You raise a good point of how long modern games take to develop. We need to take a few more things into consideration with this.
Modern games, more complex or not, have far more tools than games of old, far bigger budgets too (though Im sure atleast half of it its spent on hype and press). On top of that, the industrys found a way to make us the beta testers (and yet we pay them for this)
Heck, other than Overwatch the majority of modern games use the same “engines”, the same dated Unreal 3 tech, the same spazzy Havoks. Sure some vintage games shared engines, but nothing quite like this.
Its not like games are written super well, and most the art/gameplay has been the same for years now.
Lets also consider how many games are broken at release, unfinished, even after all that time. Let us consider the many Kickstarter games still stuck in “early access”.
As for Blizz, I cant help but like their tease of “sprays” being added, just after the likes of CS GO announcing limited use sprays that require $$$ (and vanish if not used), thats just good ol’ Valve at work.
There are ‘video games’.
And there is the ‘video game industry’.
Most people do not play ‘video games’. They play ‘video game industry’. The so-called ‘hardcore gamer’ is nothing more than a marketing label for ‘sap’ or ‘tool’ who pays twice as much for games as the regular customer under ‘collector edition’ or ‘early access’ and act as unpaid marketers making stupid videos or spending all day on Gaming Message Forums.
Real game developers make games because they are gamers, not because they are developers. The video games you love came from rogues and undesirables from society, from dreamers. Final Fantasy was made as a last gasp for gaming, it did not come from a company flush in cash. Shigeru Miyamoto did not major in computers but in Industrial Design. Games like Mega Man 2, Star Control 2, and such came from those developers who worked on their own, without pay, despite what the ‘game industry’ at the time wanted them to make. The most influential game of the decade, Minecraft, was made by a guy in-between-jobs. Tetris was made by a rogue who didn’t fit in with the Soviet Union. The original Atari developers were all outsiders, roguish, but still brilliant. Steve Jobs was one of them.
Today, game developers are little hipsters with sticks up their asses. They have no life experiences outside of video games. They exist in only one purpose: to engorge the game industry even more. These type of game developers are not interested in games as they are in their lifestyles. This is why they keep talking about the ‘processes’ from the ‘creative process’ to the ‘testing process’ and, oh yeah, for research the game company better fly us out to some tropical resort island. For research. Yeah.
Fuck these guys. I have admiration for the guys who went into game development for the love of gaming and not because they wanted a ‘lifestyle’ or saw it as a way to get rich. Guys like Iwata who faced family ostracization because he wanted to experiment with computers.
The early game developers were willing to be UNCOMFORTABLE to make a video game. Today’s game industry developers desire only to be COMFORTABLE. The reason why so many games are unfinished or lacking in quality or originality is because they are more interested in being comfortable.
“We do grind time, that is discomfort.” Fuck you, guys. By discomfort, I mean working without getting paid (this is done by all entrepreneurs). By discomfort, I mean working in an industry where you are socially ostracized by society and your family (no game industry developer gets that today as it once was). By discomfort, I mean working in an industry that is seen to have no future at all, that you are seen as wasting your life. No game developer today really faces those except for indie game makers.
Look at the great ‘game makers’ we laud today. They were all considered losers by their families and society. Iwata. Miyamoto. And the rest. Today, the game makers see gamers as a creature to manipulate, something to brainwash so they can keep channeling more money. Gaming and the game industry are two separate things. This is why they do not like us playing retro games; it does not enrich the game industry any further.
Also, I have noticed a distinct change in the relationship between gamer and developer. Before, games were made for the working class, and the developers enjoyed hanging out with them. Ultima: Martian Dreams was written by someone who worked on oil rigs and that language is written throughout the game. Miyamoto had industrial design as his degree which means he educated in the industrial arts.
Above: a young Shigeru Miyamoto smoking, far from his ‘Disney’ image of today
Being uncomfortable makes you strong. You do not create strong athletes, soldiers, or thinkers by being comfortable. Even the games have changed and reflect this. Remember when it used to be an accomplishment to finish a game? I can rarely finish most games of the 8-bit and 16-bit era aside from what we called ‘children’s games’ which is what Mario and Zelda were. Can you beat Solomon’s Key? Ninja Gaiden III? Battletoads? I still can’t.