The Whine List

whine motivational poster

Gaming forums are not a good place for the faint-hearted, but just recently there seems to have been a lot of whining and misplaced angst. While there are easy targets – Sony’s poor handling of the PSP Go – there have been some misguided campaigns of hate that deserve to be shot down in flames, ridiculed and dispatched to the darkest corners of the Internet.

Nintendo have regularly been updating the system firmware of the Wii, most notably to include SD card support (a feature the gaming community was calling for, no less). But when the most recent update was found to “brick” a small number of consoles, even rabid Nintendo fans were up in arms. “How can they do this to us?” came the protests, as the update designed to prevent homebrew and such esoteric mods as the USB loader working took hold. While I applaud the ingenuity of the hackers, the fact remains – modifying a console like this is illegal and opens up the possibility of piracy. Obviously Nintendo cannot allow that, and are well within their rights to stop modified machines working in a way they were never intended to. This was a cheap whine.

Similarly, I read a plea to get rid of software licensing agreements and to stop people having to click/push buttons to get past them “because no-one ever reads them”. Again, the companies would be within their rights to prosecute someone modifying their software or making illegal copies. More fool you if you fail to read the small print. (It does remind of a bizarre paragraph in a standardised licensing agreement that told me not to use graphics editing software for the Commodore 64 in the running of a nuclear power station, but I digress…)  This is a low-quality whine, blended from different varieties of gamer.

When Valve announced a sequel to the best-selling Left 4 Dead, you would imagine that the fans would be ecstatic. But no, a developer once renowned for being slow was putting out a sequel too quickly, and worst of all was the perception it would be “abandoning” the original and plans to release new content for it. Signing a virtual petition against Left 4 Dead 2 was a daft idea. But the campaign hit new lows when two leading objectors were given the chance to see the game at Valve’s headquarters – suddenly the two in question were “traitors” and Valve was brainwashing them into liking the game. This is vintage whine, distilled from the finest sour grapes and labelled fact-free.

For those who do not keep up with gaming forums, for a long time EA were the baddies. Now it seems the focus has switched to Activision, thanks in no small measure to the press statements of Bobby Kotich. After the rumoured pull-out from PS3 development (which never happened, given the recent PS3 price cut, and was unlikely anyway), further statements about what fans would buy and the future for the company after its merger with Blizzard did little to quell the online flames. Another bizarre boycott, asking fans to only buy Activision’s games second-hand, would seem to do more harm to the gamers themselves than to the company.

Sure, the price point for certain peripheral-based titles may seem high. The bizarre Modern Warfare 2 bundle with night vision goggles comes across as a company expecting fans to buy anything because of the name on the box (and the game it contains… hopefully). But, like EA before them, Activision are a company that have given a lot more than they take. Few could argue that the Guitar Hero games do not give hours and hours of gameplay for the money. And while it may seem strange to launch more expensive games in the midst of a recession, that money is going back to a company that works well with developers. So, this is another vintage whine, one that should be put on the shelf and left until there is genuinely something to complain about.

 

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Glen McNamee

Father, Husband, Nerd. Works for a monolithic IT company during the day, during the evening I'm evangelising GameDev and the Commodore 64.