This Blog Post Is A Diversion From Your Main Readings

!!! Tales of Vesperia Light Spoilers Contained Within !!!


Currently, I am working on Tales of Vesperia and am nearing the end of the game. As such, I decided to finish up many of the side missions that I had been working on over the course of the game. One of these missions involved Judith and her missing spear. Throughout the game, I had triggered many events that furthered the side mission of finding Judith's spear; and at the final town visited I triggered yet another even involving Judith with the president of Fortune's Market. According to guides, I needed to travel to some town ruins that I had visited earlier in the game. There, I would meet up with bandits who had Judith's spear and would they would get chased down - side mission over! Except, the bandits never appear.

After consulting the guide again, it would seem that I missed (easily) a certain event near the beginning of the game. Not triggering this event, the bandits never appear at the ruins and I can't get Judith's spear to finish this side mission. So my question to the developers is this: why lead me on through scripted events if I can't finish the side mission?

My game time now sits at over 140 hours, and I have yet to beat Tales of Vesperia. This amount of time is mainly due to me exploring each area and talking with people multiple times (and also a good amount of grinding). Yet, I still miss many side missions that should be available. It feels like now I need to speak to a certain person, at the right time of day, wearing certain armor, at a specific spot, using the right character, just to trigger an event. Oops! Forgot to say 'Hi!' to his sister back three towns ago and before I had defeated a boss. Too late now!

Tales of Vesperia does redeem itself however in it's grade system in battles. Each battle fought is graded based on certain criteria, and at the beginning of a new game (after beating the game), you are able to use the accumulated grade points as a currency in exchange for carrying over various aspects from your previous game. Hopefully I'll have the time to actually play the game a second time; as it stands now, I already have quite a back log of games, and would still like to do second play-throughs of Fable II and Lost Odyssey.

Speaking of which, Lost Odyssey also robbed me of an achievement for maximizing skill levels for all the immortal characters due to me missing two spells at a shop. By the time I realized that I had missed the spells, the shop had changed it's inventory! GAH!


tl;dr

Don't show events to side missions that players aren't able to complete (due to missing something earlier)!
If an item is easily purchasable at the beginning of the game, it should be just as easy to purchase at the end of the game!
7 Comments

This Blog Post Wants To Ask You A Question

Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?


No, says the pirate: it belongs to the everyone.
No, says the used game market: we want the profit.
Well maybe, says the consumer: how much sweat are we talking here?


I rejected those answers. Instead, I chose something different. I chose the impossible.

I chose...

A new take on old sales methods.

Two questions arise with the sales of games, and they're fundamentally the same. "Is it worth the price?" and "Was it worth the price?" These two questions are what publishers must look into before putting a game onto the market, likely when the first budget for the game is being outlined.

The current gaming market is based on a pretty set pricing structure; usually with consoles games at $60, with the occasional console game coming out at $40. PC games usually start a bit lower between $30 and $50. With higher budgets, shrinking sales, and the ever-looming issue of piracy, how is a publisher to survive which still offering quality games?

Looking into the issue of piracy, one of the top reasons is the 'try before you buy'. Many games do not have demos available, and for those that do the demos usually don't represent the game well.

So here are a couple of questions:

1. How many would be willing to pay an initial low cost for a full, time-limited game on the premise that afterwards you had the option to pay more based on your own value?

or

2. How many would be willing to pay an initial low cost for a full, time-limited game on the premise that afterwards you had to pay based on a set range of amounts (+$10 more, +$15 more...)?

or maybe a bit of both.


For example, lets say you buy Modern Warfare 2 for $15; it is the full game, fully featured but is time-limited to 30 days. Once 30 days has been reached, the game no longer functions but you do have the option to pay a one-time extra amount to unlock the time-limit permanently. Would you?

Some points:

How much is this game worth?
For those that just wanted to play though the game once, the low-cost entry will hopefully be of enough value and kept someone from just pirating the game. The publisher may not see much money out of this consumer, but at least it is not money lost due to piracy.

For those that play through the game several times, what is it worth to be able to do so? The game was $15 up front, but there is more value to that game in that you want to play it more. For this consumer, there is an added value to playing through the game multiple times (usually due to a multiplayer component). From here comes the next part, let the consumer decide the value, or let the consumer choose from a set amount of values.

