Everyone loves an outsider story. The story of someone rising up, facing adversity and overcoming obstacles is a story that we as a society never seem to tire of their inspiration. For video games, the redemption arcs have been a bit more complicated.
On the one hand, some titles have managed to turn the tide. These are games the developers haven’t given up on after a bad launch, keeping their promises to keep improving the title until it truly is what it always should have been. On the other hand, these gaming redemption arcs can take years to come to fruition. As 2022 approaches, the gaming landscape is no longer a sustainable place for these long-tailed successes.
Perhaps the best thing about gaming in the modern age is how easily developers can troubleshoot a game after it launches. In the days of cartridges and the first disc games, the games sold were static. Unless the developers decide to release a new physical version with modifications – an expensive and extreme measure – the final print game had to be fit with the time, money, and resources studios had to produce it. Now it’s rarer for a game to come out without one day some patch, not to mention a roadmap for the future DLC.
This convenience saved some games from disaster. Players always indicate No Man’s Sky, and for good reason. The developers and gamers of the game have taken it up beyond reasonable expectations. When it launched and looked nothing like what fans expected, the flashback was cataclysmic. If Hello Games didn’t – or couldn’t – do something, it might not have had a future in games. The developers bowed their heads and got to work on developing a free expansion after a free expansion until the game came together and went beyond what was originally promised.
The examples do not end there. Final Fantasy XIV, Destiny 2, Rainbow Six Siege, and most all have come out to varying degrees of deception, but thanks to the continued efforts of the teams behind them, they are all more popular than ever. Even so, those kind of twists and turns have become more and more difficult, and by next year, I doubt that will be any more possible.
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In an ideal world, games would launch in good shape, then improve over time – no need for a “redemption” arc at all. This is not the reality we live in. Some games just won’t come together the way the developers intended, whether it’s because of rushed launch times or plans that simply fail. This is exactly what happened with these “benchmark” titles like No Man’s Sky, but it’s getting harder and harder for games to complete this journey.
It’s a question of time. These games came out years, if not a decade ago in Final Fantasy XIV Case. They have had the necessary years to win back the goodwill and the players with improvements. How can a brand new MMO like New world compete with a game with FFXIV during launch? A game with three or four years of development may not offer as much as one that has had the same amount of time in development, plus five or six years of support afterwards.
For a recent example, just look Battlefield 2042, which got off to a rough start. Why pay a high price for a game that could be able improve a year or two on the road when there are shooters that are performing really well and coming out at a faster pace than ever before? Why not stick to a game like Rainbow Six Siege who has been through these growing pains? For the most part, gamers have understood this fact as well. Battlefield 2042The playerbase has fallen off a cliff since launch and it’s hard to imagine them returning anytime soon.
It is important to note that this is a Battlefield game we are talking about, not some unknown or new IP like No Man’s Sky. If one of the greatest shooters franchises of all time can’t hold its players back, what hope has another game that dares to come out in a rough state?
It doesn’t help that players are more skeptical than ever. We know that the developers have seen these successes and assume, rightly or wrongly, that putting a game like Battlefield 2042 in an unfinished state is a calculated movement. It might sound like publishers want to release a game sooner, get as many early sales as possible, then slowly fix it over time and congratulate themselves on the incremental improvement. It is a strategy that backfired against CD Projekt Red with Cyberpunk 2077, making players hypersensitive to tactics.
The worst part is that there is no guarantee that the developers will even fix these games in the long run. We were told – even with a full roadmap – how Anthem would fix its issues and become a full experience, but the big game update was rolled back before that materialized. This game is a dead envelope and always will be.
First impressions are going to be all in 2022. I don’t need to talk about the range of Absolute Killer titles coming out in the first half of the year to tell you that any game that dares to come out in a broken state won’t win. be given the time of day. There are too many working games, older players are already hooked, and competition for newer games is at its height.
It was a different landscape when Final Fantasy XIV launched for the first time and almost died on the vine. He lost a ton of players just like we see now with Battlefield 2042, but the competition was very different only a few years ago. The MMO space, for example, had essentially World of warcraft upstairs and a few latecomers arguing over leftovers. In Battlefield 2042case, it launched right alongside the annual Call of Duty release. and Infinite Halo a few weeks apart.
It doesn’t even take into account that the free-to-play market is gaining more and more attention. It’s not at all nice when a free game not only performs better but has more content than a full price game like Battlefield 2042. Looking at them in the void, Battlefield 2042 and all of those games that got their shine weren’t that different but the expectations, the competition, and the savvy gamers made it much harder for a game to regain confidence.
The market is just not in a place where players have to settle for a lesser experience and hope that it improves further. It’s just easier to move on from a broken game and never come back. Who has time when there are so many other games to play? Video game ‘redemption’ stories may become a thing of the past, with more titles supporting Anthem if they don’t get it right the first time.