For anyone raised on systems like the Nintendo 64 or Game Boy, gaming is now a very different beast. Gone are the heady days of the PlayStation 1, in favor of the blander era of modern gaming.
You might argue that it’s a better experience — that the graphics are better, the community is more accepted, and that more brands have become household names. Nonetheless, the popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Mini proves the call for old-fashioned gaming is massive.
Playing games was once a lot more fun than it is today, and here are a few reasons why.
1. Season Passes and Downloadable Content
Remember the days when you could buy a game and play it in its entirety without fussing over downloadable content (DLC)?
If only season passes could burn in hell.
— Martino (@NaughtyGods) March 3, 2017
Those rosy times aren’t that far behind us. So-called “season passes” were only introduced in 2011 and became standard the following year. For the uninitiated (how I envy you), these are up-front payments in order to get discounted rates on DLC, including any additions immediately available when a game is released, and any content in future.
What’s problematic is that most of the time, the contents of a season pass aren’t guaranteed beforehand, and they aren’t refundable. Blindly paying another $50 on top of a $60 game makes every new purchase quite expensive.
This likely crept in from mobile gaming, in which free games offer in-app purchases. But a title for your PS4 isn’t free. You have to cough up a considerable sum for its basic version — then more money to enjoy the release to its fullest. Equally awful are microtransactions in AAA games, which let you spend more money in exchange for virtual currency or shortcuts if you don’t want to grind them out by playing.
Things were a lot better when games had unlockable levels and hidden areas that you were rewarded with because you proved an excellent player. You got the complete experience without having to indulge the developers’ greed.
Why doesn't my season pass include this? https://t.co/Fi7OZoZ6qF
— Haxis of Evil (@petrakramer) November 23, 2016
What can you do about it? Simply refuse to buy season passes or pay for microtransactions, no matter how tempting they are. The less demand, the more likely developers will give up on the idea.
2. DLC Codes
We could argue about whether Amiibo and its ilk actually enhance a game (though they admittedly look great in a display case), or if we should actually just expect the full content when parting with our cash initially. DLC codes, however, are an altogether different beast.
We’ve already ascertained that the current DLC situation sucks, but it hits new levels of notoriety when that content is free. No, seriously — everyone love free stuff, but not when it’s essentially rendered inaccessible. It’s dangled teasingly in front of you, then snatched away.
Let’s take Pokémon as an example. Last year, the brand celebrated its 20th anniversary, released two new titles for the 3DS, and hit the headlines with Pokémon Go. To further commemorate the occasion, various legendary Pokémon were made available through free codes — some through the Nintendo Network, and others via physical stores. The former was great. The latter less so.
You could receive a shiny Xerneas and Yveltal by visiting your local Smyths Toys. My local shop is at least an hour and a half away, and that’s with a car. I don’t drive. Check online and you’ll see a raft of similar complaints.
Remember when you just used to be able to catch a Mewtwo in Pokémon Red?
What can you do about it? Complain to developers. They’ll especially take note if you call them out on social media. Other than that, it’s worth emailing or phoning stores to explain you can’t get there, and ask if they’d be willing to send you the codes otherwise. It may surprise you.
3. Consoles Try to Do Everything
Really, I just want to play games.
I want to put a disc into the drive, grab a controller, and be lost in an adventure for a few hours. Thanks for offering Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, but I’d rather just crack on with playing. No, I’m not interested in Facebook and Twitter right now. Is the Weather app some snide statement about the amount of time I spend indoors?
We’ve moved a long way from plug-and-play consoles. We now expect them to do everything. I’ll admit the Netflix app is handy (though my Blu-ray player also has that feature), but we’ve got enough gadgets elsewhere that let us scour social networking feeds. And who actually checks their stocks on a games console anyway?
There's nothing I hate more than the PlayStation network
— Victoria (@airotcivjim) February 22, 2017
One thing that’s put me off buying anything from PlayStation since their first unit is the PlayStation Network, which I’d apparently have to join. Why? I don’t want to sign up to something. I’m safety conscious enough as it is! More than that, why should I have to?
I just want to play games!
What can you do about it? The key is limiting the amount of details you submit. In the case of the PlayStation Network, enable two factor authentication, or risk a lot of personal information getting out. Even then, it’s not impregnable.
You can also support systems that don’t need excess data. Look at how successful the NES Mini was: it’s just a plug-and-play that require no details about the user. Perfection.
4. Online Play Encourages Trolls
If you sit next to an enthusiastic gamer, your vocabulary will increase. More specifically, you’ll learn new swear words and realize just how many threats include controllers being forced into orifices.
