Coffee Break Mailbag - July 3rd, 2017

For those of us living in the United States tomorrow is the Fourth of July. The holiday is about celebrating everything American. It is a holiday where everyone is wearing Red, White and Blue; proudly representing the stars and stripes. It also brings us people attempting to squeeze into pants they shouldn’t. Like the ones above (yeah, I wore those last year). Not only is this a day when all Americans at least attempt to get along it also coincides with the something else us Americans love, shopping. The Ultimate Games Sales is going on right now and I am sure that your wallet is feeling it just as much as mine is. With every Friday (or in the case of last week Thursday) comes another Positive Gaming podcast. In last week’s podcast the Bros covered topics in the discussion segment like Halo films, portable Xbox and much more.  Let’s just jump right into some of the questions they didn’t cover so that we can go back to setting off fireworks and watching people eat too many Nathan’s Hot Dogs.

I really like this question. I think it brings up a great point. Why are the digital games on Xbox more expensive than those on the PC? I thought about this for a while and will break it down based on my thoughts. Should downloads be cheaper than games bought in store? From a consumer point of view it makes sense but from a business standpoint it doesn’t.  If the games sell cheaper as digital copies it would cut out brick and mortar stores as well as online stores that sell copies of the games. Why would someone ever go to one of those retailers to purchase the game if it is $5-10 cheaper digitally? If you cut out a retailer they may decide to just not carry your products in the future. Retail may not carry as much weight as in the past but it still plays a big part in that. Another reason for the prices being the same at launch would be profits. If it costs less for a publisher to sell a game digitally but the price for the consumer is the same then the profits for the business increase. Gaming is our hobby but we cannot forget that these companies are running a business and one of the goals of a business is to maximize profits.

Now, why aren’t prices on Xbox more in-line with the prices on Steam, GOG, or other online digital retailers. I believe this is a simple answer: monopolization. Microsoft has a monopoly for their digital platform. If you want a digital version of a game you can either buy it through Microsoft’s store or attempt to search around and find a company selling a digital key for a lower price. Until there is a platform that is well known (I know about CDKEYS.com) and as easy to use as purchasing from the Microsoft store front there is little to no incentive to lower prices. On PC steam has to compete with the other digital platforms like GOG and even EA Origin. This competition and Steam’s desire to maintain a foothold on the PC gaming industry has driven them to create these types of sales. Sell the games cheaper, get consumers onto your platform where they can see other games they want to play.

There was a spiritual successor to Panzer Dragoon that came out on the Xbox One near the beginning of its lifecycle. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of it but the game didn’t sell well enough to warrant a sequel. For the younger generation of gamers that didn’t really grow up playing Sega games these series, while beloved, don’t hold as much weight as they do with gamers over the age of 30.

There are couple of games that I would like to see re-made: Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Splinter Cell, Brute Force and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. I still own copies of each of those games except Brute Force. Great games that I really enjoyed playing when I was growing up.

I think the answer to this can fall into one of two categories: poor project planning or a desire to obtain specific quality. At my company they spend about 6 months to a year planning projects for our following years IT Development. There was a critical project that was planned to take one year but creeped into three and a half years of development. During the last three-six months of development I was pulled into the project. It was immediately apparent the issue with the project’s completion slipping was due to poor project planning. Requirements weren’t clear and were constantly changing. With a developer like Rockstar or Bethesda I highly doubt this is the cause of a delay.

The other reason for a delay is most likely due to quality control checks at key points in a project’s lifecycle. At certain places in development you have a pretty good idea of when a project will be able to get done. Of course, at times unexpected issues in the code can occur causing a need to delay the release. Rather than release a buggy game (Assassin’s Creed Unity, Battlefield 4) the developers choose to delay the game to ensure that the player gets the best experience possible. Publishing a game in a poor state can tarnish the name of a developer.

It is frustrating when a developer delays a game but it happens. We see it with movies all the time. In the end we can’t be to upset as we live in such a great time of gaming. There are games being released on a weekly basis with at least two or three good games to play coming out each month. Just take a look at your backlog…

I just took a look at the Ultimate Game’s sale list (http://www.xbox.com/en-us/promotions/sales/ultimate-game-sale) and boy are there some good ones. As an FYI I typically only buy games on their release date, when my friend’s strongly urge me to buy them or when they are below $20 (because I am cheap). Based on those criteria here are the games (in alphabetical order) I recommend because I absolutely love them or have been wanting them and they are below $20: 7 Days to Die, Batman: Arkham Knight, Battlefield 1, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, Fallout 4, Far Cry 4 + Far Cry Primal Bundle, Halo 5: Guardians, Metro Redux Bundle, Ori and the Blind Forest Definitive Edition, Overcooked, Oxenfree, Quantum Break, Rocket League, Ryse,  Sleeping Dogs, Sunset Overdrive, The Witcher 3: Complete Edition, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and Wolfenstein: The Old Blood.

That is a pretty big list but if I had to pick only three of them I would go with Metro Redux Bundle, Rocket League and Sunset Overdrive. Metro Redux comes with two games with a fantastic story line. The games are just great and a third game in the series was just announced at E3. This bundle goes on sale quite often so you may be able to find it on sale again later this year. Rocket League I play at least once a week. It is a game that I keep coming back to. People missed Sunset Overdrive and that is a shame. The game is amazing (although I broke the X button on my controller because of it) that I recommend everyone play. The game has very good humor and is just a complete blast to play.

This will be pretty short. Favorite original Xbox game was Splinter Cell. I have beaten the game about six or seven different times. I love that game. We really need another one in the same style of the first.

If they added original Xbox games to Games with Gold I would be absolutely thrilled. They don’t even need to do two games a month.  If there was even one game I would be ecstatic. I loved the games on the original Xbox. The games on that system remind me a lot of the indie games we see coming out nowadays. Microsoft took a lot of chances on their first party lineup back then.

That is all for this week’s edition of Coffee Break Mailbag. Be safe and have a fun fourth of July Weekend. Feel free to send any questions you have to me on Twitter @TheZoolabus and add me on Xbox Live. Join the Discord for another opportunity to pick the Bros brain as well as mine in a more immediate fashion.

 

Author Ben Gooding

Some say he likes to eat both the right and left Twix. Some say his favorite Star Wars movie is A Phantom Menace. All we know is we call him Zoolabus. You can follow him on Twitter @TheZoolabus, on Xbox @Zoolabus and his adorable dog on Instagram @ScarlettMaeCav.

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Ben Gooding

Some say he likes to eat both the right and left Twix. Some say his favorite Star Wars movie is A Phantom Menace. All we know is we call him Zoolabus. You can follow him on Twitter @TheZoolabus, on Xbox @Zoolabus and his adorable dog on Instagram @ScarlettMaeCav.