Category Archives: Ranting

The Frustrating Playstation 5

Earlier has year I was lucky enough to get a Playstation 5 from the Walmart website and it’s been nothing but trouble ever since. Up until now, I’ve been very lucky with launch consoles and never had a problem. That all changed and the unit has been in for repair, twice now with varying results.

Consoles for me are supposed to relieve stress but the Playstation 5 just adds to it. Given that I’ve yet to see a PS5 exclusive game that’s worthwhile to me I may just sell it and go back to my Playstation 4 Pro.

Note that if you have already gone through all the steps on the Playstation website, chatting with support is not worth your time. They only know how to do what is on that page and cannot do anything further. No logs for developers, no second tier of support, nothing.

Issue #01: Network issues with Playstation Now and the Playstation Store

The first issue was that I paid for Playstation Now (I’ve since canceled it as it’s not worth the money) and frequently the screen would give me blank boxes instead of the games and refuse to load anything. The networking on the device was otherwise fine. They replaced the mainboard and sent it back only for the issue to be the same as before.

Before anyone says anything, I have gone through their support documents a dozen times. I have all the ports for it open on my router so that is not the issue.

Issue #02: Unit hard powers off while in rest mode

This issue is a lot more serious as it can result in “bricking” the console or the loss of all data on the console. If you take a look through Twitter and Reddit this is a rather common problem, but not universal. When the unit is in rest mode it will hard power off at random intervals. This can happen after a single day, three days, and even five days but for me, it always eventually happens.

I live in an old building so I was worried there was something up with the power. So I bought a nice UPS to plug the unit into and that ultimately changed nothing. I followed some other tips, I removed my m2.SSD and anything connected to the unit. Again, no change.

To me, this means the unit is broken so I sent it back in again as that’s the only way there going to pay any attention to the issue. Not entirely unexpectantly they sent it back saying the unit was fine, which means they didn’t check or left it on long enough for the issue to happen. Or they are aware of the issue and simply have no fix for it. I highly recommend that if you have an issue, complain and send the unit in. It took an awful lot of people yelling before Microsoft for example admitted to the Xbox 360 issues.

Conclusion

This to me is unacceptable. Yes, I can get by if I decide to keep it by powering it off and back on again after every use, but I shouldn’t have to do that. If you have this issue, or any severe issue with your console do not just “work around it” and complain, send the unit in. Make as much noise as possible. It’s the only way they listen.

Vancouver Fan Expo 2020

This will be a somewhat conflicted post as on one hand, I’m very negative about the Vancouver Fan Expo, but yet I still went this year and may go again. I’ve been a few times, skipped last year entirely and keep hoping for them to make it better. This has yet to happen to any significant degree. It would be nice if they could shake up the format a little now and then.

So what was the biggest reason that I went this year, with all that compalining, well I had to meet Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, etc) as I was unlikely to get another chance.

The first thing you should know about these events is that they are not cheap. You’re looking at $45 for a single day (there also multi day passes), which just gets you in the door. The majority of what you’re seeing are likely local vendors, many of which you can just go visit their store any day of the week. What is more exciting to seek out are the unique craft vendors on the floor.

There are numerous panels you can attend, but they tend to be brief and spaced out so you have to spend ALL day with limited places to sit down to see them. The celebrity pictures and autographs are expensive (in this year’s case a photo with Brendan Fraser (The Mummy) was $130 for example) so chances are you’ll have to just pick one person.

State of Mobile Gaming

Ninety-five percent.

For me, that is the percentage of current mobile “games” which are complete garbage. What would be a fantastic start to resolving this situation would be to move all “games” with in-app purchases from “Free” over to “Paid”.

So, who exactly is to blame for the state of mobile gaming then?

Unfortunately, the majority of the blame lands squarely on the users. I’ve lost track how many times I’ve heard people unwilling to even pay so much as $2.99 for an app. Realistically you cannot make a premium mobile game and survive on that kind of money. Think about it. How do you pay staff on a game that people pay for once and so little? The days of the $0.99 cents Angry Birds (which itself has become full of microtransactions) are long over.

“Wait a minute! It sounds like your advocating for current practices! I’m confused?”

No. The current, insidious, predatory practices of nickel and diming the public are going to doom the entire genre unless pulled way back. Yes, yes, that’s a lot of hyperbole but I think people are already starting to get sick of it. The trend is to make the waiting for things to happen so positively irritating that you will decide to fork over some cash. For a quality, feature rich game, I have no problem paying in excess of $15 as a start.

EA’s take on the beloved classic Dungeon Keeper is a shining example of what is wrong with the industry. Now, it should be no surprise that EA is among the worst of these but this, with this franchise, was just so terribly disappointing.

Then, let’s not forget the Warner Brothers title for the “children”, Harry Potter, which strangles your character for a long time unless you pay to speed up his/her rescue… I am not making that up.

I want to echo one of the points from Feature Creep in that many of these are not even real games. They are excuses to make you keep paying or wait. In the game “Boom Beach” a simple upgrade to a character takes 2 1/2 days.

Loot Boxes

This is gambling. Period. Even if the items are not paid to win items it is still a form of gambling and parts of the world are starting to take notice. 

It is difficult to say how this will turn out or how the industry will find a new way to claw money out of us but I think it’s a positive step. Making “AAA” games is not cheap but this exploitation is not the answer.

Subscriptions

If done properly this could actually work. Any game which has a backend to support or wants to continue to put in new features simply cannot work on a single payment. Nor do we want them to resort to loot boxes and other microtransactions. 

Perhaps a “complete” subscription would be the answer. Thus unlocking all features, all characters with no further money required. The drawbacks are of course there’s only so many subscriptions which people are willing to pay for so if subscriptions become the norm the number of games people play will greatly diminish.

Summary

In the end, I do not think there is any easy answers to the problem. I can say without a shadow of a doubt the current trend is poisonous.