Thursday, November 09, 2017

Mid-Generation Console Failures

I am going to make a bold prediction that this mid-generation console upgrade idea is going to be a giant failure of an experiment.

Sony tried to push a Playstation 4 Pro on consumers with a higher price point to play the same group of games we already had. What was the selling point? Oh the games will look slightly better. When has this ever mattered to console gamers? When I ask you? Often the best selling console is the least powerful one. The N64 was outsold by the Playstation despite it having more power. The PS2 sold the best despite the Xbox being more powerful, arguably the Gamecube was stronger too. The Wii was easily the weakest console and blitzed passed the Xbox 360 and PS3 in sales, it wasn't even close.

But, who cares about graphics? PC gamers. PC gamers willing to put in the time to tweak and adjust their systems for maximum performance. Console gamers saw something like the PS4 Pro as a thing they didn't need and that was the extent of it.

The Xbox 1 X has just come out, and I'm predicting it will have the same problem, or worse. Who is this system for? People who have 4K TV's who want to get the most out of that maybe? It's not for the gamer looking to get the best visuals out of their games though, it can't be, because those people would have bought a PC already. This thing is $500 too...historically this is too high of a price point to expect gamers to shell out for. Especially, when you can get an Xbox One right now that plays everything the X can play for nearly $300 less than that.

So why did Sony and Microsoft attempt this mid-generational upgrade idea? Well, if you listen to their executives in interviews they did it because....Apple does it with their phones....Yep! That's why they did it...they were hoping gamers would upgrade their consoles like people upgrade their phones. Here's the problem with this idea...well there's a few problems with this. The first one is, Apple makes money on Phone sales, a good margin too. Sony and Microsoft barely break even when they sell a console. The console sales game has always been about selling accessories and games. So, what benefit do they get if you buy their shiny new console and your PS4 and Xbox Controllers still work on them? And your games still work on them? You're not rebuying the games either.

The only way these things will make money is if they expand the market then. Will they do that? Not at $500 I'll tell you that much. So then, why do this really?

I have two theories.

1.  Either they are completely stupid and made a gamble they shouldn't have.

2. They are seeking to change gaming into a service based industry entirely.

Ok, so they looked at the smart phone model right? Well, ok, they aren't making money on the hardware upgrading you so how else are they going to keep you? Transition you into someone who's dependent on your services, that's how. They already started doing that with Xbox Live and PS+, but that's not enough. It's not enough to just lock your players into certain online pools and that's it. No, you need something more than that.

So, I see Microsoft and Sony very soon, start to go into an all digital service. This has already begun actually. Both Microsoft and Sony offer a "Netflix" like service for their older games. It's only a matter of time they will put newer games on there, maybe even "channels" to subscribe to additionally such as the EA Access pass, which already exists. It's only a matter of time that these companies find a way to make this the main way they have games distributed.

Then, once they have a loyal devoted following, they'll implement yearly or bi-yearly console upgrades for you to buy. And they might subsidize it through their service fees, just like how cell phone companies do it.

I dunno, this is one man's theory.

Or they are just stupid...

*they might be stupid*

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Heavenly Sword - Review

Image result for Heavenly Sword

Lately, I have been scrounging up a bunch of cheap games at my local DiscReplay. Wonderful store by the way, great selections of old games at reasonable prices. Anyway, I came across Heavenly Sword one day, I was kind of keeping an eye out for it as I have always wanted to try this one. I played the demo back when it was first released and was completely put off by the writing. When Nariko tells Kai to play "twing twang" I regarded it as the dumbest thing I have ever heard in gaming since Metal Gear Solid 2's "I live through this arm!"

Years later a friend of mine randomly brought up this game, and how great it was, and that I should give it a shot. I didn't take his advice until just a few months ago, and, well, I basically regret it. This might be the worst game I've ever played, that's how much I didn't like it. Let's go through this. 