Based of questions above, a couple of business models already exist: shareware and the rental market. What if these two markets were to me merged? The consumer pays an upfront cost to play the full game for a time period (the rental), but at the end of that time has the option to unlock the full game for a little bit more (shareware).

Going back to the example above, Modern Warfare 2 was purchased for $15 up front and at the end of the time period the option arises: +$10 more, +$20 more, +30 more, +$XX. Any amount will unlock the game permanently, and you only need to pay it this one time. You choose the fate of the game and publisher.

There are three categories here from the publisher perspective, and it would likely follow the bell curve. Some consumers will pay the least amount of money available, no matter the quality experience or value. Most consumers would likely fall into the middle category, paying a moderate amount extra ($20, $30). Finally, the third category of people would feel that the game is worth more to them for the amount of time spent on it, and would likely give the publisher extra. Whatever category these consumers fall into though, money went to the publisher.

There are still questions to this model though. How many extra consumers would this model bring in, especially those who are on the fence with piracy? Does the bell curve (if accurate) balance out profitability? Where would this model be best placed in the market? While not having answers to all questions, the best test bed for where to implement such a system would be in the direct download market; places such as Steam.

While the numbers in the examples may not be accurate, nor the idea that consumers would fall under the bell curve, I find the premise interesting. From a publisher standpoint, more people are likely to buy into a game at a low cost entry. Even if they don't capture all of the consumers, the publisher still sees some money out of it. From a consumer standpoint, the saying 'vote with your wallet' holds more direct weight. The consumer would be able to pay for a game based on what they feel is it's value. Games with more effort behind them will get a better following of consumers who will be more likely to spend more on them. How much sweat would this model be worth?


tl;dr
Piracy hurts, how to cope? Would a merging of the rental and shareware business models work?

22 Comments

This Blog Post Reviews MediaMan

As with many here on the GiantBomb website, I have a decent gaming collection (as well as books, movies, and music). Some media I have out on shelves for easy access, other media is on loan with friends and family, and the rest is boxed up in storage until I can get a dedicated gaming room. After much procrastination, I finally felt it time to find a means for organizing my collection.

Finding an application for inventory helped me two-fold: for one I am typically very organized, and even though I had put off getting an inventory of my collection, I still knew where everything was. However, the second reason for finding a means for organization was for insurance; what if there were a fire or theft? By organizing my collection in an application of some sorts I have some form of proof of ownership and a way of listing every title without the need for memorization.

I needed an application that was easy to use, supported multiple media types, and at least looked decent or was customizable. After trying various applications, MediaMan ended up on top; so this is my review of it.

MediaMan Window
This is the main Mediaman window for viewing your media. On the left is a tree view offering four primary categories by default: Books, Games, Music, Videos.  Each of these categories are customizable, and also allow for sub-categories making organization a breeze.

The middle portion of the window displays the collection, with virtual shelf being the default method. The boxart size can be adjusted by a slider located at the bottom-right of the window. 

On the right is the information panel with three tabs: Details, Images, Extra. Details contains information that was pulled from Amazon.com such as publisher, platform, UPC, EAN, Date released, and other relavant information. Images will display a larger image (if available) as well as offer other viewing angles if additional images were imported. Only one default is available for viewing (front cover), and selecting other viewing angles is needed for each view. The Extras tab gives more customization options, such as choosing the style of box packaging or placing the box in a glass case. The media can also be flagged for different purposes such as lending or borrowing, or if the media is damaged. Finally, the Extras tab has a linking feature; so a file can be associated with the selected media, such as a screenshot or video review.


MediaMan Views
Visually MediaMan closely resembles that of Windows Vista, even mimicking the breadcrumb bar along the top of the window for easier navigation. The content is easily sorted through a drag and drop interface. Besides the Virtual Shelf view, MediaMan can also display entered media as Icons, a Compact List, Expaned List, or Details.

MediaMan pulls information from Amazon.com, and can be set to grab from other Amazon sites in other countries. Of course, content can also be edited or manually entered into MediaMan. There are many fields available to enter information, or custom fields may be added. Box art can be added through the Images tab, which supports the box Front, Back, Spine (Side), Disc, and Extras. Any fields that do not have entered information are not displayed in the normal viewing of content, freeing MediaMan of unnecessary clutter.

When the root folder of Library is selected, MediaMan has a type of home page. On it, there are the Overview, Statistics, Quick Tips, and Web tabs. The Statistics tab will display a pie chart consisting of the entered media collection, breaking down by the categories entered under the root Library folder. As this feature uses Flash, it does not currently work with 64-bit versions of Windows.

