No Longer Plug And Play –
You know what sucks? Having to wait to play your new game.
Back in the day, playing a game simply required popping in the disc or cartridge and hitting the power button. With little to no load times, the player could immediately jump into the action of the game they just brought home from Blockbuster Video or from that pre-order they had on order for months. Gamers didn’t realize it at the time but the instant action helped alleviate the anticipation of playing of what could be your next favorite game.
Unfortunately, those days are long gone.
When these new gen console were first announced, one of the biggest bullet points Microsoft and Sony made were the absence of load times, breaking down the wall between player and game. What a bunch of BS! Now, game discs must be installed onto the new gen hard drive before players can play which can take hours or even days.
This point of complaint can best be described with a real world example. Just a couple weeks ago, Rare released the hotly anticipated Rare Replay for a meager $30. Like the rest of the world, I pre ordered my copy several weeks before its launch, eagerly awaiting its arrival on day one. Marking the release of this title on my calendar by clearing out a chunk of my day so I can play in peace, I was infuriated when I realized the game disc needed hours to install, preventing me from playing on day one.
Popping in the disc and tapping A on the controller actually didn’t do anything from the main menu of my Xbox One. It wasn’t until I tapped several more times and waited about five minutes did my system start the whirring “the disc is doing something inside the tray” noise. To my surprise, the disc needed to install each of the compiled Xbox 360 separately along with an install of the actual disc itself. This means each Banjo, Perfect Dark, and Viva Piñata (plus a couple more) title needed time to write the contents of the disc to my hard drive. Besides waiting for hours, these games took up more of my precious hard drive space, the topic of my last You Know What Sucks article.
Making matters worse, the disc failed to install several times in a row. I started this install around 6pm and it continued to install after midnight; I had over 6 hours of installing and it still wasn’t finished! For whatever reason, the Viva Piñata games just would not install on my hard drive. They would install about 25%, the get hung up for 20 minutes, an error code would pop up, and it would try again. It wasn’t until several more attempts did the disc fully install and I was able to play my damn game.
Now, a couple days later, this game has already left a sour taste in my mouth and I have not even started playing yet. Going from extreme hype to infuriating disappointment because of load times is one of the worst things a gamer can go though. I just want to play my game, dammit!
Rare Replay is not the only culprit of this either. Halo the Master Chief Collection not only filled up about a third of my entire hard drive, it took hours to install. The Elder Scrolls Online was the same way, taking several hours to actually install to allow the player to play. Sometimes the little pop up indicator will say “so-and-so game is now ready to start” after some initial loading takes place. However, the game will often just boot to the main menu. When the “start the game” option is clicked, the player will get a “hey wait for this to finish installing” message which is even more infuriating because your system just lied to you. The game isn’t ready yet! It only loaded the main menu, not the actual gameplay.
What does this mean for gamers? Well, it means that new gen gaming isn’t all that it is cracked up to be because we are no longer able to play on day one even though we go out of our way to pop in the disc as soon as possible. As another example, I am worried about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. My expectations for this game are beyond measure and cannot wait for its day one arrival (yes, I paid the extra cash for the limited edition). However, I need to realize that I will probably not be able to play this game on September 1, its launch day. Instead, I am hoping by September 3rd everything will be installed and the game’s servers had a chance to catch up with the demand.
Unfortunately, Microsoft and Sony realize this problem so they often allow pre orderers to install the majority of the game onto their hard drive with a preload feature ahead of time. This isn’t a solution though because some gamers just don’t want to buy a digital copy, especially when special physical gifts are included in Limit Editions, and still takes an absurd amount of hard drive space and electrical energy to download. In fact, it probably takes more energy to keep your system running to download one 50GB game file than it does to drive round trip to the store to pick up a physical copy.
The days of plugging in a cart and simply pushing the Power button to have instant action are long gone and quite frankly, it sucks. Perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad if load times only took like 15 minutes but when they can literally take days, no one wins. Going out of your way to get a game on launch day no longer means anything since it takes hours to load. I guess I will just play my 3DS while my MGSV and Halo 5 finish installing…