Mario's Ghost

Gamers are a sizeable subset of the consumer public. We range through all ages, races, genders, and tax brackets. The criteria to qualify for our demographic grows each year between the 9 mainstream platforms, a multitude of developers spanning the globe, a strong modding and freeware community, and a niche genre for nearly any gameplay style and mentality out there. It seems like working in public relations for a game publisher would be a living nightmare. But, in spite of all this potential hassle a few game companies are thriving and growing fat on the millions of dollars we as the gaming public dole out on a yearly basis.

How does that happen? The same way a lot of big corporations get rich: consumer trust. Brand loyalty has got to be one of the most bizarre phenomena to ever come out of the capitalist system but it is alive and well. People will wait for hours at night in freezing rain for a system because it has Sony written on the side of it. They'll rob each other at gunpoint and blindly keep paying their hard earned money for Madden after Madden after Madden, just because it's the next in a series. It's a growing trend that I suspect publishers are not only aware of, but are beginning to take advantage of in a way that can only be described as ravenous.

Game retailers and the companies that supply them with merchandise have got to be the worst combination of shady sales tacticians and smug misinformists that exists in our market today. We're partly to blame. When a company doesn't give a crap about giving us a raw deal it's because, as a group, we always seems to be so certain on what we're getting. We pride ourselves on having the experience and know how and general sagacity to keep from being burned on the few games we are sure will be great. But, in the end there's no way for us, or any other consumer, to know exactly what came off of the assembly line.

A good example of a complete failure to carefully research and quantify a gaming expenditure is my recent purchase of Rainbow Six Vegas. This is a game I ran out and purchased with very little fore knowledge other than a playable demo and the previous experiences I had had with the series.

Boom. 60 bucks out of hand and into register. Just like that.

It didn't take very long for me to realize one key thing after buying this game. It wasn't finished. Now, I don't want to say that Rainbow Six Vegas is a bad game because it isn't. It is extremely fun, but it's clear through lack of polish and functionality on both the single and multiplayer sides that this game hit the shelves too early. A fact that would have been easily identified if instead of laying down 60 bucks at Gamestop, I had laid five bucks down at Blockbuster and rented it. I beat it in under a week anyway and with the multiplayer bugs still plaguing my system long after the official patch I would be in the same predicament now of not being able to play with my friends, but with a little more scratch in my pocket.

I'm not saying the gaming industry is the only player out there looking to pull one over on us, but they are definitely the most public about it. Other industries don't sustain these kinds of behaviors on a regular basis, even among some of the most coveted items on Earth. Car dealerships don't have midnight sales with only 2 cars available for purchase every time a new vehicle is released. Jewelry stores don't have a standing policy of letting you trade in your old gold chains for a 3rd off the price of a flawed diamond. McDonald's doesn't give out discount cards that only apply to half eaten hamburgers. The gaming industry is the only industry that combines all of these practices and uses them as a standard.

Even though I had specific issues with Rainbow Six Vegas this was far from a specific feeling of being had by a rushed or dishonest publisher. Many games have come across my lap that fell below my expectations because I looked at the publisher logo on the box instead of making an extra effort to grade the game on its own merits before I bought it.

On top of this, I think that the reason Rainbow Six was rushed out to the public was because the Rainbow Six name and the Ubisoft name together drum up sales on their own. They weren't worried about getting a finished product. That wasn't the point. The point was for the company to release something because there was a public demand for anything.

When I noticed that Rainbow Six Vegas basically kicked me offline or crashed my system every time I tried to play online did I complain? Did I march down and demand a new disc or a refund or an apology? No. I just decided to only play the single player, and when that started to bug out I just stopped playing altogether.

Brand loyalty and consumerism are fundamentally apposed to one another. The consumer should always have their own best interests at heart otherwise they just become a mockery of capitalism. As gamers we need to learn to view the field and the players as equals no matter the track records because if we start to favor some companies over others they'll get anxious and they'll get sloppy and we will ultimately pay the price for it, literally and figuratively.

Comments

Fortunately, this rise in blatant exploitation of the average gamer's lack of judgement coincides with a loss of time for and interest in gaming on my part, allowing me to sit back and cherry-pick the few titles that are worthy of my cash. Clubhouse Games, DDR, and Company of Heroes is all I have touched in the last month, and once I get a 360 Gameznflix will be vetting all my games for me.

And yet Rainbow Six Vegas was one of the most highly rated games for the 360. This reminds me of the Star Wars prequels. Each review I read seemed to score the movie that came before the one they were actually watching. The Phantom Menace got good reviews. The Clone Wars was anally raped. I suspect the next Tom Clancy games will take a beating.

I felt I got shafted on SC:Double Agent even more than with Vegas. With both games I felt Ubisoft had rushed out a game designed to cash in on an establish franchise. Ubisoft paid the price though, I'll not be getting GRAW 2 on launch day. I'll probably wait 24 hours

I just ended up so confused with the Splinter Cell: Double Agent versions. The original XBOX version still had the co-op mission function everyone loved in Chaos Theory, but they were missing from the 360 version, right?

