The gaming industry is a business at heart, but it is unlike any other business. This medium entertains, involves, is considered an art form, and allows for unparalleled control by the player. Furthermore, this instrument of entertainment can also morph into every other form that exists in this world. So why are we becoming bottle necked into AAA games and their hype? AAA games have become so infested with marketing ploys that at this point, it would not be a stretch for Don Draper to be pulling the strings. I know, right now you’re thinking to yourself that you have heard this a thousand times, but not in this manner so stick with me. Most gamers would argue to the death that video games are a form of art and deserve all the respect in the world. So why in the hell are we allowing a few trumped up suits to dictate what represents video games as a whole in the public eye? You may be thinking to yourself at the moment that it isn’t true, but take this simple example. Battlefield, COD, and DOOM are all widely known among casual players,. but Undertale is a bona-fide myth. You can thank the AAA marketing and advertising machine for that.
Months upon months of chopped up sizzle reels, farcical play throughs, and company bought peons shoving content down our throats of a game that we may never see the real version. Now most of your minds immediately shift to No Mans Sky, and we will get to that debauchery later but for now let us focus on the Division. The trailer that was shown to us at E3 in 2013 was the completely perfect example to prove just how far off the rails this train has gotten. The gameplay that was shown was not only a rouse to gain our trust in development but was also a selling point, crafted by the Mad Man himself Don Draper (not really). We were privileged enough to see a build of a game that would never come to fruition,. A living breathing New York city with environmental clues that would lead to further investigation, revealing smaller pieces to a bigger puzzle. The players on screen were able to gain intelligence on certain situations by simply being aware to their surroundings and looking deeper at what was being offered. The gameplay itself, the most important aspect of a game of this caliber was a complete sham.
Enemies were not bullet sponges and furthermore were crafted with better, smarter A.I than we saw in the final product. There was even evidence of a player using his tablet away from his console and all of the action able to control a drone to bring support to his fellow agents. Where was all this in the officially released of The Division? No where to be found, investigation would only lead you to things that happened in the form of Echoes, a few you could intervene with but most were of no consequence to the current world presented to you. Enemies that you face within the world are no longer smart adversaries with reasonable health pools, they had become easily dispatched bullet sponges playing a numbers game as opposed to being a real threat. That innovative tablet gameplay I mentioned earlier hasn’t even been mentioned by Ubisoft, not even a whisper. On top of all these missing elements we were even treated to built in marketing as the DLC The Underground was shown in the most pedestrian of ways check the 2013 E3 trailer if you don’t believe me. Instead of giving us the interesting and gorgeous game we were shown that year, The Division was a complete disaster at launch.
The first AAA title to violate our trust in 2016, a year that was more the result of advanced marketing techniques than actual follow through. The hype Train as we call it, is a dark spot on the face of gaming as a whole. Ad men lead us to believe what they are showing as an undeniable fact other than what it is, a selling point to an audience they believe to have a lower IQ than their dogs. Why do we feed into this type of behavior? Allowing these men to run Hollywood type campaigns that twist and turn their every word until we agree to buy what they are selling. Is it the fact that we put these men and women of gaming on a pedestal and hold them to their word because we let them into our homes with half baked games? They have long since created wonderful world’s with incredible stories and top notch gameplay so we began to trust them empirically and not question anything we see that may even be three years away. Instead, we eagerly toss our money at them in the form of pre-orders in hopes that this game will be great – oh and hey, a free gun skin! These people are not your friends, they are business men and women using any tool they can to chase the almighty dollar, even giving away items that are effortless for them to create but they somehow can’t make the game they once showed us that sold so many gamers on their game, if you can even call some of these games.
If you’re sitting here reading this and are yelling at your screen saying some games just go through changes throughout development and of course they do, but then I will present you with No Mans Sky. Now, I’m not going to continue beating this drum like every other gamer with a pulse but only to tell you that it can be that bad if we allow it. Sony backed Sean Murray and his ability to keep secrets even though they showed the game far to early to appease to the masses sense of imagination and exploration. We all know by this point that No Mans Sky was one of the best selling games on Steam in 2016, it was also one of the most rage inducing games to ever be released and is the sole reason we should approach games with more reservation.
Multiple game companies this year thought it was okay for them to release games that could not live up to their initial showings, in small and large examples. This is because we all lose our minds when a new game is shown and it is many years out, regardless of how much we have actually seen. I will even admit that this year when Death Stranding was shown I lost it, but even in Kojimas hands I’m going to hold back. It has nothing to do with lack of faith in one of my favorite game developing minds and more so in the lack of faith I have in the industry as a whole. It has to do with the trends they follow and shady business tactics they implement to get us to buy a game before we even have a chance to really know what it is, let alone play the damn thing. Strategy is everything to the big AAA developers right now and if we can take a step back from the hype and form our own educated opinions on these games we have a chance to derail future endeavors that attempt to steal $60 from our pocket for essentially a blank disc.
Businesses must thrive in order to stay in business and that is just a fact of life, but wouldn’t you rather have your favorite developers and publishers stay in business based on merit? Have the game come out 6 months after the initial reveal and let it stand on its own two feet and win us over with the games beautiful quality and game changing ideas. Is it possible that some companies don’t have faith in their games? Absolutely, and that should make them reevaluate how they create rather than how they market. We are all adults here and in the end you will make your own decisions on which games to play and which to ignore. As a gamer I am proud of my heritage and I hope that this era of gaming is looked upon as one that didn’t allow the market to sway us, but for us as consumers and lovers of this art , to influence the market. Make AAA pay for they way it handles our patronage, because it seems sometimes they forget that it is not entitled to them, but earned by opening our minds and creating what we never thought was possible.