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10 Things That Suck About the Videogame Industry

Discussion in 'Other Games' started by Radiation, 11 July 2008.

  1. Radiation

    Radiation Golden Boot Winner

    6 February 2006
    Widnes
    Newcastle United
    10 Things That Suck About the Videogame Industry



    Cover Athlete Announcements

    First of all, why does anyone give a shit which athlete will be selected for the cover of a game? Are you hanging game boxes on your wall and kneeling before it on a daily basis? I don't know about you, but my game boxes go on a shelf, spine facing outward, so I rarely see the cover at all. When it comes time to open the box, my left hand is usually obscuring the cover as I pry it open, so once again, I don't really see the athlete.

    Have you ever not purchased a game because of the athlete on the cover? Of course not. Has the appearance of a particular athlete on a cover swayed you into purchasing said game when you otherwise may have passed? No. Therefore, cover athlete announcements are ridiculous and useless, unless you happen to be the athlete involved and need a little extra spending money.



    Embargoes

    Embargo dates are the scourge of the industry, a power play that grows in strength with every new year. For those not in the know, an embargo is essentially an order from a game company not to post a particular review or preview before a specific date and time. Who does this benefit? The company. Does it benefit the consumer? No. Does it benefit the press? Absolutely not.

    Ever wonder why it seems that information about a particular game seems to explode on a particular day? Ever wonder why every gaming website on the planet seemingly posts the same crap at the same time? Embargoes. The company who issues an embargo date is all about the control of information and nearly every gaming site is more than happy to play along, diluting the impact of their piece in the process, if for no other reason than it is now one of a hundred articles on the exact same topic.

    The embargo situation is only getting worse as there is now a thing I call tiered-embargoes. A tiered-embargo is one that says it's okay for website “A” to post on Tuesday, but every other website has to wait until Thursday. If you break this embargo you'll incur the wrath of the company in question, ensuring you'll never again receive any kind of access. A perfect example of this bullshit happened with Grand Theft Auto IV, when 2K allowed IGN to run their review three days before everyone else. You'd rightfully think that all competitors would go ahead and break the embargo once IGN cut in front of the line, but no. Not a single website had the balls, which goes to show how pussy-whipped game journalists have become.



    Inflated Piracy Numbers

    “Videogame piracy cost the industry $10-billion last year.” We see a headline like that at least a few times a year and the only thing that changes is the numerical value. Problem is, it's not true. There is a flawed assumption made that renders the argument pointless: every game illegally downloaded is a lost sale.

    I'm not saying piracy doesn't hurt. Nor am I implying that piracy doesn't cost money. But it's a hell of a stretch to insinuate every downloaded game represents a lost sale. In order for monetary value to be properly calculated you'd have to know the mindset of every pirate involved. For example, would said pirate have purchased the game if an illegal version weren't readily available? In most cases, probably not. I think it's safe to say that a large number of pirates download a game just to see what the title is all about, play it for 10-15 minutes and then bail.



    Horrible Writers

    Game companies spend a fortune on finding the best artists and programmers to bring a title to life, yet when it comes to writing a plot and dialog, the intern slaving away in the mailroom is a perfectly acceptable choice. Videogames aren't known for their stories, which is odd considering 99% of games make some attempt to tell a story, so why top-notch talent isn't hired is beyond me. Let's take Grand Theft Auto IV as an example, a game riddled with cinematic cliche's and scenes ripped straight from B-level gangster movies. Dan Houser is no Elmore Leonard, but how awesome would it be if Mr. Leonard were actually involved? Or James Elroy? Or Carl Hiaasen? Or Walter Mosley?

    If you want games to be considered art than you had better start elevating the quality of your production, and just like the movies, it all starts with a script. There are so many talented science-fiction, crime and fantasy writers out there that not to use their abilities is shame.



