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5 video game features we could live without


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Initial post: Mar 13, 2013 2:06:06 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2013 2:08:18 PM PDT
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5 video game features we could live without

Playing video games isn't supposed to be upsetting. You might feel some competitive pressure during a harrowing multiplayer match or a difficult level might drive you a little crazy, but "angering consumers" isn't exactly a top priority for game makers.

Unfortunately, business is business, and what's apparently best for game companies isn't always best for players. A number of questionable features in new video games (and upcoming consoles) have turned otherwise happy gamers into teeth-gnashing trolls.

Some of these features are meant to curb piracy. Some aim to boost revenues. Some attempt to promote technology. Others? Well, we're really not sure why anyone thought they were a good idea. Here are five new game features we desperately wish we could unplug.
"Always-on' Internet connections"

If you tried to play SimCity earlier this month -- only to be denied -- you know the pain of mandatory Internet connections.

When you buy a game, you want to be able to play it immediately. That seems simple enough. But when a game requires you to log into the company's servers every time you want to play -- even if it's a single-player experience -- it can be a serious headache. Internet's out? You can't play. Servers down? You can't play. That might be common to massively-multiplayer games like World of Warcraft, but seeing this affect games designed and marketed for solo play is worrying.

It's not a new problem, either. Blizzard faced it in 2012, when millions of prospective Diablo III players faced the `Error 37' message instead of the game's opening cinematic. Similar issues marred the launches of World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Publisher promises of "being ready" ring hollow these days, and gamers are already fed up with buying games only to find them unplayable due to connection issues. Unfortunately, we're powerless to do anything about it. If we want to play these sorts of games -- and when the game is as good as SimCity, we absolutely do -- we're forced to deal with this sort of frustration.

"Endless system updates"

It's great that console makers are able to update their system dashboards to include new features. We just wish they'd do it a bit lot less frequently.

Large system updates are a nearly constant occurrence on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, often with no discernible results. The Wii U needed one right out of the box when it launched. Even the Xbox 360 (which tends to require just one major update annually) still has smaller mandatory updates throughout the year.

Waiting for your system to update itself when you want to play a game is maddening. Rather than the console downloading these updates in the background as you play, you're forced to sit staring at a sluggish progress bar.

The PS4 won't demand a permanent Internet connection, but Sony's nudging players in that direction. And whether Microsoft will require one remains to be seen. But let's hope the companies are smart enough to push those upgrades out when systems are dormant, rather than right when they're turned on.

"Touchpads everywhere"

Remember how cool it was the first time you toyed with your smartphone's touchpad?

Now remember how cool it was when you tried using it on your dedicated gaming device?

Yeah, we don't either.

There's certainly a place for the touchpad in gaming - specifically, your controller-less phone - but the success of the mobile/tablet market has driven game makers to cram it everywhere. Sony put TWO on the PlayStation Vita, but that still couldn't hook players. Nintendo dedicated a huge chunk of the hefty Wii U controller to the touchscreen. Sony's even sticking one on the PlayStation 4's DualShock controller, though we're not sure what it actually does yet.

They seem innocuous enough, but all those touchscreens still feel like gimmicks. This is a problem that may resolve itself in a year or two, but for now, those screens are just getting in the way -- and running up the cost of hardware to boot.

"Money-grubbing downloadable content"

Some downloadable content is absolutely, positively worth the investment. When Rockstar extended Grand Theft Auto IV with a trio of episodes, for example, no one in their right mind complained about the quality or value proposition.

Other DLC? It's a pure cash grab. The most infamous example came in 2006 when The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion asked players to pay about $3 for a piece of virtual horse armor. (Bethesda has since learned its lesson, mostly.)

More recently, EA raised a stink by adding a `pay to win' model to Dead Space 3, then stuck its foot in its mouth by saying it was interested in having microtransactions in all of its games. The company has backtracked from that statement, but microtransactions are still a huge part of the gaming landscape today - and it's only getting bigger. They're even cropping up in Call of Duty, the biggest video game in the world.

The problem isn't in microtransactions themselves, but in how companies use them to squeeze money out of consumers. In free-to-play games, dropping a few extra bucks is no big deal since you never made an investment to begin with. But after shelling out $60 for a new game, being nickel and dimed for small items that could have been included initially is only going to frustrate players more in the years to come.

"Unnecessary multiplayer elements"

Perhaps because of the success of Call of Duty, whose multiplayer components make it a year-round hit, more and more games are adding multiplayer modes. And in some cases, that's a good thing.

But a growing number of single player games that have no need of multiplayer are jumping on the bandwagon in an effort to keep people playing after they've beaten the main game.

Tomb Raider, for example, is a fantastic reboot of the series -- and while there's nothing particularly wrong with the game's multiplayer, it's wholly unnecessary. We've seen it wedged somewhat awkwardly into games like Assassin's Creed III, Far Cry 3, and, most famously, BioShock 2. By and large, these games would have been just fine without multiplayer, and the creators could have spent that development time adding even more flair and polish to the single-player games.

It's bad enough that single-player experiences are become less and less common. To have them paired with sub-par multiplayer is just adding insult to injury.

