Opinion: What Happened to Saves?

In recent days a trend seems to have come up for video games – the inability to save. A trend that is not good for the health of games, at least that’s what I think.

Back in the day, video games were either on arcade, meaning you had to pay to keep continuing, or you had a series of passwords. Eventually, saves were implemented properly into these games. Now, we have a wide variety of save options – auto saves, save points, save anywhere, some combination of the above, and… no saves at all?

Autosave Notification
As awkward as autosaving can be, it’s still better than no saves at all.

Now, I can understand an inability to save if you game is say five minutes long. However, if you’re asking 30+ minutes from a gamer and your game has no saving? I’m sorry, but you’re doing something wrong.

People have busy lives, even if a lot of gamers don’t like to admit it. We have friends, family, and so on to tend to. Then there’s health problems – eye strain, carpal tunnel, and so on. Sometimes, you just simply need to take a break from playing. And yet, in these games where you have no saving ability, you can’t. Well, unless you want to replay everything.

Let me give you a personal recent example. I was attempting to work through Super Hipster Lumberjack, a game the developer decided to not implement a saving capability to make it harder. My first time trying to play it, I fell through the world and hit escape. Well, there went 40 minutes of progress! Granted, I could’ve hit R but I was getting tired of playing it at that point and wanted a break soon anyways.

And then I went back a few days later with the mindset of “I’m going to beat this game”. Well, I definitely got further. Further than any video I could find at the time on YouTube. After 4+ hours, with probably half of that just being idle time from needing a break, I couldn’t do it anymore. The floaty physics were getting to be too much, and I simply wanted to just close the game and actually take a break. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to play it through again.

Throughout that whole time playing, I never actually got really mad at the game. I just wanted a break, but knowing I couldn’t close the game without losing progress pushed me forward until I couldn’t take it anymore. And how much of this could have been avoided with a simple save mechanic? All of it.

Super Hipster Lumberjack has no saving
Super Hipster Lumberjack features no saving, likely leading you to quitting before actually finishing.

Speaking with some of my friends about the subject, they generally agreed. We just don’t have a lot of time to play games sometimes. Sometimes, we need to be somewhere or need to get to sleep at a certain time. “Short” can also mean different things to different people. Some people might think short is around 2 hours, others more around 30 minutes.

With my example of Super Hipster Lumberjack, I have 5 hours clocked on it on Steam. As I said, a lot of it is idle time. I frequently have carpal tunnel issues which tends to limit how long I can play a game at one time. Even with using a controller for most games, unless I really get absorbed into it I’m usually only playing a game for 1-2 hours at a time.

So let’s return to the initial question – what happened to saves in games? I don’t know, but I wish they would come back. I already had my issues with games that auto save only, but no saves at ALL? A line needs to be drawn on games and saving. I don’t care how much you think it adds difficulty, how much you think it can just be “played through in one session”, add saving.

Perhaps I’ve become too spoiled by games these days. Maybe I should go back to the days where deaths actually cost you money in arcades. Why should I though? It’s 2015. We’ve progressed beyond that. We shouldn’t have to go to a games forums, or whatever method one has of contacting the developers, to try and beg for a save function. It should be implemented from the start.

So, to close this out, I’ll ask one more time: what has happened to saving in video games? I shouldn’t have to force myself through more carpal tunnel suffering just because a game can’t save. I shouldn’t have to leave a game running just because I can’t save and I’m suffering from carpal, or for others it might be some other medical issue. Again, it’s 2015. These things shouldn’t be so hard to come by.

Save game loading in Kingdom Hearts II
Luckily, almost all RPGs that I know of do have saving. This is definitely one genre that really needs saving.

So, I also ask you readers: What are your thoughts on the lack of saves in some games now? Do you think it’s a good thing for games, that these “short” games don’t need it, even if “short” is all up to what someone personally defines as short? Do you think it’s a bad thing for gaming? Let me know in the comments below! I’m very interested to see what people think on this subject, and perhaps we can get a change going – a change to actually push developers to implement saving.

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