AAA games. Vast, multi million and in some cases billion dollar entertainment packages. These games take years to create, and are crafted by the finest minds and technology that the video games industry has ever seen, and yet these games release all too often in a broken, and generally unacceptable state. These games that glow potential, are often released from the nest into the wild in a totally dull state, that lack the proper nurturing that they require. Fans that have waited anxiously for a new I.P or perhaps a sequel are let down by atrocious frame rate issues, game braking bugs, and in some cases, missing features that were said to be a part of the game. Developers at times have straight up lied to their audience; making promises that can’t be kept and probably were never supposed to be kept, all so their audience laps up what they shoddily create. Now it’s imperative to note that not all AAA games release this way. In 2016 alone, we were graced with the likes of DOOM, Gears Of War 4, Uncharted 4 and Dark Souls 3, as well as many other incredible games. However it’s important to speak out about the products that release in an unacceptable state; after people have spent $60 or £50 of hard earned money, on a release.
As I mentioned earlier, the video game world is a huge market, particularly within the AAA space. It’s a business and a businesses ultimate goal is to make money. It is this reality that is the cause for brilliant mind’s ideas and visions, to be cut short and it is the reason for these games releasing prematurely. What I am talking about of course, is publishers pressurizing developers to have a game ready for release on time for a certain schedule. For example the holiday period. Every year the majority of big AAA games are released around the holiday/ Christmas period, due to the fact that this is when people are buying the most. Parents buying gifts for Christmas etc. Publishers will often tag their games for release around this time, and if they don’t release at the holiday period as has been advertised for whatever reason,then they will be losing out on a lot of money and its as simple as that. The main goal of the publisher, making money, is not met and to a lot of publishers this is not acceptable. Even if a game is in need of more time in development, it needs more polishing, the frame rate needs stabilizing or whatever else, it’s a sad reality that many publishers out there will release their developers game regardless, thus burning and disappointing customers, and making many people lose faith in the market.
While accepting half-baked games is an option, turning a blind eye to obvious issues within the gaming world is an option, and continuing to give your hard earned money to companies who care little for their fans is an option, there are other ways of approaching this issue. None of these ideas are my own, I am merely echoing the words of thousands of other fed up consumers accross the globe, as I truly believe that something needs to be done about the wounded AAA games market. First of all, don’t pre-order games. It’s simple really, if you pre-order a game, then the publisher that is releasing your chosen product has received your money, and your sale before the game has even been released. Greed orientated business modules have resulted in publishers tacking on pre-order bonuses within games over the years. These bonuses often consist of cosmetic items only, however sometimes unique weapons, armor, cars and whatever else you can think of that will try to persuade you into purchasing the game before anyone has had chance to play or review the game properly. While you may have seen footage of the game that you pre-ordered at E3, Gamescom, or on your favorite YouTuber’s channel, you yourself have not played the final release version of your purchased product. You to some extent do not know what you are buying.
Continuing onward with another good idea on what you can do to combat being burned by AAA games… Support indie developers. Some of the most brilliant video games that released in 2016 were created by a handful of indie developers. Examples include Hyper Light Drifter, Inside, The Witness, Firewatch and many more. These games are often created aswell as published by the same company and group of people, and this comes at an advantage because it results in these developers often not having a larger company making decisions such as whether a game should be delayed for further polishing, or released in its current state. It gives the developers a chance to breathe, and a chance to ultimately decide what happens to their own work of art. This often results in higher quality games being released, at the appropriate time for the game. In addition to this, another reason to support indie developers is because of the creative freedom that is acquired by these developers, in comparison to many studios in which are dictated by their father figure publisher. Research is always being taken out to try to understand what exactly consumers of the video game world actually want. What genres of game are hot at the moment? What aesthetical setting do people want more of? Questions like this are always being researched and the apparent results will directly affect the game that a certain AAA studio will create. While looking at this, a great example to use is the Call Of Duty series. Over the last four or so years, Call Of Duty has propelled itself into the future in terms of its setting. Around six or so years ago, the market was absolutely flooded with modern military shooters, and so market research of course would have led to developers and publishers at Call Of Duty realizing that people wanted something new and innovative for the series. A step away from the modern military setting, and this is why we are now seeing Call Of Duty games take place far into the future. While market research can have its advantages and can simply allow for a company to release games that take on properties that people enjoy, it stifles the ability for pure creative flow. Indie developers are not pressured into creating games that will just sell because of their setting. Indie games are the games where the imagination can be truly unleashed upon the market.
Something that I have stopped doing over the recent months… Buying games because of their name. Essentially, brand loyalty. We’ve all been let down by a bad sequel, or a bad prequel. Perhaps the game didn’t run properly, perhaps it simply wasn’t what you were expecting or perhaps it was riddled with bugs? The tipping point for me when it comes to brand loyalty was with the Mafia series in October of 2016. I purchased Mafia III based on the fact that Mafia II was such a fantastic game, with a cliff-hanger ending. I was met with shoddy AI, bizarre cloud shadowing, repetitive gameplay as well as many other irritating bugs. As somebody who doesn’t earn a whole lot of money due to being in education, I simply said no more. I decided to actually take care when purchasing a AAA game, and I think you should too.
If we the consumers say no to a lazy and half-baked game, thus refusing to purchase it, then publishers will feel these declines in sales. In 2016, games sold in smaller numbers when it came to AAA games, and this no doubt has something to do with people being fed up with being burnt by the AAA game industry. Hopefully we’re on the right track to bringing back fleshed out, high quality games in the AAA market, because It’s about time that certain publishers stopped treating their consumers like idiots.