An Open Letter to the Game Industry

Subject: An Open Letter to the Game Industry
From: Anonymous
Date: 13 Dec 2017

To the publishers, developers, and consumers of the Games Industry,

First of all, greetings.

I do not believe it would be very polite or proper without at least giving you my greeting. Especially since I am speaking to an entire entity. I will admit, this is one of the first times I have ever done anything like this. Putting my serious thoughts in writing, plastered for all to see and examine on the internet. It is amazing to see just how much technology has progressed over the years, how much the internet as connected, brought us together and even better, made revolutionary advances in the industry.

But alas, I am not here to praise you or those advances. That is from a time much passed, unfortunately.

Like many others, and I am sure both developers and publishers are sick of hearing it, I grew up with this industry ever since I was a kid. Not from the start of course, but enough to see how much we have grown and matured together. I was there for the prime era of the early 2000’s to 2010’s, a time that has forever set in my mind as my own era of gaming, where I got my start in all of this. When my hand touched that controller for the first time, I knew that there was a connection that would last forever within me. It was a passion that could not be put out. As time passed, I witnessed the rise and fall of companies, franchises, series, etc. But that was to be expected. As a kid, my only concern was to play and explore, but once I started getting older, I wanted to know more about this magical place, this gaming industry. A place that has brought me hours of joy, recreation, and that bright-eyed look of dreams to be among the legends who have had such a large artistic influence on my life. If I couldn’t be a part of the industry, I wanted to know more about it, get my mind involved and in the loop.. That was the least I could do for something I was so passionate about, right?
Whether you are a consumer, developer, or whatever, let’s be honest: The industry isn’t how it used to be. How that definition stands is up to you, but looking at the past and present together, we have come a long way from where we used to be. Games were set to be the new medium of presentation. A platform where viewers can actually interact with the world created before them, enjoy a story, spend time with friends if they wanted in these virtual worlds, or share them if they so desired. Games were set to be an artform meant to make waves of evolving good. That was the thing kept me going after all these years once I began to realize it. My passion was for the artistry the medium that these games brought to me. They were unique, stylish, and most importantly, fun. Now not to say other mediums aren’t fun, but games brought out a level of interactivity that I believed was ready to evolve the way media was seen. This was the accomplishment I wanted brought to the public, that I thought was the goal many were after.

But as I sit here now at the age of 18 years old, watching the industry I love so dearly encounter the events and trends it is following now… Every passing season of new games, it keeps feeling like more and more like a dream rather than a reality.

To specifically address the publishers, developers, and any other movers and shakers of the Games Industry that might still be reading, I want to be as professional, straightforward, and open as possible with you, and I hope in response, you can do the same for me. I’ve watched us grow from a tiny sprout in the ground to the conglomerates that you are and the adult that I am now. As a consumer, as a person, and as a client, I implore you to reconnect with the past that has been seemingly left behind. Those early days were a time of artistry that I remember wholeheartedly, a time where companies like you made games for the sole enjoyment of the story and gameplay mixed together as one. Beautiful masterpieces were created that the many artists behind that project were proud to share with players and was not just something meant to be “liked.” But nowadays, games don’t feel like how they used to be 10 years ago. With this whole “Games as a Service model,” and the introduction of constant connectivity to the internet and therefore access, what was supposed to be an advancement I believe is a setback masked in the form of short-term satisfaction. The constant connectivity to the internet was a gateway to giving players access to new content created after the game was released, by your choice to be free or in the form of paid downloadable content, which sounds like a rather good concept to be implemented. It also gave the ability for developers to fix things in the game that were overlooked for the most part, and patch the holes in a now very complex system. It is difficult to create games. They cost significant amounts of money, time and manpower to create them, especially if you seek to achieve the caliber that ‘triple-A’ games have reached. Things get overlooked constantly, concepts are cut, deadlines have to be met. Some things aren’t going to make it into a game or at least not at that point.

However, while cases like this happen, it is sadly one of the few things about this industry that I and many gamers have seen be abused or heavily dislike.

Day One patches, Day One (paid) DLCs, locked out content, pre-planned DLCs… Where good intentions are meant to be considered, there exists the bad between them. While we can agree it is necessary to have the ability to include these things just in case, it should remain a concept that is “just in case.” By now, the reception on the reliance on these concepts rather negative for the most part, because as consumers paying for something, we expect a full package to come with it. It is not a good image to have when the first thing that happens in every game you make especially on release day is have an update screen show up for the player.

Many of these issues can be traced back to one thing: money. I won’t disrespect you as a company as I completely understand. Money is a huge, huge aspect of your companies, and that is of course your target. You need it to keep going. But there is always good and bad ways of approaching this ordeal. On paper, “Games as a service” makes sense for both player and the company, but we need follow up. Content shouldn’t be withheld as a purchasing mechanism, or be forced to be used as a medium of marketing, like we see in Battlefront 2. The games that have this seem just like games that give you this illusion of progress, with a lack of detailing or synchronization. They’re bent on singular aspects features that are popular or tend to have some extra part of it that contains monetization or an increase of time to extend that illusion of progress. For some this is an okay aspect. Grinding, progressing, crafting, and all those little features are all that some people need. But I’d rather not have that be the normal practice. With all due respect, its very lazy, and does not do any advancement in the industry justice to itself as an art form. It simply becomes a copy and paste game, an amalgam of features present simply for the singular enjoyment of those features with no mixture whatsoever.

At the same time, I want to remind you, the publishers and developers promoting these standards: We aren’t puppets. We are your customers, your clients. While not many see video games as an art form primarily, it brings down the industry as a whole for things like this to continue on the way it is. I dreamed of bigger and better things for this industry to grow into, and as someone truly passionate about the industry, I can’t let it become another general industry like this because of financial gain off the backs of your customers. All I ask is to have some transparency to us and to yourselves, and to remember the passion that was once there when we first began as an industry; not as a companies riding on the backs of profits from their clients, but as a companies working with them to create masterpieces that bring us both fortune and culture.

However, that being said, I need to speak us, the consumers, the gamers. While the companies should be the one responsible, industries are a two-part relationship between the company and the consumer, and that is something we need to keep in mind. All those business practices about DLCs and microtransactions, we know the outrage that it has caused because of it. But remember, without us, those practices wouldn’t be a thing. Even if you personally don’t fall into buying those things, the community is huge, and there is always a group or person enabling these business practices to continue happening. We have influence over the quality and standard that games are held to through our voices on the web, but also through our wallets. Promoting and buying games that signify these great aspects of gaming supports that companies that may create more adventures, experiences and other quality products like that in the future. However, we have to show some respect to those companies too. They are people just like us, and acting like entitled children for certain things is not helping. We should understand what it takes to make these games, and praise and respect them for the work that they do for us. Promote those companies that are actually creating quality games so we can show them what it is we like, and support them. And most importantly, we need to spread this information and attitude to everyone. Companies target those that aren’t as informed because they are easy targets. An informed community is a responsible one, is what I always say.
Thank you for listening, if you’ve reached this far. I want this industry to grow and become the platform I know it was meant to be years ago. While I may be in the low minority of people that view it this way or keep up with the industry, gaming is still a piece of me, and I’d do anything to make any part of me better off.

Best regards,
A young, passionate anonymous gamer.