If you read this blog, then you've probably read my thoughts on Assassin's Creed Unity. In case you haven't, I'll give you the quick and dirty: it's a broken piece of trash, and it wouldn't be worth ten bucks, let alone sixty. Now that that's out of the way, I want to talk about why that's an important fact. And rest assured, it is important. It's probably one of the most important facts to be taken away from this year's releases, in fact.
Why? Because, to me, it represents everything we've been working towards. And when I say "we," I mean us as a collective consumer base, and our relationship with the people who publish our games. See, Unity isn't the problem. Hell, Ubisoft as a collective, despite being a despicable pack of con men, isn't the problem. The problem is the industry itself, and the practices we've come to take laying down. All of the dishonest trailers, the micro-transactions, the incomplete releases... this has been happening for a while. And I think now, finally, customers are finally getting fed up with it. At least, I hope so. Because if not, the future is grim. Here are some reasons why.
Publishers Are Okay With Us Testing Their Games for Them
|"Gaze long into an abyss and the abyss also gazes into you."|
There are other examples, but I think my point is perfectly clear. A lot of big releases, a lot of issues. And it doesn't look like it's getting any better, unfortunately, with next week's Far Cry 4 already getting some early complaints of bugs and glitches. Something tells me that they're not going to get fixed and you know, why should they? Why should they when Ubisoft knows it can release a glitchy, barely functional title for full price, then let customer complaints guide them in their patches... if they even care enough to do that? See, these companies? They know that their games have issues. How could any playtester pick one of these titles up for five seconds and not see that?
But instead of properly going through the process of making sure everything works as it should, and letting people do their jobs, why not just, you know, make people pay sixty bucks for it? That way, they can turn a profit, then tell people that they plan on fixing issues to come out looking like the good guy. It's ingenious, really. They can put forth minimal effort into a game, sometimes with even less than a year of development time, and still come out profitable at the end of the fiscal year. It's ingenious... and disgusting. We're paying to test these games. And we shouldn't stand for it.
Sixty Bucks Isn't Enough
|Breaking News: New Head of Ubisoft Selected.|
But Assassin's Creed Unity represents the polar opposite of that idea. The logical extreme of the disgusting direction gaming has been taking. No... the logical extreme of what we've been letting happen. DLC is right in the pause menu, available at any time. A good portion of the game, and content that you see right on the main menu, is not unlockable, but rather, activated through either chipping in more money, or connecting UPlay, or getting the companion app for your smartphone. Hell, there are options in the pause menu to put forth ninety-nine real world dollars to get more in-game money. As in, this is something Ubisoft is banking on. People spending an upwards of sixty bucks, before tax, for the standard release of the game, then putting forth more money.
And this isn't just unlockable stuff, either. Stuff to temporarily power-up Arno, stronger weapons, maps for treasure, chests that can only be opened with the usage of UPlay or the app... the list goes on. What can we learn from this? Coupled with the past few years of absurd DLC practices in both mobile and console games? I think, ladies, gentlemen, and all others, that this means our hard-earned sixty is no longer enough. These publishers need more. They need that sixty, plus sixty more of our sixties, plus our smartphones filled with apps and our personal information in their database.
Buying a game? Buying a game is just the beginning now, folks.
Another Industry Crash is in the Cards
|Unity being buried in the desert isn't a bad idea.|
In case you're unaware, the gaming industry has, in fact, crashed before. It wasn't even that long ago, really, only about 30-ish years or so. Everybody was enthusiastically playing and buying video games. Consoles were selling like hotcakes, along with the accompanying games. But see, companies got too enthusiastic. Development cycles got shorter. Games got advertised harder. Everything started to decline, until finally, everything hit rock bottom. The industry dug its own grave, then did a glorious swan dive right into it. I genuinely fear that this could happen again. All of the signs are there, if you really do your research, and it feels like nobody is taking any preventative measures to stop it. I feel that, if the industry keeps up at this rate, there will be massive consequences for the home console market. I mean, the PC gaming community will be fine, because they always have been, but major consoles? Yeah, those may become irrelevant.
Well. Except for one thing.
Just Buy a Wii U, and Don't Look Back
|Pretty much my face during Unity.|
Now before you angrily accuse me of being a Nintendo fanboy, and disregard everything else I've stated at your own peril, rest assured, I don't think they're a perfect company. Their several, several handheld console releases are frustrating, they shot themselves in the foot with the Wii in terms of quality control, their online functions have only just started being good... they're not perfect. They're still a corporation. They still give me reasons to be mad at them. But in today's gaming landscape, they're the only ones who still seem to "get it." Their games are complete packages, and work the way they're supposed to. Their DLC is incredibly substantial, and doesn't feel like tacked-on content. Their prices are all over the place, based on the tier of the title. Oh, yeah, and their E3 presentations don't consist of, "hey, look at this concept art, aren't you excited?!"
In terms of modern gaming companies, Nintendo sometimes feels like one of the only good ones in the bunch. Again, they have issues, and I'm sure as I'm writing this, they're doing something stupid I'll take to Twitter to complain about. But you know... when I buy a Nintendo game, I know I'm not getting conned into giving them more money. I'm not buying a Graphical Glitch Variety Pack. I'm getting a game. I'm getting an experience. Nothing more, nothing less. So, even though I've lost faith in big companies like EA, Activision, Ubisoft, Square Enix, Capcom... there are still bastions of hope out there.
Gaming Isn't Dead, Just In Trouble
|Wario wants YOU to shop smart.|
You have the power to make sure shit like Assassin's Creed Unity doesn't happen again. Use it. Don't buy, or buy used. Support companies that have earned your goodwill, through quality products and ethical practices. In other words?
Be smart. And don't play Assassin's Creed Unity.