Welcome once again to our month-end editorials. How has everyone been doing? It’s definitely been a rough July for most of us. The KyoAni incident was the major factor of it all for the majority of us I bet. Here’s hoping for a wonderful August beginning tomorrow! I know it will for me, I’m going to Japan for vacation (and work) so look forward to that!
Anyways, back to the meat of our contents. I was messaging my friends one-morning last week about Steam and the Epic Games Store which suddenly led into a discussion on PUBG. To summarize our super-long chat, yes I miss my full-length game experiences. And yet, I still think that should be the way games should continue to be going forward.
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We live in a world of constant DLCs and gacha mechanics, nickel and diming for stuff we would have normally got in the early 2000s. While yes, you can pay $30 to help you finish your games but really, you should work for your happy ending.
The Fortnite Problem
So the most popular game genre right now is the Battle Royale genre. Just off the top of my head, I can name Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Battlefield V, Apex Legends, Fortnite and PUBG. These games are extremely popular for the type of game they are but I’ll be honest…they kind of feel the same after a while. Using PUBG as a base, each other game on this list adds maybe…one new mechanic and different colour scheme on top. I enjoyed Apex Legends for a month tops and immediately stopped when Devil May Cry V and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice came out in March.
Almost half a year has passed since then and can’t really remember the fondest moments of what happened in Apex, and yet I remembered the fun I enjoyed with DMCV and Sekiro instead. DMCV was easily the most fun Devil May Cry game in YEARS, easily outclassing the gold standard that is DMC4 and Sekiro, boy where do I even start? For someone who has followed the Soulsborne genre since the very first Demon’s Souls, it a very refreshing-yet-exceedingly brutal take on the genre they’ve invented with a Japanese spin to it.
Around the same time I saw a similar talk by Hideo Kojima who mentioned:
Why make something that’s already there when we can get a different stimulation? All we do is just digest and consume. We should bring something different that is difficult to chow down. That would leave a mark. You’ll be able to move forward in your life and remember that feeling.
People might like or dislike it, but after 5 years, it will be re-evaluated. Just like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner.
I can’t help but agree with this comment by Kojima. Will we look back at Fortnite or PUBG in say…2025? It’s more likely that people playing those games will be jumping onto the next in-thing genre, whatsoever it may be.
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Metal Gear Solid 2 was first released on 13th November 2001 and it until today, it’s a base-breaker of the Metal Gear franchise. I was disappointed as a kid wondering “Why’d you take Snake away and give me this…blonde wimpy guy?” Many years later, my views on the game are entirely different. And guess what? The themes Kojima are talking about is actually happening in real life. It’s half parts creepy and half parts amazing. (Well, mostly coming from 1984 anyways)
Apex Legends was a fun experience with my friends for a short while, I learned…how to dodge and shoot I guess? But my go-to social game with friends have gone back to Final Fantasy XIV. Yes, I actually have to pay a monthly subscription to enjoy the experience but the level of engagement is entirely different.
Perhaps it is a generation gap. It could honestly be just that. A lot of young gamers nowadays want instant gratification. They don’t want to go through 50 hours of gameplay just to get the “gratification” or the “Good Ending.” Gamers now simply find the concept of grinding game tedious. Back in my kid days, I had to grind multiple hours on end on games such as Final Fantasy XII, getting all 6 members of my team to 80 just to fight the secret boss Yiazmat who took me SIX hours just to beat. Was I exhausted at the end? No I was satisfied that I’ve managed to get Montblanc the revenge he’s been wanting to take for so long.
Some people might think that “grinding” is a mechanic from the 90s used to artificially lengthen games, but think about it. If games were easy to complete, where’s the fun in buying it in the first place. With side missions and challenge quests, it helps you understand all the other characters within the game itself and how that world works.
In a modern-day context, we have the ever-prevalent Application Games as Japan calls it or colloquially termed “Mobage” (itself originally the name for a platform from Japanese mobile game developer DeNA).
A huge majority of these games are based around a core, very classic JPRG system limited to the Stamina system in most cases to limit your game time. Unfortunately, most of your character you’d normally receive from these quests are of the Normal rarity which usually has sub-standard stats or has a low-level cap. Enter: GACHA.
Using the games’ gacha system you’ll stand a chance to receive higher rarities often classes to Rare, Super Rare or Specially Super Rare (R, SR, and SSR). In most cases you can go by with an SR but when you reach end-game level contents, not having that SSR will probably lower your chances.
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Majority of these games have a generic hero goes to slay the bad guy tale with pretty looking character and slapped with some big-name seiyuu in the industry so that fans can spend money gacha’ing for their favourite character. You’ve probably played a bunch of these games, threw in $30 just to roll for that one pretty character and jumping to the next one yeah?
It doesn’t help the majority of these games are just short-term projects by companies to make a quick buck because they’re relatively safer options in the modern day when making games. Short turn-over, quick buck. End the game after one year, rinse and repeat. No originality, but… it pays the bill?
I understand. Not every mobage is just that. There are quite a number of exceptions. Take Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius, or The Idolmaster mobile games, or my favourite example: Granblue Fantasy.
Granblue Fantasy is actually very intriguing once you get deep into it. The people at CyGames put in serious effort to care about the game as well. You can tell the people there really value the game and has multiple patches to improve the quality of life and it is still running after 5 or so years. At this point, I think it’s more akin to an MMO than a mobage now. And while I have never dropped a single cent in GBF, they do many free gacha pulls in their games and are very generous with their drops that they incentivise your efforts in the long run.
So, with that $30, you could do a 10-roll for a slim chance to win some rare character for a game you’ll probably stop playing in a year for that instant gratification or save $60 and get a single-player experience that could change your life in the long run.
When it comes to mobile games, I hope you find something that’s engaging in the long term and doesn’t die off after a year. Like a Fate/Grand Order or something along those lines. Take the time to step back and try some full-length single-player games again. It can be a AAA game or an Indie game.
The Nintendo Switch is a great platform to re-visit them too. There’s even a more compact version coming later this year. We already live in an age where we can enjoy these deep wonderful worlds on the go. The Witcher III of all things is coming to the Switch. Imagine playing as Geralt on the bus to work? Amazing right? I really cannot wait to experience it for the first time!
Don’t worry about wasting $60 only to find a bad game. There are tons of reviews out there to give you a correct opinion. I’m sure you’ll find a game that could change your life like how Metal Gear Solid 3 did mine.