GameStop: Leave our games alone

Video game development is a difficult job, because gaming itself is a culture that seems to be neither here or there. While it’s a huge market that makes millions and has its own big-budget titles and franchises that gaming studios are desperate to squeeze as much money out of as possible, it’s still not considered all that “mainstream” to be into games. Despite the size of the audience, it’s still seen as something of a niche.

Furthermore, gaming is in a state of transition where it’s increasingly rare that you would buy a physical game at a store. Even all the newest handheld consoles can connect to the internet, where you can buy and download entire games.

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Gaming is an inherently risky venture much like movies, in that companies have to basically gamble huge amounts of cash in order to produce content and then pray to the elder gods that it will earn back whatever it cost to make and then some. The money invested is not quite as high as your typical Hollywood blockbuster, but it’s a lot.

And therein lies the problem of the internet age; people can simply buy used games for half-price instead of brand new ones. Which is bad for the gaming companies, because they’re getting none of that profit. Hollywood faced the same problem when DVDs came along. They were terrified that no one would pay for a movie when they could just copy it, and a result they went to pretty dumb lengths to prevent that from happening.

GameStop, which ironically enough makes most of their cash on selling used games, is now finding itself in a desperate situation where they have to figure out how to move people away from buying the cheaper used games and get them to pre-order brand new titles. And how do they intend to do this? Well, by coming up with truly awful ideas, of course! Because that’s just how mainstream corporations work!

GameStop: Leave our games alone

Their latest scheme is this: GameStop will work together with the game developers, and the developers will either withhold game content, or create special content that can only be accessed by those who pre-ordered through GameStop and therefore paid full price. This is dumb on a lot of levels, for a lot of different reasons.

I fully admit that most of the games I own for my 3DS are, in fact, used games, because as a poor artist, I simply don’t have the money for brand new games. The cost of a new 3DS game is usually around $40, and I don’t think I need to point out that that’s a lot of money when you live in a 170 sq. ft. room with a kitchen and bathroom you share with two other people. There’s only so much instant noodles one person can eat! Furthermore, when you buy brand new, you rarely get a chance to test out whether a game is even good or not, or worth the money.

Those aren’t the real issues, though.

Gaming is in a difficult stage, because compared to books and movies and TV, it’s still a developing art form. However, to recognize gaming for the creative entity that it is, we need to be able to accept it as a form of interactive storytelling. And to give a small subset of consumers a unique story experience for purely commercial reasons would be yet another element keeping the medium from be taken seriously.

It would quite frankly be like publishing a book with missing chapters you can only get if you spend extra money. Or releasing a movie that lacks all the special effects, which can only be added if you pay up. It’s hurting the art form itself!

Or perhaps they’ll simply be adding extra content, but that’s also hurting games as a creative entity, because they tell stories, and those stories are meant to experienced and played in very specific ways. If you mess with that, you’re just hurting the game itself. And showing favoritism to the elite set of gamers who would actually know about the titles in question before release is hurting gaming as a culture.

In some ways, games are more interesting than movies and books because of all the different ways games can be made. There are designs, stories, and simple mechanics to take into consideration, and there’s a whole world of possibilities there, and different ways to experience that world.

Gaming is in a much more delicate condition than movies or comic books, because of all the bad publicity surrounding it already, and the fact that gaming has yet to be truly acknowledged as an art form by most critics and the media at large. But some games are trying to do their best to make up for that.

The astoundingly beautiful Journey uses colors, sounds, and movement for a unique gamer experience. The Level-5 game Ni No Kuni combines the Studio Ghibli art style with well-researched history and morals and the kind of excellent mechanics that come from having lots of experience making RPG games.

GameStop: Leave our games alone

Then there’s Disaster Report, where you play as an earthquake survivor, and many have said that the game actually helped them through real earthquakes later on due to the realism of the game.

These are but a few examples; there are many more.

Should we really allow GameStop to tamper with games like these? And push unfinished or altered games onto the unsuspecting public so they can ensure themselves of more money?

This could also take focus away from indie game developers, which is where the really exciting releases are coming from these days. I like Mario as much as the next person, but titles like Journey are truly where it’s at. As anyone who’s played it has to agree, that game is not just a game: it’s art.

And for the world to acknowledge that games are a valid art form, companies like GameStop need to acknowledge that as well, and treat their products accordingly.

[—Editing/cleanup/revisions to this article provided by Dr. Winston O’Boogie and Elliot Hodgett.]

