for several years, and countless publications happily and uncritically repeating it all, create so many different expectations in so many players that it's impossible to satisfy them all. And of course, a certain "blandness" is kind of the point of mainstream games. The things that we get really passionate about, we do so because they're something special, in whatever way. But the more special something is, the more likely it is to alienate other people with differing tastes. Mainstream is all about reaching the larges possible audience, by finding the balance. Which means: filing off all those special bits until the game is as inoffensive as possible.

    I agree that it's more of a problem for videogames than elsewhere though. While film and music, for example, have both this rather bland mainstream blockbuster segment as well as the daring, low-budget indie titles, they also developed a very healthy in-between. Mid-sized, successful indie labels with sizable production budgets, but more daring products and a tighter, more respectful relation to their listeners and fans. Or arthouse films which don't have the AAA marketing budgets, but are far from being low-budget productions, and enjoy successful theatrical runs in smaller theatres with enthusiastic crowds. The videogame world seems more polarised. We have EA, Blizzard, Ubisoft etc. pushing mostly tired and formulaic franchise titles (although they're good for the occasional positive surprise, to be fair), and the indie studios, often one-man teams, working on a shoestring budget and hoping to one day be able to live off their art. Examples for professional indie development are still few and far between.

    Games have also seen an incomparable explosion in production budgets over a very short time, due to a possibly unhealthily fast technical progression. Two decades ago you could still land a blockbuster with just a small team of designers and developers. Three decades ago, one person could top the sales charts with a game they developed themselves. These days, don't try to compete unless you can afford a team of hundreds working for 2-3 years. Without any income, you've got one chance to try and recoup it all on release. This being an unhealthy business model is an understatement. No wonder the majority of big-budget games never turn a profit! The part of the budget that goes into modelling, textures, motion capture and voice acting, etc. is astounding, considering that you can do all of this to perfection and still end up with a bad game nobody will enjoy playing. I think companies have been too focused on spending huge budgets on these technical superficialities, and neglecting that you need good writers and designers too. I see too developments that make me optimistic though: increased use of middleware which means fewer studios re-invent the wheel for every project, and a disillusionment of gamers with pointless eye candy. By this point, the massive growth in gaming's audience is behind us, and people are harder to impress with superficialities. There will, hopefully, be a return to values more to do with game design and writing.

    DLC has definitely gotten out of hand. Think again of the relations regarding the budget. Let's take Grand Theft Auto V for a recent example. The combined budget for development and marketing is estimated to have been somewhere beyond $250 million. Imagine how many thousands of 3D models and how many textures have been created by how many graphic artists over the development time. Yet the game sold in the same range as most games do, at around $60, and that plan seems to have worked out. GTA V is one example of a game that turned a massive profit. And now some games are trying to sell *one* new textured 3D model to you for $3, or 5% of the price of the original game? I think everybody sees the problem here. Calling it a rip-off doesn't get close. There's just no relation between what you pay and what you get.

    Nice that you also mentioned the DRM there, because that's where I see another problem. I can't for the life of me figure out why publishers still fall for that. Decades of experience prove that it never works, people will crack it in no time. And the only ones who suffer the negative consequences of copy protection are always the idiots who paid for an original copy. Because it takes just one guy to distribute a cracked copy, and all the pirates are not only getting the game for free, they're also getting the cleaner, higher-quality copy of it. Tell me how this should act as an incentive to buy an original? Much rather, it makes me want to get the pirated copy even if the legal release was free and the pirated one was full price! I just want to be respected as a customer and get a product I feel is worth its price.

