Has Gaming Actually Gotten Worse Over The Past Few Decades?

Video games have been getting a lot of heat over the past few years.

Story Highlights

  • Some believe that gaming has gotten worse over the past few decades.
  • Many publishers have gotten complacent and stopped putting out quality products.
  • At the same time, this is also the best era to date to be into gaming as a hobby.

There is this underlying, but somewhat staunch, opinion within pockets of the gaming community that video games have actually gotten worse over the past two or so decades.

Many of the proponents of this argument bring up very logical arguments like the rise of microtransactions or the advent of the live-service model. Others stick to more idealistic complaints, like how games are simply less fun due to them becoming more complicated or bloated, or even trying way too hard to be like other mediums.

And as easy as it is to swat these arguments aside and ignore them completely, the reality is that many of us probably agree with at least some of these sentiments as well, even if we don’t feel that they are bringing about the end of gaming as we know it.

Modern Games Are Incredible

Liurnia of the Lakes In Elden Ring
Elden Ring Is A Near Perfect Game. (Image Credits: eXputer)

If I were to ask you, as a modern player, to think of the names of some of the best games you’ve ever played, you’d likely have a few titles ready to go in your head. Chances are that you’ll probably think of games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Titanfall 2, or even the critically acclaimed Breath of the Wild.

These are all masterpieces in their own right and are even considered by many to be some of the greatest games of all time. And most importantly, from the purpose of the point we’re making here, all of them came out within the past decade. 

So this idea that games have gotten less fun, or that gaming has gotten worse over the past few decades, is not exactly true. In fact, the exact opposite is true. This is the best time ever for video games.

But with the rise of digital platforms like Steam, one could argue that the amount of mediocre titles flooding the marketplaces has essentially multiplied tenfold if not more. And to pretend that some of the greatest games in existence also haven’t been released during this exact same timeframe is also a bit dishonest.

So What’s The Problem?

The issue then, as I see it, is that the rise of digital media has also led to a rise in complacency on the part of the companies that make our games. Not the individual developers themselves mind you, I’m being very careful in the words I’m using here. I’m talking about the executives in charge.

Cyberpunk 2077 Bugs.
At Launch Cyberpunk 2077 Was Riddled With Bugs. (Image Credits: Reddit)

They know that they can put out an incomplete game, and if the marketing push behind it is sufficient enough, and in many cases dishonest enough, people will still pre-order it in droves.

You don’t even have to think hard for an example of this. At launch, Cyberpunk 2077 was one of the most broken games I have ever seen, and yet it still sold millions of copies even while it was broken.

Part of this is because, after years of patches, the incredible game that always lay under the surface slowly reared its head. But the fact that a title in 2020 was released in such a broken state by one of the biggest names in gaming is still baffling.

A Shift In Priorities

Your Super Destroyer In Helldivers 2
Helldivers 2 Is A Live-Service Game Done Right. (Image Credits: eXputer)

Another aspect of modern gaming that seems to annoy people like me in particular, is the shift into live-service models. Every big company wants to make the next Fortnite, or Destiny, to the point where even the biggest names in the industry like Sony are committed to dipping into that particular model.

Read the tweet above again, last year Sony cut their plans to release a dozen live-service games by 2026 in half.

It means that something has changed to make them see that releasing 12 games of the type was a really bad idea, but not so bad that they gave up on that goldmine completely. And why would they? When done right, these games bring in billions in revenue over their lifetime.

How The Future Looks

In a perfect world, these companies would realize that there is a perfect balance they can strike between releasing great single-player games and ongoing live-service ones that are not downright exploitative.

A world where both Apex Legends and Titanfall 3 can co-exist is possible, but guess which one of these is a real game and the other’s future is uncertain. And spoilers, it’s not Apex.

So many people are so incredibly disillusioned with the games industry not because gaming is worse than ever before, it’s because they’ve seen their favorite franchises left in the dirt in favor of chasing the next great big multiplier hit.

An Image From The Upcoming Shadow of the Erdtree DLC.
Shadow of the Erdtree Is One of The Most Hyped Pieces of DLC Ever. (Image Credits: FromSoftware)

And more infuriatingly, when we do get great big single-player AAA games, they come loaded with microtransactions to boot.

Dragon’s Dogma 2 letting you buy resources to save time is a bit annoying but tolerable in the grand scheme of things. But games like Marvel’s Avengers and Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League locking content behind Seasonal updates, now that’s unforgivable.

So am I happy with the current state of gaming? Not really, but I also like to remind myself that I live in a timeline where Elden Ring exists, and has one of the most hyped pieces of DLC coming out in the coming months.

That alone has me convinced that not everything is lost and that maybe things will get better.

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Huzaifa is eXputer's Review Editor, who’s all about RPG games. He’s got several years of experience critically judging games and writing his unbiased thoughts on them. You can also find his content published on sites like Twinfinite & GearNuke. Huzaifa has been gaming for 23+ years, during which he managed to amass 400+ hours on Elden Ring! You can follow his gaming activity on his Xbox and Steam Profiles.

Experience: 5+ years || Previously Worked At GearNuke & Twinfinite || Mainly Covers RPG Guides & Latest Games Reviews || Education: Bachelors in Hospitality.

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