I think I've heard enough. It's clear that the majority of the community isn't mature enough to have an actual discussion. Thanks to those that replied with actual feedback, and not dismissive cynicism.
I don't want to say "nothing", but what could an expensive guide get me? If I'm fed up with a game enough to need a guide, I have Google, and that usually means that the game in question is nearing its last straw for me. Maybe if the guide was all digital and I could access it from a hassle free in game menu I'd pay five bucks for it, but even then I'd feel like I was paying five bucks to ruin all of the discovery for myself.
Guides aren't really being sold to "us". They're being sold to people that want guides. For whatever reason. Not particularly internet savvy. Buying them out of habit. Like to own physical things. Whatever. They can't go digital by virtue of the fact that digital guides already exist and are free through ad support. Which includes videos, forums, wikis and apps.
I almost bought the Tekken Tag 2 guide so I could get a look at some early accurate frame data... but then word got out that they totally botched the frame data and a lot of it was flat-out wrong.
To fighting game guide publishers of the future: I WILL pay 20$ for a day 1 accurate frame data reference.
The last two guides I bought were for Final Fantasy XIII and XIII-2, and those were more for collection than anything else. I do still have all my old guides though and I kinda miss using them, it just feels better to have a book in front of you rather than a random faq on the computer.
To answer your question, whenever the next Final Fantasy comes out, if they make one for XIII-3 I'll definitely buy it. Other than certain games like that however I'm probably done with them.
In today's world of games telling you exactly where to go and free online FAQs everywhere? I don't think anything could get me to buy one. It's a little convienient to have a physical thing I can flip through instead of a web document, but the usual price ($20+) makes it really not worth it.
Forget I said "game guide."
What if it was just a publication that you could buy with the game? It wasn't called a guide. Maybe a "companion." Yeah, there would be a guide in it, but what else could they add to a supplemental publication to make you want it? Think outside the box. It doesn't just have to be a "guide" anymore.
I play a lot of The Binding of Isaac. I sometimes consult the wiki to remember what items do what. When I see it for the first time I go blind to, more fun that way. Maybe it would be nice to have that packaged up nice.
Also remember that the price can vary. Don't assume that it'd be $20.
If Internet was abolished I guess ? I just can't imagine anything a book could offer that I wouldn't rather just access through a website. I guess if it was an actual book, like a story rather than some form of instructions, but then again I've never been inclined to buy any book based on a game.
I'm guessing you're currently tasked with making one of these.. My best advice would be, go digital and look at all the different game-wikis out there and try to mimic the best ones. Have it operate pretty much like a website, with a sidebar for easy navigation, always linking back to relevant pages etc. All the information you want should always be 2 or less clicks away.
I've only ever bought one guide and it was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. It was well after the game had come out and I'd long since beat it. I got it more for the art work (I was super into Star Wars at the time...DONT JUDGE ME) and since IGN guides were subscriber content at the time, I wanted to make sure I wasn't missing out on any content.
It's been a while, but I used to buy guides all the time. They've stopped being so useful, but I'll still get them for Bethesda open world games. I got the hardcover guides for Fallout 3 & New Vegas (They also had bonus concept art sections that I really like), and have the guides for Morrowind, Oblivion & Skyrim. Other than those, the last guide I got was for Valkyria Chronicles, I believe. For the Bethesda games, I like having the maps of everything, and I prefer having a book on my lap over a laptop & a text walkthrough on gamefaqs.
A friend of mine bought the guide to FF 13, which is like buying a map up an escalator. The only good thing in that guide was the boss strategies, which were widely available on the internet anyway.
As far as the OPs 2nd question, what I would like is an iPad/PC guide app, where you could sort through everything on the device & do keyword searches & shit. Links to video walkthroughs & boss/level strategies, and commentary pieces attached to the map, so you could play them when you go into certain areas.
Give me an Elder Scrolls Library app, where I can browse the in-game books & read them on my iPhone, and I'd snatch that up quick.
Mass Effect 3's Datapad app was pretty cool at having the codex in there, I just wish the whole codex was there. Also, for a Mass Effect companion app, give me an interactive galaxy map, just like the one in game, where I can zoom into individual planets & read their descriptions. Maybe let me scan for resources, and pipe that over to the proper game.
Finally, in any game with collectibles, give me a map that lets me check them off as I collect them, so I don't have to worry about going back and wondering if I got that feather/coin/datapad/thermos/page/pidgeon/etc, because it'll be checked off on the map already.
For me it's usually for the maps or charts, so it's got to be a game with somewhat of an open world or have complex systems. Having a lot of art is also really nice. I pretty much never read the walkthrough sections. I just use them for side quests and maps for the most part.
I've only ever bought guides for GTA and Final Fantasy games. I really liked the collector's edition of the FFXII guide. It had a really stiff outer jacket that opened up to reveal two books; an art book and a guide, which randomly had concept art of one of six protagonists as the cover. Since it was shrink wrapped you couldn't choose which cover you got. It was maybe a 400 page guide but I only used the back 150 pages. It had a bestiary, charts showing all the stats for all the weapons and armour, what every shop in the world sold, maps with chest locations and odds for what would be in the chest based on if you were wearing a specific accessory or not, charts for what loot was worth and what loot you needed to sell in order for new items to be available in the bazaar, a guide to the 45 hunt targets and 13 Espers are.
I haven't bought a guide in years, but I bought Geoff Keighley's Final Hours of Portal 2 as soon as I could and read it because I was so into the game. I would also pay some money for a reprint of Raising the Bar.
Make of that what you will.
Was just gonna say this too. I'd buy publications that give interesting behind-the-scene insights.
