Is the future of gaming screwed?

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nicksmi56

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It seems like every other day for the past few weeks, I'm reading about some new sleazy scheme to pluck as much money as possible from people's wallets by these big games. Forza 7, Shadow of War, 2K18, and now the rumblings about the pay-to-win loot boxes in Battlefront 2.

It's happening in such quick succession that it seems like we're being tested to see exactly how far these concepts can be taken before we draw a line. And as we've seen with the progression of DLC to Season Passes that cost almost as much as the game itself (or even more in some cases) to $100 or more Gold Editions, if no line is drawn we can be sure it's only going to go farther.

And the kicker is it seems inevitable, because people buy it. Even if I personally don't spend a cent, someone, somewhere will. Apparently a lot of people do or it wouldn't have become so prevalent. On top of that, every single time this happens, there are people springing out of the woodwork to say "Oh, it's not so bad. You don't have to buy it. Shut up and stop complaining. Just be happy we're getting these games in the first place." Or my favorite "These poor companies don't make enough. We have to support them." As if EA isn't absolutely swimming in money.

So the schemes just get more and more daring as time goes on. A tiny part of me is actually dreading the day that I can't complete a game without buying access to the rest of the level or the next 5 levels. And if you think that's just too much hyperbole, consider how far we've jumped in just a couple of years. We've gone from laughing at horse armor to paying $50 for DLC that hasn't even been made yet. If you had told me 5 years ago a huge game like 2K would start charging to make your player able to even dribble worth a crap, and that you would basically have to pay or lose every game you played, and that this would be on top of a Gold Edition that cost $150 FREAKING DOLLARS, I'd laugh you out of the room. Yet here we are.

And while I could conceivably just avoid any and all traces of this nonsense as I've been doing so far (heck, this is a huge reason why it took me 5 years to even enter this console generation), the more others get away with it, the more others start to jump in the pool. Even freaking Nintendo is testing the waters now. Both Breath of the Wild and Mario + Rabbids had Season Passes. Heck, Fire Emblem Echoes' Season Pass costs more than the actual game itself!

So am I crazy here?

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Ezekiel

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Yes. Yes, it is. Next question.

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mike

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#3  Edited By mike

No. These companies will keep doing this stuff as long as it's profitable. When it stops making them money, they will start correcting and head back the other direction. You may not like it, but the future of gaming isn't "screwed."

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Darth_Navster

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Meanwhile, Yacht Club Games keeps handing out Shovel Knight campaigns like candy, Blizzard puts out free to play games and free maps/characters for their paid games, and Humble Bundle continues to sell obscene amounts of games for practically nothing. It’s almost as if the games industry is massive and diverse enough to support different types of business models!

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Karwowski

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Its a buisness.

It exists to make money.

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OurSin_360

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Hate to tell you this but, 2k has been charging to make your player dribble better for the last 5 years lol.

But seriously, no this stuff has been like this for years now it's just getting a little bit overboard it seems this year. I think if there is a public backlash it will die down, but with the political climate in the US right now i would expect a lot more companies(at least in the US) in every field to start trying to get away with more shady shit to make money. The rich will always try and fuck you over if they can.

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Cheetoman

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#7  Edited By Cheetoman

If you only look at the big budget AAA games, then yes. Most of them are money hungry. Only way it can stop is if people vote with their wallet. That won't happen though.

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Joe_McCallister

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Betteridge Law of Headlines

The bottom line is that the business has already changed so greatly - season passes and DLC are the norm because it's not enough to simply have a single $60 game on a shelf that has enough staying power to really keep players coming back and buying additional copies. There are reasons GTA Online is the part Rockstar is focusing on, why Gold Editions are so prevelant - and I understand it. You really have got to understand that the days of accepting a 20% margin on software being ok are way over, because they know we'll pay another $50 for 6 months of content which can be prepared at a comparably lower cost to the core game. "Screwed" is a strong term, evolving for sure, precarious...definitely. It's easy to think of the consumer as the victim, and there are some serious perversions of these systems, but by and large you've got to understand these are businesses and they're constantly figuring out a go-forward strategy that is light on cost and heavy on income which translates to profit. Look at it this way, an idealistic view of making your own game would be to price it well and put it out one time and say "yay I did the right thing", but then when the revenue from that first game sales start drying up think about how you support your first game while also developing something new and interesting that will sell as well or better than the first, but keep costs as low as possible because I mean you like eating, drinking, and vacations even right? Not trying to insult but I think it's naive to say the industry is screwed because the guys trying to make money are experimenting. If you don't like the approach, vote with the wallet - you can still get the core game and support the team, but don't by VC or DLC or Gold Editions, and when those sales show they're not worth it they will be forced to either sweeten the pot or abandon it. Realistically they won't abandon it because those packs take so little effort on their side that they'll just try to make them more worthwile to the consumer.

