Our eagle eyed readers may have noticed that I’ve been bit a light on squareblind content in 2017. Neil has picked up the slack and I could make excuses that I’ve been distracted by Goldeneye Royale – but the truth is that for a brief window, Brewing had replaced gaming as a hobby.
You’ve made nothing
My friends and I, under the auspices of Moist Brewing Co, have been crafting the finest (read barely serviceable) ales. As that experiment comes to a close, it got me thinking about crafting in video games, or rather the distance between the real life experience and the virtual one.
Sure, it can’t be an exact facsimile, but the differences are vast. It’s worth highlighting this because, with major publishers (Ubisoft *cough*) pushing production of open world games, a key component is crafting. The main difference is the crafting in gaming isn’t making anything. It’s a more mundane fetch quest – find 3 widgets, 8 thingymajiggies etc.
The only limit is the (designers) imagination
In reality, in real life crafting like brewing, this really doesn’t exist. It is the process of making (and enjoying) the final product wherein lies the pleasure. Of course, in gaming, the final product can be useful, with lets say 30 extra hit points from the thing, but the ability and creativity to create is limited to the designers imagination, not your own. This also means you miss out on the organic mistakes, with the only element of chance created through the perfidious practice of Loot Crates.
And here in lies the rub, whilst I appreciate that games can be art, too often gamers prioritize imaginary community ownership over the practicalities of game design and the commercial realities of business. That’s not to say this impacts all game makers, but I think its fair to say the majority do want to be paid for their work.
Open world games and crafting, increase play time making the product ‘sticky’. The longer a game can keep you engaged, the more revenue opportunities the game maker has. Investing many hours into a game means that the player is more likely to purchase DLC and in-game purchases, the latter particularly applicable to free-to-play. Given that the gaming industry also spams out sequels, your also probably more likely to buy these. With the move to always online, we also have the practice of monetizing the back end and user data becoming a key part of the revenue mix. And I think you get the point when you look at monthly subscription games.
Gamers frequently allocate value to game area size and playable hours. A false economy when we’re battling against the marketing and monetizing skills of big business. For those brave enough, try satisfaction of real life crafting – every thing you make in game you can easily do in real life. For those, staying plugged in; there are games with more sophisticated crafting methods, just take the success of Minecraft.
Go outside or buy better games
This is a great example of giving players the freedom for self expression. For game makers, I appreciate the commercial and technical realities. For some gamers, the need to be creative is frustrating and truly open crafting does risk the ire of legal teams, just look at the Mod community for unlicensed knock offs, even MewTwo has made it into Skyrim for example. Before Minecraft, APB tried completely open content creation. It was a flop and now free-to-play, but as inevitable fatigue sets in with open world games, more sophisticated and open crafting could elongate the time this lucrative methods remains profitable.
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