“Coincidentally”

I read a couple of good, albeit old, articles on the concept of day one DLC. You can find them here: Forbes + Cinemablend.

They both offered some interesting perspectives on the day one DLC issue. I have to say, I hadn’t considered it from the business perspective, that, offering that extra content to the end-user up front definitely influences the possibility of the extra purchase attachment. So, go businesses, I guess.

Pretty sure this is how the first meeting went:

That being the case, honestly, I still feel like releasing DLC that is a paid release the same day as the game comes out, is a huge gob of spit right in the face. To me, and others I can safely assume, telling us that the money that we’ve chosen to spend on that particular diversion over, say, going to a movie, a night of drinking, etc isn’t good enough for the developers/publishers. Now, obviously, not all of them fall into that boat. Getting that in my copy of the Witcher cemented in my mind that I will be that much more likely to purchase a CD Projekt Red title. Even if the DLC is minor contributions (though they are adding a New Game + option), I’ve never been as moved by a videogame company as I was when I cracked open my copy of Wild Hunt.

So when I see games go live, and then they “offer” you the further experience that can be added at a minimal cost, I just get mad. The issue is with the duality of my interests as a gamer. Because, like many, I do want the “complete experience”. Now, I’d like to have that out of the box, but the industry seems to think that we are just brainless consumers who are going to buy whatever is put out in front of us. Sadly, to some extent, they’re right. If we weren’t buying it, it wouldn’t keep being made and put under our collective noses. So we want it. Not necessarily on day one, but knowing that it’s there and you can buy it and then complete it at your leisure, it makes it that much harder to avoid. Especially if you want everything that is meant to capture the full picture. While the other side of me is screaming: THE GAME JUST CAME OUT AND YOU WANT ME TO BUY MORE!? So, where’s the line?

I also hate how a lot of companies sell the concept of day one DLC like it just so happened to work out as such. I can tell you, from my experience working in the gaming industry as a tester, DLC doesn’t just fall out of the core product like an apple from a branch. It takes weeks to prepare something as simple as a fully functional E3 demo. Weeks. And that’s, generally, a subsection of an (otherwise) functional game. Actually putting together a complete piece of DLC is something that can take months.

So when something comes out as DLC the day the game drops, there is no way that they just happened to wrap it all up after the game has gone gold. Hell, when I was working on the project I was on, they stopped even finishing correcting polish bugs just to make things look a bit shinier. So you can bet your sweet-ass they’re not producing even something as small as a new bonus character.

Like I said, releasing expansions, like WoW or Borderlands, at least, isn’t something that drops at release, and is easily justifiable in terms quality. If I have to put any real thought into whether or not it’s something worth it to pick up, then the truth is, it probably isn’t.

Now, I know how businesses work: They aren’t running charities. So, even when they are doing something good (Witcher 3) there is probably still something they’re planning on the back end.

Stay tuned, I’m prepping to tackle day one patches next. Hot topics in-bound.

– The Ego

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Can’t help it

I finished writing my last blog post, and I felt like I didn’t quite cover some of it.

This is going to be painful for someone. That someone – Cashcom (formerly Capcom). I think that’s the one company that leaves the worst taste in my mouth as far as the whole DLC system goes.

When I say I am an old-school player of the Marvel Vs Capcom series, I mean old school. I was dropping 10’s of dollars in arcade machines when arcades were big. I don’t mean like the diversionary arcades that you find at your local Cineplex or Chuck-e-Cheese (does that even still exist?). Yea, so, I won’t proclaim myself to be good at them by any means. But I love(d) that series. Going to the arcade, seeing the capability of the “graphics” and the full impact of the environment was really something. Even though I am not good at fighting games, playing in the arcade there would always been the three levels of skills.

Tier 1 – The newbie. Some kid whose parents brought them there to entertain them at a (relatively) minimal cost.

Tier 2 – Good at games in general, likes to try their hand at a little of everything.

Tier 3 – That guy who was so indomitable that you had to put your quarter up for next, despite knowing that he is going to demolish you.

I was probably somewhere in between 2 and 3, depending on the night.

Nostalgia aside, I have a point. Marvel Vs Capcom came out a few years ago now (2011). When it came out, I pre-0rdered it, had it in my home and in my PS3 within minutes of making it in the door. And I went all out – collector’s edition. For pre-ordering, you were given access to two DLC characters – Jill Valentine and Shuma Gorath.

