Last Time, Honest.

Last time I’ll mention the piracy thing (for the forseable future.)

EA, of all people, has absolutely no excuse for not having their own digital delivery system up and running. Shit, that medium-sized developers aren’t doing this themselves is a fucking travesty as far as I’m concerned. Valve’s given everyone the ability to make their own Steam, if you’ll recall. It’d just take an extra guy to get it up and running, I’d imagine.

Often retailers (and even renters,) will break street dates. When this happens, retailers who haven’t broken the date contact the publisher, and say “So and so broke the date. Check it, because we’re going to as well. We can’t afford to lose all of our sales to them, because their math says they’ll come out ahead by breaking the rules.” The distributer/publisher then checks to confirm the story, and if this is true, they give the okay for everyone else to break the date as well (and often punish the initial violator.)

I just can’t be convinced that EA can’t publish games online. They’re a publisher. It’s what they’re supposed to do. What am I missing here? Hell, Microsoft and Sony should be doing this. The moment the ‘download date’ was proven broken, EA should have had Spore online on their EA Shop for everyone everywhere to download. That headline would’ve dwarfed the news about the cracked version available online. “Why bother pirating it,” gamers would ask “when I’ll probably end up buying it anyway? Go ahead and save the re-download time by buying it the first time, and have my friends already in my gamer list for auto-downloadig of their creatures.” Besides, I’m betting Valve games have a much lower rate of piracy than most PC games, and gamers are (by far and large) okay with Steam, now that the kinks have been worked out for a few years. And I’ve heared nothing but good things about Direct2Drive. Though, honestly, developers should be doing this for themselves.

I just can’t feel overly sorry for a developer getting hurt by a publisher forcing them to put anti-piracy tools in their game. It’s the bed of their own making, really. Last post I mentioned gamers downloading shareware off of BBS’; the original digital distribution. Well, it’s 2008 and developer distribution has never been easier (now bedroom coders don’t even have to physically mail disks to users.) Refusal to make self-publishing a priority, or even demanding the power in the developer-publisher relationship, gets developers treated like the lesser in the relationship, and that’s just a lessong they need to learn. I mean, Valve? They get it. If another developer can’t prioritize their publishing deals, then let them falter, and let them fail.

Though, the first person to use Steamworks to create an online publisher? That person will make some serious money.

Okay, done with that topic for the foreseeable future, enough armchair-CEOing over Riccitelo. Next up? MMO payment plans! Yay!

Electronic Arts
Gaming's future

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E3 Denial.

Sony and Microsoft can’t even admit how bad they got their ass kicked this gen. They’re in denial.

I feel the need to preface this post by saying: I only have a 360 from this generation of hardware (well, a DS too,) and I eventually aim to get a PS3 and a Wii, as both either have games I want, or soon will. But I think myself a fan of games, more so than consoles. That said…

Don Reisinger put a great reality check up on Cnet today which I’ll choose to not quote, but instead paraphrase in my own words:

“Hey Sony, Microsoft, quit your bitching. Just because Nintendo cleaned your clock doesn’t mean you have to cry in the corner and whine ‘they don’t count anyway!’ They do. Now cowboy up and fight back. You”re trying to turn Nintendo into the elephant in the room no one is talking about, but it doesn’t matter, because everyone’s still giving the elephant their money, and not you.”

… Okay, so he was more nuanced, but I think I captured the sentiment well. It seemed particularly spurred forth by a comment from Sony’s CEO Howard Stringer: “I’ve played a Nintendo Wii. I don’t see it as a competitor. It’s more of an expensive niche gaming device.”

That’s hilarious; calling a cheaper competitor that’s kicked your ass in sales “expensive” and “niche.” Don’t worry Howie, I’m sure Nintendo doesn’t view you as ‘competition’ either. I mean, for that to be the case you’d have to double your hardware sales for both your console AND your handheld. Of course, you’d still be behind in both counts.

Of course, Nintendo capitalizing on their success is another thing entirely. I think they waited far too long to start believing their own hype. I really hope they’ve got some good things up their sleeve.

Gaming's future
teh Funny

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Damn you, Microsoft, for the little things.

I pushed that last post out of ‘draft’ limbo, where it long-stayed with plans to write a longer post about my hate for the current state of online connectivity on consoles. That ire built up well, but then was unexpectedly drained in a thread on Evil Avatar. The gist being that some companies are really fucking people over when it comes to small purchases.

For the record, my major annoyance is a shift toward developers providing games in a piecemeal fashion, with a total cost higher to consumers than it would’ve been under traditional circumstances.

But that thread in particular on EvAv was about new planes for Ace Combat 6. “New planes? Surely that’s worthwhile content, Jeff!” you object. “Indeed,” I retort, “The issue here is price.” They charge $2.50+ for skins to cover old models and tiny files (not even text files,) that just contain the few parameters that the planes require. That’s not even a meg if you’re doing it right. It’s Horse Armor all over again, but at least we had the common sense to be angry about it the first time. They’ve released 35+ planes, with nine (at the previous article’s date,) costing $5, and twenty-one costing at least $2.50. (About five were free.) This, for the record, is a travesty in my eyes.

People say “Then don’t buy them.” Don’t worry, I’m not being a hypocrite; I canceled my Xbox Live subscription months ago. And I don’t buy those things. I never bought a theme or gamerpic (or any other advertisement. That would be like buying a film trailer, or a print ad. It’s stupid.)

Man, remember all the great head-in-the-clouds things we heard about digital distribution? Developers could go without publishers, (or at least their efforts would be scaled back, netting developers more money with consumers paying less.) No shipping costs would also mean a reduction in product costs. With no shelves, shelf space would not be a factor, and games could be offered forever.

Back in ’99, when Napster came out, I said “Y’know, I’d buy these songs for a dollar, if the opportunity was offered.” After almost a decade of lawsuits against music listeners, I’d be hard pressed to pay a dime (literally, I mean it, ten cents,) for a track of music. Today, I refuse to pay $50 a year for Xbox Live.

/edit: Oh! Since I canceled my account, every time I log my profile on my Xbox, it attempts to sign into Xbox Live. After a twenty minute phone call asking how to stop this automatic check, I was told I couldn’t. I’d have to delete my profile and create a new one. This wouldn’t be a big deal, if I didn’t need that profile to play my XBLA games after my console red-ringed… (They won’t play except in my account, post-refurbishing.) So, it’s not painful in and of itself, but it gets annoying, having to do it. Every. Single. Time. It’s a game console. It’s not supposed to have these problems! Gah.

Gaming's future

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