I suppose we'll begin here with the story, since this is what was sold to me as so great. Nariko (main character) is the daughter of the leader of a dying tribe of people who base their entire religion if you will around this mighty sword, that, if wielded will eventually take the life of the one using it...for some reason. The story never bothers to go into any detail what so ever about the sword, where it got its powers, why anyone in their right mind would even WANT the damn thing either. Sure, it's really powerful, ok, that part I get. But the main bad guy of the game wants this thing, really badly, he knows it will kill him though so why the hell bother with it? Seems like a worthless treasure if you ask me. He never delves into why he wants it, he just does...

Nariko is a sort of outcast in her tribe. Her father doesn't show her affection, and quite frankly he wished Nariko would never have been born, mainly because he was worried about some prophecy where Nariko would take up the Heavenly Sword, free their people, and die through the evil powers of the sword. (SPOILERS) That's what happens. But....the game never once takes the time to make us care. From the onset Nariko is treated pretty badly by everyone. Saving these people is thankless, and she's not "noble" in any way about it either. She doesn't like these people, she outwardly hates her father though still very much doesn't want him physically hurt or captured. 

She is literally going through this "quest" of hers for revenge, the satisfaction of war. Which, is interesting, don't get me wrong that is clearly what they were going for here, but never once do they ever make me care. Her vengeance is never fully realized to make me care. Compare this to God of War, Kratos is tricked into killing his own family. We see the brutal murder, we see his inner turmoil, we relate to this immediately. We care with Kratos, and want to do some murdering ourselves. We never get this moment with Nariko, and the game squanders every chance for us to care. Her father gets captured, not killed, she takes up the cursed Sword to free him. She frees him, fairly quickly after that, and then her quest continues for the majority of the game with little if no motivation at all. Her sister Kai, who as far as I can tell is autistic or something, gets captured and killed? I dunno, she gets revived at the end of the game, but the point is this happens JUST before the final mission so, again, the game isn't giving us time to breathe or care about what happens to Nariko. 

Worse yet, she never really addresses any of these things in a way that we can relate to. She monologues to herself, sparsely as it is, mainly just lamenting that the sword has taken her life. Oh, right I forgot to mention, the game STARTS at the endgame battlefield where the sword just randomly decides to take her life. Yet another poor story choice to take me out of ever giving a crap. She spends a lot of the game just bargaining with the spirit of the sword, and finally she has a whiny speech getting the sword to believe that she is all the sword has left as it will  be a museum piece if it doesn't let her use it to kill more people. Hilariously, just before Nariko dies she tells Kai to bury the sword where no one can find if the evil sword is so dumb to have not known that would happen to it. Why did the sword give into her horrible logic and let her free? I have no idea, the sword never talks, it has no history presented to us, it's a useless, ill-conceived plot device. 

So...I mean that's really it. You beat the bad guy, revive your friend, and die and are given a viking funeral. The story was extremely hollow, poorly written, and my god the voice acting was bad, especially the main villain. I have heard less scene chewing from Disney villains. 


Really good graphics for its time, early PS3 days after all. The frame rate on the other hand was unforgivably bad. Constant drops all around, couldn't get past this at all. 


I was hoping this would be the saving grace of the game. It's not. I was hoping for a God of War clone. It isn't. The combat in this game is...really clunky. There's no block button, just color patterns you have to react to from enemies. If they glow blue, Nariko will block if you touch nothing then hit Triangle as they hit you, orange  you have to hold R1 which is "strong stance" then hit Triangle as they hit you. That's the defense of the game. I never used it until I got to the final boss where it's just a game of throwing his Blue or Orange orbs back at him. Otherwise I just button mashed through he whole game and did just fine. 

The combat is mostly serviceable, but where the game really aggravated me was everything else. The game frequently has you control Kai...where you play the aforementioned "twing twang." So what is twing twang you ask? It just means Kai is going to go shoot people with her crossbow. These missions are god awful. This is back in the PS3 days where you have to use the Sixasis motion controls to guide her arrows and...let me tell you they do not control well at all. There is significant delay in the movements, it's not 1:1 in the slightest. This wouldn't be so bad if there weren't so MANY of these missions with Kai, or even sometimes you have to do this with Nariko too. They added this gameplay type wherever they possibly could, and I'd say it makes up about 40% of the gameplay overall. 

This is a mercifully short game thankfully. 


