Little known fact about me, I'm actually a bit of a stock market buff.
So, for anyone interested, let's talk about how Sony and Microsoft are going to fare in the market once they're consoles are released.
Typically, in the vain interest of a negligible amount of profit video game stocks are usually only good for things like buying Activision before the annual CoD record breaking launch and selling around the report of the Christmas earnings. You can swap X company and X blockbuster game into that regard.
This year, however, has been very different. While the whole debacle of the Xbone and the DRM and E3 fist-fight, leading to that Sony knockout blow we all fussed over for a bit, may have been ignored by 24 hour news channels - it was quite the bit of conversation on CNBC. Yes, the stuffy stock market channel (which actually has the most immature morning show on TV) couldn't shut up about it. Everything MS did, caused Gamestop's stick to either rise of fall dramatically. It was fascinating to watch. These next coming weeks lead me to scratch my head at what exactly is going to happen to Sony and Microsoft's stock which are notoriously stagnant.
So here's the deal. The video game divisions of Sony and Microsoft are worth billions. Yet, so few billions that these divisions are a drop in the pond of these technology giants. Usually there is so much going on with these companies that a great success or failure isn't going to do much to the price.
When it comes to MS, I expect this to remain true. There's so many fish on their plate, the new CEO search, the surface, the phones, the latest lackluster OS, the fact that they're hemorrhaging money left and right in their constant quest of producing "me too" products, that if the Xbone has a tremendous launch or is a failure, it's just not going to matter to a company used to both extremes. Sure, the stock may move a couple of points for a day or two, but that's all I expect to happen because that's what always happens with MS.
Sony has been suffering a slow decline over the years. One large reason being that they're not the leader in TVs anymore. (Good, Christ I love my Samsung Smart TV) Sony needs a win. If the PS4 kicks off, I think it will move the price much more than it normally would. I can't say the same for a failure when it'll be looked at as another decline in a company struggling to maintain its former supremacy.
Bit of a longer rant than I expect, but I find this side of the industry very interesting. These are corporations after all, and while it frequently is something to bemoan (rightfully so) it is interesting to see how the decisions they make impact their stock price.
To call the suggestion of an ‘always-online’ console an outrage would be an understatement. From what I’ve seen even die-hard xbox fans have damned the prospect of constantly having to be online to play their games. Yes, the fresh rumors are that Microsoft will leave the ‘always-online’ requirement up to the publisher but for the sake of this piece, let’s assume it’s console wide. Let’s also assume that the rumors of the Kinect requirement and the used games block are true. This is all hypothetical here.
Now, do I think the internet requirement will doom the system? Yes - hell yes, actually, but that’s not the point. Yes, there is almost unanimous rejection of this potential practice, but no one ever came up with what good it could bring. I sat on the train the other day thinking of how any good could come form an always-online requirement, I scoured the internet to see what people have to say and I think I have something. So here for you, my dear friends: the pros of an “always-online console.”
[font=Arial Black]#1 Major Nelson Can Bring You Nice Ads.[/font]
You know, when I’m on Xbox live - a service I pay lots of money for - and I see the advertisements I think: “Golly, I like these ads, but they don’t advertise things I want to buy.” Microsoft has that solution. The media box that’s it’s supposedly going to be, could track all your viewing, browsing, game history, how much you play what, what you play, essentially everything you do on the system because it’s always-online. Through this it could bring you ads custom to your interests and habits. This is nothing new, just a practice made famous by Facebook, meaning everyone should do it because, Facebook. Funny thing about he Kinect requirement is that many people seem to be as not if more upset about it than the online requirement. Reasons ranging from simply not wanting to use it to Orwellian fantasies of the Kinect watching you, scanning you and figuring you’d like to see some Taco Bell ads, huh fatty?
