So used games sales again are coming up. Iíve written about this before when the rumour was Sony going for it in a cBlog called ďHere We Go Again on Preowned.Ē Well after the Xbox One reveal and all the thing so far I have to say ďIíve my made up my mind and Iím wasting some more timeĒ (sorry couldnít resist). I feel itís time once again to tread into the murky waters of pre-owned sales and talk a little about how the industry itself is part of the problem and if pre-owned is killed off al that quick green the publishers make could leave them a little lonely.
Iíd advise if you havenít already you see the two main sides for this argument before I carrying on.
AAA or go home †
This is the biggest problem in the industry so far. Thereís no lower tier market on released. Iíve talked before about bloating budgets and how Tomb Raider Anniversary cost $2.5 Million dollars while the reboot cost $105 million to make when compared to the film which cost $115 million to make. Traditionally films and other media have multiple distribution routes and as such the argument goes that with only one, thanks to the basic death of the arcades, means it has a problem. Well compared to films games used to cost 1/50[sup]th[/sup] of the price tag with new games that were AAA selling for 3-6 times the DVD price (depending on the film etc) so there was a clear price divide. Now as said in the Jimquisition stores donít take that much from new sales. I believe at the start of this generation it was between †20-30% per sale now itís at best 10% or less per sale. Now how do cinemas who face this kind of cost get round it ? They sell refreshments at 50 times cost (or there about) so then you look at games stores and what can they sell ? Hardware, oh dear, with hardware around consoles like consoles themselves being heavily subsidised then Manufacturers canít afford to pass on the profits there so about 1% money from the sales going to the shop isnít possible to sustain the sector .
So to address this companies need to get real, weíre not the government, theyíre not the banks they canít keep on spending like mad and expecting consumers to be the ones bailing them out. Sorry itís true. Sure the cost of making a game will go up slightly but a 50 times jump in about 8 years is huge and shows part of the problem. Publishers and developers need to stop with the insane pushing of a game and throwing all their money into one basket.†
Be real to the shareholders and investors and not promise them unrealistically huge returns. Sure being able to offer these huge returns sounds nice and pulls in investors however how many will return having not made the kind of money they were told they would ?
Not that many I bet.
This is almost how the comics speculator bubble happened when the investors just left the market as companies were pandering specifically to the speculators and not delivering.
Companies need to realise its acceptable to release at a lower price if they want and that it can be helpful. Iíve talked before about The Orange Box which saw a UK release for †£25, far less than the standard retail price really here and was a runaway hit. Iíve recently bought a used game. I bought Lollipop Chainsaw for £15 my other recentish purchases include new games: Bioshock infinite for £35, WWE 13 for £25 and Defiance for £25 you know what I was happy to pay those prices as thatís the level I felt they were worth to me. Defiance in particular is a very good example as itís an MMO of sorts and in the Christmas Steam sale I also bought an MMO, one kind of similar is some aspects in The Secret World. Both (now at least) operate without a subscription but with an initial cost and optional micro transactions. I bought The Secret World for £15 and I was happy with that price. The problem is no developer wants to move from the premium price, other than Activision who want to move it up, the reason for this is the development costs etc so the industry needs to look at and sort out budgeting.
The industry is growing up the be an adult now and its time it learned to handle its own money and budget properly rather than spending lots of money of things because ďooohhhh shinyĒ.
The Lack of distribution paths
^If cinema floors are this clean I really worry about why I stick to them so much.†
Ok this is a big issue as with films thereís TV syndication, cinema and DVD release. With music thereís ††live performances, related merchandise and radio play royalties.
So firstly and this is a controversial one. People might have to accept a revenue sharing system on lets plays. I know people are mad and transformative media and all that but hey if companies can be reasonable (and thatís one hell of an if) this could work out well for them. They should at most take 20-30% revenue and thatís absolutely all from the lets plays, no more. You hear me no more than that or you begin to cause damage and Lets Players won't be too mad as hey its mutually supporting now also Publishers will need to promote the lets players and feature them so more exposure for the lets player themselves.
^If someone ever manages a series out of this they will probably win the internet†
The Second Revenue stream is actually one Music and Films use a lot. Keep the printing going. At present games for the most part have a print run before release and a window of about 1 month 2 weeks either side of release where the games are still in print thatís it. Plenty of films and Music CDs have a longer print run with the print run being far lower after the initial sales period but still there and to an extent waterfalling the prices so while not making as much money on the print run youíre still making some money beyond the initial sales boom games presently use. Games need to realise they can and should play the long game a bit more and not rush for all their money right away and if they canít make that super high profit point giving up. Attempts are being made to do this with Games on demand but then you can see how thatís failing quite badly at present. Heck working it out itís what $1 a disc with box. Iíd pay $5 for Dead Rising or some of the other Xbox 360 launch titles so even if it costs you $1 to the store and $2 on distribution youíre still making $1 on a game if you play the long game and keep the print going even on a far smaller degree.
The Third potential revenue stream is arcades but back in a brand new form. Iíll talk about it in depth a bit more further down the line probably in its own cBlog and itís this.
This is a machine setting its sights on saving the arcades. Itís a fully 3D game experience. You go in there, get given a special controller designed for the game and get to play. This is motion control and a surround sound dome where your physical movements in the dome adjust gameplay. Rather than using the controller to turn, you turn yourself and the dome adjusts the projections with you to show youíre turning along with adjusting the surround sound effects too. You aim the gun yourself to aim in the game. As Iíve said this will probably get its own blog saying more and showing off more later but the plan is to give arcades something no user could really do at home.
But But the retailers are evil
Look Iím not saying retailers are saints here, theyíre far from it and considering here in the UK the chain Game almost went under fairly recently, it would be stupid to paint them as the bogey man here when Publishers have taken larger cuts and forced these business practices to begin with which again comes round to console makers charging higher licences due to selling at a loss (to an extent). Yes stores have bullied publishers and made demand in the past and thatís wrong of them. However they also act as storage for the copies of the game for up to a month before release and free main highstreet advertising for the games so if you want to claim the retailers are evil and Publishers are only taking ďtheir fair cutĒ then maybe retailers should take their fair cut and charge for the storage and advertising they do for new games. It would still be in this stupid stalemate so how do you sort this ? The answer is either Publishers back off with and leave more revenue and stores in turn back off asking for special deals and pre-order exclusives or people accept the industry as is and learn to live with it. Thatís all that can be done as such as while the stores arenít the evil Boogey man many would have them appear. They arenít perfect but then again you have companies pulling in in Activisionís case $1 billion on a single game before DLC then turning round pointing at the retailers and claiming they are costing them money and the phrase thatís cropped up ďWell donít we have the right to turn a profit and stay in business ?Ē To which you have to laugh and say ďYeh but so do the stores and theyíre having more of a problems than youĒ.
Now that thatís out the way I can tackle the next bit and itís a nasty one.
Creating a reason to buy the game new. †
Oh this is a bad one. The abandonment of the Online pass system claiming it was not working is or at least was an attempt to bring in a negative aspect to used games. It was a way to artificially degrade the product. To use the highly flawed car argument going round it would be the car maker coming round with a sledge hammer and hitting the car a good few times to degrade it as its not degrading on its own.†
Users didnít like this because firstly it was a hassle they had to remove the automated sledge hammer as such before they could use the game. They had to put in the code to get it functional to begin with so it was more hassle. Further down the line the online pass system became a further problem because it prevented the entry of new customers into the online environment. Games normally unless they hit it big see two main boosts on online community, firstly on release when people get the game, then down the line when the price point of most likely pre-owned reaches a level a large amount of people are happy with. When the price point is hit the word spreads and people will buy the game. Itís the Reason despite being a launch title Shadowrun was active about a year ago still it caught people in with the price point changes.
With online passes they donít do whatís known as ďWaterfallingĒ the price of that pass does not go down compared to the games price so when people see the game used for $5 but being savy consumers they know thereís an extra $5 charge to play online as such, they wonít buy it, theyíll buy something else that doesnít have a pass.
So Passes are bad because they actually give new consumers a reason to trade the games in down the line as the community dies off quicker due to people less willing to pay the additional fee so with no-one else to play online that mode publishers have insisted be tacked on to hold customers in was almost completely wasted anyway and has now caused there to be a section of the game no longer functional anyway with no real way to sort out that problem. You see to bring back the car analogy the problem is by having the sledge hammer hanging there as it turns out the thing drops on its own and damages the car of those who bought it new so you suddenly face all the new owners wanting trades on their cars because you broke it and did it in such a way its irrevocable damaged.
Now the industry have managed very successfully to give people reasons to not buy new, far more than they have to actually buy the thing new.