Forgettable. Music was...ok? Voice acting was average to terrible, as I mentioned before the main villains are so busy chewing the scenes they likely had no idea what they were actually saying. It's insanely bad, and hard to describe. There's one villain that can fly using....uh...blades attached to his back....that don't even flap....yeah physics are not this game's strong suit either...But anyway, he is utterly ridiculous. He draws out nearly every word. Like, he'll say Nariko as....Naaaaaaaarrrriiiiiiiko in a high pitch whiny tone and he'll make a line with maybe 7 words in it last a solid minute to say. It's infuriating and takes whatever seriousness the game was going for in tone and throws it completely out the window. 

Final Thoughts: 

This game sucks. Best part of it was the credits because I knew then I'd never have to play this ever again. 

*DiscReplay was selling this for $3.99. I now understand why.*

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Toxic Comment Sections

I am an avid poster on comment sections on sites like IGN and Destructiod, even Yahoo that I disparage every chance I get. More and more though, I am seeing on websites an increase in modding, and even just not having comment sections anymore at all. The reason they say, is the "toxic comments" that ruin the experience for people. I won't disagree comment sections on any site can have a lot of nonsense in them, a lot of flaming, a lot of trolling, etc. As someone who has spent a lot of time in them however, I wouldn't say this is a majority at all. I would say it's the minority, easily.

I am always surprised when I read comment sections on a controversial topic and scrolling through actively trying to find the reprehensible stuff. Interestingly, more often than not I see more comments "eye rolling" over the "cesspool" of comments they just sifted through, than I actually see bad comments myself. It's almost as if people just assume the comment section is filled with a lot of tripe.

Why do people assume this? Sure, you can always find the occasional racist comment, sexist comments, what have you in most comment sections. But, I have never seen one where the majority was just a bunch of slime, not even 50/50. So, what is it about comment sections that makes them "toxic" to people. Usually, when I get deep into comment sections I have really good conversations, or meme wars, or just joking around having lols with people I'll never meet in real life. Yeah, there's also arguments had, disagreements over things, but normally discussed cordially without the need for moderators to step in and instead of stopping "toxic" comments, instead just take sides and silence people.

I think it has to do with poisoning the well. Sure, there's a lot of good water in there, but a few drops of poison will still kill you. While that's a good comparison to the phenomena of people in general thinking comment sections are toxic, it doesn't reflect how they actually are. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater isn't the answer, but increasingly it seems as though companies running these sites don't want to see it.

It is their right to do it, but to me it makes the site far less interesting and engaging. I get why they do it. It's all a perception thing. They want control of everything, from their message and articles, to how they want you to "feel" about their website when you think about it. Sites don't like it when you disagree with the authors, or question their sources, or point out inaccuracies. These kinds of things makes your site lose credibility. Worse, something out of their control is people who have bad experiences with other users harassing them, or making troll comments to them drives them away from the site. That is out of their control mostly, unless of course they turn the comment sections off.

Again, I'm not an advocate for turning comments off anywhere. I really like being able to strike up a conversation online with anyone, especially people I disagree with. You learn the most talking with people who don't agree with you. You get to learn why they think the way they do, it can reaffirm what you believe if their evidence is sparse, or you can learn something that alters your thinking. Having no comments at all subjects you to one point of view of whatever you are reading or watching. This to me, is archaic. It's how media was consumed in the past. It just gets delivered to you and you absorb it. The internet advanced media in so many ways. One of the biggest ways has been the comment sections, and being able to react to articles with people around the world instantly.

Yeah, there's a ton of terrible people online and even if it were true that "most" people in comment sections are trolls, I'd still take that for the chance I meet someone who can give me a robust back and forth about the merits of 2D Zelda vs 3D Zelda.

My advice is just don't take it seriously, have fun with it, at least while it lasts. I can very well see eventually sites will no longer have comment sections at all. Possibly they'll evolve into only having paid comment sections where subcribers are allowed to discuss things but no one else. This happens quite a bit on Twitch now actually, which I kind of look at as a hyper fast evolved internet space where we can kinda see the future of the rest of the internet maybe.

