Category Archives: Rant

EA: The Biggest Loser

EA has been getting a lot of complaints from gamers recently. From Origin to the infamous Mass Effect 3 ending, gamers are not happy over EA’s current games and business practices. Although the constant complaints of milking franchises and lousy customer services are nothing new, gamers have been favoring EA after scorning the actions of Activision and the controversial remarks from company CEO Robert Kotick. However, because they’ve been removing their titles from digital distribution sites, such as Steam, and forcing customers to use their file-scanning malware service, cutting content from their games in order to sell them as DLC, and having the same problems of milking franchises and horrible customer service, gamers are beginning to get fed up with EA’s practices. Even with the negative publicity, EA continues to do well with its games and franchises and is still being praised by many gamers and critics, so should they not worry about the growing hatred against them?

Apparently not, as business website The Consumerist had their 7th annual “Worst Company in America” competition, where thousands of readers have voted EA as the United State’s most ethically corrupt corporation in comparison to companies such as Bank of America, Comcast, AT&T, and other gaming companies such as Gamestop and Sony. This title has been reserved for some of the most shady, corrupt, and morally discerning corporations around, such as banks and oil companies, but news reports by Kotaku and forum threads like the one on NeoGAF have encouraged gamers to vote for EA as one of the worst companies of 2012. Previous winners of this online poll have ignored their title and continued with their agendas, but EA, on the other hand, have commented on their award, saying:

“We’re sure that British Petroleum, AIG, Philip Morris, and Halliburton are all relieved they weren’t nominated this year. We’re going to continue making award-winning games and services played by more than 300 million people worldwide.”

Many gamers and gaming journalists have denounced the successful campaign of giving EA this title. Some are complaining that Bank of America deserved the title because of their previous scandals and hidden charges while others are criticizing participating voters as “butthurt” over the recent controversies. Even with this title and the current buzz surrounding it, does it really matter?

The short answer: no.

EA is one of the biggest gaming corporations on the planet with many million-seller franchises such as Madden, FIFA, and Battlefield. The vocal gaming community makes only a small fraction of their sales even if they finally decide to boycott their games (which they won’t seeing their past history of boycotts). The millions of consumers who do not follow gaming or the Consumerist will continue to buy EA’s games without any concerns.

With this in mind, why would EA care about some random website’s online poll and why do people bother in trying to defend them?

Some of them will argue that other corporations deserved to win more than EA, such as runner-up company Bank of America. Their history of raising interests rates at random and being a cause of the 2008 economic crisis by giving mortgages to people who aren’t economically stable enough to handle them are big factors in being one of the worst corporations in the United States, but again, why does this competition matter?

The Consumerist’s competition was nothing more than a [un]popularity contest decided by everyone who goes to the site. It was a way to gain more hits for the site, and, with the current controversy with EA, they have succeeded. If online polls have this much of a meaning, does this mean that Launchpad McQuack is the greatest gaming sidekick of all time, even with most of the votes coming from 4chan and Reddit viewers trying to troll everyone?

The majority of the people who voted for EA probably realize the horrendous things that the other companies have done in the past and realize that they’re more fitting for the title. Their main goal with this poll hijack was to troll EA and their fanbase as well as (for those who think this poll actually mattered) to show people of the shady business practices EA does with their games. The people who think this competition is going to make any sort of difference are delusional, and the people who find EA’s new title from some website as a serious detriment need to calm down.

EA and their fanbase have been trolled by the gaming community and fell for it by acknowledging it. Even if it was just a simple comment trying to defend themselves, making a big deal over something as trivial as an online poll is ridiculous, and the gaming press and fanboys are not making anything better by defending (or in internet terms, “white knighting”) them. Other corporations that have won the title have ignored it and continued to be successful with their businesses, but EA failed to realize their stance in the game industry and now everyone is making a big deal over nothing.

In conclusion: you got trolled. Move on.

SSX: It’s Lacking Something

 

 

The rebooted SSX has been met with acclaim from both critics and fans, being praised for its addictive gameplay and well integrated online features – and rightly so.

By taking advantage of technology that powered EA’s ‘Autolog’ system in Need for Speed, RiderNet allows a seamless online experience that provides a constant challenge for players, with constantly updated times and scores inviting players to beat their rivals across the game. A global challenge system allows players to join open events which reward faster times on a predetermined drop with higher amounts of in-game cash, without the need for potentially laborious lobby loading or issues with latency.

It is indeed a novel idea, one that has led to many extended play sessions since I purchased the game. Similar to hot lapping a track in GT5 or Forza, the progression felt through shaving a few hundredths of a second off a personal best is something I find addictive and enthralling. This, coupled with a huge amount of content; whether that being drops, events, or the afore-mentioned global challenges that allow asynchronous online play, it is a game that you’d be hard pressed to criticise for being overpriced.

However there feels like there is something missing in the package overall, something which many may view as unnecessary, but one that I feel is a ridiculous oversight – and that is simultaneous online play.

 

 

A key staple in almost every suitable game these days (and often provided anyway irrespective of aptness) online play feels absolutely perfect for this type of game. While many may question it’s necessity when a capable system is already in place, it also isn’t hard to view its omission as a glaring oversight on EA’s part.