Pre-order bonuses. Oh this is a big one especially if itís seemingly a big chunk out of the game or something important. As someone who rarely pre-orders and honestly happily so I miss out on these. The problem is there are plenty of people out there willing to support a good product if theyíre shown it who wonít show blind faith alone in your product. Heck Publishers are more to blame for the lack of consumer faith than anyone else with them preventing reviews or information from being released before certain games they believe will fail. People who have shown blind faith have been lead along by marketing and controlled media like lambs to the proverbial slaughter so no wonder everyone isnít pre-ordering (Alien Colonial Marines, Star trek or walking Dead survival instincts anyone ?). Now those who want to buy new and support the publisher are being alienated by the Publisher. Why ? well is simple: buying new you face all the bugs and issues as the pre-order customer however youíre also having to pay more to get the pre-order bonus DLC down the line† so youíre being shown no love for supporting them then being hit with the sucker punch of having to pay more out down the line. Why buy new when you could wait and buy pre-owned down the line and make up that cost to that of a new copy by buying pre-order DLC.
This leads into a potential solution for the used games system which has been tried but not to a big extent. The ďjustificationĒ for day one DLC is this ďWell our developers are still being paid so we get them to make some more things for the game before we get the sales figures and decide on potential DLC making, weíre paying them anyway so we think itís right for them to be making a product we can then sellĒ. Now companies area already making content, heck theyíre already making exclusive pre-order content.
Hereís an insane idea why not rather than have it as pre-order DLC or day one DLC include it with new copies of the game. Put a code in and allow people to download the content if they bought a new copy of the game, this would have to be content not cut from the game as seen in some Pre-order exclusives and to work best it would have to be a visual thing if itís a multiplayer game. Would I have bought Mass effect 3 new on day one if the Prothean DLC thing the robot dog and the Normandy bathrobe in game had come with the game ? Oh course I would. Some games have tried this such as Fable II and The Saboteur already but itís not gone out much further than that most companies have seemingly been unwilling to provide content free with the game. Rather than seeing the content made before launch as something to sell separately why not simply make it something that adds to sales of the game itself ? Day One DLC detracts and people think theyíll wait a bit if they have to buy DLC. Pre-order DLC does the same. DLC in the box is a nice thing.
†I received Saints Row 3 as a gift and due to something going on Amazon had included the pre-order DLC with all new copies not just pre-ordered ones. I was very happy with this as sure it was a gift so I hadnít paid but it was adding more to the gift. With WWE I waited till I could get it for £25 then you know what I did ? I bought the DLC season pass for £15 meaning in reality I paid £40 (the normal release price) for the game and the DLC now from that DLC pass sale Microsoft would have taken a cut so if that DLC season pass had been with the new game rather than the 30% cut going to Microsoft it could have been going to the store instead. Heck even a 20% cut from the store price going to the store would mean youíre making 10% more than you would from Microsoft. Also youíre getting in those all important early sales which could more as it means stores are more likely to buy another copy to replace the sold one from the distributors, who due to it being early on still have copies from the print run to shift even not making more money via the sale initially it could prompt further sales.
Why did I used to keep going back to the same independent shop mostly to buy my games and even browse ? Because they made me feel valued. I bought a game and it was ďhey we got given a load of posters by the publishers, take a fewĒ or when I bought a fair few games it was ďYeh the Publisher sent us through some randoms bits, here have a limited edition Halo key ring and an exclusive Xbox 360 Stranglehold faceplateĒ. They made me feel like I was being rewarded with something I could see for buying from them, not simply numbers of some kind on a screen or some points numbers. Hence the need to actually include content not something you can unlock easily with normal play.
Online the Gold Weapons in previous Gears of War games were something very desirable so it shows how having something cool, silly and cosmetic can reward gamers by allowing them to show off to an extent. Does it make them better ? No. Is it bragging rights ? Yes to an extent it is.
With many games DLC is used to fund further support of the game, unless your name is Activision who who will charge high premium DLC prices then abandon support for COD a year later anyway. With the Idea of DLC supporting the game in the long run this should give you the perfect incentive to have people wanting to play and pick up the game down the line. If you donít want to reform the new sales market then this is a separate way to do it. The present problem is DLC is released at a price point then it very rare it slides in price. Some games have done this with combined map packs down the line and it has upset consumers who bought the DLC earlier on however they already did that with the game. So why shouldnít DLC water fall too ?
I came later to this gen and as such bought up some pre-owned copies of launch games and was kind of shocked when Iíd paid £5 for Perfect Dark Zero (I like it no matter what people may say) only to find there was paid DLC which cost £5 to buy. Now am I going to spend as much as I paid for the game, or now potentially more than I paid for it, to buy the DLC ? No Iím not unless itís the best game ever and was a forgotten 1 mile wide gold nugget of a game. If DLC were price appropriately and fell in price Iíd happily buy into it. The £15 season pass on WWE was good because it was less than the price of the game, when youíre releasing a £40 game and the season pass is £40 worth of points or £35 worth of points on top, people wonít be happy. Sure down the line they might buy the pass if its available but they wonít buy it right away for a high price theyíll buy it when they feel like another game or would normally buy another game. By allowing DLC prices to waterfall it will mean down the line users will be more interested in buying DLC as its cheaperish and the DLC is now also reaching this price point consumers want. It seems mad that games will happily drop in price in stores but the content for them doesnít online.
Why the industry needs to change
At present in the industry itís reaching the point where publishers and retailers are facing mutually assured destruction. I know it sounds alarmist †and an exaggeration to say this but the following is true ďWe stand on the verge of the second great video games crashĒ. Publishers using the ďfriendsĒ the console makers have wheeled out the nukes and placed them in the cuban cigar shop opposite the retailers and are ready to fire. The retailers have no idea whatís about to happen and can only try their best to appease them. The problem being the retailers canít give in as was shown by Game theyíre not in a good way, not really, they canít take losing the pre-owned market too especially not to the extent thatís being talked about with £35 license fees or at best the store getting 10% and having to pay 90% to the Publishers. It will cripple them and unfortunately the big nukes of the retailers will end up going off in retaliation. The nukes being the market share they hold. If 30% of Xbox 360 consoles have never been online thatís 30% at least who buy physical games.
A 30% market capacity being wiped out from videogaming would be near lethal to an industry with already having hugely bloated costs and already not meeting these perceived required / target sales. Now that 30% is a minimum loss of market share. Yes Iím sure people were thinking 30% is maybe survivable but the truth is it will be more. I donít have my payment details saved on console, I donít have them saved on steam. Part of how I budget means I go to the store, pay money for the games there (or by card and be told how much Iím paying) for digital games I will buy a set amount of credit as such and then once that credit is gone I have to decide again to top up or wait. The cost doesnít mount up as I donít spend a small amount here and there, I buy in huge fixed blocks as such. Iím sure Iím not the only one who does this either. Heck unless you are old enough to have a card you can use to buy things then itís either convince your parents to let you use theirs or you buy in a physical store. I donít know how much children still account for the market but Iím going to guess itís enough to hurt if they stop. Not only will it hurt by removing children from the hobby initially but down the line thereís less of a consumer base. Sure some of us will be playing Legend of Zelda in care homes in the future no doubt but present customers wonít be around forever.
By killing retailers the children are mostly lost and so is the future of the industry, you also lose parents who buy the system for children and will buy games. Donít doubt the power of the pocket-money crowd, toy manufacturers definitely donít doubt that and pester power with it. No highstreet would mean the pretty unsustainable costs at present would suddenly become a giant problem. With it taken maybe 2 months for a store to go under full and 1 -5 years to develop games which will already have their budget etc, the explosion of the death of retail would cripple an industry already struggling to an extent, it would start a slide in revenue that could go on for many years into the future unless retail were re-established or a method created that allowed pocket money to pay for games without the use of credit cards or retail (and best of luck figuring out how to do that one).
The worst thing is being only one of many forms of entertainment if the convenience left then customers would too and suddenly online and social gaming get hit too. Less people playing means less people to populate games and they die quicker and quicker Social gaming dies its own undignified death and takes more of the market with it too.
This hasnít happened yet and may never happen but this is why Iíve been spurred to write this article, because I like gaming and while this is but one of many potential futures, this one is easily avoidable.
So to summarise what can be done and to an extent needs to be done to avoid this.
-Publishers need to start acting like responsible adults and working with sensible budgets and doing things like telling investors the truth before investors become disillusions and pull the money out themselves
-Retailers and Publishers need to start to talk again, theyíre meant to be working together and while you could each screw one another over it will only harm both in the end.
-Developers and publishers need to stop practices that put consumers off and reward people for supporting them, not just those who have complete blind faith in them
†-Companies need to adjust prices to the market and stop trying to have a monopoly control on all pricing. No company ever will when a consumer can simply not take the goods and go to another industry to be entertained they need to realise if they want money they have to meet the consumers on their terms
-Potentially look into other revenue sources or reform existing ones to provide sustained profit rather than quick flashes of cash.
† -Stop blaming used games for all their problems
So do you believe gaming can be saved or will mutually assured destruction happen as Publishers kill of retailers ?
Who will blink first ?
So with the Xbox One reveal event having finally occurred I did my silly blog mocking it with loads of silly jokes already, so there will be less of that in this blog, though there will still be some because itís so easy to mock.†
Since the release its seemed like a the train has left the rails and now Iím watching it continue to skid along. It says something about the reaction from gamers that Microsoft have actually had to open a new forum section to contain it all on their forums.
