This time last year, the Talking About Games community was flourishing in Call of Duty awesomeness. It seemed like every night there were a handful of us joining up for a multiplayer session. Seconds after a tweet requesting back-up, a lobby would be filled with like-minded gamers ready to have fun. While we didn’t always win those matches, no one can deny how much fun it was to sit down and play a video game we all enjoyed with people we respected. It’s those types of connections and moments that make video game community flourish. Our newfound obsession for Modern Warfare came at the perfect time as just a few months later the highly anticipated sequel, Modern Warfare 2 would be released for the masses. To understate my emotions at the time, I was excited. And then the game came out.
“I’d like to take some time to speak with all of you regarding our desire to make the Blizzard forums a better place for players to discuss our games. We’ve been constantly monitoring the feedback you’ve given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.” And just like that, Mike Morhaime, CEO & Cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment pulled the plug on Real ID’s mandatory implementation and anonymity remains king throughout the land. Yes, yes, I know I am trivializing this announcement a bit for the sake of an introductory paragraph. As indicated in his forum post, this decision came after serious internal discussion and gathering of feedback from the extensive — and apparently quite vocal — Blizzard community. On one hand, it’s great to see a company so in tune with its community, but I have a number of gripes with the vocal minority on this one, some more soapbox-y than others.
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I used to play video games all the time. I was put on academic probation one semester in college because I was too focused on Halo 2, among other games, instead of that whole higher learning part. As the real world slowly took over these past few years, my gaming habits have significantly changed. Depending on your perspective they have changed for the better or the worse but simply put, I’m not the gamer I used to be. Right now free time is a commodity and too often I am finding myself hesitating to sit down and spend that free time with random people online hurling insults or losing myself in an epic single player experience. It’s not that I’m quitting video games or anything, just that my gaming habits are evolving into something different. And yet despite these changes, I don’t think any of the major consoles makers and their respective decision makers are too worried.
So why not spend some free time with me and the rest of this post?
I’ve made it very clear that I am not on board for the motion revolution. Wii never grabbed me, Kinect (formerly Project Natal) does not compel me, and Move does not move me. As a consumer, it’s not for me. But I’m okay with that. I really am. As a gamer, as someone who is looked to for slightly grander opinions on the industry, I am extremely hopeful. On a recent podcast I stated that I believe this technology, as a whole, could lead to the true “next generation of gaming.” It is impossible to ignore the potential in each of these devices. And yet it is that word, potential, that catches a snag. Are we willing to be patient for theoretical potential to become realized? Are we willing to invest time, money, and space upfront for potential months or (potentially) years from now? Didn’t we already get caught up in this same song and dance when Sony unveiled the PlayStation 3 to the world four years ago?
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I know I’ve set this standard of gaming posts every Friday, but the real world has officially caught up with me. I will do my best to put out some unique content each week, but with my condo taking such a high priority I can’t put as much pressure on myself as I normally do. As soon as I get back into a rhythm I’ll be back with more ramblings of a madman. I hope you understand.
Believe it or not, there is more going on right now than the Halo: Reach Beta. For those of you that are more WASD inclined, you might remember World of Goo’s “Pay What You Want” experiment last October where gamers, easily enough, paid whatever they chose for this award winning title. Consumers paid anywhere from $.01 to $50 for the game, while the average price paid for the game rested around $2.03. Sure, financially the sale might not have been very lucrative, but as a social experiment the data collected is invaluable. With all of this talk of piracy, DRM, torrents and NPD numbers, how are publishers supposed to approach us as consumers? Is there a way to please consumers while simultaneously protecting intellectual property? As far as I can tell Radiohead and World of Goo are the only notable “pay what you want” promotions worth mentioning. We need more examples of consumer trends before sincere conclusions can begin to be formed about consumer tendencies. Lucky for you, my eager-reader, I have found another example of a successful implementation of this strategy. I present to you, Exhibit B: The Humble Indie Bundle.
And for what it’s worth, the rest of this post is free of charge. Continue reading
If you are familiar with who I am, then you know how integral Diabetes is in my life. Having lived with this disease for almost 8 years; it has played a significant role in shaping the person that I am today. If you are reading this specific post, then you likely know how integral video games are in my life. If you go back every Friday since the beginning of this blog’s existence you will find ramblings about some video game topic of my choosing. So rare is the opportunity for these to pieces of my life to merge into a single entity, or even a single post. But today, my eager-reader, is your lucky day. Bayer has just released its Didget Blood Glucose Monitoring System to the public and I’m not sure which part of me is more excited: the gamer part or the pancreatically challenged part.
Great news ahead, assuming you haven’t upgraded to a DSi yet.
For a segment of America, and possibly the world, this is the greatest time of the year. The NFL Draft has finally arrived, and with its prime-time, 3-day splendor all the speculation about what a team needs to do to improve finally ends. Months of mock-drafts and so-called expert analysis is replaced by post pick analysis and all the second-guessing that you would expect from jaded ex-players. But at its core the draft represents an opportunity for an organization to evaluate their strengths and address as many of their weaknesses as possible. With one move a franchise can be righted by selecting a player like Peyton Manning, or they can continue to stumble with the likes of someone like Ryan Leaf. Decisions like these can impact a team for upwards of five years, you do not want to miss. And so, it is with that evaluating and rebuilding mentality that I intend to look at the state of the major players in the video game industry. Who will be the #1 pick?
Eager-reader, you’re on the clock. Continue reading
Simply put: I’m fried. Normally I’d leave my post with that, a YouTube video and a smiley face and be on my way. Seriously, you do not know how close you were to getting another series of haikus. Let me tell you, I was really, really, really close to giving up this week. Somehow I found the strength to carry on. I think it’s the brief intermission to the opening salvo that was the first three months of the year that has finally caught up with me. With week after week of high-quality, block-busting games available to us, it was exhausting trying to keep up with everything. And the worst part is I could barely play any of them. I can only imagine how you, a truly enthusiastic gamer, must feel right now. Enjoy your respite; it wont be long until Madden 2011 is upon us and we get to do the same song and dance all over again. To celebrate this moment of relaxation, I’m not going to talk about video games.
I mean it, I’m not talking about video games. What? You don’t believe me?
This week’s rule: No iPad talk. Additionally, there’s an addendum to this week’s rule: no iPhone OS talk. Now that the ground rules are established, let’s get back to your and my favorite topic: Downloadable Content. The recent Stimulus Package for Infinity Ward’s Modern Warfare 2 has been a polarizing discussion point among gamers with an opinion. Some are excited for new maps while others are disgusted at the price point. A lot of these emotions are expressed in the moment, but there are long-term consequences that will be influenced by the success or failure of this content that have most gamers worried. Is it just me or are more and more games being analyzed based on their financial prospects and not their reception as a piece of interactive entertainment? Is the business aspect taking over an industry that used to be judged on whether or not it was “fun”?
Bring a calculator, there’s lots of number crunching ahead.