MediaMan Statistics
On backing up, MediaMan has the option to save in multiple places and with multiple files. A schedule can be set up, as well as how many recent backup copies to keep. A secondary location is also supported (and very handy); I use a USB drive as my secondary backup location.

One final feature to cover for MediaMan would be the exporting of the entered collection. MediaMan supports exporting your collection as a rich text format file, comma seperated value file, web page HTML file, plain text file, or a virtual shelf rendering. The nicest of these would be the web page and the virtual shelf rendering. Exporting as a web page also gives an option to export for use in a web site. When selected, this option created an index file that will set up the collection for viewing as a web site. Exporting as a virtual shelf rendering basically saves the virtual shelf view as a PNG file. Currently MediaMan does not offer as many options as I'd like for exporting, as I would like to select certain categories for exporting at once; this feature is under consideration for future updates though.

Now I have only been using MediaMan for a brief amount of time, so I have not tried out all the features offered. In addition to what I have written about, MediaMan also has a built-in media player and supports scanners and some bar code readers for easier data entry.

Overall, MediaMan as a package has offered everything I had been looking for in inventory management software: ease of use, multiple media types, visually appealing, customizable, and the bonus of 64-bit support. The creator of MediaMan, He Shiming, is also active on the support forums and open to suggestions. At $39.95, the initial cost seemed a little more than other options, but the support on the website as well as lifetime updates made the overall package a good value.


Supports:
Windows XP and Windows Vista, Windows Vista 64-bit (Windows 7 is also compatible 32/64-bit).
Creator: He Shiming
Price: $39.95 (includes updates for life)

http://www.imediaman.com/


MediaMan Drag & Drop

MediaMan Image Import

MediaMan Image Options
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This Blog Post is Punishing the Player

In playing a game, more than likely you will eventually come across a side-mission or scripted event. This side-mission or event lies in wait until you, the player, trigger it.

Imagine this scenario:
You are playing a game and have just been tasked to getting a herb located in the mountains or else the blacksmith in town who can craft your special weapons dies. So what do you do? Time to level grind for a bit during this side mission while the game sits and waits for you to return with the herb to continue the side-story. Several hours later (probably several days in game time) you return to the town with the herb, heal the blacksmith, and you get your special weapons.

What should happen? So you spend a few hours level grinding and return with the herb to heal the blacksmith. Only this time you spent too long in grinding, the blacksmith died, and no one else knows the secret for making your special weapons. All is not lost however! Prior to triggering the side-mission the game auto-saves and now you have two choices: lose all the level grinding you did, but get another chance to get the herb and save the blacksmith or keep going on with your higher levels, but losing out on finishing this particular side-mission.

Too often, games present challenges for the player that don't really punish indecisivness or taking too much time. Instead the game just sits there waiting for the player to finish before it continues. Imagine near the beginning of Bioshock, just after Jack injects himself with a plasmid for the first time. You use your newly aquired electrobolt to trigger the door and walk though; suddenly you see the plane that had sunk earlier crash into the corridor and the door you just walked though locks behind you. Glass is beginning to crack and leak and through the murky water you see a parallel corridor implode from the pressure of the sea.

These scripted events work to build a sense or urgency for the player, and for their part works well. However, as a player I could just sit in that corridor all day and the game will just wait until I have move into the next room. What should happen is that after a certain amount of time, the corridor you're passing though should finally give way and implode, whether you are still in it or not. Should you still be in the corridor when it does implode then it's game over, load up the previous check point or save.

Environmental interaction is another lost opportunity, though this may be due to budget restraints and hardware limitations. Bioshock again, this time in a room with large vaulted ceilings and huge windows showcasing the ocean floor below. As a player, you have a rocket launcher and continually fire it at the window. Eventually the glass should begin to crack and finally buckel under pressure and break, flooding the room.

It is understandable that not everything can implemented with this current generation of hardware, PCs included. However, I would like to see game development step more in this direction, where side-missions and scripted events have negative repercussions for not following though correctly. Games as a medium are about interaction, that is what sets them apart from other entertainment; and part of that interaction are the wrong choices the player may make. Think along the lines of the original Dragon's Lair: there are multiple outcomes in each room that face Dirk. Now add to that more direct player control; sure your could do many different things in this room, but not all things you do will let you leave alive.


tl;dr
Just wanting to see more negative repurcussions in player interactivity.
Take too long to finish a side-mission, you won't be able to finish it; blow a hole in the wall holding water in, you drown.

