Obscure Gamer – Are games too cheap?

I’ve been shopping this week – both online and in my local town – and something is troubling me. There are too many cheap games on the shelves, and some of the deals just seem too good to be true. I realise this may sound like an odd argument, but does the cheap price mean we value the game less?

My personal yardstick is pounds per hour of entertainment. A trip to the cinema works out at £3-4 per hour, a new paperback about £2. Pre-owned and second-hand games obviously are a boon, bringing down the average. I’ve played Burnout Revenge on Xbox for about seven hours in total now, meaning that I got very good value out of my £5 purchase in CEX.

But do the games live up to it? Reports are that the new Ghostbusters game lasts about six hours. Going into a shop and buying that at full price (or importing the region-free Xbox 360 version to get round the Sony “timed exclusive”) makes less sense to me than investing in a pre-owned DS title such as Professor Layton that is a) cheaper, and b) going to last a lot longer. I also have to decide which format to get – the Wii with its motion controls, or the 360 version with shinier graphics and Achievements.

Online, the competition is even fiercer than on the high street. HMV’s seemingly endless sales have put many temptations in my way – I succumbed to Manhunt 2 and Bully for Wii, both games I have barely scraped the surface of but promise many hours of gameplay. The combined price was £12 including postage. Similarly, Play.com’s offer of just £2.99 for Tony Hawk’s Motion WITH the Motion Pak was too good to turn down. Yes, as a collector and Tony Hawk fan I wanted to get the game anyway, but surely that is an indication of a problem somewhere? Either an over-confident buyer getting in too much stock, or a lack of funds heading back to the developer?

And that is a key point. To help sustain the industry, perhaps we as consumers should spend more. I’m not talking about ending pre-owned sales (I’ve argued before that in the long run that is GOOD for the industry), but with developers running into trouble – Midway’s divisions scrambling to find buyers before the end of the month, for example – and the spiralling costs of next-gen development, more of our money needs to find its way back to them.

I don’t need to point out how things were different back in the day – Atari fans can probably regale you with stories of £40 cartridges and the hype of the official club magazine – but massive price cuts in 1983 did not help the industry through a tough period. The Government announcement (as part of the Digital Britain strategy) of a review of tax breaks for developers making “culturally British games” is a step in the right direction, an acknowledgement of the talent here in this country. So put your hand in your pocket and support them.

Are games too cheap?

I’ve been shopping this week – both online and in my local town – and something is troubling me. There are too many cheap games on the shelves, and some of the deals just seem too good to be true. I realise this may sound like an odd argument, but does the cheap price mean we value the game less?

My personal yardstick is pounds per hour of entertainment. A trip to the cinema works out at £3-4 per hour, a new paperback about £2. Pre-owned and second-hand games obviously are a boon, bringing down the average. I’ve played Burnout Revenge on Xbox for about seven hours in total now, meaning that I got very good value out of my £5 purchase in CEX.

But do the games live up to it? Reports are that the new Ghostbusters game lasts about six hours. Going into a shop and buying that at full price (or importing the region-free Xbox 360 version to get round the Sony “timed exclusive”) makes less sense to me than investing in a pre-owned DS title such as Professor Layton that is a) cheaper, and b) going to last a lot longer. I also have to decide which format to get – the Wii with its motion controls, or the 360 version with shinier graphics and Achievements.

Online, the competition is even fiercer than on the high street. HMV’s seemingly endless sales have put many temptations in my way – I succumbed to Manhunt 2 and Bully for Wii, both games I have barely scraped the surface of but promise many hours of gameplay. The combined price was £12 including postage. Similarly, Play.com’s offer of just £2.99 for Tony Hawk’s Motion WITH the Motion Pak was too good to turn down. Yes, as a collector and Tony Hawk fan I wanted to get the game anyway, but surely that is an indication of a problem somewhere? Either an over-confident buyer getting in too much stock, or a lack of funds heading back to the developer?

And that is a key point. To help sustain the industry, perhaps we as consumers should spend more. I’m not talking about ending pre-owned sales (I’ve argued before that in the long run that is GOOD for the industry), but with developers running into trouble – Midway’s divisions scrambling to find buyers before the end of the month, for example – and the spiralling costs of next-gen development, more of our money needs to find its way back to them.

I don’t need to point out how things were different back in the day – Atari fans can probably regale you with stories of £40 cartridges and the hype of the official club magazine – but massive price cuts in 1983 did not help the industry through a tough period. The Government announcement (as part of the Digital Britain strategy) of a review of tax breaks for developers making “culturally British games” is a step in the right direction, an acknowledgement of the talent here in this country. So put your hand in your pocket and support them.

J.A. Cares Issue: The Damn Dogma

Religion Motivational Poster

I requested that the management staff move me to a bigger office here at the ObscureInternet world headquarters to accommodate my company, Mascot Studios. They reluctantly agreed, but warned me to have the next update of, Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse ready by the end of the week. Unfortunately, during the move the latest issue was lost. To prevent being moved to back to the janitor’s closet, I mean my smaller office; I dug through my pile of e-mails to bring you another caring letter from an adoring fan.

