Going Gold

Going Gold
Ten Things I Hate About You, Gaming

Christian Ward | 9 Sep 2009 21:00
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Crunch time, a bizarre but necessary fact of life in the games industry, is not conducive to turning an article in to a major gaming site every two weeks. But the way we have accepted how the gaming industry pre-factors in months of overtime, instead of planning things out properly from day one, is an oddball, irrational decision that has set me to thinking about the other oddball, irrational things that gaming does. And there are many.

So, while crunch time may not be conducive to writing, it is conducive to full-blown misanthropy and annoyingly fastidious nit-picking. These, for no reason and in no rational order other than the scattergun workings of my brain on Red Bull, are the ten things that I hate about gaming right now.

1. Preorder Bonuses

Contrary to the popular belief that all you have to do is burn an extra copy of a disc, games cost a lot to manufacture, and so pre-orders are a good rule of thumb for a publisher as to how popular a title will be and thus how many copies to print. Therefore, it's understandable that publishers put a lot of effort into hyping them. What I don't understand is what gamers get out of it. When was the last time you weren't able to get a major software release - the ones that have the desirable pre-orders - at launch date? And on the flip side, how long has it been since a title you bought for $60 in August is suddenly $20 in September? Is that worth the absolute tat that is passed off as "bonuses" for forking over cash early?

While gamers complain about the monopoly of stores like GameStop, removing their ability to shop around for a title by buying in pre-order gimmicks only feeds the madness. And then there are those trinkets themselves - they used to just be useless plastic gimmicks, until they started becoming useless in-game items. How long before pre-order bonuses go the way of the worst kind of DLC - to wit, become things that would have been on the disc in a previous generation? Honestly, I would have thought gaming would have grown out of this way of doing business by now.

2. The Race to Digital Distribution

While we're on the subject - thought GameStop was bad? Imagine if they had no competitors at all, and never could have, because the only people licensed to sell console games were Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. This is the market we are headed towards in our rush to digital distribution.

Yes, Steam works, spectacularly. Why does Steam work? Because it has competitors that keep it on its toes. The PC is an open system, while the Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 are utterly closed. Unlike Steam, no one will ever be able to open a store on those systems without the express permission and control of first party - and lack of competition inevitably leads to higher prices. While the near-monopoly that is GameStop makes market freedom in gaming somewhat theoretical, the one weapon consumers now have is the freedom to take their business elsewhere. An all-digital model, in the current console market, would be an invitation for first party to set their prices at whatever level they damn well choose.

3. Console-Specific Fanboys

Every bit moronic and futile as the right- and left-leaning, non-thinking spews of hate that clog up everything from the TV news to my Facebook updates every day. You don't have to defend everything your side does or says. It's alright to think for yourself once every so often. Stop putting yourselves in camps and trying to validate yourself through your company affiliations.

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