Are We in a Golden Age of Videogames?



  • I think the key aspect of this generation has been access. More and more game developers have access to get their products on the market. Purchasing products has never been easier thanks to digital distribution, so customers are given easier paths to access games, without being barred by games going out-of-print and hard to find. These, I think, are some positives that outweigh the negatives and controversies surrounding this generation.

    Of course, the biggest positives are the games themselves. When I think of the great experiences I have had this generation, many coming from fantastic small studio games like "Hollow Knight", "Rain World", "Hyper Light Drifter", "Hotline Miami 2", and so much more, the more I believe that what has been done this generation measures up to some of the great eras of the past. Back in the Xbox 360 days, I remember looking at XBLA titles as a niche interest, a novelty in relation to "regular" 59.99 priced releases. Today, the definitions are changing. Simply put, "indie games" belong in the general discussion of games and not in a sub-category. I believe part of the reason we have seen so many quality releases this generation has been in response to digital marketplaces creating easier pathways for developers to sell games.

    The many controversies of this videogame generation, from loot boxes to on-disc DLC, the biggest possible detriment of all is going to be in the topic of preservation. It is still very early to see what challenges will be faced, but with early signs like the closure of the Wii shop and games being taken off digital marketplaces for licensing problems, game fans should be completely aware of these issues. With the digital marketplace being so prevalent, it is paramount for the companies hosting these marketplaces to find lasting solutions to preservation concerns. Imagine a future where all games, past and present, were digitized and made readily available. Imagine if there was an official solution to finally digitize games that are entangled in licensing problems. Isn't it worth it for a developer's work to be readily accessible and not fated to be a rare piece of plastic that will only be experienced by game collector hobbyists?

    But focusing on the pure aspect of the game experiences of this generation, I think videogames are in an exciting, transformative place at the moment. Do you agree or disagree with these sentiments? Do you think this is a great time for videogames? Do you see potential in what has changed in the gaming landscape?



  • No. Games have gotten too expensive to make for their own good. Publishers are so afraid of going against the norm because they're investing tens of millions of dollars. The push for cinematic, emotional storytelling and photorealistic graphics in every other big game has hurt level design, because it's easier to tell your story when the character goes exactly where you need them to go. I'm sick of seeing upgrades, stats, skills, loot and the same mechanics in every game. The western console publishers in particular really have their priorities mixed up. It's why I prefer my Switch over my PS4 and why I'm so glad that most of the other Japanese games are on PC now. RE2 is more of a game than The Last of Us, with far superior level design, resource management and problem solving. Devil May Cry 5 will be better than the God of War reboot, because the developers are trying to make a good action game first and not another depressing, pretentious over the shoulder walk and talk. Sekiro will trump any action-adventure PS4 exclusive, because FromSoftware always succeeds at level design, world progression and art direction, and they've now dropped most of the RPG elements that were holding their games back. I'm happy that I'm going to play as a character now instead of another ugly, emotionless, randomly generated mute, and that the developers are able to focus on fewer weapons and less gear now.

    @holographics said in Are We in a Golden Age of Videogames?:

    The many controversies of this videogame generation, from loot boxes to on-disc DLC, the biggest possible detriment of all is going to be in the topic of preservation. It is still very early to see what challenges will be faced, but with early signs like the closure of the Wii shop and games being taken off digital marketplaces for licensing problems, game fans should be completely aware of these issues. With the digital marketplace being so prevalent, it is paramount for the companies hosting these marketplaces to find lasting solutions to preservation concerns. Imagine a future where all games, past and present, were digitized and made readily available. Imagine if there was an official solution to finally digitize games that are entangled in licensing problems. Isn't it worth it for a developer's work to be readily accessible and not fated to be a rare piece of plastic that will only be experienced by game collector hobbyists?

