CoD:MW2 = OMFG!
- Nov 18, 2009 8:23 am GMT
- 256 Comments
(This blog should be spoiler-free.)
I finished the single-player campaign in Modern Warfare 2 last night, and while I want to get some time in playing Special Ops and Multiplayer before I review the game, I just have to get some of this out before my head 'splodes.
Back in the day, the first-person shooter was a pretty generic experience. Run around levels killing everything that moved and you might have to find color-coded keys to open doors. The original Half-Life changed all that with the introduction of a decent story and the excellent use of set pieces and scripted events. The bar had been set, and all shooters made after HL had to meet it or be trashed by the critics.
Well, a new bar has been set.
Sure, Modern Warfare 2 may not be a perfect game. But it certainly has made advancements to the genre that any future games need to match lest they be relegated to "just another shooter" status. MW2 blends the non-stop cinematic action of a Michael Bay or Jerry Bruckheimer film with the military depth, espionage and globetrotting of a Tom Clancy novel. There is never a dull moment in the game, and you are always doing something engaging.
I think the mix of mission types and locations, as well as the various vehicle segments makes for a fun and adrenalin packed experience. Yet at the same time, I wish there was a little more. The campaign is completed quickly, and you wish it was longer. However, I can understand why it may be short; to drag it out over a longer period of time may become repetitive and tedious, losing the rollercoaster thrill it achieves with its short length. Multiple times through my play through, I sat jaw dropped and controller slack in my hand at my astonishment of what was happening. Other times I was slapping myself in the "Home Alone" expression when I was stunned at what I had gone through. That very, very rarely happens in any games I play. And I love the fact that MW2 is capable of pulling off those brain-melting events and twists that just catch you off guard.
The entire game is played from the perspective of one of several characters, with not a single cut scene. Unfortunately, this makes the telling of the story more difficult, because you can only see and know what that character you are playing sees and knows. We've all seen just how good Infinity Ward can do with cinematic cut scenes based on all the trailers leading up to the game release, and it's a shame some are not included to help with the story. I guess that would be my biggest gripe with the campaign… not having the story fleshed out as well as it could have been. I'm sure I'm not the only one confused with the progression of events, or the motivation of some key players. And it should be no surprise that the ending of the game might as well have a big "To Be Continued" sign posted.
Playing Modern Warfare has been an interesting personal experience. When I played COD4, I was deeply moved by the consequences of war, just as much as I enjoyed the game. I actually had to stop playing after some missions in the original MW to reflect upon what happened, and on just how much war and the loss of soldiers' lives sucks. MW2 is no different. From the controversial airport mission to various other experiences throughout the game, any player with a conscious should be reflecting upon the consequences of war. But this is a benefit to the game, not a detriment. Too many games today don't do anything to wake up your brain or make you think about what you are doing.
Am I in the minority here? Do most gamers today just want mindless thrills and brainless action? Have most players skipped the story campaign to play the excellent multiplayer instead? What are your thoughts on Modern Warfare 2 and how it makes you think about games, war, and cinematic experiences?
I am looking forward to (the inevitable) Modern Warfare 3 with great anticipation. I only hope it is already in development, and the wait won't be too long.
NOTE: Originally, this blog was intended to be short and only to those following me. However, it morphed into what you see here and I decided to "Soapbox it". Also, some people have responded that games such as Metal Gear Solid and Uncharted 2 have also "set the bar" or even set a higher bar for an experience like this. That may very well be the case, but since I haven't played those games, I can only write this blog based on my personal experiences. Just keep that in mind when responding, and also keep in mind that my questions posed to you are about the emotional impact of games like MW2, and not which game is better.
To all my fellow soldiers all over the world
- Nov 11, 2009 3:45 pm GMT
- 192 Comments
To the ones in the Sand
To the ones in the sky
To the ones at sea (sorry I did not give you guys props...)
To the ones on patrol
To the ones helping others mourn
To the ones that have past
To my fellow fire support specialist
This blog is to thank all of you that have risked your lives, and the ones that have given them, for our country and our freedom. The views on the war may be skewed, they may be misleading, but you still lace up your boots, ready your weapons, and fight for your country, no matter what country you support.
For that I thank you.
Have a good Veterans Day, and know that through the outcries of hate and protest, there are those of us that truly appreciate what you do day after day.
