Every year, most of us make some sort of New Year’s resolution. While it’s true that many of them don’t last very long, sometimes one sticks (that’s how I finally managed to quit smoking a few years back). Since 2016 has just begun, I thought it would be a good time to put forth some suggestions for resolutions the gaming industry should make this year. Sure, most of them are pipe dreams, but if even one comes true, think how happy we’d all be.
Got a resolution of your own for the industry? Tell us what it is in the forums!
Don’t go overboard on the remasters
Look, we get it. Video games are expensive, and it’s both cheaper and safer to update a property that has existing popularity than it is to crank up a new IP from scratch. Additionally, in the early days of a new console generation, remasters offer a chance to get games on a console, as well as a way to put franchises into the public eye again. But when remasters start to become the featured title in your release schedule, you’ve gone too far. That said, if you’re going to remaster things, I’d be really happy with a Syphon Filter remaster.
Set realistic release dates
We’ve all been there. There’s a new game in your favorite franchise coming out next month, and you’re stoked. But then it gets delayed a couple of times, and you have to wait until next year. It’s a tough issue, because sometimes delays happen for unforeseen reasons, and a delay is much better than releasing a broken game. Still, this would happen far less often if the release dates that publishers set were realistically tied to needed development time, rather than an artificial “release calendar,” or the need to get pre-orders up and running. Which reminds me…
Pre-ordering is a great example of a necessary evil that’s completely out of control. Originally conceived as a way to make sure stores could have sufficient copies on hand to satisfy launch day demand, it’s become a lumbering behemoth of meaningless bonuses and community-splitting map access. Games are now available for pre-order almost from the moment they’re announced (looking at you, Uncharted 4), even if there’s no release date. It’s nonsense. Worst of all, gamers just keep pre-ordering, insuring the whole cycle continues.
Make a proper MMORPG already
The MMORPG industry has gone from a bunch of people chasing World of Warcraft to a bunch of people trying to get free-to-play right to a bunch of nothing much at all coming out. While there have been some decent contenders over the years, no one has made their mark on the genre. Hopefully, 2016 will be the year when we see a new, innovative MMO that does more than just reskin WoW or turn an existing game into multiplayer. The genre needs to be shaken up to make it feel fresh again.
Make DLC more valuable, and more transparent
It’s pretty common to hear complaints about DLC these days, whether it’s someone debating the value of the content, or the amount that’s being offered. But there was a time when gamers didn’t have as much animosity toward DLC as we do now. That’s because the DLC was called an “expansion,” and it typically added a lot of value to the game. That’s not to say that all DLC is bad. For example, Borderlands 2 had some great story DLC (I STILL LOVE YOU, Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep!). But there’s enough bad DLC out there that developers need to make sure that what they are offering is not only high quality, but also worth the money. Even more importantly, don’t sell us a season pass for DLC that you haven’t even detailed or started work on yet.
Stop skimping on PC releases
It seems like every year there’s at least one PC release that’s a complete disaster (Batman: Arkham Knight), or there’s a game that should have been on PC years ago that finally makes its way onto the platform (Grand Theft Auto 5). With the PC gaming market expected to have more sales than consoles by the end of 2016, it’s high time that developers started putting more effort into the PC versions of their titles, beyond just changing out the button prompts. Luckily, this should be simpler than ever, as the architectures of the leading consoles are basically just little PCs, meaning less time and effort to develop across all the platforms at once.
Take a chance on some new IP
In recent years, the majority of the new properties we’ve seen emerge in gaming have come from the indie scene. While there have been some notable exceptions, many of the recent AAA releases have been sequels to existing properties. We’re not against more games in franchises that we love, we’d also love to see some new IP from the big publishers. After all, we’re seeing new IP like Bloodborne and Splatoon do quite well, both critically and at retail. Gamers are hungry for new games to try out – they just need someone to provide them.
Do proper beta testing to stop releasing unfinished games
The term “beta test” doesn’t mean what it used to. In the past, it meant gamers playing early builds of games to identify bugs and glitches so the dev team could fix them. These days, it usually means a glorified demo that everyone treats as a preview version of the game, with little changing from the beta version to launch. It’s time to bring back proper beta testing (both internal and external) that informs games and affects development. It’s also time for studios to be given a schedule that lets them finish games and test them properly, to help avoid disasters like Assassin’s Creed: Unity. In short, it’s time to start focusing on quality again. We know it can be done, and we’re waiting to see it happen.