    PR Scumbags

    Once upon a time I had the personal email address of every major designer on the planet. If I wanted Molyneux's opinion on something then all I had to do was drop him a line and I'd get a response. Same was true of John Carmack, John Romero, David Cook, Sid Meier and tons of others. Ahhh, those were the days. Then, in the mid-to-late 90s everything changed. PR Reps began exerting more control and before I knew it there was a firewall in place. Want to talk to Molyneux? Tough, gotta go through the “proper channels”. Everything had to be approved and discussed, ultimately watering down whatever topic I was after.

    There are only a handful of decent PR people out there. Most are total scumbags. Scumbags like to make demands above and beyond an embargo. They want certain assurances about the positive nature of a piece. Some even want to read a feature before it goes up. Some use strong-arm tactics like, “If we like this review then we can discuss better access for future products,” which is their coy way of saying, “Write a positive review and you'll move up the food-chain.” Worst of all is when PR hacks use their power to delete a review on aggregate review sites (you know who you are) because it upsets the average during that precious release week (this has happened to me twice).



    Game Reviewers

    In the grand hierarchy of critique, game reviewing has to rank near or at the bottom, slightly below porn movie reviewer. Much of the problem has to do with the format, which hasn't changed in any meaningful way in 20 years. The majority of reviewers are quite content to reduce their critiques into a numerical scale; a scale that usually starts at 6 and goes to 10, with anything less than a 6 reserved for game companies with little or no power to strike back.

    Even worse is the categorization, or breakdown score, wherein the reviewer allocates a usually arbitrary number to Graphics, Sound, Multiplayer, Playability, etc., and then calculates an average that is supposedly indicative of the game as a whole. This is a pathetic practice. Can you imagine if film critics did the same thing? Citizen Kane wouldn't stand a chance.

    Beyond the idiotic practice of scores, the majority of reviewers really have no business reviewing anything. An overwhelming numbers of critics have a shocking lack of gaming history, have little knowledge of what has come before, lack the wherewithal to frame a critique within a historical context and have played only one generation of games. Maybe it's just me, but a film critic who has only seen movies made in the last five years is incapable of having an opinion that is worth more than a lump of steaming fecal matter.



    Media Days

    Media days are special events hosted by a particular game company wherein they fly a gaggle of game journalists to a specific location and show off their upcoming titles. I went to many of these in the early days but have refused to attend a single one for the last six or so years. It's not that I didn't have a good time. When Sierra flew me to the PGA Championship game in 1998 and put me up in a ritzy hotel for three days, all expenses paid, well, how can you not have a good time? And how could I not write glowing things about PGA Tour Golf? When you're treated like royalty you tend to respond in kind, and that's exactly what PR Scumbags are hoping for. So I stopped going, keeping my integrity intact. It meant less access, sure, but I don't feel like a total sell-out anymore. Unfortunately, I'm the only I know who doesn't participate in these events.



    Strategy Guides

    I've written over 20 strategy guides for Prima, Sybex, Brady and GameSpot GameGuides. Quake II, Links LS 97, Red Baron 3D, Civilization: Call to Power and Spec Ops were a few of my titles. I was even tasked with writing a strategy guide for Activision's Asteroids remake for the PS1. Let me tell you something: writing a 70-page, full color guide on how to blow up rocks is a friggin' nightmare. Most people think strategy guides suck and they're right. If you're one of those people who thinks there is a conspiracy to skimp on game manuals as a way to increase strategy guide sales, then you're right, there is. There's a ton of money to be made on these useless books.

    Funny story for you: At an E3 convention in the 90s I was roaming around and talking to all of the editors from the major strategy guide publishers, feeling them out for possible assignments. One publisher, who shall remain nameless, knew I was a game journalist and said the following: “We really want to do a book about (the biggest RTS of the time) but we don't have the license, so we're going to do an unofficial guide. Would you be able to use your position as a game journalist, setup an appointment with the developer of the game under the guise of writing a preview, and maybe, you know, confiscate any materials you see sitting around?”

    No joke. It was soon thereafter that I ended my strategy guide career.



