EpicBattleCry - Skirmish 233: Clipped Below

Prepare for a real load as team EBC discusses the future of digital content distribution and the associated risks and rewards for gamers. Plus, Xbox Originals announced, Nintendo’s E3 plans, Mad Max moves to 2015 and so much more on this digitally-distributed episode of gaming’s most brutal video podcast!

 

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GAUNTLET:

TOPIC: THE DIGITAL DIVIDE - With more and more games being acquired via digital download and retail outlets like GameStop shifting their focus away from physical discs, we discuss what will happen to gamers who build up more and more of a virtual library. Is there cause for concern regarding content access as Sony and Microsoft release new platforms? What types of services are in place to ensure access to purchased content? We discuss the digital divide on this downloadable edition of gaming’s most brutal video podcast!

GameStop to Close 120 Stores, Sets Focus on Mobile, Apple Stores

BATTLECRIES:

MEMBER:  Ivan

I wonder about the future of video games...while each past generation was marked by graphical leaps.  We can all remember walking passed an EB Games (Gamestop) or Best Buy and seeing a PS1, Dreamcast, or 360 and staring in awe.  The PS4and XBOX1 have not had a great graphical leap as compared to the past generations; worse yet, the marketplace and market buzz stir around games currently available on last gen systems, are remakes/re-enhancements games available on last gen systems, or are prequels or arguably derivative of other game experiences.  And, sadly, poor AI, awkward game mechanics, and mediocre games still abound.  Perhaps my expectations are too high or the new console incubation period of creativity will last a lot longer than usual.  But I ask the question....what if it never gets better than this my brothers?... I am hopeful a hero will emerge to inspire us all beneath these wretched stars.

 

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Comment by StarBound on May 1, 2014 at 11:23am

I liked the idea of a digital future where all your content is backed up and freely available at your leisure. That was the idea of digital in my mind at least.

While it is a hassle to have physical media laying around I am a much better custodian of my own purchases than any digital provider is or ever will be if things continue like they are now. The downside is that as technology progress even those old games on PC will stop working until some kind soul gives us an emulator to replay or long past memories.

Comment by Ian - Alexander Arts on May 1, 2014 at 12:33pm

Mad Max has been ripped off by so many franchises over the years, some of the most obvious being the game Fallout and the Japanese anime Fist of the North star, that I think the game looks pretty 'same old same old.'

Its kind of like how Uncharted copied from Indiana Jones and Tomb Raider, and then the new Tomb Raider is aping Uncharted. And the most recent Indiana Jones movie couldn't even touch the quality of the Uncharted games.

Also when I was a kid I played Warcraft 2 and games based on Dungeons and Dragons. When the Lord of the Rings movies came out I finally realized where all these games ripped their ideas from, but at the same time it didn't feel quite as impressive as it might have. (Those movies were still awesome though.) Now I feel like EVERY fantasy franchise has the Human, Elf, Dwarf dynamic and it just keeps getting more boring.

Funny how pop-culture can go in cycles until it feels like the original material becomes the copy-cat.

Comment by Hoder Jensen on May 1, 2014 at 2:02pm

It can't be easy to be a developer these days. If they release a game to early, people always wonder why they didn't push it back. But if they push back a game, to improve upon it, it's often also ridiculed.

I believe Sony and Evolution Studios did the right thing, by pulling the handbrake and pushing back Driveclub. I tried Driveclub back in September last year and while it was beautiful and felt like a good game, it didn't fire up my nitros.

If Evolution Studios didn't feel like they had a touring champion, they had no other choice. Also I believe they have to really floor it, because lots of PS4 owners will get the PS+ edition for free, so they can't hide this one in the garage.

One thing is for sure, I'm looking forward to trying out Driveclub PS+ edition and maybe upgrading to the full edition, if it offers that special drive.

Comment by Michael Petco on May 1, 2014 at 7:55pm

Nintendo, you are damned if you do and you are damned if you don't.

I try not to put too much weight into what you guys think, and I often don't let it bother me but it seems like there's been quite a bit of negativity sent Nintendo's way in the last two EBCs. I'm not going to try and change your minds about what Nintendo has done lately and their plans at E3 but if it does, well that would make me happy. 

