If I Were King....

If the gaming landscape were organized into one unified kingdom, and if I were to rule over this wondrous realm of Gamedom, then I would waste no time in laying down some much needed rules.

Publishers and developers would come to fear me and gamers would worship me as a god. My armies would cover the land, laying waste to unfair business practices and forcing Crytek UK to make a new Timesplitters. All the while I would sit on my throne of Sega Saturn Hi-Navis, knowing that all is well in the land of game.

These would be my opening commandments:

1. Previous generation, backwards compatibility is to be compulsory

HD collections can be great. They offer the opportunity to revisit some recent vintage, tidied-up and up-scaled to make use of the HD TVs that the majority of gamers are now using. They can also introduce trophies and achievements, which I realise are not everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoy the way they add new challenges to familiar experiences and encourage me to play in different ways. 

However much I enjoy these re-runs, I do draw a line at Sony releasing unchanged versions of PS2 games - games that should be able to run on the PS3 in their original format. We should be able to enjoy our back-catalogues of PS2 games on our PS3 without having to pay for it twice. And since I'm now King, I demand an automatic trophy patch for all PS2 games, so that I may enjoy them in style.

2. Publishers must learn the difference between the Pound and the Dollar

This has long been a problem in the UK, and is not limited to just video games. Time and time again, new products will arrive here at a price that has been settled on by replacing a dollar sign with a pound, and not taking into account that, as of writing, $1 actually equates to £0.64. The forthcoming PS Vita is a perfect example of this near direct conversion. US customers will be paying $249 for the standard model and $299 for the 3G, whereas us Brits will be required to cough-up £229 and £279 respectively ($355 and $432). Thankfully, the Vita will be region-free, so I may well end up importing a US model when I finally relent and buy one, whenever that may be.

Time is always a great equalizer, as after 6 months most games are as cheap here as they are stateside. But if you want to pre-order the latest game or pick up a console in its early days, then you better be prepared to pay over the average.

It's a crime that only Japanese gamers can play Gal*Gun. Or not.

3. Thou shalt not region lock nothin'

I realise that there are legal issues here, but region locks do get on my tits. Why is it that I can play games from any region on my PS3, PSP and DS, yet I have to trawl through internet compatibility lists like a fucking peasant to find out which Japanese and US games will work on my PAL 360? The fact that I can only play Japanese games on my Wii has resulted in it becoming little more than a white paperweight, when I should love to make more use of it and play the English versions of Xenoblade Chronicles, Mad World and House of the Dead Overkill, amongst others.

If I'm willing to pay the extra to import a game, then why not let me enjoy it without having to resort to costly and warranty voiding alterations. I hereby decree that region locks are to go the way of the external memory card, wired controller and instruction manual.

4. EA and Activision must stop acting like adolescents

I have had enough of the constant bickering between EA and Activision, regarding the forthcoming head-to-head between Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. For once, Activision is not the main culprit, but instead EA have been the aggressor. They have sought conflict in an attempt to paint themselves in a favourable light, in the role of plucky underdog in the November bloodbath, though to be fair, Activision haven't exactly taken the moral high ground. Just to set the record straight, EA and Activision are both equally and irrecoverably evil.

EA CEO John Riccitiello said he wanted to see the CoD franchise "rot to the core", a sentiment which Activision claimed was bad for the industry. EA shot back with yet more choice words, quoting figures that suggest Activision's market share is falling, and likening CoD to Tony Hawks and Guitar Hero - two Activision IPs that have all but disappeared thanks to short-sighted, market saturation. 

Both franchises benefit from the others presence, as competition breeds innovation and prevents complacency. I just wish they wouldn't be such twats about it, and let the games speak for themselves.

The Joker Edition - only at Tesco.