[font=Arial Black]#2 Shipping Unfinished Games and Patching in the Mistakes Later Becomes a Guilt-Free Practice![/font]
Yes, unfinished games like Dead Island that forced it’s customers to wait for a patch that would fix some of it’s problems was quite the controversy. What’s worst about the “patch-fix it later” attitude is that many gamers who don’t have their system online and ultimately got screwed and left with a broken or unfinished game. Which is deplorable - but! Thanks to the always-online requirement, now no one gets completely screwed by laziness (or hastiness) and everyone gets the patch.... at some point.
[font=Arial Black]#3 The Debate Over Online Passes Will Be Ended Once and for All![/font]
Tired of people debating online passes to death? Unbelievable news! If it is true that Microsoft will block all used games then the debate is settled, right? Cause all games will require some sort of validation of them being not only authentic, but new. No more buying a game at Gamestop and wondering if it won’t work. You also don’t have to struggle with the decision of paying full price for a new game (God forbid if they raise the price past $60) or eight bucks off a used version of the game. It’s good for Gamestop too because it saves them money on that miserable money-back guarantee of theirs and they save so much store space! Simply brilliant.
[font=Arial Black]Least but not Least: Every game can be an MMO![/font]
Not to be outdone by Sony stressing connectivity as a huge part of their gaming experience via a share button and other things. To answer this Microsoft is going to bring you connectivity or else. I know we’ve all moved on to mammary gland-gate but remember the debacle that was the SimCity launch? EA disguised DRM by calling the game an “MMO” because that worked so well for Blizzard. This kind of controlling, restrictive DRM could become the new norm. This would be great for the wallets of developers as well as Microsoft’s.
These are the only pros I could think of. I tried so very hard to be the devil’s advocate and think of what benefit the rumors surrounding Microsoft’s new console could be. It seems to me that they all benefit Microsoft and the publishers. It allows restrictive DRM that would crush used game retailers as competition. It would end piracy (until someone figures out a way around it). It would allow publishers to rush games out the door and send the fixes in as “day one patches” or whenever they release them. It would end damaging discussion like the online pass debate by forcing a conclusion and then remaining silent on the subject. It would be a controversy yes, but Microsoft launched the 360 with an outrageous failure rate and ignored the problem until people got tired of discussing it. Silence is the industry’s best weapon.
This is not an anti-Microsoft rant. This piece is an expression of what I think will come if these rumors about the “720” are true. The same arguments could be said for any system attempting these things. There is the possibility that these features will damn the system and allow Sony and Nintendo to reign supreme. There is also the possibility that if the new xbox succeeds, it could set dangerous precedents that would allow the worst practices of the industry to become okay. It’s up to us.
I write this in response to Jim Sterling’s “Sim City, Colonial Marines, and the Silence”
I’ve been a journalist long enough to know how it all works - the ugly part of this business, that is. A controversy comes up and it’s talked about until an even greater controversy comes up, or the former has run its course. You want people to keep reading and not to read someone else should they become weary of your crusade. After all, much like the games industry or whatever industry we cover, we, ourselves, are part of a business.
It’s an unfortunate thing really, choosing to cover an industry. No one needs to talk to “you” and by that I mean any journalist, personally. You don’t have to write something positive, but man, it’s cool when your words are in the “what critics are saying” blurb. I’m the first to admit it’s still awesome to me, but a rare thing, there aren’t many things that come across my desk that I feel that way about. That’s okay though because if I hate something, a company could easily find people lining up to get their horn tooted as someone mentioned in a sentence beginning with “Critics agree that…” Even the ones who know these friendships with the industry never last. You put it perfectly as saying that being the vocal minority is a business of “diminishing returns.” Call something out too loud and people will love you or vilify you, if the industry doesn’t do that to you already. If positivity toward what you do can be found, it does not matter. The recent outrages and their untimely deaths only go to prove that game journalists are the most important, least important part of the industry.