You guys are heroes.
To all of my fellow fire support specialist in the A btry. 1st/10th. Godspeed to you all.
Dragon Age DLC ripoff
- Nov 9, 2009 4:23 pm GMT
- 8 Comments
The debate on the value of DLC has been going strong for a while now. Sure, Fallout 3 was a great game, but in the end, I paid nearly as much for about 15 more hours of DLC as I paid for the 60 hour game. This value is debatable since many full priced games nowadays clock in at under 10 hours. However, I have found the DLC for Dragon Age to be a complete ripoff.
The game itself is an amazing fantasy epic, so it shouldn't be wrong of me to expect the same from the DLC. The first I played was The Stone Prisoner. Luckily, this one came included with my pre-order of the game, but for the less fortunate, it will set you back $15. It contains one small outdoor environment (roughly forty feet wide and two hundred feet long) and an underground dungeon that is slightly longer. There is a grand total of two friendly NPC to talk with. The enemies are all darkspawn, of which I had already killed hundreds of in the main game. The final boss is a demon that I had fought at least ten times before. The real draw is the addition of the Golem to your party after completion, but he is basically a variation of the warrior class, and I already had two of them in my group at this point. There was a cool fire puzzle near the end, but it only lasts a couple minutes. The greatest crime here is that the entire DLC can be completed in under an hour. That doesn't mean you can finish in an hour if you rush, this includes exploring every corner and fighting every enemy. $15 for this is ridiculous.
Ironically, the second download, The Warden's Keep (which I did have to pay for) is far better and only cost $7, though still only last about an hour. It consists of a slightly larger environment to clear, but still only consists of the same monsters I had battled before. After clearing the keep, merchants with some impressive merchandise set up shop outside and a storage chest is added to the game, which is something that was sorely missed in the retail game. However, I really think the stash is something that should have been included for free. This DLC contains a few more NPCs to talk with as well as a couple possible conclusions that lead to different boss fights. Oddly, once you 'reclaim' the keep, you are locked out of it for no apparent reason since it is basically implied that it is now your base of operations.
I can forgive the $7 download since it was fun and cheap diversion that added a much needed feature to the game, but one hour of gameplay is still a bit sad. On the other hand, I am immensely grateful The Stone Prisoner was included with my pre-order, because there is no way Microsoft can justify $15 for one hour of gameplay.
How We Perceive Value In Gaming
- Nov 6, 2009 10:12 pm GMT
- 149 Comments
Value is an interesting proposition when it comes to games. Before we get into the meat of the article, here are a few quick questions:
You have 12 hours to kill. Someone locks you in a room and you have the option of playing Call of Duty 4, Gears of War 2, or Bioshock. You probably have enough time to play both COD4 and Gears, or Bioshock on its own. Which do you choose? Now take that option and for each game that you choose to play, you have to pay full retail price. How does that affect your decision? What if Jericho was also included but that was free, would you choose that instead of the other options?
There are of course no right or wrong answers as to which games you enjoy, or for how long they are enjoyable to you before you would prefer to either be playing another game, or doing something else entirely. The above example is loaded with my own perception of those games and the value they represent to me. How often do we hear friends or blog/forum posts saying 'It looks decent but it's not worth full price' or '1200 points/$15 is too much for that game'. I've found it interesting how we value games, as my own perception has changed somewhat in the last year. I used to own a video store, and besides a game being rented by a customer, they were all available to me whenever I wanted, and did not cost me any money. I haven't owned the store for a year, and now I have to purchase my own games. So how has that changed how I perceive the value of games?
I see two main values of any individual game; the intensity of the enjoyment, and the length of time that it is enjoyable. Which one is more important to you? Are you looking for the very best experience? Or do you prefer to stretch your dollar further and make sure your games last a long time before you have to go and buy another one? As I play primarily single player, Call of Duty 4 was a short experience for me. However, the intensity of that enjoyment was incredible, I thoroughly enjoyed the 6 or so hours that it lasted. I tend not to replay many games, so that is where the enjoyment ended for me (though it was great enough that I probably will replay it at some stage). Fallout 3 was a great game. I've yet to finish it, but I've put in over 30 hours and that time was enjoyable. Not at the intensity I enjoyed Call of Duty 4, but that's a decent period of time to be enjoying a game.
