Jimquisition: Previewed, Preordered, Prescrewed

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Headdrivehardscrew:

I don't think it's good to live on promises and well communicated hot air lies.

We've just found other things to throw money at. Things that don't lie to us, things that make us happy. Like guns, dogs, cattle, motorbikes, cars and ass-old consoles.

Right now, I pretty much despise Randy Pitchford. I think I know how the game is played, but going for smoke and mirrors and hiring bottom-feeding studios to create a "Gearbox" game is pretty low - if I misunderstood it and that statement is not valid, please let me rephrase it thusly: hiring some studio to create a "Gearbox" game is risky and stupid, methinks. Selling the resulting crap is quite offensive, no matter what goodies, figurines or DLC codes you pack in. It's all for nothing, as the actual game really, really is terribly bad.

Great post and a good place to platform off of as far as this discussion goes.

Two years back I got off the gaming and went back into complex RC and UAV, I am seeing this as somewhat of a local trend at-least in my area. At one time the local hobby store (paper pencil, card, models, RC, slot) was a ghost town... now it is doing a bustling business. Same with our local Kendo club and for the first time in years the model airstrip is getting a face lift.

As with anything I suppose the idea was that gaming (in general and as an industry) was recession proof, and by degrees if the reasoning held (nature dictates a suitable replacement which didn't really exist), that no matter what was being produced and sold on, it would "sell". Topographically there was such a base and so little content to fill the void, more or less anything "could" be sold. Simple a matter of discovering the price.

As far as the marketing tricks go they are academically taught and are generally considered to be "opportunistic and gorilla". Uses quite a bit of psychology including guilt, responsibility shifting, and co-opting concession with the consumer. Additionally due to the nature of "money talks" it has been debatable as to the quality of the reporting of the major reviewers and outlets of information. Many of the huge media conglomerates own major portions of the publishers as well as have vested interest in the magazines and online e-zines.

Looking at this world as a game, or a system, it is a great way to "stack or rig" the contest; the score kept in money.

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The legal nature of software (it simple has to run). As well as some rulings on the nature of the free speech laid the ground work for the adventurous entrepreneur.

This goes with the pre-orders as well. Originally (having real working experience on product side) the idea was to calculate the number of physical copies that a brick and mortar would have on hand for resale. Due to the slippery slope of product cost typically degrading all the time, "holding" too many copies of a title was a financial risk. If your a major distributor, how many copies of Madden NFL do you physically need to order to maximize your 72 hour window? What about the shipping? What about delivery?

That is to say that a Gamestop or BestBuy physically purchases many thousands or hundreds of thousands of these units, by contract. It is not consignment. Steam (to my limited knowledge does both consignment for a transaction fee and is "hooked" into x numbers of product keys at release.)

Used offsets this by calculating the churn rate of the physical product. Allowing for a much smoother transition and "somewhat" artificial scarcity to be introduced. Now of course, piracy and emulators do mess up those calculations considerably.

It's not a charity. It's a business. As systems have moved into a digital distribution age the dynamics of this simple and transparent policy has been abused. Though not without some cause for that abuse.

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Considering the number of studios that have folded or changed hands in the past few years, there has been a gulf of artist and creative people at the associates of arts or science level coupled with a rather stark decline in the number of design engineers moving into the field as well as professional designers (level design) BS.MS.Ph.D.. And if it is not a decline of entry of personnel into the field it simply didn't keep pace, stay put, or move into other industries.

Iv'e known of several design artist abandon video games and go into toy design. Many programmers and engineers go into financial institutions or physical good manufacturing. There are tons of reasons for this.

Rising hardware cost and an ever increasing cost to keep up with technology has created a fiscal chasm of very high casino risk.

We are in the age of the last man standing and high volatility with venture capitol drying up everywhere due to rather stagnant and receding economies. So much so in the case of one studio ongoing legal ramifications for failure to deliver. (Kickstarters and crowed funding side-skirting this in very clever ways).

This leaves a couple options are on the table, recycle known brands that have high visibility at the lowest possible cost (reboots and sequels), try to create a new brand, clone an already existing entity; or figure out a way to raise the cost of the unit by crippling it and selling it piece-mill.

