If an incredibly bored person with a time machine made a trip to see me in the summer of 2000, for the sole purpose of telling me about the amazing games and televisions and consoles that would all be out within the next ten years…well…I don’t know what I would’ve said.
If he had also told me that we would only be playing games for about a week until the next one came out, I would have called him a liar. I had a Nintendo64 then, and I still loved every game that I had bought for it. Nagano Olympics sucked from the second I saw in under the gift-wrapping at what would prove to be another disappointing Christmas at my uncle’s place. Regardless, I would have never believed that there could possibly be so much amazing stuff as there is available on the market today. I probably would’ve been pretty overwhelmed by the sheer volume of technology out there, as well. Feelings akin to this sense of over-stimulation may be to blame for some of the lackluster accomplishments of the next-gen video game industry. Is it our faults that mediocrity has become so rampant, or do games like Timeshift, Haze, Turok, and racing games besides Grid and GT5 really suck?
There have always been games that proved to be the saving grace for their specific consoles. Whenever the 360 originally came out, I would play Gears of War over and over again until I could finally get all the cog tags, or beat it on the hardest difficulty. Call of Duty 4 for the PS3 was the same way. I didn’t care how many times I had played a level; if I was on a different difficulty, it was like playing a different game. At the same time, and probably more often, there were floods of terrible games. They seemed, terrible, at least. Simple mistakes are becoming common errors–engine difficulties, collision issues, buggy AI–we never used to experience stuff like that. But why is this happening? Is it because companies like Ubisoft are juggling multiple launches at once? Maybe games like HAZE are just filler games. Games that keep us barely entertained or angry enough to keep playing–that’s my favorite, by the way, when a game is so damned bad that I’ll just keep playing out of spite–until the next big thing comes out. But intentionally make a game that sucks?
I think it’s because we’re putting too much pressure on these developers. As next-gen gamers, we expect the best, and we expect it to come quickly. With such intense demand for more games like Call of Duty 4 or Gears of War, companies are racing to become the next one with that really big hit, and in the process are selling themselves short. The blame should fall in both baskets. Just because we know they can make such awesome, heart-stopping, high-caliber games doesn’t mean we should expect them to turn them out daily. However, just because they know that we’ll accept their less-than-best on occasion doesn’t mean that developers should try to pull the wool over our eyes with every new release.
Personally, I’d like to see less hype in the future. Maybe fewer HD commercials, and more developer interviews; you know, more stuff that would put a less subjective spin on games. It is our, the gamers and the industry alike, responsibility to not let things get out of hand.