commandmentsVideo games is a serious business—according to some estimates, a more than $50 billion industry. While one would believe that revenues of that enormity means that nothing but quality products hit the markets, gamers are the first people to tell you that that's mostly not the case. Game developers nowadays are pumping out products that are either visibly unfinished or contain serious gameplay flaws that stoke the ire of the fanboy masses. One need only look at the licensed shovelware that floods the market with nearly blockbuster movie's release, or recent rumors of Activision considering moving Call of Duty multiplayer to a subscription model, to know what we're talking about. So, lest we allow this slippery slope of suck to continue, we've put together an easy primer for devs to live by when working on their newest creations. Feel free to print this out, guys; we're fresh out of stone tablets...

By Geranimos Manolatos


1. Honor your mother, father, and gamers by not offering downloadable content on release day.
One of the most troubling trends gaining steam in the industry, DLC on release date is like ordering a hamburger and being charged for the bun. We picked up Tiger Woods PGA Tour and were dumbfounded by the appearance of extra courses for download, all for the low price of ANOTHER TEN DOLLARS. Evolving a game once it has been on the market for a bit—even a month or two—is one thing, but holding back content and then charging the consumer for that content when a game is released is stone cold sinful. Get thee to a nunnery! You too, Tiger.



2. Thou shalt not confuse hiding huundreds of "collectibles" with making your game more enjoyable.
You'd be surprised how many times we get press releases about new games that tout "ZOMG!! X NUMBER OF HOURS OF GAMEPLAY!!" only to come to realize that most of our time would spent traveling around a map gathering crap. We're not taking anything away from games like Crackdown 2, but it's plain boring relegating what is supposed to be an entertaining use of a good bong hit day off to what's essentially a glorified digital Easter egg hunt. We'd much rather spend our time with, for example, the engaging puzzles and collectibles of Arkhan Asylum.?



3. Remember our game stats and keep them holy.
Possibly the most annoying thing about remaining loyal to a franchise is the lack of thought in transferring those hard-earned RBIs or headshots into the next year's iteration of that game franchise. Electronic Arts and Bungie have done a great job in creating Web hubs for their fans to visit and peruse each other's multiplayer histories, but there should be more effort by other developers to do the same. We remember every insignificant fact about your game, couldn't you at least return the favor with our K/D ratio?



4. If thou art one of the people who help pump out games like Imagine: Babiez and Wii Music, stop. Just stop.
Not everything in reality is made to be simulated, but some game makers have yet to be convinced of that fact. Yeah, we get that there's an awesome vast untapped consumer audience waiting for someone to make games for them, too, but "people who want to fake-play saxophone" is not a "consumer audience." It's just some guy who loves jazz and doesn't have fingers. Oh, and feel free to stop using the letter 'z' to signify a plural whenever you want. Really, anytime.



5. Baby Jesus hates plastic accessories, and thou should too.
The way developers are shoehorning "amazing new hardware" into their games, you'd think the Three Wise Men came toting gold, frankincense, and Guitar Hero controllers. Alas, we live in a gaming world where "immersion" is one of the buzzwords required to make a good game, and the easy way out is to include crazy gaming paraphernalia filled with buttons. Even more unfortunate is the incessant need to remodel said paraphernalia for every iteration of a franchise, which explains why we currently have thirteen plastic guitars gently beeping near our entertainment system. What, you thought we only listened to rap? We can make George Harrison references too, y'know.



6. Thou shall not covet thy neighbor developer's franchise.
Look, we know some of you are looking at the success of Modern Warfare 2 and concocting hare-brained ideas on how to strike it rich too. Well, be easy. It's not going to work. Unless you've got a franchise that's already staked its claim in the genre (like Medal of Honor, for example), consider our advice seriously and save yourself some production money. There too much time and effort spent on "me-too" franchises, so think long and hard about a fresh new way on shooting someone in the face.



7. Thou shall not murder thy franchise.
Nintendo has gotten away with this for decades, but at least they create fantastic Mario, Zelda, and Metroid games that gamers and critics love. Others haven't been as delicate with their precious intellectual properties, which leads us to today's oversaturated rhythm game market (and perhaps the death of a once-loved hedgehog). Of all game genres, music games in particular require yearly iterations (at least according to devs), which has led to sales slumping big-time over the past couple of years. Give us a hefty DLC package to hold us over for a year or two while you work on the next big thing, instead of bombarding us with half-baked sequels.



8. Thou shall allow saving at any time.
Checkpoints are the developers' way of telling you that they don't care about your life. Got an unexpected extended bathroom break? Better invest in bedpans. Suffering from severe boredom? Sorry, pal, you need to acquire the Helm of Sorcery first. Gotta pick up your girl in 10 minutes? Not until you get over this hill and kill some aliens! Give us gamers the ability to save our digital lives whenever, wherever, for the sake of our real lives. We swear, we have them.



9. Thou shalt not lean on celebrity endorsers to sell a game.
Unless it's Barack Obama in the new NBA Jam. Otherwise, we don't care that Beyonce may or may not have taken a picture on her DSi or that Tony Hawk thinks his new game is totally rad. Which brings us to...



10. We are your Makers. Fear us.
Make good games and we'll get behind them. Limbo may not have had the biggest budget, but it hit all the right notes for a minimalist exercise in gaming perfection. Conversely, gamers took crap like Tony Hawk Ride to the cleaners. You don't need gimmicks to get our attention—just great gaming experiences. Whatever they may be.