Possibly sell out the company or license held I.P. to generate some quick cash. There is the F2P model that is being explored in an attempt to bring in a new base and lower the commitment gate of the consumer, and the social models which have some advantages and disadvantages... Sim City comes to mind with it's always online component which doubles as DRM and conversely the only A.I. (opponent/ally) the game will realistically have. Not sure how that is going to pan out.

As far as the fabled video game crash?

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I think we are in it, right now... but it is a huge market and may break up into pockets rather than totally sink. I am of the mind to say it is here to stay by degrees and most likely will "recycle" itself, accepting smaller markets rather than risk the huge amounts of capitol. As I heard once, 5 100 lb gorilla instead of 1 500 lb gorilla. I still think there will be some of the bigger titans that drop tried and true franchise sequels. The key here will be recycling assets (art, music, code base) as much as possible to keep the cost down.

A:CM is interesting in that it was farmed out under the auspices of being developed by a highly talented team. The assets could be wholesale shoplifted from the film, art, concept material, audio effects, alien designs. There are tons of resources that already exist in the form of wire frames and textures. Yet with all that material why is it so terrible?

What you said, about guns, reminds me of an interview with Barrett when he discussed the M98B weapon system built around the .338 LM. He said they took the round and designed a weapon system from the ground up for that round, rather than what the competitors have attempted to do which was modify an already existing system to support the round.

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To that end when I look at A:CM I see assets that where in place, and somewhere, as an afterthought, a game shoe-horned into that sea of "assets". There was little to no thought as to how "this" game should be. What strategies and tactics would a player find interesting or create to solve the crisis of the drama presented. Hardly the case.

A game was developed, sure... but a game was not designed around central mechanics. Nothing supports the round chambered into the system. Thing is, did it matter? Did anyone care? Maybe the consumer, but who cares about him or her?

The sad thing is there are moments of brilliance in the work. Take the whole thing apart and rebuild it from the ground up there is probably an excellent game to be had.

It's here where I find my own conundrum. Is it just lazy? Is it a lack of talent from a "game" design standpoint? Is it all art and homage? I see all bait and no hook. I deeply question just how much game is in here.

I suspect over the next couple weeks there will be some damage control, and some shifting of the blame... be it onto reserves or the strength of the I.P. could of never met a "fans" expectations. Ultimately, for me, it is simply a distinct lack of ability, accountability, and perhaps frustratingly no reason what-so-ever for there to have ever been any.

Off the shelf engines, concept work all but handed to teams, no legal ramifications outside of not meeting a delivery date, and a real lack of "artisan-ship or craftsmanship" in the central design.

It is embarrassingly bad.

McDonald's grade software with billions and billions served sold at a very high price point. It worked. Will likely continue to work.

Though with the notion of the "reserve" being at fault, that is simply not true. That money sits in "escrow" by most western countries law. All it does is gain interest, which the holding company keeps; not a farthing goes to a studio or publisher for development.

No transaction has taken place, other than to build interest for the distributor, Steam, BB, Amazon, EA Holdings... what have you. It is factually inaccurate and disingenuous to say otherwise without some evidence or copies of contracts which state that at "x" reserves, the budget is increased to "y". Which would be VERY unorthodox, even for shit-ware like A:CM.

So let's see the list of stuff that has been used in the blame game:

Piracy, Reserves, It's Art, Creative License, "Fans", Entitlements, Used, Digital Distribution (so many more I know I am missing).

I am really "excited" to see what is said next to paper up the cracks! =D

The blame here, lies squarely on the feet of the developer and the serious lack of investment into the work presented. Tantamount to fraud, with no legal ramifications due to the nature of the software industry.

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A craftsman or engineer would be severely reprimanded if not dismissed or brought liable for this sort of product...

Being it is a game game, fuck em; thanks for the new Ferrari. Hell even toy manufacturers are held to standards.

Reserves? "Jazz Hands!"

Since most of the preorder crap gets bundled with it I almost always wait for Game of the Year editions. does that mean i have to wait sure but its worth it.

I used to be into the idea of preordering. I mean, you got to get it before everyone else right?

