Posted on: September 17, 2023 Posted by: Marcus Collins Comments: 0


Photo by Marcus Collins

Video games, movies, TV shows, and any other forms of media entertainment are works of art. Massive big-budget products like +AAA games from big name studios require time, patience, and love for the project. You cannot rush art because when you do that you end up with sloppiness that shows you didn’t show enough care for your work. Writing, whether it’s a script or code for a computer program, that takes time to perfect.

Marcus Collins

Staff writer and Photographer

            Back in the 2000’s before micro-transactions became the new norm and pay-to-win loot boxes were introduced, when a game was released, it was done. Developers could not make new updates or fixes to a game when it was launched. Until in 2003, Unreal Championship made history as the first video game ever to get a downloadable patch update post-release. And in the 2000s, that was unheard of when it came to game development for console gaming. When released to the public in stores, it launched ready to play and players were happy. Each time a game was released during that era, developers would take feedback, make improvements, and innovate with new features and gameplay mechanics. Sequels then implemented those changes in game development. Games like the ‘Grand Theft Auto Trilogy’ (Not the Defective Edition) improved and innovated their game design over time. ‘Def Jam Vendetta’ and ‘Def Jam: Fight for NY’ innovated and brought new features to the table, giving the players more freedom to customize their fighting style. ‘Need For Speed Underground’ gave players a lot of variety when it came to visual customization and car modifications. It was mainly influenced by the 2001 film ‘The Fast and The Furious.’ In 2004, ‘Need For Speed Underground 2’ was released going even further with the gameplay and innovation. Bringing back the same customization features from the first game, developers expanded even further by adding gauge colors, more aftermarket parts, new cars, and even adding in SUVs for street racing and drifting.

In addition, they expanded gameplay by adding an open world exploration instead of the menu pick and choose a race. Drift events made a return, as well as circuit lap races, sprint point-to-point racing, drag racing, along with a new feature, dyno stands tuning of your vehicles, where players could examine and test their vehicles. Giving players the ultimate street racing fantasy and playground a year after launching ‘Underground 1’ in 2003, the developers had creative freedom and independence from interference from corporate executives, letting them work on the project with passion and love.

            Today unfortunately, video games are seen more by executives as money-making machines, to pump them out year after year. Video games today are constantly being released broken and unfinished for the holiday gift-giving season. Customers who play these rushed games, may have to wait for developers to return from their holiday breaks before fixes and patches to the programming can be implemented. People who invested their hard-earned money into these big-budget products, were hyped by the marketing, are then disappointed in the end product. Examples include ‘Cyberpunk 2077’, ‘Fallout 76’, ‘Battlefield V’, ‘Battlefield 2042’, ‘Grand Theft Auto the Trilogy: Definitive Edition’, ‘Outriders’, ‘Anthem’, and many more examples of corporate greed ruining good gaming. Another example of corporate greed is buying up studios only to run them into the ground with brutal expectations and demands from the executives. Electronic Arts is mainly known for killing beloved independent properties (IPs) and studios, and it has been reduced to a meme in the gaming community. Beloved studios closed down by EA include Westwood Studios (1985 – 2003), NuFX (1990 – 2007), Pandemic Studios (1998 – 2009), Black Box Games (1998 – 2013), DreamWorks Interactive/Danger Close Games (1995 – 2013) and more. EA has also tarnished an iconic franchise known for competing against ‘Call of Duty’, which was ‘Medal of Honor’, but after ‘Warfighter’ was released in 2012 and did not meet their expectations, the executives decided it was best to close the studio and kill the franchise off, adding another victim to the graveyard.