During my first internship at a newspaper, all I did the first month was PR work. I retyped press releases sent to us about this and that all day. Upon asking my editor if anyone actually cared about all that crap his response was “No, but we have a paper to fill.” News outlets need people to keep reading them so new content must be made all the time. No matter how good or bad it is. There’s been many times I’ve heard the phrase: “Has anyone got ANYTHING?” I usually figure this sentence is uttered when I see the old standbys in gaming press that arise when certain conditions are met. Condition 1: Two consoles/handhelds selling well and the other ‘below expectation’ = an article called: “Should [insert company here] Stop Making Consoles/Handhelds.” Condition 2: All consoles are selling well = an article called: “Why the Dreamcast 2 Should be a Reality.” Are these worthy, yet tired discussions? Sure. Is it easy to tell when someone needs the readership or it’s a slow news day? Yes, but this also pays for the good articles. I get it. Some of the sillier things I write get a hell of a lot more attention than editorials that have taken me weeks of research. And I’m not calling anyone out in particular because everyone does it, myself included.
Sure enough, throughout my time as a writer controversies did finally surface, they were sometimes snuffed because of various political reason or equally as bad; by silence. A tool I’ve never seen used more effectively than in game journalism. No matter what controversy in any industry I’ve been apart of covering or seen covered, thing I very, very much cared about they go away thanks to silence. But here’s the thing, Jim. People do not forget about these controversies. And that is precisely why I write this: People remember.
I’d been reading up on the industry since I was a boy reading Nintendo Power, sure controversies came and went but I can’t say I really cared about any until the Gamecube was being hyped up. Nintendo released a video with stunning HD graphics (which still look good) showing Link battling Ganondorf. That made me want to buy the Gamecube because I wanted this to happen. Then that video disappeared and what we got was Wind Waker. Amazing game that I love, though it may be, I could not help the fact that I felt betrayed and lied to. Your Colonial Marines coverage reminded me of this feeling. Even though I don’t care about that game, I care about the issue of false footage. When the Wii U came out I found an article talking about the HD Zelda video, pondering if it would finally happen. I nearly spit out my drink because I thought I was the only person who remembered that. Turns out a lot of people remember that video. Sift through the comments on any games website, through the flaming, trolling, and memes that comprises gaming discussion and you’ll find something real. You’ll find people like me who have had multiple xboxes fail and wonder why the red ring is no longer discussed even though it still happens. You’ll find people still upset about Diablo III. You’ll find people referencing the Sega Saturn launch. You’ll find jokes about RRRRrriiiiiidge Racerrrrrrrrr. Remember when IGN AU gave Halo 3 an 8.9 and IGN itself called that review “controversial” because the Australian branch thought it was a great game but just another Halo game. I can’t be the only one who found this so utterly ridiculous that I stopped visiting IGN. Last week I read a comment mentioning the GameSpot Kayne and Lynch controversy. People remember these things.
I read your op-ed and listen to you elaborate on Podtoid and all I can say is “Don’t give up.” I understand completely things cannot be given anymore coverage simply because your only source of real info has dried up, or that the market demands you move on. You can only be the voice of the people until the people want you to be upset about something else. And that’s okay, because we won’t forget. Giants of the game industry survive against many odds, but for how long can they. EA can brush off those who voted them ‘worst company in America’ as a ‘vocal minority,’ but what they should realize is that, that minority keeps getting bigger - big enough to allow them to retain the award and threatened them enough to make them preemptively defend it. These companies need 7 million people to buy a game for it to be a success. They need everyone they can to buy there games because they’ll fail otherwise - yet they do these things that no one likes. I don’t want to see this industry fail. I care deeply about this industry. Video games were a huge part of my childhood and I truly despise what this AAA-based industry has become, because there still so much good in it. That is why I read Destructoid, that is why I write this and encourage you and others like you to keep up the good work of calling these companies out. The gaming media may move onto the next issue or hot topic no matter how much you want to keep the coverage going, but just remember that a growing number of people like me remember.