But, I was young and stupid, and thanks to the reaction that this game got, I'm never doing it again.

No, not even for Bioshock Infinite.

My first ever meme, created in honor of this momentous occasion.

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This one's for you Jim.

NameIsRobertPaulson:
Previous pre-orders: Disgaea 4, Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy: Dissidia Duodecim, Dynasty Warriors 7, Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, Sengoku Basara, Tactics Ogre: PSP.

Current pre-orders: Metal Gear Rising, Dynasty Warriors 7: Empires

Get the idea yet?

Many of these games wouldn't be stocked on the shelves if I had not pre-ordered a copy. The biggest exception (FFXIII) was the worst of the bunch, and my least favorite game this generation so...

Have you tried Amazon or other internet stores? Even at worst you usually only have to wait a month if it's out of stock and then it gets send straight to as soon as they get it.

trty00:
I used to be into the idea of preordering. I mean, you got to get it before everyone else right?

I don't ever remember getting the games before anyone else, but it was a way to ensure you could actually get the game on release day, just in case it sold out quickly.

Though in the age of digital distribution this is no longer an issue.

KeyboardSnorlax:

vxicepickxv:
Pretty much the only companies that I can trust now for preorders are Atlus and Bethesda. Which is funny, because I know when I get a Bethesda product, I know it's going to be buggy.

True, but at least bethesda bugs are usually just funny.. like that one in New Vegas with that dog at the starts eyes

Honestly the only thing I don't like about Bethesda games pre-Skyrim is that they hard crashed.

If they fix that for their future games I'll always pre-order them until they screw me.

The only games I really preorder anymore are the yearly CoDs, and that's because I know exactly what I'm getting (the same thing as last year only with graphical and mechanical tweaks and a whole bunch of new maps). I know I'm going to be buying it anyway, and the pre-order versions generally offer the to-be-release DLC at a steep discount.

Everything else I wait for reviews. Been burned too many times.

The last game I preordered was Guild Wars 2, and it makes me disagree with this to some point, because it's fucking awesome and the new content, which probably would have been DLC I needed to buy from someone else, has been free so far. There's been something new every month, and I've not paid any more since I first bought it.

It's probably very rare for developers to do it like that today though.

You know, this gets me wondering, is it alright to pirate pre-order bonuses that are available on the first day, meaning they're essentially Day One DLC? The only recent pre-order bonuses that I can think of that weren't Day One DLC was Gamestop's pre-order bonus for Hitman: Absolution, which was a game in itself, and Borderlands 2's pre-order bonus where you received the Mechromancer character, which wasn't available until some time after release, and even then both of those games had these traditional pre-order "bonuses". The fact that we're being withheld actual content we should own should be enough to stop pre-ordering, let alone the fact that we sometimes end up scammed. The same thing that just happened with Colonial Marines happened last year with Ghost Recon: Future Soldier as well.

Companies like EA are wondering why game sales are down.

This reminds me SO much of the speculator market. Comic companies were riding high on that market up until the point where people used their brains and realized that the things they were buying were worthless. Then the bottom fell out and the whole industry crashed.

It boggles the mind that people that make their living selling such non-essential products treat us like we owe them something

I prebrought DNF... and will never prebuy any game ever again.

Well, HL3... so never ever again!

And thats why i wait at least 6 months after a game release to buy it

I was going to pre-order Bioshock Infinite this week but I've been hearing the final game is far more mechanical and "gamey" than the previews and past showings have demonstrated so probably a good idea to not blindly purchase it on faith now. I'm sure it will be fine but you really can't trust any studio anymore, except maybe Valve.

I am not going to stop preordering games. I don't preorder AAA games like Halo, Call of Duty of Final Fantasy titles. Those games I know I can get on discount 3 months later. I typically only preorder games that are of niche interest. That way I can pay a reasonable price for it and not get screwed later on.

I dunno, I mean I'd feel kind of hypocritical to be pro-crowdfunding & anti-preorder. I'm really not that difficult to please either.

I guess I can be anti-preorder on the grounds that I never buy initial releases. I always hold out until a GOTYE is released, or wait a year & a half for expansions & DLC price drops for those that don't get them.

