Digital gambling?

It’s a thing you don’t hear much. I was reading a book this morning with family, and I heard something about games, be it digital or traditional (as they put) having an adverse effect on people who play them.  There was no true cohesion in what they were saying, talking about gambling and money games in general via mobile devices and such. Not until they started showcasing Counter Strike and talking about how that affects people too. They were speaking of esports.

It sounds so unnecessary. Electronic gaming seems to be a term these people do no simply use and in the views of those who handle addicted gamblers, digital gaming seems to be largely the same thing as their paper counterpart. What throws a spin to this whole thing is that the professional commentator of digital gaming in the show portrayed video and console games as a whole in the same light as gambling. All of them share the same points of decision-making and addictive qualities, she said. I had to question aloud whether or not this was an intentional narrative made to showcase that Super Mario Bros. is in the same league and Internet poker. In whatever game in general, be it soccer or the like, we go through similar thought patterns and have to discern the best outcome. We gamble and we may win or lose against the odds, there’s nothing special to it in of itself. Gambling addicts are a whole another thing, as are the people who sit days worth in front of the computer playing MMORPGs and start to get rotten feet.

The idea of labeling all electronic games under one banner is largely stupid, especially when digital game is, essentially, just a synonym for a video game. After all, a video game is a visual multimedia source that is combined with set rules and controls the player interact and commands, often to achieve a victory condition. Some form of money may be present, especially in modern mobile phone games, but that alone should not be contrasted to gambling.

The first thing I found about digital gaming as such was from Peluuri, an online site for gambling addicts. Without noticing it, those who consume electronic games in genera have been lumped together with gambling addicts. The reason isn’t hard to guess; news about some child dropping thousands into a mobile game for whatever reason still pop up frequently, and the fact that esports has brought the dimension of gambling into video game circuits.

Except, what the expert in the telly show was talking about the problems digital gaming brings with it, and the aforementioned website confirms her assertions. Problem gaming is defined excessive amount of time and/or money spend on money games, that have a negative effect on the person’s life, like his psychic or physical health, studies or work life, economy and/or human relations. …for those who consume computer games in large quantities, it was noted that they share similar problems with handling their emotions, channeling them properly or escapism via games similar to those who gamble. All this seems to give note that while site speaks mostly about gambling, the people who handle gambling addicts have dropped video game addicts into the same category because the majority of the addicts on either side share the same psychological problems.

Why the hell do people think games are the reason when even these help websites clearly say that’s in the person and not in the game that’s wrong?

Why the hell do they find a need to use digital gaming? What’s the point of using yet another term for something that already had two valid terms? There is now answer, but I’ll amuse myself this a bit. Video and computer games replaced electronic gaming at one point completely, and now that both of those terms have been dragged through the mud for a good couple of decades now, the current generation that doesn’t want to associate their research and intentions with any of have decided to choose a more diplomatic term. We do live in a digital age, after all.

The advent of esports of course seems to have played a rather large part in this. People gamble which team will win, and biased researchers will see whatever they want in the electronic/digital/computer/console game landscape. Is the person who contests in esports comparable to a person who gambles? Perhaps to a person who gambles at a tournament, but I’d make a comparison with a race driver more. Sponsors put money into the machines the competitor then puts all his efforts in. Esports is someone’s career after all, at least to some extent.

In the end, making it a game addiction when people don’t have any other outlet to channel their problems into is deceptive, blaming the thing that’s being used to channel things rather than accuse the person of wrongdoing. It’s the same with same when games are blamed to cause shootings. In the end, the individual person and his problems are always the key to everything. If gambling, video games, booze, driving, masturbation, rock climbing or any other activity worsens their life, why in the hell are their relatives and friends letting him ruin his life like that? Even adults needs help, sometimes forced.

Traditionally, gambling has been treated as its own thing while all other forms of addiction, be it sports or the like, have been their own thing. Mixing computer and console games give them the wrong connotation, and adding digital gaming as a new thing for the old doesn’t help. Not that the common consumer even cares about this, all they want is to have those drunkard failed gamblers off their block, and get those no-good video game nerds outside to breathe some fresh air and mingle with other people.

It’s the digital era still, hooray for Trashbin!

CAPCOM has pulled down Ultimate Marvel VS CAPCOM 3 and MvC2 from the PSN and XBLA. No real reason has been given, but we all know it by heart already; CAPCOM doesn’t have the money to pay the license fees anymore. The good question, which will most likely be left unanswered for all time, is that how high were the licensing fees in the end?

