Be it the question of price or piracy, or even development cost, the video game industry has always been compared to the movie or the music industry. This is very weird because:
#1 The video game scene is extremely new, compared to those particular industries.
#2 It does not have as strong a basis to build upon.
Whether it is developers or players, we all are still exploring the shallow waters- which means that every single one of us has much more of a responsibility to this industry than any other field. How we view, commend, or criticize it, will shape the future in a very real sense. This is why the websites that give review scores too liberally or award ceremonies that are rigged or irresponsible, are a problem.
Take the DICE Awards, for example. Organized by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS), the DICE Awards stands for “Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain”. On their 19th year, we saw some interesting names as winners. Fallout 4 received awards for ‘Game of the Year’, ‘Role Playing Game of the Year’, and ‘Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction’. Star Wars Battlefront was awarded for being ‘Action Game of the Year’. Without going into any sort of outrage regarding the choices, I’d rather explore my concern regarding what these awards could mean. What is the message the AIAS is trying to convey?
(Read More: Let’s Talk About The Problems Of Fallout 4)
No doubt Fallout 4 is a fun and entertaining game, but does it really deserve to be called the RPG of the year? Instead of building upon the great RPG features and the lore-rich quests of Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 4 has instead stripped them away and made a hybrid action-RPG-building simulation, with a focus on randomly generated quests. Dialog options had been stripped away, faction systems had been streamlined, and character creation and progression had been simplified extremely. Very few quests had any real choice and consequence.
Granted, Witcher 3 was not a perfect game, but as we have said before, it is still miles ahead of Fallout 4 in terms of RPG elements, specifically story, quests, NPCs, character development, and so on. But when the AIAS rewards Fallout 4 as best RPG or best game of the year, it is setting a standard for future developers to aspire to. We have already seen the effects of the popularity of Skyrim. Almost every RPG developer has been focusing on open world and quantity of content above quality, ever since Skyrim received its success. Is Fallout 4 a game that future RPGs should take as a standard? How does it even claim to have good game direction? How is it better than any other game that was released in 2015?
Then there remains the question of Star Wars: Battlefront. If that game is the best action game of the year, it would give players as well as developers the impression that it is perfectly fine to release an action game that has again been stripped down to bare bones. In the future, EA will have an excuse to say, “So what if we removed single player campaigns and space battles from an established franchise? We still received the award for being the best action game of the year!”
When the gaming industry is already suffering from the disturbing focus of developers and publishers on monetization from games irrespective of quality, is it a good idea to encourage these attitudes? The decisions of AIAS calls into question what exactly they are commending when they are awarding these games? Does the Academy believe that over-simplification of games with the addition of randomly generated repetitive content should be the future of gaming? What made them to give these awards? It makes us suspicious about their true motivation.
Thankfully, though, it seems that us gamers are not as easily fooled. Where Fallout 4 has only an 80% user rating on Steam, Witcher 3 has 95%. Metacritic user scores give Fallout 4 a mere 5.4, where Witcher 3 has a whooping 9.1. It is just overwhelmingly sad that such a prestigious organization as AIAS would be so irresponsible and careless about their impact on the industry as a whole. There is no faster way to lose your credibility than naming Fallout 4 the best RPG or the game of the year 2015. Because while it might be a good game overall, it is in no way a good RPG.