GWJ Conference Call Episode 239

Conference Call

The Wager, Frozen Synapse, Galaxy on Fire 2, Unpleasant Horse, The Shiva, Mystery of The Abby, Brand Loyalty, Your Emails and more!

This week Shawn, Rob Zacny, Rob Borges and Jonathan Downin take you on a wonderous journey into the world of brand loyalty.

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. You can also submit a question or comment call in to our voicemail line at (612) 284-4563!

Sponsor

CastMedium
Game Thing Daily
Good Old Games

The Wager
Frozen Synapse
Unpleasant Horse
The Shivah
Mystery of The Abbey

  • 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/Outtro Music - Ian Dorsch, Willowtree Audioworks

Frozen Synapse - Theme - http://www.frozensynapse.com/ - 0:35:35

Galaxy on Fire - Theme - http://www.fishlabs.net/en/games/gal... - 0:56:06

Comments

I am brand loyal to the GWJ Conference Call. Keep it up.
Also, The Wager sounds like a hoot.

Thanks for mentioning The Wager! I almost wish I hadn't been tracking occurences of 'The Wager' on Twitter because more often than not I listen to this podcast on the way to work anyway, and it would have been an even nicer surprise to hear that at the top of the show.

Hopefully you'll stick around for the update we're working on (follow @SurprisedMan for announcements if you like). Hoping to add a couple of features, minor improvements and some more of those unique text events that happen in the game. After the update is done that'll probably be the last one for a while as we're itching to get on with our next project

Anyway, once again thanks for the mention - I think this might be our first podcast shout out.

Good show! Brand loyalty is interesting in that the creation of perfect brand loyalty requires the persuasion of consumers to completely disregard all rational thought, with the ultimate goal being that said consumers will forgive the brand no matter how badly it screws up. I did some fairly profound work in the 60s and 70s testing the limits of this phenomenon.

But I too can't resist admitting my unreasonable loyalty to certain brands, including the following:

The Chairman's Chocolate "Blandness that tastes... forever!"
Tianjin Heavy Industry Pantyhose "Rational, scientific technology makes the formidable female"
Dongcheng State Ministry Waste Management Ltd. "Reallocation of the excrement for equitable joy"

and of course

Splendid Rose Enchantment Service Provision Group, where "the wildest conformist fantasies can come to maturity"

The Wadger

Zacny's on, can't wait to hear what controversial stand he takes this week.

Funny that the Brand Loyalty discussion turned toward Stardock, cause that is exactly where my brain went when Sean was introducing the topic. I was a Stardock guy back in the Sins of a Solar Empire days. I was less so after the Demigod debacle. I was less so after Elemental. I was less so after the sale of Impulse to GameStop. So, as it stands now, I'm not really much of a Stardock guy.

Other brands I am loyal to in games... Not really brands per se, but I'm a Mass Effect guy and a Witcher guy. Love those IPs. Other than that, I'll give almost anyone a chance.

I forgot to mention before, we Surprised Men love Mystery of the Abbey. We haven't played it in a while, but in our circle of friends for some reason we call it 'The Monk Game' and people know what we're talking about. I think it's like Macbeth, you're not supposed to say it out loud xD.

While I'm here, brand loyalty: never been a big deal for me, although I must admit I do find myself avoiding some brands. For example, I just prefer my kit to be nice and customisable to work how I like it to, so I tend to avoid Apple stuff even though I can appreciate the clean functionality of it all (except iTunes, that's always been a nightmare). As for developers, there used to be ones that I'd buy their game automatically, like LucasArts (not anymore, of course!). But I don't think I have enough confidence in any developer nowadays to just eat up whatever they offered. Valve comes close.

SurprisedMan wrote:

As for developers, there used to be ones that I'd buy their game automatically, like LucasArts (not anymore, of course!).

The conversation moved on before I could bring it up, but LucasArts accomplished the most thorough destruction of brand loyalty I've ever experienced. Talk about a studio that gutted itself, and then passed ill-conceived projects along to low-quality contractors. I remember the Episode 1 game and Pod Racer, and I hoped that they were aberrations. Nope! That was the new order of things.

