Sending out emails to those who've pre-ordered games
// Wesley Ruscher
For those who've pre-ordered PS4 games with Amazon, make sure to check your inbox as the online retailer has been sending out emails offering a special Buy 2 Get 1 free deal on PS4 titles. There's also rumors of some Buy One ...
Joining the ever-growing list of leaked Black Friday sales ads, Dell.com's turkey day extravaganza has hit the web. While nothing too exciting, something that seems to be the trend this year, there are a few decent deals ...
Yeah, I didn't know Blockbuster was still around either
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Dish Network announced that they'll be closing all the 300 or so remaining corporate-owned Blockbuster retail locations in the United States by January 2014. They'll be shutting down the DVD mail service middle of December to...
Target is running a promotion right now where they'll give you a $200 for any iPad. Yes, even the first-generation one. That's insane, considering you could possibly get $100 at best if you were to sell it through an auction ...
It'll take you forever to flip through this leaked Black Friday ad from Toys R Us, so we've done the work for you. There's nothing too exciting, but there are plenty of solid deals.
The biggest deal is probably the PS3 bundle...
The Ouya has had no small amount of supporters, but for "the little open-source console that could," real success might be seen at the brick-and-mortar level. After having been available in select Target stores for the last f...
If you're a UK resident and pre-ordered your PS4 from SimplyGames, you might want to check on the status of your order, as the retailer has apparently hiked the previously locked in price of £349.99 to £414....
Sep 07 //
All game consoles are called "Nintendos"
Grandmothers don't know the difference between the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. They are just little boxes that get hooked up the television and play video games. A lot of older people just call all game consoles "Nintendos," or sometimes "PlayStations," if their kid grew up with a Sony machine. The brand means nothing to them.
One of the frequent things I had to deal with was explaining that they had to buy games that matched the box their kids had at home. Parents or grandparents would often come in to exchange a game for the same title on a different system. They didn't know what any of the differences in the systems were, and they generally didn't care since they were buying the games for other people.
The Wii U is a tablet for the Wii
I worked over the span of the Wii U being announced, through its launch, and over the first Christmas it was out. People had no idea what the thing was, why they needed it, and why Nintendo felt the need to stop making games for the old Wii.
The name was a really bad choice. I am not just saying that as a writer spouting out my thoughts on how the industry should be, I am saying it because people had no idea what the fuck the thing was. People thought it was a tablet or a new controller for their Wii, so they didn't care about it. They only started to take notice when new games came out that they couldn't run on their Wii, like New Super Mario Bros. U.
Some people were interested in a new Nintendo console, but they didn't understand what this one did that was cool. They were searching for a catch, like the Wii's motion controls. People bought the Wii because it had the motion controls, and they didn't get why the new Wii had this tablet thing.
In the end, the Wii U had a solid launch week. We sold out and had a lot people calling to ask if they were back in stock. Sadly, a good chunk of these folks were just buying it for a quick flip on eBay, or they thought they were getting a jump on the hot item for Christmas. A lot them ended up being returned before the holidays, and by December we stopped selling them completely.
People don't care about ESRB ratings
Parents don't read ratings on boxes, and they generally don't understand the system. To me, it's not the fault of the ESRB or the stores selling the games. We had large signs up all over the game section talking about ratings, and in order to sell an M-rated game we had to scan an ID of someone over 17. Kids weren't walking in and buying Modern Warfare 3 -- they had their mothers buy it for them.
Parents didn't take the time to read what content was in the games, and maybe they don't mind if their kids play violent videogames, but I can't imagine that they are making an informed decision if they don't read what's on the box. It's up to them what they want to let their kids play, but it kind of scares me that they don't really know what they are buying or what's in it. One kid, no older than ten, had his mother buy him a copy of Duke Nukem Forever, and I am pretty sure he's going to end up scarred for life.
