Tag Archives: DLC

In case of your death

I was surprised to see a Eurogamer article on the steam account of dead people (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHLFUbU5ceI). The article is interesting and puzzling all at the same time. You see a view that is interesting, mainly because Eurogamer is merely voicing issues that the audience bring to their attention. Now, let’s be fair, the maker Chris Bratt also mentions the bulk of other users of this approach.

It is puzzling because I reckoned that people should have known better. You can leave your physical products behind, but digital products will not transfer. That part has been a clear issue for decades (yes, not years, but decades) it comes with clarity that certain services, especially digital services are services, not goods with a clear setting of ownership. Digital ownership tends to remain with the maker of the product and you the gamer, or user are merely ‘leasing’ that product for the length of your life and in plenty of cases not even that long (read: annual fee).

That is a clear situation in the sight of the worrying owner (the maker) of the product. So in case of software products like Adobe, Microsoft and other players, the digital arena is granting access to, to the person that paid for these services. So when that person dies, the service will be gone, because the service is no longer required for the person who bought it. In my view it is simple and clear, because this is how it has always been. Now that people are actually thinking for the first time on what happens ‘afterwards’, only now are they considering the consequences of their initial forward thinking part to embrace Steam (as a first example). So, even as their might have seemed to be an advantage, having the physical copy will always be better. So now we see that people are catching on. Yet in light of a growing nagging population, do they have a case? You see they purchased a service, not a product, the difference is not what they do, but it is the stage of physicality, the lack of a media carrier. Even then it is not a given that you have any options. The history of software products has had the setting for the longest of time that the purchased products were not transferable. Ashton Tate with dBase 3 and 3 plus (1979) is one of the earlier examples in Software, the bulk of all Microsoft products, although Windows was usually not linked to a person, but a computer. So the phenomenon is not new or unique. So why is it now getting more and more limelight? Well, people are now starting to catch on that their thousands of dollars of games are linked to their identity, to their account and when that is gone, what has been bought is gone too. We can argue on it and also argue on how valid any discussion is on the products that do come with a physical element. What is a given is that as time progresses, the option to own for life a product will fail too. You see, there is a valid case that a product bought is set to the original buyer and no further. The greedy players like Electronic Arts, Microsoft and Ubisoft have been playing with that setting for the longest time. And let’s face it; they do have a point (to some degree). They promised to service your gaming needs, not those of your children and grandchildren. Now, when this is a single player game, a case could be made to transfer the disc to whomever it ends up with, yet there is also a clear case that the services and support are set to the original buyer and without it the game cannot continue. It might be regarded as an open and shut case, but is that truly the case?

We have seen it be done for decades, but was that a legally acceptable reason? I am merely leaving the point of view open to debate. Should a game be allowed to be transferred? Is it fair on the makers of the software products for this to happen? Nowadays we are waiting for the maximised utilisation, the greed driven makers on the minimum option and to some extent the truth tends to be in the middle. This is not because it is fair, but because it is expected. We grew into the expectation of ownership from books and gramophones. Only when the time of digital installation began, only at that point did we see the change towards the expectations that the makers had on ownership and with the age of parchment and gramophones behind us, the consideration of set service terms were not truly on the scale it needed to be. Yet now, with the cloud, with digital ownerships and with downloadable content we are seeing the shift where we are no longer the owner, but the authorised user of the digital product. Now we have the shift that the industry wanted and perhaps in the view of some was entitled to.

In all this we need to realise that the power of creation is not merely remastering of older versions it is the need of revenue for the makers to continue their development and is it fair or unfair to allow for this path? It is at times depending on the point of view that the person has, and n that setting the software industry and the user are unlikely to see thins eye to eye. Some like Sony have the option to link one account to all the devices, so three people could be playing at the same time (each on a different system), some give options for multiple users for a few dollars more and some will try to fetch cash from every user. It is as I personally see it linked to where our expectations are and through history they have been set in favour of the user, now with the cloud and with digital versions that ‘advantage’ is lost to the users and it is largely depending on the others on how they allow us to set this in motion.

Eurogamer is all set towards the need of a champion with references towards Bruce Willis, but is that fair? The best setting is one that Microsoft tried (best for them that is). They wanted to disable the option of pre-owned players and that got buried real fast. Now, I am on the gamer’s side when it comes to a physical product. But in case of Mass Effect, can we truly expect that multiplayer accounts are transferred? Is it fair to continue digital server service ‘ad infinitum’? I personally do not believe that to be fair. Yet in that same push, I think that a physical copy should not be linked to one person, to one owner, but in that as the future comes pushing us, the wrong stance to have. I believe that the intertwining of services, physical and non-physical will stop or enhance the push for limited authorised access.

