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Playstation+ More than Just Free Games
Posted on Friday, January 31 2014 @ 10:16:51 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

On June 28, 2013, Anthony Severino posted an article quantifying the monetary benefit of a one year subscription to Playstation Plus (PS+). After some basic assumptions and quick math, Anthony assessed that a user for that time period would have received about $1,854.86 in value over the course of the one-year subscription with certain factors considered and as outlined in his analysis. At the time, I was not a PS+ subscriber because one of the fundamental reasons I went from PS2 to PS3 vs. an Xbox 360 was the fact that the online portion was free.
Prior to having read Anthony’s piece, I really hadn’t sat down and considered the value proposition posed by Sony’s PS+ service. I was concerned about having limited hard drive space for all the free games you could download, I also couldn’t see the benefit of free old games which I had already purchased only now to have a redundant digital copy limited to the length of my subscription (we will revisit this), and finally I really have an affinity for the physical games which can be conveniently shared and transported. In all actuality I initially perceived it as just another means of squeezing an extra $50 from gamers each year and to plug the financial performance gap then being realized between Sony and Microsoft. A month or two after reading Anthony’s post, though, I bit the bullet to see the value for myself. That’s how it started…
My first observation after having signed up was that you don’t need a lot of hard drive space for your instant game collection, if you have the time. See, as soon as you start to download a free game it is added to your download list and you can cancel the download if you do not wish to play the game immediately. This gets back to the caveat of having the “time”, as you will need to download and install the game at some point to play it, but you really just want to get it onto your download list before it is taken out of “freebie” rotation. Ohhh…so I don’t need a lot of HD space, alright that’s a plus (sorry, had to do that).
I then figured that I could use the service somewhat against its own design. I realized I had several of the games in the instant collection already in hard copy. Not being the type to trade in games to Gamestop because you simply feel ripped off (I gift great used games vs. selling them as I believe the nominal amount I can get for a trade-in is typically far less than the perceived benefit of giving it to a disadvantaged kid or family member), I was able to find a win-win situation. I could download a game I already had and for me I had a few choices:

(1) I could then trade in the used physical copies during one of the Gamestop sales where you get bonuses for trading in “x” amount of used games together;
(2) I could do the feel good thing and donate my physical copy to a good person or cause; or
(3) just do the chill thing and give some of my best buddies copies of games like Borderlands 2 which we can now play together (I won’t digress during this piece but for some reason I always get a poor match with my buddy I gave this game to… so in that particular case it was a little bit of a waste but they still really like the game).
Aside from the initial monetary benefits outlined in Anthony’s piece, I had now identified yet another added value if you bundle and resell physical redundant copies. This was an added monetary value but next we move into a very innovative marketing mechanism. When I had signed up for PS+, my focus was on free games associated with PS3 as I did not and still currently don’t own a PSP or PS Vita (Vita). In short order, I realized that you could download free Vita titles offered with the subscription and cancel the download for play at a later date on a Vita. This is where it gets interesting and the value proposition goes beyond the free games.
I never contemplated buying a Vita as I rarely have time available to use it. I drive to and from work and when at home, I play my PS3. At a younger age, the Vita may have been my bread and butter but currently my routine doesn’t really allow time for it. My initial assumption regarding the purchase of a handheld was that the purchase proposition between the Vita and 3DS is on a level playing field, meaning that I would have to buy the core system, peripherals, memory, and last but not least, games. For PS+ subscribers the value proposition is very different in that, if I were to go to the store to pick out a handheld for me or my kid (if I had one), the 3DS may have the market cornered but I am going to be telling the kid, "Look dude, for about the same price you are getting the Vita plus since I have had PS+ for a while and been downloading free Vita titles you start with about 10-20 games (Free!!)".

To hell with a launch lineup, give me an instant free game collection. I don’t really care how well the 3DS is doing if I can purchase its competitor with 10-20 free games with a relatively comparable system. Pair that with the fact that as a kid I lost or broke several Gameboys, which sometimes had games in them or with them, you begin to see the benefit to the parents. At least I can salvage the digital collection regardless of how irresponsible my kid may be with this damn expensive toy I chose to buy vs. sending them outside with a slingshot and some cherries.
Months later the PS4 is released and I have downloaded my first 2 free PS4 games Resogun and Don’t Starve, yet I don’t have a PS4. I continue to download Vita games in anticipation of a console bundle purchase probably in the first quarter of 2015. You hear the BTSs of the world talking about the launch lineup and exclusivity, but when I look at the current marketing strategies and realize that each month Sony is strengthening their consoles' value proposition with its current fan base, I see many ways in which Microsoft can strengthen their own campaign and further secure their fan base. In 2015, I won’t be posed with the choice of Xbox1 or PS4 like some, but rather as a continued supporter of a Sony product my value proposition will be Core System + Game Bundle (Xbox1 Bundle) vs Core System + Game Bundle + Instant Collection 3-6 games (if not more) (PS4 Bundle), or better yet for me 2 Core Systems + Possible Game Bundle + 2 Instant Collections with 20+ games combined (PS4/Vita Bundle).
I think Microsoft is picking up what is being put down as they started in the second half of last year their program titled, “Games with Gold” and hopefully they continue to flesh out that program. As it sits now I have and continue to be offered free games for 4+ systems (243 individual offerings per wiki) with one subscription while “Games with Gold” has about 15 games currently in its collection.
Launch line-p, native resolution, and refresh rate has garnered much of the next-gen attention, but for those looking to buy a next gen console in the coming year(s), it would be prudent to keep in mind the comprehensive value proposition offered by both companies.

