Destiny joins a growing area of games that are online only, as in the game only features content available to those of us with an internet connection, in this case even during the campaign of the game. Ignoring the woes of anyone concerned about playing their campaign by themselves, I have my own issue that makes me somewhat uneasy about the future of many games: nothing online exists forever.
When I play an offline experience, I get to enjoy that experience for the foreseeable future, no one is gonna take my fun away from me nor lock off a mode due to the flow of time and people moving onto the next big thing. When it comes to online content or worse online only games, an issue arises. I would like to point you to the closing of the Nintendo Wi-fi connection service that came this year, locking off all that content that required people to connect to the service. Many will argue that the service provided was awful and no game apart from perhaps Mario Kart Wii was worth even trying to run on the infernal system, and I will agree with them. However the point is not the quality of the experience here, this is about throwing content and possibly even whole games away to make way for something new.
There will be kids whose first game is something like Destiny, a game that provides content for online only, and they will have fond memories of it growing up. Eventually though, the servers will be shut down, Bungie has to pay for those and when the game isn’t perhaps getting as much money as they want or they wish to set something new up that will require any servers they can afford those babies are going off for good. Now what do you have? A completely and utterly dead game, an experience shut off for every future generation and curious gamer because there is nothing you get without being connected. Say it wasn’t a game that was purely online and had offline content as well as online content, something like Monster Hunter where the single player campaign is essentially a warm up to the expansive online mode where new content is not only available, but transferable to the single player. I put 100+ hours into Monster Hunter Tri to get all the weapons and armours I wanted as well as beat the game, there is likely double that number of hours to be played online.
Now I want you to imagine that online mode, that massive slice of the delicious cake, has been shut away because the service is down. Oh wait, it already is. There is no WFC anymore, all that content, all those hours of fun are blocked off by an impenetrable wall, that replay value that made the game so much more fun is now non existent. Are we really okay with just throwing away some or, in this case, most of what we payed for once upon a time? My nostalgic games comes from the era of the Sega Genesis and the PS1, those were my systems growing up, enjoying spyro, sonic, crash bandicoot, streets of rage, earthworm jim, silent bomber. All those games can still be played for all they are worth to this day because all of their content is right there in front of you, welcoming me with open arms.
No one likes seeing things that meant something to them washed away over time. A childhood home no longer belonging to you, all your teachers at your old school aren’t there anymore and the like. Nonetheless this is more than holding onto relics of old, remnants of an easier time. This is the games industry’s lack of care for giving the new gamers access to what are some of the classic hallmarks that made it where they are today. Imagine in say 20 or 50 years something as critical as say the game that resurrected the game industry from a crash and showed what gaming should be like, Super Mario Bros., not being available to your children and grandchildren? Yes keeping up with each added generation of games to emulate is hard, the lack of backwards comparability in the “next generation” is a necessary cost cut to an already pricey generation of systems. Despite its costs though, I strongly believe being able to enjoy the long talked about “insert legendary status game here” from X no. of years ago is something that should be fought for. I don’t know how many console I’ll need to keep in my house 4 generations from now just to have fun with an oldie but goodie.
What do you think about the idea of online only content? Do you fret for the day when large amounts of content or even whole games are shut off for good over time? I’m a big emulation guy myself and I like being able to grab games that are lauded as masterful and shining examples of gaming, how do you all get a piece of history in your hands to play, if at all? Thanks for the read, hope I gave you something to think about.