Tuesday, May 29, 2012

True Video Game Reviews

I have decided to start my own blog dedicated to reviewing Video Games. I am starting off reviewing older games to let people get accustomed to my style of reviewing and I will move on to doing new games as well as retro games in the future.

Head on over to the new blog to check it out!

Click the link below or the link at the right of the page to see.


The Truth About CDProjekt RED

CDProjekt RED is quite possibly one of the worst developers in history, and it hasn't a single thing to do with their ability to make a game. (Link) (Link2)

Back in 2011, CDProjekt RED began a campaign. This campaign was to, in their words, stop the pirating of their game "The Witcher 2." What they did was they hired a law firm to send out letters to people who they claimed illegally downloaded the game from a bittorrent site and inside the letter was a threat that said (paraphrased) "If you do not pay us $1,000 we will sue you in court."

Well, that sounds fine and dandy, right? I mean, if all they're doing is targeting Pirates than it's okay, right? Well, that's not quite what happened.

You see, the internet is a strange thing, and ISP's are even stranger. The way it typically works is an ISP owns a block of IP Addresses. Your ISP assigns these IP's out to their customers at random and every so often they take their IP back and give you a new one. This all happens so quick that you don't even know what happened because it doesn't really matter.

Well, it does matter in this case. What CDProjekt RED did was tell the ISP to send threatening letters to each IP address that downloaded a copy of The Witcher 2 from torrent sites. The problem with that is that since IP's get switched around all the time, letters get sent to the IP that downloaded it, but the person who had the IP when they downloaded the game doesn't have it now, the owner of it now is a 60 year old man who works his ass off daily to provide for his family because of the economy.

(The reason CDProjekt RED can only send letters to the IP and not the person is due to Privacy Laws prohibiting ISP's from giving out your info without a court order)

This causes that 60 year old man to become very upset, potentially hurting his life and his families life, all because CDProjekt RED is a little whiny bitch.

CDProjekt RED claims no letters ever were sent to the wrong people, but that is untrue, because there are loads of complaints of people who got letters who don't even know what bittorrent even is.

To sum it up, CDProjekt RED should never be supported for anything, ever, for doing something so dirty and disgusting.

The Working Environment For A Development Team

It's been published many times before how the Development teams are treated/mistreated during the development of a game, but I'm going to chime in and give my opinion on the matter and lay out the facts for those who don't know yet.

A typical Development Cycle for a game is anywhere between 18 months and 36 months, with the average being about 24-26 months, though there are cases where the time is drastically shortened or even increased, it just depends on the Publisher/Developer and the politics of the situation.

At the beginning of development for a game, things can usually go relatively smoothly. There's pressure from up above to get going on the project but there's nobody breathing down your neck 24/7 yet. As time goes on, the stresses of working start to take their toll. I'm sure almost everybody has heard the term "Crunch Time" before. "Crunch Time" varies in definition depending on the Developer & Publisher.

Smaller Developers are typically laid back and just let games be completed when they're completed. This is especially true with most Indie Developers, as they don't typically have big Publishers hounding them. When Publishers like EA or Activision are on board, though, things can get very rough.

During "Crunch Time" under EA, myself and the rest of the team were subjected to their "normal procedural workings" as they called it. In reality, this meant we were REQUIRED to work in excess of 60 hours each week. While that may not sound that bad, the part that always pissed me off to no end as well as several others, was that once we hit 40 hours, anything beyond 40 hours was UNPAID.

EA and Activision are both guilty of making overtime mandatory but not paying you for the overtime. If you had a problem with it they would not-so-kindly show you the door. There's been a lot of press over the actions of EA in recent years, but I can tell you from first-hand knowledge that these tactics are still practiced by EA and Activision, as well as occasionally at THQ (It was used during Homefront) and I'm sure a few other Publishers as well.

