From my time

As a sort of indirect follow up to my last posting regarding unfinished games, I wanted to give a bit of professional perspective to things.

Now, one of the big complaints about a lot of games these days is the lack of QA. Now, for those of you not in the know, QA is Quality Assurance. Every game goes through different levels of QA testing. Be it compliance (making sure that the release meets the standards of the specific platform Sony, Microsoft, etc), localisation (compliant with language standards of the region it’s being released in) and functionality (making sure, you know, that the game works and all).

I used to do QA testing for a living. And before people start getting all “wow playing video games for a living? AWESOME!” It’s not as cushy as it sounds. Don’t get me wrong, the company I worked for is definitely my favourite that I’ve worked for to date, but there is a lot to be said for the actual job. I’m not going to get into this now. If you want to know more, I’m happy to answer questions in comments or you can e-mail (theegogames@gmail.com) or tweet me.

What I want to focus on is how some of the issues we’re seeing become predominant in gaming arise.

The biggest issue, at least in my opinion: not enough time. The last big project I worked on was a AAA title for the PS3. Now, this game was a sequel and what I can tell you is that the original time from from start to release was approximately two years. The development cycle for the game I worked on: Nine months…Now, there are some things to take for granted like the fact that an engine doesn’t need to be developed for the game the second time around. But, where as the first game had a little over a year for testing/development, this one didn’t have anywhere near that kind of time. This one had about six months. Now, as a tester, you’re expected to find tens of thousands of bugs over the course of the project. Which, given how many builds a game goes through, isn’t really a challenge. But it is a challenge for the devs to be able to fix everything. There comes a time in a project, especially when they are rushed, that choices have to be made to decide whether or not it’s worth the time to fix said issue. Now, there are going to be a lot of small things that your average player won’t run into, the issue is when those things you don’t have time for, end up in the forefront. Like it did in AC: Unity, ME: Andromeda, etc.

The other big issue I ran into was devs butting heads with testers. Like any time you’re dealing with other people, you’re going to have clashes over decisions. For me, I can remember a series of what I considered extremely obvious bugs (one being a game breaker if you play like me) just being flat out denied (ignored too, but consciously) by the devs. I had to watch one of them play out during an E3 demo. There seems to be some level of animosity between the two stations, with the devs often feeling superior due to their more “prestigious” placement in the scheme of things. Sometimes the end result of a bug going un-dealt with is simply a matter of opinion or (sometimes) pig-headedness. One such instance I faced, having a background in writing/editing, I pointed out and corrected a number of text issues (grammar, spelling, etc) where rather than just copy/pasting my corrections (as emphasised by my supervisor and the functionality manager of the company) they chose instead to leave the mistakes in place.

Well, that’s a small glimpse behind the curtain and a bit of my experience. It definitely doesn’t answer all of the questions, but I hope it sheds a little light on things.

– The Ego

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

This last year has seen a lot in the way of end of life consoles and features. The Wii U is dead (finally), though frankly it was stillborn to begin with. PS3 will no longer support PS Now.

But this year also saw the release of the NES Classic console and a bevy of retro games (specifically on the E-Shop). And in the last couple of years, the “retro” 8 and 16 bit games have become increasingly popular.

But, how does this all stand up?

Don’t get me wrong – I grew up on the NES/SNES. Games like Contra, Zelda and of course, the titular Mario Bros games. And I do still love them. In fact, I recently got myself an SNES. But with the sophistication of current games – is simple nostalgia enough to keep us engaged?

I think of games like Mega Man. An absolute classic. I don’t think anyone could dispute that Mega Man 2 is easily one of the best games of the generations. That being said – how does it stack up next to say, Fallout 4 or The Witcher 3?

Obviously the older stuff isn’t as technically proficient. And, things like the controls are considerably more simplistic. But are those the deciding factors? Is there a way to say “X is better than Y”? Is that the question we should even be asking?

All I can say, from personal experience, is a lot of those games just don’t hold up like I (and I’ll say we and speak for some of you) would like them to.

I think of picking up the NES Classic, but then I look at those games and think: Do I really want to spend 80$ to play Bubble Bobble? Or, is the real fun of Bubble Bobble, in my mind – I mean, the memory of playing it side by side with my friends (and in my case, my grand mother) as a kid?

