Conference Call

GWJ Conference Call Episode 58

Call of Duty 4, Uncharted, Hellgate London, Guitar Hero 3, Tabula Rasa, Electronic Arts And What It All Means, Moral Quandaries, Your Emails and more!

The games of November continue to roll in as we do our best to keep you up to date! We also discuss the state of EA with all their closures, buyouts, forecasts and other hullabaloo. Big thanks to workbenchmusic for the new tunes! 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.


Thread of The Week

(1) Make A Morally Ambigous Choice, Win A Copy Of The Witcher! - kuddles

  • Subscribe with iTunes
  • Subscribe with RSS
  • Subscribe with Yahoo!
Download the official apps
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android

Show credits

Music credits: 

Intro/Outro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree

"Cosmos" - (Workbench) - 0:42:08
"Crocodile Tears" - Zoo (Workbench) - 1:01:37


Elysium wrote:

A lot of times, particularly when you're disappointed that a good game has some serious issues, it seems like the bad is the glaring flashlight in the eyes that blocks out a lot of the good.

A lot of people tend to be defensive and bring up the haterade comment but this here is probably the biggest reason for the negative comments. It's not the first time a developer has screwed up, but with the expectations what they were it's hard to talk about anything else but the negatives.

TheGameguru wrote:

Also.. people to this day still argue about the combat table in WoW so its not like MMOG combat systems are ever (or even supposed to be) clear cut.

Hellgate's weapon damage system and stats are a bit confounding at first. They didn't strike me as any more confusing than those of many other MMORPGs, though. In fact they seemed pretty par for the course. I don't think you need to know what all the numbers mean at the outset to enjoy the game or even fight effectively. The prominent weapon rating number is an effective shorthand for new players and those who aren't comfortable with or interested in the details.

The three-icon minigame symbols worried me, too, initially. I thought I might be missing something important until I read about it online. It's an interesting feature, but should have been mentioned in the documentation, at very least.

As far as the remaining criticisms are concerned, I have to agree, but as you guys pointed out many will probably be irrelevant in the weeks and months to come. I bought the game and I like it well enough to play it in its current state. I can't recommend it as a purchase yet, though. And the subscription service is out of the question for now, as far as I'm concerned.

... 30 minutes in after the break ...

Shawn: Hi, this is Shawn Andrich and you're listening to Gamers With Jobs podcast. If you're just joining us, we were just discussing the finer points of . Let's rejoin the conversation...

I don't have any good advice, but please don't do this. I'd rather rewind or just stop working and stare at my desk for the hour and a half so I don't miss anything.

Point Taken: I (because I think I'm possibly the worse offender) will try and actually say the names of the things I'm talking about more than once in a low mumble right at the beginning of a 3 minute rant.

I might pay good money to hear Sean "Elysium" Sands do his best Terry Gross imitation though.

Mex wrote:
still need to work on naming the title instead of calling it "it" or "the game" at some point during long conversations on a title. I heard the mention of game title outside the first sentence introducing it maybe twice the entire podcast and only when actively comparing the game to another game.

Sometimes I start doing something else and if I lose the train of the conversation, and if I miss the introduction of whatever game you're talking about, you guys can go on for 20 minutes talking about a game that I'm not sure I got the name of...

My attention started to wander around the Thread of the Week, but got quickly sucked back in when I heard them talk about AIDS and baby-eating, making me glad I didn't try to enter that contest. I would've lowered the bar quite a bit.

It's a tough habit to break, but we'll try. I do agree that rabbit is largely to blame. That guy ... *shakes head*

I also hear he hates Japanese people.

FWIW, I lost track of what games you were talking about a few times today as well. (Listening at work, performing rote tasks.)

BadKen wrote:
Mex wrote:

Hey, ken, remember when you said you didn't want to come off as a rabid fanboy? I think it's too late ;)

ROWR! *slaver, drool*

Damn, I hate it when that happens.

