Freedom Is Everything, And Four Other Lessons Gaming Should Learn From 2012

Senior Contributor
01.10.13 9 Comments

Every art form evolves, some more quickly than others, but the evolution is inevitable. So you can either learn, or fade away. So, here are some of the more important lessons in video gaming of 2012 that the industry needs to learn.

Give Gamers The Tools And Let Them Explore

When there were open world games this year, like Assassin’s Creed III, they invariably worked best when you weren’t forced to hit points A, B, and C by the plot, but chose points of interest on the map and went after them yourself. We’re still waiting for a game that decides cutscenes are totally unnecessary, and instead lets the plot play out in audio tapes and players discovering things on their own as they explore and/or stab. But until then, we’re happy to settle for games like Dishonored, where your overall path is on rails but how you deal with the obstacles on it is up to you.

Japanese Developers Can Make A Great Game… But They’re At A Cultural and Financial Disadvantage

Japanese developers put out some great games this year. Sega released the witty, well-designed third person shooter Binary Domain. Capcom put out Dragon’s Dogma, a melding of the old school RPG and new-school sandbox fantasy game that was frustrating at first but glorious when it started clicking. Even experiments like Asura’s Wrath, even if they weren’t worth $60, were worth playing. So Japan is still vital in gaming. It just needs to find a wider audience.

PC Gaming Will Return… Once Valve Builds A Console

Valve spent 2012 pushing Steam and working on a Steam Box, which has been paying off this week at the Consumer Electronics Show. But to be frank, Valve is the only major company that gives a crap about PC gaming or PC gamers at this point. Granted, when the Steam Box comes, everybody is going to buy one. But until then, PC gaming is stuck in a niche.

Free-To-Play Will Be A Fad Until There’s A Free To Play Game Worth Playing

CEOs like Ben Cousins have a few good points about the industry, but they have so far failed to back it up with a game worth playing. Cousins can tell us the console is dying all he wants: Do you play any games from his company, ngmoco? Do you even know what games they make?

Therein lies the dilemma of free-to-play games: If you constantly rattle the donations cup and force players to buy items to keep playing, you’ve made a crappy game that no one wants to play. And if you make a fun game that people love and rely on the decency and generosity of mobile players, you get screwed.

Enough With The Dubstep

There were some beautiful orchestral scores and cleverly selected pop music; Sleeping Dogs comes to mind as an example of both. There was also way too much dubstep. Dishonored has a dubstep trailer. Far Cry 3 ruined an entire mission by cranking the Skrillex to the point where to play the game stealthily, you have to turn the music off. Yes, we understand it’s hip. So were fingerstaches, and you didn’t use them.

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