            ‘Call of Duty’, published by Activision, has never missed an annual release since 2005. The golden years for the community were 2007-2012, as each year they made innovative features and brought in amazing, jaw-dropping, single-player campaigns and multiplayer options. After 2012, the series fell off with a lack of innovation and new features, and customers lost interest. Then, 2019’s ‘Modern Warfare’ launched, and fans of the series saw this as a much-needed reboot for the franchise to go back to its boots-on-the-ground roots. Later on, it saw a negative outcry with the following two releases of the franchise, with ‘Black Ops Cold War’ being a mess with the forced integration introduced with its predecessor ‘Modern Warfare 2019’, and ‘Call of Duty Vanguard’ serving as an example of the creative bankruptcy of the franchise. The greed of Activision was on full display, proving that executives do not need to force developers to create yearly, uninspiring titles simply to cash in. EA is guilty of this mentality themselves with the pay-to-win annual releases of the ‘EA Sports Madden’ and FIFA series games (now named EA Sports FC). Customers can end up spending hundreds upon thousands of dollars on digital card packs in the Ultimate team mode to get the best cards and players to have an advantage over other gamers, which promotes gambling, and unhealthy addictions to micro-transactions in video games today.

            Video games are a work of art, plain and simple. It requires hard work, dedication, and care in these massive projects. It is not appropriate to launch a game that is riddled with optimization issues, net code errors, missing features, filled to the rim with technical issues, and is a chore to play through. In contrast, the critically acclaimed title ‘Elden Ring’ was released in 2022, finished and ready to play. It did not launch with major issues, an over-priced edition with a tacked-on season pass, or a micro-transaction store to buy cosmetics and weapons skins. If you want to acquire anything in the game, you need to play the game and explore the massive open world to find it; customers do not just buy from an in-game store. In some games that release in unfinished states, the micro-transaction store functions much better than the actual game in some instances. People even defend the mentality of buying items in the store to skip the gameplay aspect. It destroys the core aspect of the video game that is created, enticing players to spend more money instead of earning and completing video games the old-fashioned way. Micro-transactions can be done right in certain instances and be player-friendly like ‘Fortnite.’ It makes sense as a Free-to-Play Battle Royale game, but when every other game tries to mimic their formula because it is successful in that genre, releasing a game in an unfinished state, waiting months to a year for it to be fixed and ready to play, is not acceptable. Just because one game does it does not mean it is the norm and people will just spend their way to the top to unlock everything instead of playing a game and earning instead of buying. It is a pure example of corporate greed to get players to keep investing money into a game that is not finished and wants the player to keep buying skins and sell more useless cosmetics because they are a business at the end of the day to make as much money as they can.

Alex from the YouTube channel “AngryJoeShow” makes this point in their Outriders game review released on April 13, 2021. In it, he denounces people defending the unfinished release stating that every game has launch issues. Alex retorts that argument by stating, “That is not how this works. Games come out unfinished because you people keep apologizing for them going ‘oh no, it’s fine,’ ” said Alex. “That is not how this works. You as a consumer, you paid your money, you deserve better. Have some more self-respect.” And no one else could have put that statement better. In today’s age, microtransactions have gone too far, corporate greed is ruining video games, and the video game industry needs regulations from the FTC instead of protecting the market leader, Sony PlayStation during the recent FTC V. Microsoft/Activision Blizzard merger. On top of that, developers/publishers have gotten lazier. Offering up excuses, lackluster apologies, even blaming the gamers themselves for having a stronger PC. It is always excuse after excuse, and no accountability is taken from the suits in charge. CEOs like Andrew Wilson of EA, Bobby Kotick, the devil himself of Activision Blizzard and the games industry as a whole, boasts record profits, yet lay off workers year after year. Especially in the QA department. They are even reported by the non-profit organization “As You Sow” as the most overpaid CEOs in America.

But no matter what, the micro-transactions work as intended to get people to spend more money after they have already spent $60, $70, even $120 for the Deluxe/Ultimate Edition. Then when it launches for the public with game breaking bugs, missing features that are a standard in video game development, makes it a slap in the face of everyone that spent their hard-earned money on the product. Gamers need to wake up and realize that a majority of +AAA games studios do not care for you. They do not respect you. They just want your credit card number, the expiration date, and those 3 numbers on the back of your precious card for your money. They have no interest in making good video games where the user has a one-time purchase, and they are satisfied. They focus on constant player-engagement. How to get the player to spend more money, rather than enjoying their time with the product. It’s a shame what has happened to video games and the endless that continues to fester with CEOs that only know money, and nothing about video games. Support an indie game studio that deserves your time and money. Companies that actually respect you rather than exploit you for your money & nostalgia.

Mariah Trujillo, former Editor-in-Chief, contributed to this report.