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Jumping the Shark Podcast #111

No High Scores

Awaiting you on this week’s Jumping the Shark, it’s a whole lot of court intrigue as Bill dons a crown for Crusader Kings 2 and changes world history. If you were ever curious to know how King Harald of Norway could have erased England from the map, this is your show. If you never wanted to know how that might’ve happened, then you need to take some time to yourself and really think about your place in the world and why you lack an inquisitive nature. Just say’n. But, hey, if it’s just not gonna happen for you with this game then Brandon’s got you covered with tons of thoughts on the new Mass Effect 3 demo. We also spend some time making fun of the ridiculous amount of DLC items in the game. Good times.

On a couple of quick house-keeping notes: As Brandon noted on the show, the ever-overworked Danielle is officially taking a hiatus from the podcast. You’ll still be able to read her voice here at the site, but for the time being you’ll have to live with JtS being a Brandon, Bill, and Todd affair. We are all very sad. Also, since we’re no longer a Gameshark podcast, and my editing time isn’t compensated, Brandon has stepped up in a big way by volunteering to edit the show every other week. He’s a real peach, that guy. (Seriously. Editing the show nearly every single weekend for two years wears on you, so Brandon allowing me a weekend off every other week is a godsend that’ll help keep the ball rolling.) This is important to note for this week’s show because I put in an outtake from last week’s recording that Brandon didn’t have access to. I probably should have left it to the disappear into the ether, but I liked it too much. So, when you hear references to Diablo 3 in the outtakes, take your mind back to episode #110. It’ll all make sense.

As always, enjoy the show!

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Past Episodes
Edit Type: Skype
(The embedded feed is included after the break.)

Jumping the Shark Podcast #110

No High Scores

With Danielle off surfing (not the web, mind you, actual surfing), Jumping the Shark #110 lets us boys run wild. There are kegs and strippers, a fire truck, and I think someone brought a donkey in the room at one point. (Kudos to you if that reference makes any kind of sense at all.) Once we get to down business, though, it’s all business. Bill tells Brandon and I that we’re stupid for liking Elder Sign so much. It’s a brutal evisceration that should be reserved for people that like Fran Drescher’s laugh. Fortunately for us, he had to interrupt the beating so he could send some disgruntlement in the direction of Kingdoms of Amalur. Brandon thinks The Darkness II is just ducky. And I put on my best Concern Troll mask and work through my discomfort with the Diablo 3 beta experience. All that and so much more awaits you this week on JTS!

iTunes Link
Past Episodes
Edit Type: Skype
(The embedded feed is included after the break.)


Are Used Games Really Killing the Game Industry?

We love to pound on tables and shake our collective fists when a DRM story pops up online. Usually a big company says that it needs DRM to protect its IP from thieves, and we counter with “Wow, that’s some Grade A bullshit!” or something equally witty. Pirating is bad. DRM isn’t the answer. That’s my position, anyway.

The other push button issue is the idea that used games are killing the game industry. Between used games and DRM it’s a wonder we have any games to play at all.

The latest “salvo” of sorts comes from Volition — developer of the totally straight laced and conformist Saints Row series.  Here’s an interesting series of quotes from Volition design director Jameson Durall writing at  #AltDevBlogADay

“Most Game Developers will agree that the Used Games market is significantly impacting the revenue we receive.   I think what most consumers don’t realize is that every time they buy a used game, there is ZERO money making it back to the Game Developers.  All of those profits are going directly to the re-seller and making it more and more difficult for us to continue making higher quality products.”

I think most consumers very much understand that. We’re not idiots. We just don’t care.  I think that’s also secondary to the fact that most new games cost $59.99 and people are looking to save a little cash whenever they can. Does Durall actually think that the number of people buying used games give a damn about anything else other than saving 10 bucks on a game–one that if it’s buggy or just plain sucks cannot be returned for a refund? $59.99 for Homefront is some bullshit, no? We’re just supposed to take a company’s word that a game is super special?

Here’s where things really go off the rails:

“There’s another big rumor about the next Xbox console that could really start to shake things up…it won’t play used games at all!  Personally I think this would be a fantastic change for our business and even though the consumers would be up in arms about it at first…they will grow to understand why and that it won’t kill them.”

It won’t kill them? Well, no, it won’t do that. But it will piss off a legion of gamers and I was always taught that riling up your retail base was never a terribly good idea. Those same gamers who are selling games used are also buying games new.  How about this? How about instead of trying to figure out a way to screw a gamer out of saving 5 or 10 bucks – why not stop spending a gabillion dollars advertising shitty games and trying to pawn them off to the public as being more than what they really are? How about lowering the price of these 60 dollar time wasters?

