Are Open-World Games Bad For Gamers?

Are Open-World Games Bad For Gamers?

The early 2000s were the era when gamers were fascinated by the first proper open-world games. GTA 3 and Mafia, defined the open-world genre for us. Of course, there were other games that we could mention, but out of role-playing games, we started to see this trend rising around 2003. At first, all gamers were quite enthusiastic about the open-world games because;

  • It was an unprecedented experience,
  • We were already bored of linear games,
  • There was a lot to explore.

For the generation who started to play outside less and spend time at home, these open-world games created the simulation of walking in an unknown place. For example, the 3D universe of GTA games, GTA III, GTA Vice City and GTA San Andreas taught me a lot about the American way of living in a satirical and humorous way. Though I have never visited LA, NYC or San Francisco, these games made me feel like as if I was walking on the streets of these cities.

Of course, we were completely unaware of what to expect from developers at that time. Most of the time, it was enough for us to lose our minds when we saw “open-world” in the first trailer of any game. Especially with GTA San Andreas, R* games put the bar too high. There were hundreds of vehicles, different areas to explore, and tonnes of side activities, like playing pool, racing, dating, or robbing stores.

So, what changed our mind about the open-world games? Why do we think open-world games might be bad for the gaming industry? Let’s start with a comparative history lesson!

Open World Games: Then & Now

Early open-world games were open-world only for one reason: Developers could do it. They just wanted to show us their might and skills, and they proved the peak of technology. GTA: SA, as I mentioned before, could have been a simple car-stealing game, and we would have still played it like crazy. But they gave us more and more. Was it because they wanted to inflate the price tag? Not at all. R* Games released the game at the same price as another Triple-A game would be priced. It was simply a labour of love.

Today, however, everything has changed. There are still great open-world games like GTA V or Red Dead Redemption 2, but the problem is different. Today, almost every game is open-world. However, those games are not teemed with different activities. Yes, they have a few side quests or some social activities, but overall they make you do the same thing repeatedly. Kill X many Y, Collect C many T kind of missions only make us feel like we are playing an MMORPG. It is not what it used to be 20 years ago anymore.

GTA V Open World

Why Open-World Games Are So Common?

If something is common, it is not as great as before. With open-world games, we experience very similar problems. Every developer tries to make an open-world game even without proper experience. Studios like Bethesda, R*, etc., are great in open-world games and have over 20 years of experience. But why do other studios try to do the same? Short answer: money!

Nowadays, the video gaming industry is the most expensive and most “money-spent” in the entertainment sector. For this reason, studios work with more employees, they invest more money into their games and they want to sell their games at higher prices. For example, when GTA: SA was released in 2004, its price was $35, a regular AAA game price. Today, it would be $70. This would be only for the base game, of course. So, in 20 years prices have doubled. Do we, gamers, protest those prices? Partly yes. People had argued that prices were too high for basic entertainment and that an average video game provided a play-time of around 20-40 hours. Developers heard us and decided to change something. They changed the way they make games.

Naturally, linear games take a shorter time to complete. There is no way you can get lost or distracted. Open-world games, on the other hand, put you in a vast world and give you small pieces of story and mysteries here and there. Therefore, you feel like you need to do everything to enjoy the game fully. Most of those missions are cheap, not detailed, and unworthy of being done, but still, we do them. As a result, the time spent on that game increases to 50 or more hours, which justifies the $70 price tag.

Red Dead Redemption 2 Open world

Are Open-World Games Destroying The Creativity?

Narrative-wise only a few developers can provide a cinematic story in an open world. Others have difficulty with putting you into the character. These developers use a lazy method; they put some letters or emails around here and there and don’t often use the environmental narrative method. Also, because the side-quests are not detailed enough, most of the time you have difficulty getting into the role of the protagonist you play. Linear games, on the other hand, do not give you a chance to go another way. You do what is necessary to do while going from point A to point B. This way, you will feel the atmosphere the developer wants to give.

How Do Professionals Do? : R* Games’ Method

There are many things to learn from the best! R* Games design their game to let you enjoy complete freedom while roaming but limit you while doing quests. You can go anywhere and do anything you want when you are not on a mission. However, as soon as you start a mission everything you should do is very strict. You must be at the exact location as the game says. If you try to be creative you fail the mission or glitch the game. Is this bad? Well, many gamers worldwide criticize R* Games for this reason, but if you ask me this is the only way to blend the open world with a great narrative…

Mafia 1 open world

Should There Be No More Open World Games?

Hell no! There are still many great examples of open-world games. But maybe some studios should stop to force it. Do you want to justify your expensive price tag? Don’t! Instead, reduce the price tag. Spend less money on visuals, PR or multiplayer. Or, create a semi-open world like in recent God of War games. But please stop giving us a “vast open world” without anything interesting in it! The world we live in is dull enough, and we don’t want to do meaningless things while gaming.



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