The Global Events that are provided serve their purpose, but do little to actually provide a sense of competition – overall leaderboards are replaced with brackets which only highlight key times. Whereas a lack of simultaneous play could be somewhat forgiven (although, I’m sure the reasoning for it’s absence would be interesting to hear), it seems like a leaderboard system is almost demanded in a title of this sort and it feels detrimental to the whole experience when it’s absence is so blatent.  While the game does push the fact that global events are ‘live’, current competition is shown as a collection of ghosts moving around the mountain at different paces, which a player will be hard pressed to see on any given run – and will likely ignore anyway, with the player only invested in events happening via their input.

While this provides a better focus on securing the best times possible, it also limits any number of events that can occur during well implemented simultaneous multiplayer. There is no good start gained by learning from an opponent, nor is there the tension of numerous players attempting a risky manoeuvre in to a shortcut at a seconds notice, and the nature of SSX’s multi-faceted courses provides sufficient backbone for such spontaneity (various lines are presented with some faster than others – different areas open up across levels of verticality, while some tracks provide blind drops resulting in death). Even an option to race down a mountain from a set start with friends is absent, unless you want to sit with a party on XBL and choreograph a simultaneous drop.

Just like Forza 4  and other titles have been praised for their leaderboard integration, one of the things that keeps players coming back is a competitive environment to race simultaneously, with the ability to chat to rivals and yet this is absent here as well, and this is absolutely baffling – there is no reason why these two types of play cannot co-exist, nor is it necessarily right that one should be absent over the other.

The  ‘Trick It’ mode (which allows each drop to be used as a playground for combining ludicrous stunts which calculate to an overall score) thankfully feels suited to the existing style of online.

RiderNet in conjunction with Global Challenges is by no means a bad thing, in fact I’d love to see more developers take a hint and integrate asynchronous online – providing rivalry between friends on a wider scale.  But when your primary ‘Race-It’ mode simply exists as some sort of global time trial, a time trial which lacks basic functions like a leaderboard (apart from friends) or even positional placement, any sense of intense rivalry ultimately feels dropped from the game, something at odds with the whole ethos of the experience.

As such, it’s hard not to feel like SSX is a few features short.

The Playstation Vita – A Brief Rant

[Occasionally this author likes to rant about video gaming, or specifically how he's finding the latest releases. But with a season of nothing at present, he's decided to shout about the PSV instead.]

 

In the tender weeks that have enveloped this gaming drought, there have been several stories. We’ve had the Xbox 720 rumors, and the Wii U talk, alongside the typical talk that accompanies such a period in gaming.

But we’ve also had the PlayStation Vita, Sony’s latest handheld invention, and it’s somewhat muted reception  in it’s native Japan. Across numerous message boards posters have been sounding the death knells for this young machine. But are we being hasty? Are we jumping the figurative gun?

Continue reading

Skyward Sword1

Gunpoint: Celda 2

 

Before the Powers-That-Be shuttered me off to a column so I couldn’t do any real damage, I wrote a first draft of a review for The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. It sounded quite a bit more negative than I had intended, and I’d also managed to explain absolutely nothing about the game. Not to mention the damn thing was 1,000 words shorter than the eventual final draft which appears on the site.

In the interest of keeping things somewhat positive, I left out some of the smaller negatives and shortened a handful of my ravings. So, in no particular order, here are the (not so) fun parts.

Continue reading

WTF Japanese Developers

Japanese Developers: WTF Happened?!

Let’s go back to a simpler time: the ’90s. The SNES (or Super Famicom in Japan) has just launched in Japan and Nintendo is on top of the world. The SNES only launched with two games: Super Mario World and F-Zero. SEGA’s 16-bit console the MegaDrive (or Genesis in North America) has already been going strong for almost two years. The “16-Bit Wars” were already off to a raging start. Back in the days of MC Hammer and parachute pants, Japanese developers were the leaders in video games. Nintendo, SEGA, and even Hudson dominated the market. Other companies such as Atari, Philips, and later Sony would try to make a dent in the market but only Sony managed to do it. The vast majority of Western game developers stuck to the PC as their platform of choice for games. Besides Nintendo and SEGA dropping classics like pennies, third-party companies like Squaresoft, Capcom, and Konami were delivering experiences that still top almost all of their efforts in the present day.

Continue reading

My Xbox Live Account was Hacked and Now I’m Disgruntled with Microsoft

I admit it. Of all the consoles this generation, the 360 is my favorite. I prefer its exclusives over those on competing consoles, I think the Xbox 360 controller is the most comfortable ever made, far outclassing Sony’s DualShock 3, and I prefer the ease of use and features of Xbox Live to the competition. But, I am also well aware of the Xbox 360’s failings, such as Microsoft’s abandonment of the core market in favor of positioning Kinect front and center of its development and marketing focus, the lack of first party exclusives outside of Kinect titles, Forza Motorsport and annual Halo releases, the hardware issues, which are just about gone now but were still a significant problem throughout the first few years of its life and the Xbox Live fees…which actually has a lot to do with what I’m writing about today.

Continue reading