Valve have revealed their Left 4 Dead 2 pricing scheme on Steam and for everyone that's not American, it's probably reason to cry a bit on the inside.
Many times now Valve officials have preached that indeed, the publisher is responsible for all regional pricing and the Steam team can't do anything on its own. And in a surprising move, Valve themselves appear unwilling to bother themselves with fair pricing of their products in Europe. Even with an added sales tax, buying the game in the EU Tier 1 (which consists of France, Germany, the Netherlands and some Nordic countries), L4D2 is at least 20% more expensive than in Valve's home country, the USA.
Confusingly the UK pricing is spot on, appearing roughly equal to the $. Same game with the lower EU Tiers. As it appears then Valve are knowingly milking only a few European countries, simply because they can.
Personally, I am more appalled that Valve has the audacity to price L4D2 so far above $30. After all, I think they have to make amends for botching up L4D. And I don't mean the whole post release support. I mean the game in general. Bugs, balancing, variety, replay value. To me, it was Valve's weakest game to date. And yes, I remember Ricochet.
And to see them jump on the pre-order exclusives bandwagon is disconcerting to say the least. Sure, it must bug them to see retail sales of their own games eclipse those on their native digital platform, but they're only going to change that by undercutting retail sales, not by including a baseball bat.
Given that a GfWL slagging thread at Rock Paper Shotgun has been opened as a follow-up to Stardock's Brad Wardell talking to Shacknews about how much GfWL is not that good or something, I've decided to publish the following rant that I had lying around somewhere. Admittedly, it's more about my personal beef with the service and it's overly restrictive rules and has little to do with Wardell's specific critique. But hey, bashing MS is still cool, nay?
Also, it's not very coherent so feel free to call me ghey in the comments.
Microsoft, you'd like my money, right?
Now listen, I'd give it to you. Real and honest. But every time I open my wallet, you start to bullshit me by dictating exactly how you want my money.
See, you don't want it up front, no questions asked. I have to convert it to your own fantasy currency first. And you don't even want it from where I'd like to get it from. I have to pay 20% more because, like in medieval times, I was unfortunate enough to be born into a caste that you choose to rip off for no apparent reason. And by that I mean I'm European. But I could cope with that.
So here's the dealbreaker for me: You can't even be bothered to give me exactly what I want. I'm living a live where I sometimes wake up and wonder what my first language is. And yet you refuse to accept that people are not and do not want to be limited to their mother tongue.
When I order a game from an English speaking country, did it ever occur to you that maybe I'd like my extra content (these bits and scraps you proudly call DLC) in the same exact language? That I do not want to be shoehorned into listening to some lame-ass hobo squad that the local publisher violently shoved into a soundbooth because they couldn't be arsed to pay valuable money for a good voice cast? That I don't want to have two languages inexplicably intertwined in the same menu? No, of course that didn't occur to you. Because you simply don't care.
So how is this relevant? Well I'll tell you. You, the reader.
Not you, the imaginary MS entity I addressed earlier. So the right you, come a little bit closer. Closer. And now under my conspiracy blanket. See... isn't it just cozy and warm OH MY GOD MICROSOFT IS GONNA KILL PC GAMING FOR REAL!!!!
Ahem.... sorry, didn't mean to startle you. (Or did I?)
Now please bear with me. I don't think that PC Gaming as a viable hobby is dying. On the contrary. But there is no denying that a murderer is in our midst, stubbornly stabbing away. A cold and ruthless assassin that slowly schemes to erode our firm standing. A fiendish foe that knows his trade.
One needs not to look further than the abomination that is the "Games for Windows - LIVE" software itself. Oh I wanted to like it. I really wanted to like it. I so desperately wanted to see it integrate itself into the LIVE network that the XBOX 360 is supposedly built around. But it doesn't. Not at all.
Indeed, even trying to launch it is ridiculously convoluted. You have to start a game to get access to even the most basic of functions, namely being connected. Now how clever is that? Maybe Microsoft developed this for a future generation of psychic gamers that know what their fellow gaming brethren are playing at any given time, thus superseding the need for an independent client where said people could gather and connect... but until then it's just fucking stupid. The confusingly named "Games for Windows - LIVE" application that resides in your start menu only ever opens a so called marketplace which is really just IE in disguise that looks like a dying village that futilely wants to convince you of their fresh goods. But you can already smell that something's fishy and the coast is a few hundred miles away. Steam this isn't.
Tell me, Microsoft. Why is it that on your red ringing cash cow, everyone can rent a game, start it up, connect with it to your overpriced service, beat it and then simply walk it back to the store and trade it away? No wait, that's not the question. Why can't I do this on the PC? Why the hassle with CD keys at all? You're not supposed to act as a copy protection. It will be circumvented anyway and GfWL / MS is simply not responsible for it. The developer is.
With all these idiotic steps they are trying to kill our hobby by making it less focused and more consolified. Which really is another word for restricted. People are already believing the marketing BS that a good gaming PC has to be either a) insanely expensive or 2.) less secure / more bug ridden. The truth is that a 500€ PC will compete with every console on the market at their precious 1080p resolution and eviscerate competition at the way more common 720p. All the while having cheaper games and being more useful in general.
But perhaps the most enraging thing about the current state of GfWL to me is that it could've been so much better. All the tools are in place, it's just that they're not used to build a proper, even revenue generating community. Instead they're used to curse at the few users that pass by, robbing them of their goodwill and eating their hope for breakfast, replacing both with the despair and madness that comes from knowing that someone else ate the last Twinkie and it's Sunday so there's really no place to shop at.