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Sahalarious

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It's certainly an epidemic, but there is a wonderful thing happening lately too with a plethora of quality games. BOTW has a season pass but thats fine, those have been a thing for over a decade at this point and let us play more of our favorite games. Rabbids turned out really well, and two of my favorite games of the year were Observer and Hellblade, both completely self contained games that launched at 30 dollars, the same price point as battlegrounds. Yakuza and and Persona as well just kicked 2017 in the face with content. Most of the games doing these loot boxes are shitty iterative, uninspired works. Mordor recieved lots of 7's, and NBA has been the same for years. Forza is the one that hurt me, i bought the 100 dollar edition of Horizon last year only to find that it didn't come with the fucking season pass.

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GiantLizardKing

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The sky isn't falling. As it stands there are way, way too many great games to play for a fair price. People who are trying to rip consumers off are just making our selection process easier.

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MindBullet

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Loot boxes, DLC, and etc have been around for a long time and we're only now really saying anything about it because more and more game companies are realizing it's one of the only reliable ways to make money off their games left. These kinds of threads pop up a lot, and I'm sure I've said it before but I'll keep saying it: game companies need to make money and these practices haven proven to work and all signs point to it continuing to work. Some of them can be sleazier than other about it, sure, but it's still a... Well, like the other thread put it: it's a necessary evil. At least for now.

Think about it: the price of games has remained pretty much the same for like last 10-20 years (or gotten cheaper depending on how you want to look at it), but the cost of MAKING them on a AAA level has increased exponentially. They can't always count on recouping their costs on game sales alone, and thus if they want to keep being a business and not fire half their staff every time they finish a project they need to look at alternative methods.

It's also a bigger practice than you might think. Tencent practically owns half the gaming world at this point, and they deal a lot in mobile gacha games and loot box/service games.

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nicksmi56

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@gtb08: And I am truly grateful for those companies that do still put out awesome experiences. I actually just got Persona 5 as an anniversary gift from my girlfriend, and since 4 is my favorite JRPG of all time, I can't wait to get to it. My fear is when those guys decide they're not making enough money either, and hey, didn't 2K make lots of money by using that system they had? We should try that....

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Ungodly

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Nintendo has been doing this with AmiiBo's too. Look at all of the stuff you can do with various AmiiBo's in Breath of the Wild, at fifteen bucks a pop.

Either way season passes are an optional thing, that's only directed in the most part to people whom want more out of the games they're attached too. You don't have to buy a season pass, and I feel like it's less problematic to micro transactions, which aren't a problem unless they're obnoxious.

This has been a great year for games, and while yes most of them have season passes, they're still great games without the added content.

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DrFlapjack

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#14  Edited By DrFlapjack

Another thread about this? As @MindBullet said, development has gotten more expensive with large games, but the price of games hasn't changed to take that into account. (Or inflation for that matter). Ideally developers would put out more quality content to add onto the base experience, but this is something that is easy to implement and people pay for it.

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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I think it’s important to recognize that A) not all things are bad just because money and B) things come and go all the time. Remember when the whole online pass thing happened? And then all of a sudden it stopped happening? As more publishers put in poorly implemented micro transactions, the backlash against them will get more and more intense until it becomes too much to justify and publishers will have to respond.

Complaining about massive and expensive season passes always seemed silly because usually people only pay for them if they are worth the money. Season passes have become more expensive in some cases but have also grown in complexity and content delivered as well. It used to be a couple of maps, then it was a few maps, now it’s either expansions or it’s new maps, weapons, vehicles, mechanics, etc.

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Relkin

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A tiny part of me is actually dreading the day that I can't complete a game without buying access to the rest of the level or the next 5 levels.

We already have some examples of that. Asura's Wrath and Dead Space 3 spring to mind.

