“...new things feel old by the time they come out.”
September 30, 2018 4:18 PM   Subscribe

The Endless Stream of New Game Releases Is Exciting, but Also Exhausting [Waypoint] “E3 or Gamescom or any of the other major video game events are really just places where companies compete to stay in the same place in the minds of their audience. They release trailers and gameplay demos, sometimes one after another, at an unbelievable pace, simply to stay in the minds of their audiences. [...] The speed of releases; the speed at which we are meant to come to judgment; the speed at which we need to consume these games is hyper-fast. We need to assert that they are good or bad, worth our time or total wastes of it, six months before they even exist. And lets not forget the massive expenditures of time, labor, development money, advertising dollars, and sheer attention that go into games that are declared to be good or bad before they even exist. Funding a race to stand still and to remain in the mind of a potential consumer audience. A constant and eternal war, a contestation in all domains, and for what?”

• Why Do We Want More Games When We've Already Got Too Many? [Nintendo Life]
“There are two opposing sentiments that I've both uttered myself and have heard gamers express many, many times: "I can't wait until that game comes out!" and "Man, I've got a massive backlog of games that I should really work through before I buy any more games." They don't really sit comfortably next to each other, do they? It's also not really a problem shared anywhere else in our lives. We don't go looking for more food when our plates are already full. [...] I think both of these gaming attitudes are related, because we seem to have reached a point where we want more, more, more, and we haven't really stopped to consider why. Why is Pokémon Let's Go more appealing than Xenoblade Chronicles 2, which hasn't left its shrink wrap since you excitedly bought it on day one last year? Why do we consider a console that has 'more games on it' more worthy our time and money than another that offers a far better way to play when we don't even have the time to play all of the ones we want to anyway?”
• There are too many video games. What now? [Polygon]
“Over the past decade and change, the number of video games on the market has increased exponentially. Front and center, Steam has surmounted its humble origins and transformed into a behemoth of capital and the port of call for all of PC gaming. Meanwhile, console storefronts like the Nintendo eShop aren’t far behind. For independent developers struggling for eyeballs against blockbuster mega-franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty, it’s easy to feel like the deck is stacked against them from the start. But the exponential growth of indie games on Steam has tightened the vise against them even further, making it harder to stand out in an ever-crowding market.”
• I Don't Know How Many Digital Games I Own [Kotaku]
“I collect games like I do books: stacking them on shelves or in boxes, never quite finding the time to finish them but always enjoying simply having them around. Owning physical games provides a sense of history and future possibility and makes me feel like I have some sort of handle on this unwieldy hobby I’ve constructed a large part of my life around. But as that habit evolved beyond the physical into the digital, I’ve found myself increasingly overwhelmed. I own a lot of games. More than I ever would have guessed a decade ago. By the tail end of the aughts it seemed conceivable I might never buy another game again, content instead to spend endless hours before class playing Age of Empires II on sketchy third-party clients or occasionally booting up Final Fantasy VI Advance on my Game Boy SP to retread well-worn JRPG territory while shouting random words at my TV during Jeopardy.”
posted by Fizz (54 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
The flipside of this phenomenon was illustrated in a blog post today by an indie developer who has spent three years on a game that has sold exactly four copies.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 4:40 PM on September 30, 2018 [17 favorites]

Some forms of entertainment have, since time immemorial, produced far more new content on a regular than even a serious devotee can consume. Books and music, for example. These forms of entertainment are relatively cheap to create, and - critically - having a bigger budget doesn't help that much relative to other factors.

Others, it's different. It's actually pretty reasonable for a serious film buff to have seen, maybe not all, but "a significant majority of the genuinely good films ever produced." I know people who've seen, maybe not every single stage musical, but a nontrivial percentage of the better ones. There aren't that many of them. These forms of entertainment are just a lot more expensive, logistically complex, etc to produce, so there are far fewer of them - and the percentage of truly good ones does not necessarily go up as production is democratized, because major success is that much harder without a huge budget anyway.

