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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Posted by tkioz on Saturday, October 15, 2011
Just a list of random thoughts I hate about the games industry, though some apply to other industries as well.