I feel sorry for young gamers today. With the rise of ‘games as a service’ titles and always-online video games, we are setting the youth up for disappointment. Let me explain.
I’m a 25-year-old gamer, and if I wanted to play the games I grew up with like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time or Super Mario Bros. 3, I have so many ways to do that at my disposal. Whether it’s jumping into the newly-updated N64 Zelda titles on 3DS, or even digging out my old NES from the attic and jumping into classic Mario Bros. games. Lucky for me, games of the 90s didn’t rely heavily on having a massive player-base, micro-transaction funding, or servers to keep the game online. Not that there’s anything wrong with all three of those things, but like I said, some games simply cannot exist without them.
Right now, there are millions of kids playing Destiny, Destiny 2, The Division, (soon Sea of Thieves and Anthem) etc. and making memories while doing it. Sadly, ten to fifteen years from now, those games will most likely be gone. There will be no “let’s crank out PS1 and play some Metal Gear Solid”-moments with these games in the future, cause they’ll be dead. Once companies have no audience to produce a constant revenue source, there’s no good reason for a developer/publisher to keep the servers on. So then it’s lights out forever. Unless developers can somehow figure out a workaround that allows for a single-player, offline experience for these games (which, admittedly, would work for a game like The Division). But honestly, how likely is that? Sounds like a lot of work, resources, and money with little to no payoff.
Rest in Peace Paragon
The recent shutdown of a popular MOBA called Paragon really got me thinking about this. Somewhere in the world, a child’s heart is broken because his or her’s favorite video game is (basically) being wiped off the face of the earth. Unfortunately, these types of things just happen in the ever-evolving game industry. But something like this just didn’t/couldn’t happen 10+ years ago. Sure, online servers for multiplayer games are often shut down, but at least games of the past typically offered some type of single-player or local multiplayer alternative (Ex. Halo 2, Army of Two, a slew of sports games, etc.). But games nowadays, they are structured around having thousands of people connected to each other, whether it’s PVP or PVE. Some games, even ones that you can play all alone, won’t work without being connected to the internet.
Obviously, not all kids nowadays are playing these ‘games as a service’ titles. But let’s be honest, the video game market (I’m calling it) will soon be to the point of over-saturation with these types of games. And as a child, you always want to play the latest, most popular games. Kids love these types of games because it’s their one big purchase of the month/months/year that lends them hours upon hours of content, updates, and fun times. In this aspect, I’m jealous of kids nowadays. Heck, I even saw my 10-year-old nephew playing Fortnite Battle Royale (which is completely free!) the other day, and he’s not even much of a gamer. I’m not suggesting the wildly successful titles like Minecraft, League of Legends, or Fortnite will be gone anytime soon. But games similar to Gigantic, Paragon, and Battleborn with smaller audiences, the end is nigh.
At the end of the day, all I’m trying to get at is I feel sorry for young gamers nowadays because: A. Their favorite video game can unexpectedly disappear (Battleborn, Gigantic). And B. Because they won’t be able to have any nostalgic moments during adulthood by jumping back into these games — because most of them will cease to exist by then. It’s pretty much the equivalent of a huge portion of AAA games being MMOs. Which, sadly, shut down all the time.
Game preservation is important. Much like American history (but maybe not quite as important. Actually no, it’s just as important), we shouldn’t let important video game artifacts of the past just fade away. There are companies and communities that currently exist for the sole purpose of preserving video games. Typically, these passionate game historians focus on classic video games of the 80s and 90s. However, I’m hoping we’ll see a shift in focus for these groups with the hopes of preserving ‘games as a service’ titles that have been taken offline and are no longer playable. Because once more, these games will not last forever. Hell, maybe one day we can (in some form) see a revival for games like Paragon, Fable Legends (which never even made it out of beta), and a slew of dead MMOs. A lot of these games deserve to be recognized.
I want to know your thoughts on this. Do you constantly play games you played as a kid? Because I boot up games like Resident Evil 4 and Ocarina of Time at least once a year. Do you feel bad for young gamers today? Am I being too dramatic? Leave all your thoughts in the comments section below.