At my age, sustained domesticity and work commitments, I have to be discerning with my gaming predilection’s. Gone are the day’s of concerted reticence and imposed isolation afforded by adolescents. To indulge in the exploration of some expansive, doom threatened Fantasy world, as an arbiter for moral virtue. With the unyielding resolve to vanquish every living creature that crosses my path, to further propagate my own power. Before inevitably collapsing into a cholesterol induced coma on a detritus of discarded crisp packets. Now I’m lucky if I can engage in a modest bowel movement, without being interrupted by the precipitous needs of my 5 year old that just so happens to need the toilet at the precise moment that I do. As such any reserved chance to game is restricted by the complete lack of time available to me. Being discerning becomes a recreational hazard. Investing your meagre time into a game that just isn’t for you, can be a demoralising thing. But in an age of disposable entertainment, where content is conveniently accessible – but also easily forgotten, finding the right game for yourself should be simple?
Streaming has revolutionised the way in which we engage with entertainment. With Netflix being the genesis that has spawned so many imitators to adopt similar formats. And in the interest of convenience, have completely diluted the experience of watching movies, television and now thanks to the likes of Gamepass and – to a lesser extent PlayStation Now – gaming.
Though I appreciate the convenience, affordability and variety offered by a subscription services. To have an accessible variety of games that satisfy almost any urge, whenever said itch needs scratching is very enticing. But I believe that you can have too much variety. It might well be considered the spice of life, but too much of that spice is going to leave your rectum as irritated as Joss Whedon’s publicist. Sure, you have all of this variety at your immediate disposal, but none of it is special anymore. Just another image in a virtual catalogue. You don’t own these games, merely rent them. The provisional nature of such services means that at any time, your favourite game could be subject to removal. This revolving door policy doesn’t sound particularly liberating to me.
There is of course a certain ambiguity to the concept of game ownership and what that actually implies. You could argue the traditional means of purchasing games, is more of an extended lease than acquisition. But I’d take a physical, tangible item that I can use whenever, rather than an ethereal product that can vanish simply because a contract has expired. I had access to PlayStation Now for a year, and only utilised its service once to play the last of Us 2. Everything I wanted to play was either something I purchased new or already owned.
I realise that this entire article is just me exposing myself as the out of touch, Victor Meldrew that I am. I also understand the irony of that analogy, as most of you probably don’t understand that reference. But services like Gamepass and whatever PlayStation’s belated equivalent ends up being, its not an environment I’m comfortable navigating. With Microsoft again flexing it’s rather sizeable financial muscles, as they continue to monopolise the industry, with the acquisition of Activision only further consolidating their ambition for proprietary dominance. Baiting Sony into acquiring another studio, for the explicit purpose of exclusivity. Thereby fortifying the war of attrition between two companies vying for market share. Once again fostering division between their respective fandoms and their competing corporate preferences. It just leaves you jaded.
The last thing I want to see is cartels using their substantial properties like collateral. With developers becoming commodities for larger, commerce driven conglomerates. And publisher’s like Square, Konami and Capcom used as bargaining chips, in the world’s most lucrative game of poker, solely to promote content to gamers. This isn’t an enviroment that nurtures expression, but gatekeeping. The future of gaming it seems, is limitation.
But what do you think? Are you happy with the direction of the game industry? Let me know in the comments below. Cheers.