So with more information pouring out I thought it was time for a slightly more serious post mortem because the reveal definitely fell dead.
What we got to see at the reveal and from the post reveal information was that this is less of a console for gamers and more one for the people in suits, the publishers and the old media crowd.
The idea of adding a fee to activate used games which rumours are now saying could here in the UK be £35 which reeks of trying to please the publishers due to the perception of used game sales harming new sales. So I think itís worth going down the winding rabbit hole and working out whatís the cause here, luckily for me part of this was done in the Xbox forum and someone there hit upon the main cause.
So before I begin I want you to forget about this noble idea that used games sales are harming the developers. The developer has been paid, very few developers get extra pay based on sales. The extent developers benefit from new sales is that the publishers are please so will be more likely to invest in future projects for that studio. Developers are every much paid to work and so youíre not giving much more than a slight amount of job security to a developer by buying new. Its Publishers who generally reap the large profits in. So now Iíve hopefully stopped you thinking this is the little developer vs the big gamestop and now itís the smaller Gamestop vs the bigger Publisher.
Until this generation here in the UK our version of Gamestop simply called Game was able to comfortably run on just new sales alone, it was almost know for the fact there were no pre-owned games there at all. It was the giant store with prime spots in highstreets in towns. This generation it nearly collapses and a few years before collapsing brought in a heavier and heavier push towards pre-owned.
What could be said is that due to Game brokering very lucrative deals with Publishers it could beat most independent stores prices by getting a lower unit price on stock by buying in large bulk and due to the power of the shop name and how dominant it was, or at least was seen to be. Its only real rival Gamestation actually ended up being absorbed into it in a way and has basically been killed off. Most independent retails also crumbled in part due to Gameís domination and in part due to higher unit costs being placed by the publishers. With independents dead pretty much Game thought it had total market control, heck at one point the UK business watchdog were thinking of investigating it for holding a monopoly on the market. However with no independent stores buying games and being real rivals the Publishers saw no reason to cut these special deals to Game and as such the unit price was able to rise for game, the only other highstreet or town game retailers being HMV and supermarkets really didnít need to rely on the games sales alone to keep running.
So Game was hit quite hard by unit price rises while say HMV or Asda could compensate by using profit from other areas to cover lower revenue from game sales. Heck there was a huge controversy over Asda wanting to sell Red Dead Redemption at a low price and Rockstar refusing to allow them as Asda would have been selling the games at lower than the unit cost to buy them. Now youíre thinking thatís madness right ? A company selling a product below cost price to consumers, well the supermarkets the idea of footfall is important, more customers in and stores designed in specific ways mean the cost of getting a customer into the store by taking a loss on the game means they hope to use their in store psychological design tricks to get people to buy more than just that game. To supermarkets the loss from the sale is worth it to get you in the store due to the potential returns. Suddenly Game is in the position smaller independent shops were in, it canít get the deals off the Publishers and it also canít subsidise to beat the supermarkets. As Publishers ask for more money for the stock from Game they had to do something. That something was used games.
You see while plenty of people will claim used games are a blight on the market and harming the industry and will proudly claim that the publishers are just taking their rightful money used games are the way Game and others like it make up for their own share being taken from them slowly by the publishers. Itís estimated at present Games stores make maybe 10% on a new game sale, before this generation it was estimated at 20-30%, thatís a fair change in revenue there.
Heres the catch that was pointed out on the forums though. Console licensing fees for developers / publishers have also been going up, apparently theyíre actually higher now than theyíve been well ever. So Publishers are passing this cost on the stores who canít or wonít pass it on to customers who wonít want to be paying even more for games. The reason for the higher licensing costs is the subsidy. Unless your name is Nintendo youíre selling at a fair loss per console, this is the first generation Nintendo has sold at a loss, a small one but still a loss. By selling the console at a loss, first started heavily by the Original Xbox really, you rely upon getting a larger installed user base to buy the games Publishers and as such recoup the losses through the license.
To use the car analogy going round this would be a car company deliberately selling a car cheaper than cost then charging fuel companies to allow their fuel to run the car. What this would mean is rather than working for the customer the company is now more reliant upon another group to actually make its main money so to them they see in this case Publishers as the people to please and not the customer. Heck I donít blame them to an extent for thinking this as the Dreamcastís apparent failure was blamed on lack of support from Publishers.
So this goes a way to explaining the reasoning behind the no used games rumour that may or may not still be happening as Microsoft seems to change its mind daily on whatís going on with this and hasnít managed one definitive statement as such, though with EA getting rid of online passes and being partnered with MS Iíll take a guess at the answer to 1 + blank being 2. So now weíve established the Xbox One isnít being made for us customers itís being made for the men in suits to like.
Lets take a look at the other concerns and aspects coming to light over the console some of which are also aimed at making men in suits happy.
What I wasn't going to make a Kinect 2.0 one yet as kinect 2 looks far less scary †
With the kinect 2.0 coming being shown off with high levels of detail and even apparently being able to detect your pulse it seems very cool, then you get told it has to always be connected and functional for the console to operate, suddenly that cool extra things has become another mandatory piece of hardware for the system to operate. Itís become yet another thing that could break and stop the system working. How annoying would it be for your Kinnect 2 to break and suddenly your whole console doesnít work.
This should worry people because now Publishers are being given the means to enforce any silly requirement or whim they have. Publishers no longer have to go through the law and legal channels to try and enforce stupid things that would never be passed, they can do it themselves essentially getting round the law.
So now the privacy concerns round this have been raised as it will essentially always be on as long as there is power and as such could be monitoring and collecting information. The case against worrying about this are as follows.
1)[font=Times New Roman]† † † "[/font]Well you have facebook right companies just get your information from there anyway so why do you care ?"
2)[font=Times New Roman]† † † "[/font]So youíre scared of the government spying on you, they can do that any time they want through most thing you have ?"
3)[font=Times New Roman]† † †"†[/font]They wouldnít do that, itís not worth it for them, heck itís not even legal is it ?"
To address these. With Facebook I volunteered my information as such in exchange for the service. I pay for facebook with my information. With the Xbox One it would be $500 and then $50 a year for live or something like that, so Iím paying to potentially have Kinect capture any information it wants, I am not able to specify what information it collects. With Facebook I can control what it collects about me and knows with Kinect 2 I donít have that control.
Iím not scared of the government spying on me, I realise they can do that any time they wish, what I have to hope is itís in my best intention that they are doing this, the idea of a government monitoring things to stop crimes and prevent deaths. So no I donít fear the government doing it. What I do fear is private companies being able to do this and buy access to the data essentially. Do I want them to know I lounged around at 2am on a Saturday in my underpants playing Defiance ? Well not really but they would get to know things like that, the argument could be put forward about the invasive nature of airport body scanners. The reason people are fine with them is simply because theyíre for security. Now kinect 2.0 can measure your heart beat allegedly has IR imaging capability and is in your home. This is almost an airport body scanner in your home and itís not for security but can be used for profit.
Why would they do this ?
Money plain and simple, for years companies have wanted to learn more about their consumers, the better tailor their products and to better reach their customers. One market research group buying up 5 years of the twitter archives shows companies want to know more about is and the Kinect 2 is the wet dream of any marketing department, eyes and ears in the living room.
Itís not legal though right ?
Well this is a point of contention as one user on the Xbox forums found this little gem in the present TOU contract.
"If you use the Xbox console with Kinect, we may also collect data about the way in which you interact with the console and the Services to improve Microsoft products and services. "
"You should not expect any level of privacy concerning your use of the live communication features (for example, voice chat, video and communications in live-hosted gameplay sessions) offered through the Xbox LIVE/Games for Windows-LIVE service. "
"When you use Voice Search, all voice commands are sent to Microsoft and stored to provide the Voice Search Service and improve Microsoft products. If you use Voice Search, you consent to Microsoft recording and collecting your voice input to provide the Voice Search Service and improve Microsoft products."
It says there in legal speak if you use Xbox Live even at present its saying you throw away your right to privacy. Iíve always considered Live as a public place and been aware of data and message storage so this come as no shock to me. It might however come as a little bit of a shock to others especially those of you presently using Kinect.
Now in the EU TOU contracts have been considered legally void as such, they are not legally binding contracts and cannot as such breach EU laws. Itís debatable how much they cover the company on a legal stand point as no-one has really challenged a TOU contract in court yet over the legality of part of it. Essentially while TOU isnít legally binding in the EU in the US there isnít a ruling on it yet so youíre very much open to the TOU being law. However even if it isnít set as law Publsihers going through MS can use Kinect 2 as a potential enforcement tool to enforce TOU they set out without needing legal backing to apply ďcorrective measuresĒ. Xbox One is giving the Lynch mob the guns , rope and horses to go out and enforce ďfrontier lawĒ as they see fit.
