Thursday, November 7, 2013

Hey! It's time to drop $60+ again!

I think it's finally happened, maybe, if the people on the various forums I belong to are anything to go by that is. I think people are finally sick of the yearly re-hash of video games that are shoved down our throat. October of 2012 saw the release of Battlefield 3, Batman: Arkham City, and Assassin's Creed III. November saw the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Let's go back to the future kids, don't worry there is plenty of room in my Delorean. October of this year saw the release of Battlefield 4, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. Just 2 days ago, in this month of November, of the year of our Dark Lord Satin (yes I intentionally misspelled that) saw the release of Call of Duty: Ghosts. Wait! What?! Yes, I know...Mind BLOWN. It's De-Ja-Vu my friend.

Actually it's not De-Ja-Vu, it's Marketing kids. Game publisher A, puts out a game and it sells millions of copies and praised by fans and critics alike. This causes Game Publisher A to realize that if they slapped a number or new title on it and released it one year later it could possibly sell even more copies than the previous one. So, they do it, they slap a new name or a number on it, put a new coat of paint on it, and tell you it's like nothing you've ever played before. It seems wrong, it feels wrong, but we keep shelling out the $60 plus tax for essentially what could have amounted to DLC (that Downloadable Content for all you unfamiliar with the term DLC.) , and then we bitch and moan about how it's the same thing over and over, but yet, there we are on day 1 shelling out $60 plus tax because while we all have big internet voices, we have a weakness for the familiar.

So, what is the difference between 2012 and 2013? The ratings these games actually received from their fan base. Batman: Arkham City currently holds a 4 and 1/2 star user rating on Amazon across all of the platforms it is available on. Batman: Arkham Origins currently hold a 4 star rating on PS3, a 3 star rating on Xbox 360, and a 3 and a 1/2 star rating on PC. That's not really a drastic drop on the PS3 but it lost a star on PC and a star and a 1/2 on 360. Assassin's Creed IV actually improved on it's rating with it's highest rating on Xbox 360 at 4 and a 1/2 stars. So, if you were just going off those 2 it doesn't seem like the yearly racquet is doing to bad. But, let's look at our other two titles. Battlefield 3 for the base game got straight 4 stars, except on PC where it got a 3. But, the Premium edition ups that to 4 stars on PC and 4 and a 1/2 on both PS3 and 360. Battlefield 4 however only managed a 2 and a 1/2 star rating across all three platforms to go from 4 and 4 and a 1/2 down to 2 1/2 is pretty bad. Call of Duty: Black Ops II received 4 stars on 360 and PS3 and only 3 on the PC. Call of Duty: Ghosts however felt the same drop in love as Battlefield only mustering a 3 across the consoles and a mere 2 on PC.

So, you may ask "If they are technically just slapping a new coat of paint on it, why is there such a difference between last year and this year." Because, if you slap a new coat of paint on a game with flaws, rather than fixing those flaws, you end up with a really pretty but majorly broken piece of crap. The fact that Assassin's Creed managed to actually improve is amazing. I felt let down with the release of Revelations, it was all too different from Brotherhood, not just different they just crammed way too much crap into the game for it to really be enjoyable. I went from learning to recruit assassin's and play multiplayer in Brotherhood, to building bombs, trying to do atrocious tower defense crap, to trying to take over entire sections of land with assassin's I recruited, using a hook blade, trying to tear down scaffolding, and a myriad of other complicated mechanics that just took the fun out of it. Assassin's Creed III however was a breath of fresh air, I was still recruiting assassin's but their purpose felt more useful in III, being able to hunt, play random board games, manage a little colony without any real effort, and learning how to sail the seven seas was really fun, and the story was really good. But, a lot of people complained that the game felt too restrictive, and that the naval combat left a lot to be desired. Ubisoft listened and ACIV is doing really well.

Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, suffered from a lot of problems, Battlefield had maybe slightly less, but they were both bug ridden and needed a lot of patching before the games became really, really playable. Unfortunately in CoD's case more time just lead to more cheating and hacking, pretty soon multiplayer wasn't even fun anymore, it was just a bunch of 13 year olds running around with astonishing K/D's (Kill/Death ratio's for those of you not in the know). So, the list of complaints and demands grew from the fans, Activision and EA didn't listen, and they dropped an inferior product into the market that will yet again take months of patching to fix to even make them near playable. Battlefield 4 currently suffers from a long long list of ailments. Everything from game freezing, to the impossibility to find a non-full server, quickmatch is useless, game saves are erased on a regular basis, ammo magically disappears when you reload your gun (Which DICE and EA are both claiming is just a tactical realism thing and not a glitch)and people just in general are really pissed about the $60 they spent on a game that can't hold a torch to BF3. CoD is suffering from it's usual problems, the game is already hacked, and due to the fact that there currently aren't dedicated servers honest players are ending up in hacked rooms where they auto prestige on their first kill and are receiving no assistance from Infinity Ward or Activision. Bullets are one shotting people, there are more campers than a state park, the dog they made such a big deal about is only controllable for like 3 missions, dogs in Multiplayer are way overpowered, UAV's are retardedly complicated to use and not effective, Search & Destroy and CTF are gone, no one can find the pre-order bonus Free Fall map, and the new extinction mode only comes with 1 map.