This letter comes from Sarah Mitchell in Topeka, Kansas, she writes:

Dear J.A.,

I’ll admit I am not a very religious person, but I was always tolerant. My boyfriend, who I met during college, was a party animal who after a football injury turned to Jesus. I have no problem with that, but he didn’t go down to a local church. He joined up with some crazy cult that makes him wear funny clothes and have crazy rules. I confronted him about it and a few days later he broke up with me because, The Grand Puba (Their leader) said I was damaging his spiritual energy or something. What can I do, J.A.? Please help.

This is a tough one Sarah. First you come from the land that thought intelligent design should be taught in schools. Intelligent design, have you seen some of the excuses for human beings walking this planet? Did intelligent design bring us such television hits as, I’ll lick sewer walls for money and I love old, fat, washed up rock stars? I guess every experiment has its flaws huh?

So can I help you, I doubt it. Instead I will go on a rant!

God is open 24/7

If by some miracle or by storming the gates, I get into heaven the first thing I will do is wake up at five A.M. on a weekend and go over to God’s house. I will knock loudly on his door until he wakes up and then ask him if he would like to hear the good word about himself.

I’m sure he will send me to Hell on a flaming railroad spike, but my point would be made and it would be worth it. I’m not a religion hater. I just really have to ask if God feels we are more open to his word after being forced awake with a raging hangover. Perhaps if your servants of light carried breakfast on them or at least coffee I might not sic my dog on them.

God says no all the time

Have you heard the good word of the Lord? No. Would you like to? No. But… Listen guys. Sometimes when I am walking through the mall I am just trying to get to the comic book store or hunting for some tail. You have the right to bug me I guess, but I have the right to ignore you. You know how Satan tempted Jesus in the desert and he pretty much ignored him? I’m doing the same to you.

An abstinence pledge only makes you hotter

Fat and ugly people cannot take abstinence pledges. You need to understand that you need to have something to abstain from to abstain from it. On the other hand, I have come across a very disturbing trend lately. I have seen more and more very hot women who are pledging to wait until marriage to put out. Normally I would not mind, but if you are hot this is a crime against men.

The last thing you want is some virgin who on your wedding night throws up on you because your no-no spot frightened him. You need practice and sexual chemistry. If you are hot you need to use it to your advantage, because, just like the power pill in pac-man, it will wear off and then you will be in the alley behind the strip club giving out rides for bus transfers.

You caught what now?

I did not know that Angels did possessions. I thought it was something only Demons did in the Exorcist or something. I went to one church where people were singing and then they started going crazy. They would scream and shout and flail their arms around twitching. I was told they were “catching a spirit”.

Funny, the last time I “caught a spirit” I was arrested for illegal possession.

God the metro-sexual..?

Again, I’m not knocking religion, really. I understand that you can feel the love and the passion in your heart and soul. How about the passion and taste of pork in your belly? If I save a bus load of kids and die in the process when I get to heaven will I be denied because I had bacon with my eggs that morning?

Some religions you have to wear certain clothing and if you don’t you’re in trouble. I could see if your God is Abercrombie & Fitch, but besides that does this make any sense in the age of Obama?

Did you know there is a religion where if you get fat you will go to hell if you die before you lose weight? I just hope their hell has a buffet line. I can see the judgment process now. It will be those guys from Quire eye for the Straight Guy deciding if you get in or not.

I want to believe

Please don’t get your chastity belts in a bunch. These are jokes and I respect everyone’s beliefs as long as they don’t affect me. There has to be somebody out there and I am sure, to us, they seem God-like. However, considering how we still treat our own I doubt we will recognize God if he was really one of us.

If he was just a stranger on the bus he would have been fired from his job due to cut backs. His medical insurance would have been canceled. His car would have broken down. His taxes would have gone up while his 401K went to hell. His girlfriend would have cheated on him and the guy next to him on the bus would smell really bad and the air conditioner just broke.

Behold the end of days.

Comedy Poop – Lazy Policeman Music

It’s the Music from the podcast.. It was made by Peter Renton…
we would love it if you could join the comedy poop facebook group

It’s the Music from the podcast.. It was made by Peter Renton…

We would love it if you could join the comedy poop facebook group

[audio:http://petergbutler.podOmatic.com/enclosure/2009-04-06T14_01_26-07_00.mp3]

Obscure Gamer – The Retail Experience

So, I did my bit to boost the economy by buying an Xbox 360. I’ve never been an early adopter of a new console (a subject I will return to in a future column, I imagine) but I judged this was the right time to take the plunge. With pre-owned games cheap and some great new games on the way, it was logical.

First of all, I researched the prices of the items that I would need. I wanted to go for a top of the line set-up, so that included an Elite console. The games I was after were ones I could play online with my brother, and I wanted to be online (with Live membership and a wireless adapter) and be able to buy/download extras (with Live Points) from the start.