Video games, for a very long time, fell into the second category. They're shifting into the first.
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:40 PM on September 30, 2018 [17 favorites]

I got my 2080 a week ago and I've since taken a tour of the top dozen or so AAA games with it. Just to see how it performs. Everything runs well and looks great. The first game likely to get a complete playthrough is Assassin's Creed Syndicate, it's been in the backlog for a while, and being a little older is no challenge for my card.

I am looking forward to Metro, Battlefield and Shadow of the Tomb Raider solely to see the new RTX features at work. I still haven't seen my card do ray-tracing! They hyped it so much and there's no games for it!

I always play Binding of Isaac when I listen to podcasts. So far, the mighty 2080 has played more BOI than any other game.
posted by adept256 at 4:42 PM on September 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

I try to stay on top of the gaming field.
In practice, I buy games that are several years old. I play some of them. (Steam sales are nice prompts)
posted by doctornemo at 4:46 PM on September 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

"Of making many games there is no end, and much gameplay is a weariness of the flesh."

(With apologies to the Bible.)
posted by clawsoon at 4:48 PM on September 30, 2018 [5 favorites]

A constant and eternal war, a contestation in all domains, and for what?


I honestly don't buy AAA titles very often anymore, and I'm a former game developer. I tend to get games on sale, or go for indie titles, or both. And then I play them for hundreds of hours and/or for many years. I still regularly fire up Bewjeled 3, which I bought for 75% off in 2012.

I've been buying more games recently because I just got a Switch -- and every one of them has been a cheap indie game, and most of them are the kind you'd want to play for a few minutes at a time and set aside. I'll get Diablo III just because that's another one I have spent hundreds (if not thousands?) of hours on, and I'll get Katamari Reroll.

So I guess I'm saying, I don't really have a game backlog the way I have a book backlog.
posted by Foosnark at 4:54 PM on September 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

A pic of my computer's guts because dammit I built a hotrod and that was fun enough alone.
posted by adept256 at 5:07 PM on September 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

I noticed Josh Parnell, the developer of Limit Theory, has just the other day thrown in the towel after six years. As someone who's been working (mostly) solo on my own (not nearly as impressive) space game for the last six years... Oof. Lucky for me, mine is open source and I'm not trying to make a living from it, so it can't really go out of business. Still.
posted by smcameron at 5:14 PM on September 30, 2018 [4 favorites]

The only "upcoming" game I'm currently interested in on any platform is Death Stranding cuz wtf even is that shit?

The weirdest goddamn thing. It is the weirdest goddamn thing.
posted by glonous keming at 5:21 PM on September 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

Every game developer that wants to be more successful should be campaigning, hard, for UBI. And not just so they can actually afford to eat while they develop their passion-project game! The people I know that used to be avid gamers and now have huge backlogs of games they want to play some day (including myself) all lack either time, money, or both. Meanwhile, "F2P" check-in-twice-a-day phone games are doing huge business, for exactly the same reason: they don't require much time, and don't (ostensibly, at least) require much money. It doesn't matter how good your game is if your entire audience is too busy working as wageslaves to ever have a chance to enjoy it.
posted by mstokes650 at 5:48 PM on September 30, 2018 [10 favorites]

To echo what tomorrowful said above, there are way more books and movies and television shows made than any one person can enjoy. Gaming used to be something where if it was your interest you might be able to conceivably play all the major realeases, especially if you were limited to PC or a specific console. But there's clearly more of a market than that now, and more and more interesting and talented individual game creators, though as other commenters have noted, it can be a rough line of work. Is "there are so many games to play that I have to make decisions about what my tastes are and who to support" really so bad?
posted by Rinku at 5:48 PM on September 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

For independent developers struggling for eyeballs against blockbuster mega-franchises like Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty, it’s easy to feel like the deck is stacked against them from the start.

if they want my business then they too should make games where i can be gay as fuck and stab the shit out of various representatives of imperialist nations throughout history
posted by poffin boffin at 5:51 PM on September 30, 2018 [14 favorites]

I find it easy to discount Death Stranding just because I never expect that, at any point, it will coalesce into anything. What's the baby doing in there? How does del Toro figure into all this? The simplest answer is: it doesn't!

