You should have a quick scan of that article by Dale North( Destructoid.com) first if you don't quite know what I'm talking about.
Ubisoft (famous for the likes of Rayman, Splinter Cell and Assassin's Creed) recently announced a plan to "go green" with it's packaging in games. This means redesigned cases on the PC and the removal of manuals from console games in favour of adding the manuals digitally to the disc. I see a problem with this on a couple of different levels, but it's also, another voice can't hurt if you're trying to prove a point.
Every game is somebody's first game
It's a little bit arrogant to think "heh, I can do this, why can't everyone else?" and so this is why manuals exist in the first place. While the intricacies of the button layouts, "old tropes" of video games and the secret code of menus is practically second nature to anyone seeing this, we are most certainly in the minority. I think to my dad, not yesterday astounded by my mastery of control, eking out more masterful combos and features than he's been able to get out of Batman: Arkham Asylum in 15 hours, in my first 15 minutes.
He didn't know you could go first-person/zoom-in by clicking the right stick
To me, it makes sense that clicking the camera control does something new with the camera, but it didn't occur to my dad that it was a button because nobody told him. And nobody told him because the game doesn't demand it. My dad isn't the kind of person to ever give up, but if he gets stuck, he reads the manual, because he learns this type of thing. It would never occur to him to assume it was on the disc.
Not all gamers are us super-hardcore types. My dad is typical of the general gaming populace; casual.
It's about standards
Loving games isn't a pre-requisite to work in GAME or GameStation in England. It helps, but half the staff have never owned a single game where I work. They'll serve you, they know what the consoles do (kind of) and they have a list of 4-5 games coming out memorised, but they won't know who mega man, master chief or solid snake are. More likely they're going to think you're coming on to them, poorly.
Now looking through the comments, I see you Americans with your game stores don't have too much of these, but in the UK, when you trade in a game, you get turned away if there is no manual. If these standards change, good people will be turned away, or more likely, games that should have a manual, will lose them because of Ubisoft's greed.
In an era where these gorgeous HD games are fucking even basic control up, you know for a fact the manual will be on some hard to reach screen that you'll have to quit out of the game to find. It will be on the main menu booting you out of the game, be in text far too small to read on an SD TV, in blocks that hurt your eyes because of the brightness contrast and in a font you despise. You could have gotten the special edition with the booklet in, but that was an extra £10 for a steel case and 4 pages of legalese and a diagram of a controller on the back because it was the collector's edition.
Pessimism? Maybe. Unfounded? Not quite.
The alternative is a downloadable PDF, but this again is a problem. Everyone without the internet, raise your hand. Awesome. Looks like EVERYONE has the internet then. No problems here. I can't see a single person without the internet out there. What do you mean, those people who can't read this don't know to object? Pshaw.
There are easier ways to go green
1) Stop requiring an internet access to play your PC games. What do you think powers the internet, dumb-asses?
2) CD sleeves use less plastic than DVD boxes. FACT.
3) Flying out game developers to have a sit-in game session creates more CO2 than game manuals' production.
4) Stop having children; Children make TONS of CO2 in their lifetime (it's called breathing) and are more of a hazard, due to overpopulation.
5) French people are smug pricks; unrelated, but I've never met one who wasn't. I've seen some cute German girls though. and Russian accents are the bomb.
6) Let every developer work from home. Transport creates CO2 unless they all walk to work, in which case, well done Ubisoft employees.
It's easy to see why Ubisoft is doing this; tax cuts for going greener and less costs from producing less product, but manuals are a mainstay of gaming and have been for as long as anything. It makes me annoyed to see it being cut for sheer greed under the thin guise of altruism.
Man up, Ubisoft, and leave us the ability to flick through, thumb, make notes in, ignore and pour over our manuals.
Written to Danny Barronowsky's "The Teaching Robot" ( dBsoundworks.com)