Dear Developers: When the Credits Roll, I’m DONE Playing
There was a time when finishing a video game meant it was over. Done. Finished. Complete. Of course, if there were optional elements, that was up to the player, but they were all included in the game the first time you sat down to play it. Nowadays, with downloadable content, microtransactions, expansions, and significant upgrades/patches that can dramatically alter the experience, it’s starting to feel as if no game is really “finished” when the credits roll.
And it’s starting to get annoying.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s great having all these extras for people who love the game and want to further/enhance the original experience. I completely understand the goal and appeal of downloadable content, for example, and I’ve always said that if an expansion pack for Super Mario Bros. had existed back in the day, all of us would’ve been ecstatic. More Mario goodness! Plus, the ability to fix issues and improve flaws is a modern amenity that I do appreciate, though we have to acknowledge the slippery slope; i.e., because games can basically be “worked on” even after shipping, it kinda gives publishers license to ship half-polished products. And we’ve seen plenty such examples in recent years.
At any rate, the point is that while I can easily grasp the purpose of expanding upon and enriching a great game, there’s still the importance of the original experience itself. There’s still the necessity of giving the player a feeling of satisfaction and completion when the credits start to roll. Problem is, and I don’t know about other veteran gamers, but I’m starting to feel less and less fulfilled when finishing any given campaign. I’m not only talking about shooters (obviously designed for multiplayer) or free-to-play offerings, either.
For example, I recently finished Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Great game though not quite as great as Human Revolution in my estimation, and I’ve seen a couple different endings by having two save files near the end of the game. That’s really all I want. I did most of the side missions, I explored everywhere, I did what I wanted to do, and it’s over. I’m not interested in the DLC and I haven’t the time for a New Game+ (I’d almost always rather play something new as opposed to replaying a game, no matter how good it is), and yet, I feel as if I don’t partake of such things, I’m still going to have this…incomplete sensation. For instance, maxing out the skill tree seems virtually impossible unless you keep playing and frankly, I think that’s done on purpose.
I think developers are doing it a lot. It seems most games made today are designed with an eye to future additions of some kind, and it’s having an impact on the single, original experience. I say, if you want to make those additions, fine, but don’t make it so those of us who just want to play it once (God forbid) feel somewhat slighted. No, we’re not going to play it through again and no we’re really not going to be buying add-on content. But see, even if we do, we want to watch those credits the first time and feel totally satisfied. We want to feel as if it’s done, as if the adventure gave us the option the first time around to let us do everything we might want to do.
The only games left that seem capable of doing this are the more linear action/adventure titles, like Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End or the last couple of Tomb Raider games. Yes, there are – or will be – extras for both but when you’re done playing, it really does feel as if the adventure is complete. You emerge sated and happy. In the first rebooted Lara adventure, I could hit 100 percent in that game if I wanted, and I didn’t need to purchase any add-on, download any freakin’ companion app, wait for some DLC so I could max out Lara, etc.
Bottom Line: Developers, if you want to make more stuff, go ahead and make more stuff. I might even want some of it. But DO NOT make the game feel in any way incomplete or unfinished because of this eye to the future, and DO allow the player to fully enjoy and appreciate that single, one-time experience. Don’t do this, “oh, you’ll get more experience with future DLC, so then you can fully flesh out your character.” No, don’t do that. ADD it later if you want; don’t START out that way.
Okay, end rant. 🙂