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This Article is Entitled Bitching September 20, 2011

Posted by Thomas Richards in Rants.
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It feels like all I hear and read from gamers these days is entitled bitching, so in response I’m doing some entitled bitching about entitled bitching.

Every time I visit a gaming forum, I see people bitching about the things they don’t like and the inevitable demise of companies they choose not to align with.

Nintendo is the first company that comes to mind.  The Wii released in 2006 and, as expected, was immediately attacked for differing from the norm of other systems and not supporting HD displays.  As with every system released since I have been old enough to pay attention, beginning with the N64; the Wii had a rough start with software.  Excluding a few great titles, it took about a year to really take off and give us the games we wanted to play.

During the lulls in software that Nintendo gave us for the Wii, the complaints that filled the World Wide Web were justified.  When Nintendo began releasing the games that gamers desired, people continued to bitch about how Nintendo rehashed the same games and never created games for gamers.  In response to the bitching, Nintendo began to pump out some really great software; releasing phenomenal games like Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Donkey Kong Country Returns.

SMG2 and DKCR are exactly what the general gaming community demanded from Nintendo.  Both are great releases of beloved characters and both stick with what made people love the series in the first place, all while still using new design and creativity to take them in completely new directions.  As an even bigger nod to the hardcore members of Nintendo’s audience, these two games were made quite difficult – a surprising turn that Nintendo hasn’t displayed since the SNES era.

Interestingly, these two titles were readily ignored by every single person I know; by those who had constantly claimed they wanted these types of games from Nintendo, and I know from browsing countless forums that most people don’t have the greatest feelings towards these games.  Worst of all, the majority of the people who are complaining have never actually even played them.

If you have played more than 5 hours in either of these games and still have issues with them, you can exclude yourself from the title of “Entitled Bitch” that I give to the majority of people who have things to say about these games.

Lately, Nintendo has been getting a lot of crap for the 3DS.  When navigating the posts of gamers, it is obvious that the general consensus of gamers is that it’s pure shit. I know that Nintendo launched the 3DS at too high of a price point and burned quite a bit of their audience when they dropped the price, but trying to patch your wounds by giving you the 20 free ambassador games was a step in the right direction. I realize the 3DS’ library is lacking as well; I love Ocarina of Time, but the ability to replay a 13-year old classic does not sell systems. As the countless forum trolls would tell you, the lack of software is definitely an issue that must be overcome before the 3DS is a truly great system.

In case nobody has not noticed, the 3DS is not the first system to be released without great launch titles; nearly every new system has this issue.  What makes the 3DS different is we’ve known exactly when the killer apps are releasing; Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Star Fox, Zelda and Luigi’s Mansion should be enough to satisfy those who complain about a lack of awesome software.

Even considering the amazing software schedule that starts late this year – within a year of the 3DS’ launch, mind you – people act like these games don’t exist.  How in the world can people say the 3DS’ main issue is a lack of software all the while acting like this problem won’t be resolved? Hasn’t this release schedule been staring them in the face for months?

Even more bizarre is the fact that this lineup was already established before Nintendo slashed the price of the 3DS.  I would have thought that this lineup along with a massive price cut and a pretty damn cool digital game store would silence critics, but alas; it has not.

I would bet my measly yearly income that most of the people who claim to have problems with the handheld’s 3D features are full of shit. If they’ve tried it for a short amount of time, the “pain” they experienced was placebo; the mere thought of eye strain produced actual pain. I understand 3D perception is different for everyone, and some can’t even see it; but the people complaining haven’t experienced how much more substantial it makes the games. If the 3D is really a problem, Nintendo has conveniently included a slider on the system to turn it off.

The 3DS is an amazing portable with a great software lineup coming down the pipes, but this is not the issue. The real issue is much harder to overcome; entitled bitching.

If you complain about the 3DS for any of these problems and have not extensively played one, then you are an “Entitled Bitch.” It’s possible for the 3DS not to be an enticing purchase for some, but if the above statements still apply to you then your title remains.