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And I know, for whatever reason, nostalgia is a huge part of this generation (age group). So I, by default, should be in love with all of the retro stuff coming out. And part of me is. But it’s just nostalgia for nostalgia’s purpose.

I think I’m more interested in where we are, and where we will be potentially over the course of the next few years. The potential in the gaming industry right now seems virtually limitless. VR, despite it being an early incarnation, has some very interesting possibilities. Games, in general, have gotten more complex in terms of actual gameplay, graphics, stories, etc. Even games that I thought there was no hope for the series – like Resident Evil – have surprised me and put out some super high quality games. Which is especially amazing, given the proclivity towards the retro, since Resident Evil 1 was easily one of my favourite PS1 games. In that sense, this nostalgic indulgence is definitely a positive for the future of the industry.

Ok, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that indie developers are reaching back to our roots and showing us where we came from – and are doing some things to make them new and innovative. I also think it’s great that consoles like NES Classic exist for those who never had the opportunity to play through Zelda when it came out.

But this focus (read: cashing in) on the nostalgia of our generation isn’t something I can really get on board with. As far as my consumer dollar goes – I will be laying it down for the new and truly innovative. That is to say, there is nothing wrong with working on something new with a nostalgic twist to it. Every new Zelda has been as good or better than the last – with a few exceptions.

What do you think? Are we better off looking to the past for inspiration and fun, or keep our eyes on the horizon and wait to see what breakthroughs are sure to develop – some in the near future. Let me know in the comments.

– The Ego

Christmas Wish-list

With a ton of great games already slated for 2017 – games like Horizon: New Dawn, Red Dead Redemption 2 and of course the Nintendo Switch – and with that being said this list is not about that.

What I want to get into today is to talk about the things I would love to see (at least announced) in the next year.

1)  Resident Evil 7 to be a solid game: I played the demo and I admit I’m impressed. The game looks great and it plays in such a different way than the last few that I played. I can only hope that this is a return to the glory that Capcom once was known for.

2) A new Darksiders game: This series has been something that I have loved for a long time. I bought Darksiders for Xbox 360, then again for PS3 and of course the collector’s edition of Darksiders 2 and both remasters on PS4…With Nordic games taking over the franchise – and then subsequently re-branding themselves as THQ Nordic – one can only hope that their re-masters are just a first step towards furthering the IP. I know everyone else who loves this series is waiting for the same thing – a four player co-op with the last two Horsemen.

3) A story expansion to Overwatch: Arguably the games only real failing is the lack of a some kind of campaign mode. The game is amazing and Blizzard is doing a great job at supporting it. And yes, we have gotten some insight from the character videos, but nothing on the level of really showing us what is going. Blizzard has shown the ability to create some PvE content – so if we can get Junkenstein’s Revenge and the Mei Snowball Fight – then we can get some classic battles from the early days of Overwatch. Let’s see the Omnic Crisis, etc. If Injustice can do it – surely the Game of the Year from Blizzard can accomplish something better.

4) A release date for Kingdom Hearts 3: Final Fantasy XV is finally out. And the team who had been working on that project are now free. So how about letting us know when to expect KH3 Square Enix? I know that 2.8 is due out very soon after the new year, so hopefully that means an announcement is likely to follow soon thereafter. But I’ve had this game pre-ordered since 2013 – so I’m eagerly anticipating this game coming out.

5) More Marvel: So we’re getting an Insomniac Spider-Man. That’s a huge step for the Marvel Universe. It’s the first (hopefully) of many towards having a series that’s equivalent to the Rocksteady Batman games. But now we need to expand it. Iron Man, Dr. Strange, Daredevil – there are a ton of great characters to choose from who would adapt themselves well to video games. And there are a ton of great developers who could make them: Insomniac is a great start. How about Sucker Punch, Bethesda or Gearbox? Sucker Punch already showed they have the chops with the amazing Infamous: Second Son. And, while we’re at it…

6) How about another Infamous game: Second Son was so amazing. And frankly – it has been one of the flagship titles of the PS4. They proved with Second Son that they could put in a completely new protagonist, take it out of the game world already created (to an extent) and placed it in the real world (again, to an extent) and still produced a successful game in every way. So, with that in mind – where are we at?

