Gaming has been evolving dramatically over the past decade or so, by showing us that games can be considered an art. However, with every coming year gaming companies are now making more money than ever, whether it’s Activision, EA, Blizzard, or Valve. Some games’ revenues are coming closer to exceeding big movie blockbusters , but does bigger always mean better? Some companies begin to fall under an impression that they can get away with doing certain things which other companies wouldn’t even have dared to think of in the past.
A good recent example can be Activision. The company has literally already milked Guitar Hero for all it’s worth and now they are attempting to do the same thing with Call of Duty. After nearly losing their entire development team and following a big lawsuit the series is going downhill, but that hasn’t stopped Activision from releasing over priced map packs at $15 each.
Nowadays, it’s so rare for developers to release content for the game for free. Valve has been the pioneer in this area for quite some time now, constantly updating their games for free; simple things like that promote games sales in long term. I think all of us should support developers which are willing to pour their heart and time into something they plan on giving out for free. It’s been nearly 3 years since Team Fortress 2 came out and Valve has released yet another free class update for the game. Regardless, I can go on Steam and see that the $15 Resurgence Map pack is the top seller this week. Any dedicated PC gamer simply cannot comprehend the idea of having to pay for extra content for the game. Games in the past have always been supported by modding communities everywhere who would spend weeks of their own free time just to release a map pack or update to share with the rest of the gaming world and this is one trend I would still like to see continue.
We as gamers can hold more power then we ever could imagine. A terrific example of gamers uniting together for a single cause was Blizzard’s choice to implement the Real ID feature on their World of Warcraft official forums, which would show your real full name every time you would make a post. We can just imagine what sort of responses Blizzard got considering that all of us are used to posting anonymously and being confident that our true identity won’t be revealed to those who read our posts. Sadly, as all of us know, whenever you give somebody a keyboard and a chance to be anonymous on the internet there will definitely be some unpleasant individuals abusing those rights. That was the main reason Blizzard was thinking about implanting that feature; after all, when everybody can see your real name, you would probably think twice before “trolling”. Nevertheless, no matter how many trolls there are on forums, there will always be a large amount of good, honest posters whose privacy would be invaded. Contrary to popular belief, women also use the internet and even go to forums. Now, just imagine every time a girl would post on the WoW forums how many creeps and stalkers would be trying to get a hold of her personal information. This is a very real scenario.
So what did all of those who were not happy with those changes do? They let their voices be heard not by just whining on the forums, but by starting a petition, which surprisingly worked. It once again proved a point that we shouldn’t be afraid to speak up and truly let our voices be heard. All of us gamers are more powerful in larger numbers and it is important to never forget that.
When talking about the gaming industry a lot of people simply think console gaming. It is sad that lately a lot of people are trying to avoid PC gaming due to silly stereotypes. Now I am not trying to come off sounding like an elitist of a fanboy for that matter, but it’s always important to look at things from a different perspective. When people think PC gaming they think that you need a big $5000 Alienware machine in order to be able to run the games out on the market. In reality, to be able to run the majority of the games on medium settings you don’t need more than $500 in order to begin doing some good gaming. My machine was built for less than $500, and yet I am able to run Mass Effect 2 at a good 60 fps on medium settings with the game still managing to look better than the console version that I also own. If you are giving more serious thought into going PC gaming, whatever your budget might be, here is a great article on it.
A lot of people also don’t quite realize that a lot of developers who pioneered some of today’s gaming biggest genres all started on PC. For example, Epic Games, Rockstar Games, and Infinity Ward all started on PCs, but there are also quite good existing companies today which fully support and try to push PC gaming forward. Blizzard and Valve are the top companies I think of in PC gaming. With Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, and Portal 2 coming out soon, it might be a good time to give your old PC another shot at gaming.
On a different note, some publishers have grown into a habit of releasing console versions of their games first and then watered down ports on the PC a couple of months later. A truly dedicated developer shouldn’t be afraid to make the game as enjoyable across platforms. Console exclusivity is slowly beginning to die out considering that once exclusive franchises such GTA, Final Fantasy, and Call of Duty are now available across a wide range of platforms. That being said, no matter how many flaws exist in today’s gaming industry, it still shouldn’t stop us from enjoying games and to begin appreciate gaming more than ever.