I imagine most of us don't sit in the equilibrium; we are either time poor or just plain poor. If you just plain don't have much money to spend on games on a regular basis but you find yourself with plenty of time, you may be more inclined to go for a game that offers longer playability at the expense of intensity (of course finding a game that you enjoy immensely and lasts a long time is possible and that becomes the obvious choice). Those of us who are time poor may be able to afford all of the games we have a desire to play, but simply don't have time to play them all; when we finish a game, there are a bunch more that we are interested in. So while there might be 5 games released a month worth taking note of, if you've only got so many hours to play games you might want to buy the 3 games that offer you the highest enjoyment possible instead of the other 2 that might be longer but be less enjoyable. Sure, you've spent more, but you are having a better time.
Of course, games do go down in price as well. This never used to be an issue for me, as all the highest profile games were usually available to me. Now that I have to spend money on my games, I tend to wait til games go down in price. This is not a primary concern of mine when purchasing games, but the list of games I want to play is pretty large, so games released a year ago are still as desirable to me to play as those released today. If I perceive that an older game is going to provide as much intensity and longevity as a current game for half the price, that's a pretty good incentive to go for the older game, and use that extra money on other interests.
I'm also surprised at some of the flak that has been sent towards the downloadable services when a 'premium' game sells for 1200 points or more. To me it still comes down to those two main issues; how much am I going to enjoy the game, and for how long? Castle Crashers was a great game that was more enjoyable to me than a number of full retail games I've played, and is one of the few games I've replayed so provided me a longer experience than some other games as well. Would I have purchased this game if it was a full retail product? Yes (although like usual I probably would have waited until it came down in price or purchased it second hand). Would many other people? I'm guessing not. And probably not because they perceived they wouldn't enjoy it; which brings me to another stigma.
Games can be enjoyable without developers having to invest millions. Yet even those smaller games do cost the developers time and money to produce. It is not my own perception, but I get the impression that there are some people out there who perceive that if a game costs less to make, then it should sell for less. But at the end of the day, you aren't paying because you want to invest in their development tools; you are paying because you want an experience you can enjoy.What if game A offers 8 hours of enjoyment at an intensity level of 7 out of 10 which cost $10million to make, while game B offers 10 hours of enjoyment at an intensity level of 9 out of 10 but only cost $100,000 to make with a small development team? Maybe game B has lower production values, but if the game itself is still great and both these games were offered at the same price, why would you choose game A? Clearly the choice for you, the gamer, is to spend the same money on a game you are going to enjoy more.
I've certainly not covered every aspect of how we perceive value in gaming, and I'd be interested to hear your thoughts. Remember that the games I've listed above are just my personal opinion on their value to me, and they don't need to be shared by everybody. And to poke the bear a little, how much should longevity factor into a gaming review score? Or should they only focus on how enjoyable the game is for as long as it does last? What if the best game in the world lasted 15 minutes?
The Wii has stalled? More like they hit a wall ..
- Nov 1, 2009 6:26 pm GMT
- 298 Comments
.. and it took Mr. Iwata a long time before realizing this.
I saw this as soon as their 2009 E3 conference was over. Same recycled IP's from their first 3 years. Two Mario games, another Metroid game and ANOTHER Zelda game. It's hard for me, who grew up with the NES, to have to sit and watch this great company's games get watered down to a bunch to Wii musics, Wii fits get thrown at us along with tons of other uninteresting games.
Think.... What would Mario do?
They messed up with the friend code system. You can't even get a decent match started with friends 'cause you have to enter a different code for every game. All of the other features like Mii channel were fun to play with at first but were forgotten as quickly. Another big mistake was to pump out tons of accessories that no one's going to use after a while. I'm surprised that it took this long to create a 1:1 motion device. It should have been there from the start. Now we're going to have to wait another 2 years to actually make use of it for more games other than Red Steel 2 and that golf game. By that time they'll probably make a Wii HD.
I should have mailed them my article when I warned them about this last year. I basically predicted that this is going to happen if they didn't do anything. One year later and we still haven't heard anything from series such as Star fox, Kid Icarus, F-Zero, Bomberman (64 remake) A Real Pokemon RPG (or at least Snap), Breath Of Fire, Earthbound, Pilot Wings (We have motion controller for Christ sake) Skies of Arcadia, Donkey Kong, Luigi's mansion 2, Etrnal Darkness. Yup, I've been nothing but patient. But I can't wait forever.
