The new face of video games

by Conor Nordberg, Staff Writer

How would you feel buying a book only to discover that half of its pages were missing? Or how about sitting down in a movie theater where the sound is dubbed incorrectly? This is the kind of treatment video games have been receiving in recent years.

How would you feel buying a book only to discover that half of its pages are missing? Or how about sitting down in a movie theater only to see that none of the sound is dubbed in correctly? This is the kind of treatment video games have been receiving in recent years.

Video games are a serious form of entertainment in the U.S., with titles such as “Halo 3” and others outselling almost all other forms of media even available. They are responsible for some insane revenue numbers as well, ranging up to an estimated $20.5 billion just here in the U.S. But there’s been a disturbing trend of half-baked games released by high-caliber studios.

Games such as the recent “Assassin’s Creed: Unity,” “The Master Chief Collection,” “Destiny,” “SimCity” and several others have all been heavily criticized at release because of their sheer broken nature. “SimCity” was crippled because it did not allow users to play the game unless hooked up to the game’s dodgy servers. “Assassin’s Creed: Unity” features bugs galore, and “The Master Chief Collection” simply wasn’t stress-tested enough to withstand the huge amounts of players online at the moment.

See, there’s this practice that nearly all big-name publishers use that guarantees profits: pre-ordering. Small incentives like in-game rewards and limited edition posters are often included for those that pre-order games, setting a precedent that includes consumers blindly trusting companies to deliver a working product on day one.

In addition to pre-ordering, there’s the growing habit of developers adding in patches after release to fix issues with games. While this may sound good on the surface, it’s effectively asking consumers to be quality assurance testers — a job that usually entails being paid.

But some leeway does have to be given. Games at that standard do a serious undertaking, with aspects such as music, art, character animations, coding, advertising, writing and many others all having to be utilized to make one piece of entertainment. Compile this with publishers setting unrealistic deadlines for developers to reach and you have a corrosive situation that’s certain to damage consumer confidence.

These kind of habits are essentially anti-consumer and it’s time for greater awareness. Big publishers that use these kind of nasty schemes are beginning to be harmed however, with Ubisoft’s stock listing on the Euronet exchange falling by 9.33 percent after the technical failures of “Assassin’s Creed: Unity.”

Gaming is a legitimate form of expression and recreation, no doubt about it, so it’s about time that consumers get treated with more respect when they buy video games. This is still a somewhat new frontier of gaming, with virtual reality, new business tactics, and new consoles to work with. The pattern of releasing games that are not only made poorly, but also are selling well is an absolutely bad place to be in. It’s a sad reality, but gamers cannot trust some of their favorite franchises to be solid on day one; if the recent debacle of glitchy games tells us anything, it’s to wait for reviews to come in first and purchases to be made later.

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