    Fanboy Apologists

    I've written a lot of cynical, brutally honest articles in my day and with that comes volumes of hate mail. When I wrote 10 Things That Suck About Grand Theft Auto IV, forums across the Internet called me every name in the book. What kills me is the Fanboy Apologist, of which there is no shortage. These are the people who cling to a particular game and refuse to acknowledge any valid critique. All is perfect in their world with no room for improvement. It's these very vocal people who help ensure the industry as whole evolves at a snail's pace, guaranteeing more uninspiring sequels, more clinging to cliche's, and more of the same, just with fancier graphics. Demand more and you might actually get more.



    Glowing Previews

    How many critical previews of a game have you seen? Not many, huh? There is an unwritten law in game journalism that a preview must dance around negatives and focus entirely on the positives. If a journalist does stretch his neck out, the blow is usually softened by this line: “...will hopefully be addressed by the game's release.”

    A positive preview is exactly what PR Scumbags push for. Write anything remotely negative and you can guarantee you'll never see another pre-release from the company in question. So where does that leave the integrity of a preview? Simple: previews have no integrity. It's free advertising for the company, hyping something up with the hope of increasing sales. I've been guilty of it like every other game writer, though I have long since stopped writing previews unless I have unrestrained access, which is a near impossibility these days.

    Here's another story for you that highlights the power of being honest, and this time I'll mention the company because it speaks volumes about their continued success: Blizzard. Back in 1998, Blizzard asked me to come to their HQ in Irvine, California for the purpose of writing an exclusive preview of their new game, WarCraft Adventures. Bill Roper showed me through the game for several hours and it struck me as a Monkey Island clone that didn't really live up to Blizzard's standards. Bill must have sensed my ambivalence as I got a call later that day from Susan Wooley, head of PR, and I was probed about my impressions. I spoke honestly: it's an okay game and I think it will do well, but it seemed a little stale and dated. The next day, Blizzard announced the cancellation of WarCraft Adventures. Was I responsible? Partly. I'm sure I wasn't the only one Blizzard was probing, but I did represent the last straw. Blizzard did the right thing and yanked it, ensuring their legacy remained firmly intact.

    If more writers were honest about their impressions during the preview stage then I guarantee developers would try and correct fundamental flaws prior to release. If we keep telling people their shit doesn't stink then don't be surprised to see more $60 discs o' crap earmarked for the bargain bin.

    (Source: InfoAddict Original)
     
  2. DagsJT

    DagsJT Retired Footballer

    29 November 2005
    Warrington
    Liverpool
    Who wrote that? I like his honesty, I'd be interested in reading more of his stuff.
     
  3. gomito#10

    gomito#10 World Cup Winner

    9 May 2003
    DC, USA
    Inflated Piracy Numbers

    “Videogame piracy cost the industry $10-billion last year.” We see a headline like that at least a few times a year and the only thing that changes is the numerical value. Problem is, it's not true. There is a flawed assumption made that renders the argument pointless: every game illegally downloaded is a lost sale.

    I'm not saying piracy doesn't hurt. Nor am I implying that piracy doesn't cost money. But it's a hell of a stretch to insinuate every downloaded game represents a lost sale. In order for monetary value to be properly calculated you'd have to know the mindset of every pirate involved. For example, would said pirate have purchased the game if an illegal version weren't readily available? In most cases, probably not. I think it's safe to say that a large number of pirates download a game just to see what the title is all about, play it for 10-15 minutes and then bail.


    Complete bullshit, its stealing, plain and simple. If a kid walks into a candy store steals some condoms to show off to his friends then throws them in a garbage can, its not stealing cause the condom isnt used?!?!?! whatever... you can try and rationalize immoral and unethical conduct anyway you want, but in the end its illegal, criminal, unethical, and immoral.
     
    Last edited: 11 July 2008
  4. DagsJT

    DagsJT Retired Footballer

    29 November 2005
    Warrington
    Liverpool
    Are you on a piracy crusade or something? ;))
     
  5. Mart

    Mart Executive Janitor Staff

    28 February 2002
    NYC
    Darlington FC
  6. airjoca

    airjoca International

    29 July 2003
    Amadora, Portugal
    SL Benfica
    Where does he say anything about it being theft or not?

    And he's right, about the argument that 1 download does not equal 1 lost sale. Many people download games that they'd never buy.
     