    I still prefer physical media. Why is it that I can order sealed copies of seventy-year-old movies, from obscure to Hollywood golden age, at MSRP, but most console publishers can't produce discs for more than a few months? Shelf space at Gamestop shouldn't be an issue, with online stores like Amazon. Owning my media is still more appealing to me than trusting one company with an online account attached to 300 games. It also means I don't have to slow our internet for thirty minutes and use up some of our 1 TB monthly bandwidth every time I'm installing a big game. And it means I can give it away, lend it or sell it if I don't like it. My film collection has monetary value. My Steam collection does not. I would love it if Blu-ray drives were widely adopted on PC and devs sold DRM free discs.



  • Persona 5 came out this generation, so yep, safe to say this is the golden age.



  • Games are cheaper than a decade or two ago. Pricing has been close to same but average salary has gone up. Even more so because there are indie games that hit the sweet spot for those who don't have much to spend on things.
    Can't say whether it's a golden age for gaming or not. There are pluses and minuses today. New kind of gaming experiences and genres balanced by lootboxes and microtransactions. Some innovative, some rehashing old stuffs. Ports or remasters/remakes to let you experience old games, new IPs or games without much of a content or "early access".



  • The present day (or year) always has so many advantages over a random day in the past, so easy "Yes" for me. Being spoiled with the number of games means you can focus on what appeals to you most. Youtube and Twitch make it really easy to discover games you will love from titles you've heard from conversations. It's hard to say whether this moment (or recent few years) feels like "a special time for video games" though. I kind of don't have a sense of what that would be.

    The minuses? Microtransactions have been covered. Having TVs that are incompatible with older systems wasn't a problem before.

    I think one understated "plus" of the good old days is that the culture of gaming and gaming discussion used to be almost entirely about sharing a mutual interest, and wanting to talk to people who were similarly excited. Today, it gets mixed with other factors that you could name. We're all guilty of it in some way, I think. There is also more habituation going around, i.e. in more activities and conversations it is taken for granted that games are "exciting" and/or that has worn off more often. And again, it's not something you can blame on one group of people.

    One example that strikes me is how online gaming forums used to be so much smaller, but each post felt incredibly meaningful. Nowadays it feels normal to be in-and-out, post smaller comments that are tiny snippets by old standards, and read less of what was being said earlier. I think Twitter and smartphones accelerated the shift in our perspective.

    More broadly, in the past if an ordinary person did some external gaming activity, it was only about having an extreme amount of interest in a game or gaming in general. If you made a mod, did a review, made a cool video, wrote a FAQ/walkthrough, completed speedruns, or did something competitive it was just about wanting to connect with others or wanting a way to express yourself. Communities for these activities didn't really exist the way they do now, so when you engaged in them it felt less like an "architected" decision. There was an absence of structure before, no wider status to be gained, and no money to be earned.



  • @ezekiel I don't necessarily agree with all of the examples, but I do overall agree with that first paragraph as a whole. Honestly when I look at what the big western publishers are doing and the games they are making I can't help but be near completely indifferent.

    It seems to me as if so many games are being made on a 'quota' basis and listing checkboxes of features without considering how the different elements would fit the game.

    To me a great example of this was Horizon, I thought the game was fantastic when it was about exploring its world and fighting the robo dinos on the wild, sadly it had a whole lot of story missions which were oh so boring and so poorly designed, and one of the things I hate most, boss fights for the sake of boss fights, which again were horribly designed, the game would likely would have been better had it focused on the aspects that were good about it, but it was probably decided that it needed to cover the other aspects as well even if it did it poorly.

    Japanese publishers and developer do seem to have gotten out of the weird zone they were on last gen, which I do think leads to a good moment with them, the sucky part with that is that since their gaming community is not thriving(or at least not how it used to) and it is unlikely to grow, they do have to look outward and that is not always as easy for them.

    And on the other side I do think we are at a time when indies more than ever have better opportunities for making a space for themselves, and there are a lot of good things coming out of that side.

    So no everything is great as I see it, and there are somethings that genuinely concern me, but I'm overall happy with the current state of things.