Working in the Game Industry can be hell, mostly because of the pressure the Publishers put on the head of the Developer who in-turn puts pressure on his team to satisfy their demands. Even with all this, though, I love doing what I do because I still feel a sense of freedom in creating a rich, vibrant story that captivates people, as that is where I think Gaming really takes off.

Games that are about nothing but action like "Stranglehold" or "Haze" or "Fracture" are just horrible. Multiplayer gaming is fine, but the market is so saturated with those types of games as well as blind shoot-em-ups that the brand has gotten stale. Games like "Dead Island" and "Fallout" and "Skyrim" and especially "Heavy Rain" are true examples of artistry. I'm hoping to see more of those in the future and if I'm lucky I can be apart of the team for another great game.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Truth About Video Game Reviews

**Update** - I have updated this post to include my thoughts on the Aggregated-Review Websites such as Metacritic.

Since there are still a few people who don't know this, I figured this would be a good time to have a topic discussion about Game Review companies for those who still don't know.

There are so many Game Review websites out there: GameSpot, IGN, etc. and they all review games in their own respective ways, or so they would like you to believe. The Truth about most big-name Game Review sites is that the reviews they do often have very little to do with the actual games' content.

Video Game Review websites most of the time (but not all the time) base their review scores on the amount of money they receive from Publishers. Take Jeff Gerstmann for example. Jeff wrote a review for the game "Kane & Lynch: Dead Men" and gave it a 6.0 out of 10 score. Subsequent to this, he was fired.

Prior to that incident, a man named Aaron Thomas reviewed the game "Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction" and scored the game a 7.5 out of 10. Because of this score, SONY threatened GameSpot and told them they'd be removing their advertisements from the website because of the "low" score. This prompted the Marketing Department at GameSpot to freak out, keeping a tighter leash on their reviewers to avoid an incident like that in the future.

With Jeff's case, Eidos Interactive threatened to pull their advertisements, which was at a time when GameSpot's website was full of ads for the game. Because of this (and I know this because I am good friends with two of the reviewers at GameSpot and my cousin works in IGN's Marketing Department) reviews are now tightly watched. Games that are hot-button games where the publisher is paying a lot of money to advertise on the Game Review websites, those games will be receiving higher-than-necessary scores to satisfy the publishers.

Now all that information is public knowledge and can be found by simply googling, but what most people don't know is how it works in reverse. Some Game Review sites (notably IGN) will not only give a game a better review to either A) Satisfy the publishers to receive ad money, or B) If the Publisher pays for the review, they will also give a game a Negative review if the Publisher refuses to pay enough money or if they don't purchase enough ad space.

Games that this has happened to include: "DiRT: Showdown [X360] (6.0)" - "Game of Thrones [X360] (4.0)" - "I Am Alive [XBLA] (4.5)" and many more.

As far as I know GameSpot does not give negative reviews if they don't receive enough money, they just seem to respond to threats and give better reviews for more money, though I will continue receiving information from the reviewers and let you all know if this happens.

I suggest watching Gameplay videos on YouTube and reading about them on Wikipedia to get a true idea of whether the game is good or bad rather than reading a review from GameSpot or IGN.


I'm going to give my thoughts on the Aggregated-Review Websites like Metacritic.

When looking at Game Review websites such as Metacritic, you need to be very precise in your browsing to weed out the Fake Reviews. It can be very hard to decipher the difference between a real review and a "padded" one. There are, though, a few things you can watch for:

1) Reviews that are incredibly low scores or have incredible amounts of criticism for each and every aspect of the game are typically done so for the attention. If there are hundreds of positive reviews for a game and then comes along a super low score, it's a good chance that person has done that review simply to get you to look at it. There are also those who the internet community refers to as "trolls" who simply revel in the idea of giving low scores and disliking things just to do it.

2) On the other end of the spectrum, reviews that give very high scores that don't typically contain much information other than "This game r0x!! everyone should buy it!1!" can be deduced as simply there to pad the review numbers. It can be very difficult to spot padded reviews when the reviewer actually took time to point out specific parts that they liked, which is also something a legit reviewer will do. If the review is written using exceptionally great writing skills it can be a red-flag that the review is padded.