  7. Tim7

    Tim7 Retired Footballer

    6 May 2003
    Gravesend
    Charlton Athletic FC
    Yeah I agree with airjoca and the writer of the article. He's not saying it's OK to download games and that piracy is OK, merely that every download is not necessarily a lost sale, casual gamers will always download and try free games that they may not have purchased if no download option available.
     
  8. gomito#10

    gomito#10 World Cup Winner

    9 May 2003
    DC, USA
    Thats the whole point, he doesn't. one illegal download, is one crime committed. I fyou walk into a store and steal a six pack of beer, but you dont drink beer, so your saying thats not a crime? Its ok?
     
  9. gomito#10

    gomito#10 World Cup Winner

    9 May 2003
    DC, USA
    free games? huh?
     
  10. DagsJT

    DagsJT Retired Footballer

    29 November 2005
    Warrington
    Liverpool
    No, I'd say more like free demo's. Of all the games out that get released these days, how many are worth paying for? Two a month?

    Which again leads on to his other points. If we can't trust magazines previews and reviews because of the embargoes and PR pressure, the only real way to know if a game is worth anything is to play it. And not many people want to spend £40 just to demo a game. Nor do people want to pay rental prices (far too steep) for a game that they may or may not like.

    Sure, piracy isn't condonable but I do see the writers point.
     
    Last edited: 12 July 2008
  11. Tim7

    Tim7 Retired Footballer

    6 May 2003
    Gravesend
    Charlton Athletic FC
    gomito, he's not saying that stealing / piracy is wrong, he's saying not everyone who downloads a game for free would have gone out and paid full price for it.
     
  12. TikTikTikTikTik

    TikTikTikTikTik *****

    7 August 2004
    Liverpool
    Good article, also agree with the piracy statement. There is one difference between gomito's examples and ours, its not physical. You can go and say its still stealing, and factually you are correct, however they (the shop/maker/etc) dont actually lose money from it. There are a high number of products that just arent worth our money and the majority of us wouldnt go near it. Music downloads are the same, Ive downloaded loads of albums just because Ive liked the name, most of the time its turned out to be crap and binned. I would never have even bothered buying it in a shop, so they havent lost a sale.

    Its in that regard that he is talking, the same way the music cartels continue to say music piracy is costing so many billions when they ignore the increased popularity of dvd's and games which lead to an increased volume of entertainment sales overal. A lot of the so called loss has been transfered to other media types (legally) and is not only the cause of piracy.

    Its this spin that he doesnt like, which is nearly in all of the points he makes.
     
  13. DagsJT

    DagsJT Retired Footballer

    29 November 2005
    Warrington
    Liverpool
    On the other hand, I've heard artists through downloading that I'd have never heard of before, and then went and bought the album.
     
  14. TikTikTikTikTik

    TikTikTikTikTik *****

    7 August 2004
    Liverpool
    Exactly, it also works positively. There's a reason more and more bands are using this method instead of relying on music-by-numbers from the companies.

    Not sure if games, atleast NG ones, can work the same. But then it works differently. A band could have one good song and the rest of the album be shit which you would find out by downloading it and then decide not to get the album. Meaning quality would prevail. Games dont work like that, firstly the quality is judged over a whole game and after a playthrough often dont get played again either.

    Either way, it isnt the point he was making.
     
