Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Op/Ed: Hey Take Two? Try Originality For Better Sales.

Some interested in video games in any way may well have heard of this recently. For the benefit of those who haven't, there's a matter of a video game company, Take Two, whining recently. About what? They're mad over used game sales hurting new game sales.

I've got to be honest, this is a pretty funny thing to be mad about. Used games have always taken away from new game sales since they first popped up. Of course, the obvious problem here is that with the current sour economic times, used game sales are up. Of which I laugh at Take Two, because I'm not sure what they expect.

I mean, let's look at it objectively here. Video games are not priced like they used to be. Game companies can rationalize it all they want, but when they started raising the starting price for new games this was bound to happen. Fifty dollars used to be the standby price for a new video game and it was generally fair. Used for a good number of years. Then they raised it to sixty dollars; some games actually go for seventy dollars now. You think about that for a while; seventy dollars new for a game.

Considering the US economy is currently in the toilet, as it generally is every so often, that's a ridiculous price for video games. I'm sorry to tell these guys, but I'm one of those who refuse to pay it. I don't buy used, however; I don't like the prospect of getting software whoms condition is something of a wildcard and I'd rather have something brand new. But I do wait until the prices drop to at least thirty dollars. Others I can understand perfectly going for the used game route as this is simply getting too expensive for a hobby; I don't care how many goddamn hours of gameplay it gives you.

Then there's pirating, which has always been a legitimate problem in games. But the companies have been trying these intrusive DRM schemes lately that restrict your rights with the product you've purchased. Big surprise that piracy went up right? Apparently it's a huge surprise to these stupid companies. I like owning things, I don't like piracy and I enjoy the fact that purchasing a game rewards the developers for their hard work. But I can understand pirating something when things like this come into play. Just the idea that someone will try and tell you how many times you can install your property that you have purchased sickens me. I just skip the games entirely, myself. I want to play Spore pretty bad, for instance; but I've accepted that I never will, because I'm not allowing a company to tell me what I can do with my own games.

Is it any wonder why these people are losing money?

The sad part, there are plenty of things they can do. For one, the DRM schemes need to go. It's forcing a lot of people to either skip games or pirate them; people who would normally be legit customers. Let's face it; pirates are always going to be there. There will be no shutting them down. But this crap makes it all worse. One or two companies actually specifically skip DRM because they believe it makes piracy worse.

Another thing; they honestly need to take their freaking time with these games. Remember how great the Sonic series used to be? Notice how they suck right now? That's because Sega is determined to whore him out every Christmas. Now this is nothing new, but the difference is now Sonic games are 3D and those cannot be made and made good in less than a year. Notice Mario games are still fantastic? They take their time; Miyamoto even says that a good game will last but a bad game will be bad forever. Mario games still sell something like a bajillion copies when released. Cut the rushing. Seriously.

Oh, some originality would be nice too. I love sequels; really I do. But it's time game developers find something new. I'm not paying sixty dollars for another Devil May Cry that is basicaly the same as the now dirt cheap previous installments with better graphics. The reason the Final Fantasy series is so great is that they always try something different with each game, even if the core of the game is similar or the same. It's time for new properties and fresh ideas that we'd be willing to spend money on. Keep doing the sequels and all, but this hobby needs more original ideas badly.

For another thing, companies really need to start mining past genre's. Remember 2D action adventure titles? They can only be found on handhelds now. 2D basically took it's dying breaths with the Playstation, where some of the best 2D games actually came out. It's cheaper, still able to make great games and there's a damn market for it as Mega Man 9 and Bionic Commando Rearmed proves, so use it dammit! Making an epic 2D title with all the space of the next generation systems and the power would be fantastic. Remember Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and what it did with all the space of the Playstation? Exactly. Why has the Adventure genre gone completely to the side? There's demand for it; otherwise things like the new Sam & Max games wouldn't be so successful, much less other similar games. There's no excuse anymore, especially with delivery systems like X-Box Live Arcade, Playstation Network and Wii Shop. So freaking use it already!

Most of all, game companies need to stop whining. The ball's in their court. We pay for the high quality games we like, whether they're 2D or 3D. High budgets isn't going to always make a smash game; if they'd actually tried putting more love and effort into things they might get furthur. They're partly responsible for their high development costs and games failing. They're the ones that have the obligation to put out a product we want. We have no obligation to them.

The day they realize this is the day things turn for the better. Until thn, I'm going to laugh at companies like Take Two. Complaining about games being sold used. Seriously; that's pathetic.


  1. This article makes me think of the Guitar Hero games and... jhohfa'fhoilsgf.

    I guess I can understand the reason Guitar Hero is a $100 pack -- they've got the guitar and the game and the doodads and what have you. Still, I wouldn't want to pay that much for it, which is why I'll end up getting world tour for the DS instead of the game for the PS2, because the one for the DS is cheaper.

    I've kind of noticed how the price varies with the price of the console. Wii games seem to be cheaper than XBOX 360 games, which are cheaper than PS3 games (at least this is what I saw in the European market -- I haven't looked at an American GameStop for this trend). I guess for handheld consoles, the DS games are cheaper than PSP games, which is probably why I ultimately chose the DS over the PSP.

    I dunno, just something I've noticed.

  2. Well, the main reason Wii games are cheaper is becuse the Wii is basically last gen hardware hot rodded a bit and given motion controls. They really didn't do much more than modify the Gamecube, meaning it's less powerful.

    You'll notice games are cheaper new for the system yes, but there's also less support. Nobody really seems to want to deal with the system much except for ports. Why comes down to several different reasons that boil down to Nintendo themselves pissing devs off.

    It's a vicious cycle and I think it's going to bite Nintendo in the ass. They may be stting pretty right now, but the casual market are the ones who don't plan to stick with you. Considering they're even pissing off loyal fans, lower price won't mean shit later down the road; no one will want to touch them.

    I should do an Op/Ed on the Wii sometime. I've got more than a few things to say about it.

    On Guitar Hero, yeah, it's gotten very pricey. It's mostly because the series has basically copied Rock Band's MO. All those extra "instruments" really rack up the price. The last one I actually bought with the controller packed in was the second one. I don't have a hundred dollars to blow on frivelous instrument additions I won't even use.

    Still, it's not quite as bad as Steel Battalion for the X-Box. It came with this huge ass controller with like forty buttons, aimed for giving a realistic feel of being in a mech. It also cost two hundred and fifty dollars.