    Publishers are wasting money threefold when they're emplying DRM: once for the development or licensing of a mechanism that won't work (at least not for long), again by making an increasing number of people stay away from the game *because* of its copy protection (not least because more and more people have made first-hand negative experiences), and probably most heavily by generating a massive increase in customer support costs, because of all the people who bought the game legally and can't play it because of the DRM (remember, only people with legal copies are affected by it!) It's nutty! And don't start with all their babble of "lost sales". People who pirate games have already decided that they aren't going to spend any money on an original, and nothing, including the theoretical uncrackable DRM and hence unavailability of a free copy, will make them change their mind. They'll just go for another game that they *can* get for free, or don't bother at all. Even if your DRM worked, they won't care because in contrast to legal buyers, they haven't lost any money of it. People who pirate games are largely of two types: those who couldn't afford the original, or those who wouldn't want the game if it cost even just $1. Calling either of these situations a "lost sale" is ridiculous. Still, publishers keep using them as excuses to keep shooting themselves in the foot.

    It's the major part of a wider problem why games, and PC games in particular, have developed in the wrong direction. 20 years ago I said that in order to remain competitive, PC games had to become more like console games in their technical handling. Meaning, you can't expect large parts of the population to deal with complex system configuration, installation and setup of games, tweaking settings, etc. That this is possible is one of the great advantages of the PC platform, but people who have always played on the PC underestimate how big of a hurdle it can be if you *need* to deal with this stuff to play. Consoles, at that time, used to be plug & play. Put the disc in the drive, turn it on, and start playing.

    But both areas of the industry have been moving in exactly the opposite directions! PC games are less and less accessible to people who are less tech-savvy, because now in addition to checking system requirements, you also have to find sources that explain the copy protection scheme to you before you buy. When and how do I need an Internet connection, what additional costs might it incur, can I even play it on the go, what if I want to resell it, what if I change hardware, will the game expire at one point, or does it otherwise depend on some external server that might go offline at any point? And apart from installing and configuring a game, you now also need to deal with half a dozen online accounts just to launch your singleplayer game. On the other hand, consoles have started to take on all the worst properties of PC games. Now we have different configurations, and some games no longer running on all of them. We have mandatory hard drive installations that take ages to perform, and online updating to fix games that were released in a broken state. It took me 1.5 hours to start playing GT4 on the PS3, because after the 30-minute installation, the game insisted on doing an update – taking about an hour to download pretty much everything I just installed from the disc again, over a Wi-Fi connection. Brilliant.

    To close the circle between DRM and lack of quality in games: recently some publishers even got ridiculous ideas such as asking for a cut when games are resold, in order to soothe their financial ailments. Apart from the preposterousness of such an idea, which (a) is entirely unjustified, (b) violates applicable consumer protection laws, and (c) would be ridiculed in any other industry (the games industry, on the other hand, oiled their PR so well that they actually got some gamers to spout the same nonsense in their support) – there is the telling fact that these publishers are again looking for fault with their customers, instead of realising the actual problem. If people are selling their new games so quickly after release, and in such numbers, that they become a problem for the first-hand market, maybe it's time they start wondering why their customers want to get rid of their new games again so quickly. Could it have something to do with them not being very fun to play? The real classics, people were so fond of they wanted to keep them in their collection, because they expected to replay them again for years to come (which, of course, for new games will often be impossible anyway due to online activation). With the short playing time and zero replayability of most mainstream games today, I'm not shocked that the used market is flooded with them.

    • Dann Albright
      April 26, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      You make a lot of really great points here, Daniel. I especially like the comparison to the music industry, which has a lot of mid-size labels that keep specific fan bases very happy without an astronomical amount of PR and marketing (in fact, I'd say the two labels from which I buy most of my music fall into that category). But in gaming, those companies don't seem to exist. I'm not sure why that is, though—could they exist? Or does something about the current state of the industry make that impossible?

      Something that you mentioned in passing at the end also caught my eye: the lack of replayability of most games today. That drives me absolutely nuts. Especially in games like The Order, which are really short in the first place. That seriously devalues the game. You're going from $60 for, say, 20 hours (even if that's four five-hour playthroughs if they're different enough) to $60 for 7 or 9 hours of a single playthough. Terrible deal.

      Thanks again for all of your very detailed insights—I'm really glad to know that there are other people out there who have given this a lot of thought!