While I'm at it, I'm going to point out one of the rumors that was going around the dev's right around the time the game Fallout: New Vegas came out. The rumor was that Bethesda actually paid some people to give the game a bad review so that they didn't have to pay out the bonus they promised them if the game scored at least an 85/100 on Metacritic. Now, like I said, this was just a rumor that was going around and most people (myself included) didn't and don't believe it.

Making the game have a lower score could potentially hurt their own sales, and I don't think it made business sense to do that, but nonetheless that was the rumor. I can see how it might be beneficial in a particular circumstance for the publisher to do that, if the bonus promised was very high or if they wanted to have an excuse to close the developer after the game, as that would net even more profits by no longer having to pay for the development team if they were on the payroll still.

Again, just a rumor and my thoughts so take it with a grain of salt and continue on your day.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Thoughts on KickStarter and Crowd-Funded Gaming

Lately places like KickStarter are getting more media attention due to the increasing number of Games being placed up there. Games like "Wasteland 2" have garnered much attention, as they have raised over $2 Million so far for development of the game, which is amazing.

The way I see Crowd-Funded games is that I think it's a Double-Edged Sword. The great thing about it is that it lets the Developers make a game how they want and get support from the Gaming Community. The downside is that if thousands of people donate money, that means there are more people who you need to satisfy.

The idea behind it is actually pretty great though, because it means Corporations don't have their claws in it to force it to be a cookie-cut design just to make huge profits. The bad news, though, is distribution. It can be damn near impossible to get the right means of distributing your game to consumers when you're Crowd-Funded, as you have to develop contacts or pay companies to distribute your product to the market.

Wasteland 2 is a prime example. Wasteland 2 developers chose to go with EA to publish their game through their online Origins service. Electronic Arts is probably the worst Gaming company in the world, up there with Activision and CDProjekt RED, and EA is known quite well for their destruction of games and developers.

While I see the positives and negatives of this type of development, I still feel it's a great way to go. I feel it gives people more choice and more flexibility in developing games and choosing to support games that you want to be made that the big-wig corporate people just won't make for fear of it not making money.

I hope to see more Crowd-Funded games in the future.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Why are there so many layoffs in the Game Industry?

Again, this isn't so much a secret as a good piece of information to know. I know quite a few people know this but for those who don't it helps you get a better picture of what's going on.

For years now Development teams have been getting bigger and bigger, and the reason for this is they want to be able to release games quicker so they can get to market and capitalize as soon as possible. What happens is the higher-ups decide to hire a big staff for a game (usually AAA games but it happens in varying degrees to all Developer companies) to get as much done as possible.

Doing this over-does the budget for employees and makes games cost much more to develop. The way they offset that is Two (2) Ways:

1) They hire a lot of Developers as simply "Contractors" instead of Full-Time Employees The reason for this is because they don't have to pay extra for Medical Insurance or pay into Social Security/Medicare/etc. taxes since the "Employee" is technically Self-Employed, meaning the worker has to pay more taxes with no benefits.

2) When the game is finally finished, the higher-ups cancel the contracts with these "Employees" so that any sales they get with the game won't be negatively affected by additional payroll, thus improving the profit margins.

As I said, it's not a huge secret nor something that's a new idea, but as I said before the Gaming Industry is MY industry and I love it so that is what I focus on.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why are there games with On-Disc/Day 1 DLC?

It seems a lot of journalists are avoiding this question a lot, and they're completely in denial of the truth and refuse to publish it or are afraid. Luckily, I'm not.

It's obvious that the reason companies are releasing Day 1 DLC and On-Disc DLC is because they're greedy and want more money, but it's interesting to know the details of the process for this.

