A Bad Horse

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” says the proverb. But the intention behind the gift should be held up to scrutiny.

The latest digital game store, née Epic Games Store, store offers a free new game every two weeks to anyone who creates a (free) account.

It is a fantastic initiative. These are not amateur games, nor especially old ones – although, in the world of video games, a two-year-old game may seem ancient.

But I feel this is a missed opportunity. The price of games is a big barrier to entry, to bringing new people to the world of video games. This free games initiative could be used to showcase to this audience – the audience who only knows one or two games from the YouTubes – some of the classics of the last handful of years. It would have to be a selection that would simultaneously be representative of what is good in video games, and accessible to less experienced people.

Instead, the games offered are games that are a hard sell for initiates, games that appeal far more to veteran players who, for one reason or another, didn’t play them when they were released.

Games like Super Meat Boy or Axion Verge are great for me, a guy who has been into this for over two decades, but will be of zero interest my younger sister. And Thimbleweed Park may remind my father of the adventure games of old, but it will only make him conclude that nothing has changed in the intervening 25 years.

On the other hand, the fantastic Tetris 99 on the Switch was a success in this regard. Nintendo is, as usual, way ahead in the game. Good to see someone bringing the right horse!