Video games are more popular than ever, and there are so many quality titles that it's impossible to experience them all. However, the problem is when developers and publishers use business practices that ultimately hurt gamers. Unfortunately, things are becoming worse, but that doesn't mean we should accept them. That's why we're listing the top ten worst practices by developers and publishers, as all of them leave a bad taste. While some are more tolerable than others, we believe that they are altogether unacceptable.
10. Discrimination Against PC Gamers
Whenever the new console generation arrives, PC gamers often get the short end of the stick! This means that Windows versions of the latest titles will be based on the old code. Hence, games like NBA 2K22 are last-gen on PC, just as we expected. However, many other companies do the same, including EA with their FIFA and Madden NFL series.
If you ask developers and publishers, they will tell you how many PCs are not powerful enough to run the next-gen edition of their games. However, they tend to "forget" that it's not only about the graphics, as the next-gen titles also have new features and gameplay additions. This is highly offensive, so we encourage PC gamers to vote with their wallets and ignore these titles.
9. Limited Availability
We have nothing against limited editions of physical products, as they are usually pretty expensive, and there's not a lot of demand. However, we don't understand the restricted distribution of digital games! This is a problem that happens more often than ever, and usually, licensing is to blame. Games like OutRun Online Arcade, Driveclub, and many others can't be bought anymore as the rights agreement expired. If you're fortunate, some of them will make a comeback, like was the case with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
However, this all sounds tolerable compared to some more extreme cases! Nintendo is among the worst offenders, as their Super Mario 3D All-Stars Collection was available for only a few months! This is completely insane, even though you can buy these titles separately. Even more drastic was the case with Super Mario Bros. 35, which became unplayable in March 2021.
8. Digital Games Prices
We live in the age of digital sales, and many people love it. Thanks to fast internet, it's easy to buy a game online and download it the minute it's released. While we can understand the excitement of midnight sales, it's nice to have the alternative, especially during the pandemics. Yet, digital sales also have many disadvantages.
One of the questions we have to ask is why digital and physical copies cost the same? Digital distribution is cheaper by far, as the publisher doesn't have any distribution or manufacturing costs. The second thing is, you don't really own copies of digital games unless we're talking about GoG. This means that you can't ever sell your games, as they are tied to your digital distribution service account. While we can understand that reselling digital copies of games would create chaos, some compromises have to be made. Maybe the standard game price should go down?
7. Bad Servers
A huge percentage of games support online multiplayer, but servers are often in bad shape. If you're buying a triple-A title, you can pretty much expect tons of problems for the first few days or weeks. These include not being able to connect or experiencing an enormous lag. Does this mean that developers didn't expect so many people to play? It's that, or they just don't want to spend so many resources on online servers.
A few of the worst offenders are NBA 2K and Pro Evolution Soccer series, as they always seem to deliver a horrible multiplayer experience. How is it possible that developers can't fix the problem once and for all instead of creating numerous patches and making constant excuses? While we already said what we don't like about the FIFA series, their online component always works fine!
Well, delaying games happen often, and we can understand that. Estimating the exact release time is really hard, and it's better to wait a few months and get a title that oozes quality. We can even understand when the game gets delayed more than once, but there's one exception. What enrages everyone is when developers claim that they're making one final delay, but they don't keep the promise.
For example, do you remember what happened with Cyberpunk 2077? CD Projekt RED postponed the game several times after claiming they won't do it! This is really a horrible, disrespectful practice that has no excuse. Fortunately, this doesn't happen too often, but when it does, it really harms the developer and us as customers.
5. Publishing Unfinished Games
If the game goes on sale and needs to be patched to fix some minor issues, that's fine. But it's another thing when the title suffers a launch disaster. This now happens more often than ever since publishers hope that the developers will fix the issues later. However, things can be much, much worse, as we've seen in titles like Driveclub, Street Fighter V, and many others.
For example, Street Fighter V launched with a few fighters, and you could only enjoy the basic online mode. It took a couple of years before all the planned content was released! The same happened to Gran Turismo Sport which lacked cars, tracks, and even a proper single-player mode. Eventually, we got tons of new content for free, although it would really be shameful if it was sold as DLC.
4. On-disc DLC
Yes, DLCs are pretty controversial, as sometimes it's hard to know if developers are cutting the content from the main game to later sell it separately. However, DLCs are also the best way to keep the game fresh. Adding new levels, characters, or even story elements is an excellent method to extend playing time. Still, what happens when you figure out that DLC content is already in the game, but you still have to pay to unlock it?
Capcom shamefully did it with Street Fighter X Tekken, as it was revealed that buying DLC only downloads a small file that opens the content already present on the disc! This practice still exists in the digital era, like when you want to buy a deluxe edition of your favorite game.
In today's gaming industry, it's all about the score the game receives, so publishers are doing their best to pressure the reviewers. This means that the critics receive the game sometimes before publication, but they have to agree to specific rules, including embargoes. In the past, embargo meant that you can't publish the review until a specific date, stream the game or talk about it in any other way.
However, things went too far, so now critics are banned from talking about some game aspects! These usually include a game component that might not be of the best quality, so the publishers would instead like them to speak about other things. Unfortunately, even the biggest gaming websites such as IGN or Gamespot succumb to pressure by posting these unfinished reviews, rating games above their worth.
2. False Advertising
There will never be such a thing as a perfect game, and that's perfectly fine! As a part of their marketing strategies, gaming companies are hyping their product, but a lot of times, they employ illegal tactics. Electronic Arts has a practice of selling their sports simulations under a new name while only offering fresh rosters. They didn't even bother telling gamers about this for the first couple of years, which was rather shameful.
On the other hand, sometimes it's not about lying but hiding the ugly truth. We have to go back to Cyberpunk 2077 as one of the recent examples that won't be soon forgotten. What the publisher and developer did was to show us the PC version of the game, never mentioning the console edition. This way, they hid the fact that PS4 and Xbox One releases were buggy as hell, with unplayable framerate and hugely downgraded graphics. So, gamers bought millions of copies before they realized they were scammed!
Whenever we're talking about bad practices in the gaming industry, it's hard not to mention microtransactions. Of course, the worst are those that promote pay-to-win logic, meaning they give you a serious advantage when playing online. That's typical for sports games such as NBA 2K and FIFA series, as the alternative is months-long grinding. Luckily, this doesn't apply to career modes.
Yet, that doesn't mean you're safe even in single-player, as some games constantly suggest that you should use your credit card and buy things you can acquire by playing. However, even worse are games like NBA 2K Playgrounds 2, where unlocking players and teams is so slow that it becomes pointless. Finally, that's all ridiculous, knowing that in the past, you could simply use cheats. In their defense, companies claim that games are way too cheap, and they need to find other ways to generate profit. Yet, even when the standard game price goes up to $70, things won't be any better.
Modern gaming offers tons of traps, so before buying a title, try to inform about it as much as you can. While it's tempting to make a day one purchase, it's better to make an informed decision. The second thing is to resist investing in pay-to-win microtransactions, as they are highly unethical. While some countries are trying to stop these practices, gamers and their buying habits are the keys.
Which one of these elements in our top ten list bothers you the most? What games have you bought, only to regret because they suffer from some of these issues? We're eager to hear what's on your mind.
Cover Photo: Ryan Quintal/Unsplash