Analysis Paralysis

January 8, 2011 at 10:30 am | Posted in General | 1 Comment
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Wotcha everyone,

I’m pretty sure that, in marketing terms, the Hype Star that is Rift has now cleared the planet.  Pretty soon, Hype Moff Tarkin will declare in his suitably laissez-faire yet utterly sinister manner; “You may fire when ready”.

As with all much-hyped games, every press release, every statement, every scrap of information is dissected down the most minute level, and details of both the staggered release dates and the various pre-order offers have been similarly dissected and placed under the microscope.

So, in the grandest Hawley traditions, I’m not going to bother doing that myself.  Syp over at Bio Break has a particularly fine analysis of the pre-orders, and I’d probably just copy and paste his post rather than sit down and spend the time and effort creating my own.

Of course, that would probably lead to a course of events that start with accusations of plagiarism, and end all angrily and litigious, which of course Syp would win; his lawyers, being all brash and American, would completely destroy any modest, self-effacing British lawyers I could afford.

So instead, I’m going to gloss over my slacking, and instead hark back to those halcyon days when deciding to play a game meant going to one’s favoured software retailer, picking up a large, shiny box, and exchanging a large stack of filthy lucre for the priviledge of walking out of the retail establishment with aforementioned shiny box without the requirement to run from the blaring alarms and attendant rozzers.

That was a period of time when the most difficult choice I had was in deciding to pick up the World of Warcraft box with the big picture of the Orc head on the front, or the Night Elf head.  That was a surprisingly difficult decision, with far-reaching consequences, I assure you.

I miss those days.  You chose your retailer through customer loyalty, or price of purchase.  And it didn’t matter how you chose to purchase your game, other than requiring that the retailer (whether bricks and mortar, or online) actually had the game *in stock*, or was able to get it to you *in time for launch day*.

I remember when the waters were muddied somewhat by the more common appearance of the mighty Collector’s Edition.  Striding through retail channels like the giant behemoth of fandom it is, it sought to crush all opposition through having a box that was large enough to make astronomers think that an unscheduled eclipse of the sun was occurring, and was crammed to the brim with musical scores, maps, hardcover art books, and enough sundry paraphernalia to require the hiring of a team of street urchins to carry it home, lest it cause back injuries.

Then, it was all about the game; buy game, play game.

Nowadays, I wonder if the Min-Maxing starts now, as there is plenty of opportunity to min-max my way through the various offers available.  It’s crazy, especially when there are separate offers for each retailer.

Even the mighty Collector’s Edition is no longer the apex predator in the gaming jungle, as the newer, slicker, fancier Digital Collector’s Edition rears it’s head; no art books, no music cds, but far better and more in-game items, without the need to leave the giant-sized box in the back garden like some sort of sinister obelisk, with the attendant need to shoo off the occasional family of monkeys that start dancing around it.  And worshipping it.

And those in-game items are making more and more of an impact.  Gone is the level playing field on launch day.  Now we’re getting longer and longer headstart periods, more in-game items, and less of them are purely cosmetic.

It’s not a case of browsing through the internet and finding a price that works; now the truly dedicated can set up a spreadsheet showing all the various options, their cost versus benefit ratios, and then *really* hit the ground running.

With specific reference to Rift, if I was to crumble completely and embarrassingly (I’m pretty sure that both of my regular readers are fully expecting me to purchase Rift, and are no doubt ready with their “You have no willpower” t-shirt and mug collections.  They can be so accusational, yet annoyingly correct about me), I’d go for the Digital Collector’s Edition.

Digital means less physical evidence of a bad purchasing decision; witness my Aion steelbook case, sat lonely, neglected on the shelf.  Witness the various dents that prove it’s useful ability to act as a target whenever something hard needs throwing in a fit of pique.  It also means spending extra money on in-game items (oh, just like spending money in a Free To Play game for in-game items, such as Lord of the Rings Online.  Yes, that *is* the sound of the Hypocrite Alarm going off) that will make a big difference in the game, namely the extra bag space and the mount.

The genius, however, is the Founder’s subscription price.  Sheer, utter genius.  Lifetime subscriptions are a scary amount of cash; I was too late to Lord of the Rings Online to get a lifetime offer off the bat, and at £150 they were a lot to pay before deciding that it was a game I wanted to play for over a year.

No-one wants to feel forced to play a game to get their money’s worth…

But offering a rather savage discount, and in a “this is the only time you’ll get this offer” way, makes me think of subbing up for a six-month stretch because that amount happens to be the amount I pay for my mobile ‘phone.  For just one month’s subscription, not six.

Hell, at that price, I can log in, look at the scenery, and log out again and I will *still* feel like I’ve got my money’s worth for that month.

Part of me misses the days when, regardless of game imbalances, we all started an MMO equal.  We all had the opportunity to start the game on the same day, with the same in-game equipment, with the same opportunities.

The rest of me realises that this is the nature of game, not just MMO, but game marketing nowadays, and that in-game item sweetners are here, and here to stay.  Especially when they’re given out with the *standard* edition of a game.

Make the most, says I.

Cheers,
Hawley.

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  1. […] Hawley ponders on this trend in more detail, nostalgic for a time when you could just go buy the damned game and not feel that you have to check every possible pre-order combo to make sure you got the best deal. […]


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