Re: the actual topic, it's frustrating because there's far too many games for the amount of time available, and part of that is due to games that use coercion loops to keep people playing their game. There's a lot of games, and not all of them are good, and those that are good get buried under the deluge.

I think, at first, we need to make it more difficult for certain kinds of games to exist; the ones that rely on coercing their players by exploiting their biases. Let's ban lootboxes, and go from there.
posted by Merus at 5:56 PM on September 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

In reality video games aren’t as good as the media machine hypes them up to be. You bring them home and they don’t look good, are hard to figure out, and don’t make you feel good to play. But this is what you’ve always done and you don’t want to change. So you buy more. That’s where the actual reward is.
posted by bleep at 5:56 PM on September 30, 2018 [8 favorites]

the only upcoming game I'm excited about is Ooblets. To get my eyeballs and dollars, please give me more opportunities to explore, craft, and nurture. Violence Simulator #5395830502 just won't do it for me.
posted by bagel at 5:59 PM on September 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

There's too many movies. There's too many books. There's too many albums. There's too many plays, tv shows, podcasts, long-form articles, YouTube videos, social media posts, commentaries, meta-commentaries, meta-meta-commentaries, and every other form of culture and media you can think of.

The sad, beautiful fact is that we're all going to miss almost everything. Why would video games be any different?
posted by SansPoint at 6:14 PM on September 30, 2018 [13 favorites]

I'm excited for Untitled Goose Game.
posted by adept256 at 6:16 PM on September 30, 2018 [28 favorites]

oh my god the goose game i cannot wait to embrace my truest self, a furiously honking sandwich thief
posted by poffin boffin at 6:20 PM on September 30, 2018 [27 favorites]

Backlog indeed. I have 294 games on Steam. Most that I *have* played (besides the ones I've completed or working on) tend to be about 2 hours of playtime. I find it's not for me in a way I'd hoped, or whatever.

I also have 225 on my wishlist.

My current "To Play" games list has 24, I have 2 other "To Play" lists that come after this (hierarchy of preference).

I have a Switch that i don't play nearly as much as I want, cuz. PC is my heart. But I have to beat DKC:TF & Bayonetta 1 (and then get Bayo 2). I enjoyed the Toad Treasure Tracker Demo. I also want to try Xenoblade 2. But then on Switch there is at least ONE game I want bad next Tues. Mega Man 11!

And I know know know I'm never gonna play them all (I still have a bunch on my Wii I want to get back to). One of my problems is I've wasted a lot of time fighting myself to be creative, and feel guilty when I"m not, but not doing anything but surf the net, so I'm trying to be more lenient with myself to just...

ENJOY LIFE. Wanna play a game? Pick it up. Let yourself get absorbed in it. The dilemma of choice (ironic term, no?) is particularly strong. I don't know how many hours I've wasted looking at my game list and just..

Not feeling what I want to play. Nothing scratches that itch. But now?

I'm totally into Ys VIII so I'm focused on slaying that bird.

I tried my hand at making games/prototypes. So I'm part of the problem (though I only tried to release 1 shitty game on itch a couple years ago).

Honestly? I miss the "indie" scene from 2005-2009? tigsource and indiedb, and seeing what people were really pushing before Unity made it easy.
posted by symbioid at 6:20 PM on September 30, 2018

don’t make you feel good to play

So - I rarely game and when I do it is on a console - I almost never buy into the initial release hype cycle* - but recently got sucked into the new "webslinging" game because of everyone's rave reviews... Holy smackers, there are sooooooo many button/trigger combinations that I am going to need to print out a cheat sheet. (And it doesn't help I am playing on the basement TV, which is slightly smaller where I can barely read the on-screen instructions...

Ugh, so much for my plan of "playing all the games" when I hit the old folks home in the future...)

* (Did for two others - No Mans Sky - disappointing - and Horizon Zero Dawn which was/is amazing)
posted by jkaczor at 6:21 PM on September 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't know why games should be different from books or movies. I have about a thousand books in this room, and I want to keep them all. I've even read almost all of them! (Want to get through your backlog? Be unemployed for awhile.)

True, some games take a lot more time than even an epic fantasy series. But some take much less.

