Is Borderlands Feminist Tumblr Fluff?

When a feminist writer joined the staff of Borderlands people were very skeptical and began pointing out every single thing they felt might be influenced by it.  It was felt that the game had simply become “Tumblr The Game.”  I’m here to actually say it went the opposite direction by debunking some parts of the game “Borderlands The Pre-Sequel” that people have brought into question.

#1: Strong Females Dumb Males

If you are part of the Male Rights Activist (MRA) movement you’ve probably heard the claim that media likes to portray men as being idiots so that they can have strong females.

In a show like Everybody Loves Raymond, you have Raymond and his father who are the breadwinners of the family who are bozos and idiots.  And then you have their respective wives who have little to nothing to call to their name.  But in order to make the wife of Raymond (Rebecca) into a strong role, they make Raymond into an idiot who is reliant on his wife for answers.

There’s a lot wrong with this dynamic.  In Borderlands you have two female characters who are smart strong independent women.  On the other hand you have the one male character who is a slave to addiction (in this case cyber implant addiction) and a male robot who represents the least capable of the adventurers.  The claim is made that the men are made purposely stupid and the women are made purposely perfect in order to create strong female role models.

The thing, is… that’s just really backwards.  By portraying it this way it means that the only way a woman can ever be strong is if she is competing against an underachiever.  In that dichotomy when you get to med school you have men who sit at the top and get all the scholarships and women who underperform and don’t put in the same sort of effort.  Yet when you look at a field like psychology, a field associated with mediocrity and mass enrollment, you have women at the top.

It’s really not a surprise really with a full generation of media portraying women as only better than men in the light that men have to suck in order for them to be worth anything.

In the end dumbing down males hurts bottom rung males as they learn to see themselves as clowns instead of respectable adults, and it also hurts women who only feel they can compete against someone who is clearly their lesser.

#2: Lesbians and Gays

There is no shortage of homosexual characters in Borderlands.  Sir Hammerlock is the carry forward from Borderlands 2, who “barely seems gay” if you can call that a thing.  Then there is the villain Belly who is desperately in love with his child-aged friend Red.  You have Janie Springs who is the youngest lesbian cougar on the planet.

Other than Sir Hammerlock the game actually doesn’t paint a very nice world for being a lesbian.  A true “Tumblr the game” type comparison would have lesbians and gays being scorned by everyone and being victims in society.  Instead they’re all mostly accepted members of society who are just living their lives.

Belly is a gay pedophile but clearly knows that sort of relationship is wrong… so he never brings it up.  He is however a villain and their relationship is always made to be a bit of a joke.  Belly himself is an imbicle and possibly mentally handicapped and unable to truly understand what his feelings mean.  His character ends up being one of the deeper ones put in the game but is also one they choose not to explore because of the morally contentious topic involved.

Janie Springs is someone who is quirky and weird.  Her sexual leanings are pushed on you very heavily from the very start.  The thing is, she is nothing but a cartoon of a lesbian.  I have known many gay men and women in my life and I can say with some sort of certainty…. she’s weird.

#3: Nurse Nina

Nurse Nina replaces a male doctor.  Some might look at this and see it as diversity in the work place.  Nurse Nina, although the name nurse, is a fully capable surgeon.  She is able to heal all wounds, just like a man.  She is even a dominant personality.  When trying to find a mate she actually straps him up in some sort of wonky medical apparatus to show her dominance of him.  Worst yet she only chooses the most dominant male from the pack so that she gets the one she can most powerfully dominate.

So why is Nurse Nina not an example of a Tumblr feminist conspiracy?  Well, simply put, Nurse Nina fits into the typical role that a woman would fit in real life.

Nina is a nurse. A nurse is nothing more than a doctor’s servant.  In some parts of the world nurses were fully capable doctors capable of treating minor wounds and delivering babies.  That’s the kind of nurse that Nina is.  However with just the nurses’s training she wouldn’t handle the major emergencies that a male surgeon or male doctor would handle.

I mean, at the end of the day when you really need help, it’s a Dahl Male voice that thanks you for your purchase.

