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CaimDark Reloaded's blog

8:24 AM on 09.19.2014




8:08 AM on 08.27.2014

I Won't Buy An Xbox, Or Why You Should Value Your Trust

Sometime last year Microsoft launched a new console called Xbone, maybe you've heard about it? Maybe you've forgotten about the thing itself, but I'm pretty sure everyone remembers the big reveal and the hilarity. Man, that was something! I don't know what surprised me more, that Microsoft would fuck up to such epic heights or that public reaction would matter as much as it did.

Alas, that's all in the past now. Microsoft has learned its lessons, backtracked on the most egregious "features", all but abandoned the "TVTVTVTVTVTVTVTVTVTV" pitch and is crawling back to gamers begging for forgiveness. They even got rid of Kinect and achieved price parity with Sony's PS4. So now is the time to look at the Xbone squarely on its own merits. It's silly to harbor ill will towards it because of what Microsoft did in the past. It's just a game console man, it's about fun and games! Real mature adults make rational cost benefit analysis, they don't cling to fanboyish grudges!

Well, I reject that. Or rather, I don't reject that clinging to fanboyish grudges is silly, I regret that the only thing we should take into account when making a purchase decision is the product itself. And that is why I've never had an Xbox console, and likely never will. It's not because I hate Microsoft, it's not because of the Xbone, it's not even because of that ill-fated reveal. It's in part because I simply don't trust them, and I believe that should count for something.

I didn't trust the Xbox from the very beginning because I never believed in Microsoft's commitment to games, and I always saw the Xbox as a trojan horse to their famous dreams of living room domination (remember, that was before mobile and tablets made that dream obsolete). I also feared that Microsoft would behave much like a huge supermarket chain does when it arrives in a new market. Their new supermarket sells everything super cheap and loses money for months or even years, losses that would kill the supermarket if it was a single company, but easily absorbed by the larger chain. Then, when the local competition goes under, with the gleeful support of short sighted consumers, they raise prices again.

In part I feared that Microsoft would do that to Nintendo, Sony(even at its height, Sony could never compete with Microsoft in a "let's see who can lose more billions" competition, much less now that it's selling real state to pay the bills) and Sega. Well, Sega didn't even live long enough to compete with the Xbox, but anyways. 

Fortunately, that didn't happen, but beyond that, I always suspected that, if Microsoft ever achieved a dominant position in the console market or worse, forced out Sony or Nintendo, it would show its true colors. By "showing its true colors" I don't mean making us all Bill Gate's personal bitches, I mean focusing on it real goal and leave games aside. 

The Xbone reveal didn't make me not want an Xbox, it simply confirmed what I always suspected. But what about now? Didn't they change everything? Why should that still matter?

Because nothing really changed. They were simply forced to retreat and regroup by the market, but the goals that spawned the original Xbone are still the same, and they have said so themselves. They are down but not out, and if Xbox ever recovers from this, the 24-7 always-on TVTVTVTV "services" or its future equivalent will make a comeback at the first opportunity.

Why not mistrust Sony? Sure I did, it's always good to maintain a healthy skepticism of corporations, but Sony is a hardware company. Sony never had grand ambitions of owning the living room, the Playstation was never a trojan horse for anything other than more Playstations, and Sony quickly displayed a real commitments to games and by extension, gamers. And no wonder: while the Xbox has always been a black hole for Microsoft, something of a vanity project that investors never liked and to this day still want to see it axed, Playstation soon became a core pillar of Sony's business, so much so that its success allowed it to, for a time, ignore the rot nearly everywhere else.

Yet, according to some, none of this should matter, I should simply look at the games and the price and the console and make an "objective decision", and I don't get that. Game publishers are always screwing us over, and we're forever complaining that they're "losing our trust", as if that means something. Well, what's the point of having consumers' trust if there's no business upside to that? What's the point of fostering "trust" if a company can do whatever and as soon as it launches a new product, we're supposed to forget everything?

Trust matters, or it should. When a company with a history of being very, very untrustworthy like EA does something, people are instinctively mistrustful, for good reason. Then, when a company that has earned trust does something similar and the reaction is better, there are always those who scream "OMG LOOK AT THE DOUBLE STANDARDS LOLZ".

That makes no sense. There is no double standard, there is a very clear standard. We tend to be hostile to companies we mistrust, and more receptive to those we trust, as it should be. Again, what's the point of building trust with consumers if taking that trust into account when making purchasing decisions is somehow discouraged?

While I obviously don't want Xbox to succeed given all my misgivings, this isn't meant to be an Anti-Xbox consumer manifesto, it isn't an attack on people who like it. There were even crazies who liked the ORIGINAL reveal, imagine that, and I'm totally not talking about The ScholarlyGamer!