Now, like I said – I like the idea of DLC. But what Capcom does is release a game where the DLC is locked on the disc. Now, I know Capcom isn’t the only company. Lots of others are guilty of it as well. Here’s what kills me though: Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom is released within nine months of the original release – but this time with “re-balanced” fighters and twelve new characters. Granted, they lowered the price of the re-release, but come on! And they keep doing it. Street Fighter IV, for example, was released something like fives times on the last-gen consoles. Five times Seriously. Obviously people kept buying it. They had to, otherwise they wouldn’t have kept making them. So yes, we the consumers/gamers were responsible for our own end. I, however wasn’t one of them. Though, admittedly, I did buy UMvC3…Sigh. It had Ghost Rider and Dr. Strange. I’m only one man! The whole time that I was playing it – I was just waiting for the Super Mega Ultra Epic Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3.5 Hyper Turbo Collectors Edition. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case.

What is infuriating is that they did release it that many times. Five separate runs for, effectively, the same game. In what universe can anyone explain to me how that is acceptable. Considering the sorts of piddly crap that most gamers complain about, this is the sort of thing that should have the public assembling torches and pitchforks. Yes, I realise that this was years ago, but this sort of stuff is still happening. EA is another one of those companies who is guilty of launching titles and then burying the end-user in heaps of DLC. It’s sickening.

The only place I will give Capcom credit for in the DLC space is that, at least, the majority of their DLC was costumes/skins so that you’re not getting bogged down in pay-to-win or disc locked characters who you have to buy to fully enjoy the game.

So let’s go industry, we all know that you’re better than that. Eventually you’ll push too far, and then what? Then what?

Oh yea, day 1 DLC/patches…That’s a whole other giant bag of crap.

– The Ego

Not going to lie

I’m kind of regretting not pre-ordering Rainbow Six: Siege.

What’s funny, if you knew how I generally pick up my games, you wouldn’t think this is an issue I would have.

The way I’ve done things, at least for the last last couple of years, is the old throw the spaghetti at the wall trick. I basically pre-order everything that piques my interest even the least little bit and what I don’t want, I return. This year’s tally was somewhere around the 18 game mark. Frankly, some of those games, I don’t know how they’ll turn out, but I’ll burn that bridge when I cross it.

I’m not sure how it happened either. Missing R6: Siege. It’s something to say that a game that looks this awesome slipped through the cracks for me. I know that the E word can be a tumultuous time for gamers. There is a lot going on and a lot of new things being shown, so, I guess I’ll have to chalk that up to my being overwhelmed. Not too big of a shock, I suppose. There were so many big announcements that it was tough to keep everything straight. And, like I said in my earlier blogs, there ended up being quite a few games that I wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Plus, well, Fallout 4. Yea. Don’t think I need to say more than that.

I guess, in the end, the Tom Clancy games ended up being the biggest shocker for me. I’d never considered any of the games as something I would have picked up in the past. Especially a Rainbow Six game. I remember playing it on the PS1 way back when. Didn’t strike me as something that would be able to hold my interest for more than a demo run. And Splinter Cell? Well, it wasn’t doing stealth the way anyone really hoped it would. I know there are a lot of fans of the Tom Clancy games, and I’m probably forsaking some kind of holy gamer covenant (of which I guess would be my second major transgression – the first being that I’ve never played FF7). That being said, please hold the  torches and pitchforks till the end.

Like I said, shame on me. But now I’m thinking: This might end up being one of those games I break my rule for and buy day one. Time will tell whether or not the game will be worth the price of admission, but I have high hopes. Of course, the part that’s yet to be field tested is: How good will the game be when you factor out the communication? We all know that that system is going to break down almost immediately. It will, however, definitely be one of those games that playing with your friends will be the gamer equivalent of gathering around the water-cooler.

I just wonder whether or not this will be a game that will end up horribly frustrating when you try and play online alone and everyone thinks that they’re Stalone. Honestly, I think there is enough substance that even if you do get those players, and you’re losing online, that it will likely be pretty fun.

Looking back at that, and the other Tom Clancy games that got me all hot and bothered, the reason comes down to choice. Being able to approach a situation in any way is pretty appealing. It leaves a lot up to the gamer to build on tactics and strategy. It’s not one of those games that you need to sit and read a walkthrough, or post on playstationtrophies.org. Want to blow in through the roof? Or, repel in through a window? Sounds good.