7) World of Warcraft for consoles: I know this one is a huge stretch. But a lot less than it ever would have been. Blizzard has taken IPs like Diablo 3 from the purely PC world and put them on consoles. And no one ever thought it would work, but it did. Some would even argue that it’s better on console.

Well that’s my list. Tell me yours in the comments or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook. Till next week my faithful readers.

– The Ego

Best and/or Brightest

The new. It’s something I, and I assume others, struggle with. Always wanting that new thing. The latest and greatest. This mantra seems to apply pretty evenly across a bunch of aspects of the industry. From the latest consoles – which even seems to apply several times across a generation now, to new fads like Virtual Reality and even to updates in games like new characters. And that’s where I want to start.

I exist inside of paradox where I both understand and am baffled by people’s desire for the new. So let’s start with the small stuff.

As I’ve said a lot lately – I’ve been playing Overwatch again. And, in Overwatch, Blizzard has recently release a new character: Sombra. Now, I get that everyone, to an extent, is always going to want the new characters and everyone is going to want to play that character. But come on guys. Like everything – there is a time and a place. This is one of those paradoxes I was talking about. I understand wanting to play as a new character after a year of playing with the same 20. But at the same time, playing it in competitive mode where ranks are decided and team composition is important, is not the time to learn how to play the new character.

VR. That’s a big one for this generation. The proverbial toe in the water. VR is fancy, and it’s new. And, as such, carries a price tag that matches its status. But is it really that exciting? Or, I guess the real question to be asked is: Is it worth 700$ plus the applicable taxes to find out? It’s an interesting foray into an undiscovered medium – I’ll grant it that. And I think in time it will prove to be the next major leap that games take: Total immersion. I mean, we’ve seen it in science fiction in books like Neuromancer and TV shows like Star Trek’s Holodeck. It’s the logical progression.

Lastly – consoles. Now, in the past – and we don’t have to go back that far to see it, the PS3/360 generation had it – we’ve had multiple versions of consoles be delivered throughout the life cycle. PS3 started fat, with a small hard drive and it was backwards compatible. Then we go the slim, which offered a significant improvement on design, HDD size, over all size of the console and better functionality (i.e. less burnout). And the 360 saw several iterations of the same concept. But they were all effectively the same system. More or less, anyway. But this generation is funny. We’re being “treated” to several versions of the console, some with “vast” improvements.

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Now, how vast that improvement is is definitely based off of what kind of tech you have supporting the console. If you’ve got a 4K TV and you’re fully set up with the next rung of Blu-Ray discs, then consoles like the Xbox One: Scorpio are definitely what you should be aspiring to. Now, that’s to say, if you don’t already have a console from this generation. Because, if you do, and you have all of those supporting pieces of tech, the reviews are pretty underwhelming. Anyone with a good 4K TV will tell you, the upscaling that the TV does, regardless of whether or not you’re running the PS4 Pro, Xbox One: S or (granted this is an impression at this point) the Xbox One: Scorpio, is going to provide a significant improvement in graphical quality. Of course, the rest of the tech specs and in the case of Microsoft, the added 4K Blu-Ray player is something to consider I suppose. At least until things are developed in native 4K.

But I leave you with the question – is newer always better? Does it have to be the latest and greatest to keep you happy, or are you good with what you’ve got?

Sound off below or hit me up on one of the social media platforms that I’ve linked below.

Twitter. Facebook. YouTube.

– The Ego

Just when I thought I was out…

What’s enough to bring you back to a game. And I don’t mean a franchise. I covered Second Chances on Monday. I mean, you’ve got a game, you probably bought it a year ago, but it’s being published by one of those good studios who keeps giving you content (for free no less). But it’s been sitting on your shelf for the better part of the last year. So what kind of content is enough to bring you back?

Take Diablo 3 for example. Now, Blizzard is renowned for constantly updating and providing new content for all of their franchises, and Diablo has been no different in this respect. Here we are nearly four and a half years later and they are still giving us the goods. Recently at Blizzcon, they announced a new playable character and a new mode.

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Yup, it’s the Necromancer from Diablo 2.

So is that enough? I know it’ll be enough for me to dust off the game. And frankly, if I’m willing to, I bet a lot of others will be too. I got the platinum for the regular release on PS3 and I got the platinum for the re-release on PS4. So suffice it to say, I’ve dropped hundreds of hours into the series already.