Alien Swarm

Way to go Certis. Two minutes in and you make me want to stop working, stop listening and play the Wager. You said the magic words: roguelike. Even if it only has elements of a roguelike, I'm in.

frags wrote:

Alien Swarm

Further to that, there's a bunch of free stuff on steam - http://forums.steampowered.com/forum...

Blizzard for me. Until they put out a game I don't end up putting hundreds of hours into, I shall follow them blindly. I don't see Diablo III breaking this trend.

In re X3: the game just announced (and supposed to come this fall, though as Certis mentioned it's probably going to be buggy) is supposed to be a bit of a reboot and be more noob friendly.

There are other modern space sims out there though. For someone new to the genre Darkstar One is worth a look. It's not the best game ever, but you fly around and blow stuff up while upgrading your ship and trading stuff.

We have a thread for space sims/strategy games. Worth checking out. Tons of games in there. More than I was expecting, honestly.

I believe it's spelled The Shivah, with an 'h'? Anyway, I'm so happy to hear someone talk about this extremely well-done and innovative game.

Excellent show as always. I'm gonna try The Wager when I get home tonight.

Also, about brand loyalty, I was never a huge Stardock fan, but I did buy Demigod, and was horribly burned with the lag issues and the multiplayer issues. I bought into the hype and got Elemental:War of Magic on release and that's when I completely lost all faith in Staodick. Not only lost faith but developed a huge burning anger at them.

When you hype up a game to the max and project yourself as a gaming fan yet release a Game that has very little magic in it, has less playability then most strategy gamess released 5 years ago and has graphics on par with Arcanium which was released in 2001. The selling out to Gamespot didn't affect me much, I had already written off Stardock and Brad W and will ignore anything related to them in the future.

Those indie titles at the beginning got me all sorts of excited. I want to play all of them, and to finally play Meat & Conversation.

stevesan wrote:

I believe it's spelled The Shivah, with an 'h'? Anyway, I'm so happy to hear someone talk about this extremely well-done and innovative game.

The term is usually spelled without the h, but the game's title includes it.

wordsmythe wrote:

Those indie titles at the beginning got me all sorts of excited. I want to play all of them, and to finally play Meat & Conversation.

stevesan wrote:

I believe it's spelled The Shivah, with an 'h'? Anyway, I'm so happy to hear someone talk about this extremely well-done and innovative game.

The term is usually spelled without the h, but the game's title includes it.

Probably wanted to avoid confusion with the Hindu deity.

Great episode guys, and if anyone says otherwise, I'm going to yell at them for hating on you

But seriously, the whole brand loyalty thing strikes me as the same sort of cognitive dissonance and tribal association that plagues politics. People can easily get so caught up in "our guy" vs. "their guy" that they will become incapable of hearing logical arguments that disagree with their point of view. The brain is a funny thing.

The Wager is fun, fairly challenging, and short. Still haven't won a game, but I'm enjoying my time spent trying. It's kind of like Oregon Trail meets Sid Meier's Pirates. What it needs is an occasional 'shooting' mini-game to fish and load up supplies when you're far out to sea.

Thanks for the tip, Certis.

Brand loyalty is going to be an even more interesting thing as we move further into the era of downloadable gaming, since buying a game from a typical download service requires an unprecedented level of trust.

No bad decision that Stardock makes now can make a disc copy of Sins of a Solar Empire any worse, but if Valve were to suffer a change in management for the worse or otherwise suddenly turn evil/incompetent, a huge portion of my PC gaming library could be in jeopardy.

I continue to buy games from Steam because I have a certain level of trust that that isn't going to happen, and there's certainly a level of brand loyalty inherent in that. It's not so much that I trust them to have my best interests at heart, just that I trust in their enlightened self-interest to ensure that they don't do anything that would erode consumer confidence in their service in any serious way.

Of course, it helps that in a doomsday scenario, Bittorrent provides the ultimate backup service for any content I've purchased that I should suddenly find it difficult or impossible to access through some nefarious action of Evil Future Valve.