Since MvC3 was released in 2011, and even before it, Marvel has been making their fair share of dosh with their movie franchise and licensing fees next to them. As such, I can see a possibility where the fees got more expensive. I don’t believe it was just about the rights to use Marvel license in a game, as Marvel VS Origins is still staying online. Marvel’s coming out with the Guardians of the Galaxy movie too, and it might be that somebody wanted exclusive rights to all of its characters, including Rocket Rackoon.

Then again, you have companies trying to find out better sources of revenue all the time, and MvC3 has outlived its hype and usability as a steady source of income. Of course, CAPCOM botched the whole thing by announcing the Ultimate version three months after the initial release of the vanilla version, so that was a loads of shitting in the customers’ soup there already. That, and not adding Mega Man X as a playable character even thou he was the most voted character in a fan-poll, from which other characters managed to get in.

As MvC3 dropped itself from the radar, Marvel most likely just wanted to move on to better projects and I can see CAPCOM doing the same thing. There’s no use in updating and patching a game that only a small community within a small community uses. Now, here’s something no fan wants to hear, but somebody needs to say it aloud; fighting games are a small thing and the amount of people who are playing them are miniscule in numbers compared to the games that actually pull good profits. Balancing between games with insane amount of technicalities and simple ones is no easy deal, and I have no qualms with CAPCOM in stopping the MvC3 support, as I do understand any companies’  need to make profit and stay afloat, but I don’t necessarily like the things they do… like with Mega Man Legends 3.

However, this causes an issue. If you didn’t buy the DLC before the date it all was pulled down, you’re never going to get them from anywhere, anymore, ever. They’re gone to bitspace, and we need to wait for hackers to find more reliable ways in modifying the consoles and their firmwares in order to inject these DLCs back, or as it was with SFxT, unlock the on-disc DLC. This is a huge problem that we have witnessed before, where  elements of games are just put away because there is no more ways to get them because they’re digital or tied to a service. Same goes with digital-only games, as they just vanish if somebody somewhere didn’t manage to save them. The download System for Super Famicom in Japan saw some games that are in digital form only, and we’re never going to see these games in any other form because of the fact that only handful of people have their service carts saved up with that particular games, but even then when the battery dies on those cartridges, only dumped ROMs exist and the actual game ceases to be.

I own a copy of MvC2 for the Dreamcast, and it’s the Japanese version. People who know of it most likely wondered aloud  Why the fuck you bought the Japanese version? The reason for this is that the game uses point based system, where you gain points and use them to buy characters. There’s three types of points; D-Points that are racked up by playing the game on the Dreamcast, the N-Points that were gained from Online play, and the V-Points which were garnered from arcade machine with your Dreamcast’s VMU plugged in. As such, some character require N- and V-Points to be unlocked, which is impossibility without the online and arcade machine. For this game I got myself a third-party VMU that allowed me to download and upload saves.

The problem is, that if I ever lose that particular save and its many copies I have on my fifteen different VMUs, I can’t unlock those characters anymore without making a special kind of effort that I shouldn’t be doing in the first place. MvC2’s online service has been long dead with SEGA’s online service, and finding MvC2 machine with the VMU slot can be a challenge. The program I used to use to transfer saves between my computer and the VMU unit is also far too old to run on old computer and it needs a printer port too. Even in 2008 I had to use my mother’s older computer from her garage to transfer few special saves I found flying online, because things just went by the DC and its technology.

It would have been very sporting of CAPCOM to put all the DLC free for the last two days rather than just lower their prices. I admit, I got the Jill Valentine and Shuma-Gorath DLC because I want to have the access to these characters. But all the extra colours and such were the worst kind of stuff they can do; worthless extra pieces of a whole puzzle.  You have the complete puzzle already, why you need to new pieces to make it larger? Why couldn’t these pieces already be part of the puzzle?

I am disappointed how companies run their digital business and how they can say when they pull shit down without a moment’s notice. I don’t know anybody who wants to give the controls of their games, movies, films and whatever to the people they bought the stuff from, but I do know far too many who willingly ignore the fact that these companies are essentially controlling everything they have bought digitally, like Valve does.

The question we need to ask is how much are you willing to let the companies decide over the stuff you own? I say none, but too many don’t want to even hear the question, let alone answer it.

Whoa, Microsoft just popped its head out from their ass

Sometimes companies do listen to the customers, but this is something I never expected. Microsoft actually listened to the customer critique on Xbox One’s functions such as needed Internet connection and locking games to one account. They actually changed their policies.