You don't come across as a rabid, slavering fanboy but you still sound defensive.

BadKen wrote:

Yes, it's a very bad thing. Credit card processing errors suck. But they happen. It's not clear whose fault it is. It is utterly unfair to lay the blame for a credit card processing error on the game or even on Flagship.

From my point of view - a potential customer whose interested but unsure about the game, saying "It's not clear whose fault it is," does nothing to address the concern with "Why were some people double charged?" I don't care whose fault it is - just fix it. Ultimately the responsibility does rest with Flagship. Most customers don't care if the billing process was outsourced to EA or some other subcontractor, they don't want to learn that many names for each small company that is responsible for a different part of a game - it all goes under Flagship's umbrella, because they are responsible for getting people to do the job right.

BadKen wrote:

If there's a good game there, nobody would know why from listening to the podcast. The story is decent, with moments of great humor. The monster AI is above average--monsters don't just shamble at you, they dodge, take cover, and use group tactics to surround you. The design and variety of the weapons and armor is outstanding. The gameplay definitely scratches the Diablo itch.

You may be right here. And the idea that game journalism focuses too much on nitpicking has been discussed here before. (As opposed to say, book reviews or, I dunno, wine reviews.) I'm happy to hang around a place where we are having these conversations.
However I don't think anyone's tone during the podcast was unnecessarily harsh - which is why your defense seems, well, defensive. Their remarks struck a chord with me, as did the "there's a good game but I am going to wait six months before I come back to it."

It's tricky to pull one segment of the podcast out and look at it in isolation - it helps to have followed the topics as they've been discussed in the forum, which almost runs counter to the point of the podcast. I'm sure for many people the podcast is the primary source of contact with the site, but for someone who follows along it seems like part of an ongoing conversation. It's an interesting problem - do you think they should make more references to the ongoing threads that discuss each game? Would that remind people that there's a larger conversation happening if they want or would it pull them out of the flow of the podcast to continuously reference the forum?

Personally I like the balance where it's at right now, but it's "what I grew up on" and what I'm used to.

Great show guys.

CoD4 is a good game... but with all the things IW improved upon, they still left the dummy 'Run for the Spawn Point!'

"Cosmos" - Workbench - 0:42:08
"Crocodile Tears" - Zoo, Workbench - 1:01:37

Not bad stuff, I've listen to few tracks from Zoo... and I like it.

- The learning curve is brutal

Really? This game screams pick up and play and the next thing you know 3 hours have gone by.

- Weapon stats don't make any sense

Yes they do. They even do a really good job of seperating tiers of weapons between higher damage single target weapons and less damage area effect weapons. The weapons even have descriptions underneath the weapon's name. Some of the descriptions are general, like shotgun or rocket launcher but they are adequate because I haven't found a shotgun that wasn't a shotgun and a rocket launcher that wasn't a rocket launcher of some sort. Others are quite descriptive like the mine layer.

In addition to the descriptions the game lists the damage type (spectral, lightning, physical, fire, toxic) and how many monsters it effects (direct, splash, field).

- The skill tree presentation is confusing

I don't think its confusing at all. It may even be a bit simplistic. Add that to the fact that 90% of the skills don't require more than one point in them.

- "Really sh*tty job of giving the player information"

I think its like the Fly said that its par for the course here.

- Pushed out before it should have been

It definitely was. I think they really wanted this game out on Halloween due to its theme and subject matter. This isn't an excuse but may be some insight.

- The only way to tell what weapon is better is to check vendor prices

Or you could equip it to see if you like how it plays. The way weapons work isnt really based on which does more damage. The variety is so much that its more based on whether you like the feel for the way they fire.

- The Minigame puzzle (icons on the right of the screen) is a mystery

I always thought it was a fun surprise when you complete it. In theory its a nice way of stirring up the action.

- Disappearing party members in co-op

This happened to me once on the second day after launch and hasn't happened since. they do desperately need a floating colored arrow above players heads to distinguish party members. The action is frantic and crowded!