*This final thought was moderated*

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Pacing Is Important

***Please let it be very clear I'm not advocating for any of this, I'm just annoyed I'm getting older and  have less time on my hands, and am calling it as I see it in the gaming industry.***

As I get older I have less and less time to do things I like. The main thing I like to do is play video games of course, and I notice more and more these days when a game is wasting my time. Usually, it's needless fetch quests to get the thing for the lady to give you the thing for the dude to give me a thing for the shopkeep who with-held the thing I needed to give the sorcerer who would then unlock the seal to the final gate locking away my prized mythical bastard sword, I'm inclined more these days to say fuck all that shit I'm playing the game where I just shoot stuff in the face now.

This is the dilemma I find myself in. I live in a world now where I enjoy a game like Doom with its white-knuckle pacing from start to finish with no lollygagging in between, versus a game like say Metroid Prime 2 Echos which is admittedly a much more cleverly designed game, but one that asks the player to re-traverse all its areas 3 god damn times.

The thing of it is though, is games like Doom are more successful now than they've ever been, and by that I don't mean literally Doom as let's face it original Doom was one of the most successful games of all time and new Doom will never sniff that success (though it exists now in a sea of FPS games so to see how well it did now proves my point). I mean simply games that aren't 40 hour long linear experiences. We used to live in a time where JRPG's ruled the roost in sales. Now a game like Star Ocean is seen as contrived and lauded at for doing nothing for its genre.

I wonder though if it's more that those kinds of games haven't grown up with the target audience that loved them. We're getting older, we don't have as much time. If we're asked to sit through an unskippable cut-scene between two characters we don't like, that's a problem. It's even more a problem when we have to sit through that cut-scene after losing to a boss fight with no save in between said cut-scene and are forced to see it again.

There's a reason cell phone games are doing so well. You play them in bits and snippets and they give you a sense of hollow progression that satisfies, until you start to notice that hollow part and hate yourself later. Modern games need to grow up though. Some have, some haven't still, and it's not a blanket endorsement for console Tetris either. Games like Fallout and GTA still do well and you can pour hundreds of hours into those. But they're no longer the focal point of the masses. Games that get the most attention and most hours are games like League of Legends, Counterstrike, and the most recent hit Overwatch which is simply Counterstrike's addictive loot drops meets the player friendly Team Fortress. All of these games are played in bits and snippets, though usually longer for their addictive qualities. Never though is the player feeling like they've wasted any time by the end as they've had numerous points at which they were rewarded. Sit down with a JRPG by contrast, and it'll take you maybe 2 hours to beat a dungeon, and even by doing that the game doesn't make it entirely clear that you've progressed as tangibly as unlocking that long sought after skin in Overwatch.

A game like Pokemon Go comes out to smashing success and people wonder why. I look at that and go, yep, that's where gaming is going and it makes perfect sense. Conversely, I don't see something like Pokemon Go as what will be the "death" of consoles, I don't actually ever really see that happening. I do however, see a larger chunk of money to be had with something like Pokemon Go. A game where you get bits and snippets of progression simply for walking around in the world that you live in anyway. Absolutely brilliant. And, it might flame out, but likely only to its inevitable competition seeking those millions of Pokemon Go dollars.

What I also see is a game like that shaping how console games are made, and how developers choose to design their games around the player's time. They understand now that people playing their games have less time for them, and they have to accommodate, and they will, and they are. Pokemon Go, Overwatch, these are games that will take up more of the gaming market share as we move on. I also have a bet the Nintendo NX will be doing something similar in that it's going to focus on smaller, bite sized games that have a big financial impact for them, while still making room for massive Zelda games, but it won't be their focus anymore.

*Maybe, we'll see, I can predict as well as the weatherman 2 weeks out lol*

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Steam Controller Review

Many things have been said about the Steam Controller since it's release. Some good, some bad, and some really ugly. That's close to a movie title I think? Anyway, I've been using the Steam Controller for the last week or so for Fallout 4 and messing around with other games just to see what I could get out of it, and so far I'm quite liking it. I think I'll split up this review into the three aforementioned categories what could also be a movie title or cliche'd phrase.

