October is a wild month for gamers and not just thanks to so many great new releases in the coming days and weeks. On September 30th Wildstar finally relaunched, now fully free-to-play after its introduction of the CREDD meta-currency earlier in 2015. Even with relaunches like this one, it was apparently difficult for the developers to prepare a successful launch week and anticipate (mega)server load. Since last Tuesday I have logged into the game on several different days, after being greeted by a queue of ~2500 each time. Once I got in and wasn’t kicked by the loading screen, the experience went something like this:
- Get spammed by 10826452628 achievements
- Try to move character and write in guildchat
- Retrieve 50 loyalty rewards from account inventory
- Character starts moving…and keeps moving
- There is now one new item appearing in my bag; I try activate it
- My text appears in guildchat
- The activated item is gone for good /sadface
- My character is suddenly bald
Okay I made that last one up, although twitter was full of hilarious character bug screenshots by Wildstar players. Unfortunately the game has been really unplayable for me up to Sunday night, which was the last time I tried doing more than loitering in Illium. I am still subscribed too, so that’s a little meh – even if I totally agree with Anook that launch hiccups are part of MMO launches. But then, so are players whining about launch hiccups, so HANDLE IT!
All that aside, I profess a certain indifference to the whole thing; at the end of the day it’s still the Wildstar I left a few months ago, with bigger plots, more currencies and easier dungeons. Since the latter were not a primary concern for me anyway, it’s not like I am now getting the shot I never got before; I already raided in Wildstar and I have no interest in going back to raids. That’s not to say that I won’t binge-decorate the Manor de Syl sometime in the future but yeah, the novelty is limited in this case.
The Escapist versus Cloud Imperium Games
Space travel geeks and readers of dramatic mainstream gaming websites have been very agitated these last few days, as the whole kerfuffle between The Escapist and Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) has moved to second base. In case you’ve no idea what I am talking about, The Escapist has said some pretty accusatory and partly not-so-well-researched things (this is a good summary) about the hiring practises over at CIG and the overall status quo of the now $90 million-project that Star Citizen has become since the initial kickstarter for 500’000 bucks. I understand things have been significantly delayed from the original timeframe but hey, a backing surplus of umm 18’000% (correct me if I’m wrong, am bad at maths) is potentially overwhelming to anyone passionate to deliver the best possible product to their long standing fan base. Just sayin’ – two years are not a long time in AAA terms! I know what I’d be doing with some of that extra cash –
I keep my fingers crossed that all the SC backers out there will still get to see their dream of space travel come alive, whenever that will be. As for The Escapist, the last time I intentionally visited that webpage they were interviewing “game developers” versus “female game developers”, while not exactly vetting some of their interview guests either. Ethics in game journalism (lol) is apparently not The Escapist’s forte, huh.
Understanding Steam Pricing
Last night I posed the below question to my twitter-wiki because I was puzzled over some of the not-conversion-rate-related price differences between certain games on Steam vs. Amazon vs. retail (nothing new, I know). I don’t buy any non-digital games anymore but as several people have pointed out to me in the discussion that ensued, regional VAT regulations play a part and whether we are talking digital-only releases or games that still go over the counter. Another reason as pointed out by Armadillo may lie in physical presence of services or infrastructure.
But these are just some of the reasons, the most obvious one being that you set a prize that people will pay of course. Arguing different markets is the same thing: it’s not a social system whereby I somehow fund gaming for players in low-income countries. I am the first person to sign up for collective insurance models but asking relative prices for digital games is about profit margins.
Could someone explain to me how digitally distributed goods justify localised pricing? I mean besides the obvious.
— Syl (@Gypsy_Syl) October 5, 2015
So looking at some of the bigger differences for Steam games and the absence thereof in certain cases, I guess I can’t realistically comprehend the whole thing as a wanna-be-informed consumer with a limited attention span. It’s all very complicated which is also business code for “because we can” – only sometimes it’s not but then, how would I know? To clarify, I have no issue with some price differences on games and I certainly am not looking to get everything as cheap as possible; games cost money to make. Like most players however, I would prefer to fund the people doing the actual work and not scores of (unnecessary) middle men. That’s why digital distribution is potentially great and it feels wrong when there are price differences of 25% or more.
I realize this is not exactly a new topic, certainly not for gamers living in Australia, but I should probably look into buying from alternative sources like Greenman Gaming more often and consider gifting opportunities via my Steam friendlist, as most guides looking to thwart the Valve overlord suggest. Who wants to be my Steam gift-pal? Considering where I live, I can’t guarantee you get much out of it though!
Optional reading: The weird economics behind Steam prices around the world