Hello and welcome back to the 5 Points of Gaming! It’s been a rough week for me, but a potentially even rougher one for the industry. The best part about it? The most threatening piece of legislature, or binding law or whatever you want to call it, since SOPA has been barely covered. SO without further ado, let’s dive right in.
1: The Trans-Pacific Partnership:
Also known as TPP, this new massive trade agreement between a bunch of Pacific trade powers is the most threatening thing to the video game industry in quite a while, and by the looks of it, has much more of a chance to become reality than Net Neutrality or SOPA did. Why? Because it’s a trade agreement, and no one suspects trade and video games to go hand and hand, despite people’s insistence that it’s a legitimate industry. Luckily, here at Gaming Respawn, we do our 5 minutes of research, and the TPP is terrifying. As a disclaimer, I am not a lawyer, but I did read through part of the agreement, so my word is not that of a professional, but more of an educated person.
One of its biggest flaws, in regards to intellectual property, is the consistent use of the word should. When a legal document says should, unless it benefits the person who ‘should’, the clause following it is going to be ignored. As such, the clauses helping to protect abuse of copyright law are vague, and more guidelines than actual rules. So, if something like this were to pass, countries would be going on a code of morality, a word that many people would not associate with all that many governments, and certainly not the US.
Secondly, copyright length, which is the life of the author plus 70 years due to a Disney lobby, would become law in all countries involved. Remember how copyright law was only supposed to impact for a generation or two after the author? Well, not if TPP and the US have anything to say about, Disney will forever own Mickey Mouse if they have to bribe every Senator and kill every moral politician, of which there are few, in order to hold onto Mickey Mouse. Also, trade secrets accessed by anyone would carry jail time. No, not the person who hacked into the company to get it, anyone who basically spreads it. So if someone were to release today that Halo 5 was actually going to be a grass simulator, and I was to write an article on it, I could be criminally charged. While unlikely, as it would be a PR disaster and hard to enforce, it’s insane to even think about.
Finally, tampering with files, at least entering them and going through them illegally, which is what modders do, is illegal and would be jail-time. That’s right, modding would be illegal, carrying serious penalties. There would be even more serious penalties if it was ‘commercial’, an undefined term that does not imply for profit. It likely means popular, so those popular Skyrim modders or the guy who made SimCity offline could be charged serious penalties for accessing files illegally. Perhaps Bethesda wouldn’t pursue this, although why even take the risk, but man EA seems to not understand PR, so I imagine they would jump on it in seconds.
The entire thing is a little surreal in its implications, and I recommend reading it if you have the time. If you want further clarification on this by someone who breaks it down by section, I recommend this video a lot, it’s very easy to follow and reinforces exactly what I’ve stated. Remember boycotting Net Neutrality or SOPA, perhaps TPP needs the same treatment. In fact, the idea of it being a nightmare for consumers is not shocking, as over 150 companies helped author it, so you can bet not a single consumer advocate was within a mile of where this was negotiated. It’s shocking the lack of regard companies have for those who buy from them.
2: EA and the Season Pass:
So if you missed it, EA pulled a great prank and announced the season pass for Battlefront would be 50 dollars! I know what a knee slapper. Wait, what’s that? This gag is old, as we all know EA is completely doing that. Yea, I know, but I like to pretend they’re still the EA of old, the kind that people looked up to and wanted to work for. It was a better time, a time without TPP’s or overused franchises, or Peter Molyneux making bad games. Can we go back to that?
When I was confirming the price, as $50 is ludicrous make no mistake, I saw an article that asked what would make the season pass worth that much. I didn’t read it. The answer is so very simple : fucking nothing! For that much, I could basically buy ‘The Witcher 3’ or literally any other really, really good AAA game, basically anything not made by EA. The season pass would only be worth it if we found out that buying it gave you a free copy of the next major EA title, and even then I would still buy ‘The Witcher 3’ because at least they offer a complete game with reasonably priced DLC and SINGLEPLAYER! I know, what a concept.
It’s like EA wants to test how far its relationship with consumers can go until it starts to lose money. They’re playing a game of chicken, and I can’t imagine a favorable long term outcome for them. I have no interest in buying Battlefront because it’s an incomplete game on a shitty service (Origin) developed by creatively stifled devs who are owned by a fatally incompetent organization that seems to make PR decisions by spinning a wheel and saying “Eh, Fuck it”.
3: Overkill adds micro-transactions to Payday 2:
Guys, why? It’s EA’s job to fuck consumers with micro-transactions that alters the level playing field of multiplayer. Or Ubisoft, but not you guys! Especially when you say at the onset you aren’t going to have these kinds of things! I mean, it’s not the worst system I’ve ever seen, but c’mon, I know ‘Payday 2’ was successful. Either develop a new game, legitimate DLC or simply sit on your hands. Don’t add anti-consumer mechanism to make a pretty penny, you might start to sound like EA and then we can’t be friends!
Seriously though, what does this accomplish? I can’t imagine many people that eager to buy micro-transactions in a somewhat old game with a cult player base. The people still playing that game seriously are not going to buy in mass, as most of them don’t need what you’re offering to beat any mission at any difficulty, and even if they did, this does more harm than good. I still love you guys for creating the only bank heist games of good production quality, but get your shit together and stop trying to be a shitty AAA publisher.
4: Cancer-Ridden Commentator
Yea, this is just sad news. Popular YouTuber and games commentator/first impressionist TotalBiscuit has been diagnosed with cancer in the liver. Originally, he had bowel cancer, which was treated and he appeared to be in remission, but the cancer had spread to his liver and it’s inoperable. The average life expectancy is 2-3 years, although his outlook is seemingly brighter considering his age and recent advancements in treatment. Nonetheless, a black event for gaming, as he truly is one of the more important and influential voices in gaming critique, alongside Yahtzee Croshaw. Hopefully everyone can send him best wishes and a long, happy life.
5a: Oh how low Steam has fallen:
Gabe Newell simulator is a thing. Yea. That got greenlit and was on the store page for a while. Needless to say, the game sucks. Remember when Steam was prominent and hard to get onto. They seem to have drastically polarized, and I’m no longer sure how you can’t get on Steam, it seems like an inevitability rather than a possibility now. For the eighth billionth time, Steam needs a degree of quality control, because this is just silly. Between asset flip games, games that barely work and terrible simulator games, Steam is flooded with bad games, and it’s no longer funny.
5b: Company that Fucked up the most this week:
It could be Overkill, just saying. No, it’s EA. They singlehandedly killed enthusiasm for a new Battlefront with the typical greed and lack of foresight they generally show. As mad as I am at Overkill for going back on their word, they just pale in comparison to the absolute insanity and ignorance EA displays on a consistent basis. Monkeys could make better decisions in price or content. No singleplayer, a 50 dollar season pass, and a bland multiplayer beta that the world resoundingly said “Meh”. EA sure knows how to self-promote, huh?