The Good: 

The Steam Controller is incredibly unique. It's goal is to marry PC gamers with their couch. Valve wants to assist with PC gamers and their back problems by allowing them to game from their couch instead of hunched over at a PC. Props to them! If you don't care about your back, or comfort whilst gaming this isn't the controller for you.

Their solution was to add two track pads to the standard controller to act as the mouse. Now, I get the idea...there's basically no way to play a game like, oh...Starcraft on PC from the couch. You need your mouse and keyboard and Valve thought to themselves how do we give the player a way to play this without that? This was how they chose to fix that problem.

Now, I will admit, I haven't tried to use the Steam Controller for a mouse-like point and click type game for two reasons. One, I honestly don't see it working very well for those games in general especially RTS games, and two I rarely like those games anyway. I've effectively been using the controller for games that it does work with, but wasn't precisely intended for, though strangely works the best for anyway I feel.

As stated above I've been playing Fallout 4 mainly, so I'll discuss that. I must say, the controller works fantastically better than I've been reading from other sites in my opinion. I think it helps that Bethesda put out an official setting for the controller for their game, which I have ripped and stolen for other FPS games and I must say it's the perfect way to play these types of games on this controller, with the slight addition of Gyro for aiming.

The main draw for the controller on this game, or another FPS game in particular is the track pad and Gyro aiming. The track pad acts like a mouse and a joystick at the same time with the setup Bethesda provided. Slight movements on the right pad acts like a mouse with a mild track ball so if you flick it the character will spin. I don't typically use the track ball, but it's there if you are fond of it. What makes it like a joystick though is if you drag your thumb to the edges, any edge, it will start to move like a joystick moved all the way to the ends. This works marvelously well once you get used to it.

Coupled with the gyro aiming, which activates any time your thumb rests on the right track pad (or whatever you want to customize it for) you can get extremely precise aiming. Much better aiming than two sticks I feel. It's as close to a mouse as you can get. If you've ever used a Wii pointer or PS4's gyro typing, it's a lot like that. It feels great, and I'm getting headshots now like a champ after 30 hours of use. I fully feel acclimated to the controller now for FPS type games.

For most other games the controller is perfectly serviceable but it's just like any other controller. For instance, racing games work the same as any other controller, side scrollers same, action games same. I've already wrecked the first boss of Dark Souls with it without any issues. The controller has another slight advantage with the two bumper buttons on the back of the controller allowing you to set things like run to those buttons rather than pushing in the left stick. I've always hated pushing in the left stick so I find this addition to be extremely welcome. Other controllers need to get on board with this. I'm sick of pushing in the left stick!

This is becoming a tangent so I'll sum up a few more quick positive points:

+ Battery life is insanely good. Haven't had to change them yet after about 40 hours
+ You can customize everything to infinity and beyond so if the controller doesn't feel "right" you can tweak it to hell until it does feel right.
+  Strong community making controller templates for most of the popular games
+ Let's you use Big Picture mode the way it was always intended

The Bad: 

There is quite a list I've come up with while using the controller that bugs me. These are all minor annoyances, I'm saving the things I hate for the third category.

- Batteries. I don't like batteries for controllers. As mentioned above the battery life is incredibly good, but I'm still annoyed by this.
- The controller is a touch too big for me. I have incredibly small hands and my left hand does get sore after about 3 or 4 hours which in my 25 years of gaming has never happened before. The shape of the controller is anything but ergonomic.
- You have to learn to use this. That's annoying for most people, but I found the experience to be fun. I will say I'm about 90% acclimated to its quirks now but I don't know the average gamer wants to learn how to game all over again which this controller kind of makes you do.
- The left joystick click requires too much force to click. It's pretty useless because of this. Thankfully the controller  has extra buttons to replace this with.

The other few annoyances I have with the controller is less the controller's fault and more of an oversight on Steam's part. There are a lot of games that just don't function well with Steam Big Picture mode. Either they freeze up, or the UI doesn't function or some other nonsense. Take Crysis Warhead. I love this game so it was one of the first I tried the controller with. Getting it working right was a mind numbing chore however, because Crysis doesn't work with Big Picture mode. Most other games, you can hit the Steam home button and tweak the controller again and again, which you have to do to get things right. Crysis just says NOPE. Hitting the button brings up the Steam UI BEHIND the game. So you can't see what you're doing...Instead you have to close the game and tweak it from there. This is incredibly frustrating but luckily I got it working after much tweaking.