And it’s not like I don’t have other games to play. But I’m curious. Plus I feel like when companies go out of their way to provide free content and support after this long – I owe it to them to at least check it out. Plus the idea of playing the old Diablo on my flatscreen should be pretty cool. I wasn’t privy to the original Diablo games because I didn’t have a PC that could run any kind of games when I was growing up.

Rockstar and GTA V are another good example. Now, I have friends who play GTA Online and only GTA Online. Granted – it can be pretty fun. There’s a whole slew of things to do there. But after a while, I feel like greener pastures are calling. Playing the same sorts of missions against/with the same sorts of people gets dry and requires a break. But then they release major updates like Heists and Bikers. Again – for free.

With major updates to the game the likes of Bikers (giving you the ability to form a Motorcycle Club and buy and manage illicit businesses, run MC missions and purchase your own clubhouse) it’s a real game changer. And, again, something worthy of blowing off  the dust and popping the game in for another run.

Then again, there is also examples of games like Destiny. Where the running joke seems to be “People still play Destiny?”. They seem to be putting out a combination of free and paid updates to the game, and it seems to be a harder and harder draw towards maintaining and bringing back their player base. Though, that probably has more to do with the initial offering than the applicable content.

But is that enough? Is new content a good enough reason for you to come back or is playing the game while it’s new and fresh the only joy that can be derived from the medium? Especially in this trade and play culture that we have set up all around us. Once beaten, does it get dropped off for something new and shiny? What about when it’s not free? Are you likely to pick a game back up if it requires you dropping another 24.99$ to access the content and play with friends? Where is the limit as far as price goes?

You can sound off in the comments below, I always respond. You can also now find me on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. So please like, subscribe, follow, etc. Everything helps. And as always, if there’s a topic you’d like to see covered here, just let me know. The new plan is to release content on here every Monday and Friday. This will allow me consistency.

– The Ego

Rumours rumours everywhere but not a drop to drink

Playstation 4.5, PS4K. It’s a nice idea. Well, not really, actually. Nope.

Trust me, no one would love to see a console output in the stunning 4K resolution. I love seeing my game broadcast in such beautiful clarity. That being said – I’m starting to wonder what’s going on over at the Sony offices? I’m worried they might be coming down with Nintendoitis.

For those new to this, and a reminder for those who read but forgot: I love my PS4. I am a Sony guy. When people ask me what to buy, that’s what I tell them. When a cross-console game comes out, and I’m excited for it – I buy it on my PS4. All that being said: Let’s talk about the future.

Sony couldn’t have this rumour floating around them at a worst time. Just last month the Playstation VR was announced. Here in the great white north, the bundle packaging in everything you need to take advantage of this “amazing” new technology is a whopping 700$. Now, I don’t have a problem with the VR fad per say. However, I think that that one release announcement is sufficient for the time being. Especially one where fans who want to invest into some new hardware are going to be footing an especially pricey bill.

And hey, if you like VR and you want to spend the money – all the power to you folks. That being said – the console just came out. 2013 isn’t even a full three year window yet guys…Now, once again, as much as I’d love a native 4K display from all of my games, just don’t do this to yourselves. It’s going to burn when you shoot yourself in the foot.

I understand the hesitation to put the hardware necessary to run a true 4K image back in 2013. Less than 1% of the population owned the kind of TVs necessary to make use of it. Now it’s set to over take the 1080p as the standard resolution probably in the next two years. But a new console is a terrible idea. The big issue is you’re going to do to the fans what Nintendo has been doing for years. In case I need to explain it: Nintendo likes to release a console, make a slight improvement, and release a minor upgrade, and then start working on whatever their next minor upgrade will be.

 

Now, I’m not saying Sony is going to do the same. But I think releasing an upgraded console 2.5 years in is a bad move. One I know people won’t like.

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Now, if Sony did something really smart, they’d have some kind of trade in program. But let’s face facts – that’s not going to happen. The worst of it is, putting in that new hardware, that’s not going to be cheap. So the price drop we already got? Kiss that goodbye. A new console, with new, competitive hardware, that’s going to bring the new price well above the original release price.

