Thursday, July 10, 2014

I am not a sucker

Dear game publishers everywhere,

I'm almost 30, finishing a Ph.D studying musicology with a focus on game audio.  I know a lot about the industry I love so much, both the positives and the negatives.  I love games, and am very likely to pass that tradition down to my son and any other future children I may have, meaning that there is at least another 25 years of money coming to you from my (and/or Owen's, someday) wallet.

That being said, I am no longer a teenager, but an adult who expects to be treated as such.  As a result, I will no longer buy any video game at full price that does any of the following:

1) Contains retailer-exclusive content.

You do not have the right to tell me where to shop.  Whether I buy your product at Target, Amazon, or Best Buy should not matter to you.  If I decide to buy your game at the same time I am buying my child his food, I should be able to do that.  If I decide to buy it online after reading something cool about it on Polygon or Game Informer, I should also be able to do that.  You don't get to veto either of those options, ever.

2) Contains pre-order exclusive DLC.

Similarly, you don't get to tell me when you buy your product.  Especially when that time is before I get to hear anything about anyone having played the retail edition of a game.  I will not spend $60 for the chance that your game might be good, and I especially won't spend $60 a week later when you refuse to sell me the entire product.  I try new candy bars at the grocery store all the time knowing nothing about them but what I read on the packaging.  If you want me to do the same for your games, then offer them up for a dollar as well -- more expensive products get more scrutiny.

3) Purposely releases a limited run so the second printing can be sold for a higher cost.

I bought Metroid Prime Trilogy the day it released, in the nice metal box, and it looks awesome on my shelf, and was happy to pay $40 for it on the first day it was available (note: I did not pre-order it).  Imagine my surprise when Gamestop began charging $70 or $80 for it in the next few weeks, after all of the first-run copies were gone!  Even worse, Xenoblade, which I'm told is among the best JRPGs released on the last generation of consoles, was purposely published in limited quantities by Gamestop so that they could charge more to their most dedicated fans.

They even had the nerve to claim that a $40 price would be a Black Friday shopping special for both of those games last year.  Let me put it to you plainly:  Full price is not a deal, and you only encourage piracy by doing this.  The truth that games depreciate in value over time is a reality for my personal collection, and it's a reality that publishers must also accept.

*) The only acceptable incentive for a pre-order is some form of financial discount.

This can be a straight price discount (many games on Steam offer a 10% discount for pre-ordering), some non-exclusive DLC that you get as a bonus for pre-ordering (see: Ultra Street Fighter IV's bonus costumes), or more product that the money is strictly worth (for instance, if buying Arkham Knight in advance would give you a copy of one of the other three Arkham games as a downloadable bonus while you awaited the release of the new one).

One more caveat:  I'm not necessarily opposed to incentives for buying new instead of used, such as Arkham City's Catwoman content, but that's a discussion for another day.

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