It’s mindbogglingly laughable and admirable really. It’s a step to the right direction on Microsoft’s part. This is what they should do ; listen more to their customers more often. After the brutal feedback that Windows 8 got, as Microsoft reworked many elements of it for Windows 8.1. It’s still piece of shit even after that, but at least now it’s slightly less so. Nevertheless, one still has to question why did Microsoft ever think these policies they’ve backed down on were a good idea? Who the hell ever thought they were good idea in the first place? Well, at least everybody’s happy to see these changes… except few people.

Kyle Wagner is stupid. I’m astonished that this person is even writing on Giz- oh wait, video game journalism. Pretty much all of his complaints have no basis. I’m laughing at his idea of publishers reselling digital games at some sort of hubs. That’s like saying Steam would begin to allow its users to sell their games to other Steam users like the EU courts are demanding. It just won’t happen. New games wouldn’t be cheaper either.

This person doesn’t understand that the industry is going down (all industries are going down) and games won’t get cheaper because the industry refuses to drop the AAA hardcore titles that drain money like no end. Add huge marketing campaigns, paid reviewers, long development times and that added extra 150% of the wholesale price (which is +50% of the production costs) and you end up games with high price. Publishers are not losing money on used games sales; they’re losing money because their games suck. People want to buy their games used because they do not want to pay full price for a game that is both low in quality and expensive. Thus people expect price drops or buy the game used. And nobody wants end of discs. Physical media is not going to go anywhere, much less from anything Xbone does. Digital form of products is still less than what physical media sells. Wagner also seems to think that it’s hard to loan your game disc to a friend is hard. It’s only hard when you have no friends.

But seriously, there’s no basis on Wagner’s complaints. He wanted Xbone to be hardcore game console, and now we’re getting a better one instead. We already have a Steam console, both in digital form and the upcoming physical form, and Microsoft shouldn’t follow in its wake. Microsoft should see why Atari survived in the late 70’s and why the industry crashed the second time in the 80’s. They should investigate why Nintendo managed to revive a dead industry with the NES and why the Wii and DS made money more than anything else. Xbone’s now taking a course for the better, but dear lord it still has problems, like the ever watching Kinect. That’s illegal in certain nations, y’know. Invasion of privacy is no laughing matter.

Even discarding all of Wagner’s hardcore gamer rants, the core reason why Microsoft did was because they listened. Microsoft was devastated by SONY’s presentation at E3. Thus, they did what they should have done in the first place; look at what customers want and what they don’t want, and then continuing from there. It’s like Microsoft almost grasped on the concept of giving your customers what they are looking for and fulfilling their needs.

Seeing that this change has received highly positive reception within a day, it’s somewhat safe to assume that there was more people for the change than against it. The vision what people seem to think the overblown limitations represented never was there. It wasn’t about moving away from physical markets or allowing your friend to loan the game virtually. No, it was just to limit the customer even further down and to tie him down to a chair. Now hardcore people seemed to love the idea of being tied to a chair by a big black box while recording everything they do, but now at least we have the freedom to move outside the room even if the big black box still records everything.

The Xbone has similarities with Steam, and these changes are actually step away from it. That’s good. If we are to have multiple game consoles, then they might as well be different from each other in overall appearance and through the interface, but the core functions and what they allow us to do should be rather universal, as it’s the games that run the show. This is where Microsoft needs to step up again and listen to their customers. Ryse was just bad and the Drivatar, while nifty idea, got an apt comment from an automobile enthusiast I know; Now why the hell would I ever need to drive against me or my friends? Why should I make the game drive itself? Now that I think of it for a second, the Drivetar sounds neat, but if it makes the game play itself, then we’re back to the black 90’s FMV-hell, except with prettier graphics.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Microsoft will be doing something else to improve their console design. In the meantime enjoy the Midsummer night festival this weekend.

PSN Guilty Gear Accent Core+ still eluding Europe

Guilty Gear AC+ was released last week in North American region. Japan has had the game for some time now. Where’s Europe’s slice of this deal

Originally the game was supposed to appear on digital stores around the end of summer. Then it went by and nothing came. Then again, people do have a variety of opinions on when summer ends, so I didn’t give itmuch thought. However, a few months ago I grew impatient, and now that there’s no news on PAL region release, I’ve given up.

This is not good service.

I want to say that they lost a customer with this kind of inaction. When the PSN release was announced, fighting game community got excited, and now we Europeans are left out in the cold. Literally, if you take notice that it’s -18c outside now. I find it interesting that there are actually regions that were left without the game overall and the game’s director wanted to know if these regions would like to have the game.

Why do this kind of stupid children’s play with digital downloads? I see no reason to call digital distribution easier foranyone when things like this arefar too common. I see no reason of any sorts that would keep digital games from being released across the world at the same time. Yes, I know there are legal questions and all, but those are secondary questions and easily avoided with proper agreements.