That is why people are tired of this, that is why companies really need to pay attention to what the community thinks, and they should stop trying to rush these games out the door every year. Out of those 4 games there are only two that I tend to buy really close to release, if not upon release and that's AC and Batman. I didn't get Battlefield 3 until I got my PS3 on July 31st of this year, and I only got it because it was free with my PS+ membership. Black Ops II I got in January of this year. I enjoy playing multiplayer on both games I just don't like the super glitchy start they tend to have upon release. I encountered no bugs, glitches or problems with Batman: Arkham Asylum or Batman: Arkham City, and I played the hell out of them. ACIII was probably the worst of the series when it came to glitches, bugs, and problems, but I really haven't heard anything about IV being too bad.

The problem isn't just with the fact that they keep releasing unfinished games, it's once you buy it, now they are trying to reel you in to spend far more than your initial purchase. Battlefield 4 and ACIV mark the first time in a long time that the games don't come with the arbitrary Online Pass or Uplay Passport. These made buying the games used pointless before, if you bought ACIII or BF3 last year used then you probably had to pay an additional $10 to simply play online, something that is so ludicrous it's baffling. Also with the advent of the Season Pass it's become pretty much a guarantee that your once $60 dollar game has now turned into a $100 game (in the case of CoD). I purchased the Season Pass for ACIII and was happy with the investment. My $20 got me a couple new multiplayer maps, some new multiplayer characters, and a 3 part alternate reality storyline which I really enjoyed. The Season Pass for Black Ops II was a staggering $50 for maps, that's all it got you was maps, usually 3-4 multiplayer maps and 1 zombie map. Originally when Activision released Modern Warfare 3 they introduced a new program with it, that program was dubbed Elite. Elite was essentially a rip-off of the already popular Halo Waypoint, Halo Waypoint tracked stats and achievements across every Halo title you ever played, and not only was it in depth it was free. Elite would cost you $50 a year to provide you with the same kind of stat track and friend comparison that Waypoint did, but included built in Clan systems, the ability to broadcast game footage, alter your load outs when you were away from the game, and you got all DLC for MW3 for free, before anyone else. For those heavily into CoD it was a fair price to pay for all the content included. If you forked over the extra $40 early on the Hardened Edition you got a free year of Elite at a $10 discount and "exclusive" Founder Status on Elite. I beta-tested elite, it had a ton of problems which a lot of us expressed on the forums, and I even threw out suggestions. My friends convinced me to pre-order the Hardened Edition to I could make and manage a Clan, we would all play in the Clan and it would be awesome. Well when I got my copy Elite was having a serious meltdown, Clan support wasn't up and really you couldn't even redeem your Founder Status. It took 3 days for my friends to abandon MW3 and go back to Black Ops, I was kinda pissed. The to further kick me in the nuts for my extra $40 dollars they extended the "exclusive" Founder Status to anyone who signed up in the first 2 months. They also had to give all paying members a month or 2 of free Elite because they couldn't get it to function for that amount of time.

The problems with things like that are why people should feel less and less inclined to buy this garbage, and support Publishers who will nickel and dime you over every little thing. Battlefield 3 sold 5 Million copies in it's first weekend which if everyone bought a standard copy equals out to $300,000,000 in revenue for EA, Black Ops II has sold 10.72 Million world wide which equals out to over $600,000,000 in it's first year on shelves. Battlefield 4's sales figures haven't been released yet, and Activision isn't being tight lipped on the possibility of Ghosts making around $1 billion.  So, if you were looking for a reason as to why we are subjected to these iterations of last years latest and greatest year after year, the proof is in the figures. But, maybe, just maybe, with the low ratings of this years offerings people will maybe use restraint next year when the next CoD or BF come out. If that happens I think maybe EA and Activision will get the picture and maybe spend some time trying to fix their broken games instead of pawning them off on us.