I’m sure I’m starting to sound like a broken record when I say that five years is a long time. Virtual Bastion has largely remained the same since the beginning, but there’s also no denying that it’s grown too. Instead of trying to provide a service we couldn’t possibly deliver on in any meaningful way, we’ve changed course over the years and grown into a space aimed at celebrating what we love about gaming and exploring what it means to be involved with these digital experiences. Of course subject matter changes over the years, so I thought it would be interesting to take what we, and some of our past contributors were writing about back in 2013. So buckle-in ’cause we’re about to take a ride on a nostalgia wave!
Remember the “war” being fought between major publishers and the used-game market? What about “online passes” and “Day 1 DLC”? Yeah, me neither. Despite being such a hot-button issue in 2013, “premium content” sure went away quickly didn’t it? I remember publishers like EA vehemently defending the practice by saying that used-games were killing their profits and would eventually drive them into bankruptcy. Well, here we are five years later. EA is still around, still attempting to defend shady business practices, and “online passes” are nowhere to be seen. I guess used games didn’t hurt them all that much after all. (I can’t believe I actually sort-of defended that practice!)
Ah, open world games. Fun, but coming dangerously close to over-saturating the market back in 2013. Good thing publishers didn’t decide to just keep running with the concept for the next five years, right? Proving her ability to always ask the important questions, our former contributor, Sam Leung, was already wondering if these games were starting to get too big at the time. Unlike the previous issue, this question has only gotten more relevant over the years as publishers have not only shifted almost entirely to creating absolutely massive open worlds, but also doing everything they can to stretch them out for as long as possible. So what do you think? Can games be too open world?
Again, this is a question that’s still relevant today. While there are still a fair few challenging games out there if you know where to look, skill floor for your average mainstream game still seems to be on a downward trend. Also just like it was five years ago, it’s still a difficult topic to properly discuss. Easy games aren’t bad, neither are games that are highly accessible. Games that compromise themselves for the sake of accessibility, games like Destiny 2, are concerning, but then that raises the question of where exactly to draw the line. There are many games and game series out there that at least partially define themselves through the experience and challenges they offer. It would just be a shame if they sacrificed that unique part of themselves on the alter of greater accessibility.
In this post, Cary explores the appeal of open-world exploration games. This genre has stayed popular for a reason, and it’s not completely because major publishers can easily exploit them. No matter what the game is, it has to create a world for its players to play in. Being the naturally curious creatures we are, we can’t help but want to find everything we can in it. Cary posits that the appeal also comes from a couple of unexpected places. That through exploring, we can make the game our own and that there’s a certain joy to be had in not knowing what’s over that next horizon. I suppose that’s why even traditionally linear games like Mario and God of War have taken a page or two out of the open world handbook. There’s joy in discovery, something that just about every gamer learns at one point or another.
It’s funny how things develop isn’t it? The gaming landscape has changed drastically over the past few years, yet many of the most important and interesting questions from the past still remain just as relevant. Here’s hoping the next five years worth of changes will be mostly positive!