Month: August 2016

Rant on Pokémon Go and the Gaming Industry

Posted August 1, 2016 by Michael Kitto in Pop-Culture / 6 Comments

pokemon goThere is no doubt that Pokémon Go is the latest craze, with nostalgia being the driving force behind its popularity. I remember my first Pokémon game; it was Pokémon Blue, which was released in 1998 for Gameboy. While it was a fun game, and I enjoyed playing it, it never was a game that stuck with me. I know there are many people that brought and played most of the games as they were released every few years but I don’t know there was a lasting effect. I know a new version of the game would mean people would stop playing one for the newer version but how much game play can you really get out of these games?

With Pokémon Go the popularity is unquestionable, with more downloads and active users than Twitter. When it debuted in the US, it was able to capture 10.81% Android users, while according to BGR, the two most popular games Clash Royale and Slitherio only managed to 1.67% and 0.84% users. Taking $2 million a day in revenue, from the US market alone. Casual gaming and micro-transactions are dominating the gaming industry and I am not pleased.

Don’t get me wrong, I am playing Pokémon Go but I think Ingress is a better game. Both Pokémon Go and Ingress were developed by Niantic, Inc and are essentially the same game with a different skin and less functionality. I am impressed with the stories I have heard about people coming together, there are even stories where people out in the parks late at night are also feeding the homeless. It is a beautiful phenomenon that sadly will not last.

Games like Candy Crush and Game of War that are making a billion dollars a year in revenue, are struggling to hold on to their users. While I am sure they are not complaining about the money they have made, as someone that played a lot of games in the past, I am concerned with the state of the gaming industry. The industry is out to make money and they are doing just that but at the cost of the gaming industry. I believe if this trend continues innovation will suffer. The industry will be trying for quick money grabs and the big Triple A titles that demonstrate innovation and artistic capabilities will no longer exist. There type of games that drive the computer industry as it pushes the limits of technology and have them looking at ways to make computers better, faster and more capable.

Think of it this way, if the games industry stops making Triple A titles, and rather focus on casual gaming or micro transactions, there will be less monetary value in making better computers. The computer industry is driven by the need for faster, more capable computers; you take away the gaming, that need is reduced exponentially. Things are moving in this direction, the 2016 game Hitman was released in episodes; meaning you were paying for a level. There were claims that this was due to delays in the game production but this is just the first step. I would imagine that if it happens with one, with no real outcry it could happen to others.

I know I am just ranting about the state of the gaming industry but you have to be aware, I am not their target audience anymore. I use to play a lot of games but now I do not have time. I am addicted to Civilization V (a game released in 2010) because I enjoy the complexity and I want a game that will challenge me. For those not familiar, Civilization is a 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) turn based strategy game. You start a game by picking a leader of a civilization, which have different traits and then you play against a number of AI players to win either by domination, diplomacy, research or tourism. The game involves around diplomacy, economics, government, and military. I love these games because of the replayability (I think I have about 300 hours of gameplay in this game) and as it is turn based, I can play with while watching TV instead of playing a casual game on my phone.

I think there is a use for casual games, and sometimes you want to play something quickly while you wait. My problem is that everything seems to be a carbon copy of something else that is successful and there is no real complexity to these games. I am not saying all causal games are bad and I do enjoy Pokémon Go. My concern is the direction that the gaming industry is going, I want to be entertained but I also want to work for it as well, I feel more fulfilled if I am challenged. What is your opinion of the current gaming trends?