4 votes

Well Played: Store Credit

3 comments

  1. [3]
    Heichou Link
    Now this just seems egregiously sensationalized. Sure, you could argue that the at-will resting state of digital media (predominantly video games) leaves it open to alteration at a moment's notice...

    "Apple removing a copy of Spy Kids 2 from your laptop as a result of a rights dispute just feels like they’re taking something from you. But when game developers remove content or discontinue support for a video game through updates, changes, or sequels, such clawback behavior suddenly feels technologically sound, reasonable, and part and parcel of making gameplay more enjoyable. And this continued, networked control of the product by developers facilitates more and more micro-transactions — technologically advanced innovations on an economic model that plagued the working classes in times of more explicit exploitation."

    Now this just seems egregiously sensationalized. Sure, you could argue that the at-will resting state of digital media (predominantly video games) leaves it open to alteration at a moment's notice - for better or for worse. However, for video games, we call these alterations patches. Patches that tweak or augment content that the consumers deem unsatisfactory or not up to standards. Removing broken mechanics, balancing items/classes, and adding and adjusting newer content. One could argue that the ability to do this also means an ability to alter these games for worse after consumers acquire their games, and sure, some have done that, but it is my opinion that many video game developers bank on one very important thing: Reputation.

    Yes, developers could run rampant, tell consumers to soak their heads and tweak their game how they want to, but lemme tell you something: News spreads fast in gaming circles. Like wildfire. It doesn't take much for a small problem to snowball into something enormous and dissuade many potential buyers from buying a product (Ahem, Destiny 2, Anthem, Evolve, Battleborne, etc.). To me, the author seems overzealous in that they attempt to compare the video game industry with the other media industries. In my opinion, the video games industry is much more hands on and customer oriented. For every "games as a service" gripe (And don't get me wrong, I despise the companies pushing that model as well), it should be noted that there are games that do this well. The level of transparency and intimacy that many small developers share with their playerbase all resound the same thing: That they do care for the enjoyment of their players. They built their game to share their vision with others, and they want people to regard it as something great. As great as they see it.

    Yes, this heartwarming sentiment gets weaker and weaker the closer you get to EA or Activision, but it's inevitable the bigger you are and the more money you make. However, that isn't a reason to discount this ease of augmentation available to smaller companies. It's so much easier to make a game so much better than it would have been had it never been touched past launch (Warframe anyone?), and with the transparency between developer and community, perspectives can be changed often and easily. I think it's a powerful tool for creating games people didn't know they wanted.

    However, with great power comes great responsibility, and this heartfelt symbiosis fades quickly the more corporate you get. But games don't just thrive on money. They thrive on legacy as well. Games that are held high upon a lofty cloud of adoration and reputation alone. And many developers still remember that video game hall of fame spots are won with passion, not money. It's passion that has always spawned great games, and this communication between supply and demand can go a long way, if supply knows to keep their head out of the clouds and to keep demand close by. With most things, the most popular creations are the most shallow and disappointing, but I firmly believe that video games can be art, and passion plays an enormous part in making a video game more than just units sold.

    Bit of a tangent there, apologies.

    "The rent-to-own model is so profitable that on some fronts, it is being extended to everyone: Microsoft is beginning to sell its Xbox hardware through a monthly “All Access” subscription service, and technologists increasingly look toward future gaming systems being streamed completely from the cloud."

    This does scare me. I'd rather not be forced to have a complete digital collection. That is far too restrictive and I understand the ire the author holds for this subject.

    "Nintendo recently announced the closing of their Wii store and servers, meaning that, after a certain date, people will no longer be able to download or access content they’ve purchased. In the world of platforms, consumers become less like owners of commodities and more like workers who produce their own entertainment as self-exploitation, renting the owner’s equipment under increasingly complex and opaque systems of digital 'ownership.'"