Nina also romantically represents a commonly held stereotype, professional women cannot have intimate relationships.  So like the stereotype implies without having had any love in her life until she’s much older (age 30ish) she is now out hunting down men and can’t find anyone worthy of her.

A lot of Tumblr feminists argue that there are just no good men out there.  The real reason of course is the standards of professional women are too high compared to what they can offer a potential mate.

In this particular Tumblr blog the author claims she needs this:

1) Funny and can make me laugh and smile as much as possible. That’s non-negotiable. My levels of happiness are connected directly to my funny bone.
2) Chemistry. Think of a car ride together. You want the comfortable silences and relaxed feeling in the air, not the urge to throw open the car door and roll on out on the 101 freeway instead because that would be less painful and awkward.
3) Well read. Aware of pop culture and cultural events globally. We should be able to sit together for 5+ hours at the bookstore and not feel like we need to be anywhere else.
4) Established. This is a tricky one because I feel like it automatically translates to “having money.” Money is a very fluid thing that comes and goes, but the idea is that the guy would have a good career or a career in the works. I am not on board with the Peter Pans of the world.
5) You need nice grown man clothes. They don’t have to cost a fortune. I can help with this.
6) Optimism.
7) Feeling beautiful around you, even if I’m in my yoga pants without any makeup on. (Does that not look like a Taylor Swift song lyric or what? But it’s true. And knowing that you’ll be beautiful to me no matter what also.)
8) Patience, trust, kindness, spontaneity (of the flower bringing kind, not “hey we’re going kayaking today – take the afternoon off of work!”), comfort in tough times, and love at arm’s length where you can be close but not to a smothering point.

However if a man in a similar position made a list of what they are looking for in a woman, it would be a lot more simple.

Nina is in this particular situation, she knows what she wants in a man so she’s willing to throw out all sorts of potential mates in favor of the one that meets her standards.

It portrays the problem of society, women are expected to marry younger rather than older and perpetrates that pattern.  Nina isn’t a Tumblr inserted character, she’s what they hate the most.  But Nina is a lovable character.  So clearly she can’t be a “hit agent” from Tumblr.

#4. Lilyth is the Good Guy, Jack is the Bad Guy

So at the end of the day the hero is a woman and the villain is a man.

Is this evidence of feminist inserted literature?  Probably not.

At the end of the day someone has to be the bad guy…. or maybe I should say bad person.  Generally speaking the powerful evil heroes of every game are usually male.  The reason for this is the widespread perception that women are not intimidating enough or impure enough to be villains.  Actually having a female villain would have been more refreshing in the end because it would have been something new.

However to make it even less of femme conspiracy, Lylith isn’t even a likable character.  It’s not all that clear that what she is fighting for is all that good.

Borderlands at the end of the day is a universe full of evil and full of bad guys.  There’s no emotional relationship we can have with any of these characters that will make them close to us.

If anything we are more drawn to the evil boss Jack, because he in least represents an attempt to be progressive and implement change.  The vault hunters however are just a bunch of losers who were lured in at the chance of stealing a vault and getting rich but instead were brought into a civil war.  The goal of said civil war… is to implement everything as was…. which isn’t exactly all that good in the first place.

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Testing Logic: No Jim, It’s Not a Video Game

JimQuisition is a little program in which a guy rants about something in video games.

Jim Sterling holds the position that games like The Walking Dead (from Telltale Games), Stanley’s Parable and the such are video games and that our standards of what constitutes a video game is too narrow.  He argues that if video games are to survive as a genre what we consider a video game cannot be limited.

Jim makes a very simple logical mis-step, a category mistake.

A category mistake is when you inadvertently place something in one category when it actually belongs in another.

A good example of this would be to say that a basketball court is a game.  No, the basketball court is actually just a location where games are played.   The game that is played there, is basketball.

This is the exact same mistake that Jim Sterling makes.  A lot of these things may be “game” like, but they are not games.

A game is structured play with rules.  So not everyone who is playing is playing a game, but everyone who is playing a game is playing.

Jim quotes the most common definition of a video game:

“A game played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a television screen or other display screen.”

Note that this definition includes our “game” which in order for it to be a game requires it to have rules and be structured play.

