Archive for Gamers

Here We Go Again…

Posted in Grumblings with tags , , , , on July 8, 2021 by chemiclord

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

That’s a figure of speech. I’m not actually going to stop, even though I promise you that you’ve heard this story many times before.

The enthusiast press for games hears some rumors from a handful of different sources about plans a game company wants to do. Without thinking or any real editorial oversight to connect the dots, they rush to publish these rumors because they just have to break this story first.

Then begins the mad rush with multiple outlets not wanting to get left behind, so they rush to publish, turning the loosely connected strings into a jumbled ball that can no longer be unwound.

Because now the gamers have a hold of it, and the hype train that the press started is now completely in their hands, and the gamers have aimed that train right at the damned wall.

Again.

Meanwhile, said company repeatedly states that they have no plans to do what is being reported. They shoot down every and all statements that they are about to make an announcement about what they have already said they aren’t planning. They tell their investors there are no such plans.

It doesn’t matter.

And when the inevitable happens, that the thing the company has been telling gamers for months wasn’t going to happen doesn’t happen… gamers get violently mad at the company that didn’t promise anything.

It would be funny, if it didn’t happen so often without anybody seeming to learn anything. Now it’s just annoying.

In this case, this is the story of Nintendo, and the oft hyped and speculated Switch “Pro,” which remains in the ether, and will probably remain in the ether no matter how many times Nintendo refreshes their Switch console.

This most recent rumor that turned the masses into a ravening mob was started by Bloomberg, then quickly backed up Eurogamer, and Kotaku, and CNet, etc. If any of them had actually stopped to think about what they were reporting, this might have stopped at a dull roar rather than the incendiary social media fire that burst up in the wake of the completely unremarkable hardware refresh Nintendo actually announced.

Now, in a partial defense of these outlets, I don’t think they were fed lies. I’m actually confident that their sources are accurate when they said that Nintendo has been sourcing higher power components. I’m sure Nintendo has talked to internal developers about 4K resolution and/or DLSS. I’m sure Nintendo has discussed potential ways to add performance boosts into the dock, because that’s a patent Nintendo has held since before the original Switch console was put on the market.

(Don’t believe me? That patent can still be found here.)

But where the enthusiast press failed was not pausing to think. Nintendo is a company that has about two hundred ideas bouncing about at any given moment. They start developing their “next generation” of hardware before the current gen is even being shipped. If any of them had taken the time to actually put the pieces together, I have no doubt that the picture would have shown exactly what Nintendo told their investors; that they are always looking at hardware, but no significant upgrades were coming any time soon.

Pro tip: whenever you want to know what a company’s plans are, listen to what they tell their shareholders. Companies that aren’t planning some sort of financial crime generally don’t lie to them.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Stop fighting for the right to be first; start fighting to be the first to be right.

As for the gamers… I’ve given up on those lemmings. They will tell themselves whatever they want, and will always blame those who never promised anything for breaking their promises. Because gamers seem to be utterly incapable of self-reflection.

As always, gamers are what’s wrong with gaming.

And Another Sacrifice…

Posted in Grumblings with tags , , , , on June 9, 2019 by chemiclord

… to the altar of cheap games.

Double Fine, indie developer of Pyschonauts fame, is indie no longer, having reached an agreement to be bought by Microsoft Studios.

Now, if you’ve read some of my earlier comments on the state of gaming, it shouldn’t surprise you that I don’t blame Double Fine for this.  This is a move they simply have to make.  The profit margins for games at the price point gamers demand are too thin unless you have deep pockets willing to take the risk of potential failure.

Double Fine wasn’t some trash studio.  If they can’t make it on their own, then there is something very, very fundamentally wrong with the market they were trying to work in.

To those gamers who are inevitably going to complain about another studio “selling out,” we are the problem.  We need to be willing to spend more up front.  Period.

On The Price of Games…

Posted in Grumblings with tags , , , on October 30, 2018 by chemiclord

In a post made just a few days ago, I made the comment that gamers were part of the reason why the financial environment of games it so terrible.  And I want to expand on that, because just that throwaway sentence in and of itself comes across as a bit unfair.

Jim Sterling (I guess you could call him a gaming pundit) has an excellent video on the topic of game cover prices.  You should watch it if you haven’t already, because it offers a lot of good counterpoints and context for what I’m going off about here.

 

First, what is he correct about? He’s absolutely right that adjusting the cover price of games won’t stop the predatory practices “AAA” publishers do now.  The toothpaste is already out of the tube, and there’s no getting it back in.