So, when I went into the shop my first port of call was to find a couple of games I wanted to go with it. Since there was no Rock Band 2 on the shelf, earning the shop a black mark. I actually picked up Rock Band Song Pack 2 – so I could play it anyway, then import the songs and save download time. My brother had also been unable to find the sequel, but picked up two copies of the original Rock Band in a rival store’s “2 for £30” offer and posted one to me.

Reaching the 360 shelves – now pushed to the back of the store, with the Wii and DS taking prominence – I started to pick up what I needed. But they did not have the bundled game (FIFA09) I really wanted. Another black mark. Instead I picked up a sale copy (not quite enough to remove the black mark) and the GTA IV bundle (a game I would have purchased anyway, having played most of the series extensively).

No official Plug & Play kit. Another black mark.

Wireless adapter still at £59.99, compared to the online price of £39.99. Another black mark.

When the assistant spotted me, he offered to help, but I told him I knew what I was looking for. I don’t like over-aggressive sales techniques, but this guy was fine. I picked up the Points and the 3 month Live membership, then went to the till with my bundle. That was when I spotted the offer shelf at the front of the shop. Here was the wireless adapter at the quoted online. One black mark off. And the assistant was pretty quick gathering what I needed – including the Rock Band in a Box instrument package. The last one in the shop, so I heaved a sigh of relief and felt generous enough to wipe off one black mark (the one for not having Rock Band).

Then he asked me about Game Care. Hmmm. I responded that I wondered if they could do a deal on the price, since I would get a year’s manufacturer warranty anyway. In the end I gave in and decided to take it anyway (so I can’t really call that a black mark). As we were about to finish the transaction, he asked if I wanted a Plug & Play kit – ah, good, and by asking if I wanted it to black to match the Elite, I wiped off the black mark. He was also impressed that I knew what I wanted and had taken the decision to go Elite. Which is nearly enough to make me wipe off the last remaining black mark… particularly when he told me that the Elite came with a month’s free trial of Xbox Live Gold membership and I did not need to use my 3 month card straight away.

The only black left was the cloudy sky as my dad and I carried the bundles back to the car, and the Elite console is now sitting in my computer room

The Retail Experience

So, I did my bit to boost the economy by buying an Xbox 360. I’ve never been an early adopter of a new console (a subject I will return to in a future column, I imagine) but I judged this was the right time to take the plunge. With pre-owned games cheap and some great new games on the way, it was logical.

First of all, I researched the prices of the items that I would need. I wanted to go for a top of the line set-up, so that included an Elite console. The games I was after were ones I could play online with my brother, and I wanted to be online (with Live membership and a wireless adapter) and be able to buy/download extras (with Live Points) from the start.

So, when I went into the shop my first port of call was to find a couple of games I wanted to go with it. Since there was no Rock Band 2 on the shelf, earning the shop a black mark. I actually picked up Rock Band Song Pack 2 – so I could play it anyway, then import the songs and save download time. My brother had also been unable to find the sequel, but picked up two copies of the original Rock Band in a rival store’s “2 for £30” offer and posted one to me.

Reaching the 360 shelves – now pushed to the back of the store, with the Wii and DS taking prominence – I started to pick up what I needed. But they did not have the bundled game (FIFA09) I really wanted. Another black mark. Instead I picked up a sale copy (not quite enough to remove the black mark) and the GTA IV bundle (a game I would have purchased anyway, having played most of the series extensively).

No official Plug & Play kit. Another black mark.

Wireless adapter still at £59.99, compared to the online price of £39.99. Another black mark.

When the assistant spotted me, he offered to help, but I told him I knew what I was looking for. I don’t like over-aggressive sales techniques, but this guy was fine. I picked up the Points and the 3 month Live membership, then went to the till with my bundle. That was when I spotted the offer shelf at the front of the shop. Here was the wireless adapter at the quoted online. One black mark off. And the assistant was pretty quick gathering what I needed – including the Rock Band in a Box instrument package. The last one in the shop, so I heaved a sigh of relief and felt generous enough to wipe off one black mark (the one for not having Rock Band).

Then he asked me about Game Care. Hmmm. I responded that I wondered if they could do a deal on the price, since I would get a year’s manufacturer warranty anyway. In the end I gave in and decided to take it anyway (so I can’t really call that a black mark). As we were about to finish the transaction, he asked if I wanted a Plug & Play kit – ah, good, and by asking if I wanted it to black to match the Elite, I wiped off the black mark. He was also impressed that I knew what I wanted and had taken the decision to go Elite. Which is nearly enough to make me wipe off the last remaining black mark… particularly when he told me that the Elite came with a month’s free trial of Xbox Live Gold membership and I did not need to use my 3 month card straight away.

The only black left was the cloudy sky as my dad and I carried the bundles back to the car, and the Elite console is now sitting in my computer room