  • I'll say yes personally just because so many of my favorite games ever came from this generation. Uncharted 4, God of War, Persona 5, Gravity Rush 2, Wolfenstein II, The Witcher III, Marvel's Spider-Man, and so on. There's still more potentially great games coming too.

    The kinds of games released in this generation are also quite varied, which is a very big plus for me. It seems like a lot of genres are represented, and each have their own shining star. Even if the AAA stuff can disappoint, there's still a lot of great indie titles out there.

    As for access of older games, I think Microsoft's backwards compatibility approach is the one that should be set as an example for everyone else. Not just making the older games playable again, but making them better too. Sony's the one that i really want to see this through, and i hope the leaks of backwards compatibility tech patents are all true. That's a next generation thing though.

    There's still a lot of problems in the industry itself, but I think we're in a far better place now, especially compared to the last generation.



  • Yeah absolutely. I think we've been in the golden age since 2005-ish. The advent of multiplayer and especially online networks changed not only the games themselves but our access to them.

    I usually cannot stand the open world formula a lot of games are obeying today. Hell, I couldn't stand Spider-Man because of radio towers, but there are 50 other games for every one generic game that I dislike.

    Then our access is another angle that I love. Between my PS3, PS4, PC, and Switch, I can access so many games from multiple generations that come in all sorts of genres. I just bought 4 classic cRPG games on Steam: STALKER, Deus Ex, Gothic II, and Vampire. All can be purchased on the cheap, they are accessible at your fingertips and these games are superseding any generation of gaming, or operating system. The legacy lives on because of how easy it is to access these things.



  • There has never been a better time to play video games.



  • @ezekiel

    I agree with most of your points, although I think your angle is focused on western mainstream releases. Both "The Last of Us" and "God of War" are games that I do not have much interest in either, despite their enormous popularity. I also tend to not like the focus for games to be more like cinematic experiences. I am not saying that this aspect is inherently bad, I am sure there will always be developers who get it right and prove me wrong, but typically they seem to go in directions that I am uninterested in. This being said, I am mostly focusing on the smaller games with my post. Despite my apparent distaste for the way many western mainstream big-budget games are headed, there is still an abundance of titles for those of us who like a more classical experience.

    When it comes to the physical media problem, it would be nice for all games to have physical releases. One of my points is that I believe digital distribution has opened the doors to more developers to create content. "Downwell" is one of my favorite games this generation, but is it economically viable to put a game that is less that 1gb on a 50gb Blu-ray disc?



  • I think so. There is just so much choice these days. You can play excellent remaster of timeless classics, epic adventures that rival movies in scope and emotional impact, and some of the best titles coming out are completely free!
    I think I can deal with some optional DLC or overused mechanics if it means I get to experience games like God of War 2018 or Hollow Knight.



  • @el-shmiablo
    But are modern games truly timeless and epic when they miss the most important thing to any game, a feature that most have forgotten about. The ability the shoot out the lights



  • @dmcmaster but can you shoot out the lights in Ubisoft games?



  • That's been and gone to be honest. While gaming seemed to hit its heights at the end of the 90's and the early part of the naughties, I've only seen a steady decline in unique ideas and quality titles ever since mid 2000's. Ezekiel also highlights a number of other problems.

    I don't really need to go into the practices we have to contend with, most of them bought about due to the internet, we all know what they are now.

    As the general interest in videogames grew exponentially, things changed. Risky, unique ideas were shunned in favour of the tried and tested, and deliberately appealing to a niche crowd was suddenly a big no-no. The growth in the market also increased the amount of different tastes to consider, which caused developers and publishers to approach most new titles as a jack of all trades, meaning a lot of long standing series started to seriously loose their identity. Mechanics were dumbed down, many unique elements were streamlined, all in the fruitless effort to try and appease everyone

    Indies have done a decent job in combating a few of the issues, however the best ones still feel like they were made with one hand tied behind their back. The unique ideas start to show, but the games almost always feel neutered and or/lacking in ambition when compared to those made in the golden age.



