Jimquisition: In the Hall of the Mountain Dew

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Uncharted 3 pissed me off, and I'm still pissed. I love the games. I bought Uncharted 1 used, loved it. Then I bought Uncharted 2 new, loved it. Then me and my brother pooled our money together to buy the Uncharted 3 collector's edition, and only one of us could play multiplayer because of the fucking online fucking pass.

Thankfully a good friend gave me her pass, but the fact all this happened is just fucking sad.

I think we're being told to feel sorry for the poor developers because that's kind of the culture here in the US. Customer loyalty isn't really derived from superior products or services, it's derived from ignorance and guilt trips. Maybe this is from a lack of regulation? I'm not sure, but when a huge company is about to create about a million unemployed workers because the CEO made a critically stupid error, our first reaction is to throw money at them until they're better, because THINK OF THE WORKERS. Hell, there were about a grillion threads on why tips are mandatory in the US, and that's a case of "think of the workers!" too.

Maybe it's the idea that we, the lowly, poor, stupid consumers can't possibly touch those big, powerful, rich CEO's (who obviously are infinitely smarter and better and have never had any advantages in life whatsoever), but if we stop buying from them for ONE SECOND, they'll fire all of our friends and relatives, because if they can't buy another yacht, well, then life just simply isn't worth living. I feel like this is not at all unrelated to the idea that, if we just give all of the rich people a break, they'll shower us with money. It hasn't happened yet, but that hasn't stopped anyone from spouting it.

I think, to get Microsoft to stop crying "but we're too pooooor!" we'd need to rearrange our silly culture to stop emphasizing early life advantage, which is only attainable by having more money than everyone else. I could be wrong, but that's just what it looks like to me.


It's just sad to consider that what once was a hobby shared by a niche of passionate folks, some twenty years ago, turned into this big corporate enabler that tries to justify its own excesses with online passes, gateway fees and other ridiculous opt-in purchases.

I miss the days when a team of two or three, a Pizza and Coke budget and some patience could deliver little games that would get passed on via floppy discs. In the triple-A business, if you're not siphoning the equivalent of a fraction of a single State or province's yearly budget into the cost of producing a SINGLE game - you're apparently doing it wrong.

And some people wonder why innovation's dead. Of course it's dead; the only way to make money is to play it safe and use your millions to, oh, sharpen up the textures in places and maybe - just maybe - keep your level designers busy for a year. That's when you're not releasing map packs.

Innovation is not dead, you are just searching for it at the wrong places.

Nowadays, it's popular to accuse people who bash "the mainstream", with claims that those are just hipsters, but really, in that regard, they have a point:

If you are looking for dedication, artistic fidelity, and styles and themes that feel like they are made directly for you, then go and find your own obscure niche, instead of drooling over whatever the "AAA" industry and the main gaming media is hyping at the moment.

A mainstream blockbuster industry is, by DEFINITION, soullessly bland, CEOs are intentionally trying to dumb it own to the Lowest Common Denominator, it's only purpose is to reach as mony people as possible.

To identify that monstrous side of gaming as "our" gaming, as the serious, hardcore, high-quality, AAA, call-it-what-you-want industry that we are supposed to care about the most, is it's own foolishness.

Just because you are interested in literature, doesn't mean that you have to judge the past years based on Twilight and 50 shades, you can always find some postcyberpunk adventure, or an epic Fallout/My Little Pony fanfiction novel written with amazing talent, whatever floats your boat. Just because you like music, doesn't mean that you have to listen to Bieber and Lady Gaga, there is always some christian industrial death metal band or some alternative J-rock that you will like.

The same with games. No one says that you HAVE TO care about the mainstream, or identify with it as if it would be made for you. There are also some incredibly enjoyable games made, (and not even just ironically pixellated 2D indie games) only slightly behind the front lines. Look them up.

Now what's so bad about Mountain Dew? I would buy Halo 4 if that means I could get Mountain Dew with it. I miss Mountain Dew so much. They stopped selling it here many years ago. Like any other awesome soda.

