GWJ Conference Call Episode 37

Conference Call

Just Cause, Quake Wars, Band of Bugs, Manhunt 2 Goes AO, Game Pricing, Thread of The Week, Emails and more!

We have a very timely show this week as we tackle game pricing and AO rated games. Sean Sands has some lovely things to say about Rockstar, a ton of emails and oh, much more!

Want to support the show? Hit the Digg link just above (it's fast and easy to register) or review us on iTunes! Read on for show notes.

To contact us, email [email protected]! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind. You can even send a 30 second audio question or comment (MP3 format please) if you're so inclined.

Sponsor
Liongames.com

The Links
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
Just Cause
Manhunt 2
Band of Bugs

Threads of the Week:
1) GWJ Pile of Shame - Hemidal

2) Mission Improbable: Clear the Pile - Hemidal

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Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

"Fallen Idol" Benoit Casey - 0:22:41
"Luna Machine" Benoit Casey - 0:49:49

Comments

I think I need to start up the Elysium Fan Club.

Whoever (Sean maybe?) was saying they were going to Blockbuster to play games in the podcast I think hits the point. Besides Gears of Wars, are their any console games out there at are actually worth "buying"? It would seem if a game was really fun and had a replay value that was high, that maybe they would buy it? Isn't that the consumer working their dollar in support of games that are good? But if I can get buy with never actually buying a game and rent constantly then it shows that games really don't have a replay value because I don't care about a game longer term. Maybe that's the wave of the future of console games. Just enough hype and fun to satisfy short term and then disgard like tissue paper.

I think I debated this completely in the other threads on this and like I said there AO is absolutely NC-17 or X. Although even if it's not sold in the UK, wouldn't it just take a trip in the Chunnel or an online order to get a copy anyways? I don't really see how this will stop the distribution of the game necessarily.

BTW rock on on the Rockstar being a blight on the gaming industry. They're mainstream game of GTA is beyond horrible and they just keep putting stuff like this out. Hey you have my support. Down with Rockstar! Oh and Microsoft IS a blight on the gaming industry! Viva Revolution!

Going back to my first point on renting games. Do you believe that the price of games retail effects people's choices when looking to buy a game, rent the game instead or wait for it to come out used?

As for the theory on games becoming cheaper as more titles are released or accepted price wise, I believe that most of the console gaming companies have really screwed up their release schedule. Why would anyone release a new game console and not immediately have at least 5 hot titles for them within the first year? Who would want to buy a console where there are no new games ready for it before you decide to purchase it? So the main debate then is will games become more worth the price as more consoles get bought and the demand goes up? Or do gaming companies need to price according to popularity and release games at prices that are supported by the fan base of each individual game?

In conclusion...

Dr Phil is a blight on the gaming industry!

Mordiceius wrote:

I think I need to start up the Elysium Fan Club.

Do I have to pay dues?

With regards to the Ireland comment on banning Manhunt (not that i'm irish) but we don't have the equivalent of AO here in the UK (and i assume, Ireland) for videogames. We have 15, 18 and banned. We don't have - or at least i've never seen them - the equivalent of the movie industries hardcore porn evil stuff (and i don't mean just normal porn).

Things to consider is that you say that you're glad you live in the US... but the AO rating is exactly the same as banning the sale of the game in the UK. We don't carry a rating that the games companies will refuse to allow on their platforms or that shops refuse to carry. What's the difference except semantics and the fact that you're tricked into believing you have "free will" as it were.

Gal Civ 2: You guys should read this PC gamer blog

Conversion factor = 1.95
VAT is around 17.5% in the UK. So if we work out it for the Wii that puts it at around £148.5 -> $289.5... but then you have to let us know how much sales tax you guys pay and subtract that from $250.

Xbox 360 £280 -> £231 -> $ 450.5
Halo 3 comes out at around £40 (+_ £5 since RRP generally aren't followed ) -> £33 -> $64.5

but the AO rating is exactly the same as banning the sale of the game in the UK.

Not exactly, but close. AO means it won't show on the 360, Wii, or PS2. A PC release is still a viable option. But you're right, it may as well be banned as the sales on PC alone, especially since it would have to be 90% through digital distribution, won't be enough to justify the release.