If digital distribution is not any easier and far more reaching that physical store distribution, why bother? While it’s true that I could just open NA account and purchase NA PSN points, it defeats the purpose of having it digitally. Importing aphysical copy had its merits like the 60Hz NTCS instead of 50Hz PAL for an old example and simply getting better game optimization as in Devil May Cry 2’s case. With consoles nowadays, especially with the HD twins, there is no real reason to divide sales regions like this at all.

To be fair, I have bought few Japanese PSN releases. These games are games that would never see light in the west, but GGAC+ is clearly a game that sees a PSN release in Europe as well, right?

STEAM is a video game console

The most prevailing argument with digital form of games is that they’re the same game, just without the physical case or form. Then it’s up to you whether or not you like having five gigs of digital games on your HDD waiting for you. Personally, I like to hold the cases in my hand. Digital games tend to drown in my computer, because I tend to have a large library of various things from documents to images.

STEAM is not about PC gaming. It’s a digital gaming console. As such, if you’re a STEAM user, you’re more related to console gamers. The PC kiddies think otherwise, but let’s go a bit deeper.

Cartridge based consoles are basically computers that need to be completed with the said cartridge. Consoles needed carts to function, unless they had built-in games. As they became more dumbed down PCs, this link was more severed until we ended up with the machines like the HD twins, which are basically multimedia systems for everything, and gaming was not even the second choice.

cart PCB
After all, game carts are pieces of PCB that hold information that the console just executes

STEAM follows the original function rather well. You can’t really do anything with it unless you have games. Luckily there are games like Sonic the Hedgehog 4, Street Fighter IV, Phantasy Star and oh…
STEAM’s DRM also functions much like console’s own natural state of being the DRM itself, and many publishers won’t release their games without any DRM. As such, STEAM isn’t really just a programme, it’s a consoles emulator. That’s a bit tacky, so let’s go with a digital video games console.

I always thought that I disliked STEAM because it demanded me to stick with it, that I hated the idea of my games tied down to something. After a rather heated discussion with two of my friends, I came to a conclusion that why I disliked STEAM so much wasn’t because it was about PC gaming, but because it limited gaming overall. After all, don’t the consoles do the exact same thing? STEAM and Origin, and all similar services, are shadows of consoles. PC is a free environment where I can do whatever I want to it whenever I want. I can tweak games with mods, remove files here and there and basically have a drug party with its insides. STEAM doesn’t allow me to do any of these unless it approves. It’s like one of those evil aunties that take you for a weekend and force-feeds you her own strange foods that give you diarrhea.

Now that I think of it, it’s funny how all of my so-called hardcore computer gamer friends are nothing more that STEAM users.

There havebeen rumours for STEAM Box, a machine that would run a STEAM for your TV. Isn’t that a console that runs solely on digital games? The better question is, why the hell would VALVE would like to step away from this digital distribution business they’ve found so good? STEAM allows all generations to compete with each other on equal grounds, and the more I take look at what it offers, the more I see games that I’d like to play. The thing is, these games are older games and readily available on consoles. Why would I download a program that I don’t need for anything else than playing few measly digital games, when I can get the same game with a box, a physical manual and nice plastic casing around it? I did not buy my computer for games, I bought it for work. Gaming is a tertiary element here, but I bought these consoles for one thing only.

I do prefer physical consoles and physical games over digital ones, especially when the service provider has all the powerto screw me over at their will. SEGA can try to screw me over all they want when I’m playing Comix Zone.

The ownership of digital games is the second of the things that always putme off. As much as STEAM is a digital game console, all games that you have in your library are on an indefinite rent. If any of you readers wouldlike to sell some of your STEAMbased games, I’d like to buy them. They’re used of course, as you’ve been playing them. That should knock some 25% to 50% from the price, and as they’re common as hell because of digital distribution, that knocks other 25% from the price at least. So, I’d like to buy that 10€ game for 2.50€. I can always take my business- Oh you can’t sell?

As much STEAM wishes for you to think that you own the games, as long as they have the say in whether or not you have the access to those games means that you’ve got no power over them. I can sell you vast majority of my games as I own them. The companies have nothing to say to that. STEAM isn’t just a console, it’s a console that takes all of your money without really giving the product you were promised. It’s crooked and dishonest, but the product itself seems to please all the PC kiddies nowadays, so it’s kind of expected to see it flourishing. After all, it’s a common misconception that only kids play consoles.

It’s also a really damn good question why would I like to download STEAM when services like DotEmu have packs like this. It even has goddamn UNDERCOVER COPS!