I've got to say that I agree with the XBL fees being bullshit. Steam is able to offer a great service which does pretty much the same for free, the main difference is that it's better.

Great video! I have always felt the same way, it is so galling to hear these various developers and publishers talk about how they NEED to have the day one, on disc DLC, the online pass, the in-game advertisements, the cross promotions, and the always online DRM or else they won't make any money and will go out of business.

Of course as long as people buy into these things they will continue. I don't really mind a lot of it except for in-game advertisements in paid games and the always online DRM stuff, but I agree it is so insulting to hear some of the justifications given for these practices.

I wish they would just man up and say, "We are a for profit business and our mission is to make money. Now go buy that day one DLC. Make sure to buy some Mountain Dew and Doritos to get the "Fat Nerd" unlock and hey, did you notice all those subway sandwiches in the game? I'll bet that makes you hungry, go buy some Subway."


Jimothy Sterling:

All this is well and good, but what I want to know is how does Jim know what hedgehog piss tastes like? :p

Hedgehogs can't hold it in when you're trying to suck their little hedgecocks.

are you raping sonic the hedgehog??

Why not? Everybody else associated with him already has :)

I completely agree with most of this. It's the shameless, in your face advertising like this that bothers me. If used right, advertising can both net the dev some more money, and make the game more immersive. For example, the ipod in MGS4. Advertisement, yes. But it was a lot closer to reality than some random in-game mp3 player with a generic name. It made it feel a little more real.

Imagine seeing something like Mcdonalds restaurants in an open world game. This makes the in-game world seem more like the real world, and nets the dev some extra money. Granted, it needs to flow like the rest of the world. None of that "Pepsi machines can't be thrown in bionic commando because it associates the brand name with violence" crap.

I feel advertising is OK in cases like i stated above, but crap like this with halo and mountain dew, and uncharted and subway sickens me. It's nothing more than a cash grab and benefits the consumer in no way at all.

P.S. Jim, you said MS charges devs up to Forty Thousand Grand to patch their games. 40 million dollars is a lot. I guess it explains the "poor" developers haha.

Wow, hadn't even heard of that barcode scanning campaign. Now that's just ridiculous. Not much we can do though, beside calling them out on their bullshit and not buying their bullshit.

Anyway, does Mountain Dew really taste that bad? We don't have any where I live.

What's in that bottle may indeed taste like hedgehog piss (I wouldn't know, I've never had hedgehog piss)... but most certainly does not taste like sugar. That wasn't Throwback, so it tastes like high fructose corn syrup, a distinctly different brand of cloyingly sweet.

As for the rest of the video... dayum, you're tolerant of AAA assrape. I still take issue with the actions they take, and you only take issue with the wording and being treated like an idiot? I still say it takes a special brand of idiocy (or maybe it's just a behavioral addiction? I dunno, never had one of those, so it seems like the same thing to me) to continue buying when these are their marketing tactics.

I'm fine with a company have tie-in campaigns, so long as the "savings" come down; Like a free piece of DLC or no more online passes. I fine with them putting ads on Xbox live if they charge less for Xbox live. I have no problem with companies doing any of these so long as the savings come down to the customers, which will make the company more money. If they aren't going to give the customers something back for all this then they should just admit that they are greedy and want to have a money pit like Scrooge McDuck.

I never saw those Uncharted 3 Subway commercials... and now I wish I never did.

Fuck, that was a sickening display! Shame on you, Naughty Dog.

This is why I am a PC gamer and Steam is my friend.

Now, now Mountain Dew and Tequila tastes great together. (Lots of Tequila)
Then again, paint thinner and Mr. Clean taste good too with lots of Tequila.