It is merely my view and perhaps a wrong one, but I am willing to consider that we as users must accept this shift. In this it will become more and more important to have a full physical game. We see the setting of patents in the requirement of manufacturing and physicality, yet now with the cloud and distributed usage (including cloud gaming) we see that every unit is part of the whole, so as such person X with license Y will become part of the whole implying that person X2 with license Y is another entity altogether, I will go one step further that as each player becomes a mere key of the machine, we see that physicality is set in hardware and software and as such, the combination becomes its own dimension, meaning that transfer of ownership becomes a thing of the past. Yet this also spells dangers in other ways, because as non-repudiation becomes a larger issue, any element (like email address) becomes an absolute setting, so that we are in danger of stopping ourselves to move forward with a second email address, a thing we saw with Ubisoft in the past. So once we lose our e-mail address through hackers we could in theory lose whatever we purchased through that medium. Now, most have their own registration system, yet what happens when that depository is lost, damages or altered? That is the part that is not fixed and is unlikely to be properly addressed for some time. It is even more conceivable that our children will in their lifetime see the need and growth of identity implants. Perhaps even more than one and it is at that point that the digital age of ownership takes another leap, perhaps a much larger leap than we have seen in the last 25 years. It opens up whole new ranges of opportunities and dangers. The question will sooner become, which one tips the scales of balance and how will it affect all?

So in case of your death you might be confronted with the implants of your parents, the implants of peers and siblings. In this the law is actually not ready and it is not as simple as what will happen with your games. Because as the setting is fixed it will be about bank accounts, available funds and set funding of growth and wealth. In all this we will see shifts and we will ponder where the rights of services will be set. In this it will go beyond commercial versus NGO, it will be about the shift that identity enables us to hold and that will shift the movements that we are able to do. It will be a new level of hindrance and perhaps even a step towards global discrimination, because when you realise that the age of implants is already here, consider the impairment that some people will have by allowing these changes to the body and to the external extremities.

For those in IP it is a great time to get involved with block chains and non-repudiation, because the game of games, gaming and software will be changed to much larger degrees than people realise and the initial changes as some realise them to be at present are only the tip of the iceberg.

Enjoy the weekend.

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Merely my view

Yesterday, the Guardian confronted me with the writing of Ben Parfitt, his article ‘Server crashes, 40GB patches and DLC: gaming’s biggest irritations explained‘, drew my attention. It was the ‘biggest irritation‘ part that got to me and even though it is a very nice article to read and any gamer should read it (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/04/server-crashes-patches-dlc-video-game-irritations-explained), there were a few issues on it from my point of view. Still, there is a lot and much of it is very valid. So why would I object? Well, there are a few points and it is time to take a look at it.

The article starts with Downloadable content and that is an interesting side to games. The quote “So why do so many full price games now offer mini-payments? The obvious answer is that it works: downloadable content (DLC) is hugely popular” is one that needs a little more light. The writer does that by giving us part of the goods and in addition he separates it from part 2, the season passes. Basically they are connected. A season pass offers a range of DLC’s and the DLC is a single item (often). There are good games and there are some less good. In this I see Bethesda as really good and they are not alone, whilst we see Ubisoft in the Assassins Creed range, not as bad but as different. In the Assassins Creed you can buy additional items, additional game currency for a few dollars. This is a personal choice and Ubisoft is clearly warning the buyer that they are buying something that they can unlock later in the game up front. This is a good thing, so basically these are items that you can buy to give you an edge early in the game, like a sword that it twice as powerful from anything you can get in the beginning, in game currency that lets you upgrade long before you could normally afford it. This is a personal choice and there is nothing against it, thousands of gamers want an edge, so be it. This is not to be confused from other options they offer in their Ubiclub, which is actual pretty cool stuff to unlock. The really great ones, like we see in Bethesda are DLC’s that offer entire new regions to play with additional new items, monsters and goals These additions can be massive, they are also offered as season passes on day one, the nice part is that the season pass amounts to a 50% discount, which is really nice. Fallout 4 and Witcher 3 have taken that concept to an entire new level last year; they are the two players that have set the stage for many players to get a season pass on day one. Just realise that this could constitute to a download with a size up to 20Gb, which is pretty much the size of an entire game. Some DLC’s (example: Blood and Wine) are getting close to a game added to the game.

Some offer that it should merely be added to the game on day one. I offer in opposition that getting 40% more gaming for $30 is certainly worth it, these additions were never part of the base game. In some cases it was not worth the dollars, (example: nipple DLC), yet that is a personal choice, the nice part is that you do not need to get these DLC’s. Another one worth mentioning is Arkham Knight. They were offering all kinds of different DLC’s with different shops, for the most all of them were Skins. Several month later (I think around 6 months later), these skins all became available as free downloadable extra’s. So we see that some might object to DLC’s or Season passes, yet in the end, not much of the opposition is in my personal view regarded as valid opposition.

Day one patches, those are the ones we truly hate at times. The quote given “Jason Kingsley, the head of UK developer Rebellion, points out that the protracted submission process for console games means day one patches are often inescapable“, is one I cannot agree with. The entire day one patch has been in well over 80% of the cases due to bad QA. Graphic glitches, wrong controls, mission parameter freezes. In case of No Man’s Sky it was a mere 5MB, which is nearly nothing, when we see a 14GB day one patch, that is where we all get truly irritated.