As you may already know if you've read my earlier posts about why games are delayed, a lot of games are finished months before their release date. When this happens there is no way to put anything new on the disc so they release the new content as Day 1 DLC and charge for it instead of including it in the price of the game to actually be fair to consumers. When On-Disc DLC is present, however, it means something else entirely.

DLC has grown to become something that I loathe personally, because there are very few games left that actually have worth-while DLC for them. Making a game and then a month later opening up 3DSMax or Maya for 5 minutes and changing the color of an NPC's shirt and then selling it for $5 is bullshit. What's more bullshit is what Developers and Publishers are doing now.

When a new game is made, there are typically several teams associated with the development of the game. Designers, Coders, Writers, all sorts of people. But, and this is the bullshit part, now there are starting to be dedicated DLC teams that work in tandem with the development team during production of the game to release DLC at the same time the game comes out. The higher ups have started to realize that they can make more money this way by charging $60 for the game and then another $5-$30 for add-on content that is being made at the same time as the game.

While I understand the notion that creating content for a game costs time and money, the reality and fact of the matter is that the DLC being released is extremely shitty and beyond sub-par. Having to pay $20 for a few characters or $5-$10 for different skins is highly overpriced and bordering on gouging. If Bethesda had been working on the DLC packs for Fallout 3 at the same time as the game and released them on Day 1 it wouldn't have been as bad, because those DLC's were actually full of content, though it still would have been stupid because $60 is a lot of money and should include everything.

Another major concern is that Games are now being developed on the so-called "Assumed Intent" standard. What this means is that Game Developers are now using the Day 1 DLC and others to test how far they can go. Companies are deciding to make games more bare-bones and as basic as possible so they can start charging extra money. A prime example of this is Batman: Arkham City where Warner Brothers deleted the entire Catwoman experience from the main game so they could charge extra for it to used game purchasers.

Unfortunately, it's not just Used-Game Buyers that are getting the shaft, as content is being ripped from games entirely to be charged extra for, even on new games. The reason for this is because the landscape of Gaming is changing and companies are realizing the potential profit that can be made in DLC and other Online Services thanks to EA and Activision.

Just as I stated before, companies are getting bolder and bolder, using things like Day 1 DLC and On-Disc DLC that is locked away to test how consumers react to it so they know how far they can push the line in the name of profits. Gamers need to wake the fuck up and realize that the industry is going down the toilet because of Greed. Things are not going to change until us Gamers change and fight back against the corporations.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

What's up with Online Passes/Subscriptions?

That's a hard question to answer, but I'll try to explain it as best as I can.

Back in 2007, John Riccitiello became CEO of Electronic Arts. His return to the company after leaving was dependent upon a few factors, one of them was increasing sales and profits at the demand of the Board and Shareholders.

Electronic Arts, along with other Tier 1 Gaming companies like Activision, don't actually "hate" used games, they're just extremely greedy. They saw that there were numerous amounts of people who were simply renting games or buying pre-owned instead of forking over $60 for their sub-par games. Being at the beck and call of Stockholders, they saw this as an opportunity to profit.

Companies have used Serial Keys on PC Games for years, but Piracy on the PC was too big to make it matter, which is why most Gaming companies refuse to even publish on the PC or they'll delay the PC release to weeks or months after the console version launches.

The Online Pass was originally planned to be the same as PC games, requiring an entire Serial Key to even play the game. Unfortunately for them, when they did a Focus Group and polled them, they found overwhelming backlash at the idea. Undeterred, though, they thought of ways to introduce it because they felt there was sufficient profit to be made in doing so.

They decided to introduce it as just a Multiplayer component, since this was the core of the Gaming market they wanted to corner. They knew they'd upset Gamers, but they also knew that people would eventually come to accept it and submit to it, which they have. The idea, in reality, is to slowly introduce ever-increasing restrictions to test how consumers react and gauge their response for the future.

Through slow introduction, by locking out Multiplayer, they have now moved on to Single Player restrictions like the games RAGE, Batman: Arkham City, etc. Activision has taken the lead in a new study with the Call of Duty: Elite, which is a study of how people will respond to a subscription-based service. This service, in their eyes, guarantees a steady stream of income from Gamers.

