"Soy Un Perdedor." Why has that song been stuck in my head all week? Perhaps because there's a lot of losing going on in the games industry. Just take a look at this week's headlines!
Capcom Loses Its Mind
We've been suspicious of Capcom's sanity for a while now, but this latest statement takes the cake. As part of Capcom's strategy to become a more global company, it is pushing for strong global sales of its upcoming fantasy action RPG, Dragon's Dogma. Producer Hideaki Itsuno went so far as to tell the press that he was aiming for ten million in sales from the game. Ten million? Those are Call of Duty numbers, not the kind of sales one can reasonably expect for any new IP. They are also numbers that one would expect from a game with a stronger global promotional campaign than we've seen for Dragon's Dogma so far. I guess we'll see if Dragon's Dogma turns out to be a sales miracle, or if I'm right and Capcom is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
Fans Lose Their Cool, Retake Mass Effect
By many accounts, Mass Effect 3 is a fabulous game with a frustratingly unclear final five minutes. The game's ending angered some fans so much that they banded together in a "Retake Mass Effect" movement to get BioWare's attention. The movement even held a charity drive that raised over $30,000 for the Child's Play foundation.
BioWare's attention has been successfully drawn by Retake Mass Effect and other fan complaints about Mass Effect 3's ending, with the company promising to address the ending in future DLC. Dr. Ray Muzyka wrote a message to the game's fans, stating that there will be more information about the ending coming in April. Fans hoping for an ending that will better address the many choices that Shepard has made over the course of the trilogy probably shouldn't hold their breath. There's been no promise that the ending will be changed, only that it will be "clarified" in some way.
This entire controversy has stirred up a lot of questions about how the relationship of fans to gaming works. Interactive entertainment is different from fully artist-created works like novels and movies; that much we know. But do fans, even heavily invested fans who have played through a trilogy of games, have the right to demand changes to a game's story? Should a game company be brought to task if it promises one thing (in this case, a nuanced ending that reflected player choices throughout the trilogy) and delivers another, story-wise? BioWare is treading through interesting and possibly precedent-setting territory here (though we'll note that Fallout 3 also altered its ending via DLC in response to fan dissatisfaction). Will altering Mass Effect 3's ending create a happier customer base or simply breed a stronger sense of entitlement amongst gamers? It's an interesting question to ask.
U.S. Congress Loses Touch With Reality
That's nothing new when it comes to video games, of course. A new bipartisan bill aims to put warning labels on video games, similar to those found on cigarette packages. If the bill is passed, the label will say, ''WARNING: Exposure to violent video games has been linked to aggressive behavior.'' Never mind that the scientific evidence on that front remains less than conclusive, the bill calls for warning labels to be placed on any game rated E or up, whether violence is portrayed in the game or not. I rate this bill "U" for "Unlikely to Pass," but if it does, I suppose you fine folks south of the border will soon be enjoying your copies of Mario Party and Guitar Hero complete with an anti-violence warning label.
GAME Just Loses
UK game retailer GAME has officially filed for "administration" following several months of financial difficulty. There are rumors that the company could be greatly restructured, rebranded, or even taken over by another company during the administration period.
It's interesting to note that while GAME flounders, its U.S. counterpart GameStop (the companies aren't related, but share very similar retail niches in their respective countries) is doing much better. Although late 2011 sales were down from 2010's numbers, the company is still making a tidy profit. GameStop notes that it has compensated for slowing hardware sales with increased software sales, a solid focus on the company's pre-owned game business, the expansion of digital sales, and movement into mobile gaming. Will GAME manage to rise up from the ashes, rebuild its relationship with publishers, and compete successfully against discount software outlets, or is specialty game retail dead in the UK? We don't know the answer to that one yet, but it sure looks like GameStop isn't going anywhere on this side of the pond.
Date: March 23, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*