Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Scam

Polyphony Digital's 800lb gorrila of console sim racing is taking a unique turn during its latest go around the track, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. Whereas previous iterations of the series promised gamers a full and complete feature set, with dozens and dozens of customizable cars and tracks, the newest version cant quite go the distance, and provides the buyer (uh, you do have money, right?) with 6 (six) tracks.

Yes, thats SIX as in S followed by I and then X in direct succession.

Total tracks.

And we thought Motorstorm's 8 launch tracks was a rush job. At least they were huge, and the crashes were totally sweet, and we could fight on motorcycles, so we didnt really mind. But GT5P features the same lame physics as the last few GT games, where to get the fastest possible lap, you must corner by ramming one of the others cars - which does not produce a crash, just a dull thud. This is Sony's idea of a racing sim in 2008 (GT5 wont come out till 2009). Did I mention that you have to spend real money on this game, and that it costs more than 6 (six) dollars, which is probably what Gran Turismo Prologue is really worth. They charge $40 at the store though, and well, they hope you're OK with that. Im not.

You see, Sony's internal developer, Polyphany Digital, has finally figured out the secret that so many other developers, like Nintendo, Ubisoft, and D.I.C.E. mastered long ago: that they can essentially keep remaking the same game over and over with minimal changes, and so long as the formula is not tinkered with too heavily, the sales will keep racking up and the share price will keep on climbing.

But Polyphany Digital has taken it a step further. They couldnt even quite muster the firepower to get a complete new update of the GT franchise out the door in time for a much needed boost to Sony's shareprice, so instead of delaying the game again, and possibly pushing the development costs into the realm of near unprofitability, which would make Sony's shareholders even more unhappy, they comprimised and decided to just make Gran Turismo 4.5 Online instead. Oh, but you already bought Gran Turismo 4? Well, that wasnt ONLINE, now was it? How passe. Cool kids only play online, dont you know? $40 please. Oh, and when we finish the actual GT5, we will be expecting another $60 from you as well, and by then the trade in value of GT5P will be $6, so, start saving.

Oh, and you might want to also start saving for that Rainbow-Recon Ghost-Cell Splinter-Six Tom Clancy MMO that Ubisoft is currently developing. You see, Ubisoft, which is currently trading at close to $55 a share after acquiring the all rights to the Clancy name, has finally gotten really wise. Not content to keep churning out tired rehashes of the same 3 games year after year, such as the utterly lacklaster effort that is Rainbow Six Vegas 2, or the supremely disappointing Splinter Cell Double Agent, Ubi has decided the best way to keep its share price-a-climbin' is to develop a subscription based MMO set in the Clancy universe at a cost of roughly $50M, and get gamers on the $15 a month plan. That measly $15 a month is $180 a year guaranteed, which is the same as if you bought one copy of each of the Clancy franchise staples once a year. But the catch is, you can't resell a subscription like you can a used game, so 100% of the profit goes to the developer and publisher.

And on the other side of the price gouging coin, we have EA, the biggest gaming company in the world, recently making the decision that many of its future upcoming releases will not be compatible across all regions. That is to say, if you buy a European copy of an online EA game, that game will not be compatible with the US version of the same game. This was recently discovered by a friend of mine on Xbox Live when we attempted to play EA's Army of Two.

umopapisdunpuaq, aside from having one of the longer and more unique gamertags on Xbox Live, and holding several Burnout 3 World Records, is a big fan of shooting the men on the TV with the R trigger and making them fall down. He also happens to be British, and finds living in Britain quite charming. Being of a like mindset in regards to shooting digital bullets at digital people, it only makes sense that we would pair up and go after the evil doers of the world (disturbingly, they all happen to be portrayed as non-white ethnicities) as a tandem in a game specifically made for playing coop online.

But, EA had different thoughts. They thought, in a game thats built from the ground up as an online coop game, lets make how the VS mode plays online determine how we will integrate the online experience for the entire game. That is, if the VS mode is laggy for some international connections, well, the only logical thing to do is to disable all international play for every game mode. This arrangement also provides the bonus to EA of forcing European and Asian customers to buy the game for Euros and/or some other form of real currency, rather than paying in the Monopoly Money that is currently the US Dollar.

A producer from EA Montreal, who made the game, explained to that becauase of the mere potential for a laggy online VS mode experience, they decided to completely scrap all inter region play. Are you buying this explanation? Im not. Who buys Army of Two to play the stupid freaking versus mode?!?!?! Who?!?!? Find me this person, and I will retract any and all criticisms of this game, because the coop campaign is actually a marginally fun stop and pop shooter experience. Its no Gears, but it can chew up some hours with a(region locked) buddy over Live effectively enough.

But how did we get to this point? How did we get to the point where the developers are just crapping out the same game over and over, while making less and less of a game, taking away whole modes (no more 4 person story coop in Vegas2, no SWAT in Halo3, no Road Rage in Burnout Paradise), tracks, and features as if gamers wouldnt even notice or care?

Well its OUR fault, the gamers faut, because we buy this crap and let them get away with it. Well you know what? That it for me. NO MORE. I refuse to buy more of this half-baked, regurgitated roadkilled buffalo ass that they keep forcing down our throats. And if this is all they are gonna release, I will either just rent the crap for a week, or just not buy it at all and go back to playing older games, like Chaos Theory and Burnout 3. Either that, or I'll just give up gaming altogether (hmm) and just go start investing in the stock market instead. First stop: EA games. Next stop: Ubisoft....


md galaxy said...

Agreed! I've found myself playing more and more older games lately. I'm just not finding new games that interesting because, let's face it, almost none of them are original. I'm so dam sick of rehashes.

No no one wants to take chances here beause chances take money and, of course, also mean you could lose money. Funny thing is, people are dying for original content. Taking a chance to create an original IP would seem to be the BEST thing a company could do right now.

Gamers are tired of recycled ideas. And soon, they WON'T buy this garbage. Keep it up, and that fear of taking chances will be exactly what keeps companies from making money.

umop said...

I could barely believe they would do such a thing without telling people clearly. "But it's EA," said a voice in my head. Ahh, that eplains it.

EA have a bad reputation of being gamer unfriendly but they only have themselves to blame. Of course a business has a duty to its shareholders first but that duty is best carried out by not being arrogant to its customers.

El Bostero said...

It's me BosteroNYC (your VT 3 nemesis). Cool blog man. I'll be keeping tabs on it.

El Bostero said...

Also, I forgot to mention Pro Evolution Soccer 2008. I buy that game usually on the release date. Konami did EVERYTHING you just said. They change nothing. The game engine (which is their bread and butter) is the same. Still no major FIFA licenses. Less stadiums as well. Their online play has the worst lagging in history. I rather shove 9 dildos in my ass than play that game online. I figure never buy another game again from them. I'll just keep on playing Winning Eleven 8 on my PS2 (the only reason that thing is still hooked up).

Suprisingly, EA keeps trying to improve their FIFA series. All they need is smoother passing and easier dribbling and they'll take over in my books.