There are a few things I would like to say about this now that I’ve had time to think about it.
Firstly, fuck EA. I haven’t played one of their games since… Dead Space 3? And I only played that because it was in that humble bundle and it completely sucked. So lets just get my personal stance on the quality of their products out of the way.
So where was I? Right, fuck EA.
Now that is probably more than enough to say on the subject, but I’ll elaborate on why Sony stopping this new subscription service happening is a good thing. Is it really just to help Sony’s bottom line? Of course, they want to protect PS+. Are they doing it to protect gamers? Probably not…but that is exactly what they are doing. Here is why:
- Fuck EA
- More to the point, fuck subscription services. Companies like EA can barely make a functioning product that you directly pay for. How are they going to operate once they already have your money? Well we don’t have to guess, we can look at preorder bonuses and how that has resulted in a world of embargoed reviews, day one patches and completely broken releases. Under a subscription model, it will only get worse.
- It all sounds innocent enough, but you know the service will change once people are invested in it (more on that later). Other companies will get involved, content will be hidden behind subscriptions and sooner or later you will be forced to pay to get the full “Value” out of games you play.
- People in Australia and other non US regions will of course get screwed over in terms of pricing and content. But of course there will be little you can do, because content will only be available under the one paywall.
Now there are three obvious replies to all that, so let me address them all in turn:
First, EA’s games are shit, so who cares? Well, they might make a good game again, one day, somehow. So just because all their upcoming games look like boring action filled snooze fests (Yes that includes Dragon Age whatever it is)…stranger things have happened. Besides, companies I care about might do the same thing after and that is where it could be painful.
“The market will decide! If people do not want it, it will fail!” This is an interesting argument, but an incredibly shortsighted and stupid one. The market? What market? Gamers? You and me? Yeah good luck with that. The actual market that will be deciding the success of EA’s subscription service…are people that love EA’s games, DLC and F2P IAP extravaganzas so much that they are happy to hand over their cash. Yes that is right, the future business models, quality and content subscription services of the gaming world will be decided by yearly Fifa buyers.
Just stop to think about that for a moment.
Sure Sony are taking away the choice of gamers, which isn’t a good thing. But more importantly, they are taking away the choice from people who spend thousands on virtual gold for some piece of shit mobile game that EA shat out one weekend. Lets face it, these people are the majority and why the TV TV TV Xbox one original existed. In gaming terms, to be polite and perhaps a little uppity, they are complete fucking idiots. For Sony to deprive them the choice to make this service succeed? Well they should be applauded, self-serving in its intention or not.
And while we are on the subject of choice, I’ll counter the final argument. More choice is always better right? Did you learn nothing from horse armour? Let me try to explain:
The tale begins with a man called George. He is just an ordinary man in a sleepy village somewhere in the Northern region of France. There isn’t much to say about George, he is a good man, who loves eating all kinds of fruit and leads a peaceful existence.
The town too is unremarkable except for one astonishing detail. Every week members of the village (and only members of the village mind you!), go into the town square to get their share of the profits from the local fruit growers.
George enjoys this system. Each week he goes up to his friend Sonya and gets $100 in his hand. With this money he can buy all the fruit he wants, as well as other goods and services. Basically anything he needs and some things that he doesn’t, should he choose to do so. George is particularly fond of apples, but sometimes buys pears, oranges and even the occasional strawberry.
“Life,” thought George, “is good.”
But one day, without warning or consultation everything changed. George appeared at the same place and at the same time to get his $100. But now? There was another man there called Ed.
“Hold on there!” Ed cried as George prepared to take his usual $100. “I’m from the apple farm and the Mayor has authorised me to offer a choice. You can take the $100 from Sonya, or you can take $80 from me and this shiny new apple!”
George was shocked by this. Apples cost much less than $20, so why on earth would he take this deal? There was no value in it and he certainly didn’t want other fruit sellers getting similar ideas. So he simply shook his head politely (laughing at such a bad deal was not something George would do), took his $100 as usual and turned to go home.
But there was a problem. Just as he was leaving he saw his friend Mike walk up to Ed, the seemingly dodgy apple representative. Then, inexplicably he reached out his hand and took the $80 and asked for his apple too.
George had to confront him about this. “Why did you take that deal?” He asked in a confused manner.
“I don’t know, I just like the choice and I spend my money on apples anyway…so what is the big deal?”
George didn’t know what to say. He also didn’t know what to say the next few weeks as more and more people appeared to be taking up the other deal. It wasn’t a big problem for him, because he still got his $100 and could buy several apples with the extra profits, but it somehow gave him chills. George was a wise man and he could see that it was not going to end well.
When he appeared one morning to see another provider offering $75 and two pears, he knew things were about to get very bad indeed. Sure pear lovers were ecstatic, for some reason that George still failed to understand, but collecting the weekly share of the profits was now a confusing ordeal.
“Oh well,” sighed George, a little too loudly. “People can be stupid if they want. Morning Sonya, $100 please!”
“Here you go George! I’m glad you still come to me. I don’t understand why anybody would take those other deals, they are terrible!”
George nodded. “I’m with you. Oh well, I’m off to buy about 10 apples with my extra $20!” He ended with a conspiratorial wink.
“Oh I’m sorry!” Ed cut in, offensively listening in on the conversation. “Apples can now only be received through my deal. But don’t worry, with the $65 I give you, I also now include two Apples!”
“Wasn’t it $80?” George asked in shock.
“Yes it was!” Grinned Ed, holding a number of apples close to his chest.
The weeks passed and George lived without apples, stubbornly refusing to take the now terrible deal. Unfortunately the other fruit vendors soon followed Ed’s lead, holding their own tasty delights to ransom as they held on to more and more of the profits.
Then it finally happened. George, now an alcoholic, appeared one final time to receive his usual $100. But Sonya wasn’t there, she was now selling insurance in another town. Through no fault of his own, the usual and best option had been removed.
Almost crying, George walked up to Ed and asked for his usual deal. Ed smiled knowingly and handed George $65.
George was in tears now. “But, but…where are the apples?”
“Oh you’ll get some apples,” Ed laughed, “but only after 10 weeks in a row of taking my deal. But don’t worry, you then get three of them, which is amazing value!”
The following week, George left town, swore to never eat fruit again and started a semi-successful shop selling odd socks. Sometimes he would wonder “where did it all go wrong? What could I have done?” There was no good answer, there was nothing he could have done. All he had now was socks.
The moral of this little tale? Game publishers are evil and greedy. Then you have to factor in that other people, by and large, are stupid. The game publishers know this and will target their service appropriately, not at you, but at the people who will give them the money they need to continue on not actually making good games, but just making more money.
And then your choice to buy a good complete game is taken away. Don’t believe it? Go out and buy Plants vs Zombies 2 without the F2P aspects and related balancing. You can’t do it, it is not an option. Sorry, you have lots of options but that one you actually want? Bad luck buddy.
So thanks Sony. I’m sure Microsoft and EA will continue to cook up crazy schemes (Remember all that Xbox One #1 stuff? Not too long ago was it…), but the world of gaming is at least safe for a few more months.