11 Comments

This Blog Post is Used. Why Didn't You Support the Original?

Used games won't go away. Publishers need to realize this; and the more they fight against the will of the customer, the more they will lose out. There will always be a market for used items, be it books, movies, music, cars, houses, whatever. And a sale in a used item does not equate to a lost sale of a new item, which is also something the industry fails to understand.

When I purhcase a game, there is a set price I'm willing to spend on it based on my interest (e.g. demos, word of mouth, hype, knowledge of the series). So when a game is released for $60 new, I have to decide if that particular title is worth $60 to me. If not, I'll wait for the price to drop. What usually happens though, is that the used price drops more quickly than the new price does, so I end up with a used game. The problem is that most games released are all priced the same, instead of a relative value of production or worth. Not all games can be AAA million sellers. Unfortunately, the market can also disagree with this theory at times in that games like Viva Pinata were released at a lower price and still sold low (though that may have been due more to poor marketing).

If the industry feels they should get a cut of used merchandise, then it should work with retailers and not fight them. Why not work out a deal with retailers that sell used games so that they get a bigger percentage of profit selling new games, and in return, a portion of the used sales will go to the publisher. As it stands now, retailers make almost nothing on new games, with most of the money going to publishers. However, this business model relies on front-loaded sales; whereas Gamestop makes most of it's money on used games over a longer period of time.

One point I would have to side with the publishers is the Gamestop practice of used game prices on recent releases, where the savings are minimal. In this case, the publisher is losing a new sale, which in the end is lost financial support for the publisher and developer. After watching the Bonus Round on Gametrailers, I would have to agree with Michael Pachter that used game prices would need to be a minimum percentage off of the new price. This king of change can only happen though if the gaming industry is willing to work with used game retailers such as Gamestop; find a way to make the new game market more appealling for the retailer.

The industry needs to look critically at it's business model now, and see how it can work with emerging trends; and not spend money, time, and effort fighting against it. This is especially true with the emergence of direct-download sales. What of those sales? What can I with these games once I no longer want them? Will I still be able to play them when the next generation of systems is out? If activation is required, what happens 10 years down the line if I get the urge to play it again?

Books, movies, and music are still all surviving (despite what certain **AA groups might think), and there are healthy markets for both new and used items. None of them see any profits on used items either, why is gaming any different. Work with retailers, price your product accordingly, make better products that offer more value to the consumer; and most importantly don't fight against change, embrace it and use it to your advantage.


tl;dr
The used market isn't going anywhere. Instead of fighting retailers, work with them to find a solution that is beneficial for both parties.
The game industry is no different than that of books, music, or movies.

15 Comments

By Reading This Blog, You Agree to the License Agreement

A publisher's dream, a retailer’s nightmare, and a consumer caught in the middle; digital distribution is coming, but what form it takes is anyone's guess at the moment. For the moment though, digital distribution is an extra in the consumer market; with physical media still dominating most sales.

What needs to better defined if digital distribution is to succeed is ownership; who owns what, and what rights are given for the content. Currently, purchasing content - either physical or digital - grants the consumer rights for viewing or playing content. The consumer does not own the content. OK, so I don't own the content, but what of the viewership rights? Right now if I were to purchase Fallout 3 I would have several options: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, or PC (with PC having options to purchase the game at retail or digitally such as from Steam). The choice of platforms given to the consumer is good up to a point, but what is really happening is if I decide to purchase Fallout 3 for the PC at retail, I only have the rights to play that form of Fallout 3.

So lets say extra paid DLC content is made available exclusively for Xbox 360 version of Fallout 3, but I already had purchased the PC version of Fallout 3; that means if I want to pay for and play the extra DLC, I would have to repurchase Fallout 3 (or more technically, the license to play the Xbox 360 form of Fallout 3). This is the problem with the current model of digital distribution. If I truly am purchasing a 'license' to play a game, this license should extend to any platform the game is made available for within a certain form. Does this mean I should get to play the iPhone version of Fallout 3? Only if the form of play is the same as that found on other platforms. A service such as OnLive shows the potential of what a global license could be.