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deactivated-5a00c029ab7c1

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It's funny I made a thread a few weeks back asking the question is the 8th generation the worst? and now sadly I feel this shit just confirms it. Can you imagine the next Doom single player game with loot crates or GTA 6 story mode with loot crates it makes me want to puke. If gamers give in to lootcrates and not vote with their wallets gaming is in deep shit if you thought DLC from last gen was bad oh boy you haven't seen anything yet it's scary times we live in.

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Sackmanjones

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Take this or games cost more at a base level, think $80 instead of $60 (In the states). Also, loot boxes being implemented have made it viable for free map dlc to exist. I think the pros outweighs the cons a lot. I’d rather have the option to buy loot boxes or skins instead of map packs that divide the community. Did everyone already forget how shitty that was for everyone? Of course pay to win runs runs me the wrong way, but people were saying that about mods you could get in purchasable engrams in Destiny 2 and that quickly disappated. It’s too early to judge Battlefront 2 specifically, but cosmetic dlc and loot boxes are much more preferred than map packs IMO. It can be implemented poorly sure, but I think so far it’s a net positive.

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nicksmi56

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#19  Edited By nicksmi56

@relkin said:
@nicksmi56 said:

A tiny part of me is actually dreading the day that I can't complete a game without buying access to the rest of the level or the next 5 levels.

We already have some examples of that. Asura's Wrath and Dead Space 3 spring to mind.

Ugh.

Super Mario Expedition, 2022: "Wanna get past World 1? $70!"

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AndyC80

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Games prices haven’t changed that much, and in terms of real dollars they’ve come down. As games get bigger, and you pay people more, see better work life balance, better compensation, it becomes harder to be profitable.

If games came out tomorrow for 80$, that would eat all the headlines, people talking about getting ripped off or fleeced. So instead they hide it from you, few dollars here and there, to make it seem more palatable.

Airlines are a perfect analogy here, frontier has very low ticket prices then charges for every little thing often evaporating any perceived savings. JetBlue is generally a little more expensive but less heinous on additional charges.

I appreciate the comparison to Shovel Knight made elsewhere. Keep in mind they recycled a lot of assets, and made changes mostly in the player movement. They’ve also constantly repackaged their product to sell on other systems, giving the game a fresh look. It makes spending 15$ on a 4? Year old game more palatable.

So I understand what your saying, but I doubt games are doomed, just people trying to hide real costs, like virtually every other industry.

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Ares42

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#21  Edited By Ares42

@drflapjack: @mindbullet: No. Don't get me wrong, I'm no crusader standing on the my box yelling about how bad the publishers are, but no, the reason why these things are put into more and more games has absolutely nothing to do with the cost of business.

The video game industry is run by "bankers", their only interest is to make as much money as possible. Video games as a whole is basically a gold rush these days, it attracts people that are looking to make a lot of money. These tactics are spreading because of market experimentation, nothing else. You have companies like Blizzard making examples of how you can earn a ton of money with loot boxes (Hearthstone, Overwatch) or Bethesda with DLC back in the day, and then everyone else follows suit. And as far as production costs go these same people are squeezing the juice from the rocks on that side as well. They aren't haphazardly spending millions of millions of dollars, they are making calculated investments and over-working and under-paying the developers.

This is the nature of this industry, it's based on profit-margins. And unless we start to see more developers assert their independence this is how things are gonna develop for the foreseeable future. Does this mean gaming is doomed ? No. All it really means is that this industry is still in a fairly young state and it's still growing, leading to growing pains. At some point we're probably gonna have to face the fact that even though we love our $60 price point it's probably a good chunk below where the actual balance of supply and demand is and have been for a long time.

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somamilk

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Well these are companies that want to make money and and want to find what makes the most money for them, you list a few games but there are plenty of games that offer a complete package and just picking out a few that made waves in the interwebs isn't fair to the rest of the gaming industry; which in my opinion is thriving as this year marked one of the best years of gaming as I still have Nier Autotomatoes and Horizon Zero Dawn to play. The argument "you don't need to buy it" in my opinion is valid as you don't need those new Halloween Overwatch skins to win any games as they don't enhance your skills. I'm sure there are pay for levels and extra in game currency but you can still play the game to earn that currency and since I've gotten older I've started working and going to school so I don't have the time to max out a new character on a mmo I enjoy to experience the new instances and events so paying a fee to experience that content with a maxed out character is equated to a new game for me and I myself as many others who don't have unlimited free time to play video games. There are new needs and facets to the video game market, at the end of the day video game companies are businesses and businesses and want to make money and people who work hard to make that money, you don't make a living by working for free. Video games will continue to coalesce and agree on new business practices and evolve with the times and In my opinion, get better because I still have a backlog of great games with more incoming that I am excited for.

