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Episode 77: Physical All the Way

by Nate Andrews, Zack Kaplan, Josh Max, Zachary Miller, Tyler Ohlew, Neal Ronaghan, Mike Sklens, and Scott Thompson - March 15, 2013, 1:56 pm PDT
Total comments: 13

The digital future, the SimCity debacle, and a whole lot of Castlevania.

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Episode 77 of Connectivity is live, and we have three great segments for you this week.

Kicking the show off, Mike, Scott, and Zach first answer a question about our take on the recent SimCity debacle and the idea of changing reviews to reflect launch problems for games. After that, the trio talks about the recent games they've been playing, including StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, The Cave, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate and more.

Next up, Zack, Tyler, and Josh discuss their feelings about retail and digital games. Are they ready to acquiesce to the ominous cloud and abandon all physical possession? As it turns out; no, they aren't. 

Rounding out the show is a more thorough conversation about Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate, featuring Neal, Nate, and Zach. Nate talks about his sterling 8.5 review of the game and whether or not the change in style should ward away fans of the classic Symphony of the Night.

So that does it. As always, you can click here to send us some listener mail. Oh, and don't forget, we are hosting a live game of "Who Wants to be a Nintendoaire?" at PAX East next week. If you are going to be in Boston for the event, come say hi and compete for some pretty cool prizes!

This episode edited by Scott Thompson.

Talkback

Something I probably should have mentioned in the email: It's all well and good to have changeable review scores, but you have to pull yourself off Metacritic if you do since they only go by the first score you post. So despite Sim C still being a 4 on Polygon, Metacritic's showing the 9.5 still. (Guess what bonuses are based on.)

oksodaScott Thompson, Associate EditorMarch 15, 2013

Well, they can't control what Metacritic does, but that certainly reduces the effectiveness of changing review scores. Can a site request their scores not be featured on Metacritic? And would they want to? I wonder how much traffic they get from it. It does make the whole score change seem more like flag waving than an actual ethical choice, but I don't know. It's a layered issue, for sure.

FjurbanskiMarch 15, 2013

Always online DRM is garbage.


Doing things that way, a lot of people don't get what they want. Doing OPTIONAL multiplayer gives everybody what they want and nobody gets screwed over. When it comes to doing right by your consumers, there is no benefit to this kind of DRM.


Besides, it doesn't help fight against piracy anyway. Pirates already have an offline version of sim city up and running.


Also, as far as changing review scores, generally I'm not in favor of it. But in Sim City's case, a lot of reviewers had their reviews done before the game came out, so they didn't run into the issues everyone else did. So in that case they were genuinely giving customers a false representation of the game, so they should change their scores. That's when I'm ok with it. When the score that is given is a genuinely misrepresentation. Other than that, I can't see any reason to change reviews scores, because it just gets too arbitrary.

KDR_11kMarch 16, 2013

Eurogamer (.net at least) waited a while until after launch to review the game, their verdict was that even without the server issues the game just isn't very good, once you look deeper into it you realize it's complete nonsense (e.g. he had a random car stop driving and all traffic permanently stuck behind it, using multiple buses just makes all of them queue at the same stops instead of spreading out and serving multiple areas, etc) and that nonsense will impair your progress more and more as the game goes on.

TJ SpykeMarch 16, 2013

Quote from: oksoda

Well, they can't control what Metacritic does, but that certainly reduces the effectiveness of changing review scores. Can a site request their scores not be featured on Metacritic? And would they want to? I wonder how much traffic they get from it. It does make the whole score change seem more like flag waving than an actual ethical choice, but I don't know. It's a layered issue, for sure.

I don't think a site or magazine could stop Metacritic from including their score. It would be like saying a studio should be able to ask a site not to review their movie-game. And there are very few legit reasons to change the original review score.

Always online drm s fine if it's something like an MMO since those are always online anyways. I don't think single player games like SimCity and Diable III should require online connection though.

Kytim89March 16, 2013

I would only go all digital under two conditions:

First, Nintendo implements some kind of unified system account similar to that of iTunes.
Second, Nintendo offers discounts on first and third party titles in a a similar manner to Steam.

yoshi1001March 21, 2013

I wish your physical vs digital discussion had someone more pro-digital. IMO, there are definite advantages that should have been explored more.