If console makers want to start shedding the stigma that games are for kids they need to stop saying that AO material isn't allowed on their systems.

Is it realistic to compare game and console prices, dollar for dollar, without taking the cost of living into account? i.e. If a game costs $60 here and $80 in England, what's my $12/h wage equivalent to over there?

The cost of living in the UK is renowned for being quite high. If anything you would think that would be an argument for paying less for things.... I don't really get it.

Cheaper housing and land... lower wages you pay less on products.
Ridiculously expensive housing and land (our house prices have increased dramatically over the last few years. There was an article stating that property in london had increased by 50% in a year or something.) and not increasing but higher wages... we pay a lot more on products.

For example my house costs £950 to rent a month not including bills which come to around £150-250 a month (depending on the time of year due to gas/electric)... then on top of that we have council tax which comes to around £1,188.43 a year though this is currently reduced by 1/4 due to 3 of us being students.

If i was living alone and on my soon-to-be wage my calculation is that i'd have £3612 to live on for the year = £301 /month which admittedly isn't bad. I don't drive though so i have no costs associated with owning or dealing with cars.... but it does make my life much more difficult due to the hassles of being dependent on public transport.

Of course my soon to be wage is higher than the national average and i wouldn't live in a house as big as the one we are currently in - it has two bedrooms upstairs, a small upstairs room that you can just about get a bed in. Two rooms beneath the bedrooms upstairs (that we use for bedrooms) and the livingroom is a converted garage.
Basically if anything happened that required me to have money to deal with i couldn't afford to deal with it. I haven't included food costs which are usually between £15-20 a week, sometimes more if i have to splash out and by detergent to wash my clothes. I wouldn't consider the house we live in as being big, IMO it's an average size... but the problem is that apartments for one person (one bedroom, living room and kitchen) cost between £400-600 /month... the relative cost/space ratio is completely off.

I'm not looking forward to next year when i finish my postdoc and have to move house/flat without people to move in with.

[edit] Trachalio: I earned £9.20 an hour in my recent part-time job but that is considerably higher than people normally get - was quite lucky to get that gig... Your $12 /hr is around £6.15

Things to consider is that you say that you're glad you live in the US... but the AO rating is exactly the same as banning the sale of the game in the UK. We don't carry a rating that the games companies will refuse to allow on their platforms or that shops refuse to carry. What's the difference except semantics and the fact that you're tricked into believing you have "free will" as it were.

What Rabbit meant was that he was glad we had an independent body, not related to government, and accepted as the ratings authority by the industry who decided the ratings on games. Rabbit as well as myself thought that the decision in the UK to ban the game was a government one, and than you'll notice we corrected that statement when we found out that wasn't true.

Yeah, and actually I believe we retracted that a bit when it became clearer that this was decided by an independent body. That said, an independent body handing down a rating that the market reacts to is much more than a matter of semantics from a govenmental ban.

With all due respect Elysium, you couldn't be more wrong about Rockstar if your name was W. Wrong Wronginstein.

With all due respect Elysium, you couldn't be more wrong about Rockstar

Sure I could, watch:

Rockstar Games breeds Llamas for international shows.

Rockstar Games is run by hyper-intelligent futuristic plankton

and most unbelievable,

Rockstar Games makes awesome games

Elysium wrote:
With all due respect Elysium, you couldn't be more wrong about Rockstar

Sure I could, watch:

Rockstar Games breeds Llamas for international shows.

Rockstar Games is run by hyper-intelligent futuristic plankton

Touché.

and most unbelievable,

Rockstar Games makes awesome games

Well, almost touché.

I can't hear it when people who haven't played Bully talk.

Your life is hollow and without meaning, so you don't count.

I've given most of the Grand Theft Auto's a spin, including the first Playstation 1 game, and I've thought each and every one was over hyped crap. I don't want to pretend to be a thug. I don't want to screw a hooker. When I want to "explore the sandbox", I walk out the front door of my house or I travel to a another city.

Bully is where Rockstar got it right. I haven't played more than 2 hours of the game, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Ones I've whittled down my pile of shame I plan on giving it a lot more time.

"I really want the big stick!"
"I finally got it up!"

Seriously, guys.

