Things I hate about the Games Industry

Just a list of random thoughts I hate about the games industry, though some apply to other industries as well.
  1. Exclusives
    I get why they do it, I really do, if a developer and publisher signs a deal to only release their game on the XBox 360 with Microsoft, chances are Microsoft is throwing them some pretty hardcore scratch, which helps cut down the risk inherent in making games. So I do understand why it's done.

    It still pisses me the hell off.

    It might be good for the companies involved, but it dicks over the consumer. Quick question, what has been shown to be the one thing all consumers want? Book Buyers, Gamers, Coffee Lovers? What is the one thing they all want? Choice.

    Choice is the backbone, give people choice and they'll love you for it, take away that choice and they might still buy your product but they'll be pissed off. You want to know my favourite eBook store? Amazon has the best range, and some of the cheapest prices, but it's not Amazon. It's Baen Books. They might not have the best range, but when it comes time to check out I get to decide what format I want it in. HTML? Got that. Lit? Got that. ePub? Got that? etc. Amazon gives me one choice, a shitty format that they control. It's annoying because it removes my choice. If I want to view in my browser with all my custom settings I can't when I buy from Amazon unless I break the law and hack the book.

    The same is true of the games industry, if a game is only released on the 360 and you've got a PS3, well tough shit you're screwed unless you want to buy another console. If EA is only releasing the Digital Distribution version of a game you want using it's download service but you prefer Steam? Tough shit.

    As I said above I understand why they do it, but that doesn't matter, it's not good for the customer so it sucks, and in the long run it hurts the companies too. I'd totally buy some of the games that are exclusive to the PS3, but I wont because I've got a 360, and leaving aside the merits of each console since both are fine machines, and I simply can't afford to buy a whole other console just for a handful of games.

    It's different for online services without a cost, but it's also bad because it stifles competition, the reason people are going to use Origin isn't because it's better then Steam (though it might be), it's because you wont be able to buy EA games you want through Steam. So it means neither side has an incentive to improve their services, because people are locked in. Which is bad.

    All that being said, there are non-harmful exclusives, which are called short-time exclusives, remember when we use to buy magazines? If you subscribed you'd get the mag a week before it hit the news stands, so you had an incentive to buy a subscription. Unfortunately no-one has realised doing the same thing in the Games Industry would be a good idea. Give a game a month headstart on the 360, or a month of only for sale on Steam.

  2. MMO Boxes
    As above I understand why MMO developers need to put out hardcover boxes of their games and expansions, the publishers and retailers want it in order to cash in, and I would be fine with that if they also offered a simple digital version, but they can't because said publishers and retailers would go apeship. Why should I need to go into a store to upgrade my MMO account to the latest expansion? It's not like I actually need the CD or DVD, everyone is going to come down via the patcher. Anarchy Online did it. It worked fine, it was great for the gamer, and for the company because people can simply upgrade when they see something they want in-game, without having time to cool off and think "nahh I don't really need that".

    I've got to make an account with the game anyway, so why shouldn't I be able to simply pay them the same way as I pay my subscription. Hell some games don't even offer a standard upgrade for their trial accounts, which is the height of stupidity, because you really don't want to make a prospective customer work harder then needs be in order to buy your product.

  3. Currency Points
    I think this one is going to be pretty damn common. Microsoft points, Cryptic Points, Bioware Points, Buggery Points!

    It's just plain stupid, you find what you want, but instead of being able to buy it, you've got to buy the points for your account, then buy the product, needlessly complicated.

    Again I know why they do it, and in this case it's unethical to a large degree, you know how you can only buy points in blocks? 500? 1000? 2000? You also know how products are never those nice round numbers, but rather 1200, 320, etc? It's so that you're overpaying without thinking your overpaying, we've all grabbed something like that and got loose points floating around doing nothing.

  4. Always Online Single Player
    It's part of the "treat paying customers like criminals" DRM trend. Don't get me wrong I don't hate DRM, Steam is basically DRM with a store interface after all, but I hate DRM that gives the customer no advantage while taking away choice. It doesn't do shit to the pirates, because they've got a cracked version that they can play offline, it only screws with the paying customer and the trend needs to die a horrible death. I'm always online, my 'net connection is very good, so it's the pure principal of the thing, and of course the times when the god-damn servers they've got crash and you can't play what you paid for because you're being treated like a pirate.

  5. In Game Pre-Order Bonus'
    Pre-Order and collectors editions are great, they help the publishers and developers make some extra bank, they allow the retailers to bring in more stock and lower the risk of sales.