Another reason to love XBL demos.

I'm loyal to no one brand in the gaming industry. Every publisher/dev has had its fair share of hit or misses.

Back in the day you COULD be loyal to some brands. These days though, unless your name is Nintendo, it's hard to know how stable your game is going to be.

Splinter Cell: Double Agent won't even run on my machine. It throws some kind of texture error, possibly because my video card is too aged. This is the first time it's actually been impossible for me to run a game on an old card.

Irongut wrote:

I just ended up so confused with the Splinter Cell: Double Agent versions. The original XBOX version still had the co-op mission function everyone loved in Chaos Theory, but they were missing from the 360 version, right?

You are correct, sir. The 360 version does have a portion of the Versus set aside for three human controlled spies to cooperatively take on three cpu mercenaries, and this is called coop.

I'm not sure if SC:DA suffered from too much publisher push like Vegas did. Although the few levels make me think it was somewhat rushed, given more time I can only imagine the braintrust behind Splinter Cell: Daylight would have just made more levels for me to hate. Same publisher, different problem.

Back to the article: Bungie. What say you? Can you withstand the call of the sacred ring?

Danjo Olivaw wrote:

Back to the article: Bungie. What say you? Can you withstand the call of the sacred ring?

I'm going to say no, but that does make me a hypocrite.

Honesty is more important than sincerity.

Chiggie: I'm not saying the gaming industry is the only player out there looking to pull one over on us... The gaming industry is the only industry that combines all of these practices and uses them as a standard.

These marketeers, these opportunists, know their audience: 14 year-olds. They wouldn't be selling these games if no one was buying them, and as far as marketing goes young males are like fish in a barrel.

The funny thing is that once we jump online the opposite is true. Everyone complains about the asshats that populate servers, from BF 2 to Azeroth. These gamers that break glass with their whiney voices in 360 voice chat are picking on the people there who actually play, they are the griefers and we are their fish in their barrel. We mature gamers need to understand who's paying the bills for our hobby. The asshats are paving the way with their parent's cash. These kids don't know any better.

Maybe they need some youth advocacy group, some kind of Comsumer Reports for Kids or something.

thewanderer14 wrote:

Maybe they need some youth advocacy group, some kind of Comsumer Reports for Kids or something.

Wanderer, I really like that idea.

Certis wrote:

Back in the day you COULD be loyal to some brands. These days though, unless your name is Nintendo, it's hard to know how stable your game is going to be.

Blizzard.

Chumpy_McChump wrote:
Certis wrote:

Back in the day you COULD be loyal to some brands. These days though, unless your name is Nintendo, it's hard to know how stable your game is going to be.

Blizzard.

I'm pretty sure there's a large number of WoW players who may disagree, but that's pretty much a default when it comes to the genre. Take WoW out of the equation, I'd say you're right.

Chumpy_McChump wrote:
Certis wrote:

Back in the day you COULD be loyal to some brands. These days though, unless your name is Nintendo, it's hard to know how stable your game is going to be.

Blizzard.

Sierra.... a few years ago anyways.
King's Quest
Police Quest
Leisure Suit Larry
Lords of the Realm
Betrayal at Krondor (and Antara)
City Building Series (Caesar, Pharaoh, Zeus, ect.)
*sigh*

Oh the ___ Quests.

But let's not bring Antara into this; I may have to stab something.

Draco wrote:
Chumpy_McChump wrote:
Certis wrote:

Back in the day you COULD be loyal to some brands. These days though, unless your name is Nintendo, it's hard to know how stable your game is going to be.

Blizzard.

Sierra.... a few years ago anyways.
King's Quest
Police Quest
Leisure Suit Larry
Lords of the Realm
Betrayal at Krondor (and Antara)
City Building Series (Caesar, Pharaoh, Zeus, ect.)
*sigh*

What about Outpost 2? AHA!

Chumpy_McChump wrote:
Certis wrote:

Back in the day you COULD be loyal to some brands. These days though, unless your name is Nintendo, it's hard to know how stable your game is going to be.

Blizzard.

How many years does it take blizzard to release a new game? Blizzard doesn't release a lot of content so, I don't think tey canbe counted anymore.

Ulairi wrote:
Chumpy_McChump wrote:
Certis wrote:

Back in the day you COULD be loyal to some brands. These days though, unless your name is Nintendo, it's hard to know how stable your game is going to be.

Blizzard.

How many years does it take blizzard to release a new game? Blizzard doesn't release a lot of content so, I don't think tey canbe counted anymore.

What does the distance between releases have to do with loyalty? Their willingness to drop projects that aren't meeting their standards and take the time to make sure they're stable should increase your trust in them, not invalidate it.