Now as a towns person of the Internet do I fear the government ? No, not really. Do I Fear the impact of a lynch Mob ? Hell yes.† Remember when the internet rallied against SOPA as one ? well the Publishers and entertainment industry can now enforce that to an extent through Xbox One, sure it not the full SOPA but itís more than people should accept done. People really shouldnít stand back and accept this.
This is without then going on to consider the impact on games. In the conference itself the following was said ďYou might be playing a game and have to raise your controller in front of your face to raise your shieldĒ why on earth would adding a second control scheme like that into games be a good idea or required ? Iím going to imbed a previous Jimquisition for people who havenít seen it now about Developers adding gimmicks not because they add to gameplay, they often donít, but imply because they can in the name of innovation.
So yeh Kinect 2 might force its way more into games like the Wii waggle mechanics did.
Edit: In breaking news the Germany government is thinking of banning the sale of Xbox One due to the potential intrusive nature of the Kinect 2.0
Always Connected †
Worrying the always on Kinect rumour feeds nicely into the always online rumour, even the idea of checking in. Why ? Because obviously to send feedback and recording the console at some point must connect to the internet to send the information. Even if itís not once every 24 hours as some reports say it sound like it will have to connect at some point and not be useable entirely offline forever because how else will they get that collected data back. What theyíre most likely going to do is heavily subsidise the console then use the sale of information to make up this cost.
What this of course means is The Xbox wonít be portable anymore as such, well not portable but moveable. Suggestions so far are hospitals and the likes of childís play will be impacted along with serving troops who use consoles to help relax. Also it brings up questions for those who donít have consistent internet or what people will be able to do if day some idiot in a ski mask decides itís a great idea to steal all the cables from the any exchange box in their area.
Oh and thats without someone pointing out to me recently that if itís all cloud saving youíll need an Xbox Live membership potentially to just say your games. Thatís right £35 a year just to have the power to save your games.........yeh.
So one positive announcement that is actually positive that came from this was the announcement that the XBL friends list limit will be upped to 1,000 next gen. To which Iíd like to be a little entitled and say ďWhat the hell took so long ?Ē In the early days of Live when someone asked what XBL went to pay for, I pointed to the old Xbox servers and said weíre paying to keep those games running because people still play and love them. Then Microsoft shut down old Xbox live claiming that it was halting progress and that with it gone weíd get more than 100 friends. It didnít happen this generation so Iím now retroactively angry about something I kind of accepted in the name of progress even if I wasnít happy with it, at the time. Itís actually made Microsoft appear worse because itís taken this long. Sure theyíre finally listening to consumers but when they claimed to be listening years ago it begs the question what took so long and why remove Old Xbox Live so early if you wouldnít up the friends list till a whole generation later ?
More Servers †
Now this was something I should have liked until a few things were mentioned. The of using cloud computing (because that worked oh so well with Sim City) and then the idea of online servers, which I should love, the problem with this being the slight mention that companies can buy access to these servers. Microsoft arenít known for charging competitively for hosting things, they really arenít thatís why EA hosts its own servers and other developers did this generation. This wonít be every game getting a dedicated server this might lead to a few but Microsoft will be taking more from the developers / publisher to allow this to happen so most developers / publishers wonít use it simply due to potential costs.
The console itself. †
Ok I get it Microsoft listened to some people in the industry who claimed they wanted their console to seem more mature and refined and less like childish lumps of plastic hence the design. The problem is it doesnít really do much different, I never objected to the childish lumps of plastic because at least they look different and compared to some things they actually donít look as childish. In terms of making a console more Adult I honestly think the only way would have been to give the console boobs as itís not really going to work. Also at least with the design people are pointing out is very much like many 90s designs, it could have gone 80s and we might have had a wood panelled console.
Though Iím really not sure if it looks better or worse wood panelled.
Ok this looked better, Iíll give them that. I really like the design though Iím someone who still wants another company to go the Wii route and make a split controller. Apart from that it did seem like a nice redesign with the battery compartment being kept as part of it and this is one of the few things I will say they got one over on Sony. You can use your own batteries and not have to rely on built in rechargeable batteries which you canít replace easily yourself.
The Games †
Well what we saw was plenty of pre-rendered bullshot nonsense and no actual gameplay as such. Eagle eyed viewers even spotted errors in the pre-rendered stuff akin to the famous no bullets gaff in previous pre-rendered stuff. Here Sony did it right, they had people on and they did at least show what seemed to be gameplay in their trailers. You could see the execuspeak kick into high gear on the COD Ghosts presentation with the ďSide by SideĒ comparison where it wasnít side by side.
Then there was the news about waiting for E3 for the other reveals, well from the presentation hereís a picture of the possible games based on the menu screen.
TV, TV TV, TV TV TV TV, TV TV
So the idea of Watching TV on the Xbone sounds meh at best as there not much TV I really watch live. Then it was pointed out on release it will only work in the US, and I was shocked I mean if theyíre going for this casual wider audience then cutting about 90% of the worldís population out of a feature initially isnít a great idea. Oh but it got worse you see as it turns out you actually already need a cable box to use the service as apparently Xbone doesnít have a built in decoder. So for me to use the TV functions if they even come to the UK it would be like this.
The decode bones connected to the Xbone, the Xbone connected to the TVbone all to watch TV.
Oh but it gets worse you see the initial indications were even with this it might be able to control the Decoder via the HDMI port. Then someone noticed something on the back of the console called an ďIR BlasterĒ essentially a very powerful TV remote, so for the TV system to work now youíd have to have them connected and then have the decoder box placed behind the Xbox One. Who thought this was a good idea ? do people really have all their stuff under the TV arranged one behind the other or do most people you know have it stacked up ?††
^The only good kind of IR blaster they could have included with the console really
If anything sings old media to me itís the TV and Iím sure plenty of TV executives out there were rubbing their hands with glee at it but itís not the draw Microsoft thought it would be, not for customers.
Oh hell this was almost good with the idea of achievements being changed to reflect gaming habits rather than an arbitrary number, Iíve said before how Iíd love to see the system revamped and while not that great the revamp was starting to look good.
That was until Microsoft then patented something new.
Thats right Achievements for watching TV. If anything at all says consumer manipulation itís the idea of achievements for watching certain shows or interactions with them by say holding up a certain product or sitting through all the adverts and not wandering off to make a brew. Not only does this kill the idea of achievements being for achieving something it once again highlights how this is not about making the console and systems better for us but for making them better for men in suits to use to improve profit margins.
No Self Publishing †
This one hit me hard, as someone who reviews Xblig games mostly on my blog site the imminent death of the XNA and creators club has been a big concern not just for me but for all those start ups self publishing on XBLIG. Sure people will mock XBLIG games but they arenít all bad and many have found their way onto steam and found success. For Microsoft to remove their self publishing system then announce they wonít allow self publishing in the future is shocking, not least when Nintendo have relaxed their rules more to allow start ups to actually get onto the Wii U and Sony is committed more to helping indie developers. Again this is Microsoft trying to please the men in suits. Self Publishing is killing off the perceived need for publishers and Publishers donít like this, they canít offer horrible publishing deal that require developers to hand over all rights to the IP, they canít then milk those IPs to death either. Microsoft shutting the door on self publishing is a feeble attempt to please the Publishers and try to help them preserve their power in the industry. However it could well be shutting the door on its customers too.
The internal Hardware
So this has become a big sticking point firstly it nearly matches the Ps4 until people pointed out 3GB of the slower DDR3 Ram is used to run the operating system, what is this Xbox Vista ? While the PS4 can dedicate all of its faster DDR5 ram to gaming which and hereís the main point, means the PS4 is more future proof. At present its estimated that a console would need about 3-5GB of ram to run most modern PC games at close to potential, thatís at present, and while things can be optimised to run on far less on console as theyíre more of a dedicated gaming system. Needing to run far less extra stuff means less Ram is required however it does mean the PS4 could easily pull away from the Xbox One in.
500GB internal non replaceable hard drive. This sounds good until you realise youíre going to be installing games and with the average blue ray game estimated at a 50GB install file, that hard drive will fill pretty fast, also it doesnít make any concessions for say if the hard drive fails and you want to replace it. Heck even the proprietary Xbox 360 hard drives were a better idea than this as at least it allowed some degree of upgrading and personal choice while with a hard drive possibly smaller than really required and no option to change it this again leads to the idea of a heavier use of the cloud and the requirement for online connection to work.
No Backwards compatibility
Oh this is a fairly big issue for many people. Sure I can see the argument that the increased unit cost of the console would not be worth the effort and that most people donít use it anyway. However the counter argument is that you sure as hell better have a huge lot of games and one hell of a launch line up to counter this. With Backwards compatibility people can adopt the system and if they didnít have the previous one they gain access to a vast wealth of titles they didnít play before meaning to them youíve given them a far larger launch line up. For those who had the previous console they can trade in their present one and use the cash towards the new one without losing access to their games only really losing non backed up saves. They donít have to go all in for a new console and lose the ability to play their collection from the previous one, this is especially good with digital titles which if the system is traded in with no carry over those titles are essentially money lost entirely with no recuperation. Look the Wii U allowing people to pay a bit extra to upgrade their games did look slightly scummy but then they explain work was done on the games to modify and improve them and while not a great solution itís still better than the idea of releasing the whole game and getting people to pay all over again for the game itís a compromise and its one which is probably the best we were going to get at present.
