Category Archives: Ranting

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.