But that simply isn't true, Thorium.
Atm I'm playing ArmA 2 for example, an incredible ambitious war game with lots of gameplay features.
Or Witcher 2, a game with a whole big chapter full of quests and cutscenes entirely dependant on the choices I made before.
They didn't cut anything out of this game, they even give you free DLC to add bonus content months after release.
Skyrim wasn't half bad either, considering that it's a Bethesda game.
Marriage was a joke and the civil war atmosphere not convincing at all, but they really really tried to add a lot of gameplay features so you can LARP the hell out of it. Heck, they even added free roaming dragons which is a very brave move with all the possible game breaking consequences. Wished they would have had the courage to let me kill every NPC too. But then again I even wished they would have cut out content. Skyrim is too ambitious and if you look closely many of its features are half baked. And the reason isnt that they rushed it or didnt care but that they just set the bar too high.
Developers still are ambitious, they still want to make the best games possible and not every publisher tries to streamline everything to get the earliest possible release date or tries to milk the players with DLC bullshit.
Today I actually have a greater selection of ambitious, original game experiences than I ever had before.
And with kickstarter it becomes even more diverse. Horaaay!
Games were always flawed in execution, most of them mediocre at best. That didn't change to the better but it also didn't change to the worse imo.
The thing that doesnt evolve is story telling. Same old good vs evil stories with cliché NPC and clear cut unambiguous and easy decisions for the player like 20 years ago, with everything revolving around the player, just like 20 years ago. But sadly that's the way people want their pulp. Killing main characters or getting rid of the good evil dynamics just isnt mass appealing enough, it never was.
edit: Just thought about Mass Effect 3 and I realized that if you want to tell a not that clear cut, morally ambiguous story you really have to know what you are doing. You must be very good at writing fiction or else you screw it. The reaper revelation in Mass Effect 3 is one of the worst deus ex machina endings ever created and the Mass Effect story would have been infinitely better if they just would have sticked to the good vs evil thing. So if you don't know what you're doing then better keep it simple. ^^
Beeing a beta tester in one or the other game i saw often that gameplay features was been cut because of time and money.
And you really think they didnt do exactly the same thing 20 years ago? Btw the reason isn't always time and money it's often balancing issues (which would take unreasonable time to fix).