- The interface "blows" -- guild, chat, "worse than Everquest"

The chat functionality is a throw back. Considering the devs should have learned something from the abysmal chat in D2, I am disappointed. They have a lot of work to do here.

- "All the problems with the subscription stuff--unforgivable"

I haven't subscribed yet due in large part to issues like this. So there is the proof in the pudding.

I agree with all the criticisms mentioned about Hellgate. I'm one of the lucky few who have had no problems with crashes, though, which definitely enhanced my game experience. I didn't find the learning curve harsh at all, and as for the game not explaining things to you, well....I guess I just expect to look stuff up on the internet these days. I figured out the minigame thing after alt-tabbing and checking the official forums - took all of 2 minutes. I think that's a side effect of being a PC-gamer - you have an expectation that things are going to be difficult, so it becomes normalized.

I agree 100% about the guild interface, chat interface, co-op invisibility bugs, repetitive environments, etc.

The only thing that bugs me in all the reviews I've read/heard is that all these things overshadow what really shines in this game, that is, the gameplay. I'm having a blast as an evoker: frankly, the skills are 10x as interesting as Diablo 2. Very WoW-like, but with FPS controls. It's mindless fun - I can sit back, listen to a podcast (Ongoing History of New Music, by the way, is fantastic), and just play: but it's not a click-spam fest like D2. I know that this doesn't sound like a glowing review, but this kind of gameplay definitely scratches an itch.

But hey, I don't let that stuff get to me. If I'm having fun, I don't care what you guys think. (I also like GH3, btw!)

All the problems in this game go back to one fundamental issue: an early release date that was almost certainly pushed by the publisher. This was evident when one of the devs said, in a forum post, that he'd been working on the Memory-Leak crashes for "months". Ie, "We knew there was a crippling bug in the game a few months ago, didn't have time to fix it, but released the game anyways because we didn't have a choice". It's really, really stupid, especially for a subscription based game, because you're driving away a LOT of playerbase and recurring monthly fees. It's also sad because it ultimately means less people for me to play with. Ah well.

Well, that's what you get for partnering with EA, flagship.

My only real gripe with Hellgate is this: Why did they add so many chat channels? My roommate and I never end up in the same channel when we log on. And the whole "party member cloaking" thing is annoying as hell, too.

"I died!"

"Sorry dude... the game made you all ninja-like so I couldn't help you out."

I'm glad COD4 got a positive mention. I want to play it again now. Now.

Wait, who wrote the email from Salisbury, Maryland? I want to know of the other Goodjers in my city!

LobsterMobster wrote:

Sigh... I hate you guys. You made me buy CoD4 for X360.

You all better still be playing by the time it shows up!

Ugh. I think I'm selling Halo 3 this weekend in exchange for Mario Galaxy or Mass Effect. The collective has indeed moved on and I'm left to fend for myself against the pubtards.

As a follow up on a couple of things.

On the mentioning a game more than once in the course of discussing it. The NPR issue is kind of mute since they only take a break between major portions of the show and don't have commercials so there is no need for the segway in which was mentioned. As Certis and Rabbit, the two main talkers of the show said, they will work on it.

On the issue of Hellgate there is something I have been wanting to say on that line.

I am noticing and have noticed a very disturbing trend in many games in general not just MMORPGs in the last few years now. There was a time period in which game developers made a conscientious effort to release games that for most part were cockroach free and playable. Those that released a program that didn't play well on a significant percentage of machines immediately went to work to fix the issue to bring balance to the status of the game. Now I see too many games released shoddy, filled with insects of all size and shape and a few are not even playable on large spectrum of modern systems. What happened to integrity in game developers? Do any of them have any resemblance of honor and pride in their games? Certainly perhaps a few developers and programs do but obviously the idiots managing everything do not as if they did we wouldn't be seeing all the crap that we see. Which brings me to this point.

