So it’s 2023. We made it. Viewtiful Joe is now officially 20 years old, and we have yet to receive a recent sequel. In fact, a lot of video games are now 20 years old. Apparently, that’s how the ceaseless march of time works: Everything gets older after time, and we weep into the well of nothingness that we’ll never get around to finishing The Simpsons: Hit & Run (also 20 this year!).
Fortunately, the video game industry has only grown over the last couple decades. What was once a massive industry bent on gaining acceptance from mainstream entertainment despite already surpassing much of that mainstream entertainment in revenue is now an even more massive industry bent on gaining acceptance from mainstream entertainment despite already surpassing much of that mainstream entertainment in revenue. We’re still carting out movie stars on stage who’ve never played a video game in their fucking life, folks.
Just as the video game industry has grown, every new year presents us with the chance to create new goals and ideals we want to meet. Or, rather, the same old goals and ideals as last year but rebooted with new language and the same amount of dedication. But those goals and ideals are important, and just because we haven’t always succeeded in making them happen doesn’t mean they’re not worth it.
So, with all that said, here’s what I’d like to see from the video game industry in 2023.
1. More Honest Release Schedules
This may seem simple, but inaccurate release schedules screw over both developers and consumers. Fans get their hopes up for an unrealistic release date for a triple-A game that needs years and years of balancing. Meanwhile, the very people making those games are under intense pressure to release something – anything! – or face the wrath of their corporate bosses. It’s a toxic mix. Developers feel like they can’t get everything right in the tight time frame, while fans feel like they’re being betrayed by the developers. If a game is delayed, it’s the developers’ fault. If a game comes out on time but it’s completely broken, it’s the developers’ fault.
Unrealistic release dates are a business decision to please investors and drum up pre-orders from fans who want to trust their favorite companies. Ultimately, they hurt everyone.
2. Bobby Kotick Slipping On A Banana Peel
While we certainly got new horrors in the games industry, some still remain. No matter how many people step up about sexual harassment or worker mistreatment, some executives never seem to suffer the consequences. Which will likely be the case with Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, a man whose greatest talent is looking like a newly-former father in a mugshot for the “newly-former” part.
But 2023 could be different. That’s why I hope Bobby Kotick slips on a banana peel while walking to a very important meeting. If we’re lucky, Bobby Kotick would step on the peel and go, “Whooooooaaaaaa” as he slides down the hallway, waving his arms backward and throwing his laptop into the air and knocking over a water cooler. The industry is perhaps too hard to fix all its issues at once, but Bobby screaming, “Oh no oh nooooooo” as he slides into a broom closet would be a great start.
3. Better Cooperation Between Fans And IP Owners
Fan events are complicated affairs, and it’s understandable why some video game companies have fraught relationships with them. While I’ve long been a professed Nintendo fanboy, its handling of competitive play with Smash has left a lot to be desired. The same goes for takedowns on YouTube videos that were ostensibly intended to praise and promote the brand itself.
It’s important to note that video game company legal departments are extremely separate from many of the teams working on the games. Lawyers are often sending the cease and desist orders without the developer even knowing. However, that doesn’t mean that these companies couldn’t create better, more careful policies regarding fan media and events.
Video game companies have the right to protect their brands, but fans should have the right to enjoy those brands.
4. A Bucket Falls On Bobby Kotick's Head And He Can't See
It’s been inspiring to see video game developers begin to unionize. As a proud union member myself, I can say it helps to know you have an organization made of your peers having your back. The more game developers at every level – artists, testers, programmers, writers, designers – can work together when negotiating with executives, the more they can all benefit.
Hopefully. Because people like Bobby Kotick are still intent on busting unions. Which is why, in 2023, it would be nice if when Bobby Kotick slipped on that banana peel and slid into a closet, he slammed into the wall so hard that an old-fashioned metal bucket fell off a high shelf and landed directly on top of his head. Due to both the bucket’s narrow shape and Bobby Kotick’s large head, the bucket is stuck. Bobby yells for help, but it’s muted by the bucket.
5. Fewer Video Game Company Mergers
There’s often a misplaced celebration when video game companies merge and buy each other out. If you’re a PlayStation fan, it’s nice to see Sony gobble up the big names making some of the most cinematic games out there. If you’re a Microsoft fan, it’s exciting to think Game Pass could feature every new Call of Duty game forever from here to eternity. Mergers are sold to fans as the ultimate act of winning the console wars.
The reality is different. A lack of competition means fewer fans get to play triple-A games. Worse, there’s never the promise that corporate overlords won’t mess with the formulas that made fans enjoy certain franchises in the first place. Look at Blizzard before and after Activision decided to get involved and make major decisions. Even triple-A companies having larger budgets for their games doesn’t necessarily mean the working conditions will be better or the end project more successful.
It’s a catch-22 situation. Without Game Pass and mergers, beautiful games such as Pentiment might not exist. On the other hand, it’s strange to think we’ll be returning to a time in which every console is its own almost entirely enclosed environment.
6. Bobby Kotick Runs Out Of The Broom Closet And Crashes Into A Cubicle
It’s impossible to improve a multi-billion-dollar industry without changes on the inside.
Once change could be bucket head Bobby Kotick stumbling out of the broom closet with his arms outreached, trying to find his way along a wall. At one point, he’ll miss the wall with a hand and fall head first into an empty cubicle, breaking the table and creating a slope in which the mouse, keyboard, and then monitor slam into the bucket on his head with a giant ringing noise.
Bobby, holding his hands to the side of the bucket in a failed attempt to silence the sound, would then run down the hallway screaming while his assistant followed him and asked if he wanted to take a call with Microsoft.
7. Fewer Brand Crusades
As with the merger situation, many fans often see their favorite console, company, IP, or game as a very close part of themselves. And from that, assumptions are made of other fans. If someone prefers Xbox, they must hate PlayStation. If someone likes Fortnite, they must hate Minecraft. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but so much of the discourse regarding games isn’t, “Is X good?” Instead, the discourse is often, “Is X better than Y?” We want our choice to be better than another choice rather than being good on its own.
However, there’s literally no reason for flame wars over companies that don’t know you exist. You’re not a better Sonic Frontiers fan if you’re screaming at everyone else because of a nomination at The Game Awards. You’re just someone who’s screaming. Specifically someone who’s screaming and driving off new potential fans from the thing you seem to want people to enjoy.
Video games are famously toxic. Fans are famously toxic. We don’t need it. If not for moral reasons then because it’s fucking tiring.
8. Bobby Kotick Running Down A Hall And Crashing Through A Window
With the dented bucket still stuck on his head, Bobby Kotick would continue running down the hall. At this point, multiple people would try to stop him and help him. But he’s panicking now. He’s like a deer being chased. The primal fear deep inside him is taking over. He’s got to get out.
However, as he runs, he accidentally gets his foot stuck in the cord for a vacuum cleaner and trips straight towards a giant glass window that was just installed this week for Bobby to look down at people from. Bobby smashes into the window and the glass breaks, right as someone reaches out and grabs him by the shirt before he can fall out the window. But then Bobby would go, “Don’t touch me” and slam the hand away, causing him to fall out the window.
Fortunately for Bobby, there are a series of metal girders hanging out the side of the building, so rather than falling to his doom, he simply lands on each one legs open and crotch first as he falls from girder to girder until he gently falls to the sidewalk holding his genitals with his eyes crossed while whispering, “Mother.”
9. Just Have Fun Out There
Games are supposed to be fun!
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