Gamers grew up.
Games are still a relatively new medium, but they’re older than we give them credit. If you were curious, players who were ten years old when Pong (1972) was released are now around 55. If you played the original Super Mario Bros. (1985) at the same age when it debuted, you would be 42. Sure, games haven’t been around as long as books or movies, but many of us have been playing them most of our lives.
So when developers and publishers target the lowest common denominator, trying to be hyper-sexual or intentionally addictive/exploitative, they have to realize adults (as well as kids and teens) are playing a lot of these games. The industry isn’t occupied exclusively by any one demographic. There are a ton of different kinds of people who love to play games.
There are still a lot of modern games that insult gamers' intelligence. Games from big studios with a mountain of pedigree behind them. It is inexcusable for there to still be so many major series that feel like they are talking down to their audience. This list focuses on modern games that treat us like idiots. Usually, the games themselves deserve better. We, the gamers, certainly do.
15 The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
Skyward Sword treats gamers like babies.
A tutorial is an essential part of any game, but The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is a bridge too far. Nintendo has always had aggressive tutorials to make sure that young gamers playing for the first time aren’t left out. That being said, Skyward Sword’s painful tutorial process repeats itself over and over again as if it were trying to teach you the fundamentals of the language. Playing through the first 5-10 hours of Skyward Sword sometimes feels like being lectured by Barney the Dinosaur or Dora the Explorer. It is tedious to a fault. Even a fledgling young gamer will understand how to look at something or click a button to interact with it. If you are capable of reading the text on the screen, chances are you can also figure out how to push a box on your own.
14 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
How little does Konami think of its audience? The Metal Gear Solid series is renowned for its characters and plot — The Phantom Pain fails on both accounts.
Pandering doesn’t even begin to describe Quiet’s character. Quiet is a scantily-clad, nearly silent protagonist, who exists to propagate sexy cosplay. The explanation that she needs to be naked to breath is one of the worst tropes we can wrap our heads around.
Moreover, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is anything but finished. The back-half of the plot is wrapped up over radio diaries and a handful of cutscenes between recycled missions. The collector’s edition of the game even features a behind-the-scenes look at these deleted story segments. It’s a total slap in the face.
2048 is a stolen idea ripped-off of Threes!, which was developed by Asher Vollmer.
A cursory google search shows that 2048 is a clone and gamers simply won’t stand for it. Straightforward and brilliant puzzle games don’t come around every day and their creators should be celebrated. There’s nothing wrong with referencing or remixing classics ideas, but to outright copy a game (and then call it your own) is insulting to developers and gamers alike. Games should celebrate each other and refer ideas back-and-forth, but taking an entire game and repurposing it to make money is out of line. When Threes! released it was available for just a few dollars, whereas 2048 was free with ads. Obviously, the free versions earned itself a lot of attention. This is why we can’t have nice things.
12 Batman: Arkham Knight
Batman: Arkham Knight soured itself before it had even officially released. All of the marketing campaign leading up to the game’s launch centered around the question: Who is the Arkham Knight? Well, you don’t need to be a Batman enthusiast to make a few educated guesses. We won’t spoil it (for those of you still waiting to play), but we will say that your first guess is probably the right one. Almost the entire plot feels poised to answer this “twist” question and, frankly, it would have been more interesting if the game’s writers hadn’t played coy. Gamers aren’t stupid — we’re puzzle solvers; we can figure out what’s coming next. Hopefully, the next Batman game focuses on exploring character's psyches rather than wasting time trying to shoe-horn a cliff-hanger into the plot
11 The Martian VR Experience
Don’t. Sell. Ads.
The Martian is far and away the worst thing you can do on the PlayStation VR. The Martian VR Experience is a roughly 20-minute long advertisement for a film by 20th Century Fox. And it is horrible. There are a lot of virtual reality “experiences” with so little gameplay they can hardly be called games and just as many with miserable controls. It is unbelievably insulting that anyone would charge money for The Martian VR. Honestly, The Experience is barely worth seeing for free. The gist of the experience is looking at vistas and fiddling with inoperable control units. It even has bad load times, which is perfect for Fox because it gives them a huge canvas to advertise The Martian movies to players. Gross.
10 Super Bomberman R
Konami was already on our blacklist for how they handled Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and P.T. (Silent Hills), but Super Bomberman R was the last straw.
Super Bomberman R is a retreading of the Super Nintendo classic Super Bomberman 2. As amazing as the original was, it’s hard to enjoy a poorly reimagined version of the game. To make matters worse, Super Bomberman R —which was one of many launch titles for the Nintendo Switch— cost full retail price. That’s right. Super Bomberman R rings up in the vicinity of $60 to $100 (depending on your region). How naive does the company think gamers are? Konami thinks they can sell a mediocre version of a twenty-year-old game at the same price as brand new titles. For shame.
9 Metroid: Other M
Samus Aran is a seminal character in video games. Samus Aran’s reveal at the end of the original Metroid on the Nintendo Entertainment System was one of the first plot twists in the industry. More importantly, Samus Aran is a monumentally popular lady protagonist in a medium made-up of mostly dude heroes.
Character triumphs aside, the Metroid series is known for its solitude and ambiance. It is a series that exemplified the same mystic of Dark Souls during the 80s. It was a trailblazer.
Metroid: Other M is the story of how Team Ninja crippled the beloved series and almost ruined one of gaming's more memorable characters. It was a loud, obnoxious, and terribly rote game about a female lead with daddy issues. It spits on everything Metroid ever stood for — an insult to everyone who took the time to play it.