Perhaps what we hear from the GWJ crowd is exactly what all gaming communities should be saying and demonstrating. We allow these things to happen and say, "Oh they will work it out in a few months.". This is completely backwards to the model of business that should be demonstrated. If a product doesn't work and/or doesn't perform well it should not succeed. If you bought a microwave that only worked 80% of the time and didn't quite heat your food as it was supposed to, would you keep it and be ok with it? No, you would take the broken piece of junk back to the store and demand a new one that worked perfectly or else you would want your money back. If you bought a cell phone or a music player or hell even a optical mouse that only worked flawlessly "most" of the time but not all the time would you keep it in hopes that a new firmware or driver update "might" fix the issue or would you return it and get a different brand or product? I say we should treat games in the same fashion. If the game is poor in a way in which it does not operate as intended, that it's filled with bugs and is no where near a complete game and has all sorts of hardware compatibility issues and the such we should have the option to return it and get our money back. Plain and simple. It's one thing to not enjoy the story or not enjoy the graphics as much as you might have wanted or not enjoy another aspect of the gameplay. It's another thing entirely to not be able to play the game as it should be played due to it being, as the GWJ crew has dubbed it, half baked. The standards have been set way too low for our acceptance of this crap and it's about time the gaming community put our foot down and stopped sugar coating bad business practices as treating them like some poor 4 year old that hasn't applied themselves enough and will get better.

Due to this issue part of me support online distribution only because I want the implementation of a 7 day free trial to be implemented on all games across the board regardless of genre. A full version of the game in which you can do whatever you want for 7 days. At the end of which you either pay the price of the game or you no longer are able to play the game. This would give the general gaming community the ability to try a game and if they like it to buy it. If it's a piece of crap then obviously they never buy it and then immediately erase it from their hard drives. This would very quickly show developers that releasing a gaming half baked is not an option or else expect no return. Raise the bar and demand better games.

*steps down off his soap box*

Good show this week.

I think I'm actually depressed by the number of good/incredible games available this year. I'm finding myself buying game after game and playing at most two or three hours of each.

Jeanne D'Arc
Disgaea Again
The Witcher
Hellgate: London
Super Mario Galaxy
Crysis (Supertip: Don't spring for the special edition. All you get is a paper thin art book)

It was an expensive trap... That said I'll be picking up Kane & Lynch today.

I just got a chance to hear the podcast. Wow, I got a shout out! For future reference, though, a shout out usually consists of some kind of praise and deep sadness that someone can't be with you today. Not just, "Nyles wrote that review." Way to phone it in.

Anyway, if people want to pick up Zack and Wiki, they should do it soon, because it's looking more and more like a Phoenix Wright type of game, with a few vocal supporters but initially weak sales, and no real push from Capcom. It'll go off the radar faster than say, Okami, because it has no visual hook. It looks like a kid's budget title but in fact it's a very polished, entertaining game. I'm still playing it a bit, and I have Galaxy.

kilroy0097 wrote:

Due to this issue part of me support online distribution only because I want the implementation of a 7 day free trial to be implemented on all games across the board regardless of genre. A full version of the game in which you can do whatever you want for 7 days. At the end of which you either pay the price of the game or you no longer are able to play the game. This would give the general gaming community the ability to try a game and if they like it to buy it...

Although there are individual consumers with integrity, collectively I don't think consumers exhibit the trait and that model would unfortunately end up so abused that it would really hit the bottom line. Think of all the safeguards bricknmortars which had more liberal return / exchange policies in the past, have had to build into their return/exchange processes in recent years. Costco reducing the window for electronics (HDTV/pc) returns and exchanges is a famous example, but the now standard practice of receipt serial numbers and tracking, limiting the # of returns per year, etc etc.

Consumers actually had it good, with relatively generous policies based on a certain faith that they wouldn't be abused. These policies made business sense until it became clear that collectively, consumers were working the system to replace a hdtv after two or 3 years to get the latest features and perform fraudulent returns/exchanges. Even though it may have started as limited sets of consumers, once it is out in the wilds of the internet, unfortunately all consumers lose out.