Games like Mario he rightly identifies as most definitely being games because they have rules, scores and objectives.

But “interactive games” are not really games in the same way that a person with homophobia isn’t literally terrified of gay people.  Game in that sense is being used metaphorically to indicate it is game-like, but it is not a game.

So what are these interactive games exactly?  Well, they’re the basketball courts while games are basketball.  They give you the place to play a game, but do not offer up any game for you to play.  When you get there you can either make your own game out of it… or if it lacks enough capability it becomes just an interactive movie or movie set.

No one would argue that an Audio Book is a game.  No one would argue that a television show is a game.  No one would argue that a blender is a game.

So why exactly is it that people are coming to the defense of these game-like video games?

Well simple fact, they’re available on consoles and computers and some people may in the future find them fun or enjoyable.

That however does not stop them from being sold in any market place or gaining distribution.  Games weren’t always popular but they were sold and we had methods of praising them.  All that really needs to happen is change the way in which we label these non-game products.

As a final thought here is a review of The Stanley Parable to illustrate how badly people want these non-games to be games:

This is one of the best walking simulators I have ever played. You get to walk around and look at things while a man with a beautiful voice narrates your actions. Sometimes you get to click on things and he calls you an idiot. It reminds me of my mother.

Why Early Access Games Leads to Failure

Early access games are highly problematic.  They are riddled with flaws, and we still buy them.  There are many great successes in the Early Access games market.  Minecraft is the biggest success.  DOTA 2 is another success. Day Z, yet a third success.

Every single time an early access game is a success it is marked as evidence that the model works and is not in fact highly problematic.

In this article I’d like to explain the problems with early access games.

1. Selling an Idea

So it all starts off as an idea.  A developer has worked on some of the most basic parts of the game and is now selling you a bag of promises.

So you get a game that is completely empty but some sort of first person mode.  The page on Steam will indicate what is coming, but nothing really about what is actually there.  You open the game and it is of course, mostly empty.

Now a game like Day Z that has all of the funding of Arma 2 and Arma 3 behind it will be made regardless of sales.

selling your ideas

But games that are using early access as a way to fund their game, have a problem.  They can only put in the features they have the funding to put in.  So they make a list of things that are coming, but currently only have the funding for one or two.

As you invest and others invest into the early access model they can add more to the game.  But if sales don’t stay consistent and they run out of money they stop being able to develop their ideas, instead they have to find new ways to make money.

This brings in somewhat of a pyramid model of social networking.  After so long the developers might just start asking you to tell your friends… because they need more money.  After a while an early access game that hasn’t quite gotten the funding it needs is going to turn into a full blown pyramid scheme that never gives you the product advertised… just an idea to try and sell to someone else.

2. No Guarantee

Every single product on the face of the Earth has a guarantee.  If the product is advertised falsely, if it’s broken or if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, you get to return the product and bring it back as is.

With the early access games it is, working as intended.  You are buying a game that is broken which means there is absolutely no possible way that you cannot have succeeded in getting your agreement because on paper you are buying… nothing at all.

Now some might say you are buying a promise, like an investment.

17931336-no-guarantee-no-warranty-text-in-hand-stock

But that’s not exactly the case.  With a share you purchase a portion of the company.  You are not purchasing the potential for profits, you are physically purchasing a thing.  When profits are made you will get your share of it.  But since you physically own that thing you can sell it to someone else.

With early access games on Steam you own the license to access it.  It cannot be returned and cannot be traded or re-sold.  Once you purchase this license it is useless to you.  The only way it becomes useful is if the game actually is made… of which there is no guarantee that it will actually be made.

This can be compared with investment in which purchasing shares purchases something.  The big money investors are certainly playing more risky… but the people looking for retirement and retirement savings plans… it’s a lot more stable and there’s a guarantee of results.

The actual product you are buying is a giant if statement.  If the game is completed, you will own it.  If it isn’t completed, you just continue to have access to a broken incomplete game.

3. There Are Games on the Market

There are literally no early access games out there that are not already on the market.