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monkeyking1969

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Not, to screwed just going through changes. As the way games are sold change the way we buy them changes. What we buy and how we make choices about when and how we buy them changes.

I would say the needle has not gone up on how much I spend on games.

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Ungodly

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@jec03: You are still wrong about this being the worst generation. There are so many more options in gaming now, than ever before. The last generation brought in the independent developers, and the games they make now are way better and varied.

The reality is, that the games people complain about are the outliers. More games come out fully featured than those that don't, and the few that come out with bullshit attached to them are usually multiplayer. Multiplayer games are made to be played year round, and need a continuous payout to justify being made.

Some publishers are going to make silly decisions, and when they do people will decide whether or not to invests in it. This isn't new this has been the state of games since the beginning.

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Fezrock

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There are still huge number of smaller games that don't do any of this stuff and are great experiences. So the future of gaming I think is fine; but the future of AAA games specifically is very bleak. All the stuff being pointed out is totally fucked, and I really wish at least one big publisher would have the guts to say "For one year we will have no nickel-and-diming of any sort in our games, but our base price will be $75 instead of $60. If the games still sell well, that'll be our model from now on."

And while once upon a time I'd have said the future of AAA gaming is the future of gaming, thanks to the rise of digital distribution I no longer think that's the case. At least for the PC market. So the future of gaming is fine.

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duke_of_the_bump

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Nope, good games will always exist on PC. The future of insanely high budget hyper-realistic games may be screwed, but who cares

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deactivated-6050ef4074a17

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I don't think anything is "screwed" in this industry - things are always changing. It was only a handful of years ago that we were all bemoaning Season Passes and those faded away and changed into something else. Companies will keep pushing the limits with microtransactions until there's sufficient backlash or the government gets involved somehow, and will re-tune with something else, as ever.

That's not to say people should just say "Hey man, whatever, things always change, stop being so doom and gloom" though, since I think that kind of apathy is dumb in general. Though the industry itself still has tons of amazing things in it, and isn't going anywhere, people should still call out scummy practices when they see them. The good news is, many people are, and hopefully if we keep it up, things can change.

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Qrowdyy

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There's always gonna be problems in the industry. Right now its lootboxes. A couple years ago its was ridiculous pre-order bonuses. A couple years before that it was on-disk dlc.

Whenever publishers get too greedy, consumers push back and eventually some sort of compromise is reached. In the case of lootboxes, we might have to deal with this shit for a year before all the games that tried to capture Overwatch's success come out.

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Acura_Max

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And to think that we started this year off by asking if it was the best gaming year of all time. Oh how companies like EA and Warner Bros. disappoint.

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Onemanarmyy

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#31  Edited By Onemanarmyy

nah, this has been happening for a long time. And there's still a lot of good stuff to be found. Just not always in the AAA sphere. But i can see WB being the next company to get beaten up on the internet, after Ubisoft took the spot from EA for a good amount of years.

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MindBullet

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@ares42: I actually don't disagree with you, but I do think one feeds into the other. Just depends on what level you're looking at, how optimistic you wanna be, and how you define the cost of business.

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BladeOfCreation

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#34  Edited By BladeOfCreation

I was there, when DRM was going to ruin the future of gaming.

I was there, when DLC was going to ruin the future of gaming.

I was there, when Season Passes were going to ruin the future of gaming.

So...nah. This is certainly a trend, and in many cases a shitty one. But the future of gaming is not screwed. This is just part of the cycle, every few years something shows up that will surely destroy gaming. Nothing has succeeded in doing so yet.

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deactivated-5e851fc84effd

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Not even close. Season passes are fine as long as they contain good content. It would be foolish for large, publicly traded companies would avoid doing profitable things that their competitors are doing simply to appear more ethical.

