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Tripwolf Blog

Microtransactions and the Business of Greed.

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As I write this, I'm reminded of something a professor of mine once told me. I don't believe the man had ever touched a video game but I feel as if he would have understood the business quite well. He said, "Anybody can sell a cow. The trick is to sell the cow's milk to the person you just sold the cow to." A simple yet poignant statement which, years later, I would never have thought it would be applicable to my favorite hobby, gaming.

Remember cheat codes? You gained levels, loot and buffs... all with the press of a secret code. Back in the old days of NES, I wouldn't have made it very far in some of those games without them. Over time we've seen a shift in direction towards making games, thankfully, more accessible to everyone. The funny thing though, we're beginning to see cheat codes on the rise again... except now you pay for them and they're called Microtransactions. The sad thing? Watching somewhat intelligent adults condone the practice.

There are varying degrees of this "business model". You have the standard Free-to-Play Microtransactions. These are usually the most horrific, often involving downloading a game that turns out to be an extended demo until you pay ridiculous amounts of money.

You have the Buy-to-Play Microtransactions, possibly most famous in Guild Wars 2. These are often underplayed in the media for some reason. You still buy cheats involving leveling buffs and ingame currency in which you can then manipulate the markets. I find it amusing how much more difficult it is to obtain crafting resources in Buy-to-Play video games. What would take an hour in another game, often takes 6 in a game like Guild Wars 2.

But it's not just multiplayer games. Take Dead Space 3, for example. You can buy ingame resources with Real World Money. Gee, I wonder if EA may have made gaining these resources more difficult to obtain so more people would buy them? Actually, I don't have to wonder. It's funny that so many people were up in arms about this specific example of Microtransactions, when so many others fly under the radar.

It may be because EA has championed Microtransactions to such a degree that even the naysayers are finally getting annoyed. After all, when somebody purchases a full game - they expect a full game. Not a trap designed to get you to spend more money. One of the things that bugged me about Mass Effect 3 (Yes, OTHER than the ending *grumbles*) was how the multiplayer was handled. Oh sure, you could earn loot boxes by playing the game normally... but for a few bucks you could shave HOURS off of your playtime in order to get a shot at much desired upgrades.

I guess the point I'm trying to get across (and honestly, I just feel like venting) is that Microtransactions come with baggage. When a developer puts something up for sale that can also be earned by playing their game - you have to ask yourself, "then why put it up for sale"? The answer is the most obvious one: Because it's otherwise a pain in the ass to obtain. If it hadn't been put up for sale, would it still have taken so long to get? I fully believe the answer is no. Developers are making their games worse, all because of their Greed.

It's not all doom and gloom. Kickstarter has proven that there's some amazingly talented people out there that still care about making great games. It's obvious what they're passionate about and it doesn't involve nickle-and-diming their fans. They're in the business of making games... not the business of greed.

Gamespot 2009 Awards.

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Sims 3 wins best strategy title? Really? It's a life simulator, not a strategy title. I enjoy Gamespot but part of me wonders if perhaps the nominees are allowed to contribute donations or perhaps take the voters on cruises. There's got to be more to it than what we see. Demon's Souls wins over Dragon Age: Origins. Yeah, a 9.0 scoring game beat a 9.5 scoring game. That means either the award is a lie or the ratings are a lie. I'm not sure which but it's annoying either way.

Numerous other awards just seemed bogus to me. I mean, generally I either agree with Gamespot or can understand where they're coming from but this year was just horrible. Award after award just made me go, "really? really Gamespot?" and I wasn't alone. The comment section attracts a lot of whiners but it also attracts a lot of people that yell, "good job!" or something to that effect. All I seen were comments that beat up on the decisions and for good reason. With the exception of a handful of awards - Gamespot's choices just don't make sense.

