So I’m sure we can all agree last year wasn’t too great for gaming. We saw two once beloved franchises have their names tainted by a buggy and/or pay-to-win mess (screw you EA), we saw a studio who once seemed to be something incredible be shut down for wanting to make something that players were ready to throw their money at (seriously, screw you EA), and even loot boxes in a single player game that practically charge you to get the ending of the game. And that’s just the big news.
2017 was by no means good for gamers, between Battlefront 2 having blatant pay-to-win gambling built into the foundations of the game and Shadow Of War having pay-to-finish gambling built into the ending of the game, but I decided to do something I’ve never done because of it: be optimistic. You see, the great thing about those examples in the introduction is that they were big news stories. Battlefront 2 (the stain, not the masterpiece) might even cause laws to be put in place to discourage the scummy behaviour displayed by EA in the game. Gamers were outraged and they boycotted these games. Players actually refrained from buying games like Battlefront 2 and Shadow Of War because they were sick of being taken advantage of. It took a while, but we’re finally hitting these asshole publishers where it hurts: their wallets. This instantly made me look to the future and think “This could be the end of these extremely anti-consumer business practices and the start of something incredible”. We may have already started to see a positive impact from the outrage, with EA temporarily removing the ability to pay real world money for loot boxes and Bungie announcing positive changes to their microtransactions in Destiny 2 by making content that is currently microtransaction-only more available through gameplay. We could actually be respected by publishers. Either that or they’ll pretend, but as long as we benefit from it, I don’t personally care.
But wait, there’s more! There is one game that could also have a massive effect on the gaming industry. It took the great aspects of AAA games and blended it with the positives of Indie games and made one hell of a smoothie. The game: Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. I won’t go into too much detail, because I plan on making a full review once I finish it, but I will compliment the hell out of it for a second. The game has been a massive success, winning three awards at, the creatively named gaming award show, The Game Awards and sold 500,000 units in three months. That was even before Christmas — which doesn’t sound great — but it was considered a AA game, meaning they were essentially an indie studio making a smaller AAA game. I repeat, it essentially had an indie studio, an indie budget, an indie amount of manpower behind it, and got essentially AAA results. That is an incredible achievement, so much so that big publishers like Take-Two Interactive, the parent company of Rockstar (Grand Theft Auto) and 2K Games (Civilization), have invested in indie studios by creating a new label, Private Division, for games in between indie and AAA experiences. This means they can take more risks and have less BS microtransactions, making for better games all round. They currently have projects like Ancestors, a game made by the creator of Assassin’s Creed; Project White, a horror game made by the developers who worked on Battlefield; and an untitled RPG by Obsidian, the creators of Fallout: New Vegas underway.
Also, Ubisoft have been good boys and girls and deserve your money flavoured ice cream for doing a good job on their homework (Assassin’s Creed: Origins) and cleaning their rooms (Rainbow 6: Siege and The Division). Maybe, just maybe, this year will be better for gaming. Maybe we will have the self control to hold off on buying that brand new game until we’re sure the publishers aren’t trying to exploit us. And maybe there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, but we’ll have to fight for it. We need to be ready to boycott Anthem for a better Anthem 2.