In recent years we’ve written numerous New Year’s Resolutions articles on things we, as gamers, can do to make the most of our gaming. 2014 saw lots of publishers and development studios being rather naughty though. So, just in-case our delivery of coal didn’t drive the message home, we have ten New Year’s Resolutions that developers and studios should follow.
Seriously, we’ll take all the delays in the world if it means we get to buy a game that feels like it’s been finished. 2014 saw way too many broken games released to try and take advantage of Christmas sales. Kudos to the likes of The Witcher III and Arkham Knight for the sensible delays. The Order: 1886? You may need even more time given our recent play tests.
Spread game releases
Last summer saw one of the driest gaming draughts in recent memory with many publishers bookending the year with their releases. We’re happy to play games all year round. More to the point, nobody can afford to buy all the Xmas games. If you’re not a huge megabrand like FIFA or GTA, surely you’d like a bit less competition when your game comes out? As things stand, your games are being picked up a few months after Xmas, at half the price.
Run more MP betas
Releasing a multiplayer-centric game? It makes sense to invest in extensive public beta testing rather than trying to predict levels of traffic, then royally screwing the pooch at launch. Think about DriveClub’s disasterface compared with the surprisingly smooth launch of Destiny after the lessons learned during the alpha and beta tests.
Stop saying dumb things
Twitter and the internet in general mean that you can’t get away with saying anything stupid without it being immediately pounced upon. If you’re going to have people doing interviews, perhaps make sure they don’t have a gob full of boot polish. A prime example of said stupidity being Ubisoft claiming to not have the development resources to include female assassins in Assassin’s Creed Unity. Things didn’t exactly get better from there really.
Release review copies earlier
Our critical nature often means that when review copies are only sent out on the day of the game’s release we think it’s going to be a stinker. Sometimes we’re right, but much of the time it just seems like poor planning. Nobody likes rushing a review, it’s bad form professionally and could lead to rushed playthroughs that make it hard to appreciate their finer details. And no, having a multiplayer component isn’t reason to justify delaying dispatch. We can play the single-player side of things first and then test out the multiplayer once the servers go live, perhaps with a two-part review. And Nintendo, offering to lend(!) us a game a few weeks after release is not cool.
Stop fighting over third-party exclusives
There must be some serious money being flung at third-party studios to ensure big brands like Tomb Raider and Street Fighter are platform exclusives. But is it really enough money to justify shunning such a large proportion of your audience?
Try new things
Originality in gaming has been in short supply for a while now thanks to franchised release being the safest bet for most studies. The indie scene is a great place to look for signs of innovation, but the PS4 and XO have been a bit slow so far with the indie love. We’re hoping 2015 will see some change. The Witness on PS4 is something I’m particularly looking forward to as the way it gradually teaches you about the puzzles looks ambitious, yet intriguing. No Man’s Sky? Sure, we can’t wait, but we still don’t really know what we’re going to be doing there, but that too is exciting. One game did stand out for innovation in 2014 – Shadow of Mordor and its wonderful Nemesis system. That’s how it won our Game of the Year award, despite cribbing all of its other mechanics from other games.
Bring back demos
It’s never been easier to release a demo thanks to digital platforms and fast broadband speeds. So why the hell are the PSN and XBL stores so barren apart from sports demos? You have a game, you want us to buy it, let us play a bit of it. More game trials with an option to download the rest of it would be nice too.
Stop the hilarious digital pricing
Digital versions of games should be cheaper than disc-based versions. No ifs. No buts. A quick look on my PS4’s store has the following amusements to browse through: FIFA 15 - £54.99, Diablo III - £59.99, COD: AW - £54.99, AC: Unity - £54.99 and GTAV - £54.99. See how silly you look? Pack it in.
Show the Oculus and Morpheus some love
Third-party support for the Virtual Reality headsets is key to the success of the technology. Developer love for motion control died after the Wii’s flame started to wane leaving the PS Move and Kinect devices gathering dust in homes around the world. As anyone that’s tried the Oculus Rift or Morpheus will tell you, VR deserves a place in our lives.