    But I freaking hate pre-orders that give stuff in game, that stuff should be default. Pre-Order and Collectors editions should be things like books, making-of DVDs, posters, hell even the Night Vision Goggles that came with MW2 made me think about buying a game I had zero interest.

    But an extra level? A different costume? That's bullshit and insulting.
That's all for now, look for part two coming soon!

RIFT: Response to Criticism

I've been playing RIFT for a little while now, and you know I've been kind of enjoying it. I wont claim it's a perfect game, but for such a recent MMO (launched about 6 months ago) it is very polished and there is a stream of new content coming fairly quickly.

But recently I've been hearing a lot of criticism, some of it fair, no game is perfect, but some of it is just plain stupid, and I'd like to take a moment to get these thoughts down.

  1. It's a WoW Clone!
    This is an easy one... I'd just like to say... Well Duh! Copying is rampant in the games industry, everyone does it, RIFT copies from WoW, WoW copied from EQ, EQ copied from UO, UO copied from MUDS, MUDS copied from D&D, etc. But you know what, that's not a bad thing.

    WoW is a very good game, yeah I don't play it anymore, haven't since Lich King, but I will freely admit it is a very good game. So of course if you want to make a good game you'll take notes from other good games, it's obvious.

    It's how we get new games, gradual increases rather then staggering innovations. Just look at WoW itself, when it first came out everyone was so impressed with an MMO you didn't need to grind for days to gain a single level, you could quest and enjoy yourself, but they didn't get hit by a strike of lightening telling that to do that, no, they looked at the MMOs of the time and as players of those games knew what annoyed them to the most, so they set about fixing it.

    And hey, you could call the latest Call of Duty game a Doom Clone (God showing my age there, I remember when that was a common term), never mind the FPS genre has evolved a staggering lot since (in some areas, such as level design, devolved. at least IMO).

  2. The Quests are dull!
    Well okay, look at any MMO on the market, of course there are going to be tons of boring samey quests, kill 7 of these, collect 9 of those. It's nothing new. Granted some games have broken the mould (I personally LOVED the quests in DCU:O even though they were still kill X collect Y, the voice acting added a lot) or are going to do such as SW:TOR.

    But you're not looking deep enough, there are quests that are actually fun and engaging (without the gimmicy crap some MMOs throw at you... looking at you WoW Vehicles), along with quest lines that span the entire level range, start at level 15 and finish up at level 50 with you doing instances and raids.

  3. There are too many / too confusing abilities!
    Personally I love the soul system that lets you build the perfect character for you, and I love the idea that all your spells come from your talent trees, because it doesn't end up with you being forced to do X just because your class has that skill, because if you're Y you don't have it. So no being forced into roles you hate just because your class can do it.

    And frankly I love having dozens of abilities to chose from, even if some of them are only used rarely, it's still cool have a big tool box to chose from.

    Though I will admit some of the tooltips need cleaning up badly (Warriors especially)
Well that's about it for now, I know I had more things in mind, but I've lost track, so I'll end here.

Media Retractions - WTF?

So here I am sitting and watching old episodes of Media Watch, and there is a bit about how a news paper ran a retraction, on page 11, about a story they had run on the front fucking page the day before trashing someone.

So I'm thinking how the hell do they get away with that? If you trash someone and need to issue a retraction they should be forced to place it in the same location. Trash someone in the first 5mins of the 6 o'clock news, retraction in the same place, not after the weather when most people are switching to another show. Trash someone on the front page, front page retraction.

Bloody bullshit if you ask me.

The First Avenger - Trailer

I'm not really a fan of Marvel Comics, I much prefer DC, but I will say their movies freaking rock, and I never thought I'd say I was looking forward to seeing a Captain America movie.

The Wii Didn't Start the Fire
Seriously awesome brief history of video games to an awesome song.

Halo Nights

I'm not even a big Halo fan, but this is pretty cool.

Microsoft Security Essentials

So for the last month or so I've been running Microsoft Security Essentials and I must say I'm impressed, I was very sceptical at first about a Microsoft anti-virus/malware program, however they got it right.

It's lightweight, unlike a lot of AV programs, even the old much beloved AVG feels like a 10 ton brick compared to MS SE, which for me is very important, I freaking hate programs like Nortons which drain more out of my system then any virus could.

It's easy to use, which isn't much of a factor for me, but at least it means it was easy to setup.

And best of all it just plain works, and doesn't bug me.

So I give it a 4/5, if you need a new AV product grab this, it's free (if you've got a legit version of Windows), and very easy to install and use.