Ideally, the delivery mechanism shouldn't factor into the licensing of content. In the perfect consumer experience, I would only need to purchase the license to play Super Mario Bros 3 once, and any device capable of playing the game is something I could use. Unfortunately, the publishing industry does not see it this way; what they see is a means to make more money by selling the same game over and over across different platforms. In the publisher's case, they make money off the Nintendo version sale, the Gameboy Advance version sale, and the Wii Virtual Console sale; all of which are the same game. While it is understandable for a publisher to be in the business to make money, the consumer in the end is getting screwed.

The content is the selling point, and the means to protecting the rights of the consumer, while still allowing the industry to make money. So if a publisher wants to make the Ultra Super Mario Bros 3 with bonus levels, two forms of digital content should be made available for purchase: the full game with extra content, and the extra content only as DLC for those who already own the original title. A timed exclusive could be a marketing mechanism in this case to milk a few extra sales for those who can't wait. While I am aware there are plenty of loopholes in this scenario (just label the game as a sequel for example), it is at least a base to start from. Just as consumers should be trusted with the ability to make local backup copies of content, publishers should be trusted to offer new experiences at a fair price. Backstabbing from either end will only result in a crippled market.

Another aspect of digital licensing that will need to change is that of fair use. With the purchase of content, the consumer should also get the right to make a local backup copy. This is an important right for the consumer as it gives them a means to use content without the need for service reliability or publisher authentication. Network lag and bandwidth caps are just two problems that could arise when a consumer tries to use digital content; not to mention time itself. Is time a part of the license for using the digital content? What happens five, ten years down the line? The ability to use digital content locally from a backup is an important feature that will help smooth out the transition to a more digital marketplace.

And what of physical media in this new world of digits? It won't go away, anytime soon at least. There is still a certain satisfaction for having something to hold in your hands, something to add to a collection. The direction of physical media may need to change in order to compete with its digital counterpart. Special and limited editions is one area that could be expanded upon. Sure, you could get the digital copy of Starcraft 3 a little cheaper and instantly now; but this limited version comes with timed exclusive bonus content, as well as a behind the scenes making of video! The timed exclusive content would eventually make its way online as paid DLC, and the making of video is something offered as a bonus for the physical media (note that this is also something that does not affect the game in any way). Another reason physical media will stick around is due to B&M stores. Where else would you be able to hold a launch event or find someone knowledgeable in an area that could make other recommendations. And browsing just isn't quite the same with an online store; though many online retailers do offer suggestions of what you may like based off other customers purchasing habits.

Digital distribution will come, it's only a matter of time. However for it to succeed some compromises and changes will need to made on the publishing end of business. Consumers would do well to honor the rights given to them with content in order to foster a healthy ecosystem; and pirates will keep everyone on their toes. Oh, and by reading this blog post, you agree to the license that this was only read on Giant Bomb and not 1up.

tl;dr
Content licensing in its current form will not work for the emerging market in digital distribution. Compromises and trust is needed between both consumers and pusblishers for digital distribution to work.

9 Comments

This Blog Post Was Imported From Word into Giant Bomb. It Worked!

There's this game I want to play. It has been released, and I can purchase it; yet if I place it into my Xbox 360 it won't play. Downloadable content has been released for a game that I enjoy, yet I cannot purchase it. Do publishers not want my money?

Millions of dollars can be spent on a single project, from development costs to marketing; all in hopes of releasing a product that will not only recoup the money spent on this project, but those beyond as well. On the other side of the spectrum is the consumer base, money in hand and ready to spend on products that interest and entertain them. On the most basic level this seems like the classic supply and demand model of economics. There is something wrong in this model however. The publisher won't sell this product to all consumers interested in it. And should a customer  obtain a copy of the product through other retail means, it won't work. Not because the consumer doesn't have the correct equipment to run it, but because that product has been locked out from where they live.

Wii, has it all wrong. Playstation 3, kind of has it right. Xbox 360, not quite right either. All three of these systems have some form of region protection in them. Region protection is a means of control; a way for a publisher to decide who gets what products and when. So when a game is created and sold first in Japan, anybody who doesn't own a "Japanese" system cannot play said game for either the Wii or the Xbox 360; Playstation 3 got this part right. However this is not the case with Blu-ray movies which is, while though better than DVD, split into regions.

