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Games Inbox: Is the video games industry in decline?

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Games Inbox: Is the video games industry in decline?

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Gaming seems to be in a bad spot at the moment (Picture: Twitter)

The Tuesday letters page is unhappy about Bend Studio making a live service game, as one reader is concerned about the Zelda movie.

To join in with the discussions yourself email gamecentral@metro.co.uk

Death and rebirth
I suppose it’s nothing surprising to read that publishers’ answer to the current problems in gaming is to retreat back to sequels and familiar IP but it’s still depressing to read about it. It doesn’t look like anyone is even going to try to do anything about the problems of spiralling budgets and no growth, other than basically giving up and making live service and mobile games instead.

To me, it feels like the whole video games world is falling apart, or at least in permanent decline, and despite these issues having been around for years the ‘response’ has come suddenly and without warning. I’ve been playing video games for 25 years or more and I guess you’d call it my main hobby, and yet now it seems like the last days of VHS.

In trying to be positive the ones that will definitely survive all this are going to be Nintendo and indie developers, because they’re the ones that both make the best games and don’t spend too much doing so. The other dinosaurs, especially Xbox and PlayStation, I’m not so sure. I’d prefer everything go back to how it was at the start of the generation, but I don’t think it ever is, or at least not for many years.

We’re in the second industry crash right now and I think it’s going to be a rough few years. Here’s hoping it’s a better video game world on the other side.
Cranston

Long term planning
It still seems crazy to think that The Elder Scrolls 6 isn’t going to be out until 2028. If the rumours about 2026 are true then we’re going to be well into the next generation by that point and who knows how many more wars, economic downturns, and environmental disasters.

I don’t know how you even plan for that far ahead, given all the variables and how many other similar games are going to come out between now and then.

I just hope the mixed response to Starfield causes Bethesda to get off their laurels and change their formula because I could easily imagine the new game not even being that different to Skyrim.
Cubby

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The price of failure
So Bend Studio are working on live service games as well? That is rough. It’s basically every Sony studio then, unless some have managed to worm out of it like Naughty Dog. Imagine giving the people that made the amazing Returnal the job to turn out some battle pass-filled live service game. I hope that’s not what’s happened but it’s hard to imagine it’s not.

And what happens to all these studios when their games turn out not to be hits? Sony has got a taste of blood, now that Helldivers 2 has been a hit, but surely they must know that it’s not going to happen for all their games? Unlike a decent single-player game, there’s no guarantee even a good live service game will sell and I hate to think what’s going to happen when one of them flops big time.
Sniper’s Dream

Email your comments to: gamecentral@metro.co.uk

Changing focus
I like the enthusiasm of this Zelda movie director, and the trailer for the new Planet of the Apes film looks well made, but I really don’t see Zelda ever working in live action. Maybe animated but even then, what is the purpose of it? The story is always the worst part of the games and yet a film is going to focus on that.

The director says this is what fans have always dreamed of but have they? Who plays Zelda and thinks: ‘I wish this was linear, non-interactive, and centred around the only bad thing about the franchise.’

The guy wants to get paid, I can understand that, but nothing else about the idea makes sense to me. I don’t even know what they’re going to do for a second Mario, now that the novelty is over. Nobody plays Nintendo games for the story and that makes them near impossible to turn into films.
Tolly

Speak up
I’ve caved in and took a chance Balatro on my MacBook and I’m really enjoying it, even though I’m really not very good at it currently.

However, my intended format was to be on Xbox Series X/S but when set to anything other than uncompressed stereo sound (and I use 5.1 Dolby Digital for games) there is currently no in-game audio at all. I’m aware it is by a single developer but I’m still hoping for an update to sort out the sound issue in a reasonable timeframe.

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Does anyone know if the developer is aware of this issue and working on a patch? Changing sound settings for one game and then changing back again isn’t my idea of fun.
Chaospehere616

Late ariser
Dragon’s Dogma 2 is a fantastic, old school role-playing game. I wasn’t mad for the original but maybe that’s because 2012 was such a great year for games (Dishonored, XCOM, Mass Effect 3, and Borderlands 2!). I think I was just spoiled for choice. But with the second iteration being largely the same game in its core attributes, but vastly updated for a 2024 audience, it’s like reliving those old times again.

I think a lot of that has to be assigned to the design decisions in the game, which really help you get lost in the world: the lack of fast travel making each journey feel meaningful and ‘real’, stocking up on camping kit and supplies for the adventure ahead, and your pawns learning and helping you through the environment.

And maybe controversially; I even like the one save character rule. It means I’m not spending a vast amount of time constantly re-rolling my character, such as I did in Baldur’s Gate 3, for example. Instead, I’m committed to my choice and helpfully can switch vocation whenever I like, in order to avoid the staleness that may come with playing the same character for 100 hours.

Also, since the name of this great game can’t be typed online without the word microtransaction being thrown at it, I have to say I genuinely have not once seen, been prompted, or needed a single microtransaction in this game. Not once. I presume you’d actually have to go looking for them.

Plus, I’m quite happy for other people to spend money on something they like. I won’t. But surely that extra money/success for the game just means I might see more of it in the future through DLC or sequels? The more the merrier!
Mr K

Waypoint horror
An open world Resident Evil game? I’m not completely against the idea but that is going to be very difficult to make work properly and I’m not surprised at the rumours that it’s the most expensive sequel yet. Open world games aren’t cheap to make.

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Just please, no Ubisoft style climbing up towers and following waypoints. Please be more like Zelda than Far Cry. There’s nothing that’s going to stop you from getting scared more than a big arrow telling you to go somewhere or repeating the same old side quest for the tenth time.
Pinky

AWOL schedule
The job listing for a senior live service developer role at Sony Bend has again made me wonder how badly Sony’s first party studios’ release schedule has become.

Days Gone was released in 2019 so it’s coming up to five years (next month) since Sony Bend’s last game shipped. The job listing suggests their live service game could still be a number of years from release, with talk of ‘redefining studios from traditional ‘boxed product’ focused game development into live service development studios.’

I could be misinterpreting this, of course, but it doesn’t sound like we’re due a new game from them anytime soon.

It’s concerning how badly the pivot to live service games seems to have impacted Sony’s first party studios’ output. The last couple of years’ lack of announcements for new single-player, narrative-driven games (i.e. the type of games that influenced me to buy a PlayStation 5 prior to this silence) and Sony’s focus on live service games and PlayStation 4 remasters and remakes, is already making me question whether I’d commit to buying a PlayStation 6 within the first couple of years of its release.
Hubert

GC: We’d say your concerns were entirely warranted. Remember, Sony has already said there’ll be no major franchises released before next April and it’s over two years now since a new single-player game was announced.

Inbox also-rans
Sad to think what’s happened to Overwatch ever since they released the sequel. There was a time when it seemed like it was going to be the big video game franchise and now it’s fading away into nothing.
Ulona

This is so amazing, I have no words. Except RIP Leslie Nielsen.
Garfield2

GC: That is, indeed, amazing.

Email your comments to: gamecentral@metro.co.uk

The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.


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