I stupidly bought a racing game in a sale recently which was crap, and I won’t give it the publicity of naming it 9It never worked),. But anyway, before I even discovered that it was a buggy mess, i had to go through a bunch of account-based social-networking bullshit to play the game I just bought. In other words, I had to endure the indignity of a singleplayer game being deliberately forced through a ‘social-games’ sized hole.
There are some games that are social and multiplayer by default. MMO games, clearly, and first-person shooters based on teamwork. Even if the bots were awesome, I’d still prefer to enjoy battlefield 4 with real people. But conversely, there are some game designs and genre that are absolutely firmly SINGLE player and NOT social. City builders are one. Almost all turn-based empire games are another. Single-player games have a lot of plus-sides. You can play when YOU want to, Nobody can ‘ruin’ the game for you. You don’t need to have lots of friends with similar interests. If you get bored, you just quit, without spoiling anyone else’s fun.
For people my age, bought up on the ZX 81 and it’s ilk, gaming was almost always a solitary thing. It’s a thing you spent ages doing alone, a world you lost yourself into, without reminders that the real world was out there. I was a space pilot in Elite, not a kid sat in his bedroom.
These days big AAA studios hate that. What on EARTH does that kid think he is doing sat there alone playing elite. What good is that? He should be tweeting about it, or sharing it on facebook, until all his friends are sick of hearing about elite. What? he doesn’t want to? then FORCE him to by dangling extra in-game rewards in front of him until he tweets about the game. INSIST that the game will not even run unless he signs up for an account with us we can spam. This is the future. isn’t it great?
No. Not always.
I tweet, I love twitter, I use social networking, I don’t think it’s *that* evil, although people who put their real first school, first pet and date of birth into facebook might as well wear a t-shirt saying ‘please steal my identity’. I never understand that. But anyway… I just think we need to be warned if a game is going to treat us not as a player but as an unpaid member of the publishers social-media campaign group. I Don’t hate marketing or advertising. I use paid advertising, it feels more….honest.
I have a facebook link on Democracy 3‘s main menu. It’s there. It might offend you, but you don’t have to click it, and you don’t ‘get’ anything if you do, except updates on new features which I post about on facebook. If you like the game, I’d appreciate facebook shares and twitter mentions, but I’m not going to bribe anyone to do it, and certainly not going to degrade the enjoyment of people without social media accounts to further my own bottom line. that just sucks.
We have the generally understood concept of ‘DRM-free’, which is great. Maybe it’s time for ‘social-bribery free’?