Unfortunately, Gamers seem to have accepted and submitted to that as well, forever changing the landscape of the Gaming sector. It's going to be interesting to see the next step in the process, as it will no doubt upset Gamers. But, if the past is any indication of the future, nothing good can come of this.

I don't see why Gamers are defending companies like this, saying that it's okay to do it because things are "optional" and aren't "shoved down your throats" like some. This logic is heavily flawed, because with each new restriction the Game companies get bolder and bolder, inching ever closer to the final step of having complete activation of Console games.

I hope that never happens, and I don't see how it can based on the article I wrote before this, but the future will tell.

Will Next-Gen systems block used games?

I don't think so.

The prelim DevKits for the Next-Gen systems don't appear to have any special firmware that would prevent it from playing any specific disc, and the suppliers memo they sent with them didn't mention anything about it.

Honestly, though, I don't see how they could block used games. They can "physically" do it, sure, but not logistically. A vast majority of Gamers buy new $60 Xbox 360/PS3 games by trading in the other ones they bought to lower the price of it. Getting rid of that venue will see sales plummet and recreate 1983 all over again.

Regardless of what Publishers/Developers want to say, they make a killing on the Rental business, especially through companies like GameFly and the like. Given the facts above and the impending implosion of the Gaming market if Used Games were blocked, I see the probability of this happening as very very low.

Of course, it could happen, anything is possible after all. They could send a new memo requiring that each game be coded to use an Activation Code similar to PC Games, but I truly don't believe that will happen.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why does GameStop throw away old game cases?

**UPDATE** Check the bottom of this post for additional information just added.

This isn't so much a secret as it is something very fucked up. A lot of people already know this but for those of you who don't I thought it would be a good little tidbit of information to know while you're out shopping at GameStop. Let me start with the scenario.

GameStop's company policy is to always throw away old manuals, cases, inserts, etc. for old games for the PS2 and such (of the few they still actually keep) and even some old games for the 360/PS3/Wii.. Why do they do this? Well, I will tell you why.

They're forced to.

The distributor for GameStop, the one that supplies them with all of their Games for Xbox 360/PS3/Wii/etc. demands that they throw away the cases, manuals, inserts and everything else except the disc itself. How can they make this demand? Why does GameStop do it?

The distributor supplies them with Games at a price they can afford for all of their thousands of stores, and to get this price and maintain an uninterrupted supply of Games, they must meet whatever demands their supplier has. The real fucked up part is the reason why the distributor makes them do that in the first place.

The distributor believes that by not giving the consumers entire cased-games of the old PS2 and other systems that it will entice buyers to overlook those loose-disc games and buy the new ones, which will mean GameStop would have to buy more new ones from them and thus increasing their profits.

I, personally, think that logic is flawed on many levels. I do not shop for games and think "Oh, well, I was going to buy $100 worth of PS2 games but since they're just discs I think I'll instead buy $100 worth of Xbox360/PS3 games." That is just stupid.


I have been getting messages from people who are claiming to be Managers and Employees of GameStop. They are saying that the information in this post is untrue. To those who dispute this I have to say that what you do on a daily basis isn't necessarily in accordance with company policies.

I obtained this information from several individuals, some of them were simply regular Employees and Store Managers, but I was able to confirm this information from a very close friend of mine who was hired as a Regional Director. I saw the E-Mail he received informing him of this information as well. This information is 100% accurate and true, but if you don't believe me than so be it, that is your choice.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why are most games always delayed at the last minute?

This is the big question that a lot of people have, though most don't seem to understand why. Let me give you a situation:

You're waiting for that new, big AAA game to come out and you're told it's going to come out in September of 2012. As your anticipation grows, the deadline to the release looms closer and closer. Then, out of nowhere, the game is now delayed and pushed to December of 2012. That sucks, but it's not too long, right?

