Steam Greenlight is the latest addition to the Steam platform that lets users up-vote games they think they’ll be willing to pay for. Over the short course of time that Greenlight has been available, there have been many ripoffs, spoofs and just plain nonsense showing up. Half-Life 3? Really?
In an effort to curb the onslaught of rubbish, Steam has implemented a new rule that requires any submitters to make a one-time donation of $100 to the Penny-Arcade-created charity Child’s Play. This puts Greenlight right alongside other one-time fee distribution models like the App Store and Xbox Live Indie Games. What does this mean for aspiring indie developers? Probably time to scrounge up some spare change.
One discussion that has been very slowly bubbling up for the last week has been over the video settings, or lack-thereof, in the latest PC games. If there is one thing that really irks PC gamers it is creating a game with consoles in mind first and then poorly porting it over to the PC as an after-thought. Sadly, the latest victim is with what some people often refer to as “advanced video settings”.
After a 5 year wait we will finally have Fez soon, a game that won the IGF “Excellence in Visual Art” award way back in 2008. The game just recently won the IGF “Seumas McNally Grand Prize” and will probably go down as one of the most infamous indie titles in recent years. Its been a long time coming and to be honest I lost a lot of interest I had in the game a couple of years ago. I’m ready to come back, but I decided to reserve any more excitement I had for the game when the guys at Polytron were ready to deliver.
Every so often a huge game like Skyrim or The Old Republic or Modern Warfare 3 comes out. They charge $60 and we accept it because its the standard price for a high-quality, AAA title. In these situations I think most people don’t mind because there is a significant premium associated with these titles and we all accept that they will be the most popular (and time consuming) of the crop. They keep that $60 price tag for months, even years at a time.
Then other games come out at the same price point and only weeks later we see their price-tag slashed in half. Duke Nukem Forever had a huge build-up of hype and had a lot going for it in terms of word-of-mouth prior to the game’s release. Had it been a great game I think it would’ve retained its initial price tag all the way until Christmas. Instead it was awful and people barely touched it even when it was on sale for $10 on Steam only a month or two later.
Gamestop continuously get criticized by the gaming press and shoppers alike. So my big question is – why keep going there? What is it about this over-saturated video game chain that keeps drawing people in, time-in and time-out?
There was definitely a time when I loved going to any of the video game stores at the mall, back when I still went to the mall. Electronics Boutique and Software ETC were always my favorites. They had charm and employees who knew about gaming as a subject, not just as the retail item being sold. These little mall-branded game stores of yesteryear seemed like they were literally consumed overnight by Gamestop and their charm was quickly swept away in favor of pre-order BS.
I remember the day my content for Gamestop began very clearly. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had just recently been released and I wanted a copy. This was back when pre-orders didn’t seem very necessary to me or really most of the gaming public. A game was released and stores got copies, simple as that. Over time we figured out that there were too many of us gamers to sustain that model, but I digress. On that day I walked into the local Gamestop to pickup a copy. When asked if I had pre-ordered, I told them no, never got around to it.
“Well sorry, we only have copies for those that pre-ordered.”
I was literally shocked by this news. You already know how many pre-ordered, those are pretty much guaranteed sales. Why don’t you seize the opportunity to sell to those that didn’t pre-order by ordering copies on top of the pre-orders? I promptly walked over to the Target that sits adjacent to the store, asked for a copy, of which they had many and walked out somewhat confused by what just transpired and amused by the notion that one store just profited from me while the other didn’t, despite having the clear advantage to begin with.
Used games have become the primary business for Gamestop and I believe this is why they don’t put much emphasis on new purchases. A customer buys a brand new copy and that money must be divided amongst publishers, developers and distributors; not much left of the money pie for Gamestop to get. A customer buys a used copy of the game, however and suddenly all profits go to Gamestop. The only real cost being the overhead of storing the game somewhere in the store itself. Makes sense financially, but the developers who put years of work into this thing get nothing out of selling the game to another person willing to front the cash, I just don’t see how that is fair to anyone.
Even new games, what little of them they seem to keep on hand, get the short end of the stick. Back in August a little game called Deus Ex: Human Revolution released. It quickly became apparent that Gamestop was opening cases of the game, removing content and resealing them as new. Now, the only thing lost in this case was some free trials to a new game service called OnLive, but what happened for me at least was realizing that Gamestop made a practice of opening new games and resealing them. Sorry, but I like my games mint-sealed until I get to open them myself, knowing that from the factory they were pressed at to my house, nothing was tampered with. Gamestop completely violates that trust for me after this latest episode.
I guess what I’m ultimately ranting about is why do people who regularly read about games continue to shop there? I don’t mind so much that the 12-year-old gamers of the world, bless their young little hearts, are likely pulling parents into the nearest game store when exploring the mall, but for the rest of us what’s the excuse? No other game stores in the area? Go to Amazon/Glyde/Cheap Ass Gamer! Its 2011 after all and this internet thing ain’t going away anytime soon.
I’ve been playing Civilization-style games for over a decade. Actually the first real one I ever played was the fantastic Alpha Centauri. Something has always bugged me about how the pace of the game works. Its excruciatingly slow for awhile, then its perfect, then its so mind-boggling complicated that its impossible to keep track of everything. This is a rant about my feelings on the pace of Civilization.