Still, day one patches will happen. Skyrim and Oblivion might be the most visible ones, yet here, when we see that the Skyrim strategy book is 1120 pages. At that point we will see needed patches, which are just a reality for any game that is so big, and again, when we see Assassins Creed Unity, we see merely the flaw of a developer, one that could have been largely prevented.

When it comes to pre-orders I have mixed feelings. I think that when it is offered later on for free there should be no objections, when it is part of the Season Pass later it becomes a little debatable. The quote “why should I pay for a game before I know if it will be any good?” is not the best argument given, because the opposition states, those believing in us up front get a little extra. The quote “There are good pre-orders and there are bad pre-orders” is one I agree with, there is the additional issue that some pre order extras are limited to a certain shop, which is not a great feeling when you get the game somewhere else. It becomes all about how will others get that extra? When it is, let’s say 2 months later, there should be no issue.

The last item is the one I object to the most, Server Crashes. I get it, it is annoying and in some situations it sours the milk of happy gaming a little. Yet there is only so much QA a maker can do and there is no decent way to truly test for a few hundred thousand players. In addition, Microsoft and Sony have other setups in this matter, which implies that any multiplayer game will have a little rough patch in the first month. As a gamer you will just have to live with that. GTA5 has a huge start up issue, but guess what; after that one was solved soon thereafter millions of gamers had a happy game time for years to come. Many are still happily playing that part for two years now, so these gamers all got bang for their buck.

The article gives us a light of what bothers us to some extent, I get that. The questions become:

  • How valid is your annoyance
  • Was it solved?

There will never be a complete satisfaction with some DLC options, yet did it really spoil the fun your game offered?

We see another side from Forbes (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2017/07/01/its-time-for-bioware-to-come-clean-about-the-future-of-mass-effect-andromeda-dlc), the issue has been around the rumours of optional DLC’s for Mass Effect Andromeda. The quote “BioWare has never gone into detail about DLC plans and didn’t offer a Season Pass for Andromeda. That’s unusual in the gaming industry these days, but in keeping with the previous three Mass Effect games, which had plenty of DLC but no Season Passes” as well as “BioWare needs to come clean about the company’s DLC plans. The sooner, the better! Leaks, rumours and anonymous sources only muddy the waters. I want to hear it from the horse’s mouth, whether or not it’s good or bad news. Not just a statement about Sinclair Networks, but a clear statement about whether or not the game will receive any story DLC.” Here we have two sides. One, why should Bioware come clean on unsubstantiated rumours? It could be that Bioware does not want to set the stage until it has investigated certain options. As some see the latest Mass Effect, it is stated to be one of the largest disappointments of 2017. Apart from the glitches and other small issues, it is rated far below what was expected from a product that had five years to get it right. With the issues like ‘substandard combat’ and ‘poor mission design’ is not what the people expected from the makers from the initial brilliant trilogy. So these people are hoping that they would feel better with some additional DLC packages. Not a realistic option, but the feeling is fair enough. So is that a fair part? From the point of view of the disappointed gamer it might be valid, yet the makers sell the game on the ‘as is’ package and that is valid from a business point of view.

The core of the issue for any player remains, they might love or hate it, yet as I see it, if the core was satisfying and worth the $$$, why object to a DLC that costs a few $$$ more? You could get it or not, it should not impact your view on the original game. We can agree that Fallout and Witcher brought a massive value with the DLC’s and there too are issues, especially with the Fallout one (you can no longer play the game offline), which is a devaluating part to the base game, but that is the only issue here. By large there will be players that add value and those who do not add value, the latter one will feel it by selling less DLC’s, so it is up to them to consider the choices.

Yet with only a minimal amount of exceptions, the DLC’s seem to have been worth it. Although that is as I personally see it set to the tone of the fans to the game in question. From my point of view, if I have not played the game, or if I did not particularly like the game, I tend to stay away from getting or commenting negatively on any DLC (the Nipple DLC excluded from that).

If one thing is certain than from my point of view it would be that there is validity in the existence of pretty much all DLC’s, it is however up to the publisher to set a fair stage when these DLC’s are set to outlets or DLC’s set to limited editions. We don’t begrudge those people to get a time advantage, yet the bulk of players who like a certain franchise will pretty much lose it when such DLC’s are not available to them at a later stage (for free or for very little). Part of me would like to look at the value that we get from Season Passes, yet would that be fair? We can all see how the two mentioned earlier are value without the shadow of a doubt. So if we consider other titles, are they less value? It is extremely subjective and personal. In the end when we love the game we play we will always want more or additional ways to play the game. What we can be thankful for is that the positive DLC’s are there in abundant; the bad ones are actually decently rare, or better stated have become decently rare. It is an evolving platform that has changed in an overwhelming positive way, a fact that we as gaming fans can be thankful for. It is merely my view on the matter.

