4 Video Game Complaints We're Just Going to Have to Get Over
Gamers fear change the way farmer's market customers fear bathing. It's not unjustified -- the gaming industry has given us plenty of reasons to, as evidenced by the first 20 seconds of this video. Or all of this awkward clusterfuck. And if they think we're letting them forget about this one, they're out of their fucking minds:
Unfortunately, there are a few things that have come up recently in gaming news that have caused us to puff out our chests and start piss-marking virtual territory in a blind rage, like one of those wacky kids' lawn sprinklers -- only filled with urine. Even more unfortunate is that there isn't a goddamn thing we can do about it because the gaming companies are running out of sensible options to prevent a significant portion of their profits from being bulldozed into a dump-sized, ass-shaped furnace. So we make seemingly valid, often in vain arguments, like ...
"In-Game Ads Will Destroy the Industry!"
You dirty, greedy motherfuckers! You couldn't just be happy with the $500 I paid for your system? On top of the $120 for three extra controllers? On top of the $70 for the wireless adapter that you require to make your online functions work? On top of the $60 I paid per game, making my collection worth more than my first year of community college?
No, you had to go and start selling goddamn ad space on your games. And let me tell you right off the bat that when gamers get pissed off and vomit their misspelled rage on the Net, it's not an overreaction. We play many of these games because we enjoy the immersion. They're our escape from life's mundane bullshit. So when we see horrible product placement like this, it's so jarring, it takes us completely out of the game and reminds us, "Oh yeah. I'm still in real life, where I still have money problems. I should probably stop buying video games."
"Now that I think about it, I should sell all of my electronics and learn to grow my own food."
You think we're just making idle threats when we say that if you continue fucking with your customers like this, we're going to just start hacking the damn things? Surprise! It's already started. So knowing how we react to simple ads being shown in fairly harmless ways, how exactly do you think the gaming community is going to respond if Sony follows through with their patent on commercials that actually interrupt your fucking game like in a TV show? Do you honestly not see the impending gamer rebellion that you're about to cause? If not, it's been nice doing business with you. I look forward to learning more about your financial demise in future college courses that will be devoted solely to your catastrophic absence of foresight.
The patent we're freaking out over was filed by Sony way back in 2006 and modified about a year ago, and it does in fact spell out how while playing, your game would slow down and give you warnings before displaying a TV-style commercial. Then, when the game resumes, it would "rewind" your progress just slightly so you wouldn't be coming back exactly where you left off and fuck everything up. Though anyone who has ever touched a game knows that it will absolutely fuck you up.
"Man, FUCK YOU, Walmart!"
What they don't spell out is what type of games these would be used in (if it's ever even used at all), and that's pretty important, because from a logical standpoint, it seems to me like they're setting themselves up for the free-to-play market. It's the only method they can use to compete with the ridiculously lucrative "dollar app" market, and aside from charging for in-game perks and products the way Facebook does, in-game commercials seems to be the most logical way to make money off of them. If you think a company can just throw out a game for free without collecting at least some form of revenue in return, you need to stop reading this article and come back when you have some hair on your ass.
This idea isn't new by any means. Pull up virtually any flash game on the Net, and you'll see it in action -- and this is the type of setting I believe they're going for with this patent. No, I don't predict you'll see them interrupting your multiplayer face-sniping matches just as your crosshairs center on your friend's balls, because Sony prefers that the Molotov cocktail content of their offices remain under a certain percentage. They didn't just start making games last year -- they understand that gamers would riot in the goddamn street with a change like that. Or at least say "This is bullshit" every time an ad pops up, while continuing to buy and play their games like they've always done.
Look at that rage, just boiling under the surface.
So, no, it's not probable that their ads are going to interrupt the game you just paid $60 for, though I do concede that it's always at least within the realm of possibility. After all, right now, the entire gaming industry is scrambling to increase profits while gamers digest the new rumors concerning stores like GameStop, and erupt with shrieks of ...
"Blocking Used Games Will Make Gamers Rebel!"
You goddamn child molesters! That's right, all of you are no better than dirty, imprisoned child-touching molesters. Are you honestly so filled with the urge to molest children that you're willing to equip your consoles with software that blocks used games? Do you even realize how huge that market is?
In 2011, GameStop alone sold $2.6 billion worth of used video games. That's not counting all of the other knockoff places. And do you honestly think that when people trade in their used games for store credit that they're using that money to buy other used games? According to GameStop's data, it's the opposite. They're trading in their old, used games for new releases and high-number sequels like Madden Part 3912 and Tony Hawk Skates Directly Up Your Asshole 14, because people simply aren't going to drop 60 bucks on a franchise that puts out a yearly sequel, with virtually unnoticeable changes.
"Oh, yeah, I could tell that was Madden 15, just by looking at it. They made the grass slightly darker on that one."
If you put out a console that blocks used games or locks out its full features until you pay a fee, you're going to start a full-scale war between your customers and the companies who take part. It's going to be a hacking bloodbath. People will pirate out of sheer spite. Or they'll simply boycott your product out of existence. We don't put up with child molesters, and we're not putting up with a company that takes away our ability to afford games.
First off, all of that talk about blocking used games is just unverified rumors for right now. There hasn't been a single reliable source for that information anywhere on the Internet or in press releases. Second, even if it turns out to be true, keep in mind that we bought video games in record numbers long before the used-game industry was even a thing, and we'll do it long after they've been vaporized by the laser monkeys that Sony and Microsoft release into the wild.
They'll shout, "You've been lasermonkeyed!" Followed by a *boing* sound.
Second, talk about facts and quote numbers all you want, you will never pull a gaming CEO's mind away from this constantly throbbing point: Of that $2.6 billion in used-game sales, their company didn't see a solitary dime from it. Yes, we as customers understand that we never would have bought Gun Fuckers 4 if it hadn't been in the used section for $35. We know that we're trading in our used games for credit on new titles, and we'll continue that cycle when that current title gets old and stale. But gaming companies don't want a lesson in the economic cycles of trade-ins. They want a check written to them from GameStop for the amount of X percent of $2.6 billion.
See, currently, as far as used games go, those game stores are not regulated and required to kick back any of that money to the people who made it. So what that means is that, where the makers used to put out a title and then ride the wave of sales for several years, they're now having to pull all of their profits within the first three months of its release -- after that, hardly anyone will buy it new.
In a panic, the original game company jacks up the price to pull in as much money as they can in that short window, as well as throwing any risky content out the window in favor of tried-and-true formulas. It's why we have two dozen games where we look at gritty buildings through crosshairs. Because we've proven that we'll give them money for it.
Oh. More dust. Awesome. So I guess I just ... shoot or something?
Heavy Rain developer and co-founder of the company that was apparently named by a 15-year-old goth girl, Quantic Dream, said in an interview:
"We basically sold to date approximately 2 million units , we know from the trophy system that probably more than 3 million people bought this game and played it. On my small level it's a million people playing my game without giving me one cent. And my calculation is, as Quantic Dream, I lost between 5 and 10 million worth of royalties because of second-hand gaming."
"You know ... I was thinking maybe it would be better to just put this in my mouth."
You can argue the math, psychology and reasoning all you want. This is the way the game makers are seeing it, and until they're convinced otherwise (or until companies like GameStop are required to pay them royalties/fees for the sale of used games), they will fight it tooth and nail. Even if it means the possibility of getting rid of physical media altogether. But even when they're not dealing with the clusterfuck debate about used games, they're still combating piracy and taking heat from us as we yell from the sidelines ...
"The Always-Connected System Should Not Be Used on a Single-Player Game!"
What kind of devil worshiping bullshit is this? I buy a game so I can disconnect from the world and de-stress with some much deserved alone time, and I still have to log in to a fucking account like it's multiplayer? So what happens if I'm going on a trip and want to play some Diablo III to pass the time? I guess I'm just fucked? Live in Africa with substandard, ridiculously priced Internet? I guess they're fucked, too. Or how about those poor bastards who are held prisoner by bandwidth caps? Or when your servers go out for most of the first 24 hours of the game's launch? No amount of your devil worship can soothe their pain.
An always-on Internet connection for a single-player game is bullshit, and the fact that we're supporting it by buying the game in record-setting numbers is a testament to how stupid we are as a species. This is the shot that started the war, by the way. It won't be long before hackers crack the thing and start hosting the game on their own servers. And when that day comes, we're going to tell Blizzard and the entire industry to lick our collective genitals.
"Yeah, if you get a second, why don't you bend right over and eat some of our shit."
Look, I fully stand by everything I said in my article on Diablo III. But I also understand that we dug our own hole with this one. We are a culture that really, really likes getting shit for free, and the gaming industry hasn't even been able to curb piracy, let alone stop it. It's been going on for decades, and every time they come up with some new security measure, we have it cracked within days. How bad is it? According to an interview with Eurogamer.net, "The reality is, it would take converting 3 percent of those people who pirated that game to be paid users -- a very nominal amount -- to meaningfully impact the actual revenue and profitability on the title." I'm assuming he said the word "converting" while making finger quotes in the air and patting a baseball bat.
This isn't a small problem. According to that link, even the low projections say that half of all games being played are stolen. So if cutting it out doubles your profits, wouldn't you as a business owner try anything at your disposal to weed out the thieves? Believe me, they have:
Remember the game Spore? That's the one that prompted a class-action lawsuit because not only could you only install the game (that you just fucking paid for) so many times on your own machine, but the program they used to verify it installed separately into the core of your system and could not be uninstalled. Oh, and they didn't tell you that they were doing it. How many games have you seen use that security measure since then?
No, this is their last resort, a means of setting up a security guard right at the front door to check everyone's bags every time they pass through the entrance. And though the technology itself isn't new, Diablo III was, so there were bound to be bugs. Fortunately, those server problems for D3 fell mostly on launch day, and were corrected relatively quickly. What we tend to forget as gamers is that these people aren't in the business of pissing people off. They're trying to please the most difficult, angsty customers on the planet. They're not a boardroom filled with old, fat white guys rubbing their hands together and saying, "In what manner should we fuck over our customers today? I was thinking about showing up to their houses, personally, and rubbing my balls on their lunch."
"Hard to believe a man can make a living by farting into people's cereal boxes, but damn if I don't love my job."
Of course, it's incredibly hard not to think that they consider us to be mindless cattle when we keep buying their products in droves, despite the complaints. It's like they look at us as the intellectual equivalent of UFC fighters. Which is why we get so mad when we put in a new title and realize that ...
"They're Dumbing Down the Games and Losing Their Core Audience!"
Wow, until I played your newest title, I had no idea that you condoned genocide. Do you think your customer base is so inept at playing video games that you have to make games in which there are no consequences for failure? Do you not see that it's turning off your core audience when you start tailoring your games to 8-year-old kids? You don't even have to look further than the declining subscribers in World of Warcraft to see it happening.
At its peak, WoW was boasting 12 million subscriptions. This was back when you'd get a quest and then take off in a random direction until you found the creatures you were supposed to kill or an item that you were supposed to find. Most were difficult enough that you'd have to tab out of the game to look it up. People installed coordinates mods to help guide them to the exact spot they needed to be. It took forever, and there was a feeling of reward when you did complete the quest. Leveling from 1 to 60 (the max level in the original core game) took a month or longer, and when you progressed, it was kind of a big deal.
That needs to happen on birthdays.
Flash forward to today, and most people I know can go from 1 to 85 (the max level with all of the expansions) in about a week. The quest items are marked with vibrant sparkles that set it apart from the rest of the game world. Creatures that you have to kill are marked with red text floating over their heads. Your minimap shows you blue shaded areas where you'll find quest objectives. It's one step from Blizzard actually scooting you out of the way like a frustrated IT guy and saying, "Here, just let me do it."
Their subscribers now? 10.2 million. Your core audience is fed up with being treated like children, and they're closing shop in favor of titles that treat them with respect.
The average age of a World of Warcraft player falls between 22 and 32 years old, and 47 percent of them are not employed full time. This age group is exactly the time when we see people settling down and having kids. Starting careers. Graduating college. As they do that, video games take a back seat to real life -- especially subscription-based ones like WoW. There's not much of a desire to continue paying $15 a month if they're only able to play for an hour or two during the weekend.
"You fuck up my rotation and cost me a single point of DPS, I sell you on the Mexican black market."
Remember, this game has been around for almost eight years. To put that into perspective, if a 14-year-old kid was there for the launch of the initial game, right now he has received his bachelor's degree. The point isn't arguing the reasoning behind their departure from the game. The point is that their leaving is inevitable. And when they do stop playing, that void has to be filled with a new generation of gamers. The younger the better, because starting them early means a longer lifespan for accounts.
And it's not just WoW. Attracting young players has always been a staple of the industry, because they're the ones with disposable income. They're the ones who get the most Christmas/birthday presents. And it's for that reason that best-selling games like Super Mario Bros. weren't exactly mentally exhausting. It's why the Modern Warfare series has snap-to targeting. And why you can aim in Fallout by basically pausing the game and telling it where you want your next six shots to land.
"Ah, a battle. Perfect time for me to put down the controller and go take a crap."
This isn't a cosmetic decision here. Very real jobs depend on attracting new, loyal players to replace the old, vacating generation. And younger viewers simply won't play a game if it's too hard. They want that feeling of power -- being able to complete a task and gain a reward at regular intervals. If the games they try out can't supply that, they put down the controller, and bad things happen to real people.
Think it's an isolated problem? We should ask these 432 now-defunct gaming companies what they think.
John has a Twitter thing. So suck it.
For more Cheese, check out 5 Ways to Tell You're Getting Too Old for Video Games and 5 Crucial Lessons Learned by Watching Kids Play Video Games.