GAME and Me

This will be a little rant, so if you’re not interested in hearing why you should avoid supporting GAME in their time of need, then just skip this little post.

Seriously though, don’t support GAME.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “you reap what you sow”? That phrase best defines GAME. If you’re not familiar with GAME, or their current situation; GAME are a European based retailer whom happen to specialise in video games. Recently, they hit a snag with insurance, and were unable to cover the games that they would try to sell. Obviously, this means they need to pay up front, which obviously means that they stand in a risky situation. Failure to sell any of their products would result in severe debt versus their old method of only having to pay the game publisher their share of the money at sale. As a result of this risky situation, most publishers refused to sell them any of their titles at all, which was completely understandable.

Initially, many consumers found it difficult to grasp why the publishers wouldn’t support GAME. As the ground collapsed under their feet, GAME reached out for help from the game publishers. Many of those publishers simply turned a blind eye to what was going on and walked away. GAME were desperate, and needed all the help they could get to survive. Considering their alarming situation, it was easy to sympathise with the company as publishers such as EA simply gave them the finger outright.

As a gamer in the United Kingdom I should be supporting them. If GAME were to go under then gaming in the UK will take a massive hit. It’s pretty clear to see. The publishers though? Would it not affect them in the same way? Well, yes it would. If GAME went down, that would be one less significant way to reach out to the European consumer. That being said, that doesn’t mean the publishers would want to help the retailer out.

As the main source for many gamers in the European market, GAME are so significant that they can bully around publishers. It’s been known that they do this for quite some time. They also exploited the second hand market for video games – a market that leads to absolutely zero income for the developers and publishers of the titles sold. For quite some time now, the games industry has been struggling to combat this pre-owned dilemma. Unfortunately, this war usually leads to the consumer being punished rather than the retailer. Whilst I don’t disagree that pre-owned games are almost as bad as piracy – an argument I will save for another time – I did not agree with how the publishers handled it. All the same, the retailer didn’t think twice about screwing the publisher over as they were blinded profusely by their own greed.

So when GAME extended their hand, hoping for a kind hearted publisher to grab them and lift them away from the collapsing depths of their former glory, the golden castle they built crumbling into dust, it’s no wonder that the publishers kicked GAME down. They fell, and they fell hard. A quick look at their online store front will show a lack of stock on anything worthwhile. But as I said, as a gamer I should be supporting them, shouldn’t I? Yeah, I should be, but I refuse to. I will not support them.

Excluding the paucity of their pre-orders, all of which the users were only informed of their cancellations two or three days before their launch, there was another issue in their midst. Their empire was crumbling around them, but what didn’t help them that all along their foundation was decaying. Customers were abandoning ship as torrents of bad news struck in the dark of the night. Between their titles being far too expensive these days (Metal Gear Solid HD Collection was retailing at £40, while selling everywhere else at £30), their pitiful customer service and their poor reliability, it was no wonder that customers were flocking elsewhere. I purchased a plethora of transactions to empty out my reward card, swarming like a vulture as I attempted to feast on their rotting remains, only to discover that my money, reward points, and vouchers were taken but I failed to receive my order. They sold me products that were out of stock. It happens, I guess. But what fuelled this rant to begin with was my discovery that users have been complaining about said items for over a month to no avail.

Purchasing from them, regardless of whether you’re being a vulture or a white knight to their rescue, also supports them. But they’re not really accepting your donations. They’re trying to leech everyone dry as much as possible before they close shop. I got a refund, but they’re no longer giving money back. And if they go, they run with the money.

At this stage, GAME is a lost cause. Like a mortally wounded animal, it squirms and struggles, but ultimately it should be put down. It should be put out of it’s suffering. While I don’t deny GAME deserves what it got, I can’t help but feel pity as I recall my fond memories as a child: the grand opening of the first specialist video game store in my local area. I was able to discover so many titles I was unaware of. Now? They’re just a pitiful mess, and it’s time to let go.

GAME need to be put down, and they need to make way for whoever steps up to take their mantle as King of the UK Video Game Retailers. The longer you support them, the more you’re going to be hurt.