If you’re doing it right, gaming is an immense amount of fun, but the competition can get rather heated. Such exclamations were once confined solely to the house or arcades. There’s something wonderfully intimate about locking eyes with an adversary and battling it out face-to-face. There’s nothing quite like reveling in triumph in a game of Mario Kart, or look bitterly disappointed when your teammate lets you down in Time Crisis.
But online gaming can turn nasty.
Sure, it’s nice having a community around you, but as ever, a level of anonymity encourages what’s commonly referred to now as “trolling.” This is simply being a horrible person for the sake of it. Alongside a barrage of curses, playing with random folks via the internet can lead to a lot of unnecessary abuse. From in-game annoyances like killing your teammates to verbally assaulting someone, the online gaming world can be a toxic place.
It’s insane because even though games mean a lot to many people, they’re designed to be fun.
What can you do about it? Obviously don’t get embroiled in the abuse yourself. Keep a level head. Online gaming is far from essential, so if you’re happy enough playing against the computer or someone you know, ignore the Wi-Fi!
5. Pre-Ordering Online
Head over to Amazon and you’ll be able to pre-order books, Blu-rays, and music months in advance. The same goes for games and consoles. This might seem great, and it is… as long as you get the new product the day it’s released, or, if you’ve more forgiving, the day after.
But look what happened to the NES Mini: soon after its announcement, online retailers sold out. Similarly, getting a Nintendo Switch is a nightmare. If you were lucky enough to snag one, I hope you ordered spare controllers in advance too. When I inquired at a local store about additional NES Mini controllers, the assistant could only wish me good luck.
If you didn’t pre-order in time, you could resort to eBay, where you’ll have to relinquish your bank account to get the console within its first week of release.
Gone are the days of queueing outside GameStop, surrounded by like-minded, excited peers overjoyed at the prospect of digging into a new Legend of Zelda title. Buyers risked hypothermia, but for many, that would be their sole interactions with the outside world for the next three months.
Pre-ordering hardware makes sense, as there’s a limited supply. However, every major release now advises pre-ordering months in advance to get a stupid cosmetic pack with your purchase. With digital downloads, there’s no reason to pre-order since you can read reviews once the game is out and decide for yourself whether it’s worth the cost. This culture of pre-ordering leads to people paying for disasters like No Man’s Sky before they even know if the game is decent.
What can you do about it? This is a difficult one. Pre-orders aren’t going anywhere. I’d advise against paying grossly-inflated prices on auction sites, and really reinforce the need for calm. You might want to get your hands on a new console ASAP, but the universe and your social life won’t suffer if you have to wait an extra month. For games, don’t pay until you know the game is worth having.
6. Overpriced Games
You have to save up for new consoles, but they’re not that frequent and you come to expect a huge amount from them. Modern-day games, however, command massive prices that simply can’t be justified.
Quality graphics are great. A strong plot is definitely a positive. High replayability is ideal. But you shouldn’t have to pay upwards of $50 for one title. I was hungry for the Nintendo Switch. Finding out I’ll have to pay between £50 and £60 (actually more in the U.K. than in America) for one game has completely put me off.
What’s more, the company’s asking you to gamble $60 for a title that’s also an entirely new concept. You’ve no idea if you’ll like ARMS enough to justify such an expense.
We are feeding the greed of gaming developers, lapping up releases with an insatiable appetite. Desperate to get your hands on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? No one blames you. The latest name in the franchise has been teased for years now. Reviews have been glowing. It’ll cause a considerable dent in your bank balance, but what else can you do? You can’t very well wait another year for the prices to fall considerably, right?
The problem is, youngsters don’t have any chance of affording new games anymore. They have to rely on Christmas and birthday presents. That passion won’t be passed on to the next generation. We all have rosy childhood memories of our first Mario, Sonic, and Bomberman games. By outpricing children, studios are robbing them of their fun and emotional connection.
What can you do about it? Keep an eye out for sales and don’t immediately jump on every title. You can consider second-hand items or just use an online price checker. The only way to save cash is to have patience.
Despite our critique, the gaming industry is in a good place right now. Graphics are rivaling movies, massive multiplayer games let you wage war against dozens of real-life foes, and they’re churning out incredible worlds that you can spend a hundred hours in. However, without criticism, this industry may grind to a halt.
What else is ruining the fun of modern gaming? Where could developers improve? What would be the last straw, forcing you to give up on a gaming company? Please tell us below!
Image Credits: Blackregis/Shutterstock