 

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Passion of the player

I have been in a state where I decided to have a second go at some of the games I have had for some time and to get a few of the achievements added to my profile. Because of the Microsoft issues outstanding, my Xbox One is switched off, even if it has one of the most treasured games in my history of gaming. There is something wrong in the Xbox Universe and the press is happy to ignore it, because they want the Microsoft Surface Pro advertisement revenue (or at least that is what I personally think it is). Yet, not to fret, the game I love is coming to PS4, so soon (I hope), I can rejoice and feel alive again. Last week I started to replay Arkham Knight on my PS4. I had not played it for some time and there were several achievements I never got. I got them now (not all yet) and I still think that Arkham Knight is one of the best, near perfect games made for the longest of times. There is only one mission (the ACP mission), where the maker of that mission should consider lobotimisation. Yet that is the only mission that is just too dumb for words. The game gives us a batman world that the batman lover will embrace. The game is just too awesome in too many ways. In addition, I had installed the DLC’s yet I had forgotten to check them, so as I restarted the game, I had 4 additional Arkham episodes to play. What a feeling of bliss that brought. The game has all kinds of issues to some, yet in all of this, I loved pretty much every moment of this game (except the ACP bungle). The feeling a truly good game brings is often overwhelming, which is why I tend to get really testy when some (read: Ubisoft) drop the ball and deprive their games of a legendary status when it was (as I personally see it) within their grasp. I actually stayed away from Wildlands, so that is not a title to consider for bad or for good. Yet I have seen too often how some parts could have made a difference with just a little more effort. Yet, you need to realise that this is what I personally see as ‘a little more effort’, yet after being into reviewing games since 1987, I have a good handle on how certain things could have been better. So when I state that Arkham Knight is near perfect, I am not trying to sway your eyes. Like any game it tends to go a little over the top at times, but the Batman feeling and even the Joker and Scarecrow (masterly voiced by John Noble) gives us a setting that will be hard to overcome. Yet, is that not part of the game, to surpass others? In this I get back to the silent release of Shadow of Mordor, which I initially ignored because it seemed to be some Lord of the Rings title. I have never been happier to have been proven wrong. I saw one small movie on YouTube and I ran to the city in record time. Shadow of Mordor is one of those ‘must have’ games if stealth is what you like. The game is balanced and gives options for the rowdy slasher and the silent throat cutter alike. The entire nemesis system gives the game a flair that is pretty unique and the fact that it is all in Mordor just adds to it all. The game is quite excellent, so as we move towards a bigger sequel called ‘Middle-earth: Shadow of War’ many players will move into the ‘ranger shivers’ stage as they want that feeling of bliss gaming. Where Ryse and Watchdogs fall short, these games deliver. That is the name of the game and Ubisoft has fallen short (read: not flopped) a few times too often. Ryse is also an important title to mention. You see, I did not go for it, mainly because of the ‘button press action sequences’ in the game. I loathe them. The graphics were good, yet there was a repetitive side to the game that was unsettling. The second wind rounds and a few other items that just take the joy away. Yet Ryse is important in another way. This I learned when I decided to watch the YouTube storyline. I was just curious on how bad the game was and that title was soon lost, because Ryse has one of the best storylines I had seen for some time, equal to Arkham Knight, the story lines we see, Ryse has a storyline that is more and captivating, the entire Damocles story is almost an epic Greek story, one that the God of War trilogy would have been proud to have. It is one element in a game that does not satisfy which makes me wonder, could a more visionary maker have taken Ryse and make it a legendary title for the history of the console? I personally believe that the answer is Yes, which is now also an issue, because with the upcoming and less trusted Scorpio and the PS4 pro are going to be reliant on very good titles. You see, the console that wins will be the one that brings the better games. Even as the balance has games like Diablo 3 on both, perhaps Diablo 4 at some point, it is the unique games that make for the push towards a console. I believe that outside titles like Death Stranding will push systems and we cannot wait for the impact of that experience. We seem to latch onto some games like God of War (4) and hope to see the same feeling that the first three gave us, yet the Scorpio will have tis own game list and some of those fans (like HALO linked games) are just as fanatical towards their passion. In this I have to mention that one of these underrated games, on the Xbox was Styx. Those who got it for free on Live: Gold should get the sequel, like the previous game it offers challenge and is again larger then the prequel. I, for one love stealth games and Styx delivers in a few ways that few do. Still there are more games and more options. It is just where you seek your entertainment. When it was introduced, my first thought was not ‘Awesome!’, it was, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ (that is apart from me not owning the IP that is), I am referring to Pokken Tournament. Think of a Tekken game and now replace them with Pokémon’s! Can you imagine, the population that is all Pokémon Go! and now gets to battle brawl, crush and batter your opponent using Pokémon’s?  It gets even better if you consider what could be achieved with a setting like that. Apart from the previous Pokémon Colosseum (GameCube), the idea to have an RPG where you have to actually fight in the game. Not just tactical, but in a more arcade setting? The fact that your grass type Pokémon has additional benefits on a grassy knoll is just awesome. That game could keep you busy for months on any next generation console. All this in ways we have never played or even considered playing Pokémon before. As we see the arrival of remaked games this year (System Shock and Elite Dangerous PS4), gamers are recognising certain older games that brought more joy than some ‘open world’ games today claim they bring. I still keep my Wii, because I would love to replay Metroid Prime (1 and 2) again some day. When you feel that deep about a game, you know that the game is well above certain levels. Consider those who loved the Ultima series of Richard Garriott, consider playing that game on a Skyrim engine. To explore Sosaria, a true open world with missions to find, but overall the game is to just live and grow the character you created, exploring based on a ‘central mission’ but one that grows and brings more and more travels and challenges over time. It is in that light I initially made a design that I named Elder Scrolls 6: Restoration. the light of artistic creation (in my case a story and storylines) is one we need to embrace. We all have our own way of growing our artistic side. If you consider this to be not true, then look up ‘GTA5 Story DLC’, the demand for this mentioned product is off the scales and that makes perfect sense for those who love GTA5. The need for more and new challenges is within us all and addressing that is what gives some games the extra desire. Diablo 3 and Shadow of Mordor have their own engine giving us new and different opponents. It is that variety of bosses and treasures that makes us go back to the game that offers it. I was playing Diablo 3 (still) a few weeks ago, only to get a legendary item I had never had before, giving that character (my Witchdoctor) a mojo and dagger that makes short work of opponents, even on Torment 4, which is a decent challenge in the best of days and a nightmare on others. I now finished a portal in 4 minutes on that level, a speed I have never even been close to even before. Those are the moments a gamer lives for, Blizzard and Bethesda have figured that out for some time and they have so far not stopped delivering to the gamers need. In that CD Project Red is another player who with Witcher 3 reached the acclaimed ‘legend’ status of game creators, in that, do you think that there is one gamer, who loves that genre of gaming who does not check for ‘Cyberpunk 2077′ on a nearly daily basis? In all this, the reviewer (as I was in the past) I have been careful not to dismiss genre’s I did not like. For example, I do not give a toss about GTA5, it is just not my game, yet I can clearly see the excellence and quality of that game. So even as I am unlikely to give it a 100% score, it doesn’t take a genius to see that it is clearly a 90%+ game. That insight is one I kept with me when I was reviewing games in my days. very few games made it to the 100% bar, in my time less than a dozen games got that score. One game that did get that score was Ultima 7, my favourite System Shock got 95% and System Shock 2 got 92% if I remember correctly. There is however a shift, as games got graphically better, and as PC systems were more and more depending on more expensive cards the way to correctly review a game changed. I accept that and I was no longer reviewing PC games before that happened, I think the last PC review was Thief 3, which required me to upgrade my Diamonds Lab card in 2003 just to play the game. It was an upgrade well worth it, yet the element of graphic cards had already grown in those days. Nowadays the issue is a serious one. when we now see that the main negative point of such a card would be that ’99 percent of gamers can’t afford it’, in this case the GeForce GTX Titan X card, we need to reconsider certain system for games. now, I am going for the very top, so there are definitely alternatives. It is the aftermath that now becomes more and more important. The idea that I have to give a lifeline of a mere 2 years to a card that would at present cost me an arm and a leg is an issue younger gamers need to realise early in the game. the idea that a gamer needs to reserve around $800 a year to keep his graphics card up to date is a little much. Oh and this is the top of the range, there are good cards that require $500 a year, so there is manoeuvring space. Yet, when you are passionate about a certain game. The idea that you cannot play it at 100% of possible, how does that go over? It is for that reason that I stopped chasing PC hardware. I believe that the console delivers good gaming. I accept that PC’s will always bring better results. Yet in consideration of a $600 console versus a $2500 medium gaming PC, versus a $6000 for an upper range gaming PC, what can you, or what are you willing to dish out? That has always been the issue, and I cannot answer for others, yet when we consider the bad luck PC gamers had with Arkham Knight, my view will remain with the consoles. Although, in fairness the GTA5 edition, is supposed to be worth all 60 $100 bills for a top level gaming PC. It is where your passion lies and who delivers the experience to the fullest.