Besides, I want to see more games, not less. People are doing interesting, quirky games; don't you want them to? There's no magic formula where (say) Robert Yang does his thing, but all the dumb crap never gets made.
posted by zompist at 6:33 PM on September 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've been very interested lately in playing... Diablo 3. So there's definitely too many games that I myself have purchased that I don't need/want. But I don't see how that follows that there are too many games, period, because many people want things different than I want, and even I at another time will want something completely different.

The thing that there are too many of are things that are pretending to be games but have been built from the ground up to be addicting over being fun, and to encourage small-scale spending repeatedly by people who really cannot afford it. That would clear out 90% of what's in the mobile app stores, and increasingly a bunch of AAA titles.

Any other problem is solvable by giving online marketplaces better organizational tools and by people looking to things other than just the proverbial store shelves and box covers to tell them what games they should buy, which is, based on that metaphor, clearly not a new problem. While I do play a lot of older games, the newer games that I do really play most often come from Youtubers doing Let's Plays and I haven't been short of stuff to play and have fun with in a long time. I just need to stop buying stuff based on "I might play it" when I'm not ready to play it yet.

I had to start doing that with books, too.
posted by Sequence at 6:49 PM on September 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

From J.K.'s linked blog post:
Like most gamers, I have a backlog of dozens of purchased-but-never-played Steam games picked up at ridiculously low prices from Humble Bundles, Steam sales, etc.
Try over one and a half thousand just in Steam. I have "dozens" across everything else. Plus I can download classic games for use in emulators literally a thousand at a time, or I can just play them direct on Archive.org.

How does fresh entertainment content compete for my time when I have literally thousands of available alternatives in that type of entertainment (video games) alone and no additional cost? Then it has to compete with video content on places like Youtube, with podcasts, audiobooks, actual books (I have a queue of a dozen dead tree format books), and magazines (mostly digital and typically free through my local library membership). And that's just competing with my media consumption, before we get to my ongoing creative projects.

All of which has to fit around my job, commute, and actual real people in my life I'd like to spend some time with.

It's not an indiepocalypse, it's the hard limit of the attention economy,
posted by krisjohn at 6:56 PM on September 30, 2018 [10 favorites]

I'm a lifelong gamer, but effectively subject-illiterate in that my Nintendo knowledge stops at the SNES, I've avoided the PS3 onwards and my main gaming machine is a X360. Don't show me a cover shooter unless it's Bonanza Bros, if I want to stick to a wall I'll use a menu or text interface to GLUE SELF TO THING, thanks!

I'm resigned to the fact that I will never plot-finish the subset of all the AAA games I own for the aforementioned X360 in my lifetime, let alone any future machines, no more than I will read all those books I keep, keep, keep buying.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 8:27 PM on September 30, 2018

Yeah it’s not just the number of playable games, it’s the sheer amount of hours the audience expects out of each one — a full 40-hour work week for the basic storyline unless you want entitled gamer bros complaining, and that’s not counting the 100s of side quests and an avalanche of DLC or community contributions. Hell, it probably takes hours just to relearn muscle memory for each game back to a point of competency — some games are still running you through the tutorial missions at that point.

I’ve gotten Gamefly so I can spend a little bit every month to rent games. If I dig a given game, I can keep it.

But if I start it up and get confronted with 57 menus of tech trees and twice that of key combos to learn, welp it’s probably going back in the envelope and in the mail.

And holy shit if I never have to craft another thing in a game that isn’t Minecraft, it’ll be too soon.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:47 PM on September 30, 2018 [7 favorites]

I think the problem is actually that as the price point of games has gone up, game developers feel like they have to develop more content/hours to make it “worth” people’s time more - but the additional content is mostly just time consuming and not rewarding.

For example: I own Assassins Creed: Syndicate and Origins, but I’ve barely played them because I still haven’t finished Black Flag. Why haven’t I finished Black Flag? Because the game is frankly too big: there’s a bunch of open ocean and I need to go sailing to remote islands to open one chest and get back on the ship, or one animus point. There are hundreds of chests and hundreds of animus points and it is getting increasingly tiresome. The story is enjoyable, the missions and play are somewhat enjoyable- but there’s no way to, say, automate the smaller stuff once you get better, so it’s long and slow. I spend half my time in the boarding animation.