Microsoft made a huge blunder here as Iíve previously mentioned they used plenty of psychological tricks to keep people invested in the system and theyíre now wearing thin. The last one they could have held onto and kept working was the investment people had already put into the system but by making them do a clean start essentially theyíve wiped the advantage of a pre-existing audience off the slate entirely and made it now just about what each company is offering. What this can mean is that Publishers can do HD remakes and updates of previous years series and try to justify charging full price for them a second time.
Skype, Internet, Snap
I lumped these together as its easier to deal with them this way. Why do people need these ? With skype sure you can call people but Iím not going to throw a party because you can do the same on the Wii U with its system. I have a laptop I can use skype on that if I want to talk to people, even then in game Iíll be using lives voice chat not skype.
Internet doesnít excite me most things have it now which brings me onto Snap. Snap sounds ok but then thereís not much real point to it, at best you might be able to pull up your music up easier while in game but other than a few things on TV where Tweeting alone live is part of the fun ( BBC question time for example) if Iím watching a film I want to watch the film not tweet and break the immersion.
Wait till E3 †
This seems to be the main comment coming out to defend the launch and well, this was our first look at the console, it was up to Microsoft to show what they thought was important and well thatís what they have shown. While Sony pretty much said about games and social. Microsoft had apparently said Star Trek more in the first 30 minutes than they had games. No-one is waiting for E3 because unless you have something monumental and ground breaking for gamers then Sony have already got some of theirs out there and while most of them I didnít think were for me they already have the lead in terms of the hype train. As I said earlier this conference wasnít for customers this was for men in suits and thereís a reason these presentations normally happen behind closed doors at business conferences.
But What of Sony ?
Another point commonly brought up is that Sony havenít addressed much with their console either.
On used games all we have is
ďYou will be able to play used gamesĒ
ďWe will do right by both the consumer and the publisherĒ
Rumours say the Playstation eye will be bundled with consoles however without the requirement for an online connection (Sony have confirmed pretty much the PS4 will be able to work offline and not need to connect) the concern over information being sent back is gone. Heck we donít even know if you need the have the playstation eye connected for the console to work. If not then Sony have just achieved what Microsoft wanted to do and include something extra with the console without forcing it on people. You know something is deeply wrong with your company when Sony is coming out looking like the consumer friendly good guy.
The Damage control efforts †
Oh this is the worst of the lot, watching Microsoft damage control is just dire. Firstly theyíve claimed the media didnít report the truth yet the media were reporting what Microsoft spokes people told them so the media will be annoyed to be blamed for Microsoftís own failure to create a unified message. Then they disabled all comments on their youtube channel to prevent perceived negative press. Thatís right they essentially deleted a lot of comments and censored people on a fairly public website. As if Microsoft didnít look bad enough. Then the constant ďWait till E3Ē messages and claiming they wonít comment on rumour or speculation is further harming them as they failed to get their message out and now are refusing to put the correct one out, this makes me think they donít have a plan or message fully worked out yet themselves which is kind of worrying, at least Sony didnít put information out before having a consistent message, sure thereís unknowns with Sonyís machine but itís better to have unknowns that misinformation put out by your own staff. Oh and the amount of rather obvious viral marketers flooding the forums is getting rather silly too.
To me it looks like the Xbox One hype train has come off the rails and it keeps sliding along causing more and more damage all I can say is I hope after E3 it manages to stop sliding before hitting the Orphanage too on its trail of destruction. It will take a monumental effort from them to get this back on the rails as Sony barely need to do anything at E3 now seemingly, show the console itself them show a few more games and fill in the blanks still about and theyíll have done enough. Microsoft have a monumental effort to convince people that this is a machine for gamers, hell even for customers and not for the men in suits.
What Microsoft are seemingly doing is banking on the loyalty of fans without giving them a reason to be loyal, theyíre hoping that the market are sheep. The problem with this is if people were just going to buy the next console because they owned the previous one, the Wii U would be the selling a lot better. The truth is even the casual gamers arenít stupid, hell even the ďbro gamersĒ arenít as stupid as people make them out to be, theyíll go where they see the best stuff for them.
So who do you believe the Xbox One was made to please ?
Every day gamers
No-one at all maybe ?
Finally: thank you to the one poor C-blog recapper who got lumped with reading this one just for the recap. And anyone else who made it this far.
ďI hate this tacked on multiplayer every game seemingly needs to have now.Ē How often have you heard that said ?
The basic argument this hides is that Developers are being forced to use development time making multiplayer rather than focusing on the main game itself. As such the implication is the main game will suffer as a result. I completely respect that argument and if developers are being told by publishers they have to include multiplayer then I do agree itís wrong as developers will often have a plan for the game and multiplayer can take away from that planned time and damage the game. Quite how much damage has been done by tacked on multiplayer I canít really say as I donít think Iíve played many games which seemed to suffer as a result of multiplayer modes being present.
However thereís another side of the fence and once which every time someone moans about something being tacked on, I think back to. Many years ago in a probably now defunct magazine I read an interview done with one of the main developers of Goldeneye 64 and the subject of the multiplayer mode came up. Having been asked about the multiplayer mode the developer stated originally it was never meant to be in the game, what had happened was the developers needed a place to test the weapons out not in the levels so built a series of essentially virtual shooting galleries to test them and of course get other developers to come in too and test them on other players. The Multiplayer levels in Goldeneye are for the most part very deliberately designed with a variety of different features because this allowed the developers to test different scenarios. The developer stated approaching the end of development one of the team managers said how it was getting close to release so theyíd better pull the plug of the shooting gallery and the rest of the development tools and begin cleaning up ready to send the game to be produced. The rest of the development team kept spending their break times messing about in matches in the shooting gallery and eventually they approached the manager and mentioned how they found the thing fun and they wanted to leave it in the game because hey who knows players might also find it fun to use. The reaction was that as time was getting tight and it would take longer to fully remove from the game and make sure it caused no issues than it would to clean up the mode a bit and make it more of a game that the mode could be kept it. The Developer admitted that honestly they thought it was a silly little extra mode theyíd thrown in really and didnít expect many people to take to it.
As most people reading this are probably aware Goldeneye 64 was considered the game that popularised multiplayer modes on console. It wasnít the first multiplayer FPS out there but it was the first one to really do it well on console and have people really wanting to play it. Heck the game is so beloved there have been three attempts to revive it for more money, two have failed, the first being met with a universal ďMehĒ the second being on the Wii and considered quite good and the third got panned for being dire. Thereís even a fan mod out there trying to recreate and update the game on PC which has actually become one of the best loved ones.
So were the developers wrong ? Should they have not had this tacked on multiplayer in game ? What most developers seem to say is they already have the models and the weapons so with a few modification of existing levels multiplayer isnít that hard to add anyway and hey ďSome one might enjoy itĒ. The obvious reason for pushing multiplayer from the Publishers angle is that if people enjoy the multiplayer its less likely to be traded in early so people have an incentive to hold onto the game. As I previously said I completely understand the objection people have that development time could have been taken from the main game just to deal with publishers wishes and it could harm the main game itself. However if there were never tacked on multiplayer itís debatable if console multiplayer would be anywhere near as popular today at all as weíd never have seen it shown off so long ago in Goldeneye 64. †
So I put it to you, are ďTacked onĒ modes really the issue that should be called out or is it compromising the games planned design that should really be the issue here ?
Ok with Nintendo claiming ad revenue from Lets plays I thought rather than writing a blog bashing / defending them Iíd do a blog that might be useful to some people.
Now Iím not an expert, Iím not a copyright lawyer, none of what I say now holds legal water in court and shouldnít as gospel or used to prove your rights to someone however itís based on my own experiences. †
†Iím not a lets player, I am however a youtube partner, and I actually mean Iím a partner from before the days when anyone could monetise content, I got the old invitation email from youtube to become a partner. I havenít done a huge amount with my partnership and at present to keep going I have to work out a few things regarding software and licence changes first. However in my short spell on youtube I think Iíve dealt with copyright issues more than anything else and as Lets plays are at their core a copyright issue in waiting weíll start there.
At present Lets plays exist in the copyright grey area, more so than most things.
The argument is that itís a transformative work on the legal side of things. As such transformative works are allowed under fair use, unless itís a machine and you name is Microsoft as Rooster Teeth found out in the early days. The question is how much of a transformative work is it. Valve actually have rules governing the use of source film maker stating that you can make money but you need to make your own characters and props and canít profit off their characters. Thatís Valve saying that.
The Logic argument goes like this. You can play a board game or game of chess and show that on youtube without having to pay royalties to the maker of those. The inventor of footballís family donít receive royalties still for every match of football played and shown on TV not that goes guess what the players. The experience of a game should be in the playing not just the watching, unless youíre Rise to honour on PS2 in which case watch away because itís better than playing it. As games strive to become more like films both budget and spectacle wise itís debatable if theyíre losing the fun factor in playing them, but thats a blog for another day.
