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5 Video Game Trends That Need to End

Some video trends get used up quickly, as so many developers adopt them that players grow sick and tired of them. Here are 5 trends that are reaching a peak, but should be making their way out.

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The problem with gaming trends is that they start off neat and interesting, but degrade to sickening levels as waves of developers jump on them. Here are 5 ongoing trends that are quickly growing tiresome.


Pixel Art

Using a minimalistic 8-bit or 16-bit art style with blocky characters and environments indicates at least two things: 1. It's a throwback to a earlier age of video games. 2. Being part of that throwback means that it's probably going to be very difficult. This standard describes the large majority of retro-action games that have come flooding in recent years. To be sure, there are a ton of fantastic games that use retro art styles, including Axiom Verge, Hotline Miami, and Shovel Knight just to name a few. But the retro look has gotten so much use that it's really starting to get old... again.

We get it. Your game is retro, hip, and hard as all hell. You've fully demonstrated that gaming doesn't necessarily need a 3rd dimension. Now can we put away the pixilated blood bucket and smooth out some of those rough edges? It's ok to put pixel graphics back on the shelf for a while, at least until it doesn't seem like every indie developer in the world is jumping on the bandwagon. How about retro games paying homage to the N64 era?


Simulate Everything

We have reached a point where practically everything in the real world has a simulator counterpart. No longer content with race car driving, flying airplanes/spacecraft, and managing sports teams, our virtual experiences must extend to more mundane activities like farming, bus driving, and catching fish. There are comical games like I Am Bread, the sandbox game Goat Simulator, and Surgeon Simulator - but those are kind of like saying Octodad is a cephalopod simulator. What we inevitably end up with as part of this trend are a number of truly bizarre games like Shower With Your Dad Simulator 2015 (a dad showering simulator), Hatoful Boyfriend (a pigeon dating sim), to Bear simulator (seeing life as a bear). At some point in the future, we'll have simulators that simulate simulations. But honestly, we're still looking forward to Endangered Species Hunter 2016.


Calling Everything an MMO/MOBA

It wasn't long ago, when World of Warcraft was considered the dominating force in culture and gaming, that MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) became the buzz acronym of choice. Soon, everything was an MMO, whether it was truly massive or not. This game shooter supports 16 players, it's an MMO. Our lobby supports up to 100 simultaneous users. It's so MMO. To be fair, the term can with a lot of connotations, specifically how there are millions of players who are willing to pay a monthly subscription fee on top of purchasing a game or expansion. It's little wonder why online games, covering practically every popular franchise, started popping up all over.

But as MMOs have lost their sense of novelty, many turning free to play (like The Elder Scrolls Online), a new acronym rises to take its place. MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas) are filling the vacuum left behind by the MMO craze. There used to be a time when taking a bunch of characters and pitting them against each other was just called a multiplayer game. Now they have to be MOBAs, thanks to the immense popularity of League of Legends and DOTA2.

Franchises like The Witcher and DC Comics are getting into the action, while games like Quake III Arena are being rebranded by the community as a MOBA. Even Blizzard is making a MOBA using its iconic collection of characters. Different acronym, same trend. But it looks like we might end up with a very MOBA world for a long while, since their sense of novelty is being renewed through mobile device releases.


Social Networking

Given the big reduction of Facebook requests and Zynga's (makers of FarmVille) past financial difficulties, one might suppose that social games are on the decline. This is actually an illusion. Social games haven't gone away. They just moved platforms, evolved, and became more popular than ever.

Mobile devices took off in a big way and a lot of social games were converted into apps, including FarmVille. The lessons learned from the fall of FarmVille, combined with the potential of a rapidly growing platform, allowed for social games to evolve in new ways. We argue that multiplayer games like Clash of Clans and Boom Beach grew from many of the same principles that made FarmVille successful, except with a competitive component. Also similar to FarmVille, success leads to a lot of imitators. There is an ever growing number of strategic, community driven, multiplayer (dare we say, MASSIVELY multiplayer?), building games that are clamoring for players to join. We're already getting tired of seeing them, and it doesn't look like there will be an end to them anytime soon.

But at friends are making fewer Facebook requests, so that's good.


Microtransactions / DLC Purchases

Microtransactions have been a growing trend for over a decade, and there's no stopping it. There's simply far too much money to be made from them, especially with mobile devices and free-to-play online games. Some games are very clever about their approach toward in-app purchases. It some games are limited to a few items, boosters, and cosmetic upgrades. The more annoying ones require you to buy time if you intend to make any meaningful progress within the next decade. Sure, you don't HAVE to buy anything, boosts are available if you want to save yourself some time. The best/worst part about microtransactions is that they're so small that it's hard to notice when you're spending too much on them. When all added up, a lot of players end up paying far more to play a free game than they would with a premium one.

The microtransaction mentality bleeds over to non-mobile games, rebranded as DLC. In the past, games used to exercise some restraint by limiting DLC to a few choice items and expansions, but recently, it seems like all bets are off. Costumes, weapon skins, unique weapons, characters, multiplayer maps, XP boosts, skill unlocks, and so on. It's all fair game. Even DLC that essentially equates to cheat codes. How far down can these games and their experiences be chopped up? Episodic games are comprised entirely out of DLC, released at regular intervals. Every big name game needs to squeeze its players for a little extra.

Fans have learned to live with it, expect it, and sometimes even embrace it - which means that we can look forward to even more granular bits of DLC to release in the future until publishers figure out the limits of player tolerance.

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