I don't really know where this trend started, but the first times I really noticed it was on console games. I never had a modern game console, since I think they are pointless, but I noticed it when watching others play games on console, lots of those games are build around some kind of unlocking system.
A large portion of gamers probably encountered the following scenario, they kept grinding a game just to unlock an achievement, even though they were already fed up with the game. That is exactly what achievements are designed for, to motivate you playing in a scenario where you would normally stop, because it became to boring.
Let's get to the now probably more widely known loot box problem. I decided to combine loot boxes and gambling since they go together in most, if not all games.
What are loot boxes?
In games that have pay to win and/or cosmetic items, you will often also find loot boxes, that have those items in them, but you don't know what is inside yet.
This another of those little design elements in a game that has the potential to ruin the whole game experience, it is very similar to the minimap and often is combined with the minimap and I call it quest markers. What I mean with quest markers? Well first the thing that is obviously meant with quest markers, meaning graphical elements in the game that show you where you have to go to fulfill your current quest. Those often are placed into the HUD and the map or minimap.
Early Access for games is a more modern invention, which did not exist in the past, it was once praised as a good and innovative thing, but now I think it has more drawbacks than it does good.
What does Early Access do? It grants users an early access to the game before it is finished, so they can get the game before it is actually finished and therefore help develop the game through testing and giving feedback.
Sounds all good at first? So let us break down what is bad with this model:
This is probably the "Pay to Win's" little brother. So what are cosmetics, it is the way of the game making money by selling cosmetic items for the game like hats for the player to wear. This is different to "Pay to Win" in the sense that someone who purchases it, does not gain an advantage in the game, so sounds good at first, but at second thought, then why does it work anyway? I mean if cosmetics supposedly don't do anything for you in the game, then why people buy them?
This is probably the worst design choice you can ever make in video game design history. I should have covered this earlier, because of how severe this problem is and hardly anyone really understands the real problems with it, but whatever lets get to the point why "Pay to Win" is so bad.
This is a new kind of series of blog posts and it is about bad game design choices that are used very commonly and hardly anyone pointing them out. I don't want to go nitpicking about minor design flaws, but about things that have the potential to ruin a whole game, yes not just parts of the game, but absolutely everything.
After writing the recent blog post "The dumbing down of games" I started asking myself the question: Is it the dumbed down games that create dumbed down gamers or is it dumbed down gamers that require dumbed down games?
It most likely is a combination of both, the question is more what is the bigger factor or the root cause.
This is a topic I wonder why not many people already talk about this, it is the dumbing down of games.
It is probably because most gamers today are young and they don't know how it was in the past and for the older people maybe because their memory is not working anymore. However let me tell you how it was in the past and go through each step you needed or did go through in order to play a computer game: