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5 Innovative Ways the Gaming Industry is Screwing You

#2.
EA Sports Creates A Mini-Monopoly

Electronic Arts has dominated the video game pro football market since the early '90s. But then, in 2004, rival NFL 2K5 beat Madden 2005 out in nearly every department, including price (you see, sports games are always one year higher than the actual year in which they are released--this tricks customers into believing that they can look into the future!)

EA Sports learned the hard way that, when someone else sells the exact same product as you, except cheaper, and with an air-hockey minigame and cheerleaders with actual boob-bouncing, it's going to cut into your profit a little bit.

So how could EA overcome their competitor? By working extra hard to make sure their game was superior? By cutting the price?

Don't be ridiculous! They just signed a deal with the NFL that would forbid anyone else from making those games. If competitors wanted to make a football game, it would be without any of your favorite pro teams or players.

So what's the problem?
It's the same as any monopoly: EA no longer had anyone to compete with and, thus, got lazy. Slowly, the Madden games started adding less and less each year, to the point that features were gutted from the first round of Madden games for the new generation of systems. At times the series appears to be going backward, and we project that by 2011, we'll be playing something that looks like Tecmo Bowl.

Real-life Equivalent:
If McDonald's got an exclusive patent on the hamburger, and the only way better restaurants could sell them would be if they left off the top bun.

#1.
Gamespot Offers Good Reviews To Companies That Pay Them

Gamespot.com is one of the most popular gaming sites on the web, offering a large database of information on pretty much every game ever made. Gamespot's reviews, in spite of the whining of some fans, have been consistently tough on even big games.

On November 13th of 2007, Jeff Gerstmann of Gamespot released this review for Kane and Lynch: Dead Men. The review received a score of 6.0, or "fair" from the reviewer. Unfortunately for Jeff, the publishers of the game had recently purchased a great deal of advertising on Gamespot, creating the awkward situation where ads were splashed all around the review--the review of the game that the writer specifically told readers not to buy.

Gerstmann was immediately fired.

So what's the problem?
Of particular note is the fact that, in spite of being fired, the review score for the game is still quite a bit higher than the average user review scores on Gamespot. In other words: Gerstmann gave a very generous review for a terrible game, but was nonetheless fired for not lying his ass off.

The message from Gamespot's management (they're owned by Cnet) was clear: a good review is part of what the advertiser pays for. Gerstmann's firing was meant to send this message loud and clear to every reviewer on the site.


Protests were non-violent

In the aftermath of the whole ordeal, several other long-time employees at Gamespot quit their jobs (Gerstmann and others went off to form their own site). Meanwhile gamers, who are used to reading these reviews before making their $60 purchase, had to rethink whether or not they can trust reviews from Gamespot, or any review site for that matter.

Real-life Equivalent:
If you found out Roger Ebert had spent his career offering positive reviews to any director who supplied him with heroin.

If you liked this, you'll probably enjoy our look at The 5 Ways Hollywood Tricks You Into Seeing Bad Movies. Or for some gaming related stuff, check out 10 Highly Anticipated Video Games You'll Never Get To Play. Or learn an important lesson by watching our video about the ways in which Real Moms Aren't Like the Ones on MILFhunter.com.

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