One can only hope that it builds up from there. Ubisoft does have a tendency to oversell features in their games, and come up short on launch day. I guess, worst case scenario, I’ll pick it up after the first month, when the end user has found all of the un-fixed bugs.

– The Ego

Where was I?

Oh yea, censorship.

Why is this still an issue? Why, in the 21st century, are we still so hung up on things like sex and violence. They’ve both existed since the beginning of time, and here we are, still “struggling” to excise them from our media. But, at the same time, doesn’t seem like we’re working as a whole to rid them from our society. I suppose arguments could be made that some places are, but definitely not in North America. Which is ironic, since the majority of the fanatics who hate violent videogames, are the same people who vote in and support the war mongers.

That being said: I think there is a line that is acceptable.

By no means, am I urging parents to all let their children of any ages play Grand Theft Auto V or Mortal Kombat or Akiba Strip. All I’m saying is that the whole attempt to ban the sale or production of your average game is wrong, and frankly, stupid.

I’d like to say that this is a throw back to more zealous and primitive time. A time where book burnings were a regular occasion. Though, the sad truth is that that sort of stupidity and insanity is still going on…

I’ve always been a proponent the rational. If the issue is that our media, meaning games and the like, are too violent or over sexualised, where do the fanatics think that comes from? Violence begets violence. We live in a society where it is against the law to be violent, and outwardly opposes violent mediums, yet every night on the news is reports of violence. Every day is another situation of war or the like in other countries (which is then followed by our violent intercession).

I think the simple truth that most have come to accept: we’re a violent species. With that in mind, why do we abhor violence and sex? I know North America, especially the USA, was born out of puritanical idealism. But that was a long, long time ago. We’re simultaneously the most puritanical of mind, and yet the largest purveyors and consumers of pornography and violent media.

The point where I stand is: Who cares? So we like violent media and sex. What’s so wrong with that? The love of the taboo is ingrained in our psyches. Honestly, I think we all just need to wake up and give this fight a break.

North America is rife with so many social ills. Even the way we choose to frame those concepts is violent in nature. We’re fighting the “war on drugs, homelessness, etc”.

I get where the desire comes from. What I don’t get is our specific hang-ups on sex, but that’s another issue entirely.

What is gained from censorship in this day and age? How could anyone really believe that it’s content like GTA or CoD that is what makes our youth violent? How is it that people forget, so easily, that we were violent from the get-go?

The only thing, that I can see, that censorship offers our society is the chance to be lazy and complacent. Parents don’t need to parent if there is no violent or sexual media for their children to consume. The truth is: If parents don’t want their kids to be exposed to that sort of thing, then they just need to exercise their parental roles and make sure that they don’t buy or allow their kids to buy those games. Banning something outright just strengthens the desire to find and play those games.

It’s much harder to raise a responsible child who is able to cope and understand the reality of the world that is reflected through it’s media. As all gamers know, there is a system in place (ESRB rating) so that with minimal effort they can inform themselves as to how a game is rated and why it is rated as such.

So, parents parent, and quit it with the shenanigans.

– The Ego

Less sometimes means more

This is part two of (who knows how many) my thoughts on games and censorship.

Without further ado, here is the second encounter I wanted to share.

Second:

It’s late and my shift is nearly done. I’ve had a good day, so when a mother and her (fairly) young sons come into look for a game I’m happy to help them. They look around for a few minutes before coming to ask me directly to help them find a specific game. They wanted Mortal Kombat X for Xbone. Since the mother had asked for it, I happily did my job and collected the game, and proceeded to bring it back to her. Now, I’ll admit, given that (some) mother’s can be pretty irate and irrational about violent games, I couldn’t in good conscience just let her just walk out of the store with the game without at least giving her a heads up as to the nature of the MK series.

Now, it’s definitely not my job to make sure that parent’s are paying attention to what they’re buying their kids, nor is it my job to tell them how to parent. That being said, I do make sure that the subject is broached. Of course, I certainly I’m not going tell anyone not to buy something, especially not a game, simply because it contains violence. However, I feel like I’m bereft in my duties if I don’t at least acknowledge it. Usually, it’s met with thanks, and they’re pleased to know that someone who knows a lot about the material is there to guide them. And, beyond that, that their children won’t be arbitrarily be able to purchase an M rated title without them being present.

Now, this is where the story hits (the somewhat common) [the] twist.