The general population still thinks that games are for kids, and the concept that they are filled with gratuitous violence, sexual themes, and stories involving alcoholism or suicide doesn't enter their minds. To them, something violent is like the original Halo, which just had a lot of aliens getting shot. They haven't seen the brutality of something like Modern Warfare 3 or God of War III.
Anytime I sold a game to a parent, I always made it a point to let them know why we were carding them for it, and I would point out the ratings box that said what the game had for content. A few parents decided to put the game back after they learned it had nudity, graphic violence, suggestive themes, or blood and gore. Some parents still bought the games, saying "How bad can it be? It's a videogame, after all."
People don't read reviews before they buy
In the gaming community there can be a lot of drama surrounding review scores. High scores are accused of being sellouts, and low scores come from the haters who don't understand the game. Review threads often have hundreds of comments from people talking about the score. We are the weird ones for reading reviews and talking about review scores. The public just buys games based on the series' clout or the cool commercial they saw for it. Marketing departments know this, and that's why we keep getting endless sequels, billboards, and commercials during the Super Bowl.
The day Resident Evil 6 came out, people were hyped for it because it was another Resident Evil game. They were convinced it was going to be the best thing ever. Destructoid's Jim Sterling gave it a 3 out of 10, and it wasn't the only negative review I had seen, so I asked people if they had taken the time to read any reviews before they bought it. They didn't even know what I was talking about.
I said things like "Destructoid," "IGN," or "GameSpot," and they had no idea what I was saying. Videogame sites and reviews are unknown to the population at large, which is mind-boggling to me since games are sixty bucks a pop on launch day. If I ever spent $60 on something that I thought was terrible, I would do way more research the next time.
Game genres don't mean anything to people
If I described something as a role-playing game, a first-person shooter, or real-time strategy game, you would already have an idea of what the game was like. Teenagers and moms don't know what these labels mean, and I would often have to say a shooter was like Call of Duty, or that a platformer played like Mario.
What I found the most interesting about this is that not only do they not know what genre a game would be considered, they really don't care, either. They simply play games they think are fun, and they honestly don't care for one genre above another. These are the people who might only play a couple of games a year, and they just play what looks cool or what their friends are playing. They don't think about the mechanics or the controls and compare it to another game and try to classify what they like about them.
People don't have a preference of what type of game they want to play, and that's what caused them to not understand terms like RPG, or platformer. To them, it's just a game, which I don't think is a bad thing. Genres are helpful to understand what a game is like, but it also hurts developers who borrow a lot of elements from popular games of the genre they are developing in. Things would probably be better if every game in the first person didn't play like Call of Duty.
There are real people who only play Madden and Call of Duty
We often make comments about mainstream gamers and how they will only buy two games a year: the new Madden and Call of Duty. Well guess what, it's totally true. There are people who will only buy these two popular games, and that's all they play.
It's not one or two guys -- it's a crapton of people. Launch day doesn't really matter for any other game, but when one of these games come out we have hundreds of copies of both ready to go when the store opens. The store I worked at was in a small town in Maine and we were easily able to sell them out quickly. Guys between 15- and 30-years-old would meander into the store all day to buy their copy, and talk about how excited they were to play it with their bro friends while drinking some Bud Light over the weekend.
We are the minority, and while we may spend a lot of time talking about our hobby and reading articles online, we will never be larger then the general gaming public. It's changed a little bit about how I write about games marketing and development, but the people that really need to pay attention to stuff like this are publishers.
A lot of the time, we are an insular community with developers and publishers spending a lot of time talking to games press and enthusiasts. We have that system down -- we all know what's going on, what games are coming out that we want to buy, and how to check if a game is going to be any good before we buy it.
What we don't have is a way for the public at large to know things like the fact that the Wii U is a new console with all-new games. That you can buy digital games not available in stores, or you should read a few reviews before spending your hard-earned money. That you can buy games significantly cheaper a few months after they come out. Publishers will never come out and educate the public about where to read game reviews, since to them an educated public is dangerous and less likely to buy their over-marketed crappy product.