Maybe I'm just not seeing something they are. For the most part I own most of thenominated games. I really hated Killzone 2 because it's a console shooter. I own all the consoles but playing a shooter on one is akin to nails on a chalkboard for me. The controls are TERRIBLE. FPS's were designed to go with a mouse/keyboard. For some reason, Gamespot loves that game. Maybe they enjoy the challenge of having the gamepad handicap. I dunno.

So, if you pass this way and want to say something about all this, go ahead.

A Street Fighter Movie? Really?

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It figures, that with the huge selection of games that movie producers have at their disposals that they'd choose the one with the worst plot. Street Fighter is an amazing game series and iconic for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is not its plot. It doesn't have one. Even the game devs seem confused on character motivations.

Fallout, Final Fantasy, Baldur's Gate, Vampire: The Masquerade, Jade Empire... hell, they could probably do a decent movie working with The Elder Scrolls and yet they choose Street Fighter? AGAIN!? I could list twenty game series off the top of my head that would have been much easier to translate into good film and these people who get paid to do it can't?

Well, the first review are in and as expected - they're bad. Abysmal is probably a better term to use. I just don't understand what they were thinking, perhaps you do? I figure they planned to cash in on SF4's success but will it work? Are there really that many gamers going to flock to the theaters? I don't advocate pirating but if there ever was a time for it, this would be it. Because if there's one demographic of theater goers who are more prone to pirating - wouldn't it be core gamers? Maybe not but it's something to consider. Anyways, I doubt anybody will ever read this but here's my thoughts on the subject. Enjoy!

Rock Band, Guitar Hero and an army of plastic instruments.

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You know something that bugs me? My closet being full of plastic instruments that I'll never play again. I love Rock Band and all the Guitar Heroes and I plan on picking up their sequels asap but which instruments should I get? For those who have suffered the pain of using the Rock Band 1 guitar, you know how horrible it is. I STILL use the freaking GH2 X-Plorer which blows every other plastic guitar out of the water. The drums from Rock Band 1 are decent but we have nothing to compare them to (the kick pedal is annoying though).

So my question is this.. which instruments should we buy when GH:WT and RB2 launch? It's sad to say that I have to wait to find out which are pieces of crap and which are actually decent. I guess we can only hope that Harmonix and Activision don't drop the ball this time around.

Death of a Xbot.

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Well, I finally broke down and bought a PS3. I needed a blue-ray player and figured I might as well get a PS3 MGS4 bundle. This was a very weird purchase for me because I was a die hard 360 fan right from the start. Sony made so many mistakes in the beginning and with them losing their best exclusives it was obvious which system would dominate the gaming scene (I don't count the Wii). When Blue-Ray won the dvd format war it was like... "WHAT!?" and it was apparent that the PS3 wasn't going anywhere. So far the movies I've watched are beautiful and MGS4 looks amazing but I'm not really getting into the gameplay. I dislike the hide-and-go-seek combat but I'm very early into it so I'll reserve total judgement till later.

Anyways, it looks like all my moderator warnings for making provoking posts were all in vain. I still believe Sony made a lot of mistakes and they should be held responsible for them (and hopefuly learn from them) but this Tripwolf is no longer a Xbot. Not sure how I feel about that but I guess not all change is a bad thing, right? Amazingly enough my 360 version of GTA4 looks pretty crappy on my new TV. I got a 32 inch Sony Bravia which is pretty nice and I'm fairly positive I have all the settings at their ideal placement but GTA4 looks weird. The shadows are blotchy and the black level looks weird on some of the clothing. I keep tweaking the settings but can't fix it. Ah well, maybe I just have to get used to the new look.

If you're reading this and made it this far - thanks. Hope ya have a nice day.

- Tripwolf

So.. this is my blog. Are you REALLY reading this!?

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So, whenever I check my profile it's always asking me to start a blog. I have nothing really to write about but by golly I wanted to start one. Not really sure what you want to hear from me. WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME!? I'm a person.. not a piece of meat. I feel so used. Gonna go take a shower now..

- Tripwolf