I proceed to explain that the entire point of the game is essentially to beat your opponent, and then dismember them is the gruesomest ways imaginable. We began to have, what I consider to be one of the more intelligent, discussions of violence in gaming. I’m beyond impressed to see a mother, despite having fairly young children in mind, that she is taking an incredibly rational approach. Which, simply, was: I know my kids aren’t violent, and no amount of playing a videogame is going to turn them into sociopaths who intend to harm people because of some (hi-res) digital sprites. That being said, the weird part of the conversation happened at this moment.

She had, essentially, shooed her children away, and began to question me, in hushed tones, as to what the sexual content was like in the game…So, the track jumped a bit. She is content and care-free discussing violence on an acceptable level, but sex/nudity = bad.

Basically, her argument:

Totally normal, admissible:

Whole-heartedly bad:

I just don’t get the hang-ups about sex in modern media. Once I had reassured her that there was little, to no “sexualisation” in the game, she took her children and purchased MKX.

I wish, I really do, that someone could rationalise for me, why tearing a body apart, and then cannibalising it is something that any age can both enact and witness, but bare breasts or simulated sex is a taboo still?

In this case, I just didn’t engage. I learn my lessons well. I generally know better than to question people’s decisions, especially that of a mother. Simply because I know it’s a futile choice – like ice-skating uphill.

But why is it that nudity and sex are reviled by the masses, but the worst elements of our society, violence and such, are so widely accepted?

Now, don’t mistake me for someone on the side of violence being worse than sex. Honestly, I could care less. So long as it’s not sex or violence for the sake of it. Generally, in games like God of War, I always found the sex to be pretty dumb.

Well, looks like this will be a three-part’er.

– The Ego

Less said the better

Here’s something I haven’t touched on, but something that has always stuck in my craw: Politics and gaming.

I guess it hasn’t been in the news much lately, which is definitely a good thing. But I think that the topic is something worth putting out there. I think it’s the mentality behind it, and the ignorance involved.

Now, I could pull hundreds of links to articles about such and such a politician or “concerned” parents groups who want X videogame banned for X reason (usually violence or sex).

But I’ll do something a little different. I won’t quote articles or show statistics or anything like that. Instead, I’ll pull a couple of direct experiences that I had.

First:

I had a cop come into the store where I work. He came in looking to buy a game for his son, who was somewhere in the tween to teen age group. Now, I generally don’t advocate for or against violent games. I play them. But there isn’t any kind of urge that draws me to something violent for violence’s sake. That being said, I asked him what sorts of games his son liked to play. He gave me the usual list, which of course included Call of Duty. Now, the officer went on to tell me that his son desperately wanted Grand Theft Auto V. And, as he so plainly put it, it wasn’t happening. Which I totally get, and respect. Every parent should make those choices for their children – that’s what being a good, attentive parent is all about. Whenever I have parents coming in to ask questions and they want to know which games are age appropriate, I always teach them about the ERSB rating. It’s the easiest and best way for them to be able to educate themselves when someone who isn’t as attentive as I am is their only resource. The situation took a turn for the stupid at that moment.

Where I took issue with the interaction was when the cop told me that GTA advocates and promotes rape; as if that were an actual aspect necessary to the game. Now, granted, we could have a philosophical debate as to whether or not prostitution technically constitutes rape, but that’s not the point. He seemed to be under the impression that it was required, at some point, to engage in the rape of a woman.

And, no matter how hard I tried to explain my point, he wouldn’t hear it. While I admit, the game is certainly not something I would recommend for an impressionable audience, I can’t at the same time, stand idly by while someone bloviates pure, unadulterated ignorant garbage. If his point had simply been – there is too much violence and sexual violence for me to purchase this for my son, I would both accept and respect that. However, instead he continued to put his head in the sand and stand on ceremony. I tried to explain to him that, yes it was possible to have sex with a prostitute, but that feature was not something that is along the natural progression of the game, and that it was really a small, unimportant (and frankly, dull) aspect to the game. He was relentless though. No fact or logic, no matter how well presented, could break through his reluctance to understand.

But then this leads to the question: If you have such a problem with violence (sexual or otherwise), why is CoD an acceptable choice? The equation for those games have been pretty consistently bad: Go to X country, kill X brown people. And, you know how I feel about the online play already…So, listening to, and lets be honest here, likely engaging in cursing, racial slurs and comments about how you’ve had sex with the majority of other people’s mothers is okay. But, having sex with a prostitute – totally unacceptable. That thought brings me to the other story that I had in mind.

More on this tomorrow.

– The Ego