All About Bozanimal
Today marks exactly ten years that I have been a Gamespot registered user. In the time that I have been a member of Gamespot my life has changed. I've gotten married, been through three jobs, three apartments, bought my first house, had three children (triplets, no less), and a vasectomy.
In case 2003 still doesn't sound like it was that long ago, consider that Nintendo's premier platform was the Gamecube, The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker was causing a furor among fans for its cel-shaded graphics, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne was released, and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time single-handedly rebooted the franchise.
Zelda: Wind Waker - The amazing graphical prowess of 2003 gaming
A lot of change happens over ten years. The internet didn't really become pevasive on mobile devices until 2010. In fact, I didn't even have a cell phone when I first registered at Gamespot. At the time, therefore, sites like Gamespot were both the primary source of information and news for video game enthusiasts as well as the only real social outlet we had. I registered because Gamespot offered downloads for many PC games, including patches for said games, and a reliable source for downloading was desirable. There were competitors, but every site had its own culture and the heavily moderated Gamespot community ensured that there was a bit more maturity relative to other sites. And no, I'm not saying that the average Gamespotter was mature, just more mature than competing sites.
It wasn't until 2007 I started writing and publishing content to my Gamespot account. I'm not sure why, but I needed an outlet at the time. I had transitioned to a new city, leaving behind familiar surroundings and college friends. It was a bit random at first: Some complaints about Sony here, and a couple humorous blogs there. Then I wrote a blog for consideration by the site Editors for the Gamespot "Soapbox." At the time, this was a much desired emblem, since it was both rare and there were few emblems to be had overall. More importantly, anyone holding the emblem could post directly to the front page of the site simply by categorizing their blog entry as an "Editorial."
I garnered the Soapbox emblem with the Editorial, "I've killed you, and no, I don't feel bad about it." At the time violence and video games were a big topic of conversation, for no particularly good reason. It's still a fun read six years later.
Once I gained the exposure of the Soapbox I started receiving hundreds of views and comments. I started writing in earnest; it was a bit convoluted at first, but eventually I sorted my thoughts into columns of popular topics. I did a "Geek to Chic" series, which were basically tips for nerds not to stand out quite so much. I had a slew of humorous entries, personal finance, and tips on PC building. I tried a "Gamespot Cribs" series, but it never gained traction. An index to some of the better entries follows the end of this blog
Then Jeff Gerstmann reviewed Kane & Lynch: Dead Men.
That singular event resulted in an upheaval of users that rallied behind Gerstmann, relieved from Gamespot due to his critical comments on a game that had been heavily advertised on the site. Gamespot lost many, many great bloggers, union managers, volunteer community managers, and employees after his dismissal, and has never fully recovered.
There were additional missteps from a user standpoint. The launch of Gamespot FUSE to capture and integrate social media with Gamespot was a massive undertaking, but essentially bifurcated the community. You had some users migrating to FUSE, and others that preferred the persistent format of the traditional forums and user blogs. Gamespot abandoned the Soapbox for a time, dropping it from the front page and alienating some of its contributors, most notably GabuEx. Livefyre replaced Gamespots comments system in there somewhere, though this was a good move, in retrospect.
In the past two years Gamespot has made great strides to recapture the magic of 2007. They brought in Synthia Wieres to help Jody Robinson with community management and social media. The Soapbox was rebooted and the staff have interfaced more directly with their community on an ongoing basis. They introduced "Rangers," users that are not moderators so much as site cheerleaders, which has been a very good thing, and which I've been a proud participant. Finally, CBS Interactive picked up Giant Bomb, bringing Jeff Gerstmann and friends back full circle, and reintroducing many old users to their former stomping grounds. I still miss many users, and wrote an homage to said users in 2011 (link), but there have been quite a few great users filling their shoes, as of late.
I've seen friends I've met through Gamespot go on to become hired and subsequently move on from Gamespot, as was the case with Donklejohn. Danny O'Dwyer started off blogging just like yours truly before picking up an actual Gamespot paycheck, and there he's been making entertaining shorts about some of the most random things I've ever seen. It's a far cry from his Bioshock game footage days. It was great to meet several of the staff at PAX East 2012 and put real faces to their digital replicants.
Danny O'Dwyer doing what he does best. I'm just not entirely sure what that is.
It's strange to think of how much time and energy I have allocated to Gamespot in the past decade. Ultimately, though, it has been a rewarding online community filled with wonderful people. I have been frequently absent the past twelve months due to volunteer work, my family, and career monopolizing every free moment of my life, but I do hope to once again contribute to Gamespot in some meaningful way in the coming months.
Thank you, Gamespot staff, for creating a rich and vibrant community. For giving me the opportunity to be heard, to improve your site, and to support its ongoing development. I wish nothing but the best to each and every employee and member over the next ten years.
OR, HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE STEAM
Used games are on their deathbed, and most gamers are not happy. Everywhere you can hear the death knell of used games, from whispers of used game restrictions on the next Xbox AND Playstation, to the increased success of digital media distribution via services like XBox Live, Steam, and Amazon.
Further, gamers are increasingly willing to accept severe and even game-breaking Digital Rights Management (DRM) to play a great game, as evidenced by strong sales of Bioshock and Diablo III. The widespread adoption of Steam signals the loss of the DRM wars for consumers. Sales figures don't lie.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but if a game is good enough, to hell with our personal values, we're going to buy it.
