Much as video games have never been more popular or commercially successful than they are right now, there's an argument to be made that, in 2024, the art form has strayed so far from its roots as to become basically unrecognisable.
Though recent years have seen record profits for many publishers, unease around the volatile side of the industry has workers, analysts, and players alike concerned, that things are going to keep changing for the worse.
For all the technological breakthroughs gaming has made in recent years, it's also safe to say that the industry has mutated in ways that don't benefit it either artistically or commercially in the long run.
It is an ever-evolving medium, far more so than movies, TV, music, or books, and while this can bring great innovation, it can also lead to hasty, short-sighed business decisions, and in turn a feeling from players that gaming as a whole has lost some of its lustre.
These problem areas represent the biggest challenges facing the gaming industry at present. As for whether it's possible to change course? We'll have to wait and see...
10. AAA Is Literally Unsustainable
AAA gaming may be where the biggest money is made, but it also bears the largest cost and therefore the greatest risk. And in recent years it's become increasingly concerning how perilous, even outright unsustainable, that model is.
With the average development time of a AAA game ballooning considerably as of late, this means that a single flop game - or even a mere underperformance - can mean serious trouble for developers who don't have the backing of a major publisher.
Uncharted co-creator Amy Hennig pointed out how unviable this business model was back in 2019, and the result is that publishers are basically incentivised to only greenlight the most safe-bet AAA games moving forward, where the chance of financial failure is minimised. Now, 95% of developers are reportedly working on at least one live-service title.
It's clear that something fundamentally needs to change about how games are made - perhaps moving away from an obsession with raw technical power requiring the efforts of thousands of people, making games shorter, and setting more realistic sales targets (looking at you, Square Enix).
But it's a tricky balance to strike, given that many players simply won't want to shell out top day-one dollar for a game that doesn't look cutting-edge, and won't offer at least 30-40 hours of gameplay.
Again, it's unsustainable without some serious business overhauls and tough decisions over the next few years.