My guess would be that the cost of animation and voice acting in story is approaching the point where a certain amount of repetition is necessary for them to continue at current profit point. But it’s just not enjoyable anymore. Same thing with Dragon Age - loved the story, hated clearing out every single tiny thing from each area, most of which wasn’t unique or interesting.
posted by corb at 10:16 PM on September 30, 2018 [4 favorites]

No there aren't enough games yet, because I'm still waiting on the following...

I still want to play a good Simcity game... Simcity 4 was in 2003... Simcity 5 was a bad disaster and I think the genre is dead to EA. Cities Skylines is more sandbox than simulation - traffic looks pretty but doesn't have much real consequence. It's basically been 15 years since I've played a satisfying city builder. I liked the physics flow modelling that was used in Simcity 5 (to simplify and model flows of traffic from high to low pressure states), I am envisioning some future developers utilizing the massively parallel processing power available in GPUs to run the physics computations.

I want to play a massively updated Simtower. This is from 1994. I liked tinkering with the elevators (logic programming them to wait at certain floors at certain times, door close intervals, etc). A game focused around traffic flows of humans through buildings, with the economics of being a building developer - imagine a 3 dimensional update to the game where you develop a mixed use site - hotels, apartments, theme park, malls, offices, parks, education / essential infrastructure and get to plan movement via pedestrian walking, escalators, elevators, monorail, walkalators...

I'd like to play an updated Transport Tycoon as well, with more focus on the model train programming logic of it - the routing times, designing track efficiently, types of engines, grade of track, and how it integrates with the growth of cities and suburbs (was not enough of that in the original).
posted by xdvesper at 10:24 PM on September 30, 2018 [15 favorites]

Some games are sized for adults, with a zillion demands on their time. Some are sized for children, who have endless free time to fill. I only play a few of the latter.

It helps that I made a vow to not play any more AAA games that insist I take the role of a straight white guy. That kinda rules out almost entire genres. It’s a start, at least.
posted by egypturnash at 10:55 PM on September 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

Hello, it is called “getting old”. Games, books, films, time itself...
posted by fallingbadgers at 12:40 AM on October 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Why haven’t I finished Black Flag? Because the game is frankly too big

oh man if you think ac4 is too big then definitely don't play anything past that bc it only gets bigger, like exponentially in unity. and tbh i've played ac4 at least 4 times and wish it was 10x as big.

but, uh. you know you can fast travel to every single location in the game right.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:46 AM on October 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

One real issue with the glut of games that I don't think is mirrored so much in other media is the problem of archival. We certainly have lost access to many written works and TV shows and movies over the years so it's not a unique problem, but the combination of technical hurdles that increase over time as we get further from the game's original release, games being tied to servers that will eventually go down, and the sheer number of works to be preserved (not to mention platform exclusivity combined with the intentionally short lifetimes of some of those platforms) makes it much harder to hold onto things, and then you have additional complications like, say, what happened to P.T. There's also the issue of the platform owners aggressively going after the people doing the archiving, although I guess that's not really unique to this medium.

I suppose the fact that some of these experiences will just disappear isn't really that significant from a player point of view since, as people here have noted, there already isn't enough time to play everything so you're going to miss out on stuff no matter what. Still, the idea of it does make me a little sad.
(Also, I'm one of the fifteen people who thought Evolve was really cool and fun and I'm bummed out that I can't play it anymore.)
posted by IAmUnaware at 1:16 AM on October 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

furiously honking sandwich thief

Stolen for my next sock puppet account.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:19 AM on October 1, 2018 [7 favorites]

"Why haven’t I finished Black Flag?"

In my case the cynical Ubisoft collect-the-icon-from-cookie-cutter-locations thing got very boring, as did the 'tail these two assholes' missions. There were a *lot* of those missions. The sea battles were fun though, can't wait for Skull & Bones.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:55 AM on October 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

On the subject of too many games, I've started to really value going back and playing games I own. I use it as a kind of mantra: PLAY. THE. GAMES. YOU. OWN. YOU. BOUGHT. THEM. FOR. A . REASON.

