MS hurting second-hand sales?! SAY IT AIN’T SO!

I couldn’t help laughing a little when I read this article just now. Not because of the people getting banned, though. Rather, because of the silly analyst who commented on the banning applying to consoles rather than users:

Microsoft, he said, “needs to find a way to address this, or else it risks annoying the modders who make up 1 percent of their audience and the second-hand purchasers.”

Would someone care to explain to me why in the world Microsoft would care about this? Modders are violating the terms of service, without question. And second-hand purchasers are the core reason why developers lose money these days. This is so ridiculous I can’t even begin to explain. Allow me to try.

GameStop is evil. There, I said it. I wholly admit that I say this as someone from within the industry. Their business of buying and selling used games is pure 100% profit for them, and developers see NOTHING out of that. It hurts developers when the day after a game is released, you can buy the same game for $5 less used, because we see none of the money from that sale. Now, on a personal level, I’m not willing to buy a used game just to save $5. I like ripping open the packaging for the first time. But on a bigger level, this strategy is hurting development of games.

So when Microsoft is “hurting second-hand sales” of Xbox consoles, why shouldn’t they be? Do they see a cent of money from the selling/buying of used consoles? Of course not! This is probably intentional, and it should be!

Whew. I’m spent. Those comments in the article really got my goat.

New Theme!

I know this is super exciting for everyone, but I’m excited, so you’re going to have to deal with it. White text on black backgrounds just doesn’t cut it anymore. Five years ago it was COOL and EXCITING. Now it hurts my eyes. So I’m changing it up. What do you think?

I also updated my Blogroll (actually, I didn’t even know I had one) with blogs that I regularly read. A few are just my friends who happen to be excellent writers, and the others are all a bunch of industry people I’ve never actually met. But they’re all very excellent blogs to read, especially going back through the archives. If you’re bored (or if you want to see my taste in writings), check them out!

It’s kinda fun to have started blogging regularly again. And I actually have pageviews this time, too! Twitter never ceases to amaze me.

The Great Debate

I have a lot of problems figuring out exactly what I prefer to do when showing a company I disapprove of something they do. On the one hand, I wholly support that idea that you should vote with your wallet. You can scream and shout as much as you’d like in any public venue you can think of, but at the end of the day, it’s your money that they care about. But what happens when you know your bit of cash isn’t going to make a difference in the end?

I’m kinda beating around the bush here, but really I’m talking about the whole Modern Warfare stuff that’s been going on over the past few weeks. I’ve mentioned it before: I don’t approve of their tactics. The whole Fight Against Grenade Spam PSA was not only offensive, but the company offered nothing by way of apology. That bothers me a whole lot. But at the same time, we all know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this will be one of the top-selling games of 2009. Maybe ever. And I know that my measly $60 means nothing to them in this case. So, I have trouble justifying not purchasing the game for myself.

Modern Warfare 2 will be a good game. Again, no one’s doubting that. And yes, I do want to play it, because I wholeheartedly enjoyed the first outing. Am I so bothered by their company’s marketing tactics that I will withhold my purchase? Probably not. But not because I think they deserve the money, mostly because I know they’re not going to notice the hole my non-purchase would leave. And I’m part of the problem by deciding this, I know. But I can’t get myself to decide that boycotting a company is the way to go with this.

Look at the stupid stuff that’s been going on with the MW2 community and the L4D community. All those damn petitions and threats to boycott are some of the dumbest campaigns I’ve ever seen. Listen, folks. Internet petitions mean NOTHING. You need to get over thinking that a million signatures means anything anymore. Just because the Internet gives you the ability to connect to everyone around the world doesn’t make your petition any more viable. All petitions do is cause a bandwagon effect. Everyone’s got this “Me too!” mentality these days that just drives me nuts. How many of those people writing petitions are actually going to refuse to purchase those games when they come out? My guess is ZERO. People just love bitching these days about whatever’s got their panties in a bunch.

As I drift off-topic, my point is that I don’t think in this case holding back is going to accomplish anything. Nor do I feel that writing about it on the Internet will solve anything. I have no solution to this, it’s just something that’s been bothering me lately. Yeah, I’m probably going to buy MW2. But I’m not excited about it anymore.

This Week’s Playlist

  • World of Warcraft – I hit 68 this week, which finally allowed me to experience Northrend. The quest chains as soon as you get there are so well grouped together that you really can see yourself making progress in the overarching storyline. It’s extremely satisfying. I’m looking forward to seeing when the “Phasing” tech gets used out there, so far I’ve only seen it in the Death Knight intro. Anyway, I think the WoW bug finally bit, and I’m so close to 80 I can taste it.
  • Half Life 2 – This got put on hold while I played WoW, but I really want to get through it.
  • Warcraft III – I stopped on one of the “Survive for 30 minutes” missions, and I’m afraid to go back. I hate timers. I have no doubt it’ll be easy, but I hate being timed. HATE IT.
  • Champions Online – It took me a while to get some momentum, but I hit 17 this week and new areas are now opening up to me to do some missions in. Plus, it’s the final weekend of Blood Moon, so I wanna hit up some more perks. I also like that I can go back to lower-level missions and get significant amounts of XP for doing them.