There are still a few games coming in 2017 and many are counting the days for the release date, yet as we see a shift in consoles, the gamers who have moved to console will have to see how they will address their gaming needs. For me with Microsoft, the issue will remain that relying on a 1TB drive, whilst you have already been shown that this is not sufficient, there will be a blowback, especially as Sony has opted to give gamers the freedom to replace the Drive for a larger edition. Crunching on a mere $60 to give the gamer half the storage is just dumb, no matter how you slice it. It is even more silly when you consider their claim “With 6 Teraflops, 326GB/s of Memory Bandwidth and advanced, custom silicon, the Scorpio Engine is the most powerful console gaming processor ever created“, and now consider that the system would be able to crunch the entire drive in 3 seconds, what are they playing at? Now, in honesty, Sony offers the same drive size, but allows players to place a larger drive. More interesting, I can just move my PS4 drive in a new PS4 pro and start playing almost immediately (OS requires update I reckon), 100% more storage, an option Microsoft does not allow for. Now, again in honesty, Microsoft did offer the Xbox 1s with a 2TB drive and that is well worth it, so why not get 2TB or even 3TB of the bat? the difference between 2TB and 3TB is less than $50 ($80 from 1 to 3 TB), who would not go that distance to resolve storage issues for the better part of the lifetime of that console? I have done that with the two previous consoles and never regretted it, there was never a storage issue. That is comfort we pay for!

