Here’s an open letter to all gamers out there. Please stop buying bad games. Lay off the one-note joke games and the memes. For all our sakes.
I’m writing to you as a fellow gamer from way back, possibly before a lot of you were even born. I sat through 20 minutes of screeching Spectrum loading pages in the 80s. I was amazed at the crisp, bright graphics of Sonic the Hedgehog when I first got my MegaDrive (Genesis to you North Americans). I giggled like a moron playing 4-player Mario Kart and Bomberman on my SNES. My mind was blown with the move to 3D in Mario 64 and gaming remains the main form of media that keeps surprising me. Unfortunately, those surprises aren’t always good.
There’s been a lot of titles released recently that barely qualify as games and I’m really disappointed. I’m not talking about games like Gone Home or Dear Esther – those function as the developer intended. Although they’re more like interactive stories than games as we previously knew them, they’re not what I’m talking about.
If you use up your best material in 30 seconds, why are you still talking?
Things like Airport Simulator and Woodcutter Simulator are a couple of the prime suspects. Broken mechanics and no challenge mean that they don’t actually engage the player beyond fighting with the systems just to make them work. Goat Simulator used this as a selling point, promoting the bugs as a feature. It worked for them, but thankfully they added actual content later and continue to add new stuff to this day.
I know what you’re thinking. It can be funny. Broken physics or an AI glitch can be a laugh. There’s plenty of YouTube clips and gifs floating around with hilarious bugs in. I’ve found a few myself over the years, including one in the original Mario Kart that nobody else seems to know. The thing is, once you’ve seen it and you’ve laughed at it, you’re done. How many times can you realistically laugh at the same thing? If you use up your best material in 30 seconds, why are you still talking?
I accept that sometimes a cheap laugh can be tempting. A couple of hours of laughs for $5? That’s better than a movie. But please think about a couple of things.
Consequences For The Gamer
Firstly, your bank account. Think value for money. Buying a game for $5 because it has a couple of laughs isn’t too bad, but $10? $15? Where do you stop? Where does it stop being parody and start actually being a gamer supporting a bad developer? We need to be smarter with our cash.
Secondly, and probably more important to gamers and the future of the industry, think about the message it sends to developers. If you’re giving them money for basically anything, they will continue to release crap with the expectation you’re going to continue lapping it up. Features will be dropped (probably in favour of DLC padding), bugs will go unchecked because hey, you found them funny the last time. Less and less effort will go into future titles until eventually you’re paying full price for a game that is basically no more than a concept. Any expectations you might have had will fall under the “this is what you wanted so this is what you get” banner and you’ll only have yourselves to blame for it.
Please stop letting developers get away with zero effort, shit games. Force them to make the ones that you actually want by only buying stuff that is truly worth the money.
Gamers, please stop buying bad games. It’s not good for anyone.