Friday, August 27, 2010


So Square Enix decided to make a feature to encourage people to play the various classes available. In Final Fantasy 14 your character has 4 classes he/she can switch between. So if your group needs a melee dps/tank of some sort you can be one, switch to a healer or switch to a trade profession.

It's actually a very good idea. The bad idea comes at forcing people... no punishing people for not playing all 4 classes. SE has created a feature that results in reduced EXP after a certain amount of playtime UNLESS you change classes. This is an example of using the stick and not the carrot to entice your consumers.

It's a horrible idea. Right now if you play over 8 hours in one week your EXP starts to drop for that class. One of my friends said it best, that even if it was 8 hours a day I would feel cheated. I've honestly heard nothing good about Final Fantasy 14 from my friends in the beta. The only positive thing has been "it's Final Fantasy" and I don't know if that is going to be enough.

I was really excited about Final Fantasy 14. I missed the boat on Final Fantasy 11 so I was really excited to play a MMO made by Square Enix. I can't say for sure that I wont buy it, but it is looking more and more like I wont. I have numerous reasons not to buy FF14 and none to buy it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oh how I want Grey Knight socks...

I really really want to say something about the Warhammer 40K MMO, I just don’t know what. The Imperium of Man was just announced as a playable race. That wasn’t really an announcement as much as telling us what we already knew. You can’t really have a 40K MMO without the ever blundering human race inciting war across the galaxy simply by the very existence.

I’m trying to keep it off my radar, in the hopes that it turns out good. For some reason I never pay attention to WoW news and Blizzard keeps turning out good expansions but any time I watch any other MMO, be it expansion, patch, or release they turn out like crap. I guess I’m like the baseball fan who wears the same socks during the World Series; pointless superstition but hey… you never know.

Other than that I expect to pick up Final Fantasy 14 when it comes up and Cataclysm when it comes out. I should also get some time next month to *fingers crossed* beat Final Fantasy 13. I've also had an off and on thing with Warhammer Online the past few months. Right now it's off... if FF14 doesn't work out it will be on again soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gaming Value

Oh Penny Arcade, thank you for giving me something to talk about. Recently Penny Arcade posted a comic comparing buying a used video game to pirating one. Whether that is an accurate comparison or not isn’t what I’m going to talk about. I’m going to talk about value.

When Modern Warfare 2 came out I didn’t buy the game. It wasn’t because of the lack of dedicated servers or the controversial Airport level. It was because I didn’t think I would play the game enough to pay $60 for it. The game has approximately 10 hours of single player game play and I’m not a huge first person shooter guy so I would only play it online a limited amount. Over a 3 year period I’m sure I would have got $60 worth of entertainment out of it, but why pay $60 if I wasn’t going to get that enjoyment relatively soon. I wanted an entertainment value return sooner than 3 years.

You know what I did? I waited until Steam had Modern Warfare 2 on sale for $40 then bought it. To me that was a fair price for getting the game relatively close to release for the amount of play I assumed I would get out of it. Since then I’ve played the single player for about 4 hours, no I haven’t beat it, and about 12 hours of online. That comes out to about $3.75 an hour so far… still not really worth it. That’s okay though, I have the game and I can play it in the future if I get the urge, and I’m sure I will. The great thing is that it will never get MORE expensive to play. If I never played MW2 again it would cap at $3.75 an hour but every time I play from here on out it always goes down.

StarCraft 2 is in the same boat for a lot of people. StarCraft 2 has approximately 20 hours of game play at a casual pace. I can understand that at $60 20 hours seems like a rip off, but it has an online feature just like Modern Warfare 2. So then it could offer an unlimited amount of playtime… for free. No extra cost. So assuming you NEVER played StarCraft 2 online you are at approximately $3.00 an hour of game play. If you play any online games, or replay any levels, the cost starts to drop.

I’m a huge StarCraft 2 fan. I played StarCraft at launch and Brood Wars from day 1 of its release. To me buying StarCraft 2 was a no brainer. A lot of hoop-la has been made about voting with your wallet over the past few years, and I did just that with StarCraft 2; I bought the Collector’s Edition. I bought the CE because I love StarCraft 2 and Blizzard and I wanted to support one of my favorite gaming franchises of all time. I paid $100 for it, so assuming I didn’t play any online I am at $5.00 an hour. Guess what though? I’ve played StarCraft 2 through on single player twice now and I’m on my third time. I play online nearly every night with my friends. I would estimate I’m at over 40 hours of online play. To me StarCraft 2 was worth it.