And hey, all of this is fine for the people who have yet to adopt. I know there are likely still a large contingent of PS3 owners who haven’t made the jump. I doubt this is what they’re waiting for, but they’re out there. But Sony has been running the race in first place for a long time. Stats I read put the sales at somewhere over 35 million. 35 million, Sony. Bear that in mind before trying to tell your base that they need to upgrade already.

Even though it’s not something I’m going to get into – I think you need to devote your energies elsewhere – like the Playstation VR. Don’t let that become another Vita. Not that I bought the Vita either, but a lot of people did. And a lot of people were extremely disappointed.

Continue making new games, work on getting top end servers and protect your assets better.

Expect more from me. I’ve dropped off a few times, but I have every intention of writing regularly again.

– The Ego

 

Glad tidings

So my faithful readers, Christmas – the gift giving part at least – has come and gone. I hope you all had a great day, ate well, lived life and did what makes you happiest.

The question I have is: What games were underneath of the tree this year? Being that, as I usually do – what with me being an addict and all – I purchased the majority of the games I wanted this year long before the Christmas shopping began. So when it came time to grab that special game – well, I already had it. But there was a game that almost became a throw back and a forgotten game. That game is Sword Art Online: Lost Song. It didn’t review very well. And, for what it cost at release, it seemed a little hard to justify the price tag for something Gametrailers gave a 6. But, it’s Christmas. And, in the spirit of the season, I decided to give it a second chance. So it’s sitting back in my apartment just waiting to be opened. Being a huge mark for the anime, I feel like the game will have to work pretty hard to earn my ire. I just hope it holds up well enough to get some enjoyment out of.

This year saw me buying and trying a lot of games that I had already said no to, or, never considered at all. Along with SAO, I had thrown back Destiny at one point. I gave up on it, having played through the beta twice, I didn’t see myself stepping back into those space shoes. However, I had some people I like peer-pressure me into buying it. Which, normally, wouldn’t work for a second. But, we all have to fold occasionally. I have to say – I don’t regret it. Playing with them is fun, and the game really does have a lot going for it. I reserve the right to pass final judgement on it when I actually hit the level cap, but so far, so good. Only thing I wish Destiny had of kept from its initial run: Dinklage. Don’t get me wrong, Nolan North is great at what he does. That being said:

1. I love Peter Dinklage
2. I would love to play a game where Nolan North doesn’t voice a character

Nothing exceeds like excess. There is such a thing as too much. Right? Destiny boasts an all-star cast of voices from Idris Elba, Nathan Fillion, Lance Reddick and Peter Stormare. Why couldn’t they just keep Tyrion? I’ll admit, there are times having watched the video below that I like what North did better in terms of his take on the dialogue, but the complaints people had about Dinklage (mostly that he was too dry) make more sense than the animated persona done by North.

Anyway, that was a bit of a diatribe, but it was something I’d been thinking about since I bought the game, so I wanted to get it off of my chest.

I think the main reason 2015 was such a great year for the industry was that it really felt like the current gen consoles really hit their stride this year. Which, I think, is the most important thing we should take away with 2015 closing out next week. The reason being: 2016 now is going to be (and really, has to be) the year where the new platforms have to show us what level we should set our expectations on. 2015, along with some extremely good games, showed us a lot of remastered games. It’s definitely an important step. Showing us what we have compared to what we just gave up. But now it’s time to hit the ground running. Bust out those new IPs everyone is waiting for. Show us that our collective faith in Sony and Microsoft (and to a lesser extent, Nintendo) wasn’t misplaced. Not that I think many people feel that way. But it’s time to make the nay-sayers and hold-outs get on board.

Merry Christmas.

– The Ego

Skimming off of the top

So, I’m sure it’s come up at least a handful of times already, but let me put it on the record again: I’m not crazy about DLC. Now that’s not to say that I refuse to buy it. So, I’m certainly a part of the problem. I think the majority of gamers are in the same lot. We hate paying for stuff that should be included in the price of the game, but we simultaneously love that games we enjoy are supported, sometimes, long after their launch. Micro transactions are currently the bane of the industry – on the consumer side. Now my feelings can best be summed up by a good friend of mine: when it comes to micro transactions for things that are cosmetic, and not game breaking I’m fine with them. Especially when the money raised from them fund the developer’s ability to release substantial pieces of content free for the rest of the users.

