Over the past year gaming and seen the rise of several, disturbing trends that; if unchecked, could plunge our beloved hobby into the myre!
I’m talking about huge Day 1 patches, dlc and games that launch in an obviously unfinished state. Perhaps the most disturbing thing about these trends are the lengths that publishers will go to defend their nefarious actions.
For me though, the most bizarre instance over the last year was the recent “problem” with ‘Dying Light’ and the delay of its physical copy by a full calendar month. Apparently due to a problem with the process of pressing the discs. Now I have been gaming for a very long time and this is the first time I have heard a game being pushed back because of a manufacturing fault, consoles yes but never a game!
My question is – can we, or should we, trust these publishers or should we look beyond their words and think of the business?
For several years now games publishers have been campaigning against the second-hand market – claiming it will kill the industry as they get no cuts from the sales – and as a result they have looked at ways to make us keep a hold of those games we buy. The most common form of combating this trend is the announcement of the DLC plan. By releasing DLC at regular (usually 2-3 months) intervals publishers are tying people into them with a season pass sold at a discount – gamers are more reluctant to sell on their games.
However what if a game is no good – what if people don’t enjoy the game? What if they are only playing the game through some ironic exercise? They are not going to buy the season pass – that game will be sold on.
Not all games have a ‘season pass’ though. Maybe because the developer has no plans, or money. What then? How do they keep you from selling the game!?
Convenience! By allowing you to ‘preload’ your digital copy they are tying you into that game – there are no refunds in the digital domain and there is no second-hand market! It’s perfect for everybody involved.
Remember those rumours that the Xbox was not going to have a disc drive?
Remember when Microsoft said that your games would only work once?
Look at the PS4, does it resemble a console that had a disc drive during its inception?
I think that both Microsoft and Sony saw the success of Steam, with its (admittedly very soft) DRM – and wanted to emulate it on their platform. The information was “leaked” to gauge the publics reaction and changes were made accordingly; disc drives in place and nobodies none-the-wiser! The whole thing dies a rumour. Perfect.
Here’s the thing; I distinctly remember ‘Dead Island’ clogging up second-hand bins across the country because it was an absolute mess. It was no fun, it was buggy, key quest giving characters would not appear and people quickly moved it on. Eventually Techland got the game to work and because of the price drop and the ‘Game of the year’ (I find it hard to believe any publication gave it a legit GOTY) edition it had a renaissance of sorts.
Surely the quality of their game hurt their projections (not enough to stop a sequel and a spinoff) enough to make them wary the second time of asking. More importantly though, maybe gamers would be reluctant to play this game due to the quality of ‘Dead Island’ – how could they get this game into drives around the world?
First rule of commerce guys – supply and demand.
If there is no demand – create it through limiting supply. Seeing something sold out creates the sense that is of a high quality, but seeing something not get to shops creates a sense of curiosity – hello digital download!
Goodbye selling the game on!
“but gamers are a patient type they can wat for the physical release!” I hear you scream behind your PC monitor, well, we are not a patient bunch at all. The numbers that Unity sold last year account for our impatience. We are especially impatient when a game we have been looking forward to gets released; we’ll buy it day one.
If it’s not available in a shop who would wait when you can download it and play it in an hour?
If you wanted to play ‘Dying Light’ this was your choice, wait four weeks or four hours (if you have a bad connection); nobody is going to pick the four weeks if they are looking forward to the game.
I do not buy there was a printing error, I see it as an attempt to turn a profit and not risk second-hand sales – this is the first AAA title to have a digital only release (on console)! Imagine those profits (it was actually £10 dearer on PSN than in a shop)…they aren’t losing any money in second-hand sales either – DOUBLE WIN! For the publisher.
I ask you – when you buy a game that is “broken”, has a large day one patch, has a mountain of day one DLC (I’m looking at you ‘Evolve’) or is significantly worse than the same game on a competitors machine, do you believe the excuses?
Do you believe that Ubisoft QA missed Unity’s bugs?
Do you believe that the ‘Evolve’ DLC program benefits you, the gamer?
Do you believe that DiCE were working 24/7 fixing ‘Battlefield 4’?
I believe none of these lies. Companies will stoop to any level to screw its customers in the name of profits. We are nothing but a number affecting share holders bottom lines.
Worse than this.
We are sheep who have allowed this to happen. We have all bought the lie that DLC was the future, rather than a cynical attempt to stop us trading in a game (broadly speaking, i can count the genuinely good DLCs on one hand).
We bought the lie that patches are unavoidable in modern gaming (they maybe so but 12gb of patches for Unity was avoidable).
We bought that ‘AC III’ was being made since before ‘AC II’.
We; my friends, are all culpable and active participants in the way gaming has evolved. We willingly believe publisher hype every time, and we must really take everything with a pinch of salt. How many times have you bought a game only to be sorely disappointed? Countless right?
The real question is how far do we believe them?
Was Hardline really delayed to ensure it was top quality?
Should we believe that ‘Dying Light’ wasnt released physically because of an error. Maybe. Then again they had a lot to gain by having a digital soft launch.
Maybe we believe what we’re told because it is the easier thing to do. Asking questions is a hard thing; you don’t want to sound silly or negative but sometimes you must ask them. For the greater good.
Did you buy ‘Dying Light’ on digital?
What have publishers said that you just haven’t believed?
Tell me in the comments below