Are you wondering what challenges the gaming industry is currently dealing with on the market? It’s fair to say that game studios are constantly under pressure to be innovative and creative with the products that they release on the market. They need to make sure that they are providing things that customers wouldn’t expect and will immediately want to purchase. But there are more challenges ahead then just keeping things fresh. Here are some of the current issues.
The current issue that is attracting the attention of gamers is definitely employee crunch. Crunch is when employees are pushed to their limit under a serious time constraint to complete tasks. Accusations of employee crunch have been put towards developers like Rockstart and Naughty Dog. It is believed to cause severe stress and anxiety of employees as they are pushed to work overtime, often with no additional pay. This is one of the issues that should be resolved as it gains more attention. Game developers must learn rapidly that gamers do not want high-quality products at the expense of the wellbeing of team members.
One of the more serious issues in the gaming industry is definitely the reports of harassment in different gaming studios. A recent report found that there were issues of harassment in Ubisoft and similar gaming studios. Ultimately, this has become apparent because of the MeToo movement. It has brought more transparency to industries like the gaming sector and ensured that people in power are held accountable. However, the problems aren’t resolved because there are some suggestions that the issues are more widespread than people are willing to admit. Multiple women have come forward with reports of wrongdoing and it is going to take a significant level of reform before the issue can be approached the right way.
Power Versus Performance
The new generation of consoles is expected to be incredibly powerful. Game developers have already mentioned how impressed they are with both the Xbox One X and the PS5. However, what a system is capable of and what a game developer can actually achieve are often two completely different things. This is due to the fact that performance and power are often a difficult balancing act. For instance, the recently released The Last of Us Part II pushed the capabilities of the PS4 and even the PS4 Pro to the absolute limit. When this happens, the frame rate can drop and it can impact the experience of the players. This ultimately means that the full potential of the systems is very rarely reached even with a triple-A title. It also leads to gamers having unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved.
Indeed, true game performance is often nothing like an engine demo that will typically be shown at a gaming conference. Through game development, studios can manage the issues of performance versus power with the right data system and a database migration service to improve efficiency. But when they start to run the title on the platform itself, it’s about using each individual system effectively without impacting how the game runs.
Due to consumer outcry, a lot of gaming studios are either abandoning or largely avoiding microtransactions. Microtransactions are any purchases that are made in-game for digital items or services like loot boxes. We’ll get back to loot boxes a little further down. The problem is that microtransactions are often not completely transparent. This means that people, particularly younger games can end up making purchases in the game without realizing that they are spending real money.
As well as this some games are designed with a ‘pay to win’ model. This means that you can be in a stronger position online if you pay for the right digital items or weapons. Luckily, gamers are voting with their wallets and titles like this are few and far between. Although they do pop up on occasion.
If you’re a gamer you’ll know what loot boxes are. They are digital files that provide rewards in the game but it’s a lucky dip what you get. This means that you could pay a high price and get nothing but rubbish in return. Many governments are currently debating whether these loot boxes could be classified as gambling. If they are then they will be banned and that’s a problem. They are a massive source of revenue for game companies and a lot of gamers are not actually opposed to these tactics.
The problem is that children often purchase loot boxes. This is where ethics become a little more green. There is some debate as to whether children are aware that they are making purchases based on chance.
It’s unlikely that loot boxes will disappear completely. But they could be redesigned to ensure that the gambling aspect is eliminated completely.
Finally, like every other industry on the market right now, the gaming sector will need to deal with the challenge presented by the coronavirus pandemic. The coronavirus presents an interesting dilemma for business owners because games are not usually made by independent team members. Instead, teams are often in close proximity for long hours. Remember what we said about crunch?
Indie studios are best positioned to thrive in the wake of the coronavirus. Many indie games are created by smaller teams that could already be operating remotely. It’s the larger studios that are going to need to adapt here. There are already rumours that AAA titles for the PS5 and Xbox One X that were planned for launch will now need to be delayed.
Social distancing is also going to be in place for the foreseeable future. This could easily make the development of games less efficient and drive up the costs. Innovative solutions will be required here including steps to completely restructure how these businesses function.
It’s fair to say that the gaming industry is facing a lot of challenges right now. Many of these issues don’t seem to have solutions that are completely clear. However, with the right steps, companies will rise up through the challenges ahead. Of course, different businesses are going to take unique approaches here. It’s clear that despite the coronavirus, Sony is planning on going full steam ahead. It will be interesting to see how this strategy plays out for them in the future.