I think there is a fairly general consensus among gamers that the big budget games aren't living up to the expecations held over the years.
Gaming isn't simply a hobby anymore; it's attained the status of art the same way novels and movies have. Games have the ability to place the player somplace artists dreamed of being able to do since the cave paintings first appeared on walls: allow the other person to experience what the creator wanted to have them experience.
Of course, that's a very simplistic way of describing what games are able to do. I don't think it's accurate, either, considering people can play the exact same game and feel completely differently about it. Final Fantasy 7 is the greatest RPG to one person, but to me it's a generic game with a handful of tropes trying to compete with each other over which one the confusing story revolves around.
Am I wrong? Am I right? It's impossible to consider one person's opinion as right or wrong when it's something as subjective as this. But there is a truth surrounding people's subjectivity and perspectives; it's simply one that isn't known until a discussion about what those same people think. A general agreement, something that whole communities feel is happening: Triple-A games have been growing stagnant and bland.
In fact, it's gotten to the point where even the highly praised games are just “meh.” There is a scarce amount of people that feel like the $60 (or more depending on what content is optional) wasn't worth the hours spent playing it. Let's take a look at the Bioshock series as an example. The first one blew everyone away - no one knew what it was gonna be like. The second one, however, was so bad I'm fairly certain people would suggest they skip the second installment and jump straight to the third, which is arguably the best in the series.
The problem is that, aside from the first game, I (and I'm fairly certain more than a few others) don't think they'll replay the series. It was beaten once, and there wasn't anything that could draw the player to re-experience it. I don't see myself ten years from now, exploring my Steam library, and thinking “That series was amazing, I want to play it again and experience it all over again.” I'm talking about that desire that people have to read the Harry Potter series even though they finished it years ago, that nostalgic feeling mixed with anticipation of feeling what you experienced before, and enjoying it, too.
Yes, there's always those titles where we play a game or watch a movie and we shake our head, wondering what did we possibly enjoy about it before. However, with the current trend of big budget games, most of them will fall into that category. Bethesda games are a perfect example of this; each game is chock full of bugs and currently seem to be trying to emulate the success Skyrim had on release. However, years afterward, the mod community improved the quality the game exponentially, adding new ways to use combat, adding whole new magic systems, and outshining the graphics tenfold compared to when Skyrim was released. This isn't even touching on how many game-breaking bugs had to be fixed, either.
This begs the question; was the modding what made Skyrim last so long years afterward?
I may not be alone when I say that there's no way I would play vanilla Skyrim again, but I wold happily replay it with these new additons. But this doesn't line up well with the idea that one can play an older game and still fully enjoy the experience, as I would be experiencing something completely different, right?
New IPs are growing fewer and fewer in number as triple A developers have began looking towards the older titles and revamping them into new instalations. Series which should have ended long ago keep adding their numbers to the end of the name as if they were trying to multiply how successful it would be compared to the previous instalation. Now we expect to see something original from the indie side of gaming more than ever with Undertale being the newest game to have garnered interest and success.
Are we to continue this division between what gamers enjoy and what developers think gamers want? The raw nerve that is #GamerGate is still fresh, yet it's evidence that the split among this medium is not gowing away; if anything it's getting worse. The only conclusion I can make of this troubling trend that threatens our beloved pasttime is one I fear won't end as quickly as we hope; especially during this climate of fear created by outrage of the benign.