Posted on Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 at 12:15 PM by Kimo Kuppe
Just going to say right now that despite the title this won’t be about secrets. Rather, it’s going to be about Facebook, cellphone, and other casual games. There’s no doubt games have changed from the old days where games were hard to make and developers took out their frustration on the audience by ramping up the difficulty to 11. If you get what’s that a reference to then you are probably old enough to remember those days on the NES or Sega Master system or those other consoles that limped to the barn. Old games were hard and hated you and your pathetic effort to beat it. No saves here, you were beating this in one sitting or not at all. And there weren’t other options as games didn’t have the range of genres today and games were expensive so it was difficult to talk mom into buying you more than one every couple months. Today games have cooled their contempt for the player, except Ninja Gaiden or anything by From Software but those will be discussed some other day when I’m ready for a horde of comments about what a nooby scrublord I am.
Now that gamers aren’t an exclusive elite of gangly pale anti-social kids regular people are playing games too: cheap, watered down games they can whip out at work or on the bus or midconversation with you. And while this clearly means that a plague of attention disorders are on the horizon it also means that developers and publishers will move towards appealing to this profitable demographic, and why wouldn’t they? The games are cheap and easy to make and have huge returns. It’s like those Paranormal Activity movies, sure they suck and barely qualify as a movie but they are dirt cheap and easily earn back septuple their cost. Most of the ones I see are just rip-offs of old Flash games like Angry Birds or lifted from those crappy touch screen things you see at bars. Honestly that’s pretty harmless, except Angry Birds because stealing ideas isn’t cool and it sucks to see the people who made the original flash games get screwed like that. Remember kids: copyright everything you do and sue anyone who does something similar; it totally works for Apple. The only time it’s a problem to me is when it’s a game related to a platform franchise and is somewhat relevant to it. God of War had a cell phone game about one of Kratos’s side adventure and there have been some Final Fantasy ones too. But the more insidious games like this are on Facebook.
These days I can’t really say “Rise of Facebook Games and Zynga” since Zynga’s got piles of problems now and they are also a terrible company so the less said about them the better, just forget they exist and block all their games if you haven’t already for they are little more than glorified egg-timers with a casino/cigarette flavor to them. Seriously what else is Farmville, really? At least Harvest moon had somewhat of a story and goal, and an art style that wasn’t just clipart. We should have been immediately suspicious of all the Zynga games as nothing good gets popular that fast. Only things that do are new narcotics or contagious diseases. Most insidious in Facebook games that I took part in was the Dragon Age 2 game where you could earn items for the actual game when it came out. You could either earn things slowly with limits each day, or just buy stuff for actual money. Without the Dragon Age label it’s actually a decent enough game for Facebook. In regards to the actual game it’s supplementary to, it’s a travesty that seems to ignore quite a bit about its source for the sake of being a money and time sink. I rag on Dragon Age 2 a lot but I’ll admit that Legends was actually meaty enough to consider a game. Hopefully it’ll pave the way for more, better games. Wait, scratch that. Hopefully Facebook and Facebook games get purged from this world and humanity enters a golden age of productivity.
Cellphone games try so hard to be like Gameboy and other handheld games but are crushed by their own unacceptably crappy limitations. They can do so many things, well actually they barely are able to do that half the time and if you are doing anything fun on them they can’t hold a charge for nearly as long as even my DS. Maybe that’s just my crappy phone. No matter which phone you have none of them have a good enough control scheme for any game to have content in it. Touch screens are terrible ideas since to use it you have to cover up part of the screen with your hand and chances are your hands are greasy and gross when you use it. However that hasn’t stopped some people and Angry Birds is still astoundingly popular but not too many other ones have achieved such popularity. Maybe they shouldn’t and instead the DS should try to integrate web browsing, streaming, and phone capabilities instead of their desire to bring 3d technology to an audience that can barely see. Scratch that because that’s starting to sound like the ill fated Nokia N-gage, the amphibious car of the handheld console world.
Technically all the things I mentioned are, or were, games by definition whether the serious gaming crowd accepts it or not. Think of it like the less popular events during the Olympics; sure they are sporting events but Major League Curling is hardly something to get excited about. They aren’t diverting too much attention away from PC or console games, yet. But some of the monetizing systems they use are turning up in big games as a way to extract more money from us. As bitterly hoping for a return to simpler times is always a lost cause the only real course of action is not to participate and pay for these sorts of things until it’s done in a way that you like. Profits drive everything, so let companies know what’s acceptable with your wallet.
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