  18. D_Crayst
    April 13, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    This is absolutely spot on. I would add to the list the absomute lack of originality - or to put it nicely, the "let's give gamers what they want" approach. I'm an avid gamer, owning several systems and purchasing games regularly. But over the course of the past 2-3 years I have had the feeling of playing the same game over and over and over. Of the big names only Nintendo seems hellbent on doing their own thing, which is refreshing. I'm getting more and more on the indie scene too, as well as (re)playing games I've loved in the past years. Meanwhile, my pre ordered PS4 is collecting dust and looking less attractive by the day. On the upside, I have more time for non gaming stuff :p

    • Dann Albright
      April 14, 2015 at 9:34 am

      Yeah, originality is definitely taking a hit right now. I was really looking forward to The Order, hoping for a very original game that combined a lot of my favorite literary themes, but was totally disappointed by a lack of . . . well, pretty much everything but graphics. Anyway, Nintendo does seem to not be following the trend; their emphasis on the Wii has been really interesting, and they seem to have created and cornered a market with it. I'm a bit wary of it becoming more like the mobile gaming scene in the future, but hopefully it stays true to what it does best.

      But more time to spend doing non-gaming things is always good, too. :-)

  19. Suleiman
    April 13, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Finally someone has said the truth and but the truth and God is his wintness. I salute you Dann. This is an important writing.
    I am a gamer and I play games to have fun and to do things that normaly I won't do in real life. Three kind of games I always play : racing, first person shooting and soccer. My real racing funtime started with Out Run, yeah I bet now you just went "ahh wow that game" Where did my lauch money go, at the arcade of course playing this game endlessly. When Nintendo 64 came out, I got Top Rally Gear where the game play and the music takes you to another world. Game Cube was next and the bad boy NFS Carbon came to existance challeging us to drive at night. PS3 is here now and NFS Shift dared us to drift. All these games were arcade like games, rules of physics got nothing on them, play them mostly alone , pure fun and you pay no cent. Wow it is PS4 time now and NFS Rivals showed up....what is that? is it a game? why do I see cars with nick names on them. Oh I am in multiplayer mode , let me go to single mode. Wait a minute, why the mission is too short in single mode and vast in multiplayer mode. I don't want to play with strangers all the time. Lets grab The Crew. Sorry there is no network available, check your internet connection. But my internet is down because my dog ate the modem. I can't play the game at all till I am connected to internet?! Shock and awe! I can't swap the game, because I got the digital copy version, very smart!

    What I want to say is that in my opinion true racing game stopped after NFS Shift, true shooting game stopped after MW2 and true Fifa soccer stopped after Fifa12. What the gaming insdustry do not understand is that I can go back to my old, functioning consoles and play my cool games and leave mo'money in my pocket. They ignored the gameplay and concentrated on graphics. If I want to see crazy graphics I will go to iMAX theater and watch a stunning movie ......and it will be in 3D. I think I will follow the foot step of my kids and play cell phone games, cheap and cool.
    Thanks again Dann for this awesome article, I learned a lot and now I know I am not alone who is disappointed.

    • Dann Albright
      April 14, 2015 at 9:31 am

      No, you're definitely not alone in your disappointment! As you can see, a lot of people agree with you. I don't play many racing games, but after looking into The Crew, I had a similar reaction; I don't want to always be online, and I don't want to always play with other people (I learned from playing Destiny raids and strikes that playing with strangers can be a hugely negative experience from time to time). But online capability and open-world multiplayer are THE big features right now. Hopefully someday we'll return to story and fun being the most important things a game can have.

      Thanks for commenting!

  20. Doc
    April 13, 2015 at 4:17 pm

    Sooner or later the market will correct this - gamers are getting sick of huge Day 1 patches, mounds of $$$-for-DLC, buggy online components, and all the other crap they've been putting up with for a decade. Mobile gaming, with easy patching, light requirements, and free-to-play modes (with microtransactions if you want them, but *not* required) are eating Big Gaming's lunch right now, and once they bleed enough that EA, Blizzard and co. actually start to notice, things will change.

