Living Without High Speed Internet – The Downfall of Digital Game Purchases, DLC and Patches

Before packing up our things and moving to rural  Ohio I was actually excited to be back where there are seasons and relatively nice weather for most of the year.  The one thing I didn’t count on was the complete lack of high speed internet and how it would impact not only my job search (not having bandwidth to post a 500kb PDF resume will make you wonder why you try at all) but also my gaming experience.

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I never purchased a digital game until I owned a PS4 and was living in Monterey, CA.  I had high speed internet through the same company a lot of you probably go through (you know, because monopoly is the new word for competition these days).  I bought Grand Theft Auto 5 and loved it as much as I did on PS3, actually, I loved it more.  It was rendered beautifully.  The problem I faced upon the initial purchase was that it was around a 50GB download and my internet, as fast as it was at the time was going to give me this game after taking about eight hours to download the software.

I would then go on to buy Black Ops 3, COD WW2 and many other titles digitally because it seemed like a good idea at the time.  What I didn’t consider was the fact that maybe someday I wouldn’t have access to high speed internet.  It seemed ridiculous after having had it since 2005.  The thing that no one seems to think about is that while the games are a big part of your initial experience they also download patches that are sometimes over 8 GB in size on their own.  If you have played any game with online access you most likely have experience with having to wait for a patch to download and install… but wait, there’s more.

You might say, buy the game in hard copy form, dummy.  Yes, true enough – that’s a valid point to fix the first problem.  The patch issue when you have internet that is half a step better than dial-up is enough to make you buy an SNES Classic and find a happy place (Those still exist, right?… A happy place, I mean.  The SNES Classic isn’t even available in most places, I digress.).

You can’t play your old saves on games that don’t have the updated patch.  Your old game saves are tied to the latest patch that you downloaded.  So, if you have been playing Dark Souls, The Witcher, Skyrim, Fallout, Bloodborne, etc. and you own the hard copy disc but you deleted one of those games in order to play something new (Battlefield 1 (76 GB), Grand Theft Auto (76 GB), etc.) you will need to not only install the game again, but you will also have to download the patch to be able to load your old saves.

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I can’t complain in regards to almost any other aspect of life in terms of being fortunate in virtually every other facet of functionality.  I know I am lucky to be in the position I currently find myself.  However, when it comes to gaming and general accessibility to what is becoming a more internet-centralized world, I am at a loss with quite a few people in rural America.

There doesn’t seem to be a true fix for this situation other than demanding better infrastructure when it comes to running fiber optic cable all over the place.  You would think that it would be as simple as using your cell phone provider as a hot spot, but the way they throttle your data speed after a rather small amount is used basically puts you into the stone age in terms of internet access.

This is why I urge all of you to purchase your games in hard copy form. Sure, you will have to deal with downloading a patch over the course of a week, but imagine how long it would take you to download your next 50 GB game and then be greeted with a patch on top of that.

There is good reason to go out and buy your game at a store or however you prefer to acquire a hard copy.  It seems that the reason relates to time travel, because my PS4 is living in 1998.

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XBox One and PS4 – Are Exclusive Titles Still A Selling Point?

On the XBox 360 and PS3 there was the constant bombardment of exclusive titles like Gears of War, Halo and Forza versus Killzone, Resistance, Gran Turismo and for some sports gamers – MLB: The Show.  Now that the next generation of consoles have finally started to become more common in households around the world it is interesting to see that the focus has shifted away from the exclusive titles and more towards the features of the systems themselves.

MGSV
Snake isn’t limited to just Sony consoles these days. But some of his missions are exclusively on one console or the other.

Sure, there are games that XBox One and PS4 have exclusive agreements and rights for, but they aren’t exactly the same type of focus that we saw last generation.  While there are some gamers out there that will have certain games that they simply must have like the Halo or Killzone titles for each respective console… that time is changing.

One of the most obvious changes can be seen in the Metal Gear franchise.  Metal Gear has always been a Hideo Kojima/Konami production.  In saying that – it has also almost always been seen as a Sony Playstation title as well.  Now that they have announced Metal Gear Solid 5 is going to be multi-platform it seems that they are starting to realize that more console availability also means more sales overall.  This isn’t always a blessing as other content within the game will be exclusive to each console.  This is more annoying than anything as it drives many gamers to wonder why they bother spending more and more money on microtransactions.