Not only is it a problem getting games that don't like Big Picture mode to work, but getting games that don't allow for Mouse + Controller combos working is a HUGE pain in the ass. Going back to our example of Crysis, or Just Cause 2 even, the game will stop working if you're using a combination of Controller and Mouse settings on your Steam Controller. For instance, do you like Gyro aiming? I know I do. This activates the "mouse" portion of the controller. But do you want to move while aiming? Well that activates the "Joystick" of the controller. In-game, you just can't do both, and if you try, both games just top accepting all your inputs for about 5 seconds while it struggles to figure out what the hell you're doing. Valve knew this would be a problem, so there's a way around it but it's really annoying. You have to assign all the buttons to Keys and your Mouse instead of using the pre-programmed controller inputs most games have. This takes a lot of time and effort as you would imagine.

The other major issue here is games that are NOT Steam games. While you can link games to Steam to work with big picture mode, even Origin games, and it works very well, the big issue you have is you get no community assistance what so ever. You have to fend for yourself on those games. There really should be a way to search games to find controller settings. For instance, I have GTAV, but I have it through Rockstar's site, not Steam. I would love to just search the templates people have made for GTAV for the Steam Controller, but...I can't. I literally have no way to get their templates.

Lastly, something that bugs me with Fallout 4 is even if I wanted to use a mouse and key I have to unplug the Steam USB dongle because otherwise Fallout 4 will refuse to use anything other than a controller if it's plugged in. This is Fallout's fault mostly, there should be an in-game option to turn the controller off like other games have....but noooooo.

The Ugly: 

While I have mostly positive things to say about the controller, and I feel it's a lot of fun to use, it functionally cannot replicate a mouse and keyboard with the accuracy you're going to need for the games it's trying to put you on your couch for. For instance, I'm loving it with Fallout 4 and I got it set up with many other games as well. But there is a small category of games you wouldn't want to use it with. Not a BIG category mind know...just MULTI-PLAYER games.

That's right, while it's wonderful for a game like Fallout 4 where the AI has the brain the size of a small grain of blue cheese, this just isn't something you're going to want to use against people with 8200 DPI mice against in CS GO. You wouldn't stand any chance what-so-ever. Sure, you MAY be able to get accustomed to this controller enough to make it workable for a game like that, heck you may eventually be pro at it. There are people that compete with Xbox controllers against Mice players after all, even though they are scientifically gimping themselves by using a controller. I already feel more pro at using a Steam Controller for Fallout 4 vs my PS3 controller I normally use on PC. But I'm miles away from being as quick and precise as I am with my Mouse.

And you can absolutely forget about using this controller for Diablo 3, or Starcraft, or even World of Warcraft and especially not League of Legends or Dota 2. So, I've just outlined probably 90% of the current PC gamer player base outside of those Minecraft weirdos. Yes, the most popular games on PC quite frankly, I wouldn't advise you ever attempt to try this controller with. These are mostly point and click games, or competitive games, or with an incredibly high number of commands like WoW. There's just not enough mouse accuracy here or enough buttons in general to make this compete with the mouse players you'll be playing with. Hilarious that Valve would release a controller that likely would never be useful for their most popular game in Dota 2. No one in their right mind would try to use this thing on that game.


I really like the Steam Controller overall. As I've grown used to it I can find the genius in it for some games and it is actually a better choice than a standard controller in some cases. In other cases it's confusingly worse or at worst, entirely unusable for say Dota 2. Which begs the question, were they searching for just a "way" to play computer games from a couch, or a "better" way. Because, sometimes it's better, sometimes it's just not even an option. But the games you'd think it was designed around like games that rely mostly on Mouse movements like a Dota 2 it's just not great at all. The touchpads were meant to replace the Mouse, or so I assumed, but all it really did was replace the second analog stick on a standard controller with any amount of success.