How can a game look this good but play so awkwardly, seriously who thought using the thumbsticks only was a good idea for a fighting game ?†
So now you know Lets plays arenít exactly protected by law only logic. Technology is evolving faster than laws can keep up and the digital media copyright act while a compromise itís a compromise where neither side really got their way. Companies can still screw with people doing transformative pieces and yet big companies donít get to fully decide and dictate the rules entirely. However knowing the rules of this work well for you. Basically one of the rules states that if a company wrongly DMCAís you then you are not only entitled to compensation but also all perceived lost revenue and expenses brought about by the DMCA claim. That piece of information alone is a huge cannon for you in reserve.
So are there any games you can legally letís play and not get in trouble ?
Well any game can bet lets played however you need to seek permission first. Starting out expect to have to take time and expect to be contacting companies, most likely PR or sales team to discuss doing a lets play of their game and explaining how youíre seeking their permission because you wish to monetise it. Youíll find companies far more helpful that youíd think if you spin it to make them sound like theyíre getting something out of it, explain why you want to monetise your content to them briefly saying it will help further improve quality going forward. Explaining why is a good thing as not everyone realises that people do need this ad money to improve. Hereís a reviewer called Linkara who hosts a comic book review show talking about ad revenue a bit for you and more specifically ad block.
You see itís not till you start using an ad funding service that you really realise what ads pay and how many people view them in reality. Iíd estimate on my youtube and blog at best 40% of people view the ads, thatís based on view feedback I receive both on the adverts and on the content itself. Heck My blog doesnít even register you reading the article if you have an ad blocker on it only registers that a person visited the place so I can easily look at the individual article views for the day and compare that to the total views. Put it this way, if I lived off my site I might manage one thing off the McDonalds $1 menu a week to live and nothing more, not rent or anything else like that, to get decent pay you need the hits or a contract of sorts with a youtube network. With Blip TV the pay is different to youtube as youtube pays more for ad impressions, a single Ad click can make fifty times what 200 views of the ad make. Iím not even joking thatís impression based adverts. Now True View ads those unskippable 20 second or so one pay more than the skippable ones but still less than an ad impression Blip Pays pretty much a set amount per X views which is the same as youtube networks normal policies (I'll talk about them later )
Congratulations youíre now aware of the stark reality of youtube and if youíre still reading this then you should be someone who should do lets plays as youíre in this for more than the money.
So a lot of you are probably sitting here wondering what the hell are you supposed to do when every game needs permission to lets play it. Well itís not quite true there are at present a few games you can lets play without permission they are:
Scrolls (The upcoming card game by Mojang)
DLC quest live freemium or die
Games by Team Meat, e.g. Super Meat Boy
Amnesia (fictional games)
Magicka (Paradox interactive and other games they make)
League of Legends / Riot games, being in the youtube partner program is classed as sufficient by them, though to be safe Iíd make sure youíre networked for this one.
Beat Hazard Ė fine as long as you include a link to where viewers can buy the game though you then need a license to use the music separately
Chivalry Medieval Warfare
Garyís Mod Ė though its iffy due to Valve model content but still its there.
Kerbal Space program Ė A link and the copyright holders name is sufficient for them
Towns Ė Link to the somewhere the game is sold
Unofficially Guild wars 2, they claim itís against their terms but itís been hinted they have an intentional blind spot when it comes to fan stuff.
Valve Ė taken from their Legal page ďYou are free to monetize your videos via the YouTube partner program and similar programs on other video sharing sites. Please don't ask us to write YouTube and tell them its fine with us to post a particular video using Valve content. It's not possible to respond to each such request. Point them to this page.Ē
Perfect World games
Trion worlds - but its iffy as you need to adhere to certain advert restrictions and set adsense up to fit so the following doesnít happen, no adverts from Trion competitors (so no other MMO, FPS or RTS) No gold farming / farmer adverts. The content of adverts must keep with the ESRB for the game.†
These titles have had their developers pretty much publicly come out and said people can do monetised lets plays of them. Minecraft and Scrolls have specific stipulations with them first you must make it clear you are in no way connect to or speak for the developer (I know obvious right but itís just incase) and secondly you must actually make it your own somehow by at least adding a commentary track to play or doing cool video editing stuff. Essentially the Mojang requirements are that you make it a transformative piece then you can make money as youíve at least done something with it which Iíd say is fair enough as I can see the argument against just plain straight through plays with nothing added being original content as such. Itís kind of shocking to me at least that more indie developers arenít getting on this train officially as hey, itís publicity and as games are seeing coverage really does help them, especially in the Indie scene where people are more likely to not buy your game because theyíve never heard of it than any other perceived monster in the room stealing sales, except pirates, but then the only way to stop Pirates is pretty much to just screw with them as DRM will be cracked in only weeks anyway. Basically if you want to begin as a lets player, youíre best asking indie developers because chances are theyíll not have marketing agents and PR guys breathing down their neck and will go ďYeh sure why notĒ also youíll normally find them easier to contact and quicker to respond.
So now onto general etiquette things once youíve got ready at last. First always make sure you state in video descriptions, the name of the game, who owns it and importantly here that youíve got permission to do it (because you should have got it, if you donít then you canít put this and have little defence initially to stop the video going down). So also record or screen grab a copy of the email giving you permission to lets play the game, place this in an unlisted video, Iíll explain why in a bit. So youíve made sure people know who made the game, what it is and said you are not associated with them and your views do not represent the developers or publishers, they are your own views. Finally having done that itís time to make sure youíre giving your dues to the developer / publisher, add in a link to where people can get the game and link it using a bit url. You see the advantage of placing a bit URL instead of the standard URL is simply this, you can track how many people are going through it to the game, itís a simple process of adding a + after the URL Iíve been lead to believe.
So now how to deal with it still going pear shaped. Your first content ID match. Itís important to stay calm at this point, itís going to happen and if youíve prepared as Iíve set out you should be more than ready to deal with this. Once you hit maybe 1,000 views on a single video expect to see matches begin to show for your videos maybe not even the 1,000 hit one but others too as youíve been noticed and you donít know who by so itís time to carry on and find out.
So firstly check who is claiming the content and what they are claiming, youtube will tell you who is claiming and what part of the video they are claiming. Now you know the publisher and you know the developer for the game, if itís not one of them then search to find out who it is. Like it or not out there are some real nasty pieces of smeg who actually make considerable money out of people by false claiming videos and taking ad revenue because some people just accept it or donít bother fighting them. You will be fighting them, armed with your research into who they are and that they lack a claim, dispute the claim and point out the actual content owners and state you already have permission from them to do this video and that you believe the person now claiming has no rightful claim to the content. After having done that remind them itís illegal to file false DMCA claims if you are not the content owner or associated with them. Most of the copyright leeches will back down at this point because well they know you are in the right and also that you can call in the big guns of youtube or the actual owners against them. Even if theyíre not scared of you, the fact they are claiming ad revenue and ownership of content someone else owns can open them up to the company suing them.
If itís the Publisher / developer dispute the claim stating fair use, pointing out that you have their permission to do this and linking to the unlisted video to show you have this and finally being able to give them referral statistics from the bit URL to prove people are being sent over and that they are potentially getting sales and publicity from your videos. You donít need to go in strong here as chances are itís an auto detection and not the company being dicks and going after you. Iíve had it before on a 5 second audio clip from South Park in a 30 minute video, the South Park creators were actually amazing about it, I disputed and actually got a message apologising for being picked up, removing the claim and how they liked the video and wished me all the best in the future. This is the problem with an automatic system, it canít spot fair use vs blatant copying. So now youíve learned not to rage right away at the company and that the makers of South Park are some of the coolest guys around.
So the next step, most companies will having had the error pointed out, correct it. Not every company but at this point most know youíre either not some sap or that youíve done everything right and are potentially helping them in the case of the actual publishers / developers. However you should know what to do if they decide to not play ball still. On youtube as a verified publisher you have the option to file a dispute, do not do this yet, filing a dispute is the equivalent of taking off and throwing down the gloves and telling the company to take their best shot, by this I mean court, you do not want court. Chances are the company doesnít want court either as if theyíre in the wrong and you fight them, theyíre screwed but itís costly to do this and they have far more resources than you, in the end neither of you will likely truly win.