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted originally on January 28, 2014, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan

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What yah looking at Big Brother?
Posted on Wednesday, December 18 2013 @ 15:35:18 Eastern

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

As the holiday season is upon us I am reminded of Santa Claus making a list and checking it twice, because he knows who is naughty and who is nice. Santa’s a damn spy and I don’t want a plump, old dude of no relation to my children checking on them throughout the year. I’ll buy their presents myself! So who has been actually watching us all year? Some would say the U.S. Government and others would agree, but what does that mean to me? Is the U.S. Government as innocuous as Santa Claus?
As the media continues to cover information released by Edward Snowden, one of my favorite pastimes, video games, has been brought into the fray. Specifically, it is now believed that the U.S. amongst other governments has been spying on online communities. As a multi-billion dollar industry with a multi-million participant user group, I could see this as a possibility. So what does that mean? Am I going to be playing Diablo 3 with Tingzor and bang, boom, pow…real-life Counter-Strike is going to unfold in my living room? Possibly, yet realistically it’s highly improbable. But the government has been snooping on me…they gotta stop this or else…?
It was interesting to see how up in arms people get about the “Government” collecting information on them when we volunteer information on a regular basis, the scope of which is relatively unknown due to the enigmatic user agreements we enter into every time we use a great deal of today’s technology. Just a few of the routine user agreements I have been graced with agreeing to are as follows: I-tune/Apple – for my I phone Google – for my android phone (would you like access to my location too?) PSN – to play online EA Origins, Rockstar, Ubisoft, insert publisher of game who requires you to accept their terms before playing their game. ISP – You get internet but don’t go trying to download stuff off Pirate Bay Samsung – Android phone but Samsung product, lets add a layer so everyone is covered I suppose This would equate to just one day's worth of provisions my technological activities are supposedly governed by. Note: If you have ever taken the time to review these agreements side by side you will undoubtedly come across terms which conflict by their very nature. Digging deeper you could actually get into cross referencing the citations and case law referenced in some of them and realize the following: (1) You may not be abiding by all the terms found in the numerous user agreements you have entered into; (2) Not many people sit side by side all of their user agreements to see the inherent conflicts; and (3) If you did the diligence, who would change all of the agreements to conform to you as a specific user?
I use the user agreements as an example of how a legally binding document can be both superfluous and inherently non-sensical when placed into real-world perspective. So, when someone says, “Oh my God, the Government is spying on me!” I have to take it with a grain of salt and say, “Okay, so what have they been doing with it?” with a typical response of, “I don’t know, it just makes me uncomfortable to think someone is watching everything I do." If you were aware of being watched all of your life and nothing directly related to their snooping ever negatively impacted your life, would you still care?

I remember once telling my uncle that I don’t get it. Politicians simply repeat a particular message and people as a group start to believe and be swayed regardless of the accuracy of a statement. Furthermore, why do so many people vote along party lines without researching each candidate? He said something that made perfect sense… ”Nephew, not everyone has the time or acumen to research a particular candidate. Aside from that, there are a lot of people far more focused with attaining their next meal, having a roof over their heads, or just making ends meet, that the government’s activities are to some extent inconsequential to their immediate needs." If you were a poor person the day before the election you will more than likely be a poor person the day after the election. If the government has been collecting data on you this long and has not directly utilized it to reprimand you specifically, then how much impact does it really have now that you are aware?  
I get that the argument can be made, then, that the Government can do whatever it wants and we should just be okay with it… nah, not so much. I think simply from an individual perspective that monitoring has relatively little impact on me currently, so I am not up in arms. Of course the practice could be abused, innocent people can become victims, etc… but I grew up in a neighborhood where individuals have and continue to be profiled without ever having been justified by having a federal profile as a reference.
There are many battles to be fought with regard to maintaining civil rights and providing checks on the government but collecting information in an environment where information is ever prevalent and publicly available seems to make sense to me. In an ideal situation we could limit government information collection to only “criminals” while also granting them the ability to anticipate threats without a resource such as “information”. In the real world however, individuals both good and bad as well as public and private entities gather information in order to make informed decisions. The methodology for gathering information in a constantly changing environment is of a dynamic nature so I “get it”. I like my individual perception that at least some of the snooping leads to the prevention of some crimes. I am not saying it is the best way to protect a society, but “best” is relative to the perception at the time. I can rationalize why the action occurred, whether good or bad so in this specific case I just don’t have the desire to be up in arms.
In conclusion, I get more freaked out by what information private companies are gathering on me through the ever prevalent user agreements. It just seems a bit suspicious that I have to agree to the terms of my internet provider, then to Sony to use its network and to update its firmware, then to the publisher of a game, and possibly to a subsidiary who manage something like an EA Origin. When I had a Super Nintendo I don’t even think I knew what an agreement was. Furthermore, the idea that the end users of many of these systems are kids without a legal background seems a bit entertaining to have them waive certain rights with both parties consenting to understanding the agreement entered into…but I guess it falls on the parents to make sure that when the kid turns on the system or inserts a game that they do not agree to any terms or conditions until their folks have had ample time to review said agreement.
Now that I think about it, it would be really cool if a legal firm did a little expo on what have I signed up for: an examination of current user agreements in the video game industry.

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article, posted originally on December 10, 2013, has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick Tan

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I ain’t scared of no ghost! Now clowns on the other hand…
Posted on Monday, December 9 2013 @ 16:47:07 Eastern

I recently read an article discussing Shinji Mikami’s (Evil Within) revelation that it is simply getting harder to scare gamers. Sir, I agree! As I roll into my 30’s I have developed a rather tragic condition, called “Fearlessness”…nah just kidding it has simply become much tougher to get that old scary feeling. You know, the one where you are so scared you try to scream but nothing comes out (oh yeah that is some