We gamers we have always paid for our passion to be one in comfort, I just do not get it when game makers are ignorant of that part, there is years of data and evidence supporting my view. So to all a good day of gaming, and for those chasing achievements on the games they love, may you get that truly rare achievement today, and if you get ‘The Dark Soul’ achievement in Dark Souls 3, then we all bow to you, oh game master!

 

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Lessening the consumer?

After yesterday’s Ignoranus Totalicus it seemed to take another look at this level of ‘brilliance’ (read: active attempt to use sarcasm). And it did not take much time to find it. You see, whenever greed is at the foundations of things, less bright decisions will be made. And that issue was already the case at several places in that industry. Now, it is off course important to make distinction here. The makers do not seem to have this need, other than the righteous desire for the funds of their product. Yet, there is more than one side to the issue at play (isn’t there always?) One of the issues is facilitation. Here we see, as I see it, the consumer betrayal Sony is now starting to give us, which is only now starting to take shape. I initially wrote about this in ‘Pricing a Sony game!‘ in November 2013 (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2013/11/20/pricing-a-sony-game/) this issue was raised, but in another shape. You see Don Mattrick made this speech on how the Xbox One would be mandatory. It drove the public on mass away from that system into the hands of the PlayStation 4. Now we see that Sony is slowly breaking that promise. In the first case (Fallout 4) there was a possible issue as Microsoft has never made the online ‘need’ a secret, which is why people have been flocking towards Sony so strong. Now we see quite a different scene and it is soon to get worse. For me it is the issue of a different matter, it is the part that now stops me from playing fallout 4. You see, a small accident broke my router, so when I initially started the game, whilst in the end of Automatron it told me that the DLC could not be found. Only after I got back online would the game load correctly with DLC and all. Now we get the second part, the fantastic achievement Ratchet & Clank, which came with a weapon called the bouncer (DLC code) was suddenly gone when playing offline. When I got back online, it was still gone and I had to purchase it again and got it at level 1 (purchasing it offline was not an option.

I personally do not believe it is a bug, or an oversight. It is merely another way to ‘force’ people to work online. You see, I have had a few issues with article 7 of the Sony service agreement in those days. The fact that games could no longer be pre-owned, which was my only issue. Even as I personally believe that people should be able to exchange their old games with other ones (just like books, records and movies). I do not have that sentiment when we look at DLC’s. They are separate additions to the game and as such often sold for a mere few dollars. So as the game goes, so do the DLC’s. I have no issues with that. Yet, the need to be online so that the DLC works is another matter. That has never been a requirement in previous systems. I see this move a mere attempt to keep a flair of innocence whilst now Sony and Microsoft are using other ways to force people to be online. They were already, in a feigned way, trying to keep people online by denying gamers their achievements, now the DLC’s seem to be become part of the additional pressure to keep people online. Online data is to be regarded as the profiling data mine of the future, and both Microsoft and Sony want their share of that coffer. So far the only two are Bethesda with their new DLC’s on Sony PS4. On the Xbox One Bethesda had already changed their way as it would not proceed the game without online logging in from the moment Windows 10 became part of the Xbox One, now this need has been added to the PS4. In addition, Ratchet and Clank has added them to the downloaded weapon (I have only one). It seems that the online push is going through. The rights of gamers now starting to be diminished, forced online against their choice (those who prefer to play offline), this issue had been in play for a while and the press had been very interested in ignoring this issue in the past, especially as the changes given came two weeks before the release of the PS4, like any decent prostitute, the press at large would hold off as much as possible for the need of advertisement and circulation. I wonder how the press feels after 3 years, now that it is less about advertisement?

It is hard to state how I feel about this. I am online often enough, but when you cannot continue a game because of a broken router and two weeks away from a pay check tends to make most gamers a little irritated. That is the part most of us know. The other group of gamers, the ones Americans (and Japanese) tend to ignore are the rural gamers, those with less online options, no great connections and those relying on wireless broadband, depending on 5 pounds per gigabyte, those gamers are soon to be left in the cold. Short-sightedness of a small group of people who look at the 90% of their flock and casually forget about the potential 3 million people forced to higher expenses. This is not a local group, there are several groups all over the Commonwealth, all requiring some connectivity to keep on gaming.