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  • Dex_Meridian

    Pre-order bonuses are a big enough problem without GameStop sticking their great ideas in everyone’s face. But this is another inherent problem with the medium that others don’t have to deal with. While you do get the bonus content if you buy a DVD or Blu-Ray instead of catching a movie on Netflix or cable, you don’t miss out on a memorable scene of the movie.
    The worst part is that as the problem persists, we the consumers are being used as a beta test for unfinished or broken games. Pre-order Destiny, did you? Here’s your bonus! You get to be an unpaid game tester for a couple of days. Enjoy the abbreviated, crappily rendered version of the game that we allow you to see in exchange for pointing out all our bugs and errors to us, because–we can’t stress this enough–the game isn’t finished yet but we wanted your money now.

  • Skylar Zenas Mullins

    allot of people keep talking as if digital distribution is going to replace hard copies. there is a problem with this. 11 hours. that is how long it takes to download a ten gig games. this is because I use dsl, why? because charter is to expensive and we don’t even have any coax cable going to the house. it would need to be installed which costs allot more money. I know I am not the only person with less then blazing fast internet; which makes it simply impractical to download games.

    • Moppet

      I suppose it depends on location, ISP, and other factors. I’m lucky enough that local ISPs offer speeds and bandwidth limitations high enough (and cheaply enough) that a 10gig game is pretty much nothing, taking barely any time worth mentioning. It is something I’d like Publishers, developers and distributors to think about though. Not everyone has good speeds. It’s an important fact to remember. I feel for the people who don’t have good/cheap local internet.

      • Sofie Liv

        I suppose this is just me, but I just like the feeling of having the copy of the game in my hand.

        I don’t know, buying it digitally, feels like you run a higher risk of loosing it.. maybe I am just old fashioned, that’s entirely possible.

        I am afterall, also pretty fond of my DVD and book collection.. Netflix and E-books are nice but… yeaaah.

        • Moppet

          I agree that it feels better to have to option to buy a game, but that is, unfortunately, not always an option. Especially where more PC games than I’d like are concerned. Console games have it better in this regard, it’s much easier to get most of them in hard copies, but then things like this come up, that your article neatly covers some of the issues with.

  • Moppet

    I’m quite in agreement with your worries here. I honestly don’t have more to say on the subject, only the want to echo the same worries and issues.

  • If people saw movies and books as art forms, we’d get more that the derivative drivel we’ve been getting the last few years with all the Twilight knock offs and those actiony explosion fests and all the reality TV. No one cares about art anymore, no one who doesn’t need the money guaranteed success brings. And the general populus lets it happen with the derivative drivel making BILLIONS and the good, innovative, films rarely breaking even. You can’t change anything if no one wants it changed, and, from what I can tell, everyone is just fine the way it is. Lets face it, Sensei, we’re just the vocal minority, and they all think we’re trolls. Good grief that got dark, I’m in one of my moods, I guess.

    • Sofie Liv

      Well, obviously movies some times run into similar problems as it’s only specific genres of movies that get to be acknowledged as an artform.
      We still have them, we even call them the Oscar bait movies, that usually comes out around September to November right before the Oscars.
      Lars Von trier is a guy living high on his movies being “Art.” otherwise… how would he have any kind of carrier?

      Some movies are by all considered national art treasure, something to be cherished and looked at as more than just hollow entertainment, and even by all the fine older white gentlemen out there.
      The God father triologi, Space oddesey 2000, the great dictator. Titles that are now considered art treasures that is worth saving.. gaming doesn’t have that yet.

      How-ever yeah, some genres, genres like superhero movies, sci-fi, action flicks, fantasy… For some reason, in spite of those being the ones where you kind of have to put that much more afford into it.. are not considered art by the finer people.

      This does all get awfully complicated though as, movies, are a buisness, and no not every single movie has to be fine art, mostly I actually just want to have fun at the movies.
      But there is an acknowledgement here, that gaming doesn’t have.. so yeah.

      • No one tries anyone is all I’m saying. I get it, people have to eat, but, that doesn’t mean you have to phone it in. Good works and profitable works shouldn’t have to be in separate categories, but, they are, and it almost breaks my heart.

        • I’m going to go watch Poirot or something to cheer me up.

          • Sofie Liv

            That doesn’t always ring true you know.
            For instance, It’s just last thursday I watched Guardiance of the Galaxy.