I have all these games where I'm like 7% progress in and then there's Binding of Isaac which sits at 175+ hours. So yeah, the games I do love, get played to death and the games I've not given a chance, end up sitting in a pile, collecting virtual dust. But this past year I've gotten much better at that, and I'm playing my catalog. There's enough in that there it feels like shopping when I'm choosing a game to play.
posted by Fizz at 4:57 AM on October 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

In this desolate midwinter between yet another nightmare mode playthrough of HZD and waiting for something, anything, with similar quality and ... I know it'll be a long wait ... but I do wonder about the Assassin's Creed with the Greek woman with the astonishing physique ... okay got distracted there ... I bought Dragon Quest XI. Okay you have to understand about the Dragon Quest series is that the actual gameplay is straight off the Gameboy. There's nothing going on ... a transparently simple turn-based RPG ... that you couldn't just play with pencil and paper. There's no AI to speak of. So all the horsepower of the PS4 is just going to draw the graphics. And with the tactics system you don't even have to run most of the battles by hand. And the game even lets you avoid all random encounters if you just want to travel.

So what's the frigging point? What's the draw? Could a game be farther from HZD on nightmare mode? Why am I playing it, and enjoying it?

I think the Kotaku review hinted at it: it's a bedtime story. It's not a day at an amusement park ... which is a fine thing ... it's relaxing in bed with a familiar book. The game isn't even open-world, it's just a story you walk through. It's a comfortable cardigan, fuzzy sweatpants, chunky socks, a cozy of tea on the table and the sun setting early through the window. It's time to tuck in and just relax. It's a simple world where you're part of a team of people who get along well despite differences, and you can control the details of combat and equipment and other things minute-by-minute, but hour-by-hour you have no free will, it's a story.

I paid full freight for it, $80 CAD. No buyer's remorse. You know what the real world itself right now is feeling a whole lot like a frigging amusement park, except all the rides are breaking down. I think it's okay to escape to vibrantly colourful storybook sometimes. Even if, in the storybook, shit sometimes gets DARK. You know it'll end well.

I don't have a lot of confidence about the real world now.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:24 AM on October 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

I released a game five years ago, it was fun, but challenging, I was proud of it and worked diligently to get coverage. Posted about it here on Projects if you look it up (the links are dead so don't bother). Even back then in the dark ages of 2013 it was essentially impossible to get anyone to pay attention to your game if you hadn't had a long line of releases or a huge marketing budget.

I think I sold a couple dozen of them through all the platforms.

There are just Too Many Games, like there are Too Many Songs, Too Many Paintings, Too Many TV Shows, etc etc etc.

Unpleasant truth: the hard work is done creating the thing, but the important work is curating the list of things that don't suck. Curators don't have shit without creators, but a world without both, well, you could call it Sturgeon's Planet.

There's only so much time. And who wants to waste dozens/hundreds of hours of one's life on a game that sucks. It's the most time-sucking art form there is. You can see a painting in a couple seconds. A song in four minutes. A movie in a couple hours. A book in a day. A game can go on for weeks. Arguably, journalistic criticism of games is more important for consumers than criticism of almost any other form of art.

There's no great answer to "too many games" but I suppose it's better than too few, because at least "too many" drives creators to make arguably better games, while "too few" leaves the door open for the utter garbage that plagued early game systems like the Atari VCS.

I've always been a creator in myriad forms of art, from games to photography to music to painting, and never really found an audience that would support me. Why, is never really a question that will be answered, because so much depends on luck, and the kindness of strangers.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:41 AM on October 1, 2018 [8 favorites]

bagel, thanks for mentioning Ooblets. I am now also eagerly awaiting it, and also considering buying the t-shirt.

As someone who wasn't desensitized to video game violence as a kid, I definitely cherish all the gentle games. (I'm one of the people who wishes that the mines weren't as mandatory in Stardew Valley.)
posted by ITheCosmos at 5:58 AM on October 1, 2018 [3 favorites]

I definitely cherish all the gentle games. (I'm one of the people who wishes that the mines weren't as mandatory in Stardew Valley.)