There are a few reasons as to why a company might limit their potential consumer base. The most obvious of reasons would be the language barrier. Of course not everyone speaks or understands the same language. So when budgeting out a new product, be it a movie or game, it must be determined ahead of time where initial releases will be and from there produce and market accordingly. Another reason why a publisher might not release a product to a certain region comes down to cultural issues. Different regions have different stances on things such as violence and sexuality, so products (mostly games) need to be adjusted for each region before release. But not every publisher can afford to have their product released in every region, and all these concerns a publisher might face when releasing a product have to do with the general consumer market. These concerns the publishers may face still don't explain why a consumer cannot use a product if it has been imported.

So there is this game I want to play. It was made in and only released in Japan. It will most likely never be released outside of Japan due to North America being a prudish nation. It is also a game I most likely couldn't even read much of as I really don't know much Japanese. Yet, I am still willing to buy this game because it is something that interests me. The publisher need not even worry about localization or bringing the title over here as I will be more than happy to import the title. But I don't because the game won't play in my Xbox 360. Why limit a potential sale?

In an ever increasing global economy, publishers need to rethink how a product is produced and marketed. This is especially true with the emergence of digital downloads, which surprisingly (or not) are coming out region locked. Why? There are no physical barriers for launching a title globally. And the language excuse falls apart as again it costs almost nothing to release a digital product; why not tap into those potential sales in other regions. Only cultural sensitivities may hinder a global release, yet across multiple regions I see this number or letter on every package. What was it again, oh yes a rating! That is what the rating system was for, so that parents actually do their job in parenting and if something in a product offends them then it is their choice not to purchase it.

So there is this game that I have played that was released here quite awhile back; an RPG that had been released first in Japan, and then later in North America. I read on message boards of those that would like to play said game. They are perfectly capable of speaking English and have money in hand to purchase this game, yet it won't work on their system either. "Please wait while we localize this release," you as the publisher say. Why wait? They have money NOW, they want to play this game NOW, and they understand the game NOW. That's not to say don't bother localizing the title, as there are even more consumers out there who will appreciate the extra effort being put into the game. But why limit sales by forcing consumers to wait on a product. By the time the game is finally released, those initial customers that were willing to import will have moved on and forgotten about the game. A sale was lost; not only that, but these consumers may have also been potential extra sales for DLC.

What should be a simple economics 101 supply and demand business is instead a complicated and limited experience for consumers. Region protection only hurts, both publishers and consumers; and by limiting a sale now, publishers risk losing future potential sales. I am able to import and book and still able to read it (if I can) without restrictions; it would seem books don't need region protection. One thing (only thing I can think of) that the music industry got right is not implementing region protection on music CDs. I have a few CDs that were never released in North America, yet I wanted to support these artists. It would seem music doesn't need region protection either. Recently, F.E.A.R. 2 was released on PC and in quite a few regions. However, a retailer in the UK got a limited edition version only available from them. I was able to import this version and it plays on my PC in North America just as well as it would on a PC in the UK. It would appear PC games don't need region protection either (though I have found a few games from Japan that do, in which I just change my system locale to Japan). If the above industries can survive without region protection, then what of movies and [console] games?

In short, the movie and game industries need to catch up with the global marketplace. Of course their services will still be needed for the localization of games to cater to mass market consumers. But in this global marketplace there are still those that should not be limited to what they are able to purchase or use based on where they live. Region protection isn't protecting anything except outdated and invalid excuses.


tl;dr
Region protection protects nothing. Let the importers play their games and movies!

2 Comments

Used Anything Isn't the Problem

Used games won't go away. Publishers need to realize this; and the more they fight against the will of the customer, the more they will lose out. There will always be a market for used items, be it books, movies, music, cars, houses, whatever. And a sale in a used item does not equate to a lost sale of a new item, which is also something the industry fails to understand.

When I purhcase a game, there is a set price I'm willing to spend on it based on my interest (e.g. demos, word of mouth, hype, knowledge of the series). So when a game is released for $60 new, I have to decide if that particular title is worth $60 to me. If not, I'll wait for the price to drop. What usually happens though, is that the used price drops more quickly than the new price does, so I end up with a used game. The problem is that most games released are all priced the same, instead of a relative value of production or worth. Not all games can be AAA million sellers. Unfortunately, the market can also disagree with this theory at times in that games like Viva Pinata were released at a lower price and still sold low (though that may have been due more to poor marketing).

If the industry feels they should get a cut of used merchandise, then it should work with retailers and not fight them. Why not work out a deal with retailers that sell used games so that they get a bigger percentage of profit selling new games, and in return, a portion of the used sales will go to the publisher. As it stands now, retailers make almost nothing on new games, with most of the money going to publishers. However, this business model relies on front-loaded sales; whereas Gamestop makes most of it's money on used games over a longer period of time.

