Monthly Archives: May 2012

Fraudulence, Nerdgasms, Riots and Self-Degradation – A History of Dedication to E3.

For as long as I can remember, E3 has been the equivalent of the holy land to gamers like me.  It is the big show and the premiere gaming event of the year, all wrapped into five glorious days. So I try every year to find a way to attend, by methods legitimate or illegitimate and often the latter.  Since it has become more difficult to con my way in by forging a pass or flashing a bit of ankle to an amorous security guard, I put forward my past attendance in hopes that I will once again bask in the glory that is E3.

I attended my first E3 in 2005.  I had just graduated from high school, doe-eyed and bushy-tailed, having never been in the heart of LA.  There in the midst of the city was the cathedral of all that was gaming holiness.  My method of entry?  It was as easy as having my best friend hand me his pass.  If only all years were so simple.  Once inside I was swept away by all E3 could offer. I stood before gaming giants, as Nintendo unveiled the Revolution (which was a WAY cooler name than Wii), Sony dropped the Playstation 3 bomb with its horrendous boomerang controller and Microsoft unveiled its 360, making a statement that they weren’t kidding around in the battle of the consoles. To date, 2005 had the biggest attendance with more than 70,000 people packed into the convention center.  Were it not so well air-conditioned LA would have experienced a massive influx of gamer-funk.

2006 was a golden age of dastardly behavior, requiring only rudimentary MS Paint skills on the part of my favorite lovable minx, Christine, to form a passable ID badge.  That, coupled with my former lanyard, ensured smooth sailing in the land of milk and E3 honey. It felt like the good times could keep rolling until it was announced that E3 was going all business, killing off booth babes, free swag, and let’s not forget the after parties.  For two years every gamer felt a piece of their legacy slowly vanish as the hype and glamour of the video game industry all but disappeared… until 2009 when it regained its former glory.  I appreciate an informative and well-structured gaming expo as much as the next guy, but bring back the booth babes!

2010 was my most memorable year, seeing as it was my first legitimate attendance. Full access, worry free, should have been awesome, right? The changes that were made restricted normal attendees, having them play what I call the “wait in line” game while press and VIPs had free reign. Even with all the hold ups I was still able to meet Hideo Kojima, whom I thanked in Japanese for his wonderful games.  Altogether I did some fantastic things that year.  I participated in a Mega 64 video, saw a Redman and Method Man concert, hung out with Playboy bunnies, got into the ring with a luchador (and won), met John Carpenter, embraced Alma’s newborn from F.E.A.R. 3 and attended the Video Games Live concert where I rocked out in front of the whole theater on Guitar Hero World Tour. With all that, you’d think it would be my all time favorite E3 experience, right? Well there was this thing you might have heard about.  It was called the NBA Finals which was right next door to the event and needless to say, I got caught in “celebration” riots.

I’m sure that regardless of whether or not I attend, there will be a ton of great things coming out the gate. Will the Nintendo Wii U finally get a release date? Does Microsoft plan on unveiling a new console of their own?  Will Sony drop any big name titles for 2013? We’ll just have to wait and see. And as soon as I scam my way in, I’ll keep you posted.

[Insert Witty Comment Here] … or down below, whatever you prefer @GameOverParra on Twitterverse

Pandas, Skyrim, Reckoning and Sexy Girl Voice?

How’s it going interwebs, I finally uploaded the podcast to the site; now all I need to figure out how to get it on iTunes…  Anyway, come listen and be merry as Christine and I rant on the great epic time sinks of past and present. Enjoy!

Out of Order #4

DLC vs. DLC …

While speaking with my heterosexual-lifemate Derek, I realized that not everyone understands what DLC is at this point.  Derek believed that by purchasing a game, he as a consumer had already paid his dues to the publisher, and as such, he should receive all future content of a game for free.  I explained that DLC is like going to Disneyland; sure all of the rides are included in the ticket price, but everything that makes the Disneyland experience “memorable” costs extra. From getting a customized Mickey hat to paying the outrageous amount for a Buzz Lightyear Slurpee… a lousy Slurpee and don’t even ask what it costs to get a handjob from Cinderella.  The bottom line is that getting the happy-funtime shit requires more dinero.  And DLC is no different.

