2014 has been a time of worry for both casual and hardcore gamers. The question on everybody’s minds right now is: What does the future hold for this industry?
It would be great to be able to write an article about how 2015 looks bright for the gaming industry but, as sad as it is, this is the first time in a long while that I haven’t been excited for anything the new year has to offer in the way of gaming.
Rehashes, microtransactions and DLC
For those in the loop, it’s a time of fear as we’ve witnessed attempted assassinations of our long-time hobby by the very people who are supposed to represent our views, tastes and best interests. For those who are casual players the last few years have proven uneasy as more and more releases are rushed and packed full of microtransactions that nobody asked for; to the extent of one YouTuber claiming Fifa 13 for the PS2 to be the best edition of the sports title due to the lack of microtransactions and DLC. Even beloved indie developers such as Mojang have fallen prey to greed from the larger corporations.
Despite Nintendo’s refusal to innovate technologies that aren’t somewhat gimmicky they’re easily the best company in gaming right now: focusing on creating fun, lighthearted games with a heavy emphasis on gameplay over graphics. Blizzard, too, can be seen doing similar to this with Hearthstone (which, for the record, has one of the best free2play payment models of all f2p titles I’ve tried out).
Unfortunately, this corporate greed isn’t something that we’ll be seeing the back of in 2015 if at all for that matter. Provided that there are still people actively purchasing the Call of Duty’s, FIFA’s and Assassins Creed’s of the industry on launch for the full £30 – £60.
GamerGate – If not the press then who can be trusted?
Despite our greatest efforts to keep away from GamerGate there is no escaping it. With the former issue stated in the introduction: 2014 has been a year of great turmoil for the gaming press. Following an indie dev’s “relations” with several high-up media leaders the journalism naysayers finally had the evidence that they needed to start a movement against the larger corporations such as Kotaku, Gawker and Gamesutra that previously ran gaming journalism.
In a seemingly successful effort to shift the blame off of themselves, such websites declared that gamers were “dead” and that the movement- entitled GamerGate- was in fact regarding misogyny (hatred of women). This effort became popular fairly quickly thanks to the likes of Tumblr and the mainstream media choosing the easier stance on the issue. This has continued now for over 6 months with over 3.2 million tweets using the hashtag #gamergate and many opting serious changes in perception of sites that they used to love. The conflict seems endless and at the current rate there will be neither a clear winner nor loser; although the edge is currently in GamerGate’s direction.
So what’s the silver lining?
The only saving grace of the industry in its current state appears to be the thriving indie scene. More and more we’re seeing fantastic releases from the community that often defy the previous conventions put in place by larger corporations. People are creating microtransaction & Day 1 DLCless content at prices that everyone can afford. Sites such as itch.io provide self-managed storefronts while Steam’s Greenlight service is ever popular.
You have new tools becoming more and more accessible such as the recent news of Unreal Engine 4 being free to use, programming being taught in schools all over the country and many big gaming sites- ourselves included- dedicating much of their time to getting indie developers out there and known.
We can only hope that this scene continues to develop as it has and that the edge continues to sway in GamerGate’s favour.
Make sure you stay tuned for our follow up article on all the great things that gaming could bring to the industry