Abyssal Pixels: Fallout 4 Made Me Lose Faith In The Gaming Industry
Oh boy that is quite the title, but stick with me here.
Fallout 4 recently dropped, as you might have heard, and it has been the darling of the internet. News sites have not stopped covering it since its release and we get daily news stories about everything Fallout 4 from mods to bugs and beyond. The reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and gamers are infatuated with the behemoth of a game, including myself. The game unfortunately dropped during my final exams in the final year of university so I couldn’t put as many hours as I would have liked into it, but I have played it for a considerable amount of time and enjoying every minute of it.
But I’m not here to talk about the quality of the game since many other sources can already tell you about that and you should probably know for yourself at this point, but I rather want to talk about its launch and the aspects surrounding it. The gaming industry has woefully devolved into this greed induced mess that will inevitably frustrate and anger you, but with Fallout 4, almost none of that happened.
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Let’s start at the base. The game was kept under wraps forever with rampant speculation about its existence and wild rumours circulating it. We didn’t even know the game existed until this year and we only saw it for ourselves during Bethesda’s E3 conference. This is a direct contradiction to how other publishers present their games. They’re often shown off years in advance and news is constantly drip fed to us in the form of trailers, screenshots, presentations and the like. And often when they get showed off, we get inundated with pre-order offers and attempts to make us buy the game before we even fully know what it’s about. With Fallout 4, we got a lengthy showcase of the actual game and the release date was a mere 5 or so months away.
Added to that, the trailers weren’t doctored since what was shown is exactly how it appears in the game and there were no broken promises or lies that we often see in big budget releases. There weren’t even calls to pre-order every 5 seconds. The game also got a release date and it actually released on that date, not delayed about five times until the game fell into irrelevance. The hype surrounding the game was mostly fan generated with fans of the series becoming increasingly more excited for the game and influencing other people into becoming excited as well. There were no YouTube sponsorship deals or ads everywhere you looked. People were mostly naturally excited for the game due to the great pedigree and Bethesda’s tendency to create masterful open-world games that fans enjoy immensely.
When I ordered the game, there were no pre-order bonuses which rather than make me sad, I was ecstatic. No stupid code for an item that will be irrelevant in the first two hours of the game or some mission that was withheld from the main game in order to tempt people into buying the game. When the game arrived and I opened the box, I got a neat poster, a little manual and a little advertising booklet for the Season Pass and some of Bethesda’s other games. No codes for some daft mission or stickers all over the box saying it is the day one edition or a “limited” edition. There’s the game, maybe consider buying our Season Pass, but don’t sweat it too much and have some fucking fun.
As I was playing the game and got to the crafting section, I actually expected to receive offers to buy “timesaver packs” or “resource packs”. I was even taken aback when I saw I didn’t have to use some form of premium currency to craft some objects. It was alien to me. You mean I can use the resources I collected to craft stuff just like that? I was even looking for some kind of catch. I got so used to these shit methods of increasing a game’s bottomline that it became one of my presumptions when playing a game. There’s no form of microtransactions and not even an online presence to speak of.
So with this shower of praise, why did I say that the game made me lose faith in the gaming industry?
Because this was an outlier.
A functioning game with no microtransactions, pre-order bonuses, premium currencies, online presence or hype mongering is considered different from the norm. The greed and shit practices has become our way of life and have been done with such frequency that they’ve become habit. That is dreadful to even think about and it makes me lose my faith. It’s like being stranded on a desert island for years, drinking your own urine and eating twigs and then suddenly being served a full buffet in a five star hotel for a few days and then you go right back to the island. You’re going to long for that experience again for the rest of your days.
We’ve become complacent with the crap that we’ve been served. Sometimes they take it too far and we rise up for a bit, but greedy publishers will just find different ways to accomplish the same goal. “Deluxe” editions, pre-order incentives and microtransactions look to be commonplace for the foreseeable future.
We get our glimmers of hope sometime such as with Fallout 4 and let’s also not forget The Witcher 3 and the tremendous amount of passion and care displayed by CD Projekt Red that would arguably rival what Fallout 4 accomplished. Sometimes our voices get heard such as our victory over Square Enix and their inane “augment your pre-order” tiered rewards shenanigans with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. But these victories pale in comparison to what we still have to deal with.
The solution? There isn’t a clear one to speak of. We can have faith that publishers release their games much the same as Bethesda did with Fallout 4, but I’ll eat all the hats in the world if that ever happens. Other than that, we can continue to fight the injustices and vote with our wallets. They will stop putting microtransactions in games when it ceases to be profitable. They will stop releasing broken games when people decided to not buy a broken product. Pre-orders won’t be pushed anymore if nobody pre-orders. It’s a tall and frankly impossible ask, but every little bit helps. It all starts with you.
Maybe one day we’ll live in a world where every game is released like Fallout 4 and The Witcher 3 did. With genuine passion and the desire to see their fans enjoy their creation, not extort them for more money.