Now, it might seem that I did nothing but bash the Wii so far. So before you judge me by this article, take a good look at all the games that I've finished until now. It's not about mature (rated) games. It's about supporting your system with great software. Don't rely only on third party developers to accomplish your goal. It's because of that, we ended up with games like Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine and My baby 1st steps.
And now, this is the result: Sluggish sales, core games migrating to other platforms (bought a PS3 slim in September) and an uncertainty if those promised games might still make it in this console generation (remember Twilight Princess?). With the recent price drop on all systems, consumers are thinking twice about which system to buy this Christmas (if they haven't bought one yet).
I hope they had some air bags installed when they hit that brick wall and that this serves as a slap in their face that gamers are not to be messed with. Your move, Nintendo.
Note: I did not write this article to compare systems. I wrote this article because, as a long time Nintendo fan, I feel that they have let down their core audience by offering us only a handful of great games.
Onlive. Sounds great, looks great...
Violence In The Face Of Dissent
- Oct 28, 2009 3:28 pm GMT
- 150 Comments
Recent gaming news sites have picked up the leaked footage of the first level of Modern Warfare 2, where the player takes the perspective of an agent inside of a squad of terrorists, and must join the group in a brutal attack where they fire on innocent civilians. Mainstream gaming press has picked up the story, and the scene has already ignited controversy. I'd link to a copy of the video, but it seems to be disappearing fairly quickly.
Thank god somebody looked at the scene and said, "That's disturbing." Because it is. That's the point.
A few points to consider:
-The scene is optional. If you do choose to play it, you do not need to fire a single bullet until enemies show up. Your "teammates" will fire upon the civilians and you can simply watch.
-There are warnings before and during the scene that the gameplay may disturb some viewers/players.
-The scene lasts less than five minutes which doesn't amount to much in the scope of an eight hour campaign.
-You are playing as an operative who is spying on the terrorist organization by being a part of them. You are not playing a terrorist yourself.
Much like other medias whom have experimented and attacked head-on the concept of displaying horrendous scenes for the purpose of, in the most broad sense, art, modern Warfare presents violence, not for the sake of violence, but to push the player in places they've never been before. Where the definition of "art" can be summarized by a form of media that evokes emotion in its themes, Modern Warfare 2 has already exceeded that capacity with images of Washington D.C. in ruins. These new developments push this designation even further along its path.
I found the Washington D.C. controversy interesting because of the focus games have brought themselves. Independence Day showed the aliens blowing up the White House, for goodness sakes! Why are games so special? The only issue presented here is that, first off, Modern Warfare purports itself to be realistic, and second, that games are interactive.
The first criticism of the scene, that it becomes more disturbing when it becomes interactive, is quite interesting to me, if not a few decades old. These people have been complaining all the way down Grand Theft Auto and Doom where murder was mandatory for most gameplay functions. While violence is certainly an easy conflict to portray in modern games today, that doesn't mean that it should be discarded because it mirrors a real life event. Games have so much potential because of their interactivity, not in spite of it - they can allow you to take on roles and situations that you could never imagine.
Now, do we find the scene in Modern Warfare 2 "fun?" Well, this is a hard one. Most games, up until this point, have attempted to be "fun." Even games that take moral complexities and astonishing turns of character, such as the seminal PC game Deus Ex (where you are ordered by your superior to kill a prisoner of war point blank) still refused to dwell on the subject matter for long or even place consequences on the decision. But Modern Warfare seems to be taking this level beyond "fun" entirely.
But look at other forms of media and the way they portray violence. Do we have fun reading the sequences of torture in 1984, or the horrible war violence in Slaughterhouse Five? No, but we read them. We read them and picked them apart and thought about them. That's what these forms of media can do - they can offer pretend worlds in which we isolate violence and other morally dispicable situations and consider their meaning, worth, and why they occur in the real world at all.
As most of us know on Gamespot and the rest of the gaming media circle know, games are rarely connected to real life. I can remember a discussion on this misconception when my mother was observing me play through Half-Life 1 on the PS2 a few weeks ago.
"That's so violent," she said. "I don't understand how you can play something like that and think it's fun."