It's fine if you really like Xbox and isn't bothered by any of that, but if you are, don't buy the fittingly corporate-serving pressure to ignore everything and focus only on the product. Why should you expect corporation to value consumers' trust if you don't even value your own trust?   read

8:43 AM on 08.19.2014

Why Ryse Of TheTomb Raider's Exclusivity Is Different

Sorry, I couldn't help the Ryse gag. Anyways... so, some people weren't happy with this, maybe you've heard. Personally, as much as I loved Tomb Raider and I'll definitely play this, I barely blinked at the announcement, mostly because the deliberately vague wording and the franchise's history left no doubt in my mind I'd play it on PC eventually, and with backlog being what it is, I'm never in a hurry to play any upcoming games. Plus, I'm more than happy to pay as little as publishers will let me, so day 1 purchases are a rarity for me these days, meaning I'm quite used and perfectly happy to wait a while. I bought Tomb Raider for $5 in the same year it released, and I have every reason to believe I'll pay just as much for the next Tomb Raider because that's what Squenix does with all its AAA PC games. This isn't a statement about the game's quality, I'm not saying the game is only worth $5 to me, I'd certainly be willing to pay a lot more than that. Square, however, doesn't want me to, and I'm not about to argue!

However, I do think people had good reasons to be upset. Defenders have pointed out that the industry has always worked like this, platform holders have always bought exclusivity,  what's the big deal this time? Why are people upset NOW but not in the hundreds of other times the same thing happened? Well, for one thing, because something like this has never quite happened, and here's why.

1: The History

This isn't a new game, a new IP, a reboot or sequel to a long forgotten game. It's a game that has its roots firmly in the Playstation, then in the multiplatform space. You instinctively assume a Tomb Raider game will be multiplatform, because of course it will! That alone throws folks off balance.

2: The Bait And Switch

Exclusives are always clearly marked. You know right away where a game will be when it's announced, or at least you have a general idea. When no definitive platforms are announced right away, if it's an AAA game you're always looking at a multiplat release. If it's an exclusive, they say so right away. In this case, they showed a trailer to build excitement, and everybody assumed it was multiplatform because that's the logical thing to do when you're talking about a franchise like Tomb Raider and nobody says anything about exclusivity. Only much later did they pull the rug from under fan's feet and announced it was "exclusive". To make it even more grating, they made a grand show of being blatantly dishonest for god knows what possible reason, being deliberately vague with the wording, refusing to give clear answers, telling Playstation and PC gamers there was no reason to be upset because they have last year's game (echoes of Microsoft's "we have a product for people without reliable internet connections, it's called the Xbox 360", I guess the partnership is a good fit after all!), only to, in the end, say "yeah guys,we were just being stupid. You just have to wait, but it's not really exclusive". What's wrong with these people?

3: The Story

For most people who loved last year's game, including me, Lara's story was as much of a star as the game itself, if not more so. It's not just about playing the next game in a fun series, it's about seeing the next chapter of a story you're invested in, one that is quite recent. To be told that the very direct sequel to the story you just experienced and liked won't be available to you because fuck you is unprecedented even in this industry. 

The closest thing I can think of is Capcom's ill-fated and short-lived Resident Evil's Gamecube exclusivity. Even then, it was handled much better and actually had a reason behind it. New platforms were proliferating, people now needed several different consoles to play all Resident Evil games, and Capcom decided it would make more sense to have people experience all the games in the same platform, and that's something we can believe because, at the time it actually made sense in theory, and Nintendo is notorious for refusing to pay for exclusive support, or even support, period. Capcom announced the exclusivity clearly with no ambiguity, well before hand, and made a point of making every single game in the franchise available on the Gamecube before the big RE4 so that people could catch up. And as much as people are invested in Resident Evil, like I am, by and large, playing Resident Evil 4 was more about playing a fun game than about seeing the next chapter in Leon's saga. 

Not even Dead Rising 3 (remember, it was announced as a bona fide exclusive, not just a timed one, with no "FOR HOLIDAY 2013" caveat) despite the 3 in the name, comes close. I've never played it, but I do know that, a) the first was exclusive to Xbox 360, so in a sense it went home, and B) to my knowledge, nobody ever said "man, can't wait for Dead Rising 3 to see how Dead Rising 2's story plays out".

4: The Fake Bayonetta Connection

Isn't Bayonetta 2 exclusive to Wii U? Why are people not upset about that? DOUBLE STANDARDS! NINTENDO GETS PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT! MEGAMAN! SOMETHING! 

And what about Ryse? And Sunset Overdrive? And game X,Y,Z,W,X,A,V? Isn't it the same? 

No people, it's not the same. Every one of these games wouldn't have happened without the financial backing of the platform holder. It's as simple as that. Bayonetta 2 is only a Wii U exclusive because, after Bayonetta 1 sold "only" 1 million something copies, Sega wanted nothing to do with a sequel. Lego City Undercover and Wonderful 101 (full disclosure: I just typed Viewtful Joe instead of Wonderful 101 before realizing my mistake. I have no idea why) were likewise fully funded by Nintendo. Ryse and Sunset Overdrive, by the same token, being huge-budget games well beyond the means of independent companies like Ryse or Insomniac, never would have happened without the backing of someone big like Microsoft. So the direct sequel to a multiplatform hit that's always been multiplatform and is made by someone like Square Enix is in no way "just like Ryse or Bayonetta".

