The advancements in the gaming industry in the last decade have been nothing short of phenomenal.
We don’t have flying cars, but we do have virtual reality, case-melting GPUs and games running in 4K. We may be in a golden age of gaming, but there are still some things that really suck about getting your game on in 2017. Being the eternal optimist, I’ll focus on those.
VR remains niche and inaccessible to most
Over the last couple of years, I’ve had a lot of not-very-nice things to say about VR. I thought that it would be akin to the Kinect, a party trick that would fail to gain significant traction in the gaming world.
I may have been wrong about that, but VR in 2017 still remains a playground for the rich. While there’s no shortage of VR software out there, the high price point has kept it out of the hands of most, which means its potential integration into mainstream gaming remains untested.
Console makers get caught in an arms race, consumers lose
This may be controversial, but I absolutely hate these so-called “mid-cycle upgrades” that are currently happening in the console market.
I’ve never been a console guy, but the core appeal has always been that you buy one system and developers spend the next decade squeezing every ounce of performance out of it. Which is possible, since you’re dealing with a uniform set of hardware.
Now you’re developing software that needs to work across three different sets of hardware, somehow ensuring that the experience doesn’t suck on the entry-level version.
I feel like those buying the Xbox One or PS4 did so with the unspoken promise that they would have the best console available for several years to come. What’s happening right now violates all of that.
PC ports still blow
As a predominantly PC gamer, the lack of respect given to the platform still kind of bums me out. PC releases are almost always delayed, which by itself is alright, but all too often they’re buggy, broken or poorly optimised (or some combination of all three) once they’re finally released.
This has conditioned me to never pre-order anything, and I usually wait a good couple of months for all the appropriate patches to come out. Although usually when a publisher releases an egregiously bad PC version, I’ll boycott it in protest. I’m sure they really feel the pain of that rejection.
Every publisher has their own launcher
Steam made things pretty easy when it grouped all your games into one launcher, but that convenience has been progressively destroyed as every developer tries to get you to use their platform.
Right now I’m stuck with Steam, Blizzard’s launcher, EA’s Origin, and when I installed the Quake Champions beta I was dismayed to see that Bethesda insists on their own launcher as well. Don’t even get me started on Uplay. That’s a lot of crap running in the background just to be able to launch a game, annoyingly turning everything into a two-step process if you don’t want a full taskbar.
When every game publisher starts forcing their own application on you, hoping to ply you with ads and social media integration and easy-access DLC, it’s probably time to give it all up for a 100-in-1 NES system from China Mall.
Publishers are greedier than ever
Speaking of asshole publishers, the money-milking has ascended to new heights in 2017. It used to be that games were free-to-play with in-game purchases, or carried a retail price with everything included.
2017 is the year of full retail cost with in-game purchases, speed-levelling upgrades, day-one DLC and map packs. It’s crappy to shell out R1,000 for a game, and then when you boot it up you immediately get inundated with options to buy more crap.
This kind of shady business came to a head with Ubisoft’s For Honor, when one Redditor mathed out the game’s in-game currency to deduce that it would cost over $700 to unlock everything – in a full-price retail game.
You could, of course, unlock everything for free – if you grinded two hours a day for two years.
So NAGalites, what are your biggest disappointments in The Year of Gaben 2017?