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"Those who go mad are merely thoughtful souls who failed to reach any conclusions." - Bloodborne

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hey fellow Gamers, stop being so fucking stupid. Please?

Let me ask you guys something... could we PLEASE stop supporting bullshit in the gaming industry already? Please? Let me explain.

In order to raise profits higher and higher, certain things have been and are being done to video games that are incredibly stupid. Things like real world ads inside of games, on disc DLC, crazy micro transactions, etc. You hear about a company's dirty dealings, mistreatment of their staff and all assortment of shady, greedy dealings, especially from companies like EA. But for some reason, none of this seems to matter. People keep supporting it. We've got to stop.

If we don't, I think we're going to take this industry down a very bad path. A good example is a soon-to-be-released, in North America anyway, 3DS game called Bravely Default. It's a cool looking game but there's a big issue. In the game you get "sleep points" by leaving your 3DS in sleep mode. Every (non-consecutive) eight hour period you do this, you get one SP up to a maximum of three. These are, apparently, used in battle to stop time. If you don't feel like waiting, you can simply by special "SP drinks" or some such in the eShop for real money that will instantly give you three.

Some people might just say "oh well that's optional, I just won't do it" or "I don't have time to earn SP so I'll just buy them that way." The problem with the first statement, is that things like this still affect the design of the game. Being able to buy power or wins, even if you don't HAVE TO sets a REALLY bad precedent. What incentive do the developers have to make earning SP fun, or at least not take forever, if they want you to buy it with actual money? The problem with the second statement is that things like that used to be called "cheats" in the form of codes or unlockables. Now instead of you entering a special code or finding a hidden area to unlock a cheat, developers are simply asking you to get out your credit card.

One defense of this stuff I've seen is "oh well all games will have it soon anyway" which is complete bullshit. The video games industry is perhaps the greatest example of the phrase "vote with your wallet" that exists. Some developers can go under if one or two games flop. The effect our purchasing decisions make is, in some cases, that dramatic. We can simply choose not only to not purchase the micro transactions, but to avoid the games that have them entirely.

The other defense, which is that games are so much cheaper now than they were before and cost more to make, so devs need the money. I'm to call bullshit on that as well. One way game companies have chosen to make games more profitable are with DLC. When done correctly, DLC can be a great way for the devs to make more money and for us, the gamers, to get more content for our games. I'm all for good DLC that actually adds to the game and is fairly priced, that's fine and is a great way for developers to add to their profits. Shady tactics like monetizing cheats and ridiculous micro transactions aren't necessary at all.

So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to email the company that made Bravely Default and let them know that I won't be buying the game due to their micro transaction policies. Then, I'm going to not buy the game. Imagine the response if a game came out that had this type of shit, sold poorly but the devs got a hundred thousand "well we would've bought your game if not for those micro transactions" emails? Things would change pretty goddamn quick. We have that kind of power, we just need to be smart enough to use it.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Xbox One and Playstation 4 disappoint me.

When a new generation of videogame consoles are released, it used to surprise me. It used to amaze me. I was blown away. The games looked much better than anything we had seen before. The price point of upgrading to the "next generation" seemed worth it.

The differences have always been pretty easy to appreciate. NES to SNES to N64 to GameCube. While Nintendo took a different route with their next system, the Wii, the tech race continued with the Xbox 360 and PS3. Both of those systems had another sizable increase in graphics from the previous console generation. When I saw a demo of "Kameo Elements of Power" being run on the Xbox 360, I was very impressed. The camera zoomed out and I saw hundreds, maybe more than a thousand orcs on the screen. My jaw hit the floor, next gen had arrived.

While the graphics in Kameo still hold up today, and I'd recommend it to anyone who owns an Xbox 360 and hasn't tried it, games that look far better have come out since. With the release of the three (now) current generation consoles, I'm left unimpressed. Maybe it's diminishing returns, maybe it's the fact that I've had a really good gaming PC for a while, I'm not sure. Nintendo have made a significant step up over their last system, which admittedly isn't a huge accomplishment, but the other two haven't. At least, I don't feel like they have.

The game that really cemented that idea in my head is Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition. It's made to sound like some extra, super awesome edition. What it is, basically, is a slightly tweaked PC port. A game we got a year ago, finally looking almost as good as it did on PC but on Xbox One and PS4. Is this what "next gen" means now for consoles? What you got on PC two or three years ago? Is that all we can expect on modern videogame machines?

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm sure both of those consoles will get enough interesting exclusives to warrant purchasing eventually, I'm just disappointed that the graphical leap doesn't seem as large as it has in console generations past. I'm not trying to bash on the new systems, either. I think it's pretty likely that I'll end up getting a PS4 at some point. I guess it was inevitable that consoles would stop being able to surpass a modern PC at launch. What do you think?