Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Creeper

Productivity goes out the window and down the street to find a coffee bar that allows smoking inside when you spend 7 hours of a 10 hour day waiting for one person to come and sign a permit that allows you to do your job. So you spend those 7 hours bullshitting with the crew and watching the world around you, ever in awe of the things Man can accomplish when his mind is set on something. It's the only thing that keeps us at the top of the food chain, you know. We don't have thick skin to withstand claws of a predator, nor do we have a natural camouflage ability to hide from them. And we certainly don't have the sharp claws or teeth. Well, some of us have the teeth, but that's another subject...

Taking a break from constant online barrages against Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics, and Microsoft. Look, I get that people are pissed off about the "Rise Of The Tomb Raider" exclusivity. I get it, and I feel it, but sometimes it's too much and I need to avoid it. But at this point it is a timed exclusivity, and nothing more. It's an important word, that. And people seem to forget that the word was and still is used in press. Until proven otherwise I see no point in throwing stones at any of the parties involved, however tempting it may be. And it is tempting. Especially for the hardcores.

People seem to forget (or ignore) that Tomb Raider, great as it's always been, was something of a cult game series for the longest time. A big cult game series, but a cult game series nonetheless. And if you want to break out of that cult status you've got to make some changes and get attention. With 2013's 'Tomb Raider', Crystal Dynamics did just that. It was the biggest (and fastest) selling game in the history of the series. And it was fantastic. It has it's flaws and is by no means perfect, and for myself doesn't have the re-playability of older titles, but it's good. And when it was announced and adverts began to appear it unintentionally drew a line in the sand in the TR community. Some people were for the change while others despised it. But for CD & Square it paid off. The risk was worth the reward, and the reward was given.

So many new fans were soon in the TR community, and it has always been one of the most welcoming communities I've had the pleasure of being a part of. And it was many of the "elders" or "hardcores" in this community that felt outright slapped in the face and disrespected when 'Rise' was announced as an X Box 1 exclusive. Feelings of "We were here when you were nothing" were, and still are, felt. And perhaps rightfully so. I 100% stand behind the "We made you successful why are you fucking us?!" mindset I've seen. But at the same time, much like the reboot in 2013 proved, you need to do what's best for business in the vide game business. No one works for free no matter how much they love their job. There are bills and employees to pay, softwares to create and license, costly advertising campaigns, and loads of other stuff I probably don't even know about (I claim no expertise as I'm not in that industry).

The cost of a brand new video game nowadays is around $60. And I can remember very clearly games costing $60 back in the era of Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. It's one of the few entertainment medias that have not gone up in price as the decades have gone on. The cost of living, however, has risen incredibly since those days and still does and always will. If you've employees now, you can't pay them what the payscale was then. You could, but good luck with the results you get from an employee willing to live in the modern world on early 90's wages. Since the cost of games has remained (thankfully, mind you) stagnant, developers and studios have to find other ways to make enough money to cover all the costs of running a studio, developing games, and all the details involved within.

This is where exclusivity comes in to play. Now first off, another seemingly forgotten fact over the last few months: Tomb Raider is no stranger to being a console exclusive. Both 'Tomb Raider 2 & 3' were exclusive to PlayStation 1. It was only when sales began to slip and the contract expired that TR games graced other consoles. If one console's sales could've sustained the series, and if Sony had been interested in renewing even with the slump in sales, I firmly believe they'd have remained exclusives. But with a limited audience you can only sell so many copies of a game. When it becomes logical and necessary you have to branch out to survive. So in that respect, IF 'Rise' is indeed exclusive permanently, then TR has done nothing but come full circle. It's an "I hate this piece of the puzzle, but goddamnit it fits!" in the overall history of the series.

But I am not encouraging it. At this point, I am one of those upset about it and feeling disrespected by it. I'm just pointing that little fact out is all. Personally, I think IF it remains exclusive it's one of the stupidest business decision CD & Square could make, if not the biggest. With all the attention and money gained by the 2013 TR, it'd be incredibly stupid to limit and alienate the now swelled community. And if I were to be offered a contract for such a thing, I personally would want a little compensation for knowing I was about to alienate said community. You want a deal? Alright let's see here... Sony has sold X amount of consoles. I want the amount of money I'd get if EVERY owner of said amount of consoles purchased one copy of my game, plus the standard offer. That'd be my terms. And if the offer could be attained, fantastic. If not, "Sorry, but we'll take X amount of money for X amount of months of being an exclusive". With the way the XB1 has been financially failing as a console, CD & Square could get away with it. But keeping in mind the failing, it's also another reason why I'd personally not make the deal.

Your product can be amazing and change the landscape of your industry forever, but if no one sees or experiences it, it doesn't exist. And Square Enix have not been in business as long as they have been by making bad business decisions. They've made a few, but every business does. What matters is the size and severity of the mistakes. And keeping 'Rise' a permanent exclusive is a big mistake that would only benefit Microsoft. Someone in charge of keeping track of the money for Square had to throw up a hand and say: "Waitaminute! Bad idea and here's why!" when the deal was first brought to Square's desk. Every business has someone that keeps track of the money, and how to keep it coming in. That much I do know.

From the Official Square Enix Tomb Raider Forums, used with permission:

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