            The reason why you rarely see negative reviews from me is because I tend to avoid the movies I can allready tell are bad dude.
            I went to watch Lego movie and did not regret it, I gave Godzilla a far better review than I should have, but the movie wasn’t terrible… so… yeah..

            Uh Box Trolls is coming out soon, sweetness.. and no, no I am not going to watch TMNT in cinema. That’ll be over my dead body -_-;

          • I did mean in general, of course. Its just that for every Lego Movie there’s three Transformers. I’m not saying cinemas dead, its just lost its way for the most part. But, I’ve been surprised, I thought Frozen would be a bad comedy about a talking snowman, (The US marketing was really Olaf heavy,) not the best thing Disney has come out with since Mulan.

            Films just don’t interest me anymore, I’ve turned to Anime and Video Games, mostly. If you get a chance, look up Kino’s Journey and Baccano, one’s about a tomboy and a talking motorcycle traveling the world and seeing some incredible and terrible sights and the others about mobsters, a train massacre, light-hearted Bonnie and Clyde expys and an elixir of eternal life. Both some of the best Anime I’ve seen in a long time.

          • Sofie Liv

            Erhh.. Anime if you look at the huge picture, is just as big a sinner in this as Hollywood, if not big.
            Shonen titles and Harem titles making up the major marked in Japan.

            It’s just that it’s actually mostly just the good anime making it to the western world.. mostly.. there is also crappy anime making it here.

            Like with all genres and all forms of entertainment it has its fair share of suck.
            Anime can be a lot of different things and has a lot of different genres, some-times it’s ridioulesly good and sometimes it sucks.
            Depending on artists, development and so ford. Just like it is with hollywood movies, tely shows, comics, games and any other platform where it’s people behind it creating stuff.

            To say that anime are better at not falling into the trap of cheap appeal and horrible writing would be very wrong.. it does that a lot, after all, in Japan anime is to the public what regular cheap sitcoms and any life action tely shows is to us.. it’s mainstream and on the public channels all day, it’s getting produced in tons, and some of it is cheap, dirty, harem, porn anime.

            This does not mean I don’t like anime, One Piece is still one of my favourite things in the entire world, and that’s even shonen anime.
            I love such titles as Full Metal Alchemist brotherhood, Attack on Titan, Puella Magic Madoka, Lupin the third, Cowboy beboop, Dragon Ball ext ext ext.

            Anime like every thing else, is just an incredible broad spectrum of things! There’s a lot of it.
            And hollywood blocbuster is a very broad sprectrum, some of it is good, some of it sucks.. as is it with all huge genres.

          • I usually find more good Anime than I do good films. There is definitely bad Anime *Cough* Naruto *Cough*, there’s crap in every medium, there’s just not as much, in my opinion.

            I didn’t know you liked Lupin III or Titan. Lupin’s good, I’m not much for Titan.

          • Sofie Liv

            You have yet to dwell deep enough into anime then my friend…

            You got no idea do you… just how terrible anime can get, and just how much there is of it.
            Naruto? That is nothing, yes it’s typical shonen boys manga, and most of it runs into very similar problems of being repetetive, unplanned and all the same… But it’s innocent, nothing at all… “Harem manga and anime.” is not just a tiny little niche thing… it’s a huge freaking sub genre.

            Studio Ghibli is a studio that exsists solely for the purpose of battling stupid anime that only life on perve humour and boobies, because that is what anime had become at that time, all the way back in the seventies and are still stuck there in many areas..

            You don’t know…. YOU DON’T KNOOOOOW!

            Watch some of Sages anime abormination, it will give you just a tiny bit better understanding of things.. but trust me, the marked for anime, real anime in Japan, is huge, and most of it, is utter crap.

            Not Attack on Titan though! Attack on Titan is freaking amazing! I love it so much!
            And to prove it, here’s a picture of me in my attack of titan cosplay kissing a dragon taken this weekend.

            Also love Lupin the third, one day, I shall find somebody whom will be my cosplay partner, he or she will be Jigen while i’ll be Lupin! BOOYA!

          • Sofie Liv

            Oh man, you got to be the FIRST person I have talked to whom said he didn’t like Attack on Titan.
            Really, everybody else I talked to whom seen it, loves it! and I do to! I mean how can you not?!

            Have you HEARD the opening theme?! That show has the greatest opening theme EVAR!

            It’s japaneese metal, WITH GERMAN IN THE TRACK! They got their damn priorities straight and knows who’s the master of the metal and rock and roll!
            Yup! us people in the north! and particularly the germans! Booyah!
            I love this theme so much, and the animation, and..

