Top 10 Recent Annoying Trends in the Games Industry

With the economy getting fairly rough and the games industry getting hit with a multitude of closures and layoffs, it’s no surprise that game companies have reverted to “make a quick buck mode” these days. This has caused more than a few annoying trends to pop up within the industry whether it be on the publisher side or the developer side. Without further ado, here is a list of the top ten recent annoying trends in the games industry.

Relying on post release support far too much

Post-release support is a great thing for gamers and developers alike.  In most situations any sort of bugs get ironed out of the game fairly quickly if the developers missed something, and even downloadable content keeps people playing the game long after they are finished with the main areas.  The problem is that in this new digital age, most tech companies assume that everyone has access to the internet and other commonplace services that many take for granted.  In this situation there is a new trend popping up where companies print and release unfinished games to meet a deadline, and then force everyone to immediately update the game when they get home.  The problem being that not everyone can do this, so two versions of any said game could exist: the fixed playable one, and the terrible buggy one.
Paying for “add-ons” that are just part of the game blocked off

Another trend is for these guys to release DLC immediately after the release of the game, making folks suspect that it honestly could have been on the disk, but the consumer is getting gouged for that extra little bit of cash.  I noticed this most recently while playing WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011 on the PS3 I just got.  Granted, the game came out a while before I got it, but some of the early DLC seemed sort of suspect, as if it was originally in the game but blocked off in some way.  The same game has another ace up its sleeve in that game companies are trying to curtail game rentals and used games sales by forcing people to pay for the online services of a game if you didn’t buy a brand new copy.  The aforementioned game in question charges ten dollars for those that want to play online, which isn’t too bad, but would make me pretty angry if I bought the game used, especially when most used stores only make the game five or ten dollars cheaper around release time.
“Cinematic experiences”

I’m all for video games to make the leap from a kid’s toy to a mature art form, but I feel that a few game directors are using the media as a backdoor into the films industry, completely forgetting that the term is video games not video movies.  I’m not going to call any games out here, as that would start a flame  war, but any game that has multiple 30 minute cut scenes with little or no interaction held within is on a slippery slope.
Announcing an announcement

A few companies have started a practice where, to drum up anticipation, they hype up an “announcement”.  This gets spread around all of the popular game-centric websites until it hits a fever pitch.  Comments like: “What could this game be?” or  “I bet it’s a new game in X franchise” are commonplace and only help intensify the resentment and disappointment once the “announcement” is finally revealed.  Turns out in many cases, the “announcement” is simply letting people know that the company in question is about to announce a game.  What!?  Are these guys seriously announcing an announcement?
Announcing games eons before they are released 

I’m not a huge fan of Nintendo’s new plan of only announcing games six months before they release to stop stagnating expectations of said game, but other companies also seem to do the exact opposite.  There honestly has to be a middle ground, because in situations like Gran Turismo 5, we knew about the game seemingly as it was first conceived by Sony.  After years and years of fan speculation, missed released windows, and mis-information I honestly think it would have been better to not announce it so early.  Most fans of the series had their expectations built so high for so many years, there was no way that the game, or any game for that matter could meet the expectations.  Here’s hoping Duke Nukem Forever doesn’t end up being critically panned for the same reasons.
Wii rail shooters

As a fan of arcade-styled rail shooters I initially loved the huge wave of these guys popping up on the Wii.  Games like Ghost Squad, Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and even the VERY dated Mad Dog McCree took me back to the days when arcades were still around, and folks actually used them.  This sadly started a trend where all companies thought that rail shooters were a golden ticket to Rich-ville or something, completely over-saturating the market.  Almost all of these games have done poorly and lost money for their respective companies.  This leads us to the next point:
Blaming gamers for company mishaps

It’s a story we have seen way too often:  a big game company wants to support a game system they don’t really understand, so they make a game atypical for it.  In this case we could either talk about Wii “hardcore” games or Japanese games on the 360 as both are good examples of this.  They hype the game up to get attention, and then the bitter realization sets in: nobody wants this game on this system.  Rather than keeping the failure internal, or make a classy little “my bad” press release, some of these guys have started to talk poorly on the system and its fan base at trade shows and other media.  Suddenly the heads of multi-million dollar companies are saying things like “The Wii audience is nothing more than children” (nobody did, just a possible example).  This does nothing more than anger the core audience of that system, and cause boycotts.
DRM mismanagement

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is a good way for game companies to protect their multi-million dollar investments, and make sure that the coders, artists, developers, and even actors get paid what they deserve.  What most of these systems entail is activation by way of some sort of a code, and limitations on the games installation on other devices.  Valve basically pioneered the practice with the release of Half-Life 2 way back in the middle of the last decade.  Steam was met with harsh criticism at first, but has become a benchmark for what DRM should be.  Sadly much more intrusive DRM schemes have popped up that undermine the consumer’s ownership of the game, and others have even hurt the consumer’s computer such as the case of Sony’s music DRM from a few years ago.
Take Ubisoft for example: under their DRM scheme used in such games as Assassin’s Creed II, the game has to constantly authenticate itself on an online sever, thus rendering the game unplayable if you do not have a steady internet connection, pay by bandwidth usage, or use a mobile device such as a laptop.  The word finally got around that folks hated it enough, and it was removed.  In an interview with Kotaku, Valve’s Doug Lombardi chimed in with the following:
“The key to making a good authentication system, Lombardi says, is to not stand in the way of customers enjoying what they bought. A bad system is like telling a customer "Wait, before you go on this roller coaster you need to change your shoes,"
Competitive multiplayer for the sake of it

Some games are simply not made for multiplayer, and forcing all games to have an online mode of some sort is really stupid.  To further the point, most games DO NOT need any sort of competitive multiplayer if some sort of multiplayer is indeed needed.  Keep it cooperative guys!  For me there no greater offender in this regard than some of the earlier Nintendo DS games; games that added multiplayer simply to test out the systems Wi-Fi connectivity.  After playing around two rounds of competitive New Super Mario Bros. one is pretty much done with the mode forever.  Luckily they fixed it with the game’s younger brother for the Wii, where a cooperative multiplayer shows how it’s done.
Games that are far too short

With the advances of graphical technology and the overall timeframe needed to make modern games is making certain games way too short.  This is especially prevalent in many first person shooters, as the campaign, or main story of the game, has been getting shorter and shorter in recent years.  I know that the main draw for these games is the multiplayer, a mode that is executed fairly well in most cases, but most folks want a competent single player experience as well.  Terminator Salvation almost immediately comes to mind when speaking of this trend, a game that was barely longer than the movie that it was a tie-in for.  I blame yearly releases or “Madden-itis” for this problem as many companies are forced to crank out a new game every year with minimal technological upgrades, a problem way worse for developers making shooter than yearly sports games.    
There you have it! What are some annoying trends popping up that you don’t like?