Well, I would have preordered Carmageddon:Reincarnation if I'd known about it before the Kickstarter ended. I mean...How can you possibly f**k up Carmageddon?

I only pre order collectors editions....whats the point otherwise?

Saviordd1:
Mass Effect 3 is what got me out of preordering games, this just confirms it for more people.
.

so you wouldnt have played it had you known about the ending?

I would have bought/played it regardless of how good/bad it was, the difference here being that I'd go in without any pre conceived Ideas so I oculd make up my own mind...rather than have the game "ruined" for me I'd rather ruin it myself

Somehow, I can't help be recall movie trailers and how they sometimes completely misrepresent the point of a movie, all in order to get people to see that movie... Aren't there false advertising laws out there or something?

mfeff:

The blame here, lies squarely on the feet of the developer and the serious lack of investment into the work presented. Tantamount to fraud, with no legal ramifications due to the nature of the software industry.

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A craftsman or engineer would be severely reprimanded if not dismissed or brought liable for this sort of product...

Being it is a game game, fuck em; thanks for the new Ferrari. Hell even toy manufacturers are held to standards.

Reserves? "Jazz Hands!"

Oh, wow. You came here with a heart full of emotions and a brain full of words, it seems.

Awesome post, though. So awesome I found myself just skipping over and stop autocorrecting the spelling mistakes, instantly feeling stupid for being a part-time grammar nazi.

Yep, I agree with you that the state of the industry is worrying and troublesome, to say the least. Guaranteed sales are no warranty for proper funding and well-made games, it seems. I've seen pretty much the same issues pop up for a while since we all went 3D, FPS and obviously loving it. Autodesk must be making a fortune off the games industry. People that program virtual trees got a sale because, as it seems, Bethesda wasn't happy with what they got and they could't figure it out themselves before they were supposed to ship Fallout 3. Imagine that. Licensed trees.

The whole Alien conundrum is, methinks, not easily wrapped up, but I believe I see certain similarities of the 'horse meat scandal' that seems to have a firm grip over major European countries and big-name, big-money food companies and the 'utterly shite games non-scandal' state of affairs. We're bound to (want to) trust big names (Findus, Aldi, EA, Activision), but the bigger they get, the more important streamlined everything gets for them, to keep a tab on costs and TCO and ROI and whatnot. Findus does not seem to entertain fisheries, slaughterhouses, farms and crops. EA seems to buy and corrupt everything and everyone. Gearbox, although I thought they were much, much smaller, has obviously gone fully decadent and has outsourced development of a big-name franchise title that was ordered and paid for by SEGA, and Gearbox was either incapable, too busy or plain not interested in delivering what they sold upfront. Maybe they just wanted to stick it to the man and cause SEGA to sit on the massive turd that is A:CM. Maybe SEGA were cheapskates and Gearbox just couldn't be bothered.

They cheated and lied, and the crap they sold us is not worth any real time or money from average gamers, and it's bound to emotionally impact fans of the series in a very negative way. Aliens: Colonial Marines is cancer, ADD, depression and smallpox all rolled into one. It's a bad one.

I like your little bit about the Bushmaster M98B. I like the story, genesis, history of how it came to be. It took inspiration and dedication and significant risk taking to get this thing made, not just dreamed about. However, consider this: Currently, I don't believe important technological bits like Betamax or Laserdisc could happen in our current economical climate. Sony must prevail, one way or another, but I must admit that I haven't even bought so much as Sony TV for at least a decade, after pretty much twenty years of brand loyalty. I love my PS3, but from the top of my head, I can't think of a Sony developed or Sony funded title that really blew my mind lately. Was Journey funded by Sony? If yes, that's the one. The Sony party brawl thing - I haven't even played it once up to this point in time, and that can't possibly be a good sign.

I got a heavy disconnect with EA going on, I ignore most of the shit Activision cranks out. From ten to twenty games bought per year I went down to... three to four titles a year. Everything else just makes me happier with less money, and most of the additional time I spend outside, with or without other people, seems so much more important and precious to me. Driving a car, skinning deer, burying a dog and teaching a new puppy new tricks and laying down the general rules of how not be an asshole seems so much more satisfying than playing crap games and even paying money for them.