Generally speaking if you’re going to invest in an idea you will only invest in one you already know you’ll like.  But if you’ve never seen a game like what they’re offering, you will have no idea as to whether or not you like it.

So an early access game shows up and promises that they’re going to give you a shooter that is tactical, you know unlike Call of Duty… which isn’t that tactical.

terrariavsstarbound

But wait, there’s already a tactical shooter on the market…. it’s called Battlefield 4.  You can already play this game and its full and complete.

So an early access game has to convince you to support them instead of playing an existing game that already does what they’re trying to do.  So they have to make ridiculous promises that they simply cannot meet…. unless you were to pay them even more.

fallout2vswasteland

There’s this odd belief that anything that is big corporate and common is bad and something that is small, personal and indie is good.  It’s just not the case.  There are tones of great indie titles… but there are far more terrible ones.

There’s this great game called Minecraft… never played it.  But there are still people trying to make it and early access the exact same concept.

4. Tester’s Fatigue

As a final point of order there is a huge problem in free betas to keep people around.  Free to play games that have early access beta for free can hardly keep the game populated.

However the solution to this was to charge them an up front fee in hopes that by giving it an upfront value the tester might value it more.

It will make them play it more… but it won’t make them value it more.

The most successful early access games end up being the ones that give people tonnes of things to do when they launch.  The ones that have a lot of work to be done, lose people.

Free games have this sort of weird problem where they have to actively advertise to get more people to test their game.

freestuff

The free ones have to pay people to keep going.  The ones that charge are unlikely able to survive and thus cannot promote their game in order to attract more people to test it.

So there’s going to be a reduced quality problem.  Initially the development team is going to get tonnes of feedback.  But over time the amount of feedback is going to be heavily reduced.  I mean on the first you will have less bugs, but you will also have less people reporting on bugs.

A game like Minecraft was successful because it was able to successful get its testers to convince their friends to play it… because it was a fun game.  But a game that simply doesn’t have anything fun to do at the time will just fall apart and die.

It can only expect to have so much success.

5. And The Logical Conclusion

Early access games will make more money when they are in early access than they would launched.

The proof is in the pudding.  DOTA 2 when early access was out profiting Team Fortress 2.  Once it went live and became a totally free to play title, it started making less than Team Fortress 2.

In order for early access games to keep testers in play they have to keep micro transactions to a minimal and make their game highly playable by the public.  But once you get past that initial surge of investment and you launch the game… well you simply just don’t make as much money.

New Tags System Could Reduce PC Games Sales

It’s no secret that Steam is the primary retailer of PC games.

However their new tagging system might reduce sales instead of increase it.

Exhibit A is Kingdom Tales:

kingdomtalesscam

The most common tags for it are “Overpriced Port of a Mobile Game” and “scam.”

Of course this doesn’t help you determine whether or not this game is for you.  The term Overpriced Port of a Mobile game has been applied to all SEGA War games, Arma Tactics, and Tiny Thief.

Since this flag has gone up you’ll start doing a little more research if you are still convinced it kinda looks good… or just run away if you don’t like it.

This will also give an abusive way for gamers to assault games and developers they do not like.  It’s no secret that the Steam community hate Call of Duty games.  Modern Warfare 2 was called “bad” as a tag.

badgamescod

Walking Dead Survival Instinct gets the “famously terrible” tag

walkingdeadsurvivalinstinctterrible

This tag gets shared with The Expendibles 2 Movie, XCOM Rebirth, Ride to Hell: Retribution, Aliens: Colonial Marines, and Star Trek.

The Fine Economics of Early Access Games

When Greenlight happened it was a shining green light of innovation.  It gave a way for the little guys to get on via popular access… but it also came with a lot of shit… a lot of unfinished games.

Instead of disallowing unfinished games and creating a system in which they could offer refunds for the purchase of unfinished products they instead went a different route.

The, unfinished game…. became a product.  It became known as the “Early Access Game.”

Early access games come in so many different formats… it’s kind of ridiculous.

Why It Exists

Hipsters are a thing.  Hipsters are often defined as people who are trying to be ahead of the trends before they happen but once they become something they stop doing it.  They are people who fear pop culture to the extreme.