Z.H.P and Me

ZHP

After listening to the most recent TGS Podcast episode and hearing Totalbiscuit’s comments about this nifty little PSP title, I couldn’t help but pick it up myself to play on my PlayStation Vita. I do not regret this whimsical purchase.

I can’t really talk much without spoiling the fantastic introduction, but the game is very self-aware. The title is very satirical, and parodies several superhero tropes. In the first five minutes alone, the Unlosing Ranger gets knocked down and is killed, but not before passing on his power to a random bystander who he leaves to fight Darkdeath Evilman – the final boss. Our new hero takes up this challenge… and dies.

The game itself plays similarly to NIS’ more famous Disgaea titles. The player moves the hero character on a grid and can carry out multiple options. Z.H.P. feels like the middle ground between a turn based and real time strategy JRPG. There are a multitude of dungeons and a unique way to level up your character whom gets stronger after every defeat. It’s a pretty cool and nifty title, and if you’re looking for a pretty fun, cheap and light hearted game to just pick up and play on your brand new Vita or your PSP, I absolutely must tell you to pick it up.

Speaking of which: PSPGo for £55 for those in the UK. If you haven’t got either system, pick this up and buy the game. You’ll be able to use the games you have on it on your Vita eventually, and all PSP games are dirt cheap on PSN now.

Expect a full review in the near future. Although that requires beating this very challenging game.

Yakuza: Dead Souls and Me

Kazuma Shaving Yakuza Dead Souls of the End

So, I received Yakuza: Dead Souls through the mail today and I’m totally loving it. For those unfamiliar with the Yakuza franchise, it’s a series that’s incredibly successful in the land of the rising sun. The series involves the Yakuza, who are the Japanese version of the Mafia, and is a very character driven game. The gameplay is a blend of action and role-playing game elements and is absolutely crazy and intense. Honestly, it’s easily one of my more favourite franchises.

The new game takes all the serious drama and development in the past few games and throws it out the window in favour of a complete (narrative) genre-shift. The setting of Kamurocho has been invaded by zombies, and the cast of incredibly badass criminals get together to fight off the zombies. This is pretty much Yakuza vs. Zombie. And it is awesome.

For the most part, the game feels relatively clunky but it’s easily adapted to. During the first stage I found myself failing to even shoot a zombie efficiently, often being attacked before I could strike them at all. After about fifteen to thirty minutes of playing, I managed to pick up on it and started finding myself headshotting, evading and blowing up zombies. It’s really fun, but I’m realising that this certainly isn’t the best title for anyone to be introduced to the franchise. Which screws up my plans.

Y’see, I planned to make this my first review (when I finished it). Now though, I’m not so sure. I’m thinking I should go back and quickly replay the third or fourth title and just review those first. Maybe I can spark interest? For those who’ve actually played the game though, I’ll write the review all the same. Maybe, just maybe, you may be interested enough in reading my opinions.

And if you’re not? Tough shit anyway.

Gaming and Me

So, welcome to this first edition of “Gaming and Me”. This is my personal blog and I intend to fill it with video game reviews, subjective articles and maybe even some news updates if they interest me enough. I’m even part of a relatively unknown Podcast.

So, obviously, I’m pretty much an unknown right now. You need to know where I’m coming from. Let’s try and get along and get to know each other, because I believe that you need to understand a person before their reviews or opinions before you can really consider their reviews. I mean, let’s be honest. If I say anything crazy like “Mass Effect 3″ was terrible, or if I say anything crazy like “Mass Effect 3 was brilliant”… all I’d insight would be rage. People don’t take to opposite opinions too well, but if they understand where a person is coming from then I feel that they’d be able to accept it or even debate it in a more orderly fashion than they would have before.

So what does this mean? Between gaming articles I’ll be posting random little articles about myself and an experience (limited to gaming) so that we can gain an understanding. Feel free to ignore those posts, but this is just to explain that they serve a purpose.

So who am I? I’m a student at a software development course that focuses on, but is not limited to, computer games development. Video games happen to be most most major hobby, although I enjoy other things as well, including physical activity. Currently, my most frequently used gaming systems are my own PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita and DS (I didn’t miss out the ‘3’ part, but I am missing out on the ‘3’ part).

So, there’s a quick brief. I hope we get along.