Pac-Man CE is "nothing like Pac-Man" to some people because a fresh chocolate cake doesn't taste like the chocolate cake momma used to make for their birthday when they were kids. Sure, it's the same cheap, store-bought cake mix, but this new one is so fresh and different! Dudes, it's Pac-Man. It's just different enough not to be stale.

On the ratings thing: I admit that I do NOT know enough about regulation in the UK, or frankly anywhere outside the US. What I do know is:

1: ESRB ratings are entirely voluntary.
2: ESRB is funded by dues paid by members -- the game publishers themselves, not by taxpayers (unless there's something hidden I haven't seen.)
3: There is no force of law. If a member violates its agreement with the ESRB, they've simply broken a rule and get booted.
4: The BBFC, while technically independent, is actually chartered with enforcing (or at least enabling) British law, and receives taxpayer funding.

Can I admit that I'm a consumer who wanted Shadowrun to do well? I still do, I just won't pay $60 for it. The free games idea is appealing. After all, I already paid $400 for this toy!

I like the idea from the Shadowrun review thread that nervous producers should release games of Shadowrun's size or a little smaller at lower prices to test the parket, and if it sells they can then use the IP and engine to make a more robust game sequal at full price. I'd definitely buy that.

If the Pile of Shame thread is a GWJ wiki, then does that make Hemi the GWJ Jimbo Wales?

When talking about video game addiction, you can't compare it fairly to most drugs, since it's not a chemical addiction. It's more of an emotional/psychological addiction. Marijuana, not cigarettes.

Sh*t-talking the Atari joystick? That's damn heresy and you should be burned at the stake.

Gaald wrote:

What Rabbit meant was that he was glad we had an independent body, not related to government, and accepted as the ratings authority by the industry who decided the ratings on games. Rabbit as well as myself thought that the decision in the UK to ban the game was a government one, and than you'll notice we corrected that statement when we found out that wasn't true.

Elysium wrote:

that said, an independent body handing down a rating that the market reacts to is much more than a matter of semantics from a govenmental ban.

Yeah, i know you guys realised the difference during the podcast. What i meant in that comment was that the AO rating is effectively a ban. The comment i was responding to was the one (i can't remember who made it) who said that at least it can be sold in the US and it's not banned. I was arguing the semantics between the term ban and AO on consoles. I wasn't talking about the semantics of two organisation's roles.

I'm pretty sure that having a rating by the ESRB is effectively mandatory now with all the pressure on the industry from the government and other groups.

Are all games required to have a rating?

ESRB wrote:

The rating system is voluntary, although virtually all games that are sold at retail in the U.S. and Canada are rated by the ESRB. Many retailers, including most major chains, have policies to only stock or sell games that carry an ESRB rating, and most console manufacturers will only permit games that have been rated by ESRB to be published for their platforms.

here

Again, it comes down to a perceived freedom but in reality any game that doesn't get the rating doesn't get sold much at all. It's a trick. Like i said in my first post.

The comment i was responding to was the one (i can't remember who made it) who said that at least it can be sold in the US and it's not banned.

I think you're misusing the word ban. The statement that the game can be sold in the united states is entirely accurate, and the distinction is far more than semantics.

I'm pretty sure that having a rating by the ESRB is effectively mandatory now with all the pressure on the industry from the government and other groups.

By other groups you mean consumers and retail outlets. That's the market making decisions, and that's the big difference. If it's mandatory, it's because the market decided to make it that way rather than government imposing the decision. In fact, the times that governments have tried to interfere, the judicial system has usually opposed and repealed those actions.

Again, it comes down to a perceived freedom

It's not a trick. If Wal-Mart decides not to sell you a thing because it runs counter to their moral agenda it doesn't impede your rights. If the government did, however, you'd have an argument. Also, don't forget that Nintendo and Sony - two companies which will not produce an AO game - are not US entities. This is the world market deciding what to sell, and that is where the freedom lies and is relevant.

But the point is that if Manhunt had got an 18 rating (which is allowed on all consoles) then it would have been sold. What's 18 in the rating system for ESRB?

AO.

What's the difference between an independent ratings board giving a game an AO rating after being under pressure from governmental groups and lobbyists for not doing enough and an "independent" ratings board (because they are not told what to do by the government any more than the ESRB is) banning the game?