So what you have to do is contact the company again. Youíve done it once already so donít feel too bad. So write to them, linking your video and pointing out that you believe itís merely a mistake on their part that you have their permission to do this and that youíd appreciate them correcting the issue. Essentially youíre stating what you did in the dispute because you never know it might have been a monkey who checked out the dispute so going directly to the company youíre talking to the organ grinder. Emailing a company can scare the hell out of them because youíre walking up to their own turf as such and calling them to answer, sure the emails are private but youíre approaching them in a way where you are equals. They have no team of lawyers to defend them with emails, they can either respond or not, not responding gives you more ammo as you can say, ďHey look I did what I was meant to and went out my way to sort thisĒ. This ammo companies know can be used against them, not in a court of law but in the public domain. I have dealt with Apple, yes that Apple this way, I had them claiming ownership of a public domain song Iíd used and approached them this way after they blocked my video from being viewable in all but 4 countries world wide. I had disputed and had it rejected so I pointed out how I wanted them to prove to me that they had the right to the song. Having done this I got an email back thanking me for bringing the error to their attention and they would correct it and release the claim immediately. Its best to allow companies at least 2 weeks to reply before carrying on though.
What I wanted a picture of a monkey in this blog†
If youíre contacting a company other than the developer or publisher, also contact the developer / publisher and tell them whatís happening and ask them to help, after all its someone else who doesnít have permission making money off both yours and their content, companies can enter the fight if they feel itís worth it. I managed to get mockbuster makers The Asylum to help me before after a company put false claims on a video, I did however offer them something in return and it was that if they copyright claimed it Iíd allow them to display adverts or have a share of the revenue. For me I wanted the video up and while I wasnít getting paid for the video it allowed it to stay up and hopefully got The Asylum to realise Iím not that bad and am a reasonable person. They used resources to help me so I was paying them back in a way. If youíve already got permission to do the lets play then the company will not need the concession from you as theyíve given their consent already and itís in their interest to make people aware of needing that consent.
If nothing so far has worked and youíre now seemingly left with only the dispute option. This one is up to you and I have had no experience with this and as it can lead to court you have to consider what it worth to you. At this stage if the developer / publisher hasnít backed down (because no copyright leech will have lasted this long especially if you get the actual owners involved) you have to look at what itís worth to you, as I said I have a video with adverts with ad revenue going to The Asylum because they were good to me and helped fight off a far more aggressive false claim. If you simply want your content out there and for the fans as such and donít care about the money this time then you can let it stay however if youíre running on just that lets play you might consider ending it an stating why to your fans. If you want to take the shouty moral stance without court you can flip the developer and publisher one giant last middle finger. They want your video and ad revenue, well you private the video. Itís a giant screw you as it stop them making anything, they canít stop you doing this either, itís the last great stalemate you can bring it to where no-one wins and they lose your revenue coming in and the free advertising on one cut. Then you can make a video explaining to your fans what happened, what you did to try and sort it out and as such why you wonít be carrying on that content or why itís gone. Well done youíve just managed to make the company look the fool in public and not only stopped them making money off you but probably cost them a fair bit in the good will stakes as they can be seen to not be a company of their word.
So youíre expanding, youíre developing your lets play channel, youíre getting the hits and the revenue you want to expand, what do you do now ?
Well first if youíre doing well itís time to network. In the present youtube system while you earn far more as a private individual it also gives you a lot more legwork as you have to fight every claim and seek that permission. The idea of networks is they do the deals for you. They pay you a set amount per number of hits which will be less than a very loyal audience can make you on ads but by how much depends on your audience.†
Networks for the most part will scout you and approach you if they want. There are some networks you can approach. I believe the networkHappy Cabbie is with does allow you to apply if youíre reaching certain hits and have a certain subscriber count. Picking a network is important, first they need to understand your content and needs from them; second make sure your obligation to them is clear to you, some networks are fine with as and when content while others require a minimum content production. Along with production check the contact length and make sure itís not one of the hellish permanent lifetime contracts some of the less reputable networks are passing round, the standard contract or so I hear is 2 years. Networks are designed to protect you, they are meant to deal with publishers and developers to sort out content deals so you can lets play as you wish without having to worry about copyright fights again. Once in a network if you have a video copyright claimed either falsely or by the publisher / developer your first port of call is your network, you donít dispute the claim just take it to the network. At present Nintendo arenít playing ball with the networks and are still claiming content and as such ad revenue so yeh being in a network isnít protection from everything but it is protection enough for most things.
So now youíve made it all through this article youíre ready to lets play, that is once youíve got the machine that can record content, the copy of fraps and a decent microphone. Hopefully now you know a little more about how to do this thing called lets playing a bit safer and avoid most of the traps holes. Sure you might have to give up on a video or series at one point but itís something that will have to be done and hopefully make the developer / publisher realise you can just walk away if they donít want to play ball.
Happy Lets playing everyone .
So I did lovingly mock the WiiU when it came out and gave a few jibes at Sony with their console reveal but with the Xbox One, well Microsoft you blew the comic potential out the water with this one. So not only did we have a conference where possibly less was shown off than Sony, no big questions were answered or fears put a side. Sure is nice to see Microsoft totally giving people reason to stop asking about the rumours and putting them aside as everyone though, oh wait they didn't.
What we got was very much a "Look what we can do" with a streaming capture system which unlike Sony's wasn't really shown working as such just what appeared to be a demo run of it.
So I decided to give my own take on the reveal and just keep on mocking the thing.
This is my in short impression
The conference was one big smokescreen with very little said and almost playing / delaying for time. They called this conference and everyone sat up and took notice thinking they'd address something and then they didn't
So the buzz word for this presentation and implied one was Innovation and how the Xbox one was innovating, I actually decided to tally up the buzz words I expected to see and marked down every time it was used or implied.
So while we didn't get answers to those rumours about always online, no used games. XBL pricing etc we did get to know the following.
Firstly Microsoft wants us to have a new kind of relationship with our TVs
Now not to be seen as backwards and against progressive relationships or be deemed electronicaphobic I'm happy with my TV as is, heck I'm happy with electronic devices as they are, I use them and that's it.............. damn that makes me sound like an awful human now, I have no idea how to rephrase that either so I'll just leave it and carry on.
The main claim being that with the TV you'll no longer have to change inputs to be able to watch TV or play your games. Strange the Wii U lets you switch too with the controller being a remote and being able to play some games on the pad. Also Most TVs are being designed to allow multiple inputs or you can even get adaptors.
† A TV with two scarts who'd have thought it.
Look this one even has two HDMI ports.
See you can even get adaptors you can change over with a press of a button or ones that override and prioritise signals.
Also with the tv segment we got the watch the whole thing be controlled by the Kinect voice recognition system and motions. It should be noted that Kinect 2 will included as default with all consoles so that's going to add nicely to the price, also the controller was n't shown being used to navigate. Look I'm the guy who hates touch screen for the most part, I have a kindle Fire HD and use it but other than that many things I prefer using remotes for. changing the inputs on my TV at home is no chore, I don't need my xbox to do that or be my TV guide. I use either the electronic one built in or an online side I like for listings.†
What we saw is a console which is very dependent on TVs to work, trying to take over their function........ oh dear this is just as many have suggested.
secondly we learned how much the kinect 2 can do
the big announcement being that†ďIt can read your heartbeatĒ
ok so it looks like they've improved the thing and let it track more. The problem is we don't know if the damn thing works any better as more points and trackable things means it could be more easily confused unless you have a big open space the size of the stage. Also the "better with kinect" idea was hinted to be going a step further and forcing kinect use. Remember how people moaned about waggle mechanics in Wii games, oddly something I had and still have little objection to as its kind of part of the controller function. Well some games might require you to make motions while using the controller, you know like that game that did it so well, Steel†Battalion†[/sarcasm]. So now you're having to use two†separate†control methods. The example given of raising a controller infront of you to raise a shield, for the love of the great green arkleseizure just stick it on one of the buttons there's enough we don't need a whole extra control method to supplement the controller.†
If there was one thing I could praise the Wii on its the controller, I love that thing, the split controller design was perfect for me as it didn't force my hands into a certain spot or make it feel like they were too cramped or too stretched.
We also saw a look at the new controller with its "New" internal battery, just like the PS3 pads have. Now if you've got a Microsoft play and charge kit, you'll probably join me in saying you hope their internal battery is better than the play and charge one otherwise expect to be playing plugged in within 6 months or buying a new controller / paying to have the battery replaced.
Xbox Live is being expanded now in the presentation the implication was that more people on Live and expanding it that way is making it better. Strange because the more people on live the more people like this I run into.
The reality that was suggested more than outright said was a very simple one.†
What was being claimed an an innovation here really isn't going to sound that impressive to PC users or many console users who know about certain companies actions. Dedicated servers available from Microsoft for companies to use, for a fee of course. No doubt an†exorbitant fee which will mean companies won't want to, this would also explain why EA are suddenly so keen on this partnership as no doubt they'll get a better deal on them.
Its good to see this finally coming to console "about bloody time" some people will no doubt say. The question is will this cost us more ?
What was mentioned was how live was bringing†ďExciting new ways to play and have funĒ†
There will be a new COD
well we kind of all knew this was happening but still it was shown off and we were expected to clap and applaud for this†supposed†upgrade its getting.†
what got me about this section was trotting the idea of adding a dog you'll care about into the game.†
Seems such an innovation right ?
Seriously the way they were talking was that this was some grand new concept no-one had ever come up with, I don't know if I should ask if they've been talking with Peter Molyneux or completely ignoring him and his work.