  15. gomito#10

    gomito#10 World Cup Winner

    9 May 2003
    DC, USA
    im sorry your just wrong. Your talking semantics. Your a criminal in the eyes of the EU, the United States and most 1st world countries. Weather or not its a physical product or not has nothing to do with it. A coke tastes good because its a drink, that is why you buy a coke, you dont buy it for the shiny red can. You dont buy a video game or music for the media, its the intellectual content that you want out of it. If i walk into a store drink a pepsi, dont pay for it, and say fuck this buddy, this tastes like shit, i aint paying for it. And since I wasnt going to buy it anyways, its not a lost sale.... I mean your argument is ridiculous. You should have paid for that music you downloaded, weather it was good or not. What your doing is unethical and criminal. Why cant you wal;k into a record store, take some cd's, tell the shop owner, hey man im going home and gonna have a listen, if i like them i will come back and pay for them.... you cant. There is no difference between a digital download and a digital file on data media such as a compact disk. NONE. Zippy. THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IS DEAD. Anyone who follows the business side of that can see that unless your blind. So many record companies and labels have gone bankrupt and are gone its not even funny. And your trying to tell me its not piracy? Sorry mate, I like you, your a nice guy, but i think your wrong in this respect.
     
  16. gomito#10

    gomito#10 World Cup Winner

    9 May 2003
    DC, USA
    mate many many bands have allowed there fans to trade live shows for free for many many years... Grateful dead really started this back int he 70's. Now artist like jack johnson, dave matthews, etc have been doing it. Bands now are just catching on to this, because of PIRACY. Record sales are down immensely, a lot of that is piracy, adn i agree some is other media such as video games. I think the guy is dead wrong, piracy is a huge problem, and to shrug off recent sales declines to other factors besides piracy is just ignorant, and not in reality. I think the guy makes some good points, but obviously i disagree with him.
     
  17. gomito#10

    gomito#10 World Cup Winner

    9 May 2003
    DC, USA
    maybe not, but that really encourages it... i wish we could do the same with other products, we cant...
     
  18. Radiation

    Radiation Golden Boot Winner

    6 February 2006
    Widnes
    Newcastle United
    I think people downloading games to test them are taking business away from rental places like blockbusters. Then you have the ones who download the game, love it and then keep it and don't buy the full game. I can't imagine many people buy the retail when they have a downloaded copy.
     
  19. TikTikTikTikTik

    TikTikTikTikTik *****

    7 August 2004
    Liverpool
    @ Gomito, I wont quote your whole post, but I agreed with the piracy is piracy comment, look:

    I wont buy a pepsi because I think it tastes like shit, I made that mistake once and regretted it. Now use that for every new band that comes out.........Unless you are loaded with money its not a viable option to buy new random albums. You could also stand around in a music shop and listen to the cd's, but I dont have the time or find it the best way to decide whether I like it or not.

    The piracy issue isnt the only reason why bands are going digital, for unknown bands the chances of a record company investing millions in marketing, production, etc is so small that the internet is their marketing tool. Thats also how I see music downloads of unknown bands. If I like it, I'll spend money on them, if not I wont.
     
  20. Honome

    Honome The Hated Chatbox Murder

    16 April 2003
    Brasil
    Fluminense
    ALELUIA!!!
     
  21. cfdh_edmundo

    cfdh_edmundo Maverick

    30 December 2002
    I wanna know which candy stores in the DC area sell condoms ??!?!? When I was in Arlington last Decemeber all the candy stores were just selling candy! :?
     
  22. Placebo

    Placebo Ԁlɐɔǝqo

    3 May 2003
    Esmoriz, Portugal
    Sheffield Wednesday
    It's always funny when someone completely goes off about morals and ethics and such, maybe it's the flashback to my Mum dragging me to Church as a kid but I still remember "let he who is without sin cast the first stone", so Gomito if you can hear me all the way up there on your moral soap box, you've never copied anything? Never downloaded anything you weren't legally entitled to? You never stole anything? You never broke any laws of any kind? Never taken any illegal substances?

    People who go off on morality tirades about what people should or shouldn't do make me want to vomit, because without fail every single one of them is a fucking hypocrite. It's human nature to err, everyone is human, ergo all humans have erred.
     
  23. DagsJT

    DagsJT Retired Footballer

    29 November 2005
    Warrington
    Liverpool
    Placebo, aren't you PR for BIS? What's your opinion on the article? I think your opinion would be quite interesting considering you work in the industry.
     
