On the surface, nothing seems out of place or wrong with the gaming economy. According to the some blogs like Strategic Business Blog (1), the global industry is set to hit $64 billion in 2012 thanks to the high prices and sales of technology.
But underneath lies webs of controversy tangling gamers everywhere with doubt and frustration, and many gamers and experts say that the gaming businesses may suffer due to corporate practices used by companies like Capcom and Electronic Arts (EA) that are driving away most of their fan-base and causing controversy, such as withholding content already on the disc and then selling it.
While the economy of gaming may be improving according to those reports, some gamers are left unable to buy due to practices used by companies like Capcom and EA. Enrique Rodriguez, 21 and Biology major in college, is one of the gamers hurt by this, though not entirely discouraged.
However many gamers want to reminisce about the days of old when gaming was simple, some remain in the present, and are happy with the advances video games have achieved.
And pain knows not only consumers, as companies are actually suffering from these turn of events rather than being helped by them, according to reactions of press releases on the sides of Capcom and EA.
EA currently has problems with BioWare’s latest game, Mass Effect 3, thanks to an ending many fans of the trilogy are considering horrible, rushed, comes from out of nowhere, and full of plot-holes. A movement called “Retake Mass Effect” has put EA into a tight spot.
Sales for Mass Effect 3 have slowed down by a large margin, despite it being at the top of the sales chart in March, according to an article at the International Business Times (2). And recently, a price-drop has been issued by Best Buy and Amazon to try to entice buyers all over again, cutting the game’s price by a small amount. Gamestop did not do so until recently for its weekend sale during April 25 – May 1.
“There are other gaming companies that at least try to make up for their mistakes,” Enrique said. “The 3DS launch for instance. Nintendo gave original buyers of it before the price-drop 23 free games. $100 value right there!”
And Electronic Arts did address this problem in their latest press release (3).
“We are all incredibly proud of Mass Effect 3 and the work done by Casey Hudson and team,” said Dr. Ray Muzyka , Co-Founder of BioWare and General Manager of EA’s BioWare Label. “Since launch, we have had time to listen to the feedback from our most passionate fans and we are responding. With the Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut we think we have struck a good balance in delivering the answers players are looking for while maintaining the team’s artistic vision for the end of this story arc in theMass Effectuniverse.
However, fans on video game forums on websites such as Gamefaqs or Angry Joe Show were not satisfied entirely, as the Extended-Cut only explains the ending fans had despised, rather than give them the ending they want.
In fact, the entire ordeal has made the image of EA even worse. Fans are still pushing for the ending they were promised, as Bioware, the makers of the game, promised that all of the decisions made during the course of the three-part game would impact the ending in great detail, and not promise an ending that was a simple A, B, and C style, which was the final result of the game (4).
“A game company can decide to do what they want to do with their content, but not making a fresh game instead shelling out the same mass-produced garbage over and over again is disappointing,” said Julie Dull, 22 and employee of a local game store and Temple University student.
EA’s online passes have also received equal negative backlash, by forcing buyers of a used game to pay extra to gain online functionality for their game. The negative controversy from EA’s actions has earned them an award from The Consumerist as “Worst Company in America.”
“The game industry seems to be devolving as it’s evolving,” said Dull. “And with online play comes more downloadable content…Game companies virtually forcing online play is diabolically genius.”
Experts in the field of reviewing games and company policies also suffer from these effects, no matter how many videos or articles they can come up with. And if no one buys the games anymore, making reviews of it will be pointless.
“If nobody is going to buy the new games, then there is hardly any point in doing a review,” said Symon Goro, 21 and a game reviewer on Gamefaqs. “And I can’t recommend a game with a bad DLC policy to somebody at full price.”
The elimination of used games already has gamers being more cautious and distrustful, and if no money goes into the games, then everyone suffers as a result. And everyone in the world cannot afford full priced games, especially when content is also forced through DLC.
And Capcom has not made things better.
On February 2012, Capcom announced that sales for the 9 months in 2011 decreased 29%, though other sales that included Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Dead Rising 2: Off the Record managed to fare well enough in the states.
On the other hand, fans are not pleased with results of some of the questionable things Capcom has done recently and in the past, such as the cancellation of Megaman Legends 3 or the Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 expansion that gives the players very little and was released nine months ahead of time, and the latest news with Street Fighter X Tekken for home consoles.
The latest news with the game is that stored content that was already on the disc, and Capcom planned on selling those very characters as DLC. The PSP Vita version on the other hand included those very characters on the disc, leaving Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners angered.
Capcom responded to their complaints and stated in a reply message (5), “While Capcom is sorry that some of its fans are not happy about the chosen method of delivery for the DLC, we believe that this method will provide more flexible and efficient gameplay throughout the game’s lifecycle. There is effectively no distinction between the DLC being ”locked” behind the disc and available for unlocking at a later date, or being available through a full download at a later date, other than delivery mechanism.”
Others argue against Capcom’s statement however.
“It’s incredibly cheap and lazy to lock content on the disc and force us to pay extra and wait months for something that should be there from the beginning,” Goro said. “That’s like buying a sandwich and finding you have to pay extra for the toppings.”
And the after effects of some of these practices are hurting stores in other countries. According to an article on IGN, in the UK, Gamestop and Best Buy stores are already closing from lack of sales. The digital age that is coming, where consumers can now go online, is also not helping matters for smaller stores.
Frank Stancheck Jr., 32, and as both an employee of Classic Game Junkie and as a gamer, does express concern with his customers.
“The customers are hurt more than retailers,” Stancheck said. “And they sometimes avoid the games those companies produce as much as possible.”
Stancheck remains optimistic however.
“We don’t just stock new games,” Stancheck proudly said. “We also repair consoles, and technology is always going to need to get fixed. I also try to steer customers in games that may suit their interest, even if they are old and cheap. Even if you get a small sale, you may get a customer for life.”
And only time can tell what will happen in the future. Given the circumstances and reactions/opinions left unheard by companies, that future looks very bleak.
Many gamers want to reminisce about the days of old when gaming was simple, while are happy with the advances video games have achieved. While some wear smiles, and others make their voices known on the internet, there is a guarantee that change is coming.
- BioWare Announces Mass Effect 3: Extended Cut: http://investor.ea.com/releases.cfm