A nasty dilemma for those faced with it, a minor inconvenience for those greedy for data revenue. It is irritating how easy those deciding voices seem to ignore the need of the few. Sony has now illustrated itself to be no longer about being ‘for the players’, they are now the players who will exploit at the expense of the gamers, a simple path that was delayed for a mere three years. Now, it is back on track. Yet the interesting part is not just the choice Sony made, it is equally interesting that Japan today reported (at http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/clinton-pivots-from-obamas-asia-policy-with-tpp-opposition). Here we see thee quote “The TPP has been the main economic plank of President Barack Obama’s seven-year effort to intensify engagement with a fast-growing region and counter China’s rising clout with nations that count it as their principal trading partner“, which seems to prove that being the lame quack quack in the White House comes at a price, one that could now cost him a 7 year plan as it falls away completely. The fact that both sides of the American Isle regard the TPP as a disaster can’t be a good thing, apart from the fact that people all over the world had issues with it. There is more to the TPP, partially it does affect the digital world as well. The digital world (read: gaming as a mere fraction here), would be under massive duress due to the TPP, that is still an issue, but it seems to me that it now realises that the bulk of gaming might no longer be coming from the US. The shift of indie gamers is growing strong and even though this is extremely likely not the cause of action by Hillary Clinton (read: most likely financial and pharmaceutical industries), we might see a flitter of hope for gamers as they could profit from the events playing at present and as such, it is not entirely impossible that Microsoft and Sony will have to do a 180 on their current path of forced connectivity.

The last part is a mere speculation on my side, but not a farfetched one. I reckon that the DRM part of the TPP gave path to the ideas Microsoft had initially. The parts we hear now is not a given, one article is not a guarantee for any about face. Yet, the fact that both sides in the US were never happy with the TPP is an initial good sign. If we consider the DRM, than there are sides. Yes, I agree with the quote “deprive the public domain of decades of creative works“, yet in that same part I personally feel that when Bethesda makes digital content, it has every right to sell this material. I would never oppose this, yet if this requires mandatory online presence than the systems are either massively flawed (which is not likely the issue), or just a new path for Sony to walk and Microsoft will be walking the same path.

In the end, consider what you want, take the path you want, just consider that corporations will find a way to the profit they consider they are entitled to, games are just one medium. Which is exactly what seems to be happening in the world of Facebook at present. You see, Facebook doesn’t need to rely on connectivity, when you are on Facebook, you are online. Facebook shows us the next iteration of limited special deals, or perhaps we need to call it ‘intentional discrimination’.

You see, when we see certain special offers and we get the text: “Couldn’t Complete Purchase: We didn’t receive all the information we needed from this app to complete your purchase. You haven’t been charged for this purchase, so please try again. If you keep seeing this error, contact the app developer”, we are given the impression that it was a mere error. Yet, the truth is a lot harsher than you imagine. You see, when the ‘normal’ purchase works without issues, it is no longer about a mere error. The special deal is about collecting information. A special deal that gives you a trinket for the mere option of collecting identity and credit card details. The issue is that the special deal does not give clear indication of this, it does not state “in exchange for your credit card details we will give you an extra trinket”, so why does the offer not show this? Perhaps I am just assuming that and it shows that my assumption is wrong. That would be fair enough, we are all wrong at times, which is why I await initial feedback from Facebook and when that response comes, I will update this story.

 

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You decide!

I have spoken out against the (bad) choices that Ubisoft has made in the past. On November 16th 2014 in the blog ‘How the mighty can fall‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2014/11/16/how-the-mighty-can-fall/), I wrote “Gamers are about done with Ubisoft, ratings that seem decent, but game expectations had not been met. Watchdogs fell short of expectations (rated 8 out of 10); Bug fest (we mean Assassins Creed Unity) launched on all major platforms. (7 out of 10); The last one became Far Cry 4 with 7 out of 10”, issues from gamers and other not so small considerations, Ubisoft failed to deliver a legend status for all of their AAA game. 2014/2015 is to be considered a disaster. Now at E3, we see that some parts are getting delivered, the Division is now a 2016 release (which is not that much delayed when you consider this to have been a 2015 release), yet, again, Ubisoft does present their games really well, which gives them time, yet, relying in a place like the E3 on DLC’s for a 65% game is not a good thing either. I refuse to be negative on a game like ‘Just Dance’. It is not my game, but plenty of youthful gamers (some not so youthful too) reserve a place in their heart for Just Dance, which is fine by me. Questions on the phrasing on the interaction with mobile phones need to be made, as no one (at present) have asked the questions involved. What is novel is the option that could propel the game forward are the streaming service on PC and Nextgen, even though no pricing information is given, it should not be about the price, it is about keeping a game novel and Ubisoft delivered that with this title.

