The Paladin and I finally beat the main questline for The Division last night. It was as anticlimactic as I had heard, but it was always going to be. Ubisoft wanted us to play The Division for 100s of hours, so to have an ending that pretty much said, “Well, you did it! Go back home to your family and friends for the few days you have left. You know, because while those half-masks look cool, really cool, there is no way they keep super-viruses from infecting you. I mean, they don’t even cover your eyes and ears. Anyway, thanks for all the help. Burn all your gear and take a chemical shower on the way out.” No, they want you to continue hunting down rogue New Yorkers with extreme prejudice for forever.
Which is kind of the problem with these games, expectations. According to the in-game stat counter, I have played The Division for 1 Day and 16 Hours, so to max out the main base, get to level 30, and finish the main quest it takes about 40 hours. For a dad that works full time. 40 hours is plenty of game. Had the game been sold that way, most people would have been fine, but that is not what happened. It was going to be the game to end all games. You would never need another game. It was the cornerstone in Ubisoft’s future financial plans. However, once it was released the hard-core players did the base stuff in about two days, and then demanded their “End Game”. AKA the real game. Judging by all the cool stuff I can play and do now in The Division, it looks like there is a lot of end game content now available, but for many players it got added too late, and they were off to the next thing.
What is curious, is that this keeps happening. Ubisoft is releasing The Division 2 saying that this time they got it right. Bungie and Activision said the same thing about Destiny 2. EA said that Anthem was a game you would be playing for 10 years. Right now, you are lucky if you can play Anthem for 10 minutes before it tries to destroy your console. Why do companies keep doing this? Why keep chasing the new MMO craze every time they come around? Games are expensive, and they are getting even more expensive to make. Even chasing niches costs a lot of money. You should go check out the Game Informer interviews they did with Obsidian about The Outer Worlds on YouTube. See how many times the lead developers, Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, said they wanted to do something, but it was cut due to time and budget, that they hope gamers are satisfied with the smaller scope of the game, or with the CEO Feargus Urquhart when he says that the reason they got bought out by Microsoft was that even “little” games now take a lot of capital, and there is no way to really afford that alone anymore.
In an era where it costs 100s of Millions of dollars to make a game, having a game out there that continues to bring in cash year after year grantees a company’s stability. Not to mention, if people are rushing through 40-hour games in days, and then complaining there isn’t enough to do, an endless game sounds like something that can fix that, so to keep striving to be the next WoW, or Warframe, or even Eve Online makes a lot of sense. Even if they keep screwing up. Because, if they get it right it can keep their company afloat while they work on other projects. Most companies will fail to create their forever game, but I don’t think we will see them stop trying any time soon. Not when GTA V is still selling millions of copies and tons of virtual currency.