Hi. My name is Jesse, and I used to be a video game junkie. I played 20+ hours a week, I bought at least 20 new games a year and I spent tons of money on computer upgrades to play them. I also spend loads of time reading on gaming technology on Armchairempire.com. I started out on some old-school stuff, a few old DOS BASIC games. Then I moved on to harder stuff like Wolfenstein and Transport Tycoon. Before I knew it, I had played more hours of Civilization than could be deemed healthy, trash-talked my way though several Counter-Strike clans and got up to 15 games a week of Starcraft. So how is it I stopped being interested in new games?
I think it started about the time that games stopped being fun. Yes, that’s right: I don’t think new games are very much fun anymore. EA, one of the biggest publishers in the industry, is too busy pushing out this year’s rehash of Madden or NBA Live to bother trying out something new. Every RTS tries to be the next Starcraft (and, to date, only Dawn of War succeeded), every shooter tries to be the next Half-Life and every strategy game wants to school Sid Meier and his Civilization franchise. Most of the online games require hours at a time to do anything meaningful in the game and cost $15/mo to boot. New games regularly hit you for $50 or more. Why should I cough up that many bones to either play a rehash of my old favorites or spend more time doing pointless busywork than being entertained?
I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of my beat-up NES than out of any of the new games I’ve played in the last three years. Consider that: some of these games are pushing 20 years old and they’re still more fun than most of the garbage showing off the PS3’s fancy graphics. Somewhere along the path of designing video games, publishers forgot that we like to have fun and developers are having a hard time getting their games out there as a result. Even some big-name talent is having trouble getting their wares out.
Game developers, wake up. There are those of us who have a list of demands you need to start meeting Real Soon Now(TM).
- Bring down the prices. I don’t have a lot of time to play video games these days. Consequently, I feel like $40 or more on a game is a waste of my money considering how long it will take me to get a good return. Those of you making online games take notice too: I’m not paying $15/mo for maybe 10 hours of gameplay, and I sure as heck won’t drop $40 on buying an “expansion” to get the new content my subscription has already been paying for. I can’t even imagine what you Xbox 360 folks do with your $80 games.
- Make games less time-intensive. One of the primary reasons I quit World of Warcraft is because I could never get anything done in-game without a good 3+ hour chunk to devote to it. I don’t have chunks of time that large. If I can’t find a stopping point after about 20-30 minutes, you’re demanding too much of me.
- Less style, more substance. Repeat after me: graphics do not make a game fun. The GameCube has low-end graphics yet entertains me more than an Xbox ever could. I don’t find it fun to grab a game, throw it on my 3-year-old PC (which, honestly, is not that old considering I bought top-of-the-line) and find out that I need to drop hundreds of dollars on new parts to make it playable. Trying to distract me from the buggy code and mediocre gameplay with shiny objects just ticks me off.
- Less rehashing. I don’t want to play endless sequels. If it’s going to be a sequel, make sure it departs enough from the original that I won’t be thinking “wow, I could have programmed this as an add-on for the old version.” Remember the several dozen releases of Street Fighter 2? That’s what we call a Bad Idea(TM).
- Bring back old games. I miss a bunch of the old Koei strategy games that came out for the SNES. All they do now is concentrate on milking the Dynasty Warriors cash cow for all it’s worth. (See “rehashing”.) Publishers and developers would do well to dust off an old goodie, do some serious retooling and drop it back out in the market. If a new version of Aerobiz came out, I’d so buy it.
I’m tired of gaming shots being called by no-life dorks who spend more time playing games than going to work. The rest of us need to have a say too.