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Video games just ain’t what they used to be

I finally get to use this expression. Back in my day, video games were finished products and publishers weren’t trying to drain you for everything you got.

You bought Super Mario 64, and you knew damn well you were throwing Bowser on a bomb at the end of the game. You picked up Metal Gear Solid 2, and you were in for hours of an insane narrative driven by amazing stealth gameplay. You start playing a Marvel vs. Campcom and you knew those mystery fighter slots would be filled in with awesome characters as soon as you won them.

And all the extra little secrets to these games were awarded from actually playing them.

But now everywhere you look, publishers are pushing out unfinished and pay-to-win games. Sure, the internet and global connectivity allows us to patch bugs and discrepancies after a game has been released, but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse to suck our wallets dry.

Let’s get that straight, too. It’s the publishers who are evil, not the developers actually making the games. Think of it like a movie studio doing rewrites and shortening deadlines on a film crew.

In the gaming world, there’s a little thing known as first day DLC (downloadable content) That means the day a game is released to the public, the publisher is already trying to sell you more content. I can understand DLC coming out maybe a year after, but if the game and DLC are ready at the same time, why not just package them together?

Let’s take a look at Electronic Arts. These are the folks who publish the Madden and FIFA series, the Battlefield franchise and the always popular Sims. They’re also frequently considered one of the least likeable businesses on Earth and that’s because of rushed deadlines and microtransactions.

In 2017, they published Star Wars Battlefront II. The game delivered some of the most gorgeous graphics in history and really made you feel like you stepped into the Star Wars universe. However, the gameplay and progression were severely tainted by greed. Leveling up your characters was a chore unless you paid for it. Eventually they fixed these problems and it’s a much more enjoyable experience now, but that damage was done.

In 2012, Capcom released Asura’s Wrath. It was about a pissed off deity getting revenge on a bunch of other gods for killing his family. There was some combat, but a lot of the game played out more like a movie with button prompts. It’s not the most thrilling play style, but I ain’t mad at that. What I am mad at is that players would have to pay if they wanted to get the true ending.

What a tease. You play through hours of an epic story with gods killing each other, and you’ve got to pay seven more bucks for the true ending. What makes sense behind that decision? That would be like if everyone in the world had to pay extra to find out who shot J.R. on “Dallas.”

And the worst part is, none of the publishers are delivering innovative products with these unfinished and pay-to-win games. Most are generic shooters no different from the rest. If you want real innovation, check out indie games such as Baba Is You, a game that allows you to change rules and physics to solve puzzles, or Untitled Goose Game, where you play as a goose looking to ruin everybody’s day with an obnoxious honk.

My advice, if you’re a casual gamer, stick with first-party Nintendo games. Yes, they’ve dabbled with microtransactions and created a ridiculous number of gimmicky products like the Powerglove, R.O.B. the robot and the 64 DD, but they’re not required to play most of the games Nintendo publishes.

Plus, Mario and Link rock.

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