- Games, Toys, and Hobbies
Retro Gaming vs. Modern Gaming
Online Play & DLC vs. Originality & Innovation
As a nineties Sega kid, I grew up with the Genesis, Game Gear & Dreamcast consoles. I didn't care about playing a game online or downloading patches. When a game was released, it had to be finished--a completed project. That was the only way to win over consumers. Developers put real thought into what a game was supposed to represent. From the development and marketing, down to the case art & manual, a game was a work of art. It was an expression of creative minds, made possible by competent programmers and talented graphic-artists. It was still a business, but it was a business willing to take risks in order to make a truly original, engaging & memorable experience that started with opening the jewel case or cartridge box.
These days we don't even get an instruction manual. We get standard DVD/Blu-Ray cases with a tiny slip for a 2-day Xbox Live trial. We have to wait for the game to install, and then possibly update after it finishes that process. We get hit with "day one" dlc charges. We have to configure our video & audio settings before playing the game. After starting a game, we sit through extensive introductory CGI or in-game cutscenes, possibly having to repeat them due to a random Quick-Time-Event (QTE) sequence. In the place of instruction manuals & FAQs, modern games hold our hands with mandatory tutorials and the inability to skip cut-scenes on the first play through. What in the world happened to gaming?
Classic consoles all had a very distinct "feel" to them. You could easily tell the difference between a Sega platform compared to something that Nintendo produced. Yes, most of them added features that other/previous consoles lacked, but it wasn't the selling-point of the system. These days you're basically buying over-priced Blu-ray players with the added option of playing games. Microsoft, in particular, is perhaps the most prominent example of a "game" console manufacturer marketing their product as a glorified TV-hub. Now don't get me wrong, these features are all nice, but when your marketing campaign is advocating everything other than gaming, then we have a problem.
The Sega Dreamcast was, in my opinion, the only console that did the online gaming thing properly. Downloadable-Content ("DLC") was free and simply served as an expansion to an already completed title. There was no $50 annual subscription-fee to use the Dreamcast online or play against other players. Games did not shoe-horn in online multiplayer for the sake of appealing to a mass market. You had a few games that were dedicated to online play, but were still functional offline. Online features for local games were typically as simple as a quick link to the game's web page or FAQ. We didn't have "free-for-all" thrown onto Sonic Adventure just to see if it would be as popular as other online-centric titles.