For some reason, the games industry has a way of using words that just ruins their meaning. Every exclusive title out there is really “exclusive” for a limited amount of time, and every “innovative” game looks exactly like the last one. And a game beta? When did betas become game releases? Here are just a few of the words the games industry has completely changed.
Can you imagine if every game was as innovative as we were promised? How awesome would that be? Developers love to toss this word around like it’s candy, but really… are most of these games innovative? Absolutely not. Instead of being accompanied with a sense of joy, most of us just hear the word and promptly roll our eyes. Fish AI! So revolutionary!
True innovation is what Goldeneye 64 did for the console FPS genre, or what Assassin’s Creed did for parkour-style movements in gameplay. Innovations define and create new genres, and we see relatively little of that. Call of Duty has stopped being innovative 4 titles ago. The most innovative games coming out, in my opinion, are probably Splatoon! and Evolve. Of course, I can’t exactly fault developers for trying to make games seem more interesting by using “innovative” to describe non-innovative things. It’s hard to get on the stage and just say “Doing new, interesting things is hard, so here’s last year’s release with some new textures,” because that’s a terrible way to sell millions of units.
Since when was a “beta” the actual release of a game? Well apparently since Steam’s Early-Access started. Yes, gamers, if you really hate money you can give it to a developer to play a game that hasn’t technically been “released” yet, and eagerly await the next patch that may or may not come after the developer decides to give up. Don’t get me wrong: The model has worked in the past. Hell, just look at Minecraft that was in beta for two and a half years before actually getting an official “release”. But by that point, what was the difference? Pretty much everyone was already playing the game, and the difference between the last beta version and the official release was just that “beta” was taken out of the version number (okay fine, I know there was more, but you get the point). If gamers can spend money buy your “beta,” then it isn’t a beta anymore. It’s just an official release of an incomplete game.
Here’s a word that’s just made to set up disappointment: “Exclusive.” There’s a love-hate relationship with “exclusive” titles these days. On the one hand, some gamers really want a game to be released only on one platform because they want a good reason to justify buying that console vs. the other. On the other hand, there are also plenty of gamers who hate feeling left out when a game only comes out for the system they don’t have. How can developers get the best of both worlds? Timed exclusives are apparently part of the answer. Most recently we found Rise of the Tomb Raider, which was revealed as an “exclusive” Xbox title, would actually only be exclusive for so long. In fact, after the “exclusivity deal” ends, it’ll probably end up on PC and PS4 because that seems like the thing to do.
Even if games themselves aren’t “exclusive” to the platforms, DLC certainly is. Yes, if you want to play some DLC for Watch_Dogs but you don’t own a Sony system, you’re screwed. Sony payed heaps of money for the rights to 60 minutes of gameplay in the game, because apparently paying more so a game shows up just on your system for forever is out of the question. Instead, you can just pay for developers to slice up their game and market it for the highest bidder now.
“Emotional” is another word tossed around without a care in the world. Do you know what game has been described as “emotional”? Call of Duty: Ghosts. Yes, Infinity Ward apparently invested a lot into the “emotional” aspect of the game. Do you know what game absolutely isn’t emotional? Call of Duty: Ghosts. This is a new buzzword because developers want to make it seem like their games are art because they can invoke real emotion without also adding any genuine heart into the game.
Games that are emotional in my book would include Journey and Spec Ops: The Line, but when I’m supposed to get emotional about Dom in Gears of War III, I just feel… flat. Yes, it is absolutely possible to make game characters feel like real characters, and it is absolutely possible to tell a deep, compelling narrative in a game, but you need to make sure that the game is genuine, and the “emotions” feel natural. When every other dark and gritty game is called “emotional” it falls flat.
Free doesn’t mean free. At least not really. Dungeon Keeper is the perfect example of this. Sure, you can play our game for “free”, but if you want to actually beat the game, well then you’re going to have to actually give us money. Want to access the next level? That’ll be more money. Or hell, look at Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare that starts you off with almost all the weapons locked. The only way to unlock a single new item is to grind for hours and hours. That is, of course, unless you want to spend more money to get all the “coins” to unlock all the weapons.
The free to play model can actually work. Hearthstone shows an absolutely workable model that doesn’t lock you out of content and still makes you feel like you’re accomplishing something. DOTA 2 is yet another free game that’s workable. When the model doesn’t work, however, the term “free” is just another way of trying to force money out of gamers in any way possible. Zynga is the perfect example of what a game looks like when the term “free” is meaningless, and instead the developer just wants to trick you into spending money.
Screw that, and screw all those other words that are misused by the gaming industry. Dictionaries exist: use them!