Opinion: Is 'nextgen gameplay' too expensive?

Tokuiten

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Infected with 'Xenoblade'. 御免なさい🙇‍♀️
Disclaimer: If you're happy with gaming as is, that's ok. Pls don't, however, dismiss the opinion of those who aren't. This thread will lean on the side of those who aren't, pls understand that. Thx.



Hey,

with 'E3 time' being in full force as well as because of some recent discussion, I thought it'd be interesting to talk about this. I realize a lot of people will disagree with me, but maybe my point gets through to everyone.

Lots of people keep saying 'we live in the best time for games' or 'video games have never been so high quality on average as now'. Or talking about how great the current generation of consoles (PS5, mainly) is. Meanwhile I keep following all the gaming news, watch events like today's Xbox showcase, and all I'm left with is ... underwhelm. No, I have not grown out of my hobby. I'm hungry for games, when one releases that I was looking forward to I can spend 10+ hours a day playing it. My enthusiasm hasn't changed. What has changed, imo, is the level of ambition in video games, especially the strife of old to push forward gameplay ideas. I'm decidedly NOT talking about graphics here.

Gameplay-wise, I just haven't seen much effort to push forward (in case it needs to be said: I'm talking about mainstream/AA/AAA/etc. games here. If there's a game that's like what I want: good, but it doesn't change the overall situation) and it feels like we're still playing Xbox 360-games, just prettier. This was not the case in the past. From NES to SNES, games got significantly bigger and more ambitious, especially in the rpg-genre. The N64/PS1-gen introduced 3D. The PS2/GCN/XBX-gen was an enormous refining of 3D-games. Then the jump to 360/PS3 brought HD, but also the era of open world-games as well as closing the gap to PC-typical genres like WRPGs (Oblivion, Mass Effect). The PS4/One/NSW-gen then felt like a smaller jump already, but it gave developers just the needed upgrade in power to provide a heap of great games. And then came PS5/Series and ... it feels like the games are the same, only now running in 4k/60fps. Gameplay ambition? Zero.

This lead me to form the following thought: With all the issues the industry faces, can it be that new, fresh, ambitious gameplay ideas are both too expensive and risky (which, really, also just means 'too expensive')?

I know it'll be difficult to give some examples of what I'd broadly consider 'nextgen gameplay', but I'll try anyway to somewhat draft the kind of ambition and creativity I feel the industry is currently lacking. Don't get too hung up on these or shout 'game xyz already does that!!1', the type of games I mentioned earlier usually don't. Here goes:

- nonlinear jrpgs (an interactive story like wrpgs are known for) with cinematics and voiceacting intact

- action-games that allow all the cool moves you only used to see in cutscenes (think: when your hero runs up a giant monster's body)

- story-focused games with living worlds with npcs with agenda, reactive, open

- VR rpgs

- AAA open world scifi-rpgs where you dont play a human

- fully destructible (realistically) environments in GTA-like games

- mainstream-AAA shooters with realistic damage behavior (they can be killed with one hit, so can you) as well as enemies that care for their own lives, leading to less, but more intense encounters

- no more damage numbers, instead all materials have a given sturdiness/hardness/sharpness and plausibly react when being hit at/with.

- AAA-games where combat isn't recommended, albeit exists as an option aka violence is not the solution to everything (think: CP2077, but you're not a capable fighter)

- open worlds with truly crazy settings (like an Assassins Creed set in Laputa, the castle in the sky)

- jrpgs set in the real world without any 'comedy'

- a Batman of the Future-game (had to put that in there, sorry)

As someone who firmly believes in VR being the future for video games, it's probably the area that bugs me the most. An AAA-level effort Sword Art Online-game that focuses on immersion and making you feel like a player within Aincrad would be such an awe-inspiring experience ... but it's not happening, because nobody invests that kind of budget into VR-games. But at this point I feel like this sort of risk-averse, nah, ambition-averse behavior is true for regular video games, too. I watchef the Xbox showcase earlier, and guess which game looked most impressive gameplay-wise? MGS3 remake, the game that stems from the PS2-generation :/ Unbelievable.

So, I ask again: Is 'nextgen gameplay' too expensive? Are we stuck with reshufflings of 'been there, done that' games? Are you truly fine with the gameplay of current and upcoming games?

I think a lot of the industry problems stem from gamers being overfed with gameplay they've alteady experienced, hence why they've so okay with f2p-games: When new releases are just more of the same, why not keep playing Fortnite, Overwatch, etc.? Maybe it's just me, but no matter how much graphics improve, if gameplay doesn't, I won't become excited anymore. The question is whether it's a feasibility issue (costs would suddely triple for reasons?) or a (mislead?) business decision.

Sorry if something isn't clear enough, but I had to write this. Feel free to discusd, comment, etc.!
 
yes and no. a lot of your examples are largely a resource issue. and in addition to that, you have to ask "does this actually change anything?" or "does it interfere with the intention?". because most of the time, devs found it doesn't really push anything forward or impedes the design.

case in point, Tears of the Kingdom. it wowed everyone including developers. it's not that they couldn't do it, it's that it only works with Zelda because the whole game is designed around it. you can't take half measures with this. and the game took so long to come out because of that
 
you can't take half measures with this. and the game took so long to come out because of that
From the dev end of it, I think that is the fear. You are already looking at projects that are greater than 3 years in the pipeline to get to market, and by then the market has changed massively.
I don't think that they want to asign themselves to a project that takes up that much time. I can't fault then for it.
 
Digital Foundry cover some questions that are of similar vein and the answer, I think, is pretty much the same


 
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