Ever own a Gameshark? Those things were awesome. Yes, they sometimes broke your game or your consol but modern Xboxes break on their own at a higher rate so I'll give it a pass for ruining my copy of Super Mario 64. Ever own one of those massive tomes of cheat codes that contained thousands of cheats to games, belong to Cheatcc.com, or scribble on your arn the "fly cheat" in Bug Too when you heard it at lunch? (L,A,Z,Y, left, right, A, down) Why I remember that, I'll never know. If you answered yes to any of these questions, its because back in the day it was fun as all hell to cheat at games. 99 lives, invincibility, all levels unlocked, big head mode, paintball mode, the all enemies are gingerbread men cheat from Timeslplitters, FUCK YEAH!
It had always bothered me that most modern games don't include cheat codes. Sure, some games will let you unlock all levels and items from the get-go. They are now called "Free-To-Play" games, but that's a rant for another day. Anyways, I'm sure you're wondering why I called this "Launching Diablo III Launcher" but I have a feeling some of you know why as well. Really, this is a response to Sterling's article about Blizzard banning cheaters from Diablo III: a "single player game."
Cheat codes used to be a lighthearted way on enchancing your games, often times making them more or silly, making them fresh after a few playthroughs, or just letting a little kid get past a boss he can't seem to beat. Now-a-days, the lack of codes has caused cheating to become something more advanced, I don't know how hacking works, bots. etc.. I feel as though I should clarify something, this blog is against the war on cheating in single player games (I'd include local multiplayer as well but no one really does that anymore) I do agree that measures should be taken against people who cheat in online multiplayer. I got pissed of as the next guy everytime someone with an aimbot killed me in Counterstrike.
Banning players for cheating in a single player game seems pretty rediculous to me. Should we go after all the people who have ever used the Konami code? Cheat codes seems like a relic at this point, but a player should be able to do what ever they want with a single player game. Just look at the runaway success that was Gary's Mod. Valve didn't seem to upset about a guy giving players the ability to alter every aspect of their flagship product. However, single player games seem to be the domain of that the one single player. "Seem to be." I had a great deal of friends excited about Diablo III, that is, until I bought it, and they all saw that you had to be constantly connected to the internet. I write this blog because Blizzard has set a dangerous precident (and I'm not just talking about the fact that the COMPUTER game costs $60). Someone of this site said it best (if I could remember his name I'd give him all the credit in the world) "Blizzard has disguised an MMO as a single player game." By forcing players to be conected it can punish them how they wish for playing the game how they wish. It makes the player feel like they paid for the right to play the game as Blizzard deems fit. I suppose game makers do have the right to do this, but don't spoil people's fun if it is not to the detriment of other players.
"Playing Diablo III legitimately means playing with an unaltered game client. Doing otherwise violates our policies for Battle.net and Diablo III, and it goes against the spirit of fair play that all of our games are based on. We strongly recommend that you avoid using any hacks, cheats, bots, or exploits. Suspensions and bans of players that have used or start using cheats and hacks will begin in the near future."
This is what Blizzard said baout cheating. However, they seem to have forgot that they made a single player game with a multiplayer mode. Fair play sounds great, remember when you made my Monk useless in higher the higher difficulties by nerfing his healing mantra. That was fair.
This may seem like an angry rant against actions Blizzard is taking but I do not intend for it to be. I love Diablo III and I played it a great deal until Blizzard nuked the character I put God knows how many hour into. I just worry for the president that the game sets. Banning players for harmlessly cheating in a single player game, one of the oldest traditions in gaming. Really, I'd like everyone's thoughts on the subject and to ask everyone what they think the reason was that cheat codes died.
E3 was pretty cool this year, but it sounds expensive. Really expensive. I do not say that because I am cheap, but I just say that after looking at the trends with games over the past few years. One of these trends is the demand for HD remakes. We all love games made in the past, mostly because of how memorable and revolutionary they were. Usually reviews of these games feature a line like: "One of the most complete gaming experiences ever." What I want to highlight is the word "complete." When games like Shadow of the Colossus were made, there wasn't anything like 'cloud computing' (which doesn't sound like something Activision will find a way to charge $15 for. Not at all.) Games we once loved were finished games. Nothing that had major bugs that could be patched in later, or a frustratingly small offering of multiplayer maps that we are reassured from the get-go about because there will be more released soon for us to pay for, which won't be touched in 8 months because a sequel with the same problem will be released.
