Are bots and constant changes ruining the online gaming experience for some players?
Mar 31, 2022
Video gaming is a huge business now. It’s so far removed from the arcades that sprung up in the 1970s that the two eras are almost unrecognizable. The very concept of a “pro gamer” was a pipe dream not all that long ago.
Esports is seen as having so much potential that even the biggest casinos in Las Vegas are turning jumping in.
Money is pouring into the games industry in a way that could even make Hollywood jealous. According to Statista, the video games industry is worth nearly $86 billion just in the United States. Considering there’s a huge Asian and European market, it’s clear how big the industry has grown.
From Pong and Manic Miner to Gran Turismo 7, the gaming world has evolved in a way that even the most imaginative gamer back in the day could never have hoped for. However, that doesn’t mean everyone is happy.
What are gamers complaining about right now?
Gamers are often complaining about something and while a lot of it can be nonsense, some of it is correct.
Video games cost a lot more than they used to. This is obviously to cover the incredible costs required to develop games. The days of one coder sitting in a bedroom making a game themselves are largely gone.
Today, many studios and teams of talented people are responsible for putting together hugely complex titles, often on a very strict deadline. Herein lies some of the problem.
Whether it’s to avoid other major releases, get a game out in time for the holidays, or have it ready for the launch of a console, studios often want their titles released before they’re ready. This has led to some seriously buggy releases and some very annoyed consumers.
Yet, even in perfectly running games, there are issues that are concerning gamers. Especially in multiplayer online games such as Call of Duty, Fortnite, and mobile games like World War Heroes.
The problem with bots
Despite there being billions of gamers in the world, there aren’t always enough people online to populate each lobby or game. When this happens a game will either sit there waiting for genuine players or will instead populate the game with bots.
Some games suffer from this immensely, while others have managed to keep some control on it. Team Fortress 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and World War Heroes are three examples of bot-heavy games, each of which have their own issues.
PUBG Mobile can be child’s play simply because there are so many AI opponents. It isn’t unusual to run around killing all the bots and end up in the top 3 every time.
World War Heroes has the opposite problem. Their bots seem to come with impenetrable armor and an amazing ability to kill with the weakest weapons from the furthest distances.
One solution to this is to create your own lobby and populate it with friends. An online team generator is a good way to randomize teams. Unfortunately, putting together your matchmaking hasn’t been a common practice since the days of mIRC.
It’s far from an ideal situation, but the alternative of extremely long queue times isn’t great.
Buffing can be bad
Look, it is clear that games need to be constantly tweaked to keep them playable, and enjoyable. Buffing is one way that this is done, but it can ruin the game.
On the flipside are nerfs. Recently, famed streamer Summit1G and others praised the nerfing of Raze in Valorant. Over in League of Legends, Renata Glasc got nerfed just one week after her League of Legends release.
Often, and normally, nerfing is done to add balance to the game. Some characters and weapons are simply too powerful. This can lead to newcomers being discouraged and coordinated teams sweeping the board. At other times though, it can seem like downright theft.
In some games, weapons, abilities, and upgrades are purchased with real-world money. At other times they are earned by grinding for gold and loot to use to make in-game purchases. When players invest time or money into something, it’s hard not to feel cheated when that something is made less valuable.
Occasionally the developers address this by refunding in-game credits to those who have bought these weapons. But still, the bad taste can linger.
One of the most divisive and controversial additions to gaming in the last decade has been the in-game purchases and loot boxes. Even heads of some studios have spoken out against loot boxes and some countries are making moves to ban them. Streamer Asmongold doesn’t believe that loot boxes should exist and the Chinese government isn’t too keen on them either.
EA Games has been one of the biggest offenders over the years and a few years ago one of their executives spoke out in their defense. This defense happened to be made to members of Parliament in the United Kingdom.
The executive likened them to Kinder Eggs, which are a type of confectionery that contains a random toy or prize. Her point was that loot boxes are not gambling because you always win something just as you would in a raffle. It was a strange analogy because Kinder Surprise Eggs are banned in the US which is the home of EA Games, although they’re banned as a possible choking hazard.
Pay to win is unbalanced
This leads on to pay to play with in-game purchases for characters, armor, weapons, and other powers that can give a player an edge. Even in games like League of Legends, players who pump in a few hundred dollars are at a massive advantage thanks to the sheer number of characters they can purchase to counter opponents.
In theory, this could be solved by making a perfectly balanced game but that’s much easier said than done. Even in multiplayer games where the designers make an honest effort to avoid true pay-to-win, this inevitably surfaces.
Stacks can have too much power
Clans have been around since the dawn of multiplayer games. They have helped spawn esports and competitions worth millions of dollars and have become major organizations in some cases. There is nothing wrong with clans at all in general, but coordinated teams can be impossible to play against.
Once again, some games have a problem with balance. Games including Dota 2 and League of Legends have made major changes to how matchmaking works based on how many friends are joining a game together. Meanwhile, games like Counter-Strike are basically anything goes, which leads to some serious issues of its own.
Perhaps the biggest problem with the video games industry in general now isn’t the nerfing, the bots, or the clans, it is simply money. Balancing the costs of development, price of the game, and expectations of consumers is almost impossible.
There is room for profits in gaming while letting newcomers enjoy titles without delving deep into their pockets. Finding the sweet spot between making a game profitable and demanding too much out of players is key.
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