At least with brick-n-mortar, a consumer who has decided to use or abuse a return policy needs to drive there and do their thing face-to-face, human-to-human, look somebody right in the eye. Such a digital system of full access for 7 days would unfortunately lead to even more rampant consumer abuses of the barter system because it would be largely anonymous.

The only way I could see this work would be that as part of the agreement for such a 7 day window, consumers would have to provide their billing information up front and until time of purchase or decline-to-purchase, the install would only be active while the company could track usage of their software. If the consumer got a certain number of hours out of the free-play window, then they would've agreed up front to be charged to activate the software. If the window ends and usage was below the threshold, then the software would be deactivated. I can't imagine consumers agreeing to such a system and am unsure it can be viable. I can only imagine how many consumers would say "I didnt want to buy it, why did you charge me." with the CRM cost to say " But Sir, you logged 35 hours of playtime over the trial period, the agreement stipulates...." It would end up in the courts. Although the traditional context might be different, there is truth even in gaming to the old saying "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free" that publishers and retailers must safeguard themselves against.

That's just my perspective. I'm not ultra pro-retailer. I am a consumer and want my rights protected and good service, but I can at least acknowledge the issues retailers/publishers have to deal with. I am more frustrated probably with the collective consumers that have done things in the past that have resulted in less service for individual consumers today when they really need it. I.e. If returned software hadnt become such a big issue for companies in the past, we'd probably still have some ability to do so today.

I do think there should be some return window for media greater than what we have today, but still stricter than other types of consumer items. Specific to our hobby, any policy that gives a consumer enough time or the capability to play a game in full before returning it or exchanging it for the next big release is going to have an immediate impact on the bottom line.

Just to balance out my example, I think the digital consumer is faced with overly severe restrictions whether it be re-activation limitations or XBOXLIVE DRM / PS3 Warhawk DRM that can limit account access (potentially) to a single account on the same household console. Nintendo seems the only one who got it right, any digital purchase is available to everyone on that console. Have an issue with that console? they'll map it over to your new system if they need to replace it. That should be the bar that all digital providers aim for.

haha ok, now there are at least two soapboxes on this particular stage...

The Fly wrote:

The three-icon minigame symbols worried me, too, initially. I thought I might be missing something important until I read about it online. It's an interesting feature, but should have been mentioned in the documentation, at very least.

3 icon minigame gives you something to focus on once you hit level 35 and start wondering why the heck you're still playing your character. Is it to see the same sets of monsters over and over again? To play the same dozen map styles over and over again? maybe to do the same sets of quests over again? If this was actually a real MMO with an End Game and group content and some reason to get to 50 and gear up, it might be worth it.

kilroy0097 wrote:

This is completely backwards to the model of business that should be demonstrated. If a product doesn't work and/or doesn't perform well it should not succeed.

I don't know Kilroy, I tend to see games as more of an art form than a product per se. If I don't like a book, I don't send angry letters to the author demanding he write a better one and send it to me free of charge. If I don't like a movie or an album I simply don't buy it. It's easy enough to gauge through reviews and so forth whether or not it's worth my time.

On the subject of finding communities of like-minded individuals, I'd be interested in knowing if anyone knows of other communities of Goodjers like fellows still playing Halo 3. I really really don't want to be forced on to COD4. However, right now Halo 3 is quickly becoming dead to me. I don't plan on doing the campaign again, multiplayer is a cesspool and everyone else has moved on, I think. I liked the recommendations in the Podcast about networking with people. Socializing. I definitely try to do this. But since I'm already on and I'm already part of the community, other than rallying everyone to stick with Halo 3, there isn't much I can do. I look at my friends' list nightly and everyone is playing COD4. I am already realizing our days of playing anything but Zombie Skate are over. So I'd be curious to know if anyone knows of other communities out there where I can join up and not have to play with pubtards.

