Buy, grind, repeat Why video games become unfulfilling

Buy, grind, repeat
(Photo: Shutterstock)
A growing number of people have been complaining that the video games they play are becoming stale and unentertaining. Many have described their struggle to find fulfillment from games they have played religiously for years. Despite video games being incredibly popular, and technology constantly developing, why have people started to feel this way?اضافة اعلان

The magic is gone
When games and consoles first entered the mainstream market they were on every child’s holiday wish list regardless of their quality or content. They always had a magical quality to them.

Gaming YouTuber Jose Gonzales, known to his 120,000 subscribers as Stryxo, told Jordan News that playing his first video game was “so different from anything I had ever done before”. Gaming offered Gonzales an escape from the stress of daily life and “provided the perfect opportunity to escape into a fantastical world”.

For many, however, video games have started to lose their charm. It is no longer about experiencing another world but being “the best” at a game or accumulating the most resources with the game.

FIFA 2022 sold 16.4 million copies less than FIFA 2018. (Photo: IGDB)

Take FIFA, for example. The beloved franchise, produced by Electronic Arts, is based on real-world football and allows players to lead their favorite teams to victory through online matchmaking or against a computer. It is the best-selling sports video game franchise in the world, having sold a total of 325 million copies as of 2021, according to the website Game Rant.

FIFA’s most popular game mode is “Ultimate Team”, which allows players to assemble their own fantasy team of real-world footballers and pits those teams against other players’ online.

The game mode was groundbreaking when it was first introduced in 2009 and quickly drew fans in. Since then, however, the magic has faded and Ultimate Team has become a place where gamers sink countless hours and money to build the perfect team. On top of that, a new version of FIFA is released every year, and none of one’s previous achievements or progress get transferred to the new game, compounding the game mode’s repetitive nature.

Fans’ growing frustration is reflected in the downward trend of sales, with the latest iteration, FIFA 2022, selling 16.4 million copies less than FIFA 2018, according to data from Game Rant.
In the worst case an update might backfire, by changing fundamental game mechanics for example, failing to draw in disenchanted fans and alienating committed fans further.
While other sports video games have followed the same trend, non-sports games suffer from a different problem: requiring gamers to spend the most time grinding to obtain the most possible resources.

Outgrowing gaming and the curse of updates
It is also possible that people are just outgrowing their favorite games, or video games in general. Many hobbies or activities follow the law of diminishing returns. Some games, like World of Warcraft released in 2004, have enjoyed decades of popularity; it is inevitable that fans’ interest would fluctuate over time.

To combat waning interest and keep their products engaging, game developers and companies regularly update them with new content and mechanics. By doing so, they are able often able to keep the game fresh for current players and entice fans back.

Over time, even updates can be insufficient to keep players interested. In the worst case an update might backfire, by changing fundamental game mechanics for example, failing to draw in disenchanted fans and alienating committed fans further.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the case of H1Z1. Released in 2016, it was the first of its kind in the now infamous battle royale genre. It preceded the likes of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, quickly gaining notoriety with its unique features and rewarding gameplay.

Players’ expectations are often triple-A titles’ biggest pitfall. (Photo: IGDB)

H1Z1 peaked in 2017 with an average player count of just under 87,000. A month later the developers released the “combat update”, which introduced a slew of new features.

There was only one problem: players hated it. Within seven months, 91.7 percent of the player base had abandoned the game.

Triple-A failures

Apart from bad updates and player behavior, another reason for players’ lack of enjoyment is the game itself. Triple-A games in particular have suffered from this problem lately. Triple-A titles are those with budgets of $80–100 million or more, developed by well-known publishers, according to the gaming studio Rocket Brush. Given such large budgets and well-established developers, it is difficult to imagine a triple-A game falling flat.

Players’ expectations are often triple-A titles’ biggest pitfall. The high production budgets and $60 price tag, gamers start building their expectations — sometimes nearing hysteria — and this puts an enormous amount of pressure on developers.

However, much of a triple-A title’s budget goes to advertising, which only drives up people’s expectations further.

A textbook example of this phenomenon is Cyberpunk 2077, which released on December 10, 2020. First teased in 2012, Cyberpunk promised to be the most expansive and immersive open-world type game ever made. Developer and publisher CD Projekt RED went to great lengths to double and triple down on the hype.

When it finally released fans were appalled at how unfinished and unenjoyable the game felt. Within a month of the game’s release, Cyberpunk lost 80 percent of its player base following a wave of refund requests. The developers faced backlash from players and critics alike.

Luckily, not all games are triple-A titles. The world of video games is vast, and hidden gems can be rewarding.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or interest to explore all that gaming has to offer and will stick to easily accessible, well-known triple-A games. If someone is planning to spend $60 on a game, it is understandable that they want the “best” game developers have to offer — with such large budgets, how could they be bad? However, as seen with Cyberpunk and many more Triple-A failures, it can be bad, and that can easily turn people away from gaming completely.

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