This year has been like wading through a tsunami of sewer levels. Even so, last month a couple of events, in particular, left a bad taste in my mouth – if only because they underscored the tightrope walked by narrative game developers. First was the news that Apple, having corralled ‘premium’ mobile games into the family-friendly walled-garden within-a-walled-garden of Apple Arcade, was turning away from (read: cancelling) self-contained games to focus on those that hooked subscribers with maximal engagement and infinite replayability. Soon after this came word that the developer of the free-to-play narrative app Lovestruck was dumping its freelance writing staff after they organised to improve their pay and working conditions. Both of these cases highlighted that our most usefully ubiquitous and accessible videogame machine suffers under a marketplace that all but makes it impossible to tell a story.
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