  • @el-shmiablo I feel like we're kind of given the illusion of choice. It seems like everything is starting to just melt together. AAA is typically 1 of a few templates (multiplayer FPS, battle royale, looter shooter or the last of us). Indie is mostly challenging 2d platformer (typically rogue like or metroidvania...or both). I realize there are other options, but it seems like that's about 75% of the industry.



  • I generally have the mindset that "today" is always the best day to play video games because no matter how good the past was if you pick a set time before right now you might miss something great. For example if I said the golden age was 2017 then I wouldn't be able to play something like Spider-Man or Smash Ultimate. That said if the argument is whether or not games made today are the best then not really. AAA games have been pretty "follow the leader" for a long, long time but I miss when AA games that basically just threw everything at the wall hoping something would stick were just as common. You kinda get that vibe from indie games, but even then I think those had a heyday almost a decade ago at this point. While they've got their own niche compared to what the AAA does the ones people bother to talk about and the ones that sell more than three lifetime copies feel like they follow a lot of their own trends rather than it being a lawless wild west of game ideas. My favorite franchises from this decade are Splatoon and Gravity Rush and I really don't think series like this get to exist often enough anymore. Hell even today GR is basically dead in the water as far as Sony is concerned.



  • @hanabi Keiichiro Toyama said they will be making a third Gravity Rush, but not until new hardware comes out.



  • Goldenage was 2004 to 2007. then it become decline. although this gen is ok. not bad not good. certainly better than last gen.



  • @sheria said in Are We in a Golden Age of Videogames?:

    That's been and gone to be honest. While gaming seemed to hit its heights at the end of the 90's and the early part of the naughties, I've only seen a steady decline in unique ideas and quality titles ever since mid 2000's. Ezekiel also highlights a number of other problems.

    I don't really need to go into the practices we have to contend with, most of them bought about due to the internet, we all know what they are now.

    As much as I like late 90s old school games. but i think if we see today. it was overrated in a sense than games from early 00s till 2007 pretty much blow anything out of water. things get downhill after 2007 till 2012 which was pretty dark era.

    2004 and 2007 still have some of the best games ever made. I still remember how much i was blown away by STALKER when i played first time.



  • @ezekiel said in Are We in a Golden Age of Videogames?:

    No. Games have gotten too expensive to make for their own good. Publishers are so afraid of going against the norm because they're investing tens of millions of dollars. The push for cinematic, emotional storytelling and photorealistic graphics in every other big game has hurt level design, because it's easier to tell your story when the character goes exactly where you need them to go. I'm sick of seeing upgrades, stats, skills, loot and the same mechanics in every game. The western console publishers in particular really have their priorities mixed up. It's why I prefer my Switch over my PS4 and why I'm so glad that most of the other Japanese games are on PC now. RE2 is more of a game than The Last of Us, with far superior level design, resource management and problem solving. Devil May Cry 5 will be better than the God of War reboot, because the developers are trying to make a good action game first and not another depressing, pretentious over the shoulder walk and talk. Sekiro will trump any action-adventure PS4 exclusive, because FromSoftware always succeeds at level design, world progression and art direction, and they've now dropped most of the RPG elements that were holding their games back. I'm happy that I'm going to play as a character now instead of another ugly, emotionless, randomly generated mute, and that the developers are able to focus on fewer weapons and less gear now.

    RE2 despite ok is incredibly overrated and one trick pony. i highly prefer RE7 in every single way. Metro Exodus is better in every way and feel more survival than RE2.

    only reason sekrio looks good or best game made by fromsoftware is because its not RPG being RPG means bad gameplay always. so yes i agree. there is a character in sekiro instead of create a mute character which i always hated.

    Rage 2 and Doom Eternal looks incredibly fun action games with little of cutscene and no emotional storytelling or walking sim. those games fall under the category of gameplay first and graphic second as a result im expecting both to be 2 of best games this year.