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GenericBrotagonist

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I'm convinced we're not too far away from a AAA crash. Games with long tails like Dota and Overwatch won't be hit hard; most of Japan will be fine except Konami, Capcom, Square Enix, and their like; indies will still be a thing, but the bottom will fall out of the market for graphics/quantity over quality micro transaction heavy games.

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Dixavd

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The cost to make games has increased significantly at every generation (and now mid-generation with the resurgance of PC and console upgrades), however the price to the consumer up-front hasn't. Simultaneously, the number of games released has increased but not in tandem with the overall player-base, so the available paying audience for non-blockbuster sellers hasn't caught up. We're also finally reaching a point where the working conditions of those within the industry is being questioned (spurred on by the success of developers who have left big companies to build independent studios). While this is undoubtedly a good thing, it will also lead to the cost of work-hours increasing (as they move closer to the expected salaries in similar industries).

The intense focus that players have been taught to put into "quality graphics" has lead to an industry which is unable to reduce scope to meet the current environment. If games don't look as good as the predecessor, or have less modes, levels of other "content" (even if the developers have statistics to show how few players actually played that content) then players riot. If a game merely equals the predecessor, gamers revolt saying "I already have game X, what's better about this one?". On some level, this is a fault of the marketing hype-machine that netted publishers such high profits with pre-orders in the last decade.

Loot Boxes and other microtransactions are ways to not only make more money from the current game, but to convince publishers of larger budgets for future titles to meet the inflated expectations of players. Loot Boxes are not perfect (and, for the record, I don't think Loot Boxes are here to stay), but they are just a symptom of a wider problem which affects the entire industry (not just games that implement microtransactions). The entire industry is aware of this, and many of the newer studios are building themselves to avoid it. Overall, I'm positive that the industry will figure this out very quickly (and it will have very little to do with player's revolting against Loot Boxes, though I'm certain they'll be taking credit for it in the end).

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ripelivejam

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Sky is falling etc.

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deactivated-5a00c029ab7c1

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@ungodly said:

@jec03: You are still wrong about this being the worst generation. There are so many more options in gaming now, than ever before. The last generation brought in the independent developers, and the games they make now are way better and varied.

The reality is, that the games people complain about are the outliers. More games come out fully featured than those that don't, and the few that come out with bullshit attached to them are usually multiplayer. Multiplayer games are made to be played year round, and need a continuous payout to justify being made.

Some publishers are going to make silly decisions, and when they do people will decide whether or not to invests in it. This isn't new this has been the state of games since the beginning.

It's subjective I guess but there is no denying how bad and greedy the industry has become I mean you literally have to grind hard or just buy a loot crate in Shadow of War to get to the real ending. Can you imagine your favorite series being ruined by this. If this trend continues and gets even worst the gaming industry mostly AAA will have a crash. I been gaming for well over 20 years and I never seen anything this disgusting. I'm passionate about gaming but if this is in every game in the future I'm done there is only so much bullshit I can take.

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mike

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@jec03 said:
...I mean you literally have to grind hard or just buy a loot crate in Shadow of War to get to the real ending.

Is that actually the case? None of the reviews I've seen so far have mentioned anything like that. I didn't watch the Quick Look though, maybe they talk about it there?

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Wandrecanada

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Pretty sure this is strategic DRM that marketing arms have figured out also makes bank.

Since even Denuvo has been cracked wide open now AAA publishers who want to tell investors that they are a safe bet need to address piracy in some fashion I'm guessing the DLC/microtransaction methods have been safer bets (plus the whole extra money thing).

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nicksmi56

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@mike: Yeah, it's been confirmed that the "true ending" is behind a mode called Shadow Wars that comes after the main campaign, where you have to defend your fortresses against 20 waves of tougher and tougher enemies. It pretty much relies on strong orcs, which you either have to go out and grab if yours aren't up to snuff or pony up some cash.

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Onemanarmyy

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#43  Edited By Onemanarmyy

@mike: Just looked it up and apparently after the regular ending, a new mode opens up where Sauron's army launches a counter-attack on your fortresses and you have to defend them. Enemies attack in waves that are progressively harder, and attack multiple fortresses at once. This probably requires you to have quite a strong army, since you can't be at all places at once. Storywise, it directly links the game to events in the LOTR movies apparently.