ITheCosmos, have you considered Graveyard Keeper, it's a bit more morbid in theme but there's a kind of peacefulness to the game and it's similar enough to Stardew, both in aesthetic and in gameplay, it satisfies many of those same itches.
posted by Fizz at 6:31 AM on October 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

seanmpuckett: There's only so much time. And who wants to waste dozens/hundreds of hours of one's life on a game that sucks. It's the most time-sucking art form there is. You can see a painting in a couple seconds. A song in four minutes. A movie in a couple hours. A book in a day. A game can go on for weeks. Arguably, journalistic criticism of games is more important for consumers than criticism of almost any other form of art.

I once read a defense of hipsters which said something to the effect of, "We hipsters are valuable because we put thousands of hours into all that's new and obscure - most of which turns out to be shit - so that you don't have to."
posted by clawsoon at 7:19 AM on October 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

...which is to say, maybe we need video game hipsters. "I'm really into this weird indie game. You probably haven't heard of it."
posted by clawsoon at 7:20 AM on October 1, 2018

Now that there are so many games that creators cannot expect to make a living, or really any money at all, or elicit more than a 'meh' from a jaded public, on a project they poured their heart and soul into for years I think we can now conclusively say that video games are art.
posted by rodlymight at 7:54 AM on October 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

Science Fiction and Fantasy reviewer Liz Bourke commented about five years ago that SFF had diversified to the point where she could specialize in feminist and queer SFF and still have too much to read professionally. I've been saying for a while that with books, movies, and a few hundred hours of new television programming a week, you have to have a thing. That thing could be movies of dogs with sad faces, antique shows, or first-person horror shooters.

My thing seems to be slow puzzlers or strategy, turn-based or pause-accessible mechanics, and top-down views. I tend to prefer games that stick to a "do one thing well" formula, and don't mind when slideshows are used over animation. Oh, and sappy visual novels but it's debatable if they're really games. My anti-things are twitch, anything multiplayer outside of chess and backgammon, and fiddly mechanics.

In terms of game pricing, it depends on what you're looking for. Let's be clear here, the majority of game revenue last year came from mobile platforms, and a majority is of revenue comes from the "Asian-Pacific" region. So clearly low-budget games that do one thing really well in terms of keeping eyeballs and getting conversion are feasible. If we're limiting this just to PC/Console gaming, a large chunk of my backlog include older games that went on sale for a great price, games that were offered at a $20 or $10 price point on release (the "do one thing well" category), and games I picked up through an XBox subscription service.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 7:54 AM on October 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Shoutout to mefightclub and its wonderful people, ethos of rotato, and sparing of games via the weatherman-make-it-rain thread.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:27 AM on October 1, 2018 [4 favorites]

We need to assert that they are good or bad, worth our time or total wastes of it, six months before they even exist.

What? This is coming from Waypoint of all places? This seems manifestly untrue. Like back in the heyday of the big game site review, maybe this was the case, but to disprove this now all you have to do is read the rest of Waypoint where they seem to loudly eschew this way of thinking.

But yeah, as been mentioned above are there too many books, paintings, songs?
posted by ODiV at 8:38 AM on October 1, 2018

listen i'm not even going to pretend that i RTFA but like. i do hope someone at some point mentioned that if you want more people to play your games then you should appeal to a wider demographic than just hetero white guys. simply adding the option of a playable character for the entire game that's a woman has made actual hundreds of people i know who abandoned a franchise years ago pay for the gold edition of ac: odyssey just to get it 3 days earlier. there aren't too many games, there are too many that don't meet the needs of the vast majority of humanity, who i will note are not hetero white men.

fine maybe i'll rtfa(s)
posted by poffin boffin at 8:54 AM on October 1, 2018 [6 favorites]

Yeah, having now read it, I think maybe the Waypoint piece is far enough out there that neither of our criticisms apply? It's not really about video games so yeah the same does apply to books, paintings, songs, and also it's not bemoaning that not enough people are playing a particular game (or games in general).