Next week is Modern Warfare 2. I’m hesitant to buy it due to the drama surrounding it. I have no doubt the game is good, but I just don’t appreciate the company culture they’ve established for themselves. You are welcome to purchase the game. I have some qualms about supporting a company that posts ads like the above without a second thought.

This Week’s Playlist

  • The Orange Box (360) – I already owned HL2, Portal, and TF2 on the PC, but after so many times having to reinstall my OS without an adequate back-up, I’m tired of having to restart my HL2 game. So I got the 360 version, and now I never have to worry about losing my save again. Plus, apparently I’m way better at console FPS’s than PC ones.
  • Warcraft III – Never got the chance to play this when I was younger. Now I’m taking the opportunity to do so. This game sets the stage very well for WoW.
  • World of Warcraft – It finally bit me. I’m becoming slowly addicted. When I’m not playing, sometimes I think about things I want to do later when I have time. Uh oh.
  • Brutal Legend – I really want to continue playing it, but everything else keeps distracting me.
  • Torchlight Demo – I only have the demo, but it never ends! I’m gonna keep going till it stops me, but I’m shocked at the length of the demo so far. And yes, it’s awesome.
  • Champions Online – Well, duh. I’m still working my way through the content, albeit very slowly. This is still my first time naturally leveling from 1-40 (without using dev commands, that is). So even though I’ve seen most of the content at one time or another, I’m trying to experience it for real.

Things I’m watching:

  • Battlestar Galactica – Watched the miniseries this weekend, now it’s time to watch the whole series. Hells yeah.
  • Mad Men (Season 1) – Still not completely hooked, but the show is good, for sure. I watch it casually when I want to imagine myself being disrespectful to women in the 1960’s.
  • Glee – Not having an episode last week was painful.
  • Dollhouse – Why is no one watching this this year? The show is AWESOME!

WoWzers

Whenever I find myself enjoying a game, I always take a step back to figure out what it is about the game that attracts me to it. I’m by no means aspiring to be a game designer, but it’s cool to look at what I like in a game, to be able to compare it to upcoming games and see what I might like. For example, I loved Bioshock. And what I realized I liked most about it was that every time you were given a new goal, it seemed to be an easy, short path to that goal, so I’d go “Okay, let’s just do one more ‘mission'”. And then when I’d be about to complete the objective, some obstacle would get in my way, forcing me to do an entirely different mission before I could complete the first one. In theory, that sounds frustrating, but it really wasn’t. It was the dangling carrot that hung so close to my face I could lick it, but it’d get pulled away at the last second because I had to do ONE MORE THING. And so I’d say “Okay, I’ll do this, and THEN complete the objective.” So these small goals added up to one amazing experience.

I saw the same style of objectives in Arkham Asylum. I was shocked to find out that the director of the game had never played Bioshock before, because I noticed a lot of similarities in how the story played out. Get some seemingly easy objective, go to do it, get waylaid and have to do some other mission first. It keeps you hooked. I love it so much.

And now we come to the crux of my thoughts. World of Warcraft. I’ve tried to play it on and off for years now. I mean, no matter what your thoughts on it are, you cannot disagree that their system works. I’m sorry, does your MMO have 11 million subscribers? Yeah, exactly. This time around, I’ve been playing with coworkers. That’s what’s keeping me playing this time, actually. That, and I’ve finally made a commitment to get to level 80 to see what this endgame fuss is all about. Everyone always talks about “the game begins at the level cap”, so I want to see that actually happen. I even paid to transfer a level 64 character over to the right server, which is something I’ve never done before, and never imagined myself doing. So, let’s break down what’s keeping me in this time:

1. Achievements – Like I always mention, achievements are the bane of my existence. I’ve spent the last three nights playing just to earn the Explorer achievements for Kalimdor/Eastern Kingdoms. It’s insane.

2. Social – I wouldn’t go so far as to call WoW an interactive chat room, but that is definitely a factor in keeping me there. After a long day of work, I like being able to chat with my friends outside of the office atmosphere. Plus, once I hit 80 I’ll actually be able to play with them on an even level, so that should be fun.

3. Curiosity – Still haven’t visited Northrend yet (halfway to 67, though, so I’m almost there!). Still haven’t ever seen what a Raid looks like. Still haven’t gotten a flying mount. These are things I definitely want to see for myself, instead of peering over a friend’s shoulder.

Will I stay subscribed forever? Probably not. I’ll pay for a few months to finally see everything that I should see. The difference in content quality from “vanilla” WoW to Outland was pretty impressive, and from what I’ve seen of the Death Knight intro, the WotLK content is even better. So I’ll stick around, see the sights, and probably move on to other things. I’m an Explorer at heart, which means I tend to be unable to sit in a single MMO for too long.