Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dwelling on the Digital Age

Last night, as my birthday is soon, a relative got me XCOM: Enemy Unknown as a gift. They went to a GameStop, bought it, and the people behind the counter handed them a code. I was given this, and since last night I've been waiting for it to download, which has certainly given me much time to think, as my internet is next to worthless while something is downloading. In the chance it's on your mind, my internet runs perfectly fine and fast, but for some reason that just eats bandwidth away like a child eats candy on Halloween.

As I idled around my home, pausing the recording of "Firefly" I'd DVRed on my TV, pulling out my iPod Touch to check something that someone had posted on Facebook, before shooting a few birds at pigs for a moment, putting it away, before pulling out my phone and sending someone a text, all the while letting my computer download something out of thin air, no cords or discs required, that it hit me that I am living in the future. And I'm not sure I'm okay with that.

I'm perfectly fine, happy, and amazed by all of those things, minus the latter. Not because I don't agree with the idea, oh no, I love the idea of it. I love wi-fi,and I love things like Steam, or iTunes. But I fear that when, whether we want it or not, the majority of our media is only found on the internet, or the cloud, or what have you, that some of us will be left behind. What about those of us who live in the countryside, our internet choices limited? I have three choices out where I live. Hughes Net, which isn't going to happen, a local company, which thankfully does have decent prices for their good service, or I would be stuck going back to dial-up, if that even still exists.

As we move forward, what is there to be said for the minority that will be left behind?

A different thought, is what effect is this having on things like the game industry?

Years ago, on the GameCube, or PS2 lets say. You went out, you bought a game, and that was it. These days, you go out, buy a game, most likely will need to download a patch for said game, while also being encouraged to put down even more money for the possible day 1 DLC. We've gone from buying full, finished games, with likely a few bugs here or there, to buying games that will be complete months from now, and to have the complete will require more than the initial payment. Of course it's changed more than that.

We see things such as Free to Play games. These would've never been possible in a market where disc was the main way of reaching the customer, outside of the PC at least. But now they're becoming more and more, perhaps even scarily, common. And that's fine except for a few things. Many companies see these as the future, the main one coming to mind being EA. If that were to happen, I predict a future full of microtransactions. The microtransaction in and of itself is a flawed idea to begin with. You can of course go on playing, usually, without even making a single one, but at what cost? Depends on the game. In League of Legends, you'll unlock Champions, the playable characters, much slower. In Team Fortress 2, you'll just be playing to luck to see if you get that item you want. In a game like SW:TOR? You can't even hide your characters' hat without paying the extra dough.

Is that what we want for the future? Half finished games, that are only full when you've spent even more money that you would've for a full one years ago?

That's not to say I don't agree with some of the changes the new age has wrought. Patches are an amazing thing, allowing developers to fix bugs that before, players would've just had to deal with. They allow multiplayer to remain balanced. And I'm not entirely against DLC, either. GTA IV's DLC was fairly well done, it gave people more of what the original game was. More story, more missions, more things to do in multiplayer, but to me, the pinnical of properly done DLC is Red Dead Redemption.

Red Dead Redemption had many free weapons and such for DLC, while also being guilty of what I'm not a fan of, but have come to accept, the download of new maps, skins, etc. But take a look at its major DLC pack, Undead Nightmare, and you have something different.

Undead Nightmare included a new story, new characters, radically changed the game while keeping the fun in tact. Added new modes, characters, weapons, etc. to the multiplayer, and new challenges to both sides of the board. Take note here, Call of Duty, Battlefield, and most military shooters of today. They didn't just add in a few maps. They did add in a horde mode, though it was minor among the other additions, which I'm against, but again, it was minor.

This was a bit ranty, and crosses away from my original topic but there you go. Insert clever witty ending here, if you would be so kind.

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