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 2:09:54 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2013 2:10:23 PM PDT
Lucanus says:
Personally:

1) Online
2) DRM
3) DLC
4) Always Online
5) Microtransactions

I really could live just fine without all those.

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 2:10:29 PM PDT
I came in here, all ready to make disparaging remarks only to find that these are all pretty good bullet points.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:11:18 PM PDT
That Emu Kid says:
"Now remember how cool it was when you tried using it on your dedicated gaming device?"

Yeah, it was on the DS, and it was pretty sweet. Kirby Canvas Curse was fun.

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 2:13:47 PM PDT
Rev. Otter says:
my list would have QTEs and tacked-on motion control.

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 2:14:00 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Mar 13, 2013 9:08:40 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:14:05 PM PDT
You took the words right out of my mouth.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:15:17 PM PDT
Meatwad says:
I tip my hat to you, good sir.

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 2:16:54 PM PDT
That Emu Kid says:
The only one I really disagree with is the "unnecessary" multiplayer. All games are unnecessary. This would be like complaining that you got free fries with your burger because you don't like fries. Don't eat them. The burger's still good, and the combo didn't cost you any more than just getting the burger by itself.

I tend not to see eye-to-eye with most of the internet on what DLC qualifies as "money-grubbing," but I agree that it is something I could do without.

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 2:17:32 PM PDT
Soulshine says:
I don't really have any beef with touchpads or updates.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:25:08 PM PDT
Just as well, pork works much better than beef with those ingredients.

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 2:25:37 PM PDT
Agree with the "endless system updates". Most of the PS3 systems updates were unbearable to do the fact that there were too many and the updates themselves were slow.

Disagree on the "tocuhpads everywhere". The DS had a lot of fun games that made good use of the touchscreen. I like the touch screen inventory on the 3DS Resident Evil games. The Vita uses it's touch screen and rear pad well. The Wii U also uses it well in ZombiU and NSMBU.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:40:56 PM PDT
The DLC in DS3 is not "pay-to-win." It's pay for convenience.

The whole "money spent on the MP should've been spent on the SP" is one of the most ignorant and useless complaints.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:44:25 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2013 2:44:42 PM PDT
Well, I think "money spent on the MP should have been spent on the SP" is the case when you have a game where the MP is either poorly done or just not popular (e.g. Spec Ops, Brütal Legend.)

When you have a game with a good SP and a good MP (that people actually play) that's a good thing.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:44:26 PM PDT
Especially DLC for optional cosmetics.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:47:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2013 2:50:11 PM PDT
That Emu Kid says:
I think people misuse that phrase in general. My opinion is that the descriptor "pay-to-win" should really only be applied to cases where there's no option to "earn" things that dramatically increase your odds of winning through regular play, or where the time investment to do so is completely unreasonable. The ability to pay for a scope that increases accuracy by 5% that can also be obtained simply by playing a couple hours is not pay-to-win.

Posted on Mar 13, 2013 2:48:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2013 2:49:52 PM PDT
Five things I would like to see go away:
1) $60 price point for every game.
2) Anti-Fans (i.e. people for whom "hating something" is the draw, c.f. Bioware Social Network.)
3) Bigots, Jerks, and the dark seedy underbelly of gamer culture.
4) The notion that games must have both single player and multiplayer. You can have one and not the other, and it's fine. Heck, sell each separately!
5) Xbox Live Gold.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:48:13 PM PDT
Right, but people think that "more money" would make SP campaigns better. That's generally what is meant when they say that. And the problems with the SP campaigns in Spec Ops, Mass Effect 3, and Brütal Legend have nothing to do with money. In the case of a game like ME3, where a whole separate studio worked on the MP, the claim is downright laughable.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:49:25 PM PDT
Agreed.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:49:28 PM PDT
Well, in the case of Brütal Legend the money spent on the MP would have actually been better spent on the SP since they did have to cut out about a fourth of the game for budget/time concerns. You'll notice this if you finish it, it ends kind of abruptly.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:50:00 PM PDT
Yes, all of these things.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:51:02 PM PDT
Rev. Otter says:
<<The ability to pay for a scope that increases accuracy by 5% that can also be obtained by playing a couple hours is not pay-to-win.>>

uh, i think that's exactly what "pay to win" *does* mean -- that you can BUY an advantage that other players had to *earn*.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:51:25 PM PDT
I stand corrected in that case.

In my other two examples, though, the problems were things you can't fix with more money (that is, the story).

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:52:08 PM PDT
"3) Bigots, Jerks, and the dark seedy underbelly of gamer culture."

I watched that Extra Credits video about Harassment, and I can't believe that these types of...things (they aren't civilized enough to considered human) exist.

And I also think that while it is good to have both SP and MP, not every single game needs them, especially if the SP is a tutorial for the MP.

$20 should the max price point.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 13, 2013 2:52:43 PM PDT
But just because you pay for it doesn't mean you'll win. In a well-balanced game, the player with skill will always beat the player with gear.

The scope in this case is not an instant game-winner.
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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  28
Total posts:  81
Initial post:  Mar 13, 2013
Latest post:  Mar 15, 2013

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