    • Dann Albright
      April 14, 2015 at 9:28 am

      I really hope you're right, Doc. It seems like it can't go on like this for very long, but I don't know if that's true or not. Hopefully not.

      As for mobile gaming taking a bite out of AAA gaming, that's probably a good thing, even though a lot of things about mobile gaming (ads, microtransactions, their advertising campaigns, the lack of depth) irritate me. It's clear that people like them, so hopefully it stirs the big names to make some changes. However, if they make changes to be more like the current mobile games, I'm not sure that would be such a good thing, either. We'll just have to see.

      Thanks for reading!

  21. McFuzz
    April 12, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    I think the biggest killer of the industry right now is the next generation consoles themselves. So many people have bought them, but everywhere I ask, people say "Yeah I have a PS4, but I haven't used it since InFamous." or "Yeah I don't use my Xbone much, only for Netflix". Think of how many games you've bought on your next gen console that wasn't on the previous generation of consoles or just a.... "HD Remake". Remakes are the biggest disease killing videogames right now, and the worst part is, people are actually paying for these 1 year old remakes (GTA5, The Last of Us, Borderlands 'Handsome Collection', RESIDENT EVIL 1!?) None of these games are particularly bad, but you ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT release an identical game a year after its initial release and say "Oh we just upped the graphics and included a DLC pack". The amount of new IP's are already dwindling and comparitively bad.

    I mean, the averagely received DMC got a remake. What purpose does that serve? You can pick up the Xbox 360 copy for $10 pre-owned at any gamestop, or you can spend $60 for the identical game on PS4 with two extra textures on Dante's edgy, edgy face.

    They need to admit it. They're scared to make a new IP or a sequel unless it's a sport or racing game, because then they don't need to make a cutscene or a story. They're scared to put the 7 digits of funding into the game that developing a next generation game costs, because of how close-minded gamers are now. And this is why the PS4 and Xbone will never succeed. NOW IF YOU'LL EXCUSE ME I'll keep playing my gaming PC and my Wii-U (Which already has more than 10 absolutely must-play videogames for any would-be gamer, and what do you know, only 1 of those is a remake.)

    • Dann Albright
      April 14, 2015 at 9:26 am

      That's a very interesting take on the problem. I hadn't thought of the consoles themselves being problematic. I have noticed that there aren't as many games that I'm interested in on PS4 as there were (or even still are) on PS3, though, so I think you might be onto something. (Also, I've heard good things about the Wii U, and that might get a spot on my purchase-in-the-near-future list.)

      I definitely agree with the remakes. There are some remakes people have been asking for for years (like Final Fantasy VII), but we get "HD" versions of games released one, two, three years ago. It's pretty lame, and it's also pretty clearly a moneymaking move. As far as I can tell, there isn't much demand for these, but people buy them because they love the game so much—in that way, it feels like we're being taken advantage of.

      Thanks for chiming in! (Also, if you have specific recommendations for Wii U games, I'm all ears.)

  22. Pilfus
    April 12, 2015 at 11:32 am

    It is getting just as bad in on line games Wargaming. net "World of Tanks" has been a great success them came "World of War planes". This game still has many problems in it, but have they concentrated on fixing those NO! They have moved onto creating World of War ships. to make more money.

    • PinkUnicorn
      April 12, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      World of Warplanes was a complete failure straight from beginning. War Thunder cornered the market yet Wargaming wanted a slice of pie. So WoWp failed just as War Thunder Ground Forces failed since nothing can beat World of Tanks right now. Not even Armored Warfare since it's just copying WoT using CryEngine for the eye candy effect.
      WoWp had no chance in a battle with WT, so why should they beat a dead horse?
      World of Warships looks pretty good and I think it will be a major success (not as WoT) in USA, Russia and Japan.
      Remember that Wargaming is not a charity, it's a business .

    • Dann Albright
      April 14, 2015 at 9:22 am

      Whoa . . . I had no idea that there were so many "World of" games! That side of the gaming industry is a completely different story; browser and mobile games have a completely different strategy (usually to get people hooked and then make them pay via microtransactions), which, while irritating, is a different model altogether, and I know less about that one.