So this controller would be a wonderful improvement if it released on, say a PS4 and games were designed for it. It would be fantastic to use with Battlefield 4 on PS4, but you'd be really gimped if you used it on PC facing Mouse players. There outlines the major issue with the Steam Controller. It innovated the Console controller VERY well, and is a poor imitation of a Mouse and Keyboard on PC. The major problem of course, as should be obvious, is it came out exclusively for PC.

If you are gaming on PC and mainly use a controller for your gaming however, I highly recommend this controller. If you're like me, and this controller clicks with you as fast as it did for me, you will absolutely love the extra buttons, the Gyro mouse-like aiming, the endless customization, and the extra precision offered by the right track pad over the conventional second stick, which for me, never felt right in gaming. This feels right. This feels like a welcome evolution to the conventional controller.

*A cheaper alternative to couch PC gaming though, get a wireless mouse and keyboard with some sort of board or lap-desk which would immediately replace any benefits the Steam Controller provides aside from comfort (as a key and mouse on your lap is less than comfortable).*  

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Star Wars $50 Season Pass! Outrageous!

I'm appalled, absolutely dismayed. This highly anticipated game of 2015 released in November has come out and has the gall to charge us $50 for a season pass! And what does it offer? Well we don't really know exactly. Presumably more maps, most likely. What an atrocity. That's almost the price of the whole game itself! What a terrible display! Gamers won't stand for this, we won't have it!

Curse you Call of Duty Black Ops 3 for your overpriced DLC!


Plot twist, wasn't talking about Star Wars at all. Nope, unlike all the other news outlets like IGN, Gamespot and yes, even Destructoid whining about Star Wars having a $50 season pass, I'm going to instead complain about Call of Duty doing it. Why? ...Uh...well because no one else is apparently. Which is really weird, I mean I guess we're supposed to expect this from Activision but not EA? Did I just write that sentence? lol, yeah even I can't keep a straight face whilst typing that. Were we really taken aback by this? Was this really THAT unexpected? Please, give me a break. These guys gave us BF4 with a $50 season pass, and we DIDN'T expect them to do that with Star Wars Batllefront? Let me try to dumb this down for you guys. Battle is in BOTH titles, but one ends in Field and the other ends in Front.

Ok, that's completely irrelevant but I found it funny anyway so as long as I entertained myself then I did my job.

Not to write a huge diatribe or anything, but I couldn't be more annoyed by all these articles decrying the horrors that is the $50 DLC Star Wars is shilling and still yet no one moans over Call of Duty doing it for the last 7 or so years. Does Activision pay off these media outlets to not complain about it? Honestly, I'd love to know the answer to that.

Frankly, I'd complain about all of them if I had the time or made money doing it like Angry Joe does. I'm sure we'll see his Battlefront review soon and expect there to be a LOT of whining about Battlefront's $50 DLC. What I HOPE though, is we don't see him exclude CoD from this nonsense. Hopefully, he lumps them all together...but I somehow doubt it. Everyone else is treating this game like some kind of trailblazer for $50 season passes, like it's never happened before. It's driving me utterly insane. Again, I don't approve of it either, but I'm also not shocked by it.

Honestly, I'll probably pick up the DLC when it goes for $20 or so if it does for Battlefront what it did for Battlefield 4 which added a TON of stuff for its overpriced season pass. DICE does a really great job of supporting their games after release. So, I'm expecting to see some good stuff from the season pass and the other free stuff they promised to provide the game as time goes on.

Ultimately, my main point here is, the $50 season pass idea is a shitty one, and has been for the last 7 years. To suddenly whine about it now makes me mad because you weren't there when I was whining about it 7 years ago and BECAUSE of your silence back then we STILL have this shit happening today. smug bastards...

*You're also probably the same people that were buying the $50 season passes back then and only now just realized you were being screwed...*

PS - I've not been buying them before not buying them became cool.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Entitled Gamers vs Greedy Developers

There's a bit of upheaval in the video game world lately involving angry fans over how things are priced, and how many people buy things before a game comes out. No better of an example of this can be made than the recent spat Angry Joe has had over the new Warhammer game which seemingly "cut" out the race of Chaos and stuck them in as a pre-order bonus.