Moving on, anyone that knows me will tell you that Sony is not my favorite company.  I rarely enjoy their games, for some stupid and unknown reason.  However, because I am not an “Entitled Bitch,” I can see the problem that has plagued the PlayStation 3 since it released.

Before the PS3, Sony seemed immune to “Entitled Bitching.” However; as soon as the system released, the symptoms began. Despite the countless amazing games released and new franchises Sony has developed, people still shunned the PS3 for a lack of software. “Year One Syndrome” hit the PS3 hard, but the PS3 just can’t seem to shake the perception that it has very few good games for it.

To make things worse, the PlayStation Network was hacked and people were reasonably concerned about security issues.  Sony responded perfectly to the situation by offering amazing titles for zero cost, yet people still acted like Sony hadn’t done enough to rectify the situation; that their FREE account was unusable for a month.  “It Only Does Offline” was a bad situation, but it’s been blown way out of proportion with the whole “My security has been compromised” bull shit.  It’s damn well known that nothing was stolen out of anyone’s accounts; that the only data stolen were your names and the last 4 digits of your payment info, so just shut the hell up.

If you don’t like the PS3 because you‘re not interested in their games or you simply can’t stop playing your Xbox, then that is reasonable. However, if you find yourself on forums or at social events complaining about the PS3’s lack of games and the security breach, then you’re an “Entitled Bitch.”

I must admit that the Xbox 360 is my favorite current generation platform. What else can I say – I’m in love with Halo!  My passion, however, does not cloud my vision from the fact that Microsoft seems to have protective armor from “Entitled Bitches”.  Like I said I LOVE MY XBOX, but why does a system not get bitched about when it is guaranteed to break forcing you to buy multiple systems?  On another note, why does nobody seem to complain about Microsoft’s abysmal first party support for the system?  I know Xbox has Halo, Forza and Gears of War, but that’s about it.  Seriously if any system deserved “Entitled Bitching” being directed at it, the Xbox does. (In regards to the Xbox I can’t help but admit that my perception that there is a lack of “Entitled Bitching” about the system could in fact be in result of me being so  engrossed in my love for the Xbox that I can’t see how much people are actually bitching.)

I’m not discouraging you from being critical and discerning with your money and opinions, but just take it easy and if you are going to publicly complain about something at least make sure it is objective before you say it, and if it isn’t, do us a favor and admit your bias.

Above all else, avoid jumping on hate bandwagons!  If you don’t like something, fine, but please don’t start spamming about how terrible something is just because everybody else seems to be doing so.  Ask yourself if the thing in question really deserves your negative attention, or are you just joining others in hatred.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if this article will actually cause people to see the “Entitled Bitching” syndrome in themselves, or if I’m contributing the disease by bitching about “Entitled Bitching”.  I guess I just want people to stop complain about EVERYTHING that happens in the game industry and just sit back and enjoy it for what it is, because it feels like it has been ages since we have.

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The More You Know: Casual Gamers July 24, 2011

Posted by Thomas Richards in Rants.
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The casual gamer has been an oft mentioned subject in the Video Game community for the several years. They are the bane “Real Gamers” everywhere; the methodic destruction of our passion and industry on a steady decline for many years.

The Casual Gamer comes in many forms. The first is what I like to call a “Bro Gamer;” this group enjoys Call of Duty and Madden with their buddies and little else. Bro gamers play video games because they are popular and because it sounds like something fun to do.  You would never catch them playing a game as thought provoking as Portal or Braid, and that is because they would rather play shooters with their drinking buddies because it is “so tight,” while talking about that hot chick they bought drinks for. This group believes themselves to be gamers, but as soon as they are in social circles that view gaming negatively they will never mention the fact that they play them. You will meet this niche online with emblems attached to their overly machismo internet aliases depicting how stoned they are. They can be seen playing Guitar Hero on medium difficulty whilst bragging about their insane skills and talking about how great that last college basketball game was.