She doesn't get what makes a game fun. It's certainly not the violence; that's just another way to portray a conflict for me to overcome. It's that conflict that must be solved in any way possible in this virtual, abstracted, un-realistic world. Even the new consoles and top of the line PC's, while beautiful, have graphics that can't even be suggested look like or even operate like real life in any capacity.
I asked her why she watches movies or TV shows with violence in them, because they operate in much of the same fashion. Her watching me play Half Life would be no different than her watching a Half-Life movie, if one were to exist, and I would be an actor for Gorden Freeman, taking on a role I will never have the chance to play in real life. So, rather than observe abstracted violence, you are allowed to partake in it, and consider how your mind would react in such a situation. I'm play-acting, as Author_Jerry puts it - acting for the sake of fun and entertainment.
While Modern Warfare 2 may look violent, it's not so much the violence that is supposed to strike the player. It's the moral difference between what the player is fighting against and what the player is fighting for - in essance, what the conflict means. The interactivity should make the reversal of roles several times more disturbing, which is laudable for an industry under fire for basic artistic concepts that other mediums get away with without blinking. What games need now is exploration of what interactivity actually means.
You think this scene is disturbing? Good. That means the scene did what it was supposed to. And that's the focal point of why the controversy of the scene is so off-center: the voices who are yelling the loudest assume that the scene comes with no emotional baggage, no tugging on the heart strings, no morality fairy on the shoulder saying, "This is wrong on so many levels."
That's as far from the truth as it comes.
Should Competitive Multiplayer be the Future?
- Oct 21, 2009 5:52 pm GMT
- 7 Comments
Competitive multiplayer seems to be the wave of the future. Most gamers feel that the rush from battling against a real opponent is far more satisfying than fighting a computer controlled one. Though I prefer single player games, I can't argue with this logic. However, multiplayer games appear to ultimately do less for video gaming in the long run.
Is there a way to actually define a good online game? The answers to this seem obvious at first. Well balanced; if the maps favor one team or another, players become frustrated. Plenty of game modes; players want choice, though most still play team deathmatch in every game. Rewards for playing well and ranking up; if players have nothing to look forward to and no goals to shoot for, why play? Each of these things are good points, but only explains how to prevent making a bad game, not how it can rise above others.
I have played a fair share of online games and had the same basic experience in each. A play session of GRAW felt relatively similar to Halo. While bells and whistles are nice, it's ultimately the players that make or break a game. After a while in any game, you will run into the group of players that are amazing and know it. Maybe I'm not a trash talker, so I don't get into these shouting matches that populate the higher ranked sessions in the rare event that I do well. The introduction of clans, unions, and guilds make it harder for player to get into a game. Imagine playing paintball against a S.W.A.T. team and you'll get the idea. Eventually, it breaks down to me getting destroyed, insulted, frustrated, then quitting.
I can see the comments coming now, "Just 'cause you suck at a game doesn't mean it isn't awesome." This basically sums up multiplayer gaming. The better player wins. I remember growing up in the days before online gaming where multiplayer meant a room full of friends crowding around the SNES. In the end, the same person won every time and they were the only ones that really enjoyed themselves, though eventually even the constant winning got old. Although online gaming has expanded the possible pool of players, the same basic rule applies. I don't really have much fun when I start playing a new game against people who have mastered the controls, memorized spawn points, and are simply far better at the game than I am.
Everyone will have differing opinions on what they enjoy, but the bottom line is what's good for the industry. Many developers have taken on the mentality that multiplayer is the only way to keep people playing their game forever. This is a great idea, but only for a big few. Load up Halo 3, Gears of War 2, Killzone 2, Resistance 2, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, or Mario Kart Wii (note that they are all sequels) and you will find them flooded with players. Unfortunately, play almost any other game a few months after release, especially a new series,and you will be hard-pressed to get enough people for a match. For example, I tried finding a game of Hawx online to get some of the achievements and there wasn't one person playing. This is basically the first jetfighter game in the genre since Ace Combat 6 two years ago, yet no one is playing it.
Take a look at the gamer scores on Xbox 360 of some of the players that destroy you in your next match of Halo 3. In my last match, there was a player that had owned an Xbox for two years and his gamer score was 635 (for the uninitiated, every retail Xbox 360 game has a possible 1000 gamer points possible). This is great for Halo, but bad for Microsoft in general. If a player is stuck on one game, they aren't buying others and the industry as a whole is hurting. There are rare games that are universally panned by the critics yet adamantly defended by hardcore fans that find them enjoyable, such as Shadowrun, but these are few and far between.
