There are probably just two types of guys who would ask for stricter rules: the guy with a secret stash of unsettling private videos and the guy who raises his hand to remind teachers about homework (and it’s often the same guy). Nevertheless, I feel like I can make a case for it, when it comes to the next generation of consoles.
The central point of the argument here is that consoles exist to provide a very different experience from the PC. Simple logic dictates that something, which is not a PC, can never be just like a PC, and it shouldn’t try to be, if you ask me. Consoles have their own strengths and a very important one of them, is their traditionally headache-free environment. We don’t buy consoles to do the complex shit, like getting Halo to run in Microsoft Word or something; we just want the ability to press a button, insert a game container of some sort and start blasting away.
Nintendo is one company that seems to realize this (or they haven’t gotten ‘there’ yet) but the other two have been introducing elements to disrupt that advantage. I feel like it’s very important that Sony and Microsoft take a page from Nintendo and tighten the screws when it comes to the following:
3. Regulate DLC
You might be surprised to learn that the concept of DLC spawned all the way back in the 80’s, with GameLine, which was basically ‘XBox Live’ for Atari 2600. You could download games for a fee, and without going into too much detail, yes, the thing was exactly how you probably imagine an online gaming service of the 1980’s. Despite the fact that the idea was not remotely new before it suddenly exploded during this seventh generation of consoles, it still has an almost complete lack of any necessary regulation to ensure that there are no ridiculous occurrences of the following sort:
That is the notorious Horse Armor Pack, which is a useless set of horse armor, for The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, that costs real life money. Of course, nobody is making anyone buy the thing so there is no problem, right? Wrong. The problem is that nearly every game constantly gets pieces of DLC of all sizes, so reviewing most of them would be fucking impossible. As a result, there is usually no indication what it is you are paying for. For all you know, those 200 Microsoft Points are going to get you horse insurance and an automatic membership in a manure removal service (explain that activity to your neighbors).
Currently, there are no rules that say what can be sold as DLC and how much it should cost, so some companies may try to sell you multiplayer modes and on-disc junk, while others will be less douchy about it and offer some worthy stuff for the same price. Because of that, not a damn soul can tell you what to expect from a $5 piece of DLC, for example.
The DLC that is worth your money gets lost under piles of rancid crap, fit straight for a SCAM report. And in addition, trying to figure out what the fuck Fable III keeps asking you to buy, for example, and whether it’s really expecting actual money for nothing more than a black dye for your clothes, really goes against the whole pick-up-and-play thing that consoles are supposed to be all about.
The console makers need to kick some ass. I, the user, want to have an idea what it is I am offered, or at least, to know that the amount of money that is asked of me, will give me something that falls within a certain content bracket. And it goes without saying that I don’t want there to be a DLC price bracket titled “Random, Worthless Shit Yanked Directly From The Game.” I want my games to come in one piece, without things missing, like they’re boxes of chocolates from a fucking Forrest Gump candy store. Maybe the worthy DLC will get a bit more attention in that case as well.
2. Redo Achievements and Trophies
Some gamers don’t give a flying turd about this thing and that’s fine. This is not an argument for or against achievements or trophies. Let’s just all allow, for a moment, a scenario where there exists a segment of gamers who enjoy this aspect of gaming. Maybe they have severe OCD and must check things off a list, or they like to collect things ever since they discovered Pokemon, or they enjoy showing off the fact that they have spent an unreasonable amount of time doing something noone could ever possibly enjoy.
Well, the game companies found a clever way to abuse this scenario too. Just as soon as one of those achiever individuals is done getting that last pain-in-the-ass trophy, smiling happily at that ‘100% Completion’ message next to their ‘Platinum’ and whispering “Thank all that is holy that I won’t have to play this fucking game ever again,” they soon get a message, informing them that new DLC has become available, and their completion suddenly skips back to an ugly 84%…
Even if you don’t have OCD, you must agree that it’s pretty ridiculous to disrupt someone’s sick and twisted quest for 100% by knocking their progress several notches and charging them money for DLC to get it back up.
“Wow, this is a problem for someone?” is what some of you are probably thinking. But actually, the problem is that this setup is often used just to sell DLC (most of which is shit for that very reason). Publishers know that some people will pay money just for that full completion and they shit out DLC with achievements that pretty much just reward you for proof that you bought the piece of shit. I mean, I refuse to accept that game developers consider playing a multiplayer match, on a map that you have purchased, worthy of a trophy… Hell, one such Gears of War achievement is even called “You Down With EPIC?” Seriously?
For something that should add to our enjoyment of games and introduce a fun collecting element, it’s sure a pain in the ass. If you want to get into trophy hunting, now you have to keep checking your completion rates and occasionally buy shit to keep it tidy. I say that the scheme is becoming too obvious and just not worth it. The next generation needs to change it up a bit to the way it’s done with Deus Ex: Human Revolution on Steam: make a separate achievements list for the DLC and the problem is easily solved.
1. Do Away With Retailer-Exclusives
Do you ever wonder why there is all this bitching and moaning over the second-hand games market that has caused some publishers to introduce all sorts of inconveniences for players to combat it (online pass?) but then they go and fucking create exclusive bonus content just for the stores that sell used games? What sense does it make for game companies to punish their customers, while supporting someone like GameStop, who is supposedly destroying them? If you expect this next sentence to have an answer, I am sorry to disappoint; I have no fucking idea myself. The whole thing is more confusing than setting up a damn emulator, to be honest.
The above image says it all. Nowadays, even buying a fucking console game is a complete hassle And sure, some of this content may appear as DLC for everyone, later on, but I can never know if it does, and some of that content seems important like the above in-game abilities! That sounds like the shit I’d like to have, unless of course – and this raises another confusion – that stuff ruins the game, in which case I shouldn’t buy it at that store… or maybe the game is meant to be played with it… it’s a freaking in-game ability for fucks sake…
Now, I do get it. As this excellent article points out, retailers must have a good lure to attract customers but I don’t think that it should happen at the cost of the quality of the product. Come up with another scheme if you must but don’t make the buying process so confusing that it makes me just want to wait and get the game used, just to have the money to buy all this content later, in case it’s worth it… if I can…
Console makers can regulate games that are released for their consoles. Nintendo does it, Apple does it, even fucking Steam does it, so come on Sony and Microsoft, get tough when you actually need to. Consoles are not PC and some regulation is important to protect the much-unappreciated simplicity. There is a reason we keep the consoles in our living rooms, where we also keep our most comfortable furniture – that’s not the place to cause us a pain in the ass!