Now, I don't at all intend this to be a rant about DLC. It really is a fantastic way of extending the life of great games, when it isn't used greedily. All I'm saying is that it was really hard for me not to think about so many of the E3 offerings without thinking about how some like Call of Duty, or even Battlefield may be thinking of ways to make more money off their product. And Nintendo's new console sounds expensive if my $500 touch screen phone that I just learned emits radiation is any indication. Though the nice thing about Nintendo is that I can count on them to get DLC horribly wrong Nintendo's lack of modern DLC practices, whether do to them being rebels or inept, has left me without the fear that what I buy from them won't be a finished product. No to belabor the point but multiplayer maps don't seem to be that hard to make. (OKAY I'M DONE)
Anyways, about an hour ago Sterling posted about the success of Ocarina of TIme 3DS. It seems that people, myself, included have been waiting a very long time for a tune up of one of their favorite games. Games like Zelda were truly great and only had minor, forgivable bugs. That same sentiment cannot be said about most new games, which come over scrutiny that I fail to believe. For example, a friend of mine put some spray paint on the ground in Dead Rising 2, complained that the spray didn't look realistic, then hit the paint with a squirt gun and complained that it didn't wash off. I'm all for putting games we pay $60 for under close criticism, but sometimes it gets out of hand. Some people are writing off the Wii-U already, because you only have one tablet running at a time with the system. Older, more cherished games did not face this for the most part and to their credit there wasn't a lot wrong with them. On the other side of the fence there are some old games so bad they're iconic.
Sony said there would be more HD remakes if there was a demand for them. Zone of the Enders, Metal Gear, ICO, Sly Cooper, all sorts of beloved games are being rereleased with a coat of polish and receive higher critical praise than some games that were in development for many years like Heavy Rain or even games ten years in development that managed to get by based on nostalgia and I think we all know what I'm talking about here. Sometimes nostalgia is all an old series has because the new editions will never be as good as the old ones.
Did I order Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts off of Amazon so I could get the HD remake of the original? Absolutely and I played it more than the awful Nuts and Bolts.
We all love what people are doing with games now. There really is a lot of great work and innovation being done. There are simply games that are remade in HD and make a killing because they are games that are apparently timeless like the Ocarina and modern games fail to live up to them. Which can be said for many things. Why am I reading Dickens in preparation for the GRE and not Dan Brown? Why does everyone like to quote Shakespeare and not Neil LaBute?(cringe) Why do people still adore Casablanca and forget they ever saw whatever shlock Michael Bay put out this year. (Do not get me started on I Am Number 4)
I'm sure I'm not the only person excited for the stock of HD remakes Sony has on the way while playing the Ocarina of Time remake. These games were great and continue to make these companies money, while satisfying their costumers' dreams of having their favorite games in HD. In the meantime new games will be released that will nickel and dime us to death to make up for the fact that their games lack a great deal of content. While these practices will make companies loads of cash, the HD remakes may even become more popular as people will want to play a "complete" game they still to love.
Every year since the mid 90s I've gotten excited for E3. This year is no exception largely because I'd like to know what Nintendo's latest console is. However, when it comes to the games I am most excited for HD remakes such as Shadow of the Colossus. Since summer started I've had a few games that I need to finish but just haven't found the time to. Not because I'm trying to prepare for the GREs, or some sort of trivial matters, I just forgot how much I absolutely love StarFox 64.