On a different tip, I'm not sure I agree that video games lack the sort of secondary market that movies enjoy on home video. Beyond Good and Evil HD, God of War Collection, Ocarina of Time 3D, and any number of other HD and/or portable and/or downloadable rereleases of older games say hi. Heck, Squeenix' entire back catalogue says hi: how many remakes and rereleases has Final Fantasy IV gotten at this point? Make a game good enough that people will still want to play it a generation or more later, and there will be money to be made down the line.

Last week, you pick at Sony, this week you pick at Stardock. Both of which are companies that put out most of the games I actually enjoy, and you always pick at JRPGs, the other games I enjoy. Makes me wonder why I've been listening to the podcast for over a year now.

I suppose because it's usually pretty entertaining.

Anyway, Stardock never seemed to say that they were better than anyone else, or tout their "Prowess" at anything. Their gamer bill of rights wasn't about making an absolutely bug free game the first time, because even when they were back on OS/2 they never made completely bug free games. Even Galciv2 has some bugs that have never been resolved.

I would suggest going back to http://www.gamersbillofrights.org/ and trying to see where they've violated their own rules (aside from #2, which I think can be answered by accepting returns like #1.)

I've actually not enjoyed most of their recent games, but that's more because they've been out-of-genre for me. I'm not an RTS fan, nor a fan of fantasy strategy games for the most part. I love turn based games like GalCiv. I bought elemental to support them, but haven't played much because I hate RPGs that have such easy permadeath of named characters...

As for gamestop, I've never understood the gamestop hate around. They've always been the one, singular source I could go to for the lesser known games. Walmart, Best Buy, etc won't even stock most of the games I'm interested in.

Great episode, The Wager sounds remarkably like the plot to an old Fighting Fantasy book called 'Seas of Blood'.

As for brand loyalty, it is a weird one for me, it used to be SEGA, you put a SEGA logo on it and I would buy it regardless. I think after they broadened their scope and started releasing things that didn't fit into that 16 bit ethos (Condemned, Universe at War, Premiership manager) that I started getting more selective. However, if you tell me it is made by From Software I will buy it no matter the genre or style those guys just inject every game with some cheeky sense of humour as well as constantly back referencing old games they have released (primarily Metal Wolf Chaos).

As for the talk on beating backlogs and being willing to go down to easier difficulty, I can't quite bring myself to go down to easy on games. Not yet anyway. Some of the stuff you talked about tied into some stuff I have been writing about, hope you don't mind me sticking in a cheeky link to Arcadian Rhythms:

http://www.arcadianrhythms.com/2011/...

Have been listening to you guys pretty much since Chris Remo appeared on your show and have been meaning to stick my head in and say hello and thanks for producing such consistently entertaining podcasts

1. I crave the same sort of Men of Sail / Star Trek experience that Rob was talking about.

2. In my defense, the ONLY reason I was able to dive significantly into the Witcher is because I had a nasty plague. I'll still talk to you about it Rob... please come back! If not, I guess we'll always have Carentan.

HedgeWizard wrote:

1. I crave the same sort of Men of Sail / Star Trek experience that Rob was talking about.

2. In my defense, the ONLY reason I was able to dive significantly into the Witcher is because I had a nasty plague. I'll still talk to you about it Rob... please come back! If not, I guess we'll always have Carentan.

Get a room already.

garion333 wrote:
HedgeWizard wrote:

1. I crave the same sort of Men of Sail / Star Trek experience that Rob was talking about.

2. In my defense, the ONLY reason I was able to dive significantly into the Witcher is because I had a nasty plague. I'll still talk to you about it Rob... please come back! If not, I guess we'll always have Carentan.

Get a room already.

I can't help it. Have you seen the hunk of burning manliness that is Rob?

I also thought it was a little funny mentioning shoes in the context of brand loyalty, the only thing I'm loyal to is my Puma sneakers, but that loyalty only lasts until I buy a couple of pairs that are uncomfortable or don't last as long as I expect. Hasn't happened yet though.

As for gaming brands, nope. Not a one. Every developer or publisher has produced something that has disappointed me, so each game I consider is taken on a case by case basis. For consoles, I'm traditionally a PC guy but have owned, and will again own a 360. Why? Because it's cheaper for practically the same experience. There are a few interesting PS3 titles, but I'm not paying the price to play them.