Yet, did anyone else notice that the applause in the audience during was good, but not great? Compared to Bethesda, who blew the roof off the house! We saw many introductions with cut scenes, and even if the Division showed game play, with an interesting closing twist, which makes the entire view great. Also, the gameplay on ‘For Honor’ (4×4) was very good, but what if online play is not your thing? In addition, it is competing with Evolve, which is an excellent game. That does not diminish For Honor. The people saw gameplay and a smooth one at that. I liked the act that I had stayed away from any gossip or screens on that, so it was all new and it did not disappoint. The same could be said for Rainbow Siege. It is better, more realistic tactically speaking (as far as I saw) and graphically far above the norm. It will not be out until the end of September, but so far it looks like a good product. Just this is also the issue with Ubisoft. The presentations were good, not amazing! It did not blow me away like Bethesda did, more than once I might add. And off course there is Assassins Creed Syndicate. It looks smooth, but what the demo also shows is what we have seen too often in the previous moments. The game story depends on too many scripted moments. The coach chase, the tumble over the bridge then the train, a too strong a smell of scripted events. So as Yves Guillemot closes the presentation with the introduction of ‘Ghost Recon Wild land’ with an awesome movie, we need to consider that the words from Yves “surprise you with revolutionising our beloved franchises“, this sounds nice in theory, but that has not been achieved. Some are a strong step forward (Rainbow 6, Ghost recon), some are more of the same but as I see it, none showed true ‘revolutionising’ steps. A quote from a marketing department that now hangs like a chain around the neck of Yves Guillemot with the weight of a tombstone.

The IP they have is diminishing, trying whatever they can to revitalise the games that have missed their target. It will soon be about the reception of new IP (For Honor), it is holds up, that would be great for Ubisoft, if it falls short (gamers can be a merciless audience), the value of Ubisoft will take another pounding. It is not done yet. The consequences of AC: Unity are still felt. When we read (source: Softpedia and several others) “The latest thing to come out of Ubisoft’s riot machine is the announcement that the upcoming instalment in the publisher’s acclaimed action adventure series Assassin’s Creed, titled Unity, will run at 30 frames per second and in 900p resolution on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Of course, this type of polarizing announcement can only widen the gap between the fanbases of Sony and Microsoft, and so it did“, or Forbes where we see “Ubisoft is at least saying something regarding the tech/embargo issues. In terms of technical fixes, Ubisoft didn’t go so far as to apologize to fans for the early troubles, but they did say they are working on fixes past what was already fixed during the day one patch. In another fix patch, they’re taking on glitches like Arno falling through the map and getting stuck on things, and in future patches, they’ll turn to collision problems and framerate issues“, an apology came too weeks later. Yet, this is not about slamming Ubisoft (yes slamming a billion plus company feels good on the ego). This is about the future of gaming. Microsoft has also been active, the XB1 is now backwards compatible with a twist. there are downloadable titles and they did clearly state that you need not pay for titles you own, so that might sound great, but now consider that ‘live’ implies downloading a full game, which means that your 500Gb hardrive will fill up really fast, apaprt from the question is, whether ‘your’ game is on that list. It is still a step forward, but at 4-13 Gb (6 Gb being the average size of a game), with around 250Gb free for content, and of course space needed for other games, you are looking at perhaps 40 games, which of course need to be downloaded too. It is still a nice option to have, but let’s face it, why let go of your Xbox 360? This is about market growth and the Xbox one, which is increasingly hard as Sony v Microsoft consoles is currently set at 2:1, so two PS4’s for every Xbox One. The release day scare tactic (as I saw the Xbox One announcement in 2013) has hurt Microsoft a lot, the fact that they only realise almost two year later that their 500Gb, just does not hack it is equally unsettling.

So where do you the gamer stand?

I personally believe that it has never been about the hype, but about great gameplay. This is exactly why Infamous Second Son came up short, while it had all the elements to be truly great. It feels such a shame to see an 80% game, which could have been a 92% game. Watchdogs has similar issues, but in that case, it is a new game, a first, like Assassins Creed 1, the second game of that IP could blow us all away, it takes only one visionary!

Tomorrow will be the defining moment. Bethesda delivered and exceeded, Ubisoft did not and Microsoft stayed on par, showing a few exclusive teasers, so now it will be up to Sony. If they blow the roof, Xbox will lose a lot of ground, yet we must not forget that Microsoft delivered last year and it still surprises, that part is seen in the game beyond eyes, which could indicate that the exclusivity on Xbox is more than a delay for Sony, it could be reason for people to switch, or to get an additional console and buy games there. That view I hope to give tomorrow, but for today, I can only confirm that the bar set by Bethesda was not surpassed and their games are coming to PS4 (and Microsoft too). Yet, exclusivity is not a fight of Sony vs Microsoft, which is not set by Elite vs No Mans Sky, that part will only set the pace of getting the additional PS4 vs getting the Xbox One too. It is the still waiting population which gives us whether games like Ion and Elite will push the people towards Xbox One that will be partially settled tomorrow, the Tombraider presentation was too much of scripted sequences with times responses. It is the one part of Tombraider I never cared for, what was great, became average. No matter how I feel about Tombraider, you must decide what you like, where your gaming view resides. The upcoming challenge for Sony will be a harsh. They are equal to the task, but will they have the games to make it? You see Microsoft kept the best for last. ‘Rare Replay’ is the trump card from the left field. The very best of gaming that Nintendo 64 offered now on Xbox One resolution. Missing is the Donkey Kong parts with is Nintendo IP, but some of those games are not, which means 30 games for $30, which is a killer option!

To be continued!

 

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