Monday, 3 May 2010

Rant: Not very stimulated

Activision certainly seem to have gotten themselves into a mess recently. Over the last month, ever since they forcibly removed the heads of Infinity Ward, one of the game publisher’s flagship developers, a huge majority of the team has also walked out after them. It certainly raises questions over the future of the studio and whether Activision can win back the support of the public that they seem to have lost over this whole debacle.

That’s not where my rant is going to settle today though, my fiery beef is not with the publisher directly, but with someone you probably know. What really grates the skin off of my knuckles are the masses of sheep that will happily throw their money into a big flaming pit and gawp at the crackling wonder of their stupidity fuelling a combine cash harvester.

Modern Warfare 2 already started taking the piss when it decided it was worth more money than every other game on the shelves. To be fair though, the game was so monstrously in demand, that retailers noticed they could make a quick buck underselling the competition and so you would probably find it a challenge to locate someone who paid the full RRP. Now, a few months after the game’s release, the Stimulus map pack comes out.

This is a full five maps tacked onto the multiplayer, with three of them being new, and two returning from the previous game. The sad thing is though that it costs over a tenner. The crushingly depressive thing that makes me question the sanity of the world however, is how popular this damn thing has come to be.

I was really hoping this would fail just to show Activision and the world that you can’t keep charging your paying customers through the nose for the same product. I thought the gaming community would be able to show some integrity and actually say ‘no’ for once. Instead, it seems like a large majority of players were more than happy to bend over and let Activision play hide the sausage to their heart’s content.

DLC is really starting to get on my nerves as it doesn’t add enough to the game to justify a price tag half of the time. I remember the days when £10 - £20 would get you an expansion pack for a game that would not be a half arsed attempt to squeeze more money from the player base, but instead a decent add-on that would breath new life and a different experience into the exhausted corpse of the original experience.

If you ask me (which I know you haven’t but I’ll say it anyway) the Stimulus map pack won’t really stimulate a great deal, as after a little while, these maps will simply get lost in map rotations, and the novelty will wear off quickly. They are just slightly new (well, two of them aren’t even that) environments to play the same game through, with nothing really added to the existing experience. This wouldn’t have bugged me in the slightest if they didn’t charge so much for it.

The trouble we have is that stupid people are more than happy to lap this up, meaning it can now be viewed as an acceptable practice in which to squeeze and strain money from loyal, paying customers in a fashion which is similar to twisting a wet tea towel to remove most of the moisture from it. I just hope this isn’t setting a trend. When I buy a game I expect to be getting a full package, not committing myself to a long term investment. This kind of thing is really bad because it starts to shard the game’s online community, something that companies like Valve take very seriously.

Not meaning to sound ridiculously old here, but I remember the good old days when maps used to be free. EA keep rising up in my imaginary rankings list of good publishers as they have said, probably as a snipe at MW2, that they will never charge for new maps for Battlefield: Bad Company 2. It’ll be interesting to see if they make good on that.

Anyway, sorry for that bit of rant which probably becomes an incoherent mess somewhere in the middle. It’s just this kind of thing makes me want to drink gallons of sea water and vomit myself into a coma in the hope that when I come around, the world makes more sense. Paying more than £10 for three new maps and two old ones is simply disgusting.

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