I honestly don't think it's that big of a deal. Shadow of Mordor lacked a reason to keep playing after the story ended, and this is a solution to that. But it all depends on how much 'grinding' it actually takes, and whether it feels like grinding instead of just having fun acquiring better orcs. Maybe if you're diligent you have a suitable army at the end of the game already, who knows?

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Mathematics

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I'm very patient and with few exceptions, I can wait a year or two until the 'complete' or 'GOTY' versions come out and go on sale for like $30, so season pass DLC never bothered me. But I am with the masses on this one...I despise loot boxes (in full price titles, I understand it for free-to-plays) and hate the unfortunate trend of the fall releases this year having them. Hopefully the blowback is felt by gaming companies. I was thinking about picking up Shadow of War at a Black Friday price of $40ish bucks, but now I may not buy it at all....

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Ungodly

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@jec03: I'm saying this isn't new, and the truly egregious companies are a unique problem. I am sure that after a few months they'll probably change a few things to Shadow of War, that make the end game more manageable. That's one of the great things about this generation, it's easier for developers to fix bad descions or fix problems.

The industry is a business, and they aim for profits. As others have said, it's expensive as hell to make games, and there are going to be some good ideas and bad ideas to solve the problem. If a publisher makes a decision that you don't agree with that's fine, and you have every right to call them out on it. Just don't inflate the issue, and assume all developers will fallow.

Everything will be fine, and games are going to be alright.

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Efesell

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@mike: Yeah, it's been confirmed that the "true ending" is behind a mode called Shadow Wars that comes after the main campaign, where you have to defend your fortresses against 20 waves of tougher and tougher enemies. It pretty much relies on strong orcs, which you either have to go out and grab if yours aren't up to snuff or pony up some cash.

And Rock Paper Shotgun made it sound like it's still not that big a deal so I think some people are being a tad hyperbolic.

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bhlaab

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#47  Edited By bhlaab

If you don't like it, don't buy it. I'm not trying to be smugly dismissive here, it's advice I genuinely wish more people followed.

You say that you're worried the bad business practices such as loot crates will affect good games and then you'll be forced to deal with it. The better way to look at it is this: any game with such business practices is not a good game. So it will never be a problem for you.

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stantongrouse

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I think the last AAA game I bought on release was Destiny 1, any other AAA since I have ended up getting in a Steam sale or as part of a Humble Bundle so have almost always ended up with the GOTY or base and seasons pass all together. I think my ambitions to have to own a game on release disappeared several years ago and my wallet has been happier ever since. I don't think this current practice will be the end of the games industry, hopefully it never ventures much past this current state - which given the reluctance of most of the commenters on here to get caught up in it, we can only hope the general populace is avoiding it too. I'm not the biggest fan of capitalism but one of its positives is that if people don't buy into an idea usually gets dropped.

It would be interesting to see the figures on these practices, although I doubt any publisher worth its salt would let anyone outside of shareholders know. I don't know anyone that spends on these aspects of games, but then I have an older group of friends than most of these games are targeted at - so we might be outliers rather than the norm.

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gunflame88

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#49  Edited By gunflame88

I don't see how games cost so much more to make now than before, independent games like Shadow Warrior 1 and 2 or Hellblade have AAA-grade production but do not resort to nickle and diming the customers with lootboxes and tons of DLC and seem to be doing fine while not asking for 60$ on release. What's unnecessarily overinflated nowadays are the marketing budgets and that's completely on the publishers. I pay for the effort put into the creation of the game first and foremost, and not some sports event ad or soft drink co-promotion. Complacency will absolutely make things worse eventually. If people already think that lootboxes and season passes for trivial additional content are an equal substitute for the kind of full fledged game expansions we used to have, then the publishers have no reason not to do worse in the future.

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MindBullet

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@gunflame88: Marketing budgets are definitely a part of it, but the actual cost of development has also exponentially increased over the last two console generations. You have to factor in team size/pay/location, development time, licensing (both for your engine(s) and the IP), and the size of the game/how many manhours you get to finish it. Senua and Shadow Warrior look great at first blush, but set it side to side with something like Witcher 3 or Destiny 2 and actually do a deep dive into all the different moving parts and you're sure to see how much more is going on in the latter two.

Of course, Witcher 3 has a much different way of recouping it's costs than Destiny 2 (as long as you don't count their Gwent game), but that's just an example of the different ways game companies go about this.