Unless it's a different fa you're about to r.
posted by ODiV at 9:26 AM on October 1, 2018

Games. Oh games. I play a lot of games. I enjoy a weekend day at the library, cleaning, playing games all day into the night. Very calm and relaxed. Last night I was looking at old PS4 games I'd played and I realized I'd only played maybe 1.5ish weeks of Bloodborne (I mean calendar days, not actual game time) yet I remembered so much of it so vividly. It seemed like I'd played it for months and not for a week 3 years ago.

Other games I'll struggle through off and on over months and not remember them. I should put those games down faster and move on to something that will grab me as wholly as did Bloodborne. It's a fun trip down memory lane every time I look at my achievement list on either system. I'm a fan of achievements already but really enjoy them for that.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:30 AM on October 1, 2018

I have something like 1,000 games on Steam, GoG, other digital services, and even physical media. Mostly bought on sale, quite frequently on very deep discounts. What do I spend (a huge amount of) my time playing? Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead. A download-for-free, rogue-like that is under aggressive, open source development. It has incredible options, lots of mods, and extremely deep systems that result in surprising, emergent game play. Forget AAA, I think that Cataclysm, Dwarf Fortress, and similar could keep me busy forever. (Now I just have to accept that and quit buying these great games because they're a "great deal.")
posted by SurfThug at 11:44 AM on October 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have over 500 games on Steam, and a 7-page two-column list of Humble Bundle games that I haven't done anything with. Once in a while, someone on Tumblr mentions an interest in a game and I get to say, "oh, I have a spare key for that; would you like it?"

I am occasionally glad for my intense dislike of 8- and 16-bit pixel graphics, because that nicely removes huge swarms of games I might otherwise be tempted to throw time at. (I tried Stardew Valley for about six minutes. Didn't like the graphics; couldn't figure out what was going on or how to keep up with things; closed it and went back to Clicker Heroes.)

i do hope someone at some point mentioned that if you want more people to play your games then you should appeal to a wider demographic than just hetero white guys.

"Protagonist is white dude" is one of the criteria I use to skip games that look maybe interesting. I already have plenty of games where I can pretend to be a White Dude Doing Things; a game needs a lot more than "this has good graphics and a nice storyline and maybe innovative mechanics" if the central character is someone I can't identify with, and don't want to watch the exploits of.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:22 PM on October 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

which is to say, maybe we need video game hipsters

We have those... They are called "our kids"...

Heh... I find most of my new media material from my kids; The Binding of Isaac, Homestuck, various anime shows, originally my daughter was into Minecraft two years before any other kids her age (we had our own server, with mods) - and even with the help of my kids, I can barely keep pace.
posted by jkaczor at 9:00 AM on October 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Humble Overwhelmingly Positive Bundle 2

$1 tier:
Subsurface Circular

Beat the Average:
Nuclear Throne
Momodora: Reverie Under The Moonlight

$15 tier:
Opus Magnum
posted by ODiV at 12:21 PM on October 2, 2018

Wuppo is very much a case study here in that it was at one time, statistically, the most liked, least played game on Steam.
posted by Merus at 7:25 PM on October 3, 2018

Apparently, if you want a small but very passionate fanbase, you should make a visual novel. (I notice, however, that a lot of the games on that list are actually games with huge audiences but which came to Steam long after their sales peak- like Clannad and Umineko.)
posted by perplexion at 8:59 PM on October 3, 2018

The way I play games has changed. I used to buy one game and play it the whole way through, then move on to the next one. I have less time and priorities have changed. I went through a period where I would force myself to finish a game because thats just what you do. I paid for it, I started it, I should finish it before moving on to the next one. For some games it ended up being more of a chore and not super fun.

At some point I realized that there was no rule book that said I had to finish. As long as I got many hours worth of enjoyment that was okay. And if I really need to know how the story ended I could just watch it on youtube. I've spent dozens of hours playing Fallout 4 but never finished it. I likely never will. Same with many AC games. I've watched the story videos and know how they end so I feel closure. Now when the feeling hits I jump back and play them a bit because I enjoy the actual gameplay. Last week I loaded up Black Flag because I felt like sailing and running around the environments.

So like others I have a huge library of games on steam. I've played most of them. I've finished maybe 25%.
posted by Jalliah at 2:48 AM on October 4, 2018

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