Bro gamers like to believe they understand what real gamers are, and talk like they understand when they are around us. This group has no real understanding of the artistic effort that hard working developers pour into the titles real gamers play. Bro gamers will play only the most popular of titles that we play, but never have the level of understanding or appreciation for what gives a title merit. They have never sacrificed anything for the gaming lifestyle; they play only because it is popular to do so. I take solace in the fact that these noobs will be done soiling our lifestyle once they marry their girlfriends that don’t approve of their “waste of time” due to its implied nerdiness. In a few short years, we will be rid of this generation of bro gamers; only for a younger group to take its place. Until then, they give our kind easy kills in Halo and Call of Duty.

“Social Gamers” are the people who will play a game at their next family get-together; the kind Nintendo was so eager to bring into the fold with the Wii.  They will spend hours playing Wii Sports or, in the worst case scenario, they play FarmVille. Once their families light social group disperses or they log off Facebook they will be back to watching Martha Stewart and thinking about their hip sizes.  This group destroyed any potential the Wii might have had, leaving our kind to dig through massive piles of social shovelware crap to find games worth playing. They believe Wii Bowling is God’s gift to gaming, making them easy targets for quick start developers creating titles like “Ninjabread Man” and “Family Sports Fun Time” to cash in and make a quick buck off this ignorant group.  Shovelware becomes so popular to the point that quality titles become obscure and overlooked due to the rush to buy cheap ports of flash games we played in High School.

My entire life I’ve had to explain to non-gamers why I love games so much; I can’t count how often I’ve explained why I would rather play Halo instead of basketball to an Aunt who had never played a game before in her life.  Social gamers have less of an understanding of what makes games such an enjoyable, deep and ever-changing medium than bro gamers.   When the Wii released, I was excited to see that people that once needed an explanation were now trying to understand my passion. I soon realized even though they were trying games for themselves, their comprehension lacked clarity, and they understood our hobby as well as someone who drinks a glass of water could understand surfing.

A lot of the blame the social gamer garners comes from the companies that capitalize on their naivety. For example, when a true gamer offers up a quality title like New Super Mario Bros. for Wii, their reaction is to immediately blow the person off in the same way they would before they began to infiltrate our livelihood.  The Wii’s potential as a great gaming platform has been completely whittled away; even the companies who would have made good games for the system know there is less money to be made in the hardcore market, so they pump out shovelware as fast as McDonalds makes hamburgers.

The “Real Gamer” (aka Hardcore Gamer, True Gamer) is someone who has devoted large portions of their life to gaming.  We are real gamers; purveyors of Mega Man, Mario, Link and Simon Belmont. We know what it takes to get better at a challenging game, and when we reminisce with friends we talk about how much fun we’ve had with the games we’ve played together.  We immediately know when a person is a social or bro gamer, and know they’re not one of us. We have dedicated our entire lives to the pursuit of pwnage, and know that gaming is something we will have our entire lives.  When younger, our parents took our games away from us when we caused trouble, knowing it was a motivating factor in our lives; even so, we’d find a way to play anyway.  We were caught with our Game Boy at school, stayed up gaming until 4 AM even if we had class, and we’ve never been afraid to display our gaming habits anywhere but on our sleeves. We’ll play the same games as social and bro gamers, yet we have a deep understanding of the artistic value held within. We’ll be told by others we “have no lives” or that we’re “wasting our time” and we should “get a constructive hobby,” but there’s never been a doubt in our minds about what we loved, and we’ve always understood and accepted the trials associated with being a gamer.

All we ask is you learn to differentiate us from the rest. We’re gamers; the biggest insult we could receive is being labeled as something we’re not. As for the rest of you, do your best to stay out of our way as we’ll be the ones creating something for you to pass your time with soon enough; best not to piss us off too much.