Or... I'm part of a great community already. Time to move on to COD4.

MikeMac wrote:
The Fly wrote:

The three-icon minigame symbols worried me, too, initially. I thought I might be missing something important until I read about it online. It's an interesting feature, but should have been mentioned in the documentation, at very least.

3 icon minigame gives you something to focus on once you hit level 35 and start wondering why the heck you're still playing your character. Is it to see the same sets of monsters over and over again? To play the same dozen map styles over and over again? maybe to do the same sets of quests over again? If this was actually a real MMO with an End Game and group content and some reason to get to 50 and gear up, it might be worth it.

Crap, sounds like my impulsive purchase was actually a bad idea this time.

And damn you, Elysium, for talking up Tabula Rasa. I'm trying to rub my MMO itch down with ointment, but it continues to burn! Maybe the Call of the WoW will win me over.

Yikes. I just got around to listening to the podcast. Thanks for the compliments Certis, though I'm not sure all of them are deserved. I have my bad games like everyone else

I do agree with every word of the CoD4 stuff though I guess that's not surprising.

Glad everyone else (except Danjo ;)) is enjoying it too.

kilroy0097 wrote:

Due to this issue part of me support online distribution only because I want the implementation of a 7 day free trial to be implemented on all games across the board regardless of genre. A full version of the game in which you can do whatever you want for 7 days.

In which case, the only games you will ever get are the ones that take many dozens of hours to get to the best parts. Most people I know have finished most solid single player games within a week of release, often because they rented it in the first place. Portal? HL2 Episodes? Those are the obvious ones. But if everyone knew they got a week (or even a solid weekend) of playtime for free, game sales would plummet. Now, a full hour or two of the game? That's what we call 'a really good demo' and I think you're seeing more and more games do just that.

To break up the thread a little, I wanted to say I appreciated the segment on EA looking at the company and the industry from a financial perspective. I cannot agree more with Rabbit when he pointed out the perception differences between the gaming press and the financial press when it comes to quarterly earnings reports. Too many times I have read and listened to pieces on a company's earnings and this top line analysis is presented. Look in to the numbers just a little bit. I like doing that stuff, but that's because I work in Finance.

The accounting charges that Certis seemed confused about is an accounting practice that companies will rarely do to reclass how they recognize certain types of revenue. In this case, it was related to the revenue that EA had generated from "certain online packaged games" and will be reported in an unspecified quarter. This type of accounting change does not affect day-to-day operations. If the accounting charges were included, EA would have easily surpassed analysts' estimates.

Elysium mentioned that a couple of EA Chicago's titles did not do so well. Def Jam Icon did poorly, but Fight Night was okay. They have already announced that Fight Night has been absorbed into the EA Sports studio, so that is not going away. The EA Chicago was evaluated internally by EA and execs said that EA Chicago would not reach porfitabilty targets until FY2011. Based on that evaluation it makes since that EA Chicago would be vulnerable to the restructuring. Rabbit mentioned they grew 300% in 3 years and I agree that they expanded too fast.

On the point of EA's stock, it is a very strong stock and I disagree they are on any kind of bubble. They are the benchmark for the video game publishing industry because of their size. They have the economies of scale to handle a restructuring and also an acquisition at the same time. This buyout will not affect EA's bottom line, beacuse EA has a plenty of cash. EA also has no corporate debt. They have more than enough on hand to handle an acquisition with the magnitude of this BioWare/Pandemic buyout. Look for Activision and some other big publishers to potentially follow suit in order to increase the their own original IP.

Also, Elysium, Microsoft's games division reported a profit this quarter because of the release of Halo 3. The previous quarter they reported a profit was the release of Halo 2.

Okay. I'm done. Back to work.

Kolbo, EA's deferred recognition of that revenue is still part of GAAP, right?

