Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

Left Behind

Dear video game companies,

Why are you doing this to me?

Why are you doing this to all of us?

The figures for video game sales for last year have been released.  Despite all the enthusiasm for Arkham City, despite the PR blitz for Modern Warfare 3, despite things made specific for the subculture like gamer fuel versions of Mountain Dew, game sales are down $2 bil from last year.

Yeah, I know, you're going to blame piracy.  It's trendy.  Because, by blaming pirates, you can say it isn't your fault that games are hitting the skids.

But it is your fault.

There's lots of people like me.  We have money that we will gladly give you to give us the games we want.  This has been going on for a while, with lots of games never being localized.  Super Fantasy Zone was released in England.  Never released in the US despite no need to localize.  The Sailor Moon games.  "Oh, it takes so much work to translate and put the text in there."  Bullshit.  It was never that hard.  The Lunar games, because of how dialogue extensive they were, I can buy that.  But I've played the MegaDrive and SNES Sailor Moon games.  Four hours monkey work and a cup of coffee.

A lot of major companies, whose game production budgets are at the level of or exceed that of a Hollywood summer movie, complain that casual games and fans (Minecraft, Angry Birds, etc.) are hurting you because you could never compete on price point.  You are missing the point.  You aren't competing with them in fun.  Those games are made to be fun.  They aren't meant to wow a target audience with lots of disposable income and near zero sales resistance.  You are cutting yourself out.

I found out there's a Doctor Who game for the Nintendo Wii and the PS2.  But they are region locked for England and Australia, not the US.  There is NO localization necessary.  If anything, fans will scream if you take away the inherent Britishness of Doctor Who.  I understand the games are bad and horribly reviewed.  But they would have sold.  Even as budget titles.  There is an ENTIRE COUNTRY OF FANS who would buy this thing and justify your expense.

And you aren't doing it.

I found out there's a Puyo Pop game for the Wii.  There are Puyo nuts all over the US, who were the reason Fever 1 was released on every major console in the US except the PSP and it sold.  Fever 2 was never translated.  And now, a whole new game, an audience that exists, and you aren't doing anything.  The fact that the original MD version of Puyo Pop is available for download to consoles but the newest version is, "Oops!  Sorry!" is insulting.

And then you wonder where the gamers are going.

We see we aren't wanted.  Quality titles like Epic Mickey bomb out because we are losing interest.  DLC that fingerprints to the machine?  You know how often modern game consoles break?  We're afraid to invest much money for fear we'll have to start over again (I'm not going to get serious about Rock Band 3 until I know for sure if I'm getting a Wii U just so I don't have to rebuy all that shit).  We see shovelware by idiots like Data Designs or games engineered for something other than gamer mentality and wonder why we would ever want to play that?

Modern games are psychological tests.  Just like how modern tobacco was engineered to create and maintain its market, modern games do the same.  Loot, crafting, all these things are like a slot machine.  No kidding.  There is a certain payout and you have a slim chance of getting something for your minimal investment and effort.  Or maybe the next one.  Oh, I've been doing this for hours, I have to win something!  And this isn't how things work out, this is what your market research has told you.  The games have become a skeleton to hang this mentality on.  And it's just as addictive as gambling.  When people talk about video game addiction, it is no longer a joke.  It's because games are now intended to be addicting so that you will buy subscriptions or DLC or whatever.

The DLC isn't even intended to make the gaming experience better.  The ultimate proof of this is the last Street Fighter remix that gave the option of a pallet swap for the character's outfits.  Not even new outfits (like the Snooki hair on Live), just telling the computer to display the colors differently.  And only you could see it.  Online matches would only see the regular clothes.  Literally, unless someone checks your profile, no one will ever know.

Games have also become more visceral, as they tap into cultural biases instead of creating their own identities.  Here on the right is the actual Japanese ad for Soul Caliber V.  Pop quiz:  who is this ad aiming for?  This means that gamers like me looking for a good brawler, keep looking.  This is about getting the fanboys pumped.  They can't wait to give us their money.  You actually want value for your money.  Keep walking.

I have seen so many of my passions leave me behind.  Modern marketing is about appealing to those with money.  Younger people not only don't recognize what is played out (Ashley Tisdale sounds like Hannah Montana sounds like Hillary Duff sounds like....), but what they buy is their identity.  Their password into secret societies of others like themselves.  I'm a PlayStation guy.  I'm a Saturn guy.  It's not the friendly ribbing like when I was there, it's turf to be defended.

Basketball has become a thug sport instead of the game of grace and beauty James Naismith created.  Movies have stopped being about any substance and are now thrill rides made for the teenagers and college kids who want to be thrilled.  Music has become standardized to move among demographics instead of forging its own identity (The Ramones would never make it today).  Comic books?  Do I need to go into that again?  Video games in general are falling in that trap.  I say, "in general", because there are plenty of garage programmers and indies that haven't forgotten about fun (Angry Birds and so on).  Like Queen, they are pushing themselves, but haven't forgotten to bring the audience along for their ride.

You are showing by your actions you don't want us, the very audience that is not only unlikely to pirate your stuff, but will enable you to live very comfortably if you just give us what we want.  Your little dance with the Gen Y'ers is about to end, as the sales decline is showing.  You made a sequel to the most pirated game of the year, hoping that would somehow be bought by these people.  Guess what?  They pirated that, too.  And the reason neither sold well was that they weren't good games.  You didn't make anything worth buying.

The Clash is The Only Band That Matters.  They insisted on giving Value For The Money -- so much so, they took a pay hit on their three sided album just so the fans wouldn't feel ripped off.  Art works when the artists and the audience work together and understand each other and try for each other, fans giving artists a chance and understanding not everything works out, and the artists doing their best.  You are removing that, making it just, "We put this out, buy it you ungrateful shits."

Remember us.  Soon, we will be all that is left, and we won't be interested in coming back.
Tags: art, comic books, comics, computers, did not do the research, digital rights, drm, haven't we suffered enough, hypocrisy, infernal gall, let's talk about sex bay-bee!, portents of doom, self reflection, stupidity, technology is a beautiful thing, wrong on every level
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