#2. "The Always-Connected System Should Not Be Used on a Single-Player Game!"
What kind of devil worshiping bullshit is this? I buy a game so I can disconnect from the world and de-stress with some much deserved alone time, and I still have to log in to a fucking account like it's multiplayer? So what happens if I'm going on a trip and want to play some Diablo III to pass the time? I guess I'm just fucked? Live in Africa with substandard, ridiculously priced Internet? I guess they're fucked, too. Or how about those poor bastards who are held prisoner by bandwidth caps? Or when your servers go out for most of the first 24 hours of the game's launch? No amount of your devil worship can soothe their pain.
An always-on Internet connection for a single-player game is bullshit, and the fact that we're supporting it by buying the game in record-setting numbers is a testament to how stupid we are as a species. This is the shot that started the war, by the way. It won't be long before hackers crack the thing and start hosting the game on their own servers. And when that day comes, we're going to tell Blizzard and the entire industry to lick our collective genitals.
"Yeah, if you get a second, why don't you bend right over and eat some of our shit."
Look, I fully stand by everything I said in my article on Diablo III. But I also understand that we dug our own hole with this one. We are a culture that really, really likes getting shit for free, and the gaming industry hasn't even been able to curb piracy, let alone stop it. It's been going on for decades, and every time they come up with some new security measure, we have it cracked within days. How bad is it? According to an interview with Eurogamer.net, "The reality is, it would take converting 3 percent of those people who pirated that game to be paid users -- a very nominal amount -- to meaningfully impact the actual revenue and profitability on the title." I'm assuming he said the word "converting" while making finger quotes in the air and patting a baseball bat.
This isn't a small problem. According to that link, even the low projections say that half of all games being played are stolen. So if cutting it out doubles your profits, wouldn't you as a business owner try anything at your disposal to weed out the thieves? Believe me, they have:
Remember the game Spore? That's the one that prompted a class-action lawsuit because not only could you only install the game (that you just fucking paid for) so many times on your own machine, but the program they used to verify it installed separately into the core of your system and could not be uninstalled. Oh, and they didn't tell you that they were doing it. How many games have you seen use that security measure since then?
No, this is their last resort, a means of setting up a security guard right at the front door to check everyone's bags every time they pass through the entrance. And though the technology itself isn't new, Diablo III was, so there were bound to be bugs. Fortunately, those server problems for D3 fell mostly on launch day, and were corrected relatively quickly. What we tend to forget as gamers is that these people aren't in the business of pissing people off. They're trying to please the most difficult, angsty customers on the planet. They're not a boardroom filled with old, fat white guys rubbing their hands together and saying, "In what manner should we fuck over our customers today? I was thinking about showing up to their houses, personally, and rubbing my balls on their lunch."
"Hard to believe a man can make a living by farting into people's cereal boxes, but damn if I don't love my job."
Of course, it's incredibly hard not to think that they consider us to be mindless cattle when we keep buying their products in droves, despite the complaints. It's like they look at us as the intellectual equivalent of UFC fighters. Which is why we get so mad when we put in a new title and realize that ...
#1. "They're Dumbing Down the Games and Losing Their Core Audience!"
Wow, until I played your newest title, I had no idea that you condoned genocide. Do you think your customer base is so inept at playing video games that you have to make games in which there are no consequences for failure? Do you not see that it's turning off your core audience when you start tailoring your games to 8-year-old kids? You don't even have to look further than the declining subscribers in World of Warcraft to see it happening.
At its peak, WoW was boasting 12 million subscriptions. This was back when you'd get a quest and then take off in a random direction until you found the creatures you were supposed to kill or an item that you were supposed to find. Most were difficult enough that you'd have to tab out of the game to look it up. People installed coordinates mods to help guide them to the exact spot they needed to be. It took forever, and there was a feeling of reward when you did complete the quest. Leveling from 1 to 60 (the max level in the original core game) took a month or longer, and when you progressed, it was kind of a big deal.
That needs to happen on birthdays.
Flash forward to today, and most people I know can go from 1 to 85 (the max level with all of the expansions) in about a week. The quest items are marked with vibrant sparkles that set it apart from the rest of the game world. Creatures that you have to kill are marked with red text floating over their heads. Your minimap shows you blue shaded areas where you'll find quest objectives. It's one step from Blizzard actually scooting you out of the way like a frustrated IT guy and saying, "Here, just let me do it."
Their subscribers now? 10.2 million. Your core audience is fed up with being treated like children, and they're closing shop in favor of titles that treat them with respect.
The average age of a World of Warcraft player falls between 22 and 32 years old, and 47 percent of them are not employed full time. This age group is exactly the time when we see people settling down and having kids. Starting careers. Graduating college. As they do that, video games take a back seat to real life -- especially subscription-based ones like WoW. There's not much of a desire to continue paying $15 a month if they're only able to play for an hour or two during the weekend.
"You fuck up my rotation and cost me a single point of DPS, I sell you on the Mexican black market."
Remember, this game has been around for almost eight years. To put that into perspective, if a 14-year-old kid was there for the launch of the initial game, right now he has received his bachelor's degree. The point isn't arguing the reasoning behind their departure from the game. The point is that their leaving is inevitable. And when they do stop playing, that void has to be filled with a new generation of gamers. The younger the better, because starting them early means a longer lifespan for accounts.
And it's not just WoW. Attracting young players has always been a staple of the industry, because they're the ones with disposable income. They're the ones who get the most Christmas/birthday presents. And it's for that reason that best-selling games like Super Mario Bros. weren't exactly mentally exhausting. It's why the Modern Warfare series has snap-to targeting. And why you can aim in Fallout by basically pausing the game and telling it where you want your next six shots to land.
"Ah, a battle. Perfect time for me to put down the controller and go take a crap."
This isn't a cosmetic decision here. Very real jobs depend on attracting new, loyal players to replace the old, vacating generation. And younger viewers simply won't play a game if it's too hard. They want that feeling of power -- being able to complete a task and gain a reward at regular intervals. If the games they try out can't supply that, they put down the controller, and bad things happen to real people.
Think it's an isolated problem? We should ask these 432 now-defunct gaming companies what they think.
John has a Twitter thing. So suck it.
For more Cheese, check out 5 Ways to Tell You're Getting Too Old for Video Games and 5 Crucial Lessons Learned by Watching Kids Play Video Games.