            Just listen to this thing! it’s so awesome!


          • It’s not bad, just not my thing, like Adventure Time or The Big Bang Theory, Technically good but I just don’t like to watch them.

          • Sofie Liv

            That’s totally fine, you’re just the first person i’ve talked to, to say that.

            Of course I would never show such an anime to people like my mother, but anime fans and people my own fans.. they are all over it, and for good reasons, because it’s really really good.

          • I’m a bit of a hipster that way, never like the really popular stuff, not because they’er popular, I just rarely like them.

            But, yeah, that theme is Badass.

          • “Profressor”? How did I not notice that! Oh, great! *Head hits desk* There goes my good mood. DAAHHH!

          • OK, fixed it, sorry about that. Where were we?

          • I watch Sage all the time, I saw he reviews of Plastic Little, All those fighting game movies, that whole thing with Violence Jack, that one about the Cockroaches.

            But, what I’ve personally seen in terms of Anime has been better than recent films I’ve seen. I’ll admit, I’m probably biased, but, that’s how I see it.

          • Jigen, eh? I’ll get back to you.

  • Hey guys, Sensei’s on Patreon!

    • Muthsarah

      OMG, thank you for letting me know of this! Our dear Sofie, she didn’t advertise this on her own, not that I’m aware of. I feel I owe her for even bringing me to this site for keeps.

      • Good thing I’m on her Friends list, then.

        • Sofie Liv

          facebook… wooh…

          • Well, did you know there’s also a TV Tropes page?


          • danbreunig

            Hey, sweet! Nice job putting that together, Professor. Everything on there is so familiar to me already, but it’s still a nice introduction to the uninitiated. Are you a colleague by any chance?

          • As in a reviewer? No, not yet, still trying to get my foot in the door. I just found Sensei’s videos through that AT4W crossover and sought her out, I’m on her Facebook list, as i’ve mentioned. She’d probably friend you if you sent her a request. That page was made with my time and then VERY limited skills with TV Tropes page formatting. If you want to make edits and add examples, go nuts. The YMMV and Trivia tabs could use a little filling out and I need a better picture than that drawing, a real photograph.

          • danbreunig

            Aw, but I like that picture! The fact it’s a caricature (one of my own hobbies and dream jobs) makes it all the more identifiable: cute, playful, funny and fun as she is. Also there are very few reviewers like Sofie, Joey, and Thomas who use their real names instead of a reviewer stagename. I see the Tom Baker-esque hat & scarf ensemble as kinda the difference between who’s the Movie Dork and who’s the real deal, regardless of which of her series is the older or more current. I get your point though, something more matter-of-fact. Plus I’m sure she would, just that I’ve always been hesitant to join Facebook because of all the crap that’s happened to people on there. As soon as my now rebuilt PC is working at its fullest again I’ll make a more determined effort to join.

          • You give the page a thorough read-through, yet. I fell it’s missing something, besides the photo.

          • Sofie Liv

            Well as I said… if you have any questions just ask, i’ll answer them.
            I just don’t know what information you want so well, not knowing what i’m supposed to answer to.. how should I know?

            I’m an all arounder in geekdomn, sort of casual.
            I like mangas, western comic books, european comic books, gaming, fantasy movies, sci-fi shows.. I am not really to biased as long as I find the thing good, I don’t see why I should limit myself to a genre.
            On the other hand, I am not really an etlitist in any genre, I am just casually enjoying the stuff I enjoy.

            I’m a buddhiest having searched refuge in buddha.

            I’m an older sister having only one smaller sister whom I think is such a cool person.

            I’m a cosplayer, sewing my own cosplays, among my works has been Trixie from my little pony, Usopp from one piece, Black Canary from the DC univers, Edward Elric from Full metal alchemist and currently I am working on harley Quinn from batman.

            I’m a book enthusiast, when I was a kid you could litterately never catch me without a fantasy book in my hands and two others in my back, now as an adult I have full box’s full of fantasy books, among them the entire Terry Pratchett series, the golden compass, rabbit mountain and the lord of the rings books, my favourite book series of all time though, is Harry potter. I even own two different copies of the first six books, a danish copy and a english copy.

            I play three different instruments. The trumpet was my very first instrument, later I learned basic guitar and I play piano. Also I sing and I sung in a church choir for multiple years, i’m an alto.