And that's that. People can reasonably argue that the reaction went overboard and perhaps many other arguments, but I think it's also reasonable to point out that there was no "DOUBLE STANDARD OGMZ!" in the fan anger. It was a particularly angry reaction to a particularly shitty situation.   read

9:57 AM on 08.07.2014

I'm Back! (Trigger Warning: NVGR, Whining, Depressive Stuff)

Hi people,
Your friendly neighborhood CaimDark is back. Not that anybody notices, but the reason I abruptly stopped commenting and my blogs disappeared is that I pulled a Kyosuke and asked Andy to nuke my account about a month ago. Not because "Dtoid sucks now", but because I was using Disqus and Dtoid compulsively, and I needed drastic measures to stay away. I stayed in the forums to keep a link to the community and because it took very little of my time anyways. A month later, I'm already back, how pathetic is that? I even commented with an old fake Facebook account I'd made to make registrations easier but rarely used it, though in my defense the ban did help me drastically lower Disqus and Dtoid procrastination.

It didn't help with the real problems, though, and what the hell, now I'm back. I make no guarantees that I won't ask for another ban after a month, because I'm weird and in a weird moment. Basically my life feels like it's falling apart. Last year my wife got cancer, and she changed so much, apparently I failed her so much and our relationship strained to the point where it now feels 10 years of love are over just like that. We haven't decided on a divorce yet because everything is too raw to make such a drastic decision, but after being repeatedly told she doesn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, I'm starting to believe her. She moved out and we're sort of taking a break. "Sort of" because we regularly talk and see each other, our day to day relationship is mostly great, we enjoy each others' company, but on the rare occasions our relationship comes out, it's like we the fun we and joy we have together is suddenly erased and she only speaks tragedy and disgrace and hopelessness. I gave up trying to understand. Did I mention there's no more sex? For 10 years, we were all over each other like two horny rabbits, then cancer came, fried her insides, killed her libido and made any sort of penetration hurt her like hell. Fun!

I've been suffering from depression for 10 years, and with the weight of life events, it only seems to be getting worse. The last 10 years of my life often feel like one giant waste, even though everybody who loves me tells me otherwise. Ironically, now, starting my 30s, I play way more videogames than I did as a teenager, because back then I was a healthy teenager, now I'm a depressed loser (yes I'm feeling sorry for myself and having a little pity party, please let me. Thank you!).

I wish I had a physical disease that showed up in an exam so I could appease my conscience. It would also help with society, sure, but most of the society that really matters to me, family, friends, maybe soon-to-be-ex-wife, is incredibly loving and supportive, and thinks far better of me than I do of myself. It's becoming increasingly more accepted that depression is a real thing and not something easily fixed with "willpower" any more than a paraplegic can't will himself to run.

And yet... is it? The guilt and doubt is always there. Psychiatrists diagnose depression based on symptoms that are easy to fake, and people do "game the system". How can people really be sure I'm wasting my life away because I'm sick, or because I'm just lazy and using this supposed depression as a crutch?

I struggle with the question myself. Sometimes I feel like I have to take the blame myself, otherwise it's easy and tempting not to take responsibility for anything. Other times I want to blame the disease so that I don't feel like a waste of space all the time. Surely there's a healthy balance somewhere, but I haven't found it yet.

Ever since this started, I've been wandering and stumbling around, philosophically and literally, looking for "something" to make sense of my life. The only true love I had is my wife, and I'm about to lose that. The other things that are supposed to be important in life... I want to want them because I found no alternative, but don't *really*, *truly*, want them, does that make sense?

Probably motivated by this search for "something", in the last 10 years I've dabbled in Psychology, capitalism, tried different countries. I tried staying away from distractions like videogames and the Internet, dabbled in music, etc, and last I came to Norway to study a bachelor's degree in a Norwegian university entirely in Norwegian without knowing the language and having to learn it in one year or be literally booted out, because why not, right?. I stumble and fumbled, but despite everything I'm now staring at just one more year to finally finish a degree, and I'm terrified I won't be able to handle it.

But no matter what I do or where I go, nothing really helps, which convinced me that whatever my problem is, it's entirely in my own head. If all that sounds like whining, that's because it is. I just want to vent with my Dtoid friends, I'm fully aware my "tragedies" don't come anywhere near many of the real tragedies many other people face, and yet knowing that Ebola is killing people like flies in Africa and knowing my own privilege somehow doesn't make my pain any better. Go figure!

Being shy and married and depressed is a deadly combination to one's social life, being shy and married and depressed and a foreigner among polite but cold Norwegians even more so. Now the married part is gone too, so it's just little me, which is part of the reason I came back. At least I can have a community here, if only to talk about stupid videogames.

TL;DR I'm officially back!   read

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