The last 3 Nintendo Directs have been, for lack of  less hyperbolic words, fucking amazing. I am of course referring to the Super Smash Bros. Direct, the Tomodachi Life Direct and the Mario Kart 8 direct. Each and every one of them was unique, strange, fun, informative and to be honest, a return to form for Nintendo. Including the Mega 64 video detailing their E3 plans, Nintendo is back to their wacky and weird ways in the vein of classic Nintendo of the 90's era. They know their market rather well actually; we are gamers and for those of us who aren't too proud to admit that we are essentially playing with interactive toys, we like to be silly, laugh and enjoy ourselves without being so damn serious all the time. 

Nintendo's E3 plans make quite a bit of sense; and it's unfair you guys aren't giving them the benefit of the doubt. Sure, I'll admit last years direct was not the best, as their stream wasn't solid and buffered way to much to be enjoyed to the fullest. But, when they first hit the stage for a live conference back at spaceworld, things didn't always go as planned, and even  many conferences later, presentations always felt stale despite improvements. Talking sales(whether good or bad) is boring and that's something they filter out with directs. Last year was a learning experience and Nintendo didn't do it's best, and I'm 100% sure they will remedy this by utilizing Twitch, Youtube and UStream for any live presentation to help mitigate all the traffic. Also, if you haven't noticed, they've listened to complaints that were directed at their presentations. No more Iwata in front of a white screen talking and explaining games. Nintendo doesn't run away after making a mistake, they try again. They'll be streaming, live from their treehouse setup the entire day, showing off a ton of videogames, on their own, without the need for journalists. You will be getting all of this DIRECTLY from Nintendo employees. Not only that, they'll be hosting a 16 player Smash Bros tournament, featuring some of the top ranked players from the US, and you'll be able to get your hands on the game for yourselves at Best Buy if you choose; how is there a negative in this? It baffles me how something that no other company is doing can be perceived as negative when they're giving you more, not less. 

That's that! Hope this somewhat made you see Nintendo's plans in a more positive light. 

Comment by Esteban Manriquez on May 1, 2014 at 8:23pm

We are all screwed.

The list of reasons why the future of digital distribution is bad just doesn't seem to click for the most part. Your trading everything that makes games timeless for the convenience of not having to leave your house. There is no thought put into the future or archival of games offered through the digital age. No one is thinking long term or if there will be a way to access the games they own past their purchases. Even now we are seeing games stricken from the digital ether never to be seen again due to licensing issues (i.e. Deadpool was less than a year old before it disappeared forever digitally ), with no game  immune from some sort of expired license. Then you have companies that go under, IP's being sold or shelved, no longer profitable, reliant on certain software specs, and on and on and on....

The leap in technology is being overshadowed by the enormous leap back to the stone age of sustained availability, its just that nobody noticed. Games have been delisted at an alarmingly faster rate than any other previous generation. Hell even the Wii was not immune to the delisting of titles. This becomes even scarier when you factor in the poor shelf life that most of the hardware necessary to play your digital back catalog. My work horse of a PS3 is not going to be as in pristine working condition to be toted out for a trip down memory lane like some old NES consoles. Hardware just doesn't last like it used to. Think about the changes made to a computers architecture, will usb still be used/accessable or what about readable disc drives? I own games on floppy discs or outdated operating systems that are pretty much useless and I can see similar hurdles as tech evolves. Sure some games will be rereleased but it'll cost you even if you still have a previous working version on older hardware.

Hate to burst Brent's bubble but DRM hasn't been abolished. It has become an acceptable common place standard that will only thrive as the activity grows, just the name has been changed to Digital Distribution. All that DRM was supposed to combat or control is done so with digital distribution and no one seems to make the connection. Everything is locking to an account or is being locked to devices curtailing all of the activity that DRM wished to achieve. It has become the norm and with people already making it viable it won't be too long before the consumer is no more than persistent subscription cash cow.

Comment by Averagus on May 2, 2014 at 2:00am

Briefly on Ivan's battlecry, I want to agree with what he is saying but I have said the same thing the last two generations. I was totally unimpressed by the initial 360 and even PS3 releases and even on a HD TV, I didn't see what the big deal was until I saw the BioShock and COD4 demos. Ditto for the PS2 until I saw GTAIII and Rogue Leader on the GameCube. I know that in both these examples the games did indeed look much better but I still felt underwhelmed at the time.