            I’ve been in several stage shows and stage musicals througout my life, originally having been a stage actress instead of a video producer, but switched over when I lacked a place to act on, I dream about one day combining the two things into one.

            At the moment I at aiming at becoming a sound designer, working on creating sounds and composition music on a computer, I hope in the long run into future, I can make music for video games and apps, and even combine music with enternet videos ala Brental Floss style.

            I’m a whovian.

            I’m also a fan of old black and white movies and the silent movies, having a collection of the old Lon Chaney movies and movies from the german expressionisme.

            I’m partially a teacher as I have actually worked as a drama and music teacher towards disabled people, I even started on a education as a social worker in those areas with the aim of teaching even more drama and music but had to leave the education due to mental strain, and alas the education was not for me, but I still work with disabled from time to time.
            In fact right now I am working on a street performance that involves disabled.

            I got a cat, and is a lifelong cat enthusiast, I love all animals.

            I have no idea what of that information you can use for any-thing at all… but that is what I can come up with on the top of my head.

          • Wow… the page is mostly about the video series and your interactions with the reviewer community. Crossovers and such. It’s not meant to delve too personally into your life. But, lets see… Could put in some otaku tropes… don’t need the buddism… already got the theater stuff… family’s not really necessary…. could put in the music… already got the Who… don’t know about film tastes… could put you in as a Badass Teacher… Are there cat lover tropes?… I’ll see what I can do, and, hopefully, Mr. danbreunig can give me some assistance on this, eh??

          • Sofie Liv

            Well, you kept asking about stuff and I didn’t know what to tell you… so just on the top of my head.

            I make life appearances, going to cons to meet fans, Jill and I are going to have our second panel at Alcon in less than a month from now.

            I’m a singing diva, I have sung a number of times in videos.

          • danbreunig

            I’ve seen your TVTropes page, Prof.–that is, the one you made for and about Sofie–and trust me: you’ve already done far plenty. What I mean is it delivers what it promises, which is whatever tropes you can attach to Sofie, especially web-based. I think it’s already well set.

            Some things I could suggest trope wise may be Danish Pride and Agony Booth subgroups like the Agony Anarchists (Renegado, Mendo, Sofie, and as of last time Full Of Questions) and Baker Street Adventures (collectively Sofie and Jill, as Sofie and Sursam Ursa, as Holmes and Watson). And once again, looking at her list here, there were only one or two things there she said that I didn’t know before. So Sofie, you would sure surprise me if you described one job in your life that did NOT involve somehow performing or teaching in any regard.

            You can just call me Dan if you want. My username is just my first and last names combined. Kinda like ProfessorDetective :)

          • Sofie Liv

            Oh I am not above minial jobs to scrape together money.
            We artist types needs to scrape the money together somehow to make art, I of course also had such jobs as being a dishwasher at an resturant, waitress at a firm serving food for all these fine tie wearing gents that worked there, i’ve also worked in a bar at one point and I cleaned a sick mans appartment ones every week at one point, going over all of it from top to buttom in stages, two hours ones every wednesday, cleaning every-thing.

            When you life alone like I do and have dreams of grandour, you gotta take what you can get some-times.

            I have yet to work at any fast food joints though… I sincerely hate the very smell of fast food.

          • danbreunig

            [contained giggling] Excuse me, just had a neat thought now…

            In a new video someday, instead of Sofie appearing as her usual charming lovable self, we get tough, rugged, butch, soiled, greasy, donning a toolbelt, swinging hammers, and chopping wood.

            In other words– Tooticky!

          • Sofie Liv

            Well… I very nearly was a part of a group of dwarves for a larp game this very summer.

            I just had to spring from the group last moment due to a life performance project I am working on and have spend all summer on, thankfully there is only two weeks left before I am free again…. and then have to spend all the time I can on improving my music so I can re-applie to the education I want as a sound designer and maybe one day, get to design sounds and music for computer games!

            .. Ahem any-way, yeah I was going to be the Mutti of a dwarf group with a frying pan over my shoulder always keeping all my dwarf boys in check so they wont course to much trouble, by being more loud yelling than all of them by the end.
            And I was going to be all of those things you just said, hahaha! Oh well, not this time, maybe next year, who knows.

          • Not a bad idea, Danny Boy. That’d look awesome.

  • Sykes

    The best way to stop this practice? Everyone just stop pre-ordering. It’ll hurt short-term, but they’ll hear the message long-term.