Oh and calling it now, the dog dies at some point and we'll have PETA up in arms again because its COD.
Ok so then they said about dynamic maps with changing landscapes, that must be new right ?
Red Faction already blows simple map changes away
Look just because Red Faction has retired you don't get to claim others innovations as your own and present them as new.
There were some other parts of the Call of Duty Ghosts Presentation I particularly enjoyed and feel I should highlight.
Gameplay drives Tech" Which lead to a moment I seriously thought I was watching David Cage talking for Sony again as they proceeded to show off how much better and more detailed the game gets, because um Immersion = gameplay or something ? Sorry just as you can't improve a terrible story by making it look shinier you can improve gameplay itself by just making the game look better.
Side by side comparison" during which they showed one clip then the other. You want a side by side comparison, here's one even a monkey like me can do, oh and its of the New Resident Evil game (Well new to consoles other than the hand held) so enjoy.
It really did seem like someone should have explained that side by side term first to the PR team before letting them loose with it. Well if you know them at least you know what to buy them for Christmas, a good dictionary.
Also the claims saying they could show how much better their game had become graphically. In an industry where bullshots (faked photos and enhances ones often running on PC) are so common now, to claim you can show how much better you game is, you might as well just say "We've improved our technology so much that we can make even better bullshots to fool you people".†
So what else did we learn ?
-Halo is getting a TV series and that needed 343 industries to come on because um.... they make Halo games now ? Oh and Spielberg was on
-EA is going to be using an engine called ignite now, which as consumers have only just put away the pitchfolks and torches is a little soon to risk such a name but whatever.
-You can Skype Video call, which with Kinect controlling things and voice activation is a good reason to not sign up for skype or you might end up calling someone you know accidentally while not suitable, or you know posting to facebook or something.
-It has a blue ray drive†
Oh and we learned what its innovative look would be here it is:
Sorry Wrong picture, how could I mistake the innovative design choices
So what things were left out ?
-The price or any pricing model, sure they're probably waiting on sony then they'll try to beat them but come on this would have been nice to know
-A†justification†behind the name, I mean if they're going for the nintendo angle as in Wii (We) and Wii U (We universe) then I don't think One is the best approach as One tends to invoke the thoughts of *read in dodgey German accent* "One Nation unified under one Leader" so before I break Godwins law fully I'd better get another point out.
-What these other game are, 15 exclusive games you say, well the Ouya claimed about 300 exclusives to its console or something mad like that, saying you have them makes us neither believe you nor want the.[/li]
-Indie developers - with the killing of XNA and the creators club, cutting most of the Windows 8 phone app developers off too its rather disheartening to not see it replaced and hear nothing about indie games and maybe not being such complete gits to their developers in future.
-Patching cost ? Nintendo are killing them, Sony are thinking of doing it so will Microsoft
-DRM, is it always online, can it play pre-owned games, sure they actually even mentioned taking your Xbox round to a friends house but is this going to be left behind and all force cloud gaming on us. heck the idea of the cloud usage suggests it might be heavily online†focused.†
-If you're playing Call of Duty and shout fuck at the screen will kinect switch to the XXX rated TV ?[/li]
So how much of a joke was the conference really ?
Yes really it was that much of one that I nearly got a house on the bingo card.
Was the console called One because it plans to be the only one left standing.
Whatever came out of this the brand and console certainly didn't come out looking like this "One"
Well I've been hugely negative throughout most of this post so I suppose I should say something positive that came out of the conference.
So who came out better from this press conference ?
What you don't believe me ?
That above is Sony's share price as of today, look at the huge peak, looks like Microsoft didn't even convince the markets and investors this time which they could have run with and probably just ignored gamers for a longer period. But no the investors are seemingly backing Sony now too.
It could have been worse and I should probabaly end on a good point so here at least this never happened. †For a moment there I really thought this was going to happen with 343 on stage.
OK I said I was staying clear of this but with no sign of Tropes vs Women part two I decided to broach this subject again and ask what is a very difficult question.
Should artistic vision be censored due to perceived sexism ?
What triggered this article were recent controversies around gaming and one game I tend to pay some attention to still. Smite.
The initial trigger point was the introduction of the goddess Neith to the game, this led to a number of people calling sexism from the roof tops. Calling for Hirez to apologise and for them to stop. For those who arenít aware Smite is based on Gods fighting. Here is a depiction of Neith found in actual art next to one from smite (on the right).
Note: to make sure no-one gets offended by nudity I've inserted boobies in appropriate places again in any picture that displays them.
Another such one being the representation of the goddess Kali† again hereís the art and the Smite versions.
The one on the left is actually apparently a depiction found in some temples†
Now while Iíll happily say that the case for Remember Me highlights an issue with people being asked to compromise an artistic vision to gain perceived better sales. Thatís obviously wrong however people are calling objectification from the rooftops and with the latest Jimquisition deciding to tackle the half naked male idea and put forward that it was idealistic and no objectification I realise one slight argument which hasnít been brought out yet.
If we take the idea that games are a form of art as such artistic freedom should be allowed with them then can we truly claim that art should be changed because of its potential objectification. A running joke on the comedy series Allo Allo is a painting named the Fallen Madonna with the big boobies. If I went down to my local art gallery itís quite possibly they would have nude female forms on display in the paintings and those nudes would be of that times perception of female perfection. The big stumbling block this claim of objectification now has to face is not that itís equally done but that in a way its asking for a form of censorship to be placed on art. However if you wish to claim video games arenít art then they actually lose the protection the idea of art gives them in terms of themes and narratives and as such no longer being creative expression can and will be censored by anyone interested in pushing their agenda.
So while some moral crusaders will claim that removing the perceived objectification is worth it the question must be what cost will it be to remove the objectification they see as present. Will it create a precedent for anyone trying to censor and remove any content they deem inappropriate or offensive?† †
So while the argument being made is that men arenít being objectified because they are being shown as targets or goals but that by reducing them to a simple set of goals meant to be our own goals or to use the approach of the ideal man. Male characters are just as objectified as a set of characteristics then a physical representation of these. The idea of objectification is youíre turning something into an object but with male characters youíre reducing them to a list of desirable ideals. The difference between male and female characters the female characters are being turned to display physical ideals while male are displaying psychological ideals......... to an extent as this breaks down when you look at essentially a crazed serial killer in the form of Kratos. The argument goes that those traits possessed by male characters are positive traits. Now look at the media, is not the idea of physical ideals present too ? Pick up any gossip magazine and I can almost guarantee there will be a story on a Celeb who has either had work done, doesnít look good or who has let themselves go or got back in shape either publically ridiculing them or praising them. Down to a point the difference is the form the ideals take in the expression of them, be it physical or mental.
So relating this back to art as such characters are a physical or mental expression in part of their creators. If someone is forever drawing boobs then the response of ďdude you need to get laid or somethingĒ seems a fairly valid one. A response that doesnít is to turn to that person and tell them they canít produce their art anymore because it offends someone.
So if we are to consider videogames as art Iíd encourage you to happily defend the Fallen Madonnaís big boobs. However if games arenít art as such then Iíd encourage you to defend any attempt to censor them. The big twist as such being how well this was shown up in the Dragon Crown controversy, the artists explained the reasoning behind the character models and suddenly the issues wasnít such a huge issue. You see hereís the funny thing, art is subjective, I have mentioned before how I hate Damien Hursts work (His work is presently on at my Local art gallery as the featured exhibit of all things) however because I hate it doesnít mean I should be calling for his head on a spike, like with many who disagree with female character models I actually brush off my objection to an extent. The reason is hey itís my opinion if people want it then Iím not stopping them throwing their money at it. I donít find the generic ideals put forward by society as to the perfect woman to match my own opinion on this, for those who know me in reality they can attest to this no doubt however when expressed in art Iím not going to be calling for a ban on them.
Now this may come off seeming like Iím completely against the debate, Iím not as just like any form of art its meant to be discussed and trying to impose an arbitrary set of rules is actually removing the creative freedom, so while Iíll defend an artistís right to draw overly busty female characters Iíll also defend artists rights to draw characters such as Helga from Clayfighters
Heck Iíd even defend an artistís right to draw this guy.
It doesnít mean I agree with the drawing but that it shouldnít be locked away, the idea behind the debate being that some artists will realise itís ok to draw differently and express different things in their chosen art. We donít need every female character to be the same as if you do try to apply an arbitrary set of rules youíre actually simply reinforcing the problem youíre trying to prevent as saying no character can be sexualised would remove the idea of different artistic expressions and again force artists to be working within a box after fighting to destroy the previous box because it didnít match your specific taste in cardboard.
So I say let the Fallen Madonna have her big boobies because if thatís the artists vision then thatís them making exactly what they wanted. Sure it might not appeal to our specific taste but then again, its art itís not meant to. If you want to argue then kindly put out your point without calling for the artists balls and or ovaries, comparing them to the Devil or claiming they are the scourge of gaming.
If you want art thatís tailor made I suggest you commission the artist yourself next time.