So it makes sense that these people would exist in the video game community.

Being in an alpha or a beta means that you were doing it before it was cool…. and so too the hipsters arrived.  They were proud of testing great games and as they increased they made it cool.

A typical hipster to me might be someone like TotalBiscuit.  He used to wear a top hat when he did podcasts and life streams and then suddenly he just stopped… because it became cool.  As well he jumps into all of the early access games and tries out every single game.  He often takes games that start off unpopular, alpha tests them… and makes them cool… but once they’re cool he just stops doing it.

This behavior has become prominent and has grown.  Youtube has evolved in a way from a video distribution website to a social network.  People share their experiences in these alpha games to other alpha players and they make friends through it.

A positive experience creates a hipster, a negative experience just keeps a regular person.

But not all of these early access games are the same and some will appeal more to the gaming hipster than others.

The first model is what I might call… the Kickstarter game.

The Kickstarter Game

The Kickstarter Game has usually just finished rallying support from Kickstarter and have used that support to Greenlight the game on Steam.  To them Steam is just another version of Kickstarter where they can develop their game while still getting even more funding.

These are by far the riskiest of the early access games because these developers are desperate for money… and very often represent one or two people.

These guys are generally not good with money at all.  They are the gaming equivalent of ideologues.  They attract people who believe an argument that small is better or in some way higher quality.  Oh those big budget games lack the personal experience, they build for the masses.  But for you, the hipster… we build a game for you.

They try to meet a real demand.  There are millions of people who played games like Modern Warfare and Battlefield 4 and see some flaw.  They want a game that is…. strategic.  So Kickstarter gets flooded full of “tactical” shooters that aim to be about being strategic as opposed to focusing on head shots and kill streaks.

But the bigger problem is the profit model for these games.  One of these games tends to be in development for 2-4 years.    These provide a high salary for 1-2 developers during that time.  They have this giant pool of money in which every expense the have in their life can be pooled as a business expense.

Since they are often bad with money once they hit the day they are supposed to launch and the game isn’t finished, they need more money.  So they look for more money to continue going.

If they find the money they continue developing and updating the game.

But they have a big problem for a launch window. The actual launch of the game is very much pointless.  By the time the game launches they have already sold most of the copies of the game they are going to sell.  Once the game goes live they probably won’t get many more copies.

So if they can’t find the money they will either kill the game or try and launch it broken in hopes of getting some extra funding to continue updating the game.

But once the game is launched there isn’t a big need to update the game or add any new content unless sales are ultra high.

This means that the end result for the consumer is that they will always feel buyer’s remorse for supporting these small projects.

The next kind are more stable… but have their owns problems.  Developer designed “early access beta.”

Early Access Beta

Large corporations have found that there are some games that are more profitable in beta than they are in full release.  It’s very much like

These games are a bit odd. They are often MOBA,s MMOs and free to play games.

When they launch, they’ll be 100% free and anyone can play them.  But while they are in alpha or beta, you have to pay a fee to get in.

But the free to play models of these games are so bad and unprofitable that if it actually goes live, they’re likely to lose money.

The clear champion of this style was DOTA 2.  DOTA 2 is Valve’s most popular game.  When it was up for sale they sold over 2,000,000 copies of the game… and each person gets free keys to distribute around.

When they opened up the game for beta testing it was as done as it was ever going to be.  In the time of the beta they added in maybe 20 heroes… which is a drop in the bag to the total heroes you will see over the game’s life.

When they launched the game it was no more complete than when they started the beta.  They just ended the beta phase because… it stopped making money.  Once they went live they started doubling out on the money making gear.  They began a program to try and monetize other people developing gear for them so they could sell it on the store.

But hero production slowed down massively… because that’s how they make their money now.  They no longer need to show that they’re still developing and updating the game because they’re not getting that big investment.  League of Legends on the other hand is always adding new heroes… because they make their money off of hero sales.

It’s very similar to the going out of business sale from Don’t Mess with the Zohan.

“So you’re going out of business”

“No, no, no… it’s just a sign… it’s good for business.”