    I will say, however, that Nintendo never made it impossible to get this content again. No games out there are emulated as often as Nintendo games. Emulation is a powerful tool for preserving content that may have otherwise been lost due to technical difficulties.

    "Most of the games actually played in the world are cheap or free-to-play — a crucial factor in Fortnite’s success — and are played on phones, browsers, or low-quality computers. These games, more readily available to working-class gamers, have tended to be much more nakedly repetitive, attempting to inculcate and prey on compulsion: endless runners, match-three games, slot machines, gatchas, and clickers. These games are littered with micro-transactions, hidden fees for progression, advertisements, and addictive casino-like spending mechanics. As a result, over a significant amount of play, they end up being much more expensive than the $60 prestige experiences — but available to people who couldn’t easily spend that money up front."

    This is something I possess an intense ire for, but I have to respect. No good comes from predatory practices like gacha/loot box systems and they exist in F2P games because you don't feel those $5 V-buck purchases adding up. You're not getting actual content either. You're purchasing cosmetics that have very little bearing on further enjoyment of the product. In that vein, it all seems meaningless. Why continue to play a game where the goal, journey, and end result is always the same. Recently, however, Fortnite's been doing some crazy shit. And I respect that. But loot boxes are a very slippery slope to being an excuse to provide less initial/consistent content. Warframe handles F2P much better in my eyes.

    "Anger about the practice came to a head around the release of EA’s 2017 Star Wars shooter Battlefront 2, which, despite being $60, paywalled a tremendous percentage of the games’ content behind loot boxes..."

    Ah, ground zero.

    "But a single game can continue to indefinitely add new content, assets, and characters; it can tweak core gameplay and update the graphics; it can in itself become and remain an active marketplace without developers having to again invest the amount of time, money, and creativity it took to make the game in the first place."

    I'm glad the author mentioned this. This is the most positive result of the current state of video games,

    "The 'prestige' games industry has changed rapidly to accommodate this: Major studios are releasing fewer games every year but spending much longer supporting and producing content for already released or 'continuing' games, fostering communities of consumer-players who might spend hundreds or even thousands in in-game marketplaces over time."

    I would be remiss to mention that some major companies release fewer games per year in order to deliver quality content (Nintendo is cheating, but BotW and Mario Odyssey come to mind, as well as Atlus's Persona series).

    Overall, this article reeks of an extreme disdain for capitalism and the accompanying attributes therein, and it's almost off-putting how clear it is, but it raises great points about how capitalism is affecting how passion and art get thrown to the wayside in pursuit of money and fame. More and more companies forsake love and care for money and more money, and everyone suffers for it. It paints a video games in an even worse light to the general public, as if it wasn't a misunderstood subject previously. Fuckin' sellouts, man.

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      vakieh Link Parent
      I don't have that much of an interest here as I am firmly committed to piracy as the solution to fuckwad companies, but I do need to point out that Nintendo do a LOT against emulation, especially...

      I don't have that much of an interest here as I am firmly committed to piracy as the solution to fuckwad companies, but I do need to point out that Nintendo do a LOT against emulation, especially in the last few years. They are just another scum company masquerading with a pretty face.

      Right to own, right to repair, copyright expiry after 5 years on all media, and a forcible detangling of vertical and horizontal media conglomerates is what is required. Or just pirate and be done with it because political will to do what is best for the people is nonexistent.

      6 votes
      1. Heichou Link Parent
        Y'know what, yeah, I agree wholeheartedly with you. Nintendo hasn't made it easy but damn if the fans aren't persistent. Nintendo has the most pirated library of games in the whole industry. I've...

        Y'know what, yeah, I agree wholeheartedly with you. Nintendo hasn't made it easy but damn if the fans aren't persistent. Nintendo has the most pirated library of games in the whole industry. I've downloaded a ton of Pokémon ROMs throughout the years. At the very least, much of their media is still available in physical form, and I find them to be less egregious than the other companies

        1 vote