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Three things every gamer can do to improve gaming

The relationship between the end-user gamer, retailers, publishers, developers and, yes, the media has changed tremendously with the advent of the digital age. Some of it good, some of it bad.

Among the more sour traits that has creeped into the relationship between the gamers and publishers, is the seeming disregard that publishers have developed for the end-user. The relationship used to be quite simple. Gone are the days where buying a video game was as easy as taking a stroll into the local Dion, picking a game, paying for it and then playing it.

Back then, all you needed to worry about when buying a game was deciding if it looked good to you and determining that was very straightforward. Did it appeal to your sensibilities? Did your friends like it? What did Zapp 64, EGM, PC Gamer or CVG think? Has Kenneth, the guy with the glasses at the Tele Games, had good things to say about?

Nowadays, getting that kind of data isn’t enough. Nowadays you need to think about pre-order bonuses, DLC, Season Passes, DRM, framerate issues and, most egregious of all, does the game even work properly? There’s just so much to think about. But there is a way to make things simpler. By taking on these three behaviours not only will it make your life easier, but in the long run, if everyone does it, it will making the gaming industry better.

 

1. Never buy pre-orders/Season Passes/DLC

Pre-orders, Season Passes and DLC are by far the worst thing to ever happen to video games. On the face of them, they are supposed to be offering the end-user gamer more value, but all three have over time eroded that very thing. Pre-orders/Season Passes/DLC have all made the actual video game you are buying less valuable.

Think on it. Pre-ordering means publishers have become less inclined to ensure 100% working quality in their games. They’ve already made stacks of money before they’ve even put the game on shelves and the pre-order itself is an assurance the game will be sold. So there’s no need to ensure the game is the best that it can be.

Season Passes/DLC have effectively created a scenario where games are sold to you piecemeal. How certain are you that you are getting a complete game, when a game has tons and tons of extra DLC? This practice has placed doubt in the mind of the consumer. When I buy Evolve, am I getting the whole game, or am going to have to spend more money to the full game?

That is not a thought that should ever enter your mind. Gamers should inherently know that when they spend their $60/R799 they are getting a complete game. Sadly, that isn’t always the case.

Pre-orders, Season Passes and DLC are not by themselves terrible, they can be positive forces in the industry, but the sad truth is, the industry has engineered them in such a way that they do nothing of benefit to the consumer and are, in the long run, damaging gaming as a whole.



2. Demand refunds when games are buggy/broken

If you buy something brand new and it doesn’t work as its supposed to, what do you normally do? Seriously, if you bought a fridge today and it didn’t make things cold, what would you do? Wait until it starts working or take the thing back for a refund/exchange? 100% of the time it’s the latter.

So why don’t we do this with our video games? Why do we sit around and wait until it does start working? Because that is what we are effectively doing, while we wait for that patch. If you buy a video game and it is buggy, take it back and get a refund.

Don’t sit and wait for a patch - that may or may not come - to fix things. Like with pre-orders, season passes and DLC above, we are rewarding publishers’ shitty behaviour by doing that. Stop it. Get off your butt, take the game back, get a refund and buy a game that does work.

This is one of the primary reasons why I still support disc-based gaming over digital, because it gives the consumer more power when things do go wrong. As convenient as digital is, it is actually disadvantaging the consumer, because it gives publishers too much power.

3. Support Indies

Supporting indie developers is vital to the growth and improvement of the industry. It achieves two things. Firstly, it shows the big publishers that we gamers have alternatives. We aren’t beholden to the games they produce, we can find our enjoyment elsewhere. And, typically, for less money.

Secondly, it encourages risk taking and innovation. Generally speaking, it’s indie games that are producing the freshest ideas out there at the moment - both mechanically and thematically - and showing support for those ideas will encourage bigger studios to take risks as well. If it wasn’t for indie studios we would never have seen Ubisoft support games like Child of Light and Valiant Hearts, two games that depart from the norm by a large margin

Ubisoft took a risk on those title because it saw that the gaming market was prepared to support them. So keep supporting those fresh ideas

Conclusion

If everyone adopts these behaviours, it won’t take long before we return to a point where the only thing we need to consider when buying a game is if we like it or not. We shouldn’t have to worry if we’ve bought the ‘whole’ game. We shouldn’t need to worry if the game will work. And we can have a reasonable measure of assurance that at least some of the games we are buying will be trying original ideas, instead of just aping what's popular.

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