5. Retail specific, pre-order bonuses are to fuck right off

I have written about in-game, pre-order bonuses before, so I will steer clear of that here. Suffice to say, I'm not a fan of what is usually little more than useless tat. Concentrating instead on more tangible differences, the varying UK, retail-specific editions of Batman Arkham City - six in total, each offering unique challenge maps - has once again opened my eyes to an increasingly common industry practice, and one that I hope goes away. 

I don't like the idea of missing out on content due to my choice of retailer. More often than not, these bonuses serve only to confuse as there is rarely an adequate explanation as to what exactly is included in each particular, "special" version. It also allows the biggest retailers to compete on something other than price, which ultimately isn't in the consumers best interest, not to mention that it freezes-out smaller retailers who don't enjoy the same, close relationship with publishers.

If given the opportunity, what laws would you introduce?


  1. Hear hear! Now where do I go to vote...? You have a lot of great ideas here, and I don't have too much to add myself. I'd like to see Gamestop carry more then 1 copy of a new game at a time, so I'm not always buying the last (and thus open and covered with stickers) copy. I'd also like to see SquareEnix forced to finish games before they can announce new ones. Sega must also make a "real" Phantasy Star and Shining Force game. Sega also has to make another Valkyria Chronicles for a home console. That's not too much to ask for...

  2. No votes required. I'm going for a dictatorship.

    I keep hearing about this Gamestop practice of selling opened copies as new. Sounds a bit dodgy.

    Square Enix finishing games, and concentrating less on spin-offs, was to be my sixth point, but I ran out of time!


  3. I would introduce a DLC quota. Aka it's okay to have dlc but only under 3 conditions.

    1. The core game must be a "finished product" even before DLC is introduced. Another words, dlc can enhance the core experience but it's not needed to "wrap up" the core experience. (This is apart of sub section C which is strict about those mood killing cliff hanger endings)

    2. Dlc cannot be "locked" or withheld deliberately. It's okay if developers decide they want to add more later BUT if they already have extra characters, extra maps, extra story missions, multi-player modes, or extra costumes laying around before launch that stuff should already be accessible on the game disc when it ships.

    3. All DLC must go through a quality check. If it seems to be a gimmicky cash grab in which zero effort was put into it companies have to offer it for free or add more bells and whistles into their bundles before they can set an actual price on it.

    I think it's pretty fair actually though I've noticed a disturbing trend of gamers arguing "for" DLC as a whole. (Even the crappy stuff)

  4. Gamestop opens one copy of each game to use the empty case as a display copy. They also cover this empty case in stickers. The biggest problem with this practice, is that Gamestop often only carries one copy at a time for some games. They might have plenty of copies of games like Gears of War and Call of Duty, but they will only carry one copy of games like Valkyria Chronicles and The World Ends With You. As someone who collects games, getting an open beat up case covered in stickers is annoying as hell... I buy most of my games from Amazon, but sometimes Gamestop is the only way to go with harder to find games.

  5. @ Broken - I like the idea. DLC is always problematic - it can add extra value and offer more great reasons to play, but can also serve to piss off consumers who feel they have been short-changed. Its tough, but I like your suggestions.

    @ Ceva - That's pretty bad. On occasion I have bought a display model of electrical goods, but never without a discount. Cheeky Gamestop!

    I cant remember the last time I walked into a shop to buy a new game. I always use online retailers like Amazon, so cant say for sure if this happens with games in the UK.

  6. Retailer specific pre-order bonuses are the worst! I mean pre-order bonuses in general I'd be fine with, but having to go to certain places for certain bonuses sucks. I have occasionally pre-ordered at two places and after securing the bonus, cancelled one of them, but stores usually don't give the bonuses until you actually get the game. So I can no longer fleece Gamestop like this.

    And I feel Ceva's pain. I am at the point where I refuse to buy one of these open new copies. Either get a new way to display your games or give me a used discount since it is opened.

  7. I'm not suprised - I'd refuse to buy the opened copies too.

    Hate having to look around to compare pre-order bonuses. And Im never clear on what the differences are when I do.


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