The gaming industry has undergone drastic changes in the past decade. Online multiplayer has changed the way we play games forever, Western-developed games are now the leaders in innovation, and achievements have made many of us spend hours looking for small artifacts that we wouldn’t have even cared about ten years ago. While these aspects of the industry are clearly noticeable, one of the biggest changes has happened without many people noticing it. To some, gaming is no longer a privilege, but a right. Unfortunately, many gamers have developed an unhealthy feeling of entitlement that is subtly having a negative impact on the industry as a whole.
Many gamers feel that they are entitled to have the developers cater to their every need after they pay $60 for a game. This belief is not entirely true or false. On one hand, a customer should be in for a quality experience after paying $60 for a product. Developers and publishers need to make sure to reach their games’ full potential before releasing the game on the market. Even if that means that a game gets delayed, gamers deserve a quality experience when they pay $60 for it. That sort of entitlement benefits the industry because it makes developers and publishers take extra time to make a great product. The problem occurs when that good feeling of entitlement grows out of control.
Unfortunately, we see examples of a feeling of entitlement growing out of control all too frequently. Mass Effect 3’s ending controversy perfectly illustrates how this problem can appear when it rises to new heights (or depths). When Mass Effect 3 featured three different endings last year as opposed to the numerous endings found in previous games in the series, many people were outraged. The fewer endings understandably disappointed a good number gamers, but some people’s reactions were just shocking. The Better Business Bureau even launched an investigation into whether or not the game’s level of choice was falsely advertised. (Luckily, the investigation was later dropped.) It’s one thing to be disappointed with a game, but it’s another to get the BBB involved. The Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco was one of the low points of this generation, not because of the actual ending, but because of how childish the backlash against it was.
(For the record, I don’t like Mass Effect 3’s ending either. I simply think that the ending was overblown. It was disappointing, but it didn’t ruin the game. The previous 20+ hours are not ruined by five disappointing minutes.)
While most cases of an unhealthy feeling of entitlement are not as extreme as the Mass Effect 3 ending controversy, cases like this are becoming more rampant. Many gamers are starting to feel entitled to play a game that is not overly difficult and that features dozens of hours of gameplay. Neither of these qualities is inherently good or bad, but the feeling of entitlement that can come with these aspects is detrimental to the industry.
While it can be fun to play through a game that isn’t particularly difficult, challenging experiences can be extremely rewarding. The Last of Us can be very tough on higher difficulty settings, but the added challenge adds to the grimness of the setting in a way that truly compliments the game. Games that feature countless hours of gameplay can be great investments, but shorter games can give more enjoyable, high-quality experiences (at times). Bioshock Infinite can be seen as a relatively short game when compared to the hours of playtime that come with games that include a multiplayer mode, but BioShock Infinite stands out for its wonderful yet complex story. Multiplayer would have added little to the overall experience, if anything at all.
Entitlement can be a good thing when it appears in moderation, but when it starts to change the way we see gaming, it has gone too far. Gaming is not a right, but a privilege. When we forget this, we lose a vital part of the industry.