This time may be different with both the Xbone and the PS4 using x86 and current PC tech already outpacing both systems. It will totally depend on the kind of exclusives both systems bring.

On the main topic:

Microsoft and Sony both kicked a massive own goal, not just for not including backwards compatibility but for not even letting content licenses for games to transfer. I have bought a fair few games on both the PS3 and 360 and I'm not at all pleased they don't carry over. I'm not sure how many games that were available for 360/PS3 have been released on the Bone/PS4 but if they have, and people who bought them on the last console can't access them - forgetaboutit. There is absolutely no reason why this can't happen and even Nintendo has allowed it though not in the most ideal way. On this same issue, I'm absolutely sick of people defending this sort of thing.

Even Steam isn't perfect and part of me wants to own physical copies of games like Plants Vs. Zombies. I actually have a disc of Super Meat Boy with an unused code. I've generally stopped buying physical media for PC because they pretty much all come with Steam Codes now and even the boxes aren't as elaborate as they used to be. I still feel a lot more confident about my Steam library than I do about anything I have on my Live and PSN accounts though.

Comment by Bart Spits on May 2, 2014 at 4:47am

@Michael Petco
That has been bugging me for a while. It's not just EBC it is a trend in the media. And it's not just ostracising whatever Nintendo does. It is also the free passes given to their competition.

It's similar to how a game like Titanfall gets so much hype. There is so much marketing involved that it gets all sorts of free passes. Meanwhile a game like Tribes:Ascend albeit a different flavor, did most things better. You actually had a server browser, you have more mobility, more modes that worked better, there is more excitement in a match, more customizability etc. I would say overall it is the better quality game but the media basically ignored that game and dealt with it sincerely. Unlike Titanfall because hardly a soul dared to mention that it doesn't even have a server browser. WTF.

So to the media in general: I suppose because there aren't enough people clicking on it. I understand that. But don't give the hyped triple A stuff a free pass just because you have to ride the excitement to get the clicks. A sincere opinion will always be more appreciated in the long run.

Newspapers used to question politicians. Nowadays they merely quote them. I don't think that there is anybody reading newspapers who favored that transition, except of course the politicians. Don't let that happen to gaming.

Comment by THLINK on May 2, 2014 at 5:52am

I agree, the graphical leap this gen is minor.

Just saw the trailer for Call of Duty Advance Warfare.

This looks barely better than the best looking 360 games like Crysis 3 or Halo4.

Comment by Lance Latham on May 2, 2014 at 7:28am

Regarding the negativity towards Nintendo, I'd be curious to hear from other pro-Nintendo members about how they view the company. I myself have a very dusty Wii siting alongside my equally dusty Kinect 1.0. All plugged in of course, just never switched on. It's not that I hate the Wii or don't have any games to play on it. I have just found more compelling titles on my other platforms. I loved the Wii when that was the only thing in my apartment. But after I hooked up the 360 and saw the possibilities that console had to offer, I was sold. The Wii became that second console and I kinda just forgot about what Nintendo was doing. Not in a way that suggested to me they were going to go the way of the dodo. In fact I believe they are providing content, services, and hardware to entertain their fans. Maybe their new initiatives in non-gaming centered health related areas will open the door for new customers to discover all that is Nintendo. I mean, come on, they were first in the business of making playing cards. What's to stop them from going in a new direction all together?

It also seems to me that they are going through a bit of an identity crisis, similar to how I feel M$ is behaving recently. But who hasn't been through that a few times in their life? Shit is changing on the landscape of interactive entertainment. The name of the game is moolah and everyone is just trying to see how and where they can get more.

Well, one more comment. I seriously thought the new Smash Brothers was already out. I thought these "new character announcements" were ones being uploaded to rosters around the globe. That title has been talked about ad-nauseum for what seems like two years, maybe more. That and the Zelda WiiU. No offense WiiU owners, but I am glad I did not buy a console on the hopes that I'd get to play that game. Still not out and I woulda been piiiiiiiissed.

Comment by Deking on May 2, 2014 at 1:05pm

Omg i laughed so hard this episode

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