With multi-platform releases like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Madden NFL and other titles that prefer mass marketing based on volume of sales rather than simply having an agreement with a certain company to release on a specific console.  The one caveat to this is when companies like EA and Activision make agreements (like they did with Microsoft) to release certain downloadable content (DLC) on one console before other another.  This is a practice that is rather insulting to users that buy a game like Battlefield 4 on PS3/4, XBox 360 and especially PC as well as purchasing the $50 ‘Premium’ service.  Primarily because they are being cheated out of content that is obviously available for XBox One users far earlier than anyone else that have purchased the same service for a different platform.

As we enter into a new era of gaming and an eventual move into a focus on digital content, it will be interesting to see how long exclusivity really plays a role in corporate gaming decision making.  As it stands, there are a lot of gamers that are sick of feeling cheated out of their money when it comes to ‘exclusive’ titles and other DLC not being available for whatever reason.

Quick Tips For A Happy Christmas of Gaming

You just got it!  The game you have been waiting for for months (or years).  Now the time has come to  go into your gaming realm and avoid the family on this joyous day!  There are a few things to consider quickly before we let you go bury yourself in gaming bliss.

It is Christmas Day and you are a noob. It doesn’t have to suck… but you have some things you have to do first.
  1. MAKE SURE IT IS THE RIGHT GAME! – Did you get the game for the correct system?  Is it the right version (Battlefield 3 or Battlefield 3 Premium)?  Is it brand new?… If it is, don’t be too immediate taking off that plastic wrap and use the 10 seconds you have to read the game and make sure it is the right one!
  2. Is there an installation necessary? – If there is some sort of time involved to install the game before you even get a chance to play it (Metal Gear Solid 4… or any game you want to put on your 360 HDD to prevent unnecessary spinning of the disc) you should go get it started and then find something else to do/open.
  3. Give yourself a moment to learn the feel of the game if it is an FPS.  This is primarily for online shooters like Call of Duty or Halo.  (Don’t let yourself be the ‘Christmas Noob’)
  4. If you are getting Madden or any other sports game make sure you give yourself a challenge and get some sliders before you jump into a career mode.  This can often be key in having strong longevity in your games.
  5. If there is DLC you want/need make sure you buy the points first and give yourself the time needed to download and install.

Happy Holidays and Happy Gaming

Open World RPGs – What Else Can Be Done?

Games like Skyrim and Fallout have done a fantastic job of bringing otherwise disinterested people to the RPG scene.  Yet, it feels like once you finish the main quests the games can lose their luster titles that are more action-packed.  Some games like Borderlands do a really nice job of taking the boring exploration for explorations sake out of the mix and inserting crazy bad guys and mutant creatures for you to shoot and explode at your leisure.  Even after a couple hours of that type of gaming you will find yourself bored of treasure hunting and shooting random baddies.

Is this what your character is saying?

What else is there to do at this point?

You can kill things, you can amass wealth and you can even find relationships with other digital ‘people’.  Granted, when all is said and done – you are still roaming a world that doesn’t seem to have a reason to be booted up.  Sure, there are side-quests and random things you can do for people… like kill a guy for the Night Mother or maybe collect a trinket for some lazy scared guy.  Regardless, it is an important question that might not really have an answer.

Outside of turning open world RPGs into another version of Second Life – what can really be done at this point?  Leveling up doesn’t matter after awhile.  Not to mention to never-ending stream of DLC that seems to seduce people regularly into forking over another $10-20.  Some DLC is well worth the payment but at what point are we going to expect something more and realize that there really isn’t more to be had?

Is it a sign that perhaps it wouldn’t hurt if games started having some sort of finality that pushed to you play through the story again and again in different ways?  Mass Effect did this and it was nice that they actually tied Achievement Points to playing through the game multiple times.  Even games like Diablo 3 and Borderlands give you multiple character types to build up and roam around with.

What is your take?  Is there anything more that can be done for open world RPGs?  If you say yes, what are your suggestions?  Post in the comments below!

Battlefield Premium and Call of Duty Elite – DLCrap

All you need to know is that by the time you purchase Call of Duty and Battlefield with their ‘Premium’ services you will be spending $220 on content that may or may not be worth the money to begin with.