It is my hope that we lean away from deathmatch type games, and the rising popularity of co-op games gives me hope. A game that focuses on co-op can be just about equally enjoyed by an online and solo gamer. These games still require a decent plot and plenty of enemy variety, but keep the competition of doing better than your fellow gamers. Even if you aren't as good as your partners, you aren't forced to die constantly and still get the satisfaction of eventually winning. The simple fact that they eventually end will drive player to buy other similar titles instead of playing the same game for years on end. Borderlands is an excellent example of this. The PvP arenas are more of an after though and the main point of the game is to work together toward a common goal. Hell, at this rate, players might accidentally learn a thing or two about teamwork if they aren't careful.
The Wii had a price drop??? How is this suddenly reality?
- Sep 27, 2009 3:41 am GMT
- 143 Comments
So I got a letter from my friendly omnipresently local Amazon e-tailer informing me that the Nintendo Wii was now available at a new low low price of 199.99 . Gamespot has also commented this as well, since it was apparently announced at the Tokyo Game Show.
Now, this is excellent news and all, however I am a little curious about what this means, and how this is even happening.
Analysts all over it seems, including many that Gamespot have posted, have cited that the Wii will not be dropping in price any time soon. Signs point to Nintendo's continually high profit margins in the hardware sales sector and increasing profits from even lower than before hardware costs. Signs did not point to any huge slackening of Nintendo's sales, so the question again remains, with a veritable mountain of evidence towards why they didn't need nor want to drop the price, why do it now?
What does the decreasing of the Wii say about Nintendo and their current market confidence? I have felt for some time now that the Wii fever had been subsiding and Nintendo was indeed going to have trouble using that stout install-base of systems to sell as much software as the other two competitors could. Could this apparent unexpected price drop spell certain issues within Nintendo's longer term sales goals? With the current generation of consoles now well on their way to a more mature stage, Nintendo needs it's sales to continue strong more than ever (although I feel Software more than Hardware should now be the focus), so it does make sense that this price drop is indicative a long expected (but not yet seen) reduction in the Wii sales blitz that has gone on for so long.
In conclusion, while I disdain at this point people trying to declare any kind of winner or loser to the console war, and find that the Wii's sales success not exactly a marker for a winning product, it is interesting to see these unexpected developments, and will be keeping a closer eye on Nintendo to see where else this may go.
What's more greedy, used games or digital distribution?
- Aug 31, 2009 2:33 pm GMT
- 11 Comments
Lately, I've been giving some serious thought to the warfare that is being conducted on the video game battleground between the developers (publishers) and the used games retailers such as GameStop or EB Games. In the top left corner, we have the used game retailers that are making nice profit margins on used games and in the bottom right corner of the fighting ring, the developers and publishers are trying to blackmail their adversaries with digital distribution. Who has the right of it? Why is nobody mentioning the customers? Tell me, mirror, who is the greediest one of all?
Let's begin by looking at a typical example of what kind of money is involved in this retail business. The example I will be using is entirely fictional, but will serve the purpose of demystifying the environment we are looking at.
Suppose a brand new game has just been released. We are not sure what the budget was, but we know that the wholesale value of one unit of this software is $50 flat. The wholesale value is the price that retailers pay the publisher for the game, so that they can sell it to you and me. The retailer will be charging the customers $60 for the new game right off the shelf. So, you see, the typical profit margin that retailers make on these games is $10, but very often it is even less than that. Suppose the game sells 500 000 copies in the first three months in store. The publisher effectively makes $25 million of gross profit (500 000 x 50). The combined retailers, on the other hand, only make $5 million of gross profit. So the game's budget would have to be $20 million for the publisher and all the combined retailers to make the same profit, and this is without taking into account the cost of inventory for the retailers.
And what if the game does not sell so well? What if the game remains on the shelves for weeks? For months? The store cannot return the game to the publisher, no matter how badly it sells, no matter how terrible the customer experience was. Best Buy does not make any money from low-budget crap-ware games that nobody wants to buy. However, the publisher still often manages to cover the budget and even make a penny off those titles. The stores make a net loss in such cases. Can you blame them for trying to protect themselves? If the publisher does not offer any form of price protection, the retailer finds a way to make ends meet. It is called "used games."