The industry needs to look critically at it's business model now, and see how it can work with emerging trends; and not spend money, time, and effort fighting against it. This is especially true with the emergence of direct-download sales. What of those sales? What can I with these games once I no longer want them? Will I still be able to play them when the next generation of systems is out? If activation is required, what happens 10 years down the line if I get the urge to play it again?

Books, movies, and music are still all surviving (despite what certain **AA groups might think), and there are healthy markets for both new and used items. None of them see any profits on used items either, why is gaming any different. Work with retailers, price your product accordingly, make better products that offer more value to the consumer; and most importantly don't fight against change, embrace it and use it to your advantage.

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This Blog Post is Exclusive to Giant Bomb

Something of a trend has been happening with this new generation of consoles, and that is the premise of exclusivity. Now exclusive titles aren't something new, nor are they necessarily a bad thing. Most people won't put down the cash for hardware consoles unless it has the games you want to play. Enter the exclusive deal - you want to play game X? Buy console Y. Another method would be the timed exclusive, where if you want to play game X now, you need console Y, else wait a bit later for the eventual port. However, with the ever increasing cost of producing games for the HD era of consoles it just isn't worth it for most third-party developers to stay on one platform. So with many titles appearing on both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 how would a console company convince a gamer to purchase the game for one system over another?

Exclusive DLC is the new trend this generation. Sure both platforms will get the same base game, but if you want to experience more of the game past the end then choose your platform carefully. Similar to full game exclusives, DLC exclusivity either comes as a permanent exclusive or a timed-exclusive; and here lies the problem. First, I have no qualms against timed-exclusives in either full games or as DLC. The reasoning behind this is that most anybody who wants to play said game will get to at some point in time with the only investment being the game (as long as one of the platforms is owned; Wii being excluded as it offers a different experience and thus usually has different games).

It is with the full-on permanent exclusivity that the main problem lies. The base game has been developed and made available for multiple platforms, so why limit the expanded experience for gamers? As mentioned above, GTA4: The Lost and Damned is currently only available for Xbox 360 owners, while Fallout 3: the Pitt is available to PC and Xbox 360 owners. Playstation 3 owners wanting to experince more from these titles are out of luck (and developers/publishers are getting that much less business as these expansions are paid DLC).

The biggest title that has exclusive DLC would be Grand Theft Auto 4, with the release of the expansion The Lost and Damned. While Playstation and Xbox 360 owners both would get to play the base Grand Theft Auto 4 game, it was revealed that only Xbox 360 owners would get to play the expansion. Another recent expansion only available for PC and Xbox 360 gamers is the Pitt, an expansion for Fallout 3. What is unknown at the present time is if these exclusives are timed or not (Protip for publishers: they better not stay exclusive). Don't forget there's a rather large Playstation 3 [and PC] userbase that bought into your game.

Conversely, Playstation 3 owners are getting their fair share of exclusive content across multiple titles. Sony, it would appear, has mandated that any ports of titles that appear on their platform after it has already been on the Xbox 360 must have exclusive content only available for Playstation 3 owners. Now the first part of this mandate is understandable, as additional content on a year-old port of a game is a great way to breath new life into a game and cater to a new user base. But as a developer or publisher, what about your old user base? It is this permanent exclusivity that creates a divide among gamers as now the overall experience of the game is different between gamers.

On Playstation 3 Bioshock got bonus challenge rooms, Eternal Sonata got extra playable characters and costumes; and now Tales of Vesperia will also be getting released with bonus missions, characters, and costumes. Ninja Gaiden 2 also will not only be getting fixes to the game, but new playable characters and missions. Again, this is great for Playstation 3 owners, as they get to experience the greatness of these games; it is also great that their is new content, as that shows the developers are still supporting the tiles and giving them a fresh coat of paint. However, what of all those that bought into the game initially?

As a gamer, I want the best experience for my money. I also want to support developers should they add good content down the line. However, current trends are not allowing me either. I can only imagine it would be more difficult for multi-platform owners to buy any games; in the back of your mind there will always be that little nag wondering if a better version will get released later. In an age of DLC, why should this nag still be around?

tldr;
Timed-exclusive DLC good
Permanent-exclusive DLC bad


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