“In the end, I fully believe that we have to do something about these issues or our industry is going to fall apart.  People often don’t understand the cost that goes into creating these huge experiences that we put on the shelves for only $60.”

Only $60. Yeah, ok. Must be nice living in that world – a world where rolling the dice on a $60 piece of software is no big deal. Let’s call that “Durall World”. The game industry is not dying due to used games. There are companies dying due to bad business decisions and sinking crazy development money into bad projects and advertising gaffes.

It’s not the guy buying Madden for $45 at GameStop.

Anyway, why should games be held to a different standard than any other industry? Used cars?  Ford didn’t get jack squat when I sold my old Tempo. Books? Music? Movies? What makes Saints Row special? If I buy a game for $60 (or $20 or whatever) I should be able to sell that game to whomever I wish – and developers should stay the hell out of my business. Speaking of that — didn’t GameStop also buy those copies from THQ?

 At that point, isn’t it sort of fair game?

Calendar Man – Week of 2/6

No High Scores

Finally some new games!

Honestly, I don’t know why I’m complaining about a lack of new games. I mean, I still have a ton of stuff to do in Skyrim and Assassins Creed: Revelations is sitting there, unplayed, staring at me all mopey-eyed. What do I care if there’s nothing new to play?

Oh right, because I have to write something every week telling you about the new games coming out this week. This week has supernatural shooting in two flavors, courtesy of Darkness II and Resident Evil: Revelations as well as some open-world RPGing courtesy of Amalur. There are some other nuggets in there too, so let’s get to it…

New Releases
First up is The Darkness II (360, PS3, PC), a game I’ve been playing since last week. The embargo is still in effect so I don’t know how much I can go into it, but I can tell you that I am enjoying my time with it immensely.  I have to figure out how much of that is due to it being a good game and not the general enjoyment that comes from rending a man asunder but that’s not something I have to worry about until I go to write the review. Speaking of which, I probably should do that.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (360, PS3, PC) is a game that intrigues me, even if my interest in it doesn’t extend to getting off of my fat ass and playing the demo. I’m interested to see how it reviews. New IPs are a hard sell in this business, especially something as generically named as Amalur and folks seem to be evenly split on the demo.

Resident Evil: Revelations provides a reason to play my 3DS but that would also require me to play a Resident Evil game and that’s not going to happen. There are too many RE-specific conventions that I just don’t like and I’ve played enough RE games to know it. I did play this one at E3 last year and it was pretty, but it’s also Resident Evil which, as I understand it, is kind of the point. I can’t blame a game for being what it’s supposed to be. I can just choose not to play it.

The Jak & Daxter Collection comes out this week, continuing the tradition of remastering popular PS2 games, bundling them up and selling them for a steal. I’d love to see how Naughty Dog made games in the pre-Uncharted era so I’ll definitely keep this game on the list of games to grab when I hit the summer doldrums. The Sly collection filled that gap nicely last year.

Finally, the Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition is out (360, PS3, PC), brimming with all of the various DLC bits and bobs. I tried playing this game, put in about 8 hours and then quit because it was boring and I didn’t care about who shot my character. I assuming he’s still wandering the desert, searching for a courier or a can of beans or whatever stupid quest I left him on.

Toys R Us – Get a free $10 gift card with purchase of Darkness II or RE: Revelations. Get a free $20 gift card with the purchase of a Wii. Get a free $25 gift card with purchase of a 360 4GB Kinect Bundle. Buy Just Dance 3 for the Wii and get any $49.99 Wii game at 40% off. Get Once Upon A Monster for $14.99. Get LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean (360, PS3) for $19.99. Get Minute to Win It, Spiderman: Edge of Time or Kinectimals with FAO Schwarz Bear for $29.99. Get Goldeneye 007 Reloaded or The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword for $39.99. Get Batman: Arkham City for $44.99. Get Battlefield 3 or AC: Revelations for $49.99.

Target – Get a free $50 gift card with purchase of 250GB Kinect bundle. Get a free DualShock controller with purchase of 160GB PS3. Get MW3 for $49.99.

Best Buy – Get Just Dance 3, The Black Eyed Peas Experience, Kinect Sports or Dance Central for $29.99. Get Gears of War 3 or CoD: Black Ops for $39.99. Get a 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscription for $39.99.

KMart – Get Halo Anniversary Edition or Disney Universe for $29.99. Get Batman: AC, AC: Revelations, NBA 2K12 or WWE 12 for $39.99. Get MW3 for $49.99.