Software Piracy, DRM, and Dolla Dolla Bills, Y'all
For the most part console gamers have had the luxury of avoiding DRM - sort of - because they purchased their games at retail stores. You don't (usually) need DRM when there is a mechanical requirement to play a game, such as a cartridge or disc. This is great for developers, since you have some assurances that your game is less likely to be pirated on a console than on a computer. Even though digital distribution services have gained significant popularity, some estimates of PC game piracy are as high as 93% to 95%. That's probably a bit far-fetched, but consider that in 2011 Crysis 2 was downloaded approximately 3.9 million times. Granted, Crysis 2 is only about $10 today, but back in March 2011 when it was released it was $60, dropping to about $30 by Christmas. Assuming the lower of the two, a $30 sale is about $117mm in lost gross revenue to Gamestop, Crytek, and their distribution partners. Now, include CoD:MW3, Battlefield 3, Fifa 12, and Portal 2 - each of which had over three million downloads via Torrent themselves, and you hit a half-billion in lost revenue pretty fast. Now expand this to thousands of games over the past three decades, including console games that have since been ported to emulators, the Playstation discs that were copied, etc. and you get into multiple billions of dollars in lost revenue.
It is important to discuss piracy in the context of used games because it highlights the financial motivation to move to digital distribution. The incentives are there and the technology exists to enable developers and distributors to almost completely eliminate the viability of used games, but there is some hesitancy due to the probable backlash from gamers. Honestly, though, it doesn't matter: Pure digital distribution is coming. There is too much money involved for the industry to notmake the move.
Artax represents physical game distribution. Atreyu represents gamers. The Swamp represents the gaming industry.
What to expect
Arbitrary prognostication has its pitfalls, but we can make some logical conclusions based on existing industry rhetoric and sales numbers to prepare ourselves for the future.
Cheap storage and significantly greater internet adoption since the introduction of the current generation of platforms virtually assures at least the availability of retail titles both online and in stores in the next console generation, with brick and mortar outlets eventually going the way of Circuit City. Expect the next generation of consoles to have gigantic hard drives and additional "cloud" storage. An ambitious manufacturer might even go solid state (faster than traditional platter drives, but still more expensive). Expect titles like Call of Duty and Assassin's Creed to be available for download on next-gen consoles, as a result, and downloadable content, or "DLC," to go away in favor of the more marketing-friendly "expansion content."
This will certainly be a problem for many gamers living in areas with restricted or spotty internet access. It's also going to be very annoying for military personnel overseas. Downloading a multi-gigabyte file via a 56k connection - which many people still use - is just not feasible. But with more (many more) consumers gaining access to high speed internet connections (source) it becomes easier for developers and distributors to stomach the loss of sales to a percentage of its base with spotty internet in order to retain more control of that distribution, reduce opportunity loss from piracy, and reduce manufacturing costs for packaging, shipping, etc.
The industry will spin it in a positive light; at first it will be a convenience: Why go to Gamestop when you can order the game right now from your console with a credit card? Shortly thereafter games purchased in the store will require an online connection for "updates," though what it really means is authentication servers (e.g. Diablo 3, and some of this is already happening today). Finally, you'll get download exclusives, followed by the elimination of retail distribution entirely.
Will it happen overnight? No, it will happen over the course of many years, just as Steam and other online outlets have slowly taken over the PC gaming marketplace this past decade. And it's not all bad: Anyone who uses Steam regularly will tell you that there are also a host of conveniences to online distribution, not least of which is the actual delivery method of the game. You have online sales, instant tech support, community tools, contests, and occasionally special events. There's also fierce competition in online distribution right now, leading to some pretty amazing sales through Steam and Amazon, in particular.
All of this still isn't quite the same as reaching up on the shelf and dusting off that old copy of Super Mario Brothers 3 or, in my case, Frogger. You can't swing by your local store to get a discounted used title, either. But I firmly believe that it isinevitable. Just as the vast majority of consumers now purchase their music online and increasingly view their entertainment via streaming services like Hulu and Netflix, so too shall video games soon be delivered exclusively via the internet, eliminating the used game marketplace, and fattening the margins of developers and publishers.
Resistance is futile. Your life as it has been is over. From this time forward, you will download all game purchases.
Opinions and speculation of and by Bozanimal are his own and not those of Gamespot.com or its affiliates. Bozanimal is not a Gamespot employee, and is not affiliated with any gaming companies in any way.
Several links within this article may lead to external sites. Neither Bozanimal nor host Gamespot.com or affiliates are responsible for the content of those sites.
If you loved the original Metroid, prepare to relive your glory days in this 2D exploratory shooter.
Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet (ITSP) opens with a full orchestral score, your flying saucer (and your planet, for that matter) under attack by an unknown alien organism that has infected a nearby star- and that infection is spreading. Naturally it falls to you to do what you can to save the planet. Starting with but a radar and the ship's hull to protect you, you take your personal space craft out into the wilds to save your planet.
Along the way you upgrade your vessel, solve puzzles, avoid and combat a variety of foes, and uncover secrets that include bonus video footage and concept art. Games for Windows LIVE is required for ITSP, so you will need an internet connection to play the game, including the single-player campaign.
Click here to read the rest of this review (and don't forget to vote it up or down!).
My Recent Reviews
May 11, 2013 8:38 pm GMTBozanimal posted a new blog entry entitled Ten Years of Gamespotting