Rant n’ Rave: The Problem with Project Ten-Dollar July 16, 2011

Posted by Brandon C. in Rants.
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A colleague and I were in the midst of a heated “debate” the other day about Project Ten-Dollar after I pointed out a disturbing trend in the industry today. It’s ignorant to say the used game market doesn’t effect a game’s new sales – I myself have bought used, as have you I’m sure. A good 90% of gamers have taken advantage of GameStop and other used retailer’s trade-in programs to bulk up their game libraries with used titles – it just makes sense to purchase games cheaply after they’ve matured on the shelves for a while.

But the trend we’re seeing that started with EA’s Project Ten-Dollar has grown to an alarming peak – there isn’t a game company or title in sight today that DOESN’T make some use of a “Season Pass” or “Online Pass.”

Now, I’m not against developers making money – Video Games are an Industry, of course. To continue making games, one has to turn a profit to pay employees and other expenses. It’s a business, and to say I’m against it would be hypocritical.

Publishers are large, corporate entities only concerned with turning a profit, and there’s no nice way to say that. Sure, some of their employees are gamers (if you’re not then you’re in the wrong business) and have a great passion for the industry and it’s consumers. Others give off the impression they really don’t give two shits, like Activision’s Robert Kotick. He’s become the de facto bad guy of the gaming industry – the corporate Satan at the top that everyone hates. Let’s be honest – he comes off as a total prick.

He has to make money for Activision, or he’s out of a job as well as the thousands of people his company employs. So he has to find ways to make used market companies like GameStop less cash, and more for his own.

Be that as it may, the disturbing trend I’m referring to is the “Season Pass” or “Online Pass” and the VIP codes included with just about every damn game on the market today.

If you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, allow me to explain.

When you buy a brand new, unopened title, chances are you’ll receive a one-time use code inside the packaging. You use this code to unlock content on the disc, like a map pack or some characters. If you purchase a used title at GameStop and the previous owner used the code, you have to shell out anywhere between $5 and $15 to get that content. Some codes, in the case of sports titles and a few miscellaneous titles, unlock online multiplayer.

THIS, right here, is my problem.

There’s a right way and a wrong way to use these codes. Charging customers $10 to unlock a mode that has been included for the past ten years with every damn game you’ve purchased since Unreal Fucking Tournament is WRONG. FUCKING ASS BACKWARDS GODDAMN WRONG.

Games like Battlefield Bad Company 2 use it RIGHT – A VIP code that includes maps for online multiplayer. They’re not required to play the game, instead expanding upon the default experience.

Games like MORTAL FUCKING KOMBAT that require you to use a code to play online is a fucking ripoff and the cocksucker that thought it was a good idea deserves to die in a fire.

It’s a part of the game! It’s like a grocery store charging for plastic and paper bags. I’m not talking about those “reuseable” cloth bags you can buy for a dollar – those are DLC motherfuckers; not a basic part of the goddamn experience you need to take your fucking groceries home.

I understand if you want to dangle a piece of exclusive DLC in front of my face to get me to purchase a new title instead of a used title. It’s business. But it’s BAD business to retroactively charge for a basic service included with games for the past ten years.

And it’s even worse for these companies to charge us for content that’s already on a disc when we buy it. If you’re going to charge for it, we’d better have to download something more than a 1 MB file to use those “DLC” characters – I’m looking at YOU Marvel VS Capcom 3 and SoulCalibur 4…

If it’s on the disc, it’s a part of the $60 we pay when we buy that game; and that includes online play. We’re already paying Microsoft $60 a year for Xbox Live Gold or whatever you pay for PlayStation Plus.

It’s evil, it;s wrong, and it’s a great way to piss off your target demographic and sell less titles. I don’t see the recording industry suing the pants off of the streaming companies for taking their customers away, and last I checked being a big time recording artist still netted you a pretty penny. So why start now, gaming conglomerates? Find a better way to stick it to GameStop and other used market companies, and not your bread and butter – the gamers.

Again I reiterate:

The RIGHT Way – Charging for exclusive maps, downloadable Day-One DLC and special extra features NOT included on the disc.

The NO QUESTIONS ASKED ABSOLUTE WRONG Way – Charging for online play, on-disc characters and content and disc-based unlocks.