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The Hawks Squawks: No Trust in AAA Games

Written by Colter Hawks 20 February 2019 The Hawks Squawks is a series of weekly articles, giving myself a platform to let my mind run free. Articles can stem from either a positive or negative position on the topic of the week. Keep in mind these are opinion pieces and I will definitely say things you may not agree with, even though you should... I’m kidding, but I am open minded and my opinions could change, which will lead to me either updating the initial article, or I will address it in a new one. Topics will include specific aspects of video games, the industry itself and esports. At the end I’ll have a question for you with the info on where to discuss that with me. Without further ado, let’s jump into it. This week for my very first article of the series I’d like to talk on AAA games or Triple-A. Why can’t the consumer trust them anymore? Really it’s not a hard question to answer. Simply put, for a game with a big budget, developer power and time, triple-A titles released these days seem to not deliver the polished product we the gamers expect. They come unfinished or with a lot of bugs, server issues with lag or connectivity problems. Maybe they are badly optimized which puts a lot of stress on the computer or console. All of these are issues that should be addressed and fixed before release.There are definitely exceptions, such as The Witcher 3, Red Dead Redemption 2, and the new God of War. I would even say that there are more good triple-A titles than bad. And then we get games such as Mass Effect Andromeda, Fallout 76 and Star Wars: Battlefront II, where the execution fell far from the mark. If it wasn’t for the middle ground games that offer an online multiplayer experience, like Call of Duty and Battlefield. triple-A titles would be non existent. Now why do I call those two games middle ground? Well for one, those titles have been around forever, we already know what to expect from game to game. Also not all of the titles installments were great. Actually some were quite awful (Glaring at you Call of Duty: Ghosts). Even with these titles, gamers have become hesitant on dropping their +$60 on a game that could very likely be bad. Triple-A titles should all be the best games in the industry. The amount of money thrown behind these games alone should attest to that. In my opinion, the main issue lies in the boardrooms of the production companies. They’re filled with people who don’t understand video games or the consumer and just want to cash in their next check. On the business side of things, I understand their position, but what they do reduces the quality of their product and losses them favor, and then they have the audacity to ask the developer what went wrong. Cutting costs by reducing the amount of developers on a team and then trying to rush the game to release is a recipe for disaster. However, the developer also knows when the game isn’t quite done and should fight to allow more production time to fix bugs or other issues (and I’m sure many do), and the producer should allow it if they want a game to be successful. However, do we really need triple-A games these days? There are so many Independent developed games out there that are on the same level of big titles. Divinity Original Sin 1 and 2 are great examples. Divinity Original Sin 2 is already heralded as one of the best RPGs ever made. Path of Exile started out on it’s own and does very well, even though Grinding Gear Games is now owned by Tencent (a chinese company that I’ll likely squawk about one week). Last year we got Celeste, a platformer with a very simplistic but beautifully done art style. It was nominated for Game of the Year. My point is although there are a lot of triple-A titles, there are very few that are considered great games. Most are just okay and then there are enough that are considered bad or worse, which makes everyone hesitant. Indie-games are a safer bet, not just because of the quality we’re seeing in a lot of indie-games, but also because they are generally cheaper in price. This grants more justification to buy a game you’re not sure you’ll enjoy or not. I guarantee you that if the big triple-A companies lowered their game’s cost, more people would buy them at launch. That leads to another statistic problem. Everyone is too caught up on release day sales, first week sales and whatnot. A video game shouldn’t be judged on how good it is based on sales. It should be judged on it’s quality. Many games release and have a rough start, but then get updates to help the game reach the point that the gamers wanted and in some cases even the developers wanted. Take Tom Clancy’s: The Division for instance. The game did not receive a lot of praise on release and had many issues. Massive Entertainment, the company behind the game, worked very hard for months updating the game and adding content to help boost it’s player base. It took about half a year, but the game finally reached a point where the majority players who tried it out, loved it. Massive turned the image of the game 180 degrees and now we’re getting The Division 2 next month and a lot of hype is behind it. I for one am super excited to play, after playing the beta I’m just counting the days. You know another game beta I loved? BioWare’s new game, Anthem. I love the concept and the gameplay, but after its release the reports are already not great. Anthem is littered with bugs and optimization issues that we were told have already been addressed. It’s very unfortunate and I hope BioWare will continue to work hard on improving the game, but it drives my point further. It makes me hesitant to buy The Division 2 at launch, even though I experienced very few and minor bugs. We definitely need those people who buy a game at release to give us the heads up. Believe me, all the other gamers are grateful for all of you with extra cash. Still, we shouldn’t need those people. Especially with triple-A titles, I should feel confident going to the store or going online, putting my money down and enjoy a game that was worked on for countless hours. It honestly makes me sad for the developer when a game flops, but that’s due to bad planning, marketing, and the board on production companies who don’t give the developer all the freedoms they need to create a masterpiece. Question for you: Do you think the demand for online-multiplayer in video games has hurt the AAA category of games or is there another aspect? If you agree with me or think I’m crazy let me know. I invite you to tweet me and hashtag your response with #AAAGamesProblem. Twitter - @The_plaTpus @midwestesports1