For some times these games that are essentially never profitable to launch.  If as a business it doesn’t generate profits from their free to play model they’ll just change the model to something that people would find less acceptable, but would make more money overall.

The benefit of doing this method is you never have to push out an excruciating item’s shop and you can play good guy while you still redeem $20-30 early access fees.

Full Games, Updates are Coming

This is probably the trickiest of them… and becoming far more common.  Basically in the past you would release a full game and it would come with a certain number of bugs.  But it was complete and it was released.

This game would go up for review and if it was a really great game, it would get a really great review and that would promote sales.  If it got a really bad review it would hurt sales.

So now if you are going to release a really bad game it is against your interest to release it as a full release as you would have before.  You might have people who might try it, but you won’t get that many sales because you have opened yourself to too much criticisms.  When you release a terrible game it also hurts your image as a developer and you’re forced with the consequences of that bad release for so long.

So in the end if your game isn’t a AAA superstar title it is in your interest to label it as early access.  It’s not really an early access game.  You’re not REALLY getting access to it that much earlier than you would have if they had released it when they did.  But they label it early access because any flaws in the game can be tossed to the side as a work in progress.

The criticism of people doing reviews of these full games has really already begun.  They are selling a full product to people and much like every other product out there, it needs to be reviewed.  But review websites are being accused of doing it for “search engine optimization” reasons.

The real truth is, they need to be criticized.  These full studios that are working on other projects are delegating a couple of people to this project.  A perfect example is Ubisoft’s A Mighty Quest for Epic Loot.

It’s basically a complete Free to Play game.  But they can’t make money if it’s just free to play, they need the initial investment from people like a regular game would be.  So they have it up as early access, despite being essentially done.

They’re currently going through the regular free to play cycle which involves simply adding in more items that you can purchase with only a few people working on it.

All the while there are full release games like Terraria and Skyrim that are rolling out updates constantly.  It seems odd that a giant studio like Ubisoft can’t afford to actually just release the game free to play legitimately and just do the regular model everyone else uses…. unless of course the game had no chance of succeeding.

So, Now What?

Ten years ago we were talking about very different immoral business practices.

We looked at games like Maple Story, released in 2003 and noted that as you progressed through the game you were forced to purchase items to compete.  We called this buy to win and North America shunned this practice heavily.  When the time came we accepted buy to convenience instead.

We looked at games like Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and saw them rolling out DLC packages at expensive prices.  We said this kind of DLC is unacceptable and that we need to get quality for the DLC that we are purchasing.  These days DLC that is rolling out is high quality and comes with content that highly extends the gameplay.  It is often priced properly for what you are receiving, not $20 horse armor any more.

So now it’s time we vote with our wallet.

As I speak there are 7 games in the top 10 of Steam: Day Z, Rust, 7 Days to Die, Next Car Game, Space Engineers, Starbound and Divinity: Original Sin.

A lot of this has to do with the time of year, no one releases games in January or February so people are likely to get bored and jump on board one or more of these games.

But if you really want to see change, don’t do it.  Don’t buy these games.  Purchase discounted games and play those instead.  Wait for a full release and don’t give them a dime until it is.

This Will Be Awesome, We Promise

I don’t know how many times we do it.

How many times we delude ourselves into believing it.

We play one amazing game that really changes our life…. and then we sell our soul to that developer for all of time.

When it sucks, we even make excuses or pretend that it’s better than it is.

You know who you are.

COD Junkies.

Battlefield fiends.

Command and Conquer friends.

I can say that I have my own publisher that I buy almost everything from, Kalypso Media.  These guys make all of these economy games.  But after Tropico 4 every single other game they made sucks.

I sat through Port Royale 3, it was just awful.

I sat through Omerta: City of Gangsters… it was one of the worst games of the year.

I even picked up Rise of Venice…. and finished it.

I keep telling myself this is the last one.  But I’ve finally hit that point, Tropico 5 is the last straw, if it sucks, these guys are out for me.

Getting unhooked from other franchises took equally long and I just don’t know why I do it to myself every time.

Will Zynga Survive 2014 – Troublmaker’s Game Predictions

SENSATIONALIST HEADLINE ALERT FOR SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION.  Yes if the big games can have sensationalist headlines… then I really should to, no?

