Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Fall of the Champ

I remember someone once said that ‘it was better to be thought a Tyrant and for it to be a lie than to be thought a fool and for it to be true’. Once upon a time Blizzard was the champion, the unstoppable force, the invincible juggernaut; those days are gone and they are unlikely to return. In this though they are not alone, Bioware, Sony, Nintendo, Square Enix, and a few others were considered the very elite of their respective game makers. Some companies rewrite themselves, while others become something else entirely, rising from the ruins of former studios almost as if they were the mythical phoenix. And if these companies aren’t what they used to be it’s because of one thing and one thing only, gamers.

I bought Diablo III. Day one, midnight launch, the whole shebang for a game that, to be honest, doesn’t mean much more to me than being a solid dungeon crawler. I bought it to play with my friends and to just play a really solid PC game. Blizzard in its infinite wisdom has decided to make the game persistent online, which is to say no cheating, no hacks, and no piracy. It’s a big issue these days in PC land as the internet grows older and online gaming speeds reach higher and higher, but you wouldn’t notice it from all the whining on the internet. I suppose it’s no big surprise, people want what they want for as cheap as they can get it. It’s why we play the lottery, why sales work, it’s even part of the American Dream. On various message boards and forums around the watering hole gamers have taken Blizzard to task for trying to protect their game. Do they have some legitimate concerns? Of course they do, but for the most part the complaints are little more than sour grapes. And I understand people don’t like change, but every now and then it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s like the movie industry, instead of embracing the internet and using it to further profits they ignore it unless they feel someone is stealing money from them. This is the 21st century, how is it that the movie industry doesn’t have day one rentals of movies that are in theatres on the internet? Someone couldn’t make a secure site to show streaming movies for a fee without the capability to download? Like the movie industry the gaming industry is trying to gain a second avenue for revenue. Akin to the DVD market the sale of DLC could be as big to the gaming industry as DVD sales are to the movie industry. Rather than see downloadable content as what it could be, a way to get value for a game after purchase, gamers view it with suspicion and conspiracy theories as if the market would support something that gamers don’t want.

In the end no one stays on top forever boxers retire, kings die, civilizations fall, it is inevitable. Gamers will vote with their wallets and the market will make any and all corrections it deems necessary. I for one hope that when the dust finally settles gamers and the companies that they support will have a slightly better understanding of what makes each other tick, we’d all be the better for it.

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