The only real advantage digital has going for it is convenience. I much prefer physical copies, having the games on something local and separate from the system seems safer in the long run. I also worry about publishers losing rights etc and taking the games off the servers to purchase.
Not to mention re-selling and lending games to people isn't possible with a digital game.

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterMarch 22, 2013

Quote from: Traveller

The only real advantage digital has going for it is convenience. I much prefer physical copies, having the games on something local and separate from the system seems safer in the long run. I also worry about publishers losing rights etc and taking the games off the servers to purchase.
Not to mention re-selling and lending games to people isn't possible with a digital game.

eh backwards compatibility as demonstrated by the Vita

Kytim89March 23, 2013

One of the big advantages to digital is that if my 3DS XL were to be lost then I would have a financial record of all the games that I purchased for the system for Nintendo to see and return to me once I bought a new system and gave them a police report.

One of the big advantages of physical is that it eventually goes on sale or drops in price.

ejamerMarch 26, 2013


@yoshi1001:
I'd love to hear your pro-digital arguments. So far there haven't been many offered... why not post your opinion?


For me, I'm pretty well entrenched in physical formats whenever possible.

As others have already mentioned, the cost-benefit ratio of buying retail tends to work out better for me than buying digital. Physical games regularly get discounted and go on sale. Savvy gamers can often use trade-in deals to acquire games at a significant discount if they do some research and shop selectively. Plus the used/trade market provides an excellent source of extended value once you are done with a game - something that has saved me a great deal of money in the past year after joining an excellent game trading website.

Quote from: pokepal148

Quote from: Traveller

...

eh backwards compatibility as demonstrated by the Vita

Or demonstrated by the PS3?  Oh wait... PSN games aren't compatible with PS4. Or maybe they will be, if you don't mind streaming and being always online and paying a subscription fee to have access to your games. Hopefully lag and unlimited broadband access aren't issues for you, because if they are then you are outta luck.

With digital, you give up control. Maybe the games will be supported going forward, maybe not. Maybe they will still be accessible in the future, maybe not.

With physical, I'm still playing my old NES games on demand whenever I want. I also have the option to trade them for new games, sell them for cash, or loan them to friends. As someone who enjoys collecting games this is an important distinction for me. The biggest concern is from physical damage or theft.

Quote from: Kytim89

One of the big advantages to digital is that if my 3DS XL were to be lost then I would have a financial record of all the games that I purchased for the system for Nintendo to see and return to me once I bought a new system and gave them a police report.

Nintendo is a poor example here because of their policy of tying digital downloads to specific hardware. This is much easier with other platforms that use an account-based ownership system. However, let's talk about Nintendo hardware for now.

So with digital, all you need to do is buy new hardware, file a police report, talk with Nintendo customer service, send them the report, and even then you still need to redownload gigs and gigs of data before having access to your content? Wow. Sounds like you won't be gaming for days while jumping through hoops. Oh yeah, and you'll be starting over for every game you own since all save files are gone in one fell swoop. Hope that doesn't bug you.

With retail I've probably only lost a single game (the one in my system at that time; if they've broken into my home and stolen my collection then I've got bigger things to worry about and can deal with the insurance company later). In this case, to start playing again I just need to buy new hardware and put a different game in. Boom: portable gaming available! Sure it costs more to replace a physical game, but it's faster and easier and I probably paid less for a physical copy to start with.


When does buying digital make sense?
* When you know you will want to keep that game permanently.
* When you want immediate access without having to worry about whether the game is in the system at any given moment.
* When you don't mind paying a premium and removing any option to sell or trade the game later.

Honestly, there are extremely few games checking off each of those boxes for me. Other people might be in a different position where they don't mind the restrictions... but I'm not buying into the digital revolution until (a) there is no other option, or (b) there is a meaningful benefit for me to do so.

(Buying digital games also makes sense when games just aren't available in physical format, although being the only option doesn't necessarily make it a good option.)

pokepal148Spencer Johnson, Contributing WriterMay 02, 2013

virtual console is an exception, my grandmother has an old snes in her basement and i wonder if i should take it and put it in high quality storage(it isn't yellow), it is only a matter of time before these systems wear out, N64 controllers have already seen better days and blowing in the cartridge only does so much... the clock is ticking for the day when you can put your cartridge for mario 3 only to find that the NES has kicked the bucket, and i can only hope nintendo has their act together when that day comes...

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