It’s been a great year for gaming with some really amazing titles being left in the shadow because of just how much was in the game.  THQ even went bankrupt.  Some things are just so easy to predict, others not so much.  These are Troublmaker’s (that’s me) predictions for 2014.

#1: Zynga Won’t Survive

It’s hard to imagine that a year ago Zynga was looking really good.  A stock value starting at $10 is now falling under $4.  Zynga has roughly 20 games with their top game Farmville recently being ousted by Candy Crush and their big money makers all gambling…. I imagine Zynga will be doomed.

If Zynga is to survive it will survive almost entirely as a form of online Poker.  With gift cards being a replacement for pre-paid Master Cards, gambling on Zynga’s various gambling games is overwhelmingly easier than other methods.

But Zynga will fall for other reasons.  The biggest one is that they still haven’t been able to break from Facebook.  Zynga’s success was based almost entirely on the growth of Facebook.  But the competition on Facebook is intense.

They have Words with Friends on Android and iPhone… but not much else.  Their main game Farmville isn’t working on either of these devices and without being able to translate their most populat game into a unifying platform… they’re in trouble.

A unifying platform means either having one platform that works really well, or have all platforms work together.  If Zynga can’t find more attractive ways to get people to play together… and get them to pay.  They are most certainly doomed.

2014 can just as easily be the year where they cease to exist.

Certain formats just die out.  I can say with some sort of certainty that Flash games are pretty well dead.  The new in browser based games are Unity based games.

They blew up and took over the browser based market.

But Unity is also the big reason why browser based games will stagnate.  It is too intuitive, too easy to use, and far too capable.  It has allowed really small studios to make some really

Simply put, the market for browser based games is full and will not allow for newer ones to flourish.

Expect to see many browser based game companies up and close their servers.

This is similar to last year’s Apps-apocalypse which saw the complete bankruptcy of many apps based programs who severely struggled in a challenging market.

#2: Video Games and Addiction Will Become a Big Deal

South Australia (the province) has already begun a multi-million dollar campaign against video games.  The thing is… their information isn’t actually bad… nor is their goal.

They are targeting games that have gambling implications that are readily available to young people.  There are some REALLY obvious ones.  Lucky Slots on Facebook is directly a gambling game.

But the big goal of this campaign is to get rid of the nickle and diming games.  The ones that claim to be free but then you play them so often and you get a note to pay them money to continue.  You know… like arcade games used to work?

Evidence shows there’s a strong link between gambling addiction and arcade machines. Arcades were huge up until the 1990s.  By no coincidence this is exactly the same time when the gambling industry modernized and brought in VLTs.

With the growth of the online video game it would be eventual before they would go online and use the same mechanics to lure in gamers.

Of course the campaign can’t actually change anything.  This is after all only from the South Australian government.  However when one government invests so much into a campaign it won’t take long for others to notice.

2013 was definitely the year of the fake gay bashing stories.  I think people are sick of victim stories…. and the replacement just might be video game and gambling addiction.

#3: MOBA Development Will Cease

Last year there was a lot of room in the market for more MOBAs.

At the end of last year Destructoid announced that League of Legends had 32 million active players and over 70 million accounts.

With that news most people who were making real time strategy games to compete with Starcraft 2 started using their assets to try and make a MOBA.  There were dozens of really bad MOBA releases this year.  Lord of the Rings had one come out before it was ready.  Trion Worlds was building a MOBA in End of Nations which for the second time has seen stalled development.

With the full release of DOTA 2, with Smite, Infinite Crisis, and Dawngate all being things there is tones of saturation in this market.

The other major problem is that this market is unlikely to grow.  The biggest hub of MOBAs is China.  China loves free games.  Riot Games was acquired by a Chinese company and and its massive growth was in part because of just how many Chinese are playing League of Legends.

More than likely these big game MOBAs will all fight for the same pot.  Whereas small indie MOBAs like Smashmuck Champions will just die off.

All of this in light of Blizzard releasing their own MOBA soon called “Blizzard All Stars.”