I think what is both interesting and infuriating is that every game seems to come with a “gold” or “deluxe” version now.

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In some cases, like Star Wars: Battlefront, the up-sell is 10$. For your 10$ you get a few weapons, some cosmetic stuff and a DLC map. Not a lot for your money, but you’re not breaking the bank. It’s the sort of stuff the die hard crowd goes for, and I get that. But then there are games like Assassin’s Creed Syndicate or Rainbow Six: Siege. The regular games are already at the whopping price point (in Canada) of 79.99$. To acquire the Gold edition, you’re putting down 119.99$ – before taxes. That 40$ gets you access to the season’s pass. Now, most games don’t even give you a complete list of what you can expect, in most cases it’s a vague blurb. In the case of Assassin’s Creed – you get a bunch of missions and an extra “hour” of associated gameplay. The justification is pretty thin.

If you’ve been reading along with me for some time now, you’ll know that my opinion of Ubisoft has only been climbing this year. This isn’t something they and they alone are guilty of. It’s a systemic problem. Not localised to any one company or sector of the industry. And, my qualm (this time) isn’t even pointed directly at the day one DLC/built in season’s passes. My issue is if you’re going to go the way of making a season pass, and promising expanded content – you really need to make it something specific, something great and something that can give me a reasonable answer to the question: Why should I give you another 40$ for a game I’ve already bought, played through and completed versus me going out and grabbing a new game?

Because the truth is: There is always another game out there. Indies, AAA’s and a bevy of games are at the consumer’s fingertips. Basically all retail stores (with even a modicum of electronics) carry games now (even your local drug stores and grocery stores) and digital media is just a few mouse clicks/taps on the analogue away from adding something else to the library.

For 40$, I personally need to walk away from my purchase saying: That was a great decision. Especially since, unlike physical media, there is no returning software that you’ve purchased. Regrets cannot be an outcome.

Now, again, this isn’t me picking on any group or company specifically, but I will use the Fallout series as a perfect example of money well spent. Every piece of Fallout DLC is virtually deep enough to be as large (or larger) as some indie games. For the price of (approximately) 10$ per installment (the same price that games like Assassin’s Creed’s offer) there is no comparison.

So, to the companies forcing that extra attempt at grabbing those extra consumer dollars – just remember that what you put out there is the reputation you have to stand on. Make sure that when you tell me I should give you that extra 40$, that there are choices abound.

– The Ego

The (figurative) towel

When is enough, enough? I feel like I should be dragged (likely kicking and screaming and swearing) to some sort of gamers anonymous meeting. I just keep buying new stuff. So, here it is:

My name is The Ego, and I have a videogame buying problem.

Phew, now that that’s off my chest – I feel a hell of a lot better. Well, not really, but at least I can feel the acceptance flowing through me. And, I’m sure, since you’re reading this, you’re probably looking over at your wall, your entertainment center, or whatever you keep your mountain of games on – that you’re in the same boat as me.

So I guess the question we have to ask ourselves, is, is there a breaking point? Is there a moment (I ask because if there is, the line is so far away, I can’t see it) where we just say “enough”? I don’t know if that point will ever come for me. It may. It may. But frankly – I’m not sure I really want it to.

I think the problem that I’m starting to see is that getting that new game – whether it’s something that I’ve been anticipating playing, or some new game that just excites me in some way that I wasn’t expecting, I just don’t get that same feeling I used to get. I’m starting to feel a bit like this:

Yup.

That thrill, instead, is the replaced by a feeling of creating a real burden. Am I just adding to my pile of games to play, consuming because I am in fact, just a consumer? Or, am I just fooling myself into thinking “Yea, at some point I will get through all of these games”…I want to play them, I do. I like to think, and I’m sure my wife would agree, that I’m pretty good when it comes to controlling my spending and not wasting my money. I’ll reveal a little of my “personal” life: I don’t smoke, don’t do drugs and I rarely drink. So buying games is really my one vice. When I look at it like that, it’s a lot easier to stomach the concept of spending money on games (especially, like I said in an earlier post, if you shop smart like I do).