He’s also correct that worrying about major “AAA” titles going the way of mobile pricing is too little, too late.  We’re by and large already there.

But I also think he makes the same sort of mistake most pundits of most disciplines make; focusing too heavily on the top and the bottom of the food chain, and wind up ignoring the middle.

Right now, independent studios have one of two choices; either they stick to budget “retro-styled” titles that require little development costs, or they sell their souls to a major publisher.  You don’t hear more and more tales of big publishers buying studios whole hog because these studios want to be wage slaves to a big soulless corporate entity… it’s because unless they want to keep making titles that look like they came out of RPG Maker, they have to.

The independent studio is basically extinct at this point because it simply isn’t financially solvent to be in operation… and a large part of that is because a $60 price point for a modern styled game that doesn’t have huge financial backing is too massive a risk for any potential indie studio to make.

The profit margin for the sort of game Sterling wants is so paper thin that one title that doesn’t sell like gangbusters means that studio is dead.  Good luck finding too many people willing to take that chance.

There’s no salvaging AAA publishers at this point, and we really need to stop trying to shame them into doing the right thing.  If we want the sort of deep, immersive titles of old, we’re going to need to be willing to pay more for them.  That’s where the games we remember could potentially be found… but if we don’t show the willingness to support those attempts by putting more up front, the studios that might be willing to take that chance aren’t going to.

And that is something we have stubbornly and petulantly refused to do for nearly two decades at this point.  Then we wonder and complain why things keep getting worse.

Gamers are What’s Wrong with Gaming

Posted in Grumblings with tags , , , , on October 27, 2018 by chemiclord

I want to say this first; I would, by the colloquial definition of the term, be a “gamer” myself.  So as I unload here, I do so knowing that I am a part and contributor to this environment.

I write this in the aftermath of the revelations of extreme “crunch” (for the non-gamers among my readers, it’s overtime in the same way that Hafthor Bjornsson is a weight-lifter) at Rockstar Games as they pushed to make the publishing deadline for their latest title, Red Dead Redemption 2.

Now, the extreme levels of crunch that R* demanded of its developers earned itself a great deal of flack and scorn from a broad swath of gamers… who then promptly rushed out on release day and rewarded the company for the abuse of their developers by buying the game “Day 1” by the truckload.

Because publishers know that gamers’ words of support for developers are emptier than John Stumpf’s soul.  Publishers will continue to abuse their developers without any real concern of reprisal because they know damn well by now that given the choice between actually supporting developers, or beating them like mules to get their games five months earlier, that gamers would crack that whip themselves if they had the opportunity.

Because gamers are what’s wrong with gaming.  We are the Patient Zero of all of the industry’s problems.  Every single terrible, predatory, abusive behavior on the part of publishers and studio management can be directly Point A to Point B traced to some shitty behavior or actions on the part of the industry’s consumers.

Publishers impose crunch because they know the absolute biggest sin for gamers is to delay a title.  Hell, we live in a society where a reporter got threatened because he reported a potential delay.  That dude was only the fuckin’ messenger.  What do ya think happens to developers of a delayed game?

And before that, what was the big source of outrage before Rockstar’s “crunch” controversy?  Lootboxes and other microtransactions bilking us of our money.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  It is predatory bullshit.  It is disgusting how much money they are making basically selling the equivalent of e-lottery tickets that you (mostly) can’t actually get any monetary winnings on.

But at the end of the day, this mess is the direct result of gamers repeatedly losing their shit every single time the industry tried to raise cover prices, and as such publishers decided they needed to get creative to get the profits they were looking for.  And now that they are making more money than half of the world’s nations, suddenly they don’t need to raise prices.

Good job, us.  All because we couldn’t accept that $60 in 1990 wasn’t the same as $60 in 2010.  We sure showed them!

Hell, we are a community so entitled that we have people comfortable enough to suggest without irony that laid-off developers for a studio that wasn’t even going to honor the contracts they had with those employees should work for fucking free to finish the game.

And don’t even get me started on the culture of toxicity that makes gaming or game developing as a woman such a unique hell that Dante Alighieri, if he were still alive, would have felt compelled to wedge it somewhere between his sixth and seventh circle.

And yes, I’m sure that these latter examples are all “minorities” of the community.  But ya know what isn’t?  The millions upon millions of people who despite knowing about people being worked up to “100 hours” for months on end still said, “But… my games…” and made Rockstar’s management a whole ton of bonuses.

Because we are the problem, and I’m kinda tired of hearing us claim we care about solutions.