Spam Spam Spam Humbug: Episode 40 – The Ageing Gamer II


Freemium is everywhere, especially in mobile games. Indeed, we could probably have a separate discussion on the whole freemium/mobile connection…we could have a whole discussion (or gripe session) about how the freemium aspects of Ultima Forever probably contributed to its downfall, and robbed us of not only an Ultima game, but a darn good mobile RPG as well.

And then there’s DLC. One trend that hasn’t been always been welcome in gaming these days is the advent of DLC. Not that expansions for games are anything new; Forge of Virtue and The Silver Seed are notable examples from within the Ultima series, and those came out over twenty years ago.

But modern DLC is a bit different, isn’t it?

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2 Responses

  1. I think you may have overlooked the most obviously point in this discussion…almost nobody is making games targeted to the aging gamer anymore!

    Aging gamers need to understand this: Game companies NO LONGER CATER TO YOU. You are the underrepresented group of gamers now. The market hasn’t entirely abandoned you, but you are second class to them as most their game design choices and aesthetics will be chosen to attract the younger, larger gaming market. This is in part by due to the fact that many of the developers that work at these companies are also younger and are the ones influencing the designs. These “kids” are making sequels and remakes of games that they probably never even played in the first place.

    What really shocks me is that aging gamers still have very little awareness of this and seem to think that games are still being made for them. I’m sorry to say that in most cases they are not. You are no longer the main target audience. I find this lack of awareness a real problem, because if you don’t stand up and demand games be made for you as well, then by default they will be made for the younger (and may I say more vocal) audience. All this talk about freemium and DLC and what not is only secondary to this. Those things are the result of the market catering to the younger “I want it now and am willing to sacrifice quality in exchange for instant gratification” mentality. Those things are all the symptoms, not the disease.

    A recent example of this is the controversy regarding the release of Balder’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear. That controversy is based on the fact that the original Balder’s Gate fans, which now fit in this old gamer group, didn’t appreciate younger design interests (and culture) influencing one of their most favorite games. They wanted a game that was still made for them, but again, they are no longer the main target audience. You can even see this in the official response the company gave about the controversy, which could equally have be translated as, “Thank you aging gamers but your opinion no longer matters, we are much more interesting in attracting younger and newer fans to the series than to satisfying your interests.”

    So, what are aging gamers to do?

    Well, you have a few choices. One is that you can simply ignore this and continue to play games that will increasingly be designed for younger and younger gamer mindsets and interests. Some may be ok with this, but many older gamers will find this frustrating and feel like these games lack the designs they crave and were just not made for their tastes. And they would be right. The games may also feel insulting to their gamer intelligence. And they would be right again, because games are becoming more and more dumbed-down to the lowest common denominator of the younger “I want it now” generation of gamers. So this is a choice, but not really a great one.

    A second option aging gamers have is to simply revisit the old games of their past glory days. This is a pretty common option these days and in many cases a better choice than the first one. It’s much better to go back and replay a game that you know was made for you and that you loved then to play a new game that you know will not be made for you and therefore will never be able to love.

    A third option for aging gamers, and what I would consider the best, is to make your voice heard! You still represent a huge group of the gamer community and your voice deserves to be heard. But it won’t happen unless you speak up. The way to speak up is with your wallet. Search out and valiantly support those companies that have your back when it comes to game design and don’t treat you as second class. Let the world know that you support them over others because you still have a voice with them. You don’t want to keep spending your money at a restaurant that makes only so-so food. You want to spend your money at a restaurant that makes the food you love. Game companies are a lot like restaurants. You can tell what type of games are on the menu and if what they are going to serve will be agreeable to your palate.

    So go out, make your voice heard, and support the game companies that are willing to make games for your taste. If you create the demand for games you like you, then some companies will take notice and meet that demand. It may just be smaller indie game companies, but just like restaurants, some of the hole-in-the-wall joints turn out to be the best (once you find them)!