Hrmmmm, well I think the problem is the corperate mentality as many people have pointed out. Corperations nowadays are not simply out to make a fair profit (take in more money than they spend), but to grow at a specific, forecasted rate. The issue is that you have a bunch of suits who have experts telling them that to be considered successful they will need to grow "X" amount in the next billing cycle to remain competitive. These forecasts being based on what the most successful titles in video games are making. Basically if your FPS makes a hundred million dollars in profit, and someone else's makes 250 million that's considered a failure. Likewise if you don't make X % more money than you did at the same time the year before that's considrred a failure. It's not like a business is going to say "whelps we spent a few hundred million, but made it all back plus $50k that's a win", if projections say a company should say make 20% more this year than last year and you don't do that, then it's considered a failure.

That's insane, but it's sadly how the corperate mentality works. In part because the shareholders view the whole thing as a game themselves, and don't generally have any vested interest in any product. If a stock isn't performing they just dump it and buy one that will.

When it comes to servers and such, common sense dictates that maintaining servers should be considered as part of the $60 price tag and development costs. Sadly that's not the case nowadays, as those "costs" are a constant drain, companies want other revenue streams to maintain them. After all they want to take their big lumps of cash and spend or invest them, not keep them around to pay upkeep fees and spend years finding out exactly how much money they made after interest fades and the servers close down.

Any time I see a video game company that made huge costly products thats backed by market ads , huge customer output , D . L . C , merchandising , pre-orders of products not even released. Then insists that those same customers pay an extra tab by subscription fee for the production costs that the GAME COMPANY made. All I think is this.

Wonder why he jumped on Uncharted from last year instead of CoD and it's eventual eat and drink shit for XP deals with Mtn. Dew but we still get boned out of another $50 for maps every year. Surely that's more relevant, right?

Or what about the fact that the Robert Florence thing happened and Jim didn't have the stones to talk about that of what we already know? You'd think Jim would be all over a story like that.

I think the problem is that yes, companies are looking out to make money, but partnering with other companies to sell you two products at the same time is stupid (it runs in the moronic logic that the people who like Subway will run Uncharted and vice versa) and usually only one of the companies ends up losing money. It's the wrong way to make money.

The problem is that Star Wars and other huge franchises like Transformers are American-made and are a HUGE part of American capitalist culture. Halo, Gears of War are trying to copy the profits Lucasarts has made since the 80's. Star Wars whored itself successfully and has made millions with toys, novels, comics, video games, cereal deals, etc. Master Chief and Mountain Dew are carrying that legacy

This is why you won't see an European franchise like Discworld whoring itself for money. In Japan, everyone in the anime industry is trying to copy Neon Genesis Evangelion and whoring themselves to the same degree.

Any thoughts on my conclusion?

EDIT: (Also big franchises are the only ones that can afford to be the littlest, prettiest whores on the market)

The development costs are still very large for AAA games, so they do need the money.
Smaller ones don't need it because their budgets are smaller and if a large publisher is releasing them they would not like to gamble too much on it.
For example, Halo can be used to make money and then the money could be given to newer IPs(I am not saying it will, but it could).
Would you still think it is this bad if 2K used these tactics to raise money for extremely risky stuff like Spec Ops?

I dont mind advertisement in games when it done well. like you know when you walk in a town that has like 100 billboards and 10% of them are real advertisements, or when a character use a laptop in cutscene and it happens to have a HP brand on it. that would simply look like "hey have to use a laptop from somone" type of stuff.
What i get pissed off is when they want you to pay 15 dollars for what should be ashamed to even call it a patch.
And subscription is why i will never use xbox live, to hell with such idiocity.