Angry Joe, for anyone unaware is completely against sales tactics like this which appear to be anti-consumer on the surface. He is genuinely upset over the state of gaming these days with pre-order bonuses, game bundles that come with skins that are already in the game, and DLC that doesn't feel worth the price in any way. He's fully justified feeling this way as a consumer, though he does go overboard in fanning these flames without having a lot of evidence to support his opinion. Sometimes we do get evidence like in the case of Street Fighter x Tekken, or when DLC areas are discovered in games like Destiny prior to release.

What makes the case of Warhammer so interesting though, is the developers actually responded and provided what I feel to be a very level headed and understandable response. You can read it here. As with everything there are two sides to every story. Consumers confidence in gaming has gone downhill incredibly fast when obvious corporate greedy tactics surface and aren't addressed. But here, we see their side of it and should be able to identify with them on what's going on and put the rage aside.

As we see in their response they outline what kind of funding was received with the game, how pre-ordering is a great thing for development teams and support of any project, and ultimately why the Chaos class was designed to be a DLC / pre-order race. It makes a lot of sense when it's broken down this way, versus how it appears on the surface when fans view it. What fans fail to understand a lot of the time is people making these games are just that, they're people. They are making a product as good as they can make it, overcoming obstacles we'll never know about, and trying to be successful at it. And, yes, sadly "success" does include making a profit. Would Sega invest in their future projects if they go over budget on this, and fail to deliver success? They certainly wouldn't.

I would like to take a moment though to dissect both sides, as I feel there's hyperbole on both ends. Angry Joe rants and rages about anti-consumer policies. This is how he gets views. He regurgitates the fans distaste for seemingly greedy tactics from developers. He can't ever prove what they're doing is greedy unless data miners discover it for him. He never takes each situation uniquely either, simply lumping them all together as one overarching game developer greed...thing. As if all of these developers meet together to discuss ways to suck their consumers dry of all their money. He's a sensationalist, he'll probably not admit it, it's his job though so I don't blame him. But people need to recognize this to have a level headed understanding as to what is really going on.

From the Warhammer developer's perspective their response is pretty heavy handed. "Happy gamers" peppered throughout feels like being talked down to. We get it, we're your customers, you don't have to lick our shoes. They outline it's not about making money, but about being able to produce more content in the future. He's right, but he's wording it to appear noble. Quite frankly, yes, they need to make a profit to stay in business. It's like any business. So yes, it is about the money, you don't need to lie about it.

As for what costs what, how many races Sega was able to "fund" them for their game, well sadly we just have to take their word for it. Games cost way more to make than they ever have and the prices for games have stayed stagnate for a very long time. It's no wonder studios have found multitudes of ways to fund their projects. But at the end of the day that's what it has come down to. Either finding ways to support the content they make, or stop making it all together. Obviously, these guys love what they do and want to keep doing it, which is making games. We either have to respect that, or simply don't support it. There's no sense whining or getting angry about it. If suddenly in the next Mario game Yoshi as a power-up cost $10 to unlock, I'd probably stop playing Mario games. Understanding of course, that Nintendo probably needs that funding, I'd prefer they find a different way to achieve that.

And that's where the two roads meet ultimately. Developers have to find ways to fund their games that don't alienate their fanbase. Was creating Chaos Warriors as pseudo pre-order incentive one of those good ways? Seemingly not. In retrospect there just wasn't a great way to convey the message of their finances in with the message they sent to fans by announcing this pre-order "incentive." It just doesn't come off that way. In the developer's mind, it would have been DLC later on, that was the plan, so they felt like this would be a nice bonus for fans who buy early. To consumers, we just can't view it that way because it appears as if you're shilling content you've already completed. Appearances are EVERYTHING in sales.

In conclusion, the Warhammer guys did screw up here and hopefully they've learned they need to be more careful about how a consumer views something versus how they view it. As for consumers though, quit being whiny bitches and try to convey your dislike for something with a bit more integrity. It makes us look bad, and guys like Angry Joe popularize this poor behavior (though admittedly is incredibly entertaining to watch).

*Just chill out*