Week in Review: 4/4/14 – GameStop Vs. Wal-Mart: The Used Game Wars
Welcome to the Week in Review, a feature where Dan Oravasaari and Alex Osborn will break down what happened over the last week and discuss what it means to the industry as a whole, and to you the gamer.
Dan: Going over all of the possible features on the survey Sony sent out, it would be difficult to say that one over them all would be the most important, as each one could appeal to someone. But, in my opinion, the addition to a rating system for the PlayStation Network could have the most dramatic effect on a user’s experience. As it could be a great way to filter out the people that live off of ruining the experience for others, but it also just gives those same people a method to troll if not handled correctly.
Instead of having someone trying to grief you in-game, players could have the potential to simply down vote you as a way of trying to drag down your ranking. This of course could be remedied by a system that monitored people’s voting habits, but could never be 100% accurate. Although, If on top of the rating system, they made it so that you could mark someone so that you never had to play with them again, I would be all in.
Alex: While the addition of a player reputation system would be incredible, I think cross-platform chat support is easily the most exciting potential new feature. Having the ability to chat with someone on PlayStation 3 or PS Vita while on my PS4 would be amazing, and only serve to further strengthen the ecosystem that Sony has done such a great job of fleshing out.
Also, I think the ability to change your PSN ID would be a big one. It’s a feature that should have been there when the network first launched, so it’s about time Sony finally makes it possible.
Alex: I’m shocked to see that Sony isn’t offering some sort of upgrade promotion itself, seeing as how the MLB franchise is such a staple among its exclusive lineup. That said, I’m glad that at least GameStop is offering some sort of incentive for gamers to upgrade after having already purchased the PS3 version. From what I hear, The Show is absolutely stunning on both platforms, with the PS4 version serving as one of, if not the most, visually impressive games coming to the platform.
Dan: Well, Sony used to have some upgrade options when the PS4 first launched, but it does beg to ask why they stopped the program completely. When I bought my PS4, the first thing I did was upgrade my copies of Battlefield 4, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and Call of Duty: Ghosts, and ‘boom’ I already had a decent library on my new console. It is great that GameStop is doing something to help people out with the transition period, but I can’t say I am exactly amazed by this deal. Trading in your $60 copy of The Show and $20 more, and then you get a $60 copy of the same game on the PS4, doesn’t really excite me personally. But, I guess if don’t ever plan on going back to the PS3 days, it could make sense.
Dan: I think this is a great idea, but one that is a bit late. Square used to be one of the few companies that really made the US market look at the Japanese games industry in admiration. But, after years of the publisher trying to adopt American design philosophies, it is hard to believe that they still understand their roots. The Final Fantasy series is the most obvious example of this change, and I would love to see it go back to being the turn-based game that its ‘core audience’ loved it for. But, I just don’t see it, as it has been far too long since the company has given the full treatment to a core JRPG title.
Alex: Better late than never though, right?
Dan, I fear you’ve become so ingrained in the wonderful world of PlayStation that you’ve failed to notice that Square-Enix is still very capable of providing that core JRPG experience to fans, even today. The 3DS exclusive Bravely Default, which Square released earlier this year, is a shining example of how to do it right, and thanks to its success both critically and commercially, the company has finally opened its eyes and seen the light. With both a new Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts coming to PlayStation 4 at some point in the (hopefully not too distant) future, I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll finally see a return to form.
Alex: Since I don’t trade in games at my local retailer, this doesn’t particularly impact me in any way, shape, or form, but it’s nice to see that Walmart’s initiative is putting some pressure on GameStop, a company that has been able to gouge its consumers for far too long. With a formidable competitor now to contend with, here’s to hoping GameStop finally starts offering trade-in values that are a bit more generous to the consumer. Who knows? Maybe Best Buy will ramp up its efforts as well in lieu of Walmart’s entrance into the super lucrative business of used games.
Competition is a wonderful thing, isn’t it, Dan?
Dan: Of course you don’t trade in anything, you never play anything. But, yes, competition can be a wonderful thing. GameStop really hasn’t had much competition from any other retailer on the used game market, and now the powerhouse that is Wal-Mart is stepping up to the challenge. I do hope though that as we do see more competitive pricing, that we don’t see GameStop get too badly hurt from this change in market, as they really are one of the last game centric chains still around in the US. With the slow shift over to digital markets, the addition of another competitor could eventually lead to some stores having to close up shop, something that I had already seen in my old city of Sacramento.
Slightly Sad Panda Time
Dan: Well, it wouldn’t be Week in Review, if we didn’t have some layoffs. But, as much as i’m sure it sucks for the people who are now looking for a new job, if the statement is true, this is just par for the course. Most development cycles do have an influx of employees to help push out a product on time, or simply to fill in gaps that essential staff can’t do. So, hopefully the people moving on from Airtight Games have already planned ahead for the expected turnover.
Alex: I know, right? There have been so many layoffs as of late, which is unfortunately just how this industry operates. Like you said, much of this is likely expected turnover, as the brutal cycle of game development brings with it waves of staffing up and then letting go. Seeing as how Murdered: Soul Suspect isn’t far off from release, I’m guessing Airtight is winding down production, and as such, simply doesn’t need its entire staff anymore. That said, we wish the best of luck to those currently on the hunt for a new position.
Alex: I haven’t been invested in a 2D action game since the days of the Super Nintendo, so I must confess, Mercenary Kings has not been on my radar. That said, it looks like a solid title by all accounts, so if a bit of old school gaming goodness is what you’re craving, I’m sure this new title from Tribute Games will scratch that itch. Dan, do you have a hankering for a new 2D action game? I’m sure not everyone is like me and couldn’t care less about this genre anymore.
Dan: We did a live stream of this game yesterday, and if you missed it, you missed out on a good time. It really is an online, multiplayer take of both Metal Slug and Borderlands – a mix so good it makes me wonder why no one thought of it earlier. Before the 3D industry change, 2D games were really where the best games were, and I do miss those days a bit. I do think that some younger gamers might not fully appreciate the style or feel it is limiting, but there is a simplicity about it that I think will appeal to gamers, especially once they try out Mercenary Kings. So, to answer your question Alex, yes I do.
MLB: The Show 2014
Dan: I don’t know much about Baseball. Is that the one with the net and the goal post? Well, I hear this is the game for fans that love the sport, so I know this is a big deal. Thankfully, most of the word that passed me has been positive, so this is definitely a good thing for fans, as well as Sony. Given that The Show has been a PlayStation exclusive for years, it just means that Baseball fans will be keeping their ties with the Sony ecosystem, and hopefully improving the sales of the PS4.
Alex: I’m what you’d call a super casual baseball fan. Are the Red Sox in the World Series? Yes? Okay, maybe I’ll tune in see how it turns out. As far as sports games go, however, I really don’t give a hoot about any of them, MLB The Show included. Regardless, I know there is a really dedicated audience that looks forward to these games every year, so I can see why this is a big release for Sony. It’s just a shame the PlayStation 4 version isn’t launching day and date with the PS3 and Vita versions.
This week was almost non-consequential, as nothing really happened. The biggest news that just hit today was GameSpy closing down its servers and a handful of older console games having to go offline, but that was about it. We did get 2 really good games for the PlayStation family, so there are some highlights, just not enough to really brag about.
Overall Score: 5.0