Video game makers need to be held more accountable for children’s games

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Children’s video game publishers have spent years getting away with selling our kids low-grade trash forever now. How do we fight it?

Now, I get why some of you may have clicked this headline and I promise, this isn’t about content. It’s not a call about violence in video games or any of that sort of stuff. I honestly think those are mostly covered by the ESRB. This is about video game quality — particularly in the kids genre.

Kids are pretty great. I have two of my own — a five-year-old and a seven-year-old. In the last year, they’ve gotten really into gaming. It didn’t hurt that I got them each their own Switch Lites (which I somehow found during a pandemic, thank you very much). But there’s something I’ve been seeing that absolutely kills me, the quality of games aimed towards kids sucks.

It’s honestly really easy to see why. Game makers fully understand that if they aim games at children, they don’t have the buying power to make an informed decision and they don’t have a vocal online voice to call out the companies for their nonsense. Outright Games and Wayforward Games are two of the biggest culprits of this.

Do you remember when “adults” lost their minds at Mass Effect 3‘s ending and got so vocal that (in a move that made every creative soul die a little and actually became something talked about as a lesson in the college I went to) the company actually rewrote the ending?

Do you remember when Nintendo got so flooded with requests for characters in Smash Bros. they actually made a massive community polling site so that if a character you wanted didn’t show up you could hate the player, not the game?

Do you remember how so many people were upset about Cyberpunk 2077 that it actually made physical brick and mortar companies AND digital suppliers alike all change their stances on returning new games because of how big the public outcry was?

Well, you might say, “Well Cyberpunk was unplayable!” I agree! I stopped playing because my copy crashed my system so often I couldn’t complete a quest.

But here’s something you might not know. There is a Paw Patrol game called Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay. In it, you control a bunch of dogs that, normally are also in law enforcement but for planetary safety, purposes have all been gifted with incredible superpowers. Kid shows are fever dreams. But this game has a two-player co-op mode and playing it is almost a guaranteed way to make the game unplayable. I’m not saying the camera gets bad, I’m saying there’s a good chance it’ll crash your system.

This has been reported since the game came out several months ago and, as of the time of reporting there has not been a patch or even a message from publisher Outright Games stating that they’re working on it.

The other thing is that kids’ games can be pretty pricey. A console game for your kids is going to cost you usually between 40 and 60 dollars. And while not every one of these kids’ games is filled with bugs on this level they are usually, for lack of a subtle word, trash.

Wayforward Games released a Bakugan game for the Switch last year and my son was hyped. He imagined how awesome it would be to control these giant creatures as they engage in battle. What did he get? A game where the creatures slowly fight on their own while the kid you control runs around on the ground and picks up discs to throw to your Bakugan.

Mix that with the fact that the came is an absolute slog and you have a game my kids played twice before asking to play my stuff.

This is also the reason that most kids’ games do not have demos. Almost every single game I’ve purchased for my kids was so incredibly boring and poorly developed that they ended up sitting on our shelves forever. I’ve had kids’ games that I’ve given to my friends to stop them from buying them for their own kids and my kids don’t even know the games are gone and it’s been months.

It’s a shame too because video games are the ultimate entertainment medium. It’s a world where their stories not only come alive but give you full control of them. A Paw Patrol game could give them the ability to fully engross themselves in Adventure Bay. You could have a Super Wings game where you actually get to fly to other countries and learn about their way of life just like in the shows. A PJ Masks game that isn’t just an endless runner. We could have all that and we don’t.


It’s because many companies understand that they can produce whatever they want for kids and they won’t get vocal about it. In fact, most companies understand that if a kid complains about a game, it’s going to be to a parent. And that parent, more than likely is just going to tell the kid that they’re being ungrateful. Or that parent is going to buy their kid yet another game, probably from the same company that made the previous kid’s game.

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This has to change. As parents, we need to stand up for our kids. We have these companies dropping absolute broken garbage on our children because they know our kids don’t have the voice of an adult. They know that disappointing our kids is a good way to make money. They know that game retailers don’t allow newly opened games to be returned. They are tapping into our kids as money wells and we shouldn’t stand for it.

What can you, as a parent do?

I’ve found that a really good way is simply reading the online reviews before getting a game for my kids. My kids will be so excited about the prospect of a video game I’ll often get myself in a rush to snag it for them without thinking but if you go to the reviews and filter it to the one and two stars you’ll usually see where the problems lay.

Another thing is to find gameplay footage online. There is a trend where a lot of kid’s game companies will work really hard to get footage of their game taken down because they don’t want people to see it without buying it but you can always find it if you look.

Find a ten minute or more gameplay video (making sure that it doesn’t have narration) and see if your kids can actually stand to watch people play it for that long without getting bored. They watch shows like Bakugan and Pokemon where people are literally playing a game so they can watch this. Let’s Play videos are huge with kids anyway. But find the gameplay videos and let them actually see what the game looks like.

But a big thing to remember is that we should be vocal. We have parent/teacher conferences. We order things for our kids. We are in charge of them and we are their protectors. If we’re going to get up in arms when our games are trash, why do we let them do this to our kids? Likewise, where is the company trying to produce triple-A or hell, double-A games for children? There is a glaring problem with children’s game developers and together we can work to fix this.

Have you encountered anything like this? What’s a game you got for your kids that you absolutely would beg people not to buy and why? Comment below!