Yeah, I like Ni No Kuni. But I just can't be arsed to spend weekend after weekend dumping hours into it. I'll finish it, but I am much more likely to dump another hundred or so hours into Dark Souls, over the course of the months to come.

Oh, hey, people that hollered for an easy mode Dark Souls - get yourself Ni No Kuni. That's Dark Souls light, with Pokemons, Tamagotchis, plenty of pink and cute. And you can still die if you're thick. Oh, and you can save shit. Should tingle your easy-mode-loving fancy. Enjoy.

mike1921:

Saviordd1:
Mass Effect 3 is what got me out of preordering games, this just confirms it for more people.

I honestly hope people take this to heart and don't preorder games based on previews or brand recogn....

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So much for that idea.

http://www.greenmangaming.com/s/us/en/pc/games/shooter/bioshock-infinite-na/
$10-$17 off for preordering. I think Jim and TB both neglected to say anything that really would always be against pre ordering a game for an actually tangible and significant benefit (It's so fucking rare a preorder bonus is significant they can't be blamed). For context: aliens pre-order came with fucking multiplayer skins. And it's from gearbox, who to my knowledge were heavily involved in duke nukem forever.

It's a risk versus reward scenario: In aliens the potential reward was fucking tiny and the risk was this scenario playing out right now.

.....This is probably the worst place to put this, but you've really made me want to pre-order Bioshock:Infinite now.

Also, I can't help but feel the gaming industry's long-term ideas is to keep coming up with nee bullshit to screw us over... And if the gaming industry falls... "Fuck it, we got the money." That's the feeling I get, this business is run by people who genuinely do not CARE about the industry, and that's just sad.

I see many people here saying that they will or have only pre-ordered a game they knew they would like. My question to these people is: How did/do you know?

Harker067:
Yeah only a few companies (atlus, Cd projct red) have gotten a preorder from me in a long time. Almost anything else I'll wait and see probably months down the line. Hell I only got portal 2 last week.

vxicepickxv:
Pretty much the only companies that I can trust now for preorders are Atlus and Bethesda. Which is funny, because I know when I get a Bethesda product, I know it's going to be buggy

you know what? one day game dev x is going to make a game that doesnt reach your expectations, then you'll be here screaming away on the forums about how game dev x killed your dog and sold your grandma into prostitution

This is why I don't buy anything unless it's been out for a while. Also, where does one get a dildo bat?

jdogtwodolla:
I see many people here saying that they will or have only pre-ordered a game they knew they would like. My question to these people is: How did/do you know?

We-elll, in the case of Halo:CE Anniversary Edition, because it was already one of my favourite games ever (and the exploding grunts skull was too awesome to pass up). Though I'm guessing that one doesn't really count, since it was technically just a re-release with a texture mod and a shiny new case. That said, I'd never actually bought the original.

Mass Effect 2 and 3. (Yes I know, touchy subject.) Pre-ordered the Limited Edition in both cases. I didn't know they were going to be awesome. However, I knew that I was going to end up playing them anyway, and I was already invested in the series in both cases. For ME2, it was only the second Bioware game I'd ever played - but I knew and trusted their reputation. Was there a risk? Yes. Was I disappointed? No. Not in either case. (Lets not get into a discussion about the ending.)

Other than that? DX:HR I pre-ordered on the basis of an awesome trailer, a brilliant soundtrack, the promise of an intriguing storyline, and a gameplay demonstration of an early level. And a desire for a silenced sniper-rifle. And, again, I was not disappointed... mostly (until the story lost its way for the last two hours or so...) I actually came out ahead with this pre-order - I paid for the Augmented version. Game.co.uk had too many pre-orders, and upgraded me to the Collector's Edition at no extra cost...

And I think that's the sum total of my pre-orders. All in all, I'd agree that pre-order is a risk, and should only be done with caution. But it's a good way of throwing an extra bit of support behind a game that you know you're going to pick up anyway.

I say leave people be when it comes to pre orders.

The less people pre ordering games, the more pre order 'incentives' (aka cut content sold separately) there will be.