However I can completely understand that if you don’t care for StarCraft 2 the way I do. Maybe you feel about it the way I feel about Modern Warfare 2. The game could be fun, but you wouldn’t play it enough to justify the full price. I fully support you in this. However what I don’t support is your claim that these games don’t offer enough game play to justify the price tag. $60 is the standard for video games, when I was a kid we paid nearly $80 for Rampage on my Nintendo. Just because you do not like all the features offered in these games does not mean they aren’t available.

Consumers need to learn that there is a difference between what a product offers and what you want it to offer. I think a major hurtle the gaming industry is facing right now is that every consumer wants every product to be targeted at them, and the internet being what it is gives every consumer an open microphone set on HIGH to yell that at the developers.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Clone Wars - Parent Perspective

I don’t want to say most gamers are this, or most gamers are that. However what I can confidently say is that most bloggers and the readers of blogs relating to video games are very computer savvy and well informed on video games. There are over 300 million people in the USA alone and the reigning MMO champion has peaked at 11 million subscribers, and it is assumed another 10-15 million are spread out over other online games. That leaves a total of 275 million people in the USA who don’t play online games.

The current trend by major development companies is to fight over these 25 million customers by making games with already well established features. The problem is that they are entering a very competitive market place that has more or less been dominated by one company for the last 5 years, that being Blizzard. I ask, why fighter over the same customers when you could just make new ones?

If a company were to tap into an un-established gaming market they could establish a foot hold and create new revenue for their company without having to cannibalize an already existing market. I think of all companies Sony understands the need for creating new markets more than anyone. Sure Blizzard may be the king of refinement when it comes to games, but I dare say Sony is the king of customer progression.

In 1999 Sony created EverQuest which proved there was a market for a persistent online game, dubbed Massively Multiplayer Game or MMO. Later Sony created Free Realms one of the first “Free to play” MMOs accepted as a viable success in the ever flooding MMO market. Sony Online Entertainment has always tried to find new customers, rather than just fighting over the existing ones.

The Clone Wars is the next step in that ideology. While The Clone Wars may claim to be designed for “everyone” in mind it is based off a cartoon whose primary demographic are 6-12 year old kids. For the most part this is an “untapped” market in the Online Gaming sphere. Sony is setting out again to prove they can create a market.

My daughter is 6 years old and she just started 1st Grade. She is a huge fan of The Clone Wars cartoon on Cartoon Network, along with all of her friends. I’m fairly young for being a parent, I’m only 29. To me computers and video games are as common as watching a movie. However most of the children in my daughter’s class have parents much older than me. Most of them are still learning how to use a computer. Video games, and especially computer games, can be daunting. I’ve talked more than one of her class mate’s parents through removing a virus or clearing out spyware. I’m more or less their “geek squad” now.

While these parents may not be computer savvy, their kids already are. Starting last year in Kindergarten the kids were in a computer lab at school learning how to type, mouse, and handle the computer basics. Most of my daughter’s class mates are very good at playing games on Nickelodeon and Disney websites. Some of them play Harry Potter on the Nintendo Wii or play Educational games on their Leap Frog Leapster. All of these games are very approachable and were designed around the idea that a child could play them and a parent who was unfamiliar with the technology would feel comfortable operating it. The Clone Wars is just the next step up the stairs for them…

The vast majority of the parents in my daughter’s class are in their late 30’s to early 40’s. They were preteens and teenagers when the first Star Wars came out. Star Wars is a cultural icon to them and something they are very familiar with. By SOE using that IP as a jumping point they have already established a connection with these children’s parents. The fact that you don’t have to install a game on your computer plays into most parents’ fear of virus’s or complicated software. The game is played through your web browser after a small application install, increasing the comfort level.

SOE has gone out of their way to create a game that parents can relate to, Star Wars, and feel comfortable setting up. The simple games allow even young kids to participate, my 2 year old son manager to play a few games, and the controlling of an avatar lets children play dress up with their virtual character.

I can see myself, and other parents, permitting our children to spend a portion of their allowance on this game if they wanted to buy frivolous items such as clothes or furniture for their apartment. SOE has done it again by creating a new market group.