I think the best thing we can do is to tell our friends who play games to read the blogs. Tell them to read a review before they buy a game on launch day, and that maybe they should hold off on pre-ordering something until they know more about it.
[Header image source]
Normal people aren't like us If you are reading this, you are above the average game consumer. Just the fact that you are reading Destructoid probably means you are an enthusiast. You likely read reviews, might catch some news about upcoming releases, an...
Exclusive to the UK? Check out the Pokéballs on those guys!
// Steven Hansen
Are you an avid Pokéfan looking for the best way to tote your dazzling collection of Pokémon games around? Well, UK retailer GAME has you covered, as Pokémon X/Y pre-orders come with an honest to goodness...
[Update: Amazon is now taking Xbox One pre-orders]
Right after covering the Xbox One reveal, I went out to my local GameStop to reserve the $499 system (due to the fact that I wish to cover it on launch day for you guys,...
GAME offering retailer-specific pre-order incentive in UK
// Kyle MacGregor
Say what you want about the long delays Europeans are forced to put up with to get their hands on Atlus games, but this Persona 4 Arena pre-order bonus is awesome! In addition to the standard soundtrack CD...
ShopTo reduces price, doesn't see big enough boost
// Jim Sterling
UK retailer ShopTo has claimed that, even after initiating its own price cut for the Wii U, it isn't seeing the kind of sales it hopes for. The company spilled the beans to MCV recently.
The company decided to drop the price ...
Amazon, Asda and Shopto all discount Nintendo's new console
// Alasdair Duncan
If you've been waiting for the Wii U to drop in price in the UK, then today is your lucky day. CVG reports that various retailers are following the lead of supermarket giant Asda's £50 price cut on Wii U bundles. Here's...
You could buy a lot of used Maddens with that kind of money!
// Allistair Pinsof
Some may call GameStop employees crooks for giving customers pennies for their beloved Maddens, but only Frank Christopher Olivera, former VP of corporate communications and public affairs at GameStop Texas, has been sentence...
HMV has been having a pretty horrible year so far, and it's only February. Last month, the UK retailer went into administration, followed by an announcement that 66 stores would be closing up for good -- a move which also res...
Feb 13 //
Electronic Arts made headlines last year when it revealed Dead Space 3 needed to sell five million copies to secure its future. Likewise, Resident Evil 6 failed to meet Capcom's expectations despite shifting almost five million copies itself. This is ridiculous. It's absolutely fucking ludicrous that games selling over one million copies could be considered a failed project, under any circumstances. The sheer extravagance of game development has painted publishers into such a corner that their ambitions are now far exceeding reality.
While digital distribution cuts costs of physical manufacturing and makes it easier to get games into the hands of customers, I don't think major publishers will seize that opportunity to create horror games, or any other kind of niche title. If they were prepared to, they'd already be trying it. Instead, they're just going to continue to put out PC ports of console games and charge $60 for digital copies. They've evidenced their belief that, to them, digital is not a way to take more risks, but a way to simply make more savings on the same old shit they've been pulling at retail. The problem is not the constraints of the retail market, it's the constraints of an executive's brain.
Amnesia and Slender are successful not through sheer virtue of their digital nature. They're successful because they weren't obsessed with beating Call of Duty. They had realistic goals, and they met them. This is evidenced in retail just as much as digital, too!
Look at Demon's Souls. That game was a success because it had a humble budget, a decent (but not indulgent) marketing push, and Atlus manufactured copies to meet demand. With such reasonable expectations, the game's performance was cause for celebration. It's also interesting to note that, as a reader reminded me, Sony originally meant to publish Demon's Souls and got cold feet. Cue a smaller publisher with less lofty goals sweeping in and making treasure of Sony's trash! Major publishers can't be happy with that kind of success though, and they're not interested in games that can't become major rivals to Call of Duty and the like. I somehow don't think that mentality will disappear in a far-flung digital future.