The acronym DLC in itself can be a bit confusing, as it can stand for Disk-Locked Content as well as Downloadable Content. Disk-locked content to me isn’t anything more than a company trying to punish those that wish to enjoy their product. Restricting access to basic core functions of any product sends a message of distrust to the consumer. Many will argue that the reason for this is that the publisher is trying to compensate for losses from piracy and thus prevent the developer from closing its doors. Others state that it’s just another way to profit off of the mindless consumer. Capcom has been the forefront of this example by hiding future content in Street Fighter X Tekken or stripping out important data to gain access to multiplayer for Resident Evil 5.

This would be less abhorrent if companies would provide better incentives when planning to restrict content. Steam, for example, offers an expansive, diverse game library and provides a simple method to access it, yet at its core it still functions as a form of DRM – an exclusive gateway to content.  Customers of Steam are rewarded with weekly deals for listed franchises.  Though Steam absorbs the loss in dollar amount per game, it is recouped through the sheer volume of purchases.  This maintains brand-loyalty and profit to the publisher while maintaining Steam as a desirable game-acquisition portal.  (Unless you also have to log into Windows Live, which is a whole other matter.)  When getting a game in a traditional retail setting, most physical purchases doesn’t warn you about online code redemption for restricted access.  Often, they push for the used copy which doesn’t come with a code, thus requiring an additional purchase to use the game.  This, as we all know, is bullshit.

Downloadable Content, on the other hand, can make gamers both fear and rejoice. The idea of expansion on a game isn’t a new concept.  PC gamers for many years have enjoyed vast amounts of content within a single game, such as Age of Empires or World of Warcraft. It’s only in the last console cycle that extra content delivered via digital distribution became a common practice. The idea was potentially extraordinary at first, but once publishers caught on to the idea of charging for future content in addition to the core game it was pretty much “game over, man”. In the beginning, people (myself included) were furious about content being released after the game was purchased and being expected to pay for it. People felt like things were being removed from the game only to be released later at an additional cost to the consumer, solely to perpetuate the longevity of the franchise. Even today that perspective holds true among some gamers, but companies like Bethesda have created truly fundamental DLC for Fallout 3 and New Vegas, making it the pinnacle of providing worthy content for what they charge. Bioware has produced major developments in DLC such as Dragon Age 2: Mark of the Assassin (which has Felicia Day.  I will have all of your babies, Felicia Day!  >O<) as well as the controversial Day One DLC of Mass Effect 3: From Ashes.  This then begs the question – do companies plan ahead for future DLC and if so, is it morally right to the consumer during the development of the core game?

Publishers argue that DLC is planned out to recoup the long-term losses to major retail chains. Retailers counter their claims that publishers aren’t entitled to all of the profit of games that they themselves don’t market after the initial game release, whereas major retailers spend an exorbitant amount of funds to store, ship, stock, and repackage. My theory is that retailers and publishers are working to create a perception of antagonism with one another.  Some consumers are loyal to one distribution center or another.  Meanwhile, the corporations sit and laugh, “we win, you lose.”

So what does the future hold for DLC of each type? Since digital distribution is on the rise companies seek to gain a foothold in that industry, like EA creating Origin, their own direct to download client. Consoles are also releasing full length games that cut retailers out of the market share.  Wholesale retailers are getting scared and they too are entering the arena of online distribution. What they all lack is an understanding of their customer base. Accessibility shouldn’t be the only thing that companies offer to connect with their customers. Ubisoft, even though they have raised a lot of controversy with their DRM, still offers promotional advantages through their service Uplay, where every Ubisoft title you purchase gives you points to spend on content for the products you own. The dark premonition on the horizon is that content that can be distributed easily can also be tampered with as well. Content can be broken up into episodic productions to “expand” or “explore” on the franchise. Something that has been brewing is the idea of cutting out the publisher altogether and supporting developer funded projects. Kickstarter offers the community of fans a chance to put forward their level of commitment in support of a game, from a base donation for just a copy of the game to getting upwards of $10,000 or more in return for a slew of rewards; multiple signed copies, title credits, limited souvenirs, and my favorite – meet-n-greets with the creators of a franchise.

With that said, I’m going to go enjoy my slurpee with Cinderella and just picture her as Felicia Day in my head.

[Insert Witty Comment Here] … or down below, whatever you prefer @GameOverParra on Twitterverse