I'm downloading Maple Story right now. Wasn't it being ported for the DS at one point? Anyway, I want to see the article about MS and the other free/cash shop MMOs.

wordsmythe wrote:

Kolbo, EA's deferred recognition of that revenue is still part of GAAP, right?

Not in this case. The deferred net revenue line item on the Income Statement is part of their Non-GAAP results. Beginning in FY2008, EA as no longer able to objectively determine the fair value of the online service included in certain packaged goods games and online content. As a result, EA recognizes the revenue as a separate line item because it is measured over the estimated online service period.

The motive behind this seems to be for internal purposes. To better help their finance arm to compare numbers to prior periods results when measuring the fair value of the online packaged goods games and online content was done, in their words, objectively.

This move does not affect their daily cash flow, but when comparing earnings for the rest of the year, you are going to see an amount that is lower than previous years data until you take into account this net deferred revenue line item.

I admit both arguments against my rather tongue and cheek idea of the 7 day free pass are valid. I suppose I am frustrated more than anything that we the consumer are being robbed from quality gaming experiences due to borderline fraudulent promises from game developers. While Rabbit is correct in the that the demo experience is something that many developers are moving towards the counter argument can easily be stated that a demo experience is engineered to be the best it can be and since it's often limited in scope and may not implement all features or areas of a game, it is then engineered to be as flawless as possible. This in turn gains a favorable nod from the player who in turn buys the full version of the game only to be disappointed in the reality of the full game as it does not live up to the hype generated from the good demo. It's engineering a product to operate well in one situation while not doing so well in all. Kind of like an infomercial on a TV only gadget. Obviously it looks good and may even be good doing a few things showcased in the infomercial but for anything outside that scope it's crap. The difference being a game developer is stating that the gaming experience meet certain expectations based upon the functionality of the game promised. When a game does not meet those promises we the gaming community are content in accepting that fact and waiting for patches. Why do we have to wait for patches? Shouldn't a product simply work average or better than average right out of the box?

Irongut puts forward a good point and I agree that in my suggestion of an online trial period of a game that it should be based on hours instead of days and that credit card information or some sort of deposit should be put down if it comes to someone wanting to own the game past the trial period. Obviously the card would not be charged and/or the deposit refunded if they do not wish to purchase the game. A whole lot can be tried out and messed with a full version trial of a game that might not be possible with a demo. In truth I don't know if this model could work well even though it has been tried multiple times for MMORPGs such as EVE's free 14 day trial and also WoW's free 14 day trial. Obviously it's being used in the industry to some success or else it wouldn't still be happening.

The only other options to buying the game on release is to rely on feedback on the game after release. The delay buyers who wait for a new game to be out a few weeks before joining in on the gravy train. They are a few weeks behind their friends and the community but they at least can experience first hand accounts of the game before putting down their hard earned $50 on a title. This is where quality reviewers should come in. Once again we are back to the fact that the reviewing industry of video games is over hyped and sorely absent of quality reviews. Too often a game is over hyped and pushed in the same sense that certain movie reviewers for certain supposed independent media outlets seem to give favorable reviews to movies from certain studios on a constant basis. At some point they are simply giving good marks to games to insure they keep getting kick backs and perks from gaming publishers. Gives regular bad marks to video games published by EA and don't expect to get games from EA to review anymore and certain not before the street release date. Integrity is lacking in the video gaming reviewing industry and to those few that say, "To hell with the blackmailing fraudulent gaming industry, I will speak the truth for great justice!", I salute them.

Much respect to GWJ for telling it the way it is and not pulling punches. If a game is sh*t then don't attempt to hide it. Show case what exactly makes the game sh*t. The same goes with a game that is good. You showcase exactly why you think a game is good.

I apologize for my rantish style on this issue, it's certainly a pet peeve of mine after being burned on way too many games that promise things and do not deliver. The amount of money I could have gotten back from games I have installed and played maybe 10 hours of and then never played again because they are crap. Not to include the really good games that had 10 hours of game play on them but were worth every penny.