I mean, as i stated earlier. If you give a game the AO rating, technically it's not banned. But in reality it is. The point that SONY and Nintendo not allowing AO rated games on their systems being US entities or not is irrelevant because the rating system in question is the US rating system... on which system AO will not get sold in any great numbers. They are forced not to have AO ratings on their consoles because no shops will sell them anyway and no money would be made.

It's a fallacy and i'm surprised that you of all people don't see it.

It's a fallacy and i'm surprised that you of all people don't see it.

No, of course I see what you're saying, but you're entirely missing the point that the market has the freedom to decide what to sell rather than suffering government mandates.

There's a big difference between having a product banned and having a product that no one will sell. The end result is the same, but the distinction is in that the market is free to make its own decisions.

The important point is that Sony, Microsoft, et al are allowed to sell an AO game. They simply choose not to do so. You can't tell me that's the same has having the US government tell them they may not sell that game, or worse still have a government controlled board rate the game then have government laws in place dictating the sale of games based on the decision of that board.

No, of course I see what you're saying, but you're entirely missing the point that the market has the freedom to decide what to sell rather than suffering government mandates.

I'd say the market is the consumer and not the rating boards, retailers and console manufacturer's. After all, the consumer is the final vote.

What right do they have to tell me that I can't play an AO game on their system? Does their system block porn DVDs too? How does that make sense?

Mordiceius wrote:

What right do they have to tell me that I can't play an AO game on their system? Does their system block porn DVDs too? How does that make sense?

What kind of power do Sony or MS have to stop third party developers from creating AO games? Do they have actual approval power over third party games?

Please note what Elysium said: "The important point is that Sony, Microsoft, et al are allowed to sell an AO game. They simply choose not to do so." He didn't say AO games are banned from their platforms, just that they will not themselves sell them. Which why I'm asking for clarification on how their third party approval process works, if there is one at all.

But Elysium the market isn't making the decision. Why do Best Buy, Walmart et al not allow sales of AO games? Not because they are the market but because they have some sort of idealogical ego that makes them think they can dictate "values" (same as the government in both US/UK) to the people.

The mistake you're making here is that the UK government never said the game was banned.

BBFC wrote:

The British Board of Film Classification is an independent, non-governmental body, which has classified cinema films since it was set up in 1912, and videos since the passing of the Video Recordings Act in 1984.

ERSB wrote:

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a non-profit, self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). ESRB assigns computer and video game content ratings, enforces industry-adopted advertising guidelines and helps ensure responsible online privacy practices for the interactive entertainment software industry.

What's the difference here?

The difference is that the BBFC is sanctioned by the UK government (the contract can be changed i assume) to do the job they were already doing. The ESRB has no such condonement and has in fact been under fire for possibly not doing the job well enough. The parallel i could draw is between defence contractors.

[edit]
Quintin,

nintendo wrote:

*Please note that Nintendo does not sell or license games that carry the ESRB rating "AO" (Adults Only).

http://www.nintendo.com/consumer/buy...

Duoae wrote:

But Elysium the market isn't making the decision. Why do Best Buy, Walmart et al not allow sales of AO games? Not because they are the market but because they have some sort of idealogical ego that makes them think they can dictate "values" (same as the government in both US/UK) to the people.

The mistake you're making here is that the UK government never said the game was banned.

BBFC wrote:

The British Board of Film Classification is an independent, non-governmental body, which has classified cinema films since it was set up in 1912, and videos since the passing of the Video Recordings Act in 1984.

ERSB wrote:

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a non-profit, self-regulatory body established in 1994 by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). ESRB assigns computer and video game content ratings, enforces industry-adopted advertising guidelines and helps ensure responsible online privacy practices for the interactive entertainment software industry.

What's the difference here?

I think $60 is too high, but there are alot of outlets to either rent games from or sell/trade games to. So it's probably not as high as it appears on the surface.

I do think the $60 price scares away people that aren't hardcore though. I also get the feeling that many times I'm paying for more game that I want or need. And I do wish there were more new games in the $20-$30 price range that weren't just throwaway titles. I think shorter games in that price range would fit my schedule alot more. I don't know if it's doable for the types of games that I'd want, but I can dream, right?

Wordy you're going to have to explain that one. I thought i covered that bit the post. What's so important about the date? Or the act?