Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Future (I Hope Not)

Here's what I can't quite wrap my head around.

Aliens: Colonial Marines was recently released.

It's shit.

No, I haven't played, but people I trust say it's shit. It has a Metacritic rating of FIFTY (28 reviews).
[Side note: 27 of 28 reviews were 65 or worse. The exception? EGM, which gave it a 90. Please draw your own conclusions--I've certainly drawn mine.]

Where was I? Oh, yes--it's shit. Mind you, this just isn't any shit--it's $60 shit.

And I don't know about you, but I have a certain level of shit tolerance. If I have a bad meal for lunch, that's $6 shit, and I get over it quickly. A bad movie? $8 shit, and while it might linger a little longer than a terrible meal, it's still $8.

$60? That's way past my tolerance level, and past most other people's, too.

Beyond a certain price level, most consumer products are returnable. Not all, but most. Let's say I pay $60 for a nice dress shirt, and it only has one sleeve. It's going right back to the store, and they have to give me a non-defective shirt or give me my money back.

Not games, though. You know what happens if you paid $60 for A:CM? You are out of luck, my friend. The gaming industry holds you responsible for buying a shirt with only one sleeve.

Maybe that's not a fair analogy, though. A:CM isn't defective, it's just terrible. If I had a shirt I thought was terrible, and I paid $60 for it, I promise you I could get a refund. A terrible movie? No, but I paid less than $10 to see that terrible movie. Like I said, that's below my shit tolerance level.

This is why I think there's going to be a huge, huge backlash if used games aren't an option on the new consoles. Right now, you'd leave skid marks in the driveway getting to Gamestop so you could trade this dog in for something else.

But wait, you might say. PC games are already like this. Yes, and how many copies of $60 PC games get sold these days? PC gaming has had a wonderful renaissance, but it hasn't been with $60 titles--it's been with games that cost much less, along with heavy discounting. Yes, there are some companies--like Bethesda--that can put out something like Skyrim and charge $50 or $60, but you know when you buy that game that you can (literally) play it for 100 hours or more.

So what will happen when you can't rent games and you can't sell them as used? How does anyone believe that people will play just as many games? Why is no one getting that doing this would be Armageddon for that particular console?

Even worse, what are the ripple effects for the gaming ecosystem in general? What about kids who are trading and retrading games, who play games constantly? What happens when that kid has to pay $60 for every game, when he can't even trade games with his friends?

Well, he's going to find other things to do with his time. And maybe his little brother or sister won't become gamers, either. Or wait--maybe they'll all just game on their phones and tablets, where games are either free or very inexpensive.


Really, among kids, consoles may already be a dying breed. But locking down consoles like this will not only hasten their demise, it will guarantee it.

Now, there's still time for Microsoft and Sony to pull back from the ledge. But something in my gut (well, I guess it could just be gas) tells me that at least one of these guys is going to pull the trigger on this.

They just don't realize that the gun is aimed at their own head.

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