Personally I find I just WANT to believe the sort of misrepresentation that goes on, just so desperate for more good games.

It's this kinda of shit that has me convinced that the game industry is no longer worth my time or what little money I don't have.

Jimothy Sterling:
Previewed, Preordered, Prescrewed

Preorder culture expects gamers to trust developers more than ever, but how does that work when they inspire so little faith?

Watch Video

The finest episode yet! Flawless! Thank god for you Jim!

canadamus_prime:
It's this kinda of shit that has me convinced that the game industry is no longer worth my time or what little money I don't have.

We can always go back to lawn darts ... They are only mildly lethal to friends and family.

Vault101:

Harker067:
Yeah only a few companies (atlus, Cd projct red) have gotten a preorder from me in a long time. Almost anything else I'll wait and see probably months down the line. Hell I only got portal 2 last week.

vxicepickxv:
Pretty much the only companies that I can trust now for preorders are Atlus and Bethesda. Which is funny, because I know when I get a Bethesda product, I know it's going to be buggy

you know what? one day game dev x is going to make a game that doesnt reach your expectations, then you'll be here screaming away on the forums about how game dev x killed your dog and sold your grandma into prostitution

Or not... I honestly can't remember the last time a game not hitting my expectations made me through a fit. I can't say I've ranted on escapist about any of my frustrations either I tend to avoid those threads. My pre-ordering is more about my appreciation of games past then about expectations about future games.

What really worries me is that despite all of Jim's preaching and everyone else who tries to draw people's attention to these kinds of issues there is still going to be an alarming number of blind idiots who will not only continue to buy into this bullshit, but actually defend it which can only mean that these kind of bullshit practices are not going to stop anytime soon.

I think it's fair to say that most of us have been stung by pre-orders, but I'm interested to hear Jim's take on Kickstarters - surely the 'ultimate' pre-order.

As misleading as it may have been, Gearbox's A:CM trailer gave a vague hint as to final game content. At least people who pre-ordered this game had some rather hazy idea of what they were getting. Well what of the current 'darling' of gaming, the kickstarter? Asking customers to hand over their money with no idea whatsoever of what kind of game will emerge from said process and then expecting the same customers who paid for the game's development to then pay full price (and probably a pre-order bonus) for the finished product?!

It's been said before, but I'll say it again: How do I get out of this chickenshit outfit...

LordLundar:

Cecilthedarkknight_234:
can I just give one defense to pre-ordering games from gamestop?? For some one that has limited finical means such as myself, it's a way of making small down payment for a game I really do want. Say for example Nisa is going to release disgaea 4 for the ps-vita in 2014. I really like the franchise already and trust their quality for making games. This will allow me a 3-4 month period to pay off a 30-40 dollar game at full retail price with out having to scrap up all that money in one-day.

Layaways used to do that before they got largely phased out. In fact, the only difference between the two is with a layaway you were still paying in parts for something guaranteed to be there and in the expected condition instead of a promissory note that may not (and most likely will not) be true.

I'm well aware that is how i bought my first PlayStation one, game-cube, ps2 and so on. I don't really mind the pre-ordering system if used correctly, sadly most people just hop on and pre-order game hoping it will be good. I've been burned here before my-self back in 08 with square-enix's release of the last remnant for the xbox 360. I was thinking that this game looks fantastic, finally a hardcore jrpg for the 360 based on trailers, limited game-play footage etc. What we got was a mess and saddened me more as gamer, even a consumer of games in general but I learned from this mistake.

jdogtwodolla:
I see many people here saying that they will or have only pre-ordered a game they knew they would like. My question to these people is: How did/do you know?

Well it depends on the company developing the game. I would used Bethesda for example here when I heard they where making fallout 3. I really loved morrowind and oblivion "apically what their engine could do", so to see a fallout game in that environment had me giddy with joy. Then there is brand loyalty with established franchises such as Nisa strategy rpgs such as the disgea franchise.

I know what to expect from this franchise in the quality department because the company is small, has a loyal fan-base that will always support them. However they could do something so drastic like square enix has done with the final fantasy franchise to loose fans, but this is why I prefer the niche gaming market now.

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