For many years the gaming industry has survived on pure wonder and fascination with incredible gameplay, graphics and innovative features such as motion sensors. In fact, by 2019 the industry is expected to grow to a value of $118.6 billion (UKIE). However, with mass Virtual Reality (VR) gaming inevitably looming over us and the launch of No Man’s Sky last week, I wanted to explore the current state of the industry.
Five minutes, then I’m bored…
In a recent discussion with a mate, I was rambling on about how the majority of today’s games are overpriced and under-stimulating – a bit like Wayne Rooney’s haircut. Games of the past year or so have been disappointing. Take Star Wars Battlefront, you play for 5 minutes and you’re in awe of the stunning graphics but then you realise that’s the best-selling feature of the game. There’s not much else except great graphics. The online gaming mode lacks some of the intensity you’d expect with less than accurate exchanges of laser gunfire. The story mode also seems to be lacking any kind of story, as you’re thrust into a basic gameplay mode where the objective is to survive rounds of ever-increasing storm troopers and their counterparts. Perhaps the story gets more developed as you go along but I was left a little disappointed.
I’ve been a little frustrated with other games where the focus is all about online gaming but the actual result hasn’t quite materialised as I’d expected. Take the latest Need For Speed as an example. For a £40 + game there is a real shortage of cars, possibly 50 max. But what’s worse is the lack of modification work you can do to the car. In the early editions of the game you could pimp out everything on your car from the exhausts to the headlights and you could also put crazy colour schemes together. The latest version has some of these options but it really lacks the freedom of earlier editions.
The good old days – 15 or so years ago
I’m lucky to have grown up with incredible games as a kid; the likes of Theme Hospital, Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 and GTA Vice City. Feel free to disagree with these choices, these are just my personal preferences. My point is that these games were so great because they had the basics; a really good storyline. For example, in Goldeneye you could run your way out a Russian embassy (from what I remember!?) save the day by using your watch’s laser to cut you out of a runaway train and you could even drive a tank through the streets of Moscow.
The thing that really set this game apart was the multiplayer game mode. Countless hours were spent chasing mates through nuclear bunkers and trying to find the golden gun. Online gameplay has since made the multiplayer function defunct. There are some good examples of online gaming through – the original Call of Duty Modern Warfare had the perfect balance of a great story, immersive gameplay and tactics. The game requires real skill, something which sadly I don’t possess.
No Man’s Sky – what on earth is that?
Released last week, No Man’s Sky is the game everyone’s talking about. It’s a ‘procedurally generated’ science-fiction game that allows users to explore countless galaxies using spaceships. A mate of mine has taken a holiday to spend time on this long-awaited game. So what’s all the fuss about?
The concept behind the game is simple – go explore and see what you find. You can land on planets, collect minerals, fight oppressive natives and build things. The game does feature online gameplay but because the map is so incredibly large, the chances of bumping into another player are incredibly rare. In fact, it’s so large that it could take up to 5 billion years to fully complete the game according to Game Rant. Again though I feel this is a game that’s really missing a story. I get that this may be the point of this game but I can’t help but think I could get so bored with it. Perhaps I’m just impatient?
Bundling sports games
EA Sports has for a long time been the leading producer of sports games but it’s a brand I feel could branch out a little more. FIFA, one of its long-standing games for football has continued to be a bestseller with new versions being released each year. As the years go by I find myself becoming more cynical of the game which often has limited improvements for a game that costs well over £50 when new. The real issue I have is that for such an expensive game, there is very little gaming you can actually do with it. If you think about it, you can only play one sport and yes, you can play online, but that’s it.
I’ve always thought these games should be sold differently. My view is that individual sports games, such as FIFA should be sold as part of a collection of sports games, a type of EA Sports Hub so to speak. Each game could be bought at a lower cost, say £10 each, and then other sports can be added for additional amounts. So rather than having many hundreds of thousands of gamers owning just one costly sports game, instead they have access to lots of sports they’ve added over time. In my idyllic world of sports gaming, these games would be updated each year for the same cost. This would then create a type of virtual Olympics, where gamers have more choice and can pick and choose between different sports to play. Talking of the Olympics it would also be great to be able to buy individual sporting events such as hurdling or track cycling events to add to your collection.
I’d really like to see gameplay coming back as the number 1 priority for the gaming industry along with lower prices for gaming generally. As humans, we enjoy storytelling, which is why some of the most successful games have such great story modes. Just Cause 3 is a great example of this by the way.
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