2. Yesterday’s games were full of surprises
Can you think of how many times you’ve bought a game in recent years only to feel an unshakable sense of déjà vu when you get to a scene that should leave you completely floored? You shouldbe on edge, palms sweaty, chomping at the bit. Instead the scene unfolds with all of the aplomb of a wet firecracker when you realize that you’ve lived the moment vicariously a dozen times through a flurry of promotional materials in the months leading up to the game’s release. Truth be told, this happens to me more than I’d care to admit. However, in the age of the internet, with its constant blast of media, gameplay trailers, and other promotional videos just a mouse click away, it’s not uncommon for me to feel I’ve often seen most of what there is to see by the time I get the latest review copy of the latest game on my desk.
Sure, you could argue that we in the press are to blame for this, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However, I can’t help but look back longingly at the days when the only tidbits of news we were given on the latest releases came once monthly from the sages from outlets such as Electronic Gaming Monthly, Diehard Gamefan, and Game Players Magazine. It feels like it takes a herculean effort to go into a new experience blind, without any preconceived notions or expectations and letting it consume you.
1. Games only shipped when they were done
If there’s one thing I miss the most about the good old days, it’s knowing that when I buy a game and toss it in my system it’s the finished product. Growing up I never had to worry about a game missing promised features, game-breaking bugs, glaring performance issues and other development gremlins: they simply worked as they were supposed to right out of the box. And to top it off, I didn’t need to pay extra down the road to enjoy the full package or gain access to extra characters, they were included right alongside my $50 purchase.
Today this seemingly common sense concept seems jarringly alien. Games often go gold in worse for wear shape, with developers ironing out the last minute kinks with substantial launch-day patches to make the final product worthwhile. It’s a sloppy practice, and one that has caused many consumers and reviewers both considerable headaches. And sadly, it doesn’t seem like this practice is going to change anytime soon.
While the benefits of patching games and adding fresh content are obvious, it’s certainly sad to see some developers use digital distribution as a way to get around shipping a complete working product on the disc you spend your hard earned money on. Developers decades ago managed to do this just fine, after all. Why shouldn’t today’s studio’s be able to do the same?
So, is there anything else you feel that the industry managed to do a better job of in the early days of video games? I’d certainly love to hear your thoughts, so be sure to sound off in the comments section below and let me know.