The lights are on
I can't believe that more people don't play video games.
When I think of all the fun times I've had playing games, I'm surprised that
more people don't want to join our ranks. Then I think about the high barrier
to entry for home console gaming, and I realize it's no wonder more people
don't pick up the controller.
I'm not complaining about being a gamer, but in comparison
with the other hobbies I partake in, it requires a relatively high amount of
dedication. First, there is the cost of buying a home system. Depending on when
in a particular system's lifecycle you purchase it, it can run you several
hundreds of dollars. You may have even purchased more than one if you were interested
in playing a game that was console exclusive or if one broke at some point.
There are also various peripherals (a Kinect for the Xbox 360, PlayStation
Move, a second controller, etc.) you can spend money on.
The games themselves are $60 new, and might not even be that
cheap used depending on the title and when you buy it. But there are other
considerations once you leave the store. If it's a used game, you probably have
to buy a new online pass if you want to play multiplayer, and later on the servers
might be shut down, closing off that portion of the game entirely. Questions of
ownership – whether you're talking about backwards compatibility, used games,
or how much of a future your software has – are murkier with the next-gen
systems where backwards compatibility does not exist and the used game
landscape will likely be different than it is now.
Having a fast, stable online connection will also be
important for the next home consoles. The Xbox One needs to check in to
Microsoft's servers at certain intervals, and although Sony is saying the
PlayStation 4 doesn't require an Internet connection, PS4 features like video
sharing and cloud functionality necessitate one.
There is also the incurred cost that isn't related to your
wallet. Frankly, some people may not be interested in games because of the
social stigma to being called a gamer or the reverse – the fear of being judged
for the games you like to play or that you might not be good at playing them,
Time is another non-monetary cost to consider. Apart from
the time it takes to become proficient as a gamer or with a particular genre or
specific title, there is simply the amount of time it takes to get into your
average game. Between the obligatory opening tutorial, side missions, filler levels,
collect-a-thons, secret areas, and more, it can take a significant portion of
time to play a game to completion or to your satisfaction. For those of us with
precious little time, sometimes the notion of playing a game for hours without
any guarantee of payoff is its own barrier to gaming at that particular moment.
Even with all these things getting in the way of a solid,
satisfying gaming session, I'm not going to turn in my gamer card. Perhaps
cheaper, easier-to-consume mobile/tablet experiences are where I should turn my
attention. Or maybe free-to-play will be more of a force in the future.
Regardless, companies should reward gamers' long-standing dedication with
practices that are not meant to gouge our wallets, exclude us from easily
accessing the content we've purchased, and in general make it easier for us to
want to hand over our hard-earned cash. We quite willingly put up with a lot
for our hobby, but that doesn't mean we should be abused for it.
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.
I love this opinion, it made me want to stand up and clap.
This sums up my feelings toward gaming in the present and future. Thanks for the great article!
Yeah, I remember trying to get some family members into and remember these barriers coming into question, and now they actually affect me as well. It's funny how things change depending on the individual.
I don't think that gaming is as expensive as any other hobby out there, it just depends how much you get into it.
For a while in Highschool I had stopped playing games altogether due to an all-obsessive ex who would always be around and not give me the time of day to fire up my PS1 or get a PS2, so I had to develop other hobbies.
One that my ex wanted me to get into was Warhammer, but I stayed away to that due to the initial cost barrier to get into it. Over here it cost $50+ for a decent figure or a set of basic ones, and you needed a few to get into it. At the time I could get a PS2 + Final Fantasy X for $30, so it didn't make sense. Another option she offered was World of Warcraft, which counts as gaming sure, but it was $40 for a 2 month subscription + internet subscription fees (dial-up was still common around these parts) + a computer. I think she also tried to suggest getting a car and 'cruising' around, but the costs involved in doing that was much higher.
At the end of the day, peoples interpretations of what "gaming" is will be a large part of it, but that barrier is slowly being knocked down as people are flocking in to play the newest MMO or FPS. I've found that playing retro titles has got more of my friends to get back into gaming. Once they remember what they liked in the first place they want to see how it's changed. The amount of LAN parties I've been to when someone will sneak over their N64 and Mario Kart 64 has been surprising, especially when people were trying to push everyone into BF3 or Left4dead.
Well put; those are all huge factors that help determine if/when people can get into our hobby.
Gaming is an expensive hobby.
Meet my buddy Steve. He is not a jock but not a very social person either. Sometimes I feel like he is visitor to this country like myself but only in his case he is a visitor from another time. He scorns video games and thinks there are better ways to spend time which I don't see him do other than watch the same DVD over and over and laugh his brains off.
My point? Steve comes from a rather old school family and his father never allowed him to indulge in the past time and that mentality stuck. There are a lot of families out there that have a similar outlook and would rather have their sons and daughters be productive. Some play mobile games and consider that gaming (and that is probably the closest they will ever try to get to gaming), even though gaming has made some huge strides in last decade, large chunk of the general populace finds it just that "its for kids".
I would had the same sentiment if it wasn't for my sister sending me a PS1 for my birthday. So whever I used to come back for vacation from boarding school I would play it several times a week till it was time to go back. Luckily we had PC's in the dorms and piracy was rife so there were a lot of people that had copies of new games and I got a quite a bit of PC games with dark plots and mature tone to them. Zelda?? Never played it, never will! I can't seem to find cartoonish games appealing at all. So that makes me quite the oddity, have not played some of gamings golden greatests.
Still there is a large crowd that will never consider gaming as an alternative. They might play it when they are hanging with you, they might think its cool at the time but after the consideration is lost.
I don't necessarily think the barrier to get into console gaming is that huge, but of course I'm used to PC gaming.