  24. Placebo

    Placebo Ԁlɐɔǝqo

    3 May 2003
    Esmoriz, Portugal
    Sheffield Wednesday
    Personally I think it's a superb article and I agree with most of it, perhaps it's a little too self effacing in that he's trying (IMO) just a little too hard to portray the current press situation as wholly evil and his actions as wholly good, but he's not far wrong with what he says as to what is very bad in terms the current situation.

    Doing PR for BIS it becomes apparent very quickly how little the quality of your games matters in comparison to how big and bloated your company is, how much money you're throwing into churning out mass hype, most games these days simply churn out pre-rendered screenshots, CGI trailers for the first year or two of development to build hype that way, it doesn't matter to them that what they're doing is essentially lying to consumers, the kids out there, the 12-18 year olds that are the most powerful demographic see these CGI "bullshots" and go "wow it looks amazing", they tell their friends on MSN how amazing it looks, it doesn't matter that it's bollocks, that it's just CGI, half of them won't realise that, half of them will but it doesn't matter, it's already ingrained in their head that this game looks and moves amazingly, just look at UFC for example, the first trailer for that was CGI and most people with a brain knew it was CGI and not remotely close to ingame footage but the hype around it was just insane, and completely unfounded.

    Getting the bigger sites like Gamespot, IGN and such to pay attention to lesser known Eastern European developers is a game all in itself, at E3 2005 we weren't signed to a publisher for any of the games we had in development but obviously wanted to go to E3 to get some press out, get some meetings with publishers to potentially get signed, I contacted 100s of gaming sites to arrange meetings, I believe I sent out around 1,000 Emails, generally the response was really good and we filled up the schedule really quickly, obviously you want IGN and Gamespot to be on the list, IGN I got sorted fairly quickly, Gamespot were a different story, I was truing for about 2 weeks prior to setting off for LA to book a meeting with someone with Gamespot, in the end I had to go to LA without a meeting being booked, I wasn't ready to give up just yet though! At a Cyber Cafe in LA I posted on our own forums that Gamespot were proving impossible to make contact with and that we couldn't book anyone for a meeting, one of our community members took it upon themselves to create a thread on the gamespot forums something like "Why are Gamespot ignoring Bohemia Interactive?????????" I posted in there myself saying we were really keen to meet with Gamespot, left the meeting room number and name of the hall we were in and left Email/phone contact details, lo and behold the next day there was a knock on the door and it was a guy from Gamespot saying he'd seen my forum post and wanted to book a meeting! Which we did and got a pretty good preview out of it :)
     
  25. DagsJT

    DagsJT Retired Footballer

    29 November 2005
    Warrington
    Liverpool
    Nice post mate, I enjoy reading stuff about how the industry works.

    You should start a thread/blog about your work and going to shows etc. Personally I'd find it pretty interesting, especially if it's like your last post :TU:

    So you're at E3 this week? I assume you're not bribing anyone to give good previews? ;))
     
  26. Placebo

    Placebo Ԁlɐɔǝqo

    3 May 2003
    Esmoriz, Portugal
    Sheffield Wednesday
    No I'm not at E3 thankfully! It was a very exciting experience but also really hard work, very draining :)

    Not 100% sure but last I heard is that we won't be at E3 this year, focussing more on getting ArmA2 finished :)
     
  27. jonneymendoza

    jonneymendoza Legend

    1 January 2004
    Arsenal
    50 cent got famous BECAUSE of piracy. he purposly leaked his own album and got the buzz going and sold MILLIONS afterwords because people of that type of music LOVED IT.

    the moto is, if its a good product, most people will be willing to buy it
     
  28. gomito#10

    gomito#10 World Cup Winner

    9 May 2003
    DC, USA
    sure i've broken laws, in fact ive done everything you have posted, however the difference buddy is that i knew that i was breaking the law.... i dont see the same sentiment here
     
  29. DagsJT

    DagsJT Retired Footballer

    29 November 2005
    Warrington
    Liverpool
    I'm pretty sure everyone who has copied games are aware they're breaking the law too though.
     
  30. BobbyBox

    BobbyBox WING NUT!

    10 October 2003
    Arsenal
    You're a bad bad person ;))
     

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