8 Anything With 3+ Different SKUs
Publishers and developers have to make money. They deserve to earn money for all the wonderful experiences they have crafted for us.
But there is nothing more insulting than a studio trying to trick parents, kids, or uninformed audiences into buying crap they don’t need. Launching a game with multiple different SKUs has become standard practice on digital storefronts and at brick and mortar retailers alike. Whether it's Gears of War 4’s $250 (USD) collector’s edition, or Star Wars Battlefront’s Standard, Deluxe, or Ultimate Edition, multiple versions are almost always insulting. The issue isn’t even necessarily that these other editions exist, but that retailers push the more expensive versions as if they are the only ‘real’ way to play a new game. It is completely unnecessary, as huge fans of a series will opt for a deluxe edition without having it shoved down their throats. Make a good game and people will come.
7 Watch Dogs
Everything about the first Watch Dogs game was a slap in the face.
Off the bat, Ubisoft demoed a vertical slice of the game at E3 2012 that far outreached the technical capabilities of the final version of the game. Games change over the course of development, but this target wasn't even in the cards. The final game almost looks nothing like it. Publishers wonder why we have trust issues.
Even the game’s writing seems to mock its audience. Every interaction and side quest is desperately trying to be edgy. The result is a game whose plot reads like a 14-year-old’s version of a dark and gritty vigilante story. Everything about the first Watch Dogs angled to be something it wasn’t and gamers saw right through Ubisoft’s facade.
6 Dungeon Keeper iOS
EA destroyed the spirit of Dungeon Keeper, stomping on fans' dreams. The original Dungeon Keeper was a hilarious spoof on evildoers and their minions. It was a strategy game with heart. Sadly, the 2014 Dungeon Keeper reboot ruined the franchise.
Reboots and licensed games have becoming a breeding ground for bad mobile ports. There’s something so exciting about having one of your favourite series in your pocket wherever you go, but once a game is packed with annoying notifications and aggressive microtransactions, it’s hard to enjoy anything else in the package. Slapping a logo on something, calling it a new entry in an old series, and then charging an arm and a leg for it is exploitative. Pathetic. Dungeon Keeper deserved better — EA, we hope it was worth it.
5 Meme Run
It is a shock that Nintendo ever let this appear on the Wii U. Meme Run wagers that your love of memes will outweigh your love of games. Of course, it was wrong about that.
Meme Run is an endless runner where you blast through poorly designed levels as memes get screamed into your face. Obviously Meme Run doesn’t have much respect for its audience. There are a mountain of joke games —such as Surgeon Simulator or Octodad: The Dadliest Catch— that exist to make us laugh at their design, but Meme Run isn’t made with nearly as much love. You do have to give them credit for committing to the goof. The Nintendo store designated Meme Run’s genre as “Illuminati Confirmed,” which is at least on message.
Eventually, Meme Run was removed from the eShop due to copyright infringement.
4 The Legend of Korra
The Legend of Korra is a cheap licensed cash-in.
Platinum Games has begun a trend of taking a famous cartoon license and slapping it onto a character action game. The company has had varied results: Transformers: Devastation is a great little game, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan was a travesty. What is insulting is that they think we won’t notice.
The Legend of Korra game is a mashy-mess. Korra fights wave after wave of the same enemy, occasionally taking a breather for light platforming or a cruddy endless runner mini-game. Almost none of the cartoon series’ personality makes it into the game, which is a shame because we would still love to play a full-featured game set in the Avatar universe.
Destiny is a grind.
Control-wise, the original Destiny was buttery-smooth; an excellent blend of Halo and Call of Duty precision with fantasy elements. Unfortunately, when Destiny promised an MMO-like amount of content, what they meant was: 10 hours of content and 50+ hours of grinding. Destiny was jam packed with currency and material that were necessary to see all of the game, but were absolutely no fun to dig up. Effectively, Destiny is padded with repeatable content that is flat-out bad, but addictive to chase.
Adding insult to injury, Destiny’s expansions render all the hard-earned gear from the original effectively useless. Just because gamers ask for games with tons of content, doesn’t mean their time is invaluable. Gamers have high standards and Destiny could have held onto a much larger player base by actually giving players stuff to do that wasn’t a waste of time.
2 Final Fantasy XV
Gamers come in all shapes and sizes. We are a diverse lot. We are not a stereotype. You have to wonder if Square Enix thinks all gamers fall into the cliche of being sex-starved, Dorito-dusted, lard-lads that need to fawn over digital bosom.
Yes, we’re talking about how Cid’s portrayal in Final Fantasy XV. After years of the reoccurring name being applied to kings, headmasters, engineers, and more, series fans finally get to a see the famous character as a woman. Except, Cid has been sketched as a caricature of American sexuality. What an annoying revelation for a series capable of so much more. Again, over sexualized women in games is a played out trope that demeans us all. Try treating your audience with more respect next time Square Enix.
1 Pokemon Alternate Versions
Nothing is more upsetting than products that take advantage of kids.
On paper, alternate Pokemon versions exist to create a need for trading, but the reality is that kids end up buying multiple versions of the same game. It may be tempting to condemn the kids for not knowing any better, but let’s be clear: Nintendo markets the Pokemon games, heavily. Not every seven year-old is going to understand that Pokemon X and Y are largely the same, but Pokemon Sun/Moon and Pearl/Diamond are completely different. That Nintendo has still continued this practice in 2017 makes them seem utterly money-grubbing. It’s an insult to the gamer families that support the company.
Don’t get us wrong — we love Pokemon. It’s an important series in the history of games and a franchise that’s brought people from all over the world together.