I'm still waiting for the kickstarter revolution to really bear fruit. In another year or two, a few of the biggest ones (Wasteland 2, etc) will have borne fruit, and we'll see whether their success/failure will have a major impact on the gaming industry.

right there with you.

the big publishers have no clue when it comes to this stuff. i remember reading that at least one publisher apparoached obsidian and i wish i was making this up for them to do the kickstarter, raise all the budget, make the game, shoulder all the costs, sign over the IP, loose most of the profits, have the publisher saying what they could and couldnt include and and in return the publisher would give them retail and marketing :-|

if nothing else else told me how out of touch publishers were with consumers and how they see them as nothing but walking cow wallets to be milked it was that

Nice. Many things I had never thought about, however I feel like there is an even more interesting trend in the current gaming economy. Many of the big companies, Microsoft, Sony, etc., operate in the red mainly because of other divisions of the corporation (device manufacturing typically). The strange thing is that it sounds like Jim is saying that the gaming divisions more then make up for those loses, i.e. the gaming community is actually not just paying so "at some point a game needs to make money," but also for failing brands in technology. The crazy thing is that Apple, who not only operates in the black but has billions in the bank, seems to be looked down upon for having one of the most widely popular and easy to use store fronts with a mostly health platform for delivering gaming content.

This is why I am a PC gamer and Steam is my friend.

Yeah, Steam isn't exactly immune either. But I don't think anyone here is going to listen to my argument. I dared to suggest that Steam wasn't the second coming of Christ, so I'll most likely get burned to a crisp now.

Jim I usually agree with points but most people DIDN'T complain when Iron Man or any other movie tried this sort of thing. All of the sudden a couple big hits feel like trying it and there you go, rage at it.

Also good news, Halo 4 does not do Online passes, as much as it seems not like it, Microsoft cares about how they handle Halo. Why do you think they were so unsure about making a full on movie with it for quite some time? They know not to fuck it up.

I still don't understand where people get this idea of 'making' money from. The only people who make money are people with special paper, ink and printers. It's not like making a sweater. Companies TAKE money. From other people. If companies were willing to say, "You know, sometimes we just have to take more of your money than we were before for the same or less product," I might have something resembling sympathy for their position. At least they'd be honest.

Gearhead mk2:

This is why I am a PC gamer and Steam is my friend.

Yeah, Steam isn't exactly immune either. But I don't think anyone here is going to listen to my argument. I dared to suggest that Steam wasn't the second coming of Christ, so I'll most likely get burned to a crisp now.

Note: I hardly ever use Steam if I can help it.

There's a slight difference between advertising free items for Team Fortress 2 (itself now a free-to-play game) alongside preordering other games, and having Mountain Dew sponsor your marketing campaigns.

OT: Good video, Jim, and agreed like usual. It's funny how the companies complaining most often about needing to make money are the ones who make record-breaking sales every year. You know, funny in that "what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-the-world" sort of way.

It's rather amusing that I opened a bottle of Mountain Dew before I started watching this.

Mmmm, you can really taste the hedgehog piss.

This type of bull shit is why I avoid a lot of developers now. I won't buy anything by UBI soft, and I am not sure if I will ever buy from EA again. Of course as more and more companies keep this up, it limits where I can go. Guess I'll have to be more adventurous with the indie games.

I'm eagerly looking forward to the inevitable industry wide crash that happens next gen when budgets are so bloated, development so insanely time consuming and costly and the relentless greed so all encompassing the entire medium collapses on itself. Too many companies and the people running them have grown too arrogant, too money obsessed and they all need a giant reality wakeup boot to the face.

Snip, although it's a good post.

I actually do play indie titles, and considering what I'm working on as a student, I'm definitely not sticking to the Twilight/Fifty Shades modern standards. I'm quite fond of Uplink, I used to play Minecraft with a few friends in a somewhat regular fashion, and I especially like it when small teams release things that break the mould. You've read my post while assuming I had my blinders on and couldn't see past Triple-A development, but that's not the case.

I'm just disappointed that it's come to this, if I have to try and be clearer. We've reached a point where apart for the rare chart-topping indie title, what you're likely to see on top shelves is the same recycled Triple-A material, year after year after year. I'm disappointed that bravery in designing games or interactive experiences hasn't been embraced in better a fashion than it has. I'm missing the SPIRIT of garage developers, and I'd really like to see someone with a Triple-A's budget manage to produce something that won't feel like it's being castrated by an oblivious focus group or marketing execs desperately trying to keep their company aground by producing me-too material.

