For most of us its easy to reminisce about the joys of retro gaming with complacent pride. Swirling a brandy in a crystal glass embossed with thatched crevices, nestled atop a short stemmed glass–an action that was intended to be more pretentious than this sentence–as you observe your niece or nephew crying in exasperation because Driveclub has crashed again. With years of wizened experience you chortle an inaudible jape that mocks the advent of glitches before declaring that “things used to be different in my day.” Our eyes glazed by hindsight begin to project visual synapses that reveal the endearing inflection and the fragility of childhood memories. Memories commemorated by the coddled perception of bias. We allude to the economic neutrality of the industry that cared not for the futility of “earning profits.” That each game commanded respect and encouraged your capacity for love rather than the gratuitous atrocities committed by the adolescents of the today. When games were fortified by the suppression of cartridges there was a sense of permanency, with an inherent awareness that in 20 years from now you could dust off the secretions of time and carry on from where you left off. Now your lucky if the game works straight out of the case, as you grasp discs with such delicacy for fear that a wayward dust particle could inflict paralysis on it. You fantasize that when you were young gaming was reasonable, affordable and fair. Now I can assure you with honest impartiality that this is complete…..truth! Probably because they didn’t know how to exploit you effectively yet.
Take The Witcher 3 for instance. It acquitted itself with diplomatic equanimity. The game, though delayed for necessary servicing was eventually released without incident. Publications were granted access to the game weeks before its general release when normality dictates embargoes to free expression, allowing reviewers to impart honest parity to a games credentials rather than subsidised influences. Fluency and functionality is without reproach which is all very lovely, nice and harmonic. I feel all warm and fuzzy! But this shouldn’t be a cause for celebration? The minimum requirement of a game is that it works?! It’s a sad reflection on the industry when a games most commendable aspect is that it works! There seems to be mandatory conscriptions that dictate the manner in which some lazily created games are promoted, seemingly to inflict maximum austerity for its recipients that are now presented with limited time for intervention and duly cancel their pre-order. Gamers need an earthquake style early warning system that can detect tiny variations in a games shifting quality, just so preventative measures can be fulfilled before world-wide distribution of the product. Of course the companies responsible protest innocence that the lamented content is how they intended it to be. Watchdog’s, The Order, Assassins Creed and Destiny were remorseless in their provocations for philandering your money through misdirection. Promising you one thing but neglecting to mention numerous prohibitive bugs and omissions. You couldn’t publish a novel with chunks of narrative excerpts missing! And it’s not that they aren’t warning you, but rather concealing the formative information amongst articulated presentations. During interviews or previews they become susceptible to passive interrogation, often subverting the enquiries behind concealed pleasantries and logistical nonsense. They begin preaching misdirection through evasive deferences, like stating their games are “cinematic”, which is just another way of saying “we filled this game with QTE’s because it was difficult to fit development around my 14 hours of sleep”. Of course this distrust is further perpetuated by the media’s collusion with devs.
There is so much alleged discrepancies when it comes to the transparency of publications, with claims from gamers of deceit from more liberal reviewers that retain an all to cosy relationship with devs and publishers, thereby corrupting results. Of course they dismiss claims that they lied about the quality of a particularly game that possess a noticeable drop in quality from resoundingly polished previews that were submitted months before, simply to cover for their surreptitious benefactors. I think gamers have every right to judge the legitimacy of a claim and I think they are entirely ratified to be cautious of reviews that appear too good to be true. But I fear scepticism will ultimately lead to cynicism. I mean you’d be naive to believe that certain assurances and exchanges of influence aren’t being conducted in some fashion within the industry, it’s a precedent that is beset against almost every industry. It’s politics, and politics has a muddied opinion for ethical sovereignty. But when I see reviewers fawn over the likes of FIFA and COD, my gut reaction isn’t one of suggested influence, but rather emblematic of someone who loves the series. Bias is a fundamental principle–in the loosest sense–when appraising a game. You can’t help but remark on past experience and rely on your own emotions. Perhaps that’s complacent, maybe even misleading, but deceitful? I don’t think so.
It’s very easy to discern negligence from developers, publishers, publicists or whoever else can be identified as a potential candidate. It’s a melded composite of all these things. The game is the representative of all aspects of the industry. It’s too easy to perceive “them” as being faceless corporations extracting the purest essence of video games (which taste like cookies apparently) operated by tyrannical dictator stroking a white cat or in possession of one augmented appendage, twiddling their moustaches for added effect. There’s certainly an indication that morality isn’t a commanding construct as they continue reneging on promises widely publicised before, and its these types gesticulating sleight of hand that galvanise fans to facilitate dubious reserve to companies and their representatives. Sure there are inherent risks with any investment, and you certainly can’t rely on the opinions of people with monetary influences with the expressed purpose of gaining more money, but the general consensus can give a clearer perspective on a singular game. The problem is that kids these days (ugh!) have been conditioned to believe that consoles and even PC’s should capitulate to the restraints of developer’s whimsies, that the enamoured pretext they project to ensure the monetary safety of their respective wares is a consensual right?! Trust is certainly an issue, with glitches, unfinished content being distributed and DLC that looks suspiciously removed from your default purchase are commonalities that are only mutely disputed. But these are instances the entire industry appears to regard with nonchalant shrug that says “Oh well. Your still buying our games.” The future it seems is one of compliant debilitation, and that scares the hell out of me!
Do you still trust the games industry? Or even reviewers? Not me obviously……right? Right?!