      I think I might have to make a point to learn more about it, though! Thanks for bringing this up.

  23. Zevism
    April 11, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Calling out blizzard for killing videogames is a blasphemy really. Its okey to say EA is killing the videogame industry (just look at the sims or BF series (from 3 on). But including blizzard or even valve just shows the hate this writer has to big AAA. Blizzard and valve had done more than all of the indie games in this world combined.

    • Dann Albright
      April 14, 2015 at 9:19 am

      You say that Blizzard and Valve HAD done a lot for the video game industry, and I'm not saying that's not true. In fact, they've made some of my favorite games of all time. There have been a number of EA games that I've really loved, too. These companies may not be making terrible mistakes in the gaming industry, but they're not really doing a whole lot to help it, either. Blizzard did a great job handling the complaints about loot in Diablo III, and Valve hit a homerun with Portal. But I haven't seen either of them do a whole lot that's really innovative lately, which is what we need right now. We need really new things that gamers haven't seen before to get us out of the AAA rut that we're in.

    • Dann Albright
      April 14, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Also, I wouldn't say that I "hate" AAA. I play more AAA games than indie games. I'm currently playing through MKX, and I just finished Far Cry 4. But something has to change soon.

  24. Ben S
    April 11, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    You absolutely nailed this, Dann. I've found myself less and less interested in the latest big releases and more interested in wanting to play the best games of a few years ago I missed out on (BioShock, Mirror's Edge) and I'm playing indies in between those.

    The gag of pre-order hype leading up to a mediocre experience burned me with Watch Dogs and Destiny last year. I want to play fun games, not ones designed just to make money.

    This is an excellent description of gaming in 2015.

    • Dann Albright
      April 14, 2015 at 9:06 am

      Thanks, Ben! I've been more drawn to the now-classic games (like BioShock) that I didn't play the first time around, too. That and smaller games, like Apotheon, Shovel Knights, and Resogun. I definitely agree with your opinion on pre-orders . . . it just doesn't seem like a good idea anymore. Especially when you can usually get the pre-order exclusive content in a couple months for a few bucks. Or free.

  25. dragonmouth
    April 11, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    For a long time now it has the practice in the American entertainment industry (TV, movies, games, etc.) of "if it is successful, copy it to death". As soon as one studio releases a successful movie or show or game, everybody and his uncle comes out with a "me too" copy. Going back to the 1960s when I started watching TV regularly, there was the Year of the Cop shows, then the Year of Doctor shows, then a Year of Lawyer shows when all that the networks had on was shows about cops, doctors, lawyers, etc.

    Movie studios beat subjects to death and beyond. How many Halloween, Friday the 13th, Fast and Furious movies were made? While the original Jaws was a very good movie, Jaws IV was a total, unmitigated schlock that tried to cash in on the name.

    "they (indie studios) take risks and make games that don’t follow in the steps of others."
    They are not afraid to take risks. In fact they have to not only survive but to prosper. Big studios are afraid to take risks because they feel a failure might lose them money and, more importantly, may tarnish their brand's reputation. Big studios also are in competition with each other to be the first to release the "latest and greatest." This haste to be the first leads to shorter and shorter quality control cycles which, in turn, leads to more and more glitches.

    In small companies the game creators are in charge while at the big ones the bean counters make all the decisions.

    • Dann Albright
      April 14, 2015 at 9:04 am

      You've pretty well summarized all of my points here! The "me too" phenomenon, the profit protection, al of that. Shorter quality control cycles are big problem, and it seems clear that that's what's going on in the industry right now. Hopefully it doesn't get to the point that some movie studios have gotten to . . . even the mash-ups (Freddy vs. Jason, Alien vs. Predator), which you'd think would attract a big audience, have failed. Fortunately, indie gaming is a pretty solid part of the scene and doesn't look to be going anywhere.

      Thanks for your comment!