I've been wrapped up in the story and facial animations of LA Noire as much as the next guy, but after hearing enough comments from my buddy like; "Why can't you search the trashcan? Why doesn't he ever think to check the back pocket? or Can't you just shoot him and the leg and take him in? Why's he have to kill everybody that runs if they have a gun on them?" Maybe I just excused the games flaws because I'm an English major and it was nice to see some Shelly in a game for once, but after a while the things he pointed out sullied some of the game for me. The reason I bring this up is because there seems to be a grand expectation with games now-adays. Everything has to be balanced, perfect, no stone unturned, blah blah blah. I liked that the PC version of Halo: Combat Evolved had a custom game search. So what if I only played 'Blood Gulch' and 'Sidewinder' and shot everyone is the head from 150 yards with the pistol. It was fun! No need to worry about rank, level, K/D ratio, it was a good time because you got to play how you wanted. Yes, Oddjob was unfair because he was shorter than everyone else in Goldeneye it was okay because the game was so much fun.
Anyways, what I'm getting at is that my problem with new games is that so many are taken seriously to the point where they lose their charm. I loved GTAIII, was I the first to be upset when they learned they took the tank out of IV and stuck cops on every block? Yes. There's a reason so many people got upset when it was made clear that there would be no campaign co-op in MW3, it was fun. I loved playing through games with a friend even if it was just a player clone because it was FUN. After playing MF2's campaign, I'm not too worried that a second player is going to be what screws up the story of the game. Lighten up, tell a joke or something like Portal, make a videogame equivalent to Kenny from Southpark like Gears did with Carmine or whatever identical relative of his they're gonna kill in the third installment.
Remember when you got to play as a rodent fighting a giant of shit? Or as a bear with a bird living in his backpack collecting puzzle pieces and musical notes? Maybe a plumper who leapt through paintings to collect all 150 stars so you could shoot yourself out a cannon and fly because apparently a hat with wings attached to it was in the cannon with you? There's a reason these games are always demanded each time a new generation of consoles comes out. People just want to play their favorite games because they were the most fun. Or maybe like me, people just miss the charms of games that don't try their best to make as much sense as possible and be as realistic as they can be.
Now I'm not rambling about Nintendo games because I'm a fanboy or what have you, the Nintendo 64 is just the console I have the most fun on. Everyone from my neighborhood would gather and play Super Smash Bros or Goldeneye multiplayer. This kind of thing had sadly gone away thanks to online gaming, but for people of my generation who grew up with these games don't seem to always bring their xbox/ps3/wii with them to college. I always see N64s surrounded by a crowd of people playing Mario Kart 64. Was there a glitch where you could jump off the start of Rainbow Road just right and land on the other side of the track? Yes, and it was always fun trying to get it to work.
All I'm really trying to say is that when game companies are always trying to be on the cutting edge they sometimes lose sight on how much fun the game is. Last week my friends and I played GTAIII over IV because we wanted to drive a tank around. Sometimes a bit of the nonsensical can lead to a fun and successful game, like a man made of meat running through a gauntlet of buzz saws and rockets to rescue his girlfriend made of a bandage. I love games like Super Meat Boy. they remind me of games I loved as a kid that had premises that were nothing short of ludicrous. They weren't perfect though, there wasn't any DLC, no bugs overlooked because a company could just "patch it in later." If there was a glitch, it was a fun thing to find. So what if you can beat Super Mario 64 with only six stars? It was fun, sometimes game bugs or even crushing difficulty can be a good thing. Sometimes I think LA Noire baby's you through the cases with the music, though I could just be thinking that because I played MegaMan on the Sega Saturn when I was kid. That game just sticks its middle up finger up as you and says "Good luck, fucker." Could also be why I love Devil May Cry so much. I just don't want game companies to get so hung up on making a game 'real' and 'perfect' that they lose track of what could make the game something people play 14 years later like StarFox while waiting to see the latest and greatest games. I'm very excited for what E3 holds this afternoon and the days to come. I'm sure anyone who has read this and has seen my taste for the lighthearted has already guessed what my biggest hope for E3 is. Until then I'm perfectly happy trying to find the giant Glowbo so I can turn Kazooie into a dragon.