After tiring of all of the pre-order, DLC, Season Pass, bug fix, update, expansion pack, special edition bullshit that more and more complicates the gaming landscape these days, I went back to the basics of ‘slide cartridge into console, turn on power.’ And you know what? It feels wonderful to play a game that way. It feels wonderful to play a game like Super Mario World and discover all of its hidden secrets; you know, rather than being sold those hidden secrets as extra content either the day the game is released or a month or two later.
One of the reasons I haven’t touched this generation of consoles – most notably the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – is because of how needlessly complex gaming has become. Not only with games sometimes needing a Day One patch installed when the game is first booted up in the console, but with the far too many and far too obvious cash grabs being made by publishers.
You have pre-order bonuses that amount to nothing more than offering in-game content that, in previous generations, would’ve been in the game, for all to enjoy, without the need to pre-order.
You have downloadable content (DLC) that normally consists of a new level, new character costumes, or new characters. Not all DLC is bad, though, not the DLC that is worked on following the completion of the main game. But there is something usually referred to as Day One DLC that is pretty much content that was cut from the main game so that it could be sold separately as DLC, effectively raising the price of the game without actually raising the number on the price tag.
You have Season Passes that are simply about a publisher taking money in exchange for the promise of new in-game content. And the publisher doesn’t even have to promise that it’ll be good content or even content of equal value to the price of the Season Pass; it just has to be some sort of content released down the line.
And you have special editions of games that include content taken away from the main game so it can be offered as ‘extra content’ for consumers who are willing to fork over more money for the pricier special edition of the game.
All of that is a far cry from gaming of years past. Extra content, in the good ol’ days, normally resided on the cartridge, waiting to be unlocked either by beating the game or inputting a cheat code. Or the extra content was simply there as content; not really ‘extra’ because it was a part of the main game. The fact that I now have to think of games in terms of ‘main game’ and ‘extra content’ even before the game is released is a show of what the game industry has become: a league of publishers who bend over backward to pull as much money from your wallet as they possibly can.
I just want to play games again without having to watch out for all of these cash grabs. I want to play games again without a feeling like I’m missing a part of the game that should’ve been there from the start. And I want to buy games again without the feeling that the publisher is charging me full price for an incomplete product. It’s funny how, these days, gamers have become so accustomed with handing over the complete price of a game in exchange for what’s not a complete game. They’re so accustomed to wading through all of the tiring, cash-grab bullshit in order to enjoy their hobby of choice.
Me? I want that simplicity that Nintendo and Sega once offered. When I play a game, I don’t want to have to deal with any tiring bullshit; I just want to ‘insert game’ and ‘play.’ I just want to have fun with a whole product. Is that too much to ask for these days?