I'm well aware that innovation isn't unilaterally dead and gone, I know I can reach out to what's done in small and self-published studios or even in places like Newgrounds and Armor Games. I know I still have those options.

What I've been trying to say is that I'd like the Triple-A devs to actually pay attention to what the indies are pulling off. Look at Portal 2 or Team Fortress 2. What's made them succeed isn't their marketing campaign or the fact that one of them switched to Free-to-Play. Valve titles in general tend to prove that there *is* a place for innovation and smart writing and dialogue in Triple-A development. Not every single product needs to cater to the Would-Be Thug or Dude-Bro crowd, or to sports fans who don't mind getting a slightly shinier roster update every year for a full sixty bucks.

The day the big fish do start to understand that, we won't need tie-in marketing campaigns like these. We won't need egregious sequels designed to keep the money flowing. We won't need things like Mass Effect 4 or Halo 4 or even the shift in focus Dragon Age 2 represented.

But, of course, they won't understand. Hollywood appeals to our base emotions and only considers our brains once the Oscar season rolls in. Then, its best pseudo-intellectual efforts tend to revolve around the same tired old themes and tired old tropes disguised as narrative depth, when it's really just another pandering display of profundity. The mainstream industry follows that exact pattern.

It's that divide that's frustrating me. I'd like a gaming culture when I can enjoy something that has the structural means of a summertime explosion-fest and the narrative and scenario-related capabilities of things like Journey or Passage.

I'm eagerly looking forward to the inevitable industry wide crash that happens next gen when budgets are so bloated, development so insanely time consuming and costly and the relentless greed so all encompassing the entire medium collapses on itself. Too many companies and the people running them have grown too arrogant, too money obsessed and they all need a giant reality wakeup boot to the face.

Then, of course, the cycle begins anew. The surviving companies in the midst of the Great 2020 Mass Game Extinction Event climb on top of their predecessors' corpses and establish themselves as the leading force. New consoles are spawned, new games are made, some become successful, money is made...

Fast-forward to 2055 or thereabouts, and we have ourselves a third video game crash. Ad infinitum.

Ah hearing this makes me so happy that I've never owned an Xbox.

I say vote with your dollar and support steam. Pick up your favorite titles on PC while paying less and significantly extend the length of your game by user created mods. I picked up 6 games the other day on steam for 15 bucks. You can't beat that.

I love seeing Jim this angry. Great video as always.

Snack food makes it "hard find Halo credible as a creative endeavor". This made me laugh.

I say vote with your dollar and support steam. Pick up your favorite titles on PC while paying less and significantly extend the length of your game by user created mods. I picked up 6 games the other day on steam for 15 bucks. You can't beat that.

Sure you can, just not on consoles.

Man, you say "dew" weird.

Like "do."

Accents are crazy.

This episode made me happy. It's refreshing to hear someone say something OTHER than bullshit

as for the point about soda

any fans of the dubliners in the thread?

Quite a few people seemed to miss the point, he wasn't raging at the fact that games use product placement to generate extra cash, I would have to rewatch the video to confirm this but I think he says he is happy with them to do that. What he was raging at was the general idea that a game by itself, with none of the attached nonsense will not make enough money on it's own to justify it's production and maintenance cost. That the attached bullshit we the consumer have to put up with in the form of day one DLC, Online Passes, god awful DRM and wanky product placement is being justified by the developers as a way to generate the cash they require to make the game profitable.

What he was saying is that a triple AAA title by itself sold at whatever price it is sold at should and for the most part probably is more than enough to make enough cash to turn a profit and that all the crap we have to put up with is not to give the developer his much needed daily bread but just to make them a huge Scrooge McDuck style money bin that they can then swim in.

I also agree with his opinion that if the companies came forward and simply said they do this stuff not to make a break even game but because they are out and out greedy bastards, instead of force feeding us all the bullshit excuses to try and justify the DLC, DRM and other nonsense, then I would have a hell of a lot more respect for them.

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