As that deadline too looms, you find that the game is delayed yet again, this time until next year in March! That sucks! Damnit! Why did they do it?? Well, I'm going to tell you why.


The truth is that most games (but not all) are actually completed long before their release date, so read on to find out the truth.

Corporations work on what's called a "Fiscal Year" and that is not the same as the actual year. Whereas we all live in January-December as our year, most corporations (Game companies included) will start their "year" in a random month, such as March. That means their company's "Fiscal Year" (google that term if you don't understand what it means) begins in March and that's when the Shareholders and those who own the company and provide them money look to forecast the future of the company's performance.

What happens is when that AAA title you've been waiting for in September gets delayed, it's more often than not (but not always, don't forget that) because of the "Fiscal Year." Allow me to explain. The company making the game, Company X, is releasing Game Y.

The game is set to release in September of 2012, and their next "Fiscal Year" begins in March of 2013. The company already knows they're not releasing the game in September, they had no intention of ever doing that. They needed to put that down as the date to entice people to keep their attention on it so they don't lose press coverage.

They always planned to wait until their next "Fiscal Year" to release it. The reason for this is because releasing a big-name game (or any game for that matter) that is going to be the most profitable will show Stockholders that they're set to make more money.

Now, you may be asking yourself "Well, why the fuck don't they just release it earlier? Why do they wait?" - Well, this I will explain as well.

When a company has a huge game they're releasing, a couple of things happen. First, this company is a Publicly Traded Company, which means they answer to Shareholders and they must show profits at all times. When Company X is set to release Game Y, they need to make sure that it aligns with their "Fiscal Year" to maximize profits during that period while not hurting their next "Fiscal Year."

What this means is if their "Fiscal Year" begins in March and if they release the game in December, that means they probably don't have another huge game coming in the next year to release during the next "Fiscal Year" to show that they're still making huge profits. The best thing to do, in their mind, is not release a game at the end of a "Fiscal Year" because any profits that are shown will only show up for the previous "Fiscal Year" because people would have already bought the game and sales will not stay strong 6 Months after a game is released.

Doing this makes their "Fiscal Year" starting in 2013 show a huge amount of sales and profit, thus carrying their company into the next year and boosting their companies values as well as Shareholders dividends and CEO's/Executives Paychecks. Of course, this fucks over the Consumer because they are forced to wait and wait for a game that all the while they're saying "needs to be polished" when in reality most games are done several months BEFORE their release date, but they need to coincide the release date with the "Fiscal Year" to meet the Publisher demands.

It seems very complex but it is all really simple when you think about it. It is all for profit, profit at the expense of the consumer.

Have you ever wondered why there are Day 1 Patches that they release? How can they already have to fix bugs? The reason is the same as I posted above and solidifies the truth: The games are already stamped and you can't go back and patch a Game Disc now can you?

What is this stupid blog about?

That's a valid question, and a good one at that.

This blog is dedicated to telling the world the truths of the Gaming Industry. Most people only know what they're told by Gaming News outlets like Kotaku and GameSpot, but those aren't always the most reliable sources of information.

Game Developers and Publishers like to tell you their version of events, which is the same as their version of Damage Control to keep the masses just happy enough to keep you coming back to buy their new games.

I'm not afraid to piss off the big wig corporate executives, because I have nothing to lose and the only thing I live for is The Truth, no matter how stupid or "retarded" that may sound.

You're going to learn things here that you won't believe, that your brain won't want to believe and will tell you it has to be a lie because it's just too bad. I can guarantee you that any and everything that I will speak here is The Truth 100%. You have no reason to believe a word I'm saying, and we have no Trust developed nor reputation, so I won't deny that most won't believe what I say. After all, when someone says something incredibly shocking your first instinct is to troll and hate, which is only natural.

I can only hope that a few of you will be able to read between the lines enough to see what is really happening, and that maybe this blog will open a few eyes to how things really are. I just hope you're ready for it.