Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An open letter to BioWare

Dear Bioware,

Imagine a movie studio was known for making great movies. Imagine they spent three years hyping the final segment of a beloved trilogy. And now imagine that the media company they were owned by decided that the movie was only going to be available—ever—on a cheap iMax ripoff called Origin. Now, anybody could get to one of these theaters, though it would be less convenient and you had to wear annoying glasses all the time; the picture was the same, and the big media company told the studio that there was no harm, this was just the price of getting their movie funded and preventing people from making illegal copies of it.

Now, the movie came out, and it made lots of money because it was a good movie, and the big media company made even more money because of the exclusive deal they signed with Origin. And, of course, lots of people bought the DVD when it came out, and even more people pirated it (the exclusive deal did work to prevent piracy) and watched it at home. Most of these people would not have bought or paid to see the movie anyway, but a few of them did so because they did not like the glasses that Origin made them wear or the other inconveniences that were associated with this brand of theaters. A few more were worried about leaving their name, credit card info, and SSN with Origin theaters, but Origin promised that it wouldn’t even look at that information if you didn’t want it to, and, as far as anyone knew, it didn’t.

Basically, everyone was generally happy with this situation. The studio made money, the big media company made money, the people who saw the movie in theaters were pretty satisfied, and the pirates were happy because it was a good movie. A couple of economists looked at the numbers and said that the profits lost when a few people demanded their money back or refused to go see the movie was more than covered by the exclusive deal with Origin.

I guess what I’m trying to tell you is that I get it: I understand that EA wants to get into the digital download market, and that they cannot do that unless they give consumers a reason to prefer Origins to Steam. I get that the number one way to make that happen is to make games exclusive on Origins, because it is the thing they control the most easily and because it is the best way to win gamers over. I get that game studios need distribution giants like EA, and that, moreover, they own you, so Mass Effect 3 is their product and their biggest ace right now. I get that maybe you like the deal too because it might mean that more people buy your game which means you get to keep making your games; I get that even if you did want to change the whole situation, you couldn’t. I get that you’re trying to maximize profits and quality, and appreciate that you understand that maximizing the second increases the first and that increasing the first gives you more latitude to improve the second.

What I want you to understand, though, is different. I want you to understand that all of the above is the reason that I BUY games, the reason I bought Mass Effect, and Dragon Age, and Mass Effect 2, and, well you get the picture. I buy your games because I believe in you as a studio, and I understand the realities of being a studio that makes blockbuster games, and because I know I will enjoy them. Those are the same reasons that I will likely buy Mass Effect 3.

So don’t make it purchasable through Steam. That’s ok. Make it so that you have to have an Origins account to buy, install, and run the game as well as to acquire any DLCs. Make those DLCs exclusive to Origins even. As a loyal consumer, I am ok with all that. I don’t like it. I don’t like ANY of it, but the problems with exclusivity and DLCs in general are a different issue, but I will happily accept it as part of what you determine to be the price of your game. All I ask is this:

Please allow me to run Mass Effect 3 without another program running in the background.

Don’t force a “client” on me, or a constantly active “launcher”: neither of these prevent piracy; neither of them will make it so that someone who is smarter than I am cannot bypass your protections and make the game more enjoyable because it is less inconvenient. As has been rehashed ad infinitum, the only effect that such launchers have is to hurt those people who have bought the game legitimately. And, as I hope you understand, this type of DRM—the constantly running/constantly connected variety—hurts us a lot more than any other method.

Friday, December 30, 2011

What I want to see in a video game

I don’t think I play video games right.

Which is not to say that I’m bad at them. At this point in my life, I’m pretty natural at most games, and can hold my own with most casual gamers in most games.

It’s just that I don’t think I play them the way they are meant to be played.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bobby Orr, Nick Lidstrom, and Greatness

The other day, I was having an argument with a person from Detroit. It was not about Justin Verlander, which is somewhat surprising. Rather, it was about Nick Lidstrom, who I would contend is one of the top five defensemen of all time—in fact, I think that at this point, there couldn’t really be contention about that. But he wanted to say that Lidstrom was number one, that he wasn’t just better than Coffey and Bourque and Harvey but, also, better than Bobby Orr. Frankly, that’s just heresy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Base on Bonds will be going away for awhile. This is partly because the Red Sox are awful at the moment, partly because basketball is non-existent, but mostly because I am back at college writing a thesis and trying to find a job for next year. Hopefully there will still be occasional updates with "interesting" thoughts about sports and video games, and I will eventually write Part 3 (and 4?) of Barry Bonds and the Hall of Fame, but none of that will be coming quickly. Which is too bad.

-- Corey

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Verlander and the MVP

Justin Verlander has been exceptional this year. He’s probably the AL Cy Young, and while I’ve expressed earlier why I do not think he’s the MVP this year, he’s (rightly) in the conversation, and that’s something, considering that pitchers don’t get into the conversation much.[1] In any case, most of the people who have dismissed other cases dismiss WAR as not being able to account for all the intricacies of the game (which it, of course, does not), and say that those intricacies are why Verlander (or Granderson, or someone else not names Jose Bautista) should win. I’ve also previously mocked said intricacies, but I think it might be worth some time to point out—in light of the little things—why Verlander might not be the MVP this year.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Positions and Patterns

It has occurred to me, in the recent discussions of the weakness of this year’s group of third basemen, that we actually have three of the top ten third basemen ever playing right now, even if they are all in decline (I’m counting A-Rod, assuming that he will soon have more games a 3B than SS). Which seems a little odd. So I made a list, as I am want to do. After long amounts of consideration, I chose years based on peak and service time, since I feel that those are more indicative than my feeling out when we “knew” that they were one of the greatest ever. As always, numbers are from Fangraphs and list is organized by WAR.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

2011 MVP

It’s the time of year when we start talking about the baseball MVPs. In the last week, approximately everyone and their mother has written an article debating whether Verlander should win the AL MVP. All this follows on the heal of whether Adrian Gonzalez should win it, and then Pedroia had the monster July, and then there was talk of Granderson/Ellsbury… long story short, everyone suspects that Bautista is doping and / or cheating and is really wary of giving it to him. That, or they think that MVP candidates should win based on whether their team does. Also, no one has been inspired by the NL.