Faceless monolithic multinational corporations are not worth any kind of loyalty and I'm genuinely confused by the mindset that feels allegiance to something to which you are merely 0.000000000000000000001% of their turnover.

On the EA financial comments. This is from their 4Q earnings call they had last week.

Question: "So, Eric, the Star Wars game: can you talk maybe about the difference in run rate before and after the game ships in terms of pre-build and then ongoing service beyond that?"

Response: Eric: "Well, I think here's the way to look at it (and we made some specific comments about what our year looks like when measured with a portion of the year with Star Wars versus where we exit the year where Star Wars is fully in operation): So, we open the year with Fiscal 12 with Star Wars still in development, with us incurring expense to our P&L's with fairly significant R&D expenses. At the end of the year, Star Wars will be live, and we'll have some of the costs shift from R&D into cost of goods as we activate the live services--you know, the game masters, the customer care, etc. But all in, the Star Wars P&L flips from being dilutive at the beginning of the year to being highly accretive at the end of the year."

I mostly only feel loyalty to defunct brands. You slap Dynamix, Origins, TSR , FASA, SSI or Avalon Hill logos on something, though, and I'll be sure to pay attention.

hbi2k wrote:

Brand loyalty is going to be an even more interesting thing as we move further into the era of downloadable gaming, since buying a game from a typical download service requires an unprecedented level of trust.

Does it? I understand that there's a confidence associated with physical media, and I get the hesitance from some of the phone-in stuff associated with many online distributions. But I tend to associate online distribution with more painless patching. Patching games pre-internet was a huge enough pain that I'd often go without, unless it was included on a magazine's demo disc.

kazriko wrote:

As for gamestop, I've never understood the gamestop hate around. They've always been the one, singular source I could go to for the lesser known games. Walmart, Best Buy, etc won't even stock most of the games I'm interested in.

I got an option for you: Internet.

Guys, I'm saying here that I really love the internet. And, frankly, the internet has frequently offered to return the favor (though mostly in ways that make me uncomfortable).

HedgeWizard wrote:

1. I crave the same sort of Men of Sail / Star Trek experience that Rob was talking about.

Hear, hear!

I feel brand loyalty is too risky in the gaming arena. Just because you enjoyed the first game in a series it doesn't mean you'll enjoy the second. Developers do need to change their games from one to the next but too often the 'improvements' are actually moves away from what made the original enjoyable.

Also, a game made by a specific developer may have been a triumph but between that game and the next all the people who made the first may have left the company (a very common occurrence) and game two could, as a result, could be a mere shadow of the first.

I'm naturally a brand loyalty kinda guy but I've learnt, with games, to treat every game in a series as a new product to be evaluated independent of it's heritage. The same goes for consoles although it's harder to know in that case what problems will arise down the road.

wordsmythe wrote:

I mostly only feel loyalty to defunct brands. You slap Dynamix, Origins, TSR , FASA, SSI or Avalon Hill logos on something, though, and I'll be sure to pay attention.

New: Betrayal at Gold Box Mech Commander and Allies

I'm not moved by publisher brands like I used to be (back in the 90s). There was a time when if I saw a Microprose, SSI or Origin Systems title on the store shelf, I had confidence in the publisher that it would be an interesting gaming experience, regardless of whether it was slightly out of my comfort zone. I.e. I picked up Civilization, Colonization, Xcom, F117A etc because I noticed they were Microprose titles. Similarly, I knew Origin from the Ultimas, but they later gave me Commander series and some good adventures like Bioforge, which I may not have experienced otherwise.

These days, the publisher itself has much less to do with inspiring me to make a purchase in a positive way, though there are publishers I will avoid for knowing they push out unfinished or unsupported products.

The only brand I'm loyal to is Hershey's. When I buy their Milk Chocolate, it's always the same Milk Chocolate I've always loved. It doesn't change. It doesn't break down. It's doesn't betray my credit card information to identity thieves. It doesn't demand. It always understands. It's always sweet, and it always takes me back.