Once Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Activision all move fully into the world of incorporeal distribution, it'll just be the same game on a different playing field. They'll still be fighting tooth and nail to beat each other, and thus remain too afraid to stray too far from their comfortable boundaries. There's not actually much evidence that interest in horror games suddenly disappeared overnight. Resident Evil was still doing just fine before Capcom panicked and turned RE6 into Mainstream Videogames: The Official Videogame. They're simply not guaranteed to be THE most popular item right now, and it seems publishers want the whole cake, or otherwise reject even a sizable slice.
So it is that independent developers and smaller publishers are left to pick up the slack, and continue making games that aren't the most successful in the world, but still successful -- provided you're not short-sighted, greedy, and obsessed with dominating your market, rather than simply doing well in it.
Horror games won't fly in the retail space for one simple reason -- publisher clipped their wings before they were given a chance.
Cliff Bleszinski thinks horror's doomed at retail, but who's doing the dooming? As Dead Space 3 trades terror for cover mechanics, and Resident Evil 6 gives up all pretense of being a scary game, it's becomes ever clearer that mainstream publishers have no faith in horror games. Developer Cliff Bleszinsk...
Healthy retailers make for healthy game industries, after all
// Jim Sterling
Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen has admitted that his company would be quite happy to see the back of the used game market. While that's a hardly a surprising sentiment, the executive did raise an eyebrow with an hon...
Industry analyst Michael "Glowing Tooth" Pachter has criticized UK retailers for their constant attempts to undermine each other in videogame price cuts. The situation is nothing more than a joke at this point, according to t...
Kickstarter funded console to be available at Amazon, GameStop and other retailers
// Conrad Zimmerman
The OUYA console will start arriving at the homes of its Kickstarter backers in March, but you'll be seeing them in your local shops a scant few months later. An interview with OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman published on the WSJ....
Codemasters has slapped a release date on GRID 2: May 28 in North America, and May 31 in Europe. This will once again be a multiplatform game, hitting up the usual PlayStation 3, PC, and Xbox 360 trio. Maybe we'll see a Wii U...
Another casual discussion from the Dtoid news room
// Conrad Zimmerman
Now arriving with an alarming consistency, I bring you the latest installment of Office Chat. In this episode, I'm joined again by Jordan Devore and Brett Zeidler as we address the controversy surrounding Star Wars: The...
Dead Space 3 is almost on the horizon now, which means its time for Electronic Arts (in partnership with retailers) to try and get you to confirm your need to play with pre-order inducements. If you were to make an order...
Telltale has announced a North American retail release date for The Walking Dead. In stores on December 11, the critically-acclaimed adventure series will be available on disc for PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. So, if for some re...
Nintendo has informed us that at least 5,000 Wii U kiosks are now available across the United States. You'll find these demo stations at participating retailers, which includes Target, Best Buy, GameStop, Walmart, and Toys R'...
On its Facebook page, Call of Duty: Black Ops - Declassified and Conan developer Nihilistic Software stated that it will be transitioning away from working on retail games and instead focus on downloadable and mobile games go...
The Wikipad, the first tablet with a console-style gamepad controller, will be released this fall for $499. Retailer GameStop has partnered with Wikipad to kick off pre-orders on September 7, and they're working it out so tha...
Popular online retailer Amazon has unveiled a new service designed specifically for the ever-growing free-to-play market. Game Connect provides an easy space for developers to link their freemium titles, and allows users to m...
THQ may have shifted gears when it comes to the once-planned downloadable content expansion of Saints Row, but things have not totally changed over there in regards to their DLC strategy. In a press release today, the publish...
As rumored last week, GameStop will indeed sell vouchers that allow customers to add funds to their Steam Wallet, opening a new segment of gamers to the platform's hard-to-ignore sales. These gift cards are available as of to...