This only makes you a fanboy…

Don’t Buy These Add-Ons If –

1 – You play either or both games sparingly to pass some time shooting things

2 – You only play basic maps with friends that don’t and/or won’t have the desire to buy anything extra

3 – You don’t care about leaderboards

4 – You aren’t obsessed with every facet of the game

Do Buy These Add-Ons If –

1 – You know you will buy them as they come out, every time (this will save you $10 for a couple Hot and Ready Little Caeser’s Pizzas)

2 – You worship the ground these titles walk on and would start a religion in their honor

3 – You are bored with the regular maps and modes and need something to breath freshness into your game

4 – You want to have some sort of bling to look like the digital hip hop version of yourself

5 – You want a couple weeks to know the maps before other people will on the regular release day (because you should always be able to buy shortcuts and then make the game uneven in favor of people that want to sweep the leg like Cobra Kai)

Mass Effect 3 – The Extended Cut? (B.S.)

BioWare finally released some new DLC (Downloadable Content) to finish the story for people that played through Mass Effect 3 and were left thinking “WTF?!”.  Fun fact… The DLC is Free…  it had better be if they have any desire to draw fans back for Mass Effect 4: The Prequel.

The only thing that really bothers me is that this was needed as extra content months after release.  The fact that this game was sold and marketed as an ‘epic’ trilogy where every decision matters was killed as soon as people started seeing that every ending was bleak.

I think this is primarily because people have been spoiled by movies and books where the good guys win and the bad guys lose.  People don’t want to believe that war (especially planetary war) will end up destroying almost everything… even hope.

I have yet to play a single second of Mass Effect 3 simply because I had no desire to pay money for a game that leaves me wondering if there will be DLC to finish the story.  This seems like reading a book and buying it on a per-page basis.

It would be one thing if this was Call of Duty where the story’s made up and the plots don’t matter.  But this was an amazing action RPG that pretty much seduced you into years of promise and ended up leaving you to write fan fiction in order to finish the story they decided to leave open to loose interpretations.

*As for the reference to Mass Effect 4… Zip your pants back up for now.  They are only rumors… but then again, it wouldn’t be the internet without angry fans looking for hope and rumors of a new game in the series.

Just remember how “great” the Star Wars prequels were and ask yourself if you wish you had even watched them after the original trilogy.  To answer this I will leave it to Darth Vader –

Madden 13, Black Ops 2 and the Amazing Hype Machine

Did you hear about Madden 13?!

Every pixel and every mode have been touched!  Sounds like some sort of (bad) Michael Jackson joke.

Did you hear about Black Ops 2?!

It is based in the future and it will be released just in time for you to add it to your Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa List!

Don’t get stuck asking, “Why oh why didn’t I take the blue pill?”
The hype machine is a dangerous drug that will drag you into the depths of gaming hell.

While we try to be fair and keep our jaded perspective out of everything we write there is always room for sarcasm when it comes to Madden, NCAA Football, Call of Duty and any other annual release in gaming.  In all honesty, why shouldn’t there be?  When you consider the numerous glitches that occur or even the issues that require the same attention every year that never get fixed. (IE – Broken OLine and DLine interaction or being able to clip out of maps or even mod controllers because you aren’t disciplined enough to play the game legitimately.) It is no wonder that when you get to mid-September you will see message boards light up with such vitriol and anger that you wonder if someone kicked their dog.

No, they are like the many others that get mad about spending $60+ on a game that is in its late Beta stages.  When it comes to gaming you need to make sure you have your feet and your gaming thumbs planted firmly on the ground or controller.  Don’t expect the big changes to make everything better and don’t expect to be pleased with the first, second or third patches – this is a new era in gaming that takes the games to new lows when they are released.

Madden 13 has my full attention this year as far as making true moves in the right direction.

Black Ops 2 is at the bottom of my list right now because Treyarch has been utterly disappointing over the years and Activision’s ‘new’ business model of bending the consumer over for $15-50 DLC at every turn is starting to become the accepted norm.

Take this as a warning that you should curb your enthusiasm when you start hearing the new things about any annual release making changes or fixes to their flagship titles.  Calm down, breath and enjoy the games you have before they become ‘old’ in August and November.