@bvilleneuve: I got that, too. It would be cool if a game "guide" came with some extra stuff like that.
I think what we're getting at is that whatever that guide is needs to be specialized for that game. Beyond just a guide, we need talent builders, maps, achievement info, and things that are special to the game. Not just generic guides, but something that takes the "essence" of the game and brings it in. Mass Effect needs some high sci-fi, Dragon age needs gritty fantasy, Funky Barn needs some funk.
@bvilleneuve: What if, instead of a guide, Fez was released with a nice, Fez-like app or something to keep track of your findings? I had a pad and pen next to me. Maybe once you figured out the alphabet you can unlock it in the "guide" to view at your leisure.
A lot of you are so dismissive, it's really lame. Game guides, as they stand, are weak. There's no harm in brainstorming about how it could be better integrated into our collections. They could be something interesting. God damn, we spend so much time playing games and watching other people play games. Game guides will be dead soon. Just like everything else that you can find on the internet for free. But I reckon that the companies that produce them aren't retarded. They know, and they might be trying to change their strategies to fit our needs better.
I know you said not to respond with just 'nothing,' but that's pretty much my answer. The internet exists, and has all of that information for free, in a place and format which I can access faster than in a book. The only sensible reason I could see anyone buying a guide nowadays is for some sentimental/collector's value.
If it's for a game I'm really excited about, I will occasionally get the guide just to have it. I might never have to consult it, but there's just something I like about having the entirety of a game laid out on paper like that. Shiny paper. There might be some nostalgia in play there.
God I haven't logged in to reply on a post in a long time, but I couldn't help myself here.
Times have changed and, like or not, the physicality of our purchased goods is becoming more and more a thing of the past (although not any time soon, and never completely, at least I don't think so), but in my opinion in order to make something like a guide more appealing, it needs to take advantage of everything we have at our fingertips today. Just like how accessory makers make controllers, cables, batteries, etc. for consoles, they should act as accessories to our games, through a more easily acceptable and cheaper medium.
Someone mentioned being a companion to our games, rather than just a resource for easter eggs, cheats and where to go. With computers and laptops, and even more so relevant, tablets and smart phones becoming a household norm, and each housing an app marketplace, why not cut the physical production and distribution costs and go straight for an app that connects with your save and your game specifically and will tailor to you and your progress and play style? Xbox Smart Glass is a great example -- not just in it's uses for movies and TV, although that would be awesome for information about game development, the studio, the development history, etc, but what about in Madden, with the playbook next to you, and in Halo with Waypoint? Hell, the WiiU app marketplace (does it have one? I'm sorry if it doesn't, I haven't looked too much into it, despite my growing interest in the system) could house these without the use of an additional gadget purchase.
So say, I'm lucky enough to have all this gadgetry at my side while playing a game, say Skyrim. If it made use of a companion app that connected with my game save and character, it won't only be a source for a map of the land, that is entirely editable (allows me to draw on it, make marks, notes, etc.) but it also can house mission information, act as an in game menu, inventory management, etc, and like others have said, building a personal codex, allowing for my library on the go. The idea for a developer is to have the consumer always thinking about their game, so what better way than to have interactivity when you're not playing?
If they're built alongside the game, it's even better because certain things can be coded into the game to increase interconnectivity between the two. It'd be pretty cool if I could rearrange shit in my house in Skyrim while I'm at a friends. It'd be awesome if little tidbits of BTS information, or easter egg blips could pop up, being prompted by my in game character passing a certain building, or town, or what not. (ex: "Did you know Markath took 2 years to build?" -- completely made that up, but just as an example.) I'd rather this pop up on my companion app, with a little notification sound that can be toggled, as to not interfere with the immersion of the game.
If it not only gives everyone what is great about guides, but also allows them to interact with the game in a different way, it would be a lot more appealing. I'd buy a fuckton of companion apps for five dollars each for all my favorite games, and even for others because I'd be too interested to see how they interact with each other.
@caesius6: Exactly, man. Thanks for the feedback. I thought of something like Dead Space. While playing (if your tablet/phone is connected) it could trigger a video log on your phone. But it would divide your attention between the game and your device. While watching that thing on your phone that popped up a zombie baby clowns or whatever could attack you. I think some of this is in ZombiU Of course, I wouldn't want this intrusive type of thing on every game, but for the horror genre that constantly needs boosts to stay fresh and scary, it could be cool.
We're also stepping more into app territory than guides, but maybe that's the step it needs to take. IGN put out a good Skyrim app, and I think that's a good first step
If it has good artwork and is a game I care about then I will buy it, the only times I have bought a guide for its usefulness, was Oblivion and Skyrim. When I was playing through Oblivion I had no smartphone or easy access to a PC, so it was a real help. When I played Skyrim I had a Mac next to me swell as a smart phone, but I still got the guide and used it alot.
@GalacticGravy: It's a step that needs to be considered at least. I don't know the ins and outs of publishing on an app marketplace vs. distributing to retail, but I imagine you save more and probably can reach a wider audience through a digital marketplace. Also, having your product available for purchase 24/7 is never a bad thing. Impulse buys at 4am after delirium sets in from playing all night? Check.
The biggest thing, like we both said, would be to not interrupt the immersion factor. I don't know if we're thinking these as something that's too involved with the game, but I think it's a route to consider. Something that has input from the devs and something that can make the experience more enjoyable is something people will always pay for. A guide that simply tells you some strategies and how to get from A to B, I think people have learned is easier to attain by simply asking, not by using your credit card.
How did IGN's Skyrim app work?
Use your keyboard!
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