But should I throw it in? Should we all? Or, at the very least, is there a line in the sand? And to quote one of my favourite movies “across this line, you do not“. Trust me when I ask this, I do not take the question lightly. Not in these hallowed halls. I just wonder if there will be a day where I stand in front of a rack of games and just say: “Naw, I don’t want any of this”. I highly doubt it’ll happen – it certainly doesn’t seem to be one of those things on the horizon anyway.

Part of me thinks that my compulsion, and inevitable feeling of dread, spans from my being a collector at heart. As a kid, it was things like Marvel trading cards. You would hunt and trade and buy and such and eventually, you’d reach the end. You’d have a complete set. Gaming isn’t like that – but it kind of is. You don’t come to a point (at least, I don’t think so) where you say “Yep, I have them all”. It’s a continual art/consumer project. Which isn’t to say I use that term in a pejorative sense. It’s great that there are people out there who make a living masterly crafting these games. I wish (on a daily basis) that I was one of them.

So to anyone reading out there, don’t think that this is me giving up. It’s not really me calling the cease-fire. I want the games to keep coming – I do – I swear. All I’m asking is, will there be an end to it all? I hope not. This is one addiction I can stand to support indefinitely.

– The Ego

A question of ethics

Let me shake off the dust here. Been a while since I’ve posted. My apologies faithful readers, rest assured that things have gone back to normal in my life – which means more posts.

So here’s the topic du jour:

Consumer morality or, A Tale of Secondary Ethics.

That is: Is it ethical for a business to allow, nay, essentially facilitate a secondary market for their items?

Since the dawn of collecting, there have always been those people – if you can really call them that – I’d say most people on the receiving end would call them scum. I’m talking about the scalpers.

The people – without whom – we might actually be able to buy the concert tickets, action figures, Amiibos – what have you – without having to pay through the nose or compromise our principles to acquire.

So here’s my thought process, and you’re welcome to tell me I’m wrong: Being that I work selling Skylanders, Amiibos, etc – I try to limit people’s purchasing. I have no problem if someone is coming in to buy a whole wave of figures for themselves. But I won’t let someone come into my section and buy up a whole character. I know what they’re doing, and I’m not going to let them profit off of other people’s misery. I’ve been in a position many times where I could have kept or bought and flipped something for double or triple its value. The allure of money is most certainly tempting. That being said – it’s a total breach of my personal ethics.

I do see some retailers, Toy-R-Us for example, who have taken a stance on it at a store (and more likely) a corporate level. They know why people are coming in to buy 20 Meta Knights. But it is a bit of a sticky wicket. A moral quagmire, if you will.

Certainly, they are in it 100% to make money. And to a high extent – to make sure every customer leaves happy to influence future purchasing behaviour. The quandary comes in when you have to decide – at that higher level – which strategy is going to help more, or, burn less. Let’s weigh the pros and cons for both:

Letting the scalper scalp:

Pros

  • Every product sold is revenue earned
  • Selling out basically ensures replenishment
  • More product sold = recognition for the store/management

Cons

  • Allowing scalpers to purchase for re-sale is the tantamount to creating the secondary market first-hand
  • Lack of stock for other customers – which leads to less people coming in looking for specific items
  • Gives the store a bad reputation to the primary customer base
  • Not having accessories like Amiibos means sales drop on the bigger ticket items that incorporate those accessories (read: consoles, software, etc)

Stopping the secondary market on the store level:

Pros

  • Shows the customer that their needs are put ahead of numbers/statistics
  • Equitable distribution of product, creating inherent good will in the customer’s mind
  • Increase in sales of related products due to availability

Cons

  • The possibility of clogging stock due to unsold units
  • Angry scalpers (who, no matter how much you may dislike are still “customers”)

Now I know sometimes there are legitimate stock-shortages due to manufacturing/shipping difficulties. But the truth is that most businesses condone this behaviour because money is money. At the end of the day – all the people who are interested see is X dollar amount gained in X department. They don’t see (and I’m sure in some cases, they don’t care) how those numbers break down – or the ramifications thereof.

Maybe I’m more sensitive because I’ve often found myself having to contemplate giving in to the temptation of buying from scalpers in my various pursuits. Maybe I’m just echoing the thoughts of those I interact with. More likely the latter. Seeing the eyes of customers who are relieved to hear that I stand up for them even without knowing them, makes it all worthwhile. At the end of the day, it’s definitely about integrity. Mine, or the stores, but it should count for something.

– The Ego