The Beauty Of Used Games…Embrace It!
Used games are a different animal when it comes to profit margins. The mantra is "buy low, sell high" and the word on the street is "volume". With used games, the retailer has an opportunity to make money on bad games! With used games, the retailer can cut his loses on new games, by selling old games for cheap while happily unburdening you of your bad games at very low cost to them. The catch is that they tend to buy your unwanted games at very low prices, and some people have been throwing around the words "greedy" and "jerks", but do you know anybody else that will gladly buy all your trash-ware? Selling your bad games to your friend's naive little brother will not work forever!
Quickly summarising what we have learnt so far: The raison d'Ítre of used games retailers is price protection. New markets arise from a need to protect revenue. You dig?
We Want Our Cut too, Ya Hear!?
The reason behind this article is that I've been reading about a lot of developers and publishers wanting a cut of the profits made by used games sales. Ideally, they would want a piece of every used game sold ever, every time, or else!
There is a theory going around, that developers and publishers are being robbed by used game sales. But, why are these games being sold, resold, and resold again and again in the first place? Simply because they are bad games that nobody wants to keep. Why should publishers be rewarded for making crappy games? As I have concluded above, used game sales exist to protect retailers from games that fall in value very quickly due to nobody wanting to buy or keep them. Who is protecting themselves from whom? You tell me!
Here comes the best part. The "or else" part I was talking about before…
The developers are threatening to go the digital distribution route, if the used games retailers do not comply with their demands! Black mail! There is rampant black mail being flung around on the battleground, reader! Did you ever think it would come to this?
Digital Distribution For Dummies
The problem with digital distribution is that you never truly own the games you download, no matter how much you pay for them. You never actually get a physical copy of the game that is protected against the distributor's potential bankruptcy, collapse, or just plain dismantling. If your hard drive dies on you and your baby sister throws your back-up HDD out the window…and Valve (for example) goes bankrupt, you can say goodbye to all those games. For consoles it is even worse! If my console, regardless which one, dies in ten years and is irreplaceable, all my digitally purchased games go bye-bye.
The bottom line, with respect to digital distribution, is simple…
You can't systematically ram digital distribution down the customer's throats!
We don't want it! It is the worst kind of DRM in existence and we won't stand for it.
The customer sees DRM (and digital distribution) and he responds with: "Why don't you digitally mind your own business?" It's my game, I bought it, I own it, and I can sell it. So get used to it.
So I ask you, readers: who is the greediest one of all? Is it the one who wants to control your rights of game ownership, the one blackmailing the retailers, or the one protecting himself from bad games that bomb on the store shelves? Think about it.
Other thoughts and a few interesting articles that prompted this article
One thing I did not mention was the effect of used game sales on servers for online play. Sean Malstrom has an interesting take on this, so here is a small sample of his http://seanmalstrom.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/eidos-president-on-used-game-sales/">post:
"A used game is still taxing the servers to play online. The company got no revenue from that used game to deal with that person.
But again, this is more crying over spilled milk. When I walk into a used game store, I can point to each and every used game and say: "All these games have LOST a customer!" Most of the time, the used games are games no one wants.
So if a million games were sold, and used games were bought and those people played online, the ratio of games sold to online customers is still the same. What are these guys complaining about? It isn't like pirated versions which DO tax the online servers more and the company never got any money for it."
Another individual got into an argument, on twitter, with a game developer named David Jaffe. Here is his http://stupidevilbastard.com/index/seb/comments/in_which_i_get_into_a_twitter_fight_with_game_developer_david_jaffe/">blog. It was quite interesting.
Here is an example of a retailer that left the video game business because of the lack of price protection and bad games that stink up the inventory. Small quote from http://kotaku.com/233081/online-retailer-ends-game-sales-calls-industry-dumb-greedy">post:
"The game industry releases many bad games, and word of mouth spreads fast to the consumer. All of those bunk games sit on our shelves. If we do end up selling them, we lose more money, due to the lack of price protection. They won't let us return the bombs. Of course, if the video game industry produced quality games, we wouldn't have this issue."
See? Absence of price protection works in tandem with price drops on junk-ware to put retailers out of business.
Here are the URL addresses of my inspirational sources:
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- Last updated: Jan 1, 1970 12:00 am GMT