Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Delay Really Didn't Tone It down Much

Here's my problem with big gaming companies today: loyalty, in most cases, is a one-way street, flowing from us to them. There is a notable absence of anything heading back in our direction from them, unfortunately.

And really, why should they be loyal? I mean, look at the size of these companies, based on their trailing 12-month revenue:
Activision-- 4.54 billion dollars
Electronic Arts-- 3.8 billion dollars
Take-Two-- 1.34 billion dollars
THQ-- 805 million dollars

Even though these companies do everything they can to remind us that "they're one of us," they're not us. They're not even them. They're a series of corporate monoliths, and their job is to benefit shareholders.

Not us.

Still, though, they keep insisting.

Want to return a game that was released in alpha condition for a refund? Sorry. Making games is hard.

Ah, I see. It's a $4 billion company with corporate standards for customer service, but not for development. So if you want to return a game, screw you, but if you want a finished game, hey, all that crazy magic is very combustible.

That's my problem.

Remember how piracy used to be the number one problem for gaming companies? And remember how much cheaper games would be, said the big companies, if only they could stop piracy?

Well, that's very clever. Gaming companies never really talk about reducing piracy being enough to reduce game prices. They always talk about ending piracy.

Notice what they did there?

Did Ubisoft release Silent Hunter 5 or Assssin's Creed 2 at a lower price because the requirement of an always-on Internet connection made piracy exponentially more difficult? The PSP GO didn't even have physical media. Were those games cheaper than their physical media equivalents?
Then there's the question of wallets.

It used to be that if I wanted the full experience that the game had to offer, I'd buy it on day one, play it, and if I liked it, hope for an expansion pack a year later. The expansion pack was released because another version of the game wouldn't be ready for a few years.

Now, I have no idea what to buy, because plenty of games have day one DLC available. Is that part of the core experience? Are the three other DLC packs that come out over the next three months part of the full experience? Who can tell?

I guess I wind up paying $80-$100 for the "full" experience, then get ready for the sequel, because it's being rushed out in time for the holidays.

I have a hard time understanding where I'm getting more value. Where's the loyalty to us, exactly? Where are the examples of big gaming companies doing things that offer more value to the consumer, not less?

Crickets chirping.

Let's go back to that interview by THQ Creative Director Cory Ledesma:
We hope people understand that when the game's bought used we get cheated.

Cory, here's what I don't understand: what are you getting when someone trades in someone else's game in order to buy a new copy of your game? Blown?

There are many, many game developers and companies who offer wonderful customer service and truly care about their customers. They are not faceless mega-corporations. And what I'm, well, ranting about here has nothing to do with those companies. I'm talking about these giant companies for whom customer service is a strategy, not a service.

They need to stop lecturing us.

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