Why Are Video Games So Bad Nowadays (Cognitive Bias or Is There Some Truth to It?)


We’ve talked about why old video games seemed so hard but we haven’t discussed why most new video games that come out seem to get a bad rap.

Is there any truth to the criticism or is it just cognitive bias?

Maybe it’s the good old rose-tinted glasses making us look back on childhood memories with fondness but not necessarily with accuracy.

I don’t think anybody is saying ALL new games are bad, however, it does seem like there are a fair few getting released that haven’t been given the due care they probably should’ve been given.

What we do know is that there are definitely a few elements at play that could be making people say these criticisms at a more frequent rate — let’s take a look at them below.

Why People Might Be Saying New Games Are Bad (What We Think)

As we’ve said above, there are a few things that could be making people say new games are bad; some reasons might hold physical truth whereas others might just be based on perceptions.

1. It’s easier to publicize and voice concerns now

Before the internet was as widespread or accessible as it is now, it was basically impossible to leave a bad review or offer your criticisms for the games you were playing.

In fact, the only sources for reviews were usually gaming magazines and it’s quite likely some of them were paid to say good things rather than offering up the truth to their readers.

Because opinions are flying around at a million miles an hour on the internet these days, it might be creating the perception that all games are bad because we’re constantly exposed to this kind of feedback.

Essentially, this type of feedback has became more focused and more frequent and people are more likely to say bad things rather than good things.

We think this creates (in some cases) an illusion that most new games are bad, when in truth, they’re probably as bad as they ever were bugs and all.

2. Loot Boxes

Another thing that’s been getting a bad rap in the mainstream media lately is loot boxes and that’s because they’re creating miniature gamblers in our children.

This constant need from games companies to price gouge and extract as much monetary value as possible from their customers (regardless of age) has created a bad taste in most peoples mouths about the state of games these days.

Essentially, we’re given lazy half-finished games that seem to have had more priority put on making money rather than delivering a good experience.

We do think there’s some credence behind this particular point, especially since resources will inevitably need to be diverted to making a successful monetization system rather than making the best possible game to play.

3. The Longer Times Goes on (the More Failures We Have)

Twenty years ago, gaming was relatively new so bad experiences were very few up until that point.

However, we’re now twenty years later so we’ve had thousands of more games released including thousands more bad experiences.

This might be creating the perception that games are getting worse when in reality, they’re mistaking this abundance of bad games (over time) for how often bad games are released (which is probably just as common or uncommon as it ever was).

These types of judgments need absolute accuracy to determine conclusively and without enough aggregated data (we couldn’t find a study) to back things up then it’s hard to say who’s right.

4. Games can be updated further down the line

Another reason why games might be worse than they used to be is that games can be updated (over the internet) further down the line in a sort of iterative development process.

This means companies can capitalize and release their game early when the hype is high to make as much profit as possible rather than waiting to develop a more polished product but potentially losing money.

There are some classic examples we can think of off the top of our heads such as No Man’s Sky and Cyberpunk 2077.

Both games were released (probably) at the height of their hype status rather than waiting to release them when they were in a better state to play.

Essentially, older games had to be totally finished products before they could be released as they didn’t have the flexibility of being able to update them with most people having either no internet or a very slow dial-up service.

The trouble with this approach is that some smaller developers tend to bail once they’ve made their money from initial purchases and won’t continue developing it as that requires further investment and potential losses.

5. We’ve seen it all (rehashed concepts)

Another reason that new games may seem worse on a perceptual basis is that they’re often based on things we’ve already seen within the industry.

Essentially, most video game concepts are rehashed or just twists on things that have already been done or have come before them.

This probably isn’t very satisfying for the average person and that’s why new game releases probably have a harder time making waves compared to the days of yesteryear where competition was less fierce (or less abundant).

In our opinion (totally not biased), the golden era for games was somewhere between the 90s and the early 00s as most concepts were still fresh and the technology was getting good enough for games to be fully fleshed out in a living, breathing 3D world.

What’s the truth? (The Answer)

In our opinion, new games are more likely to be released in an incomplete state compared to older games and that’s why it’s more common for players to report having a bad experience rather than a good one.

This focus on catching the most profitable moment to release the game (the hype-train) rather than waiting for the game to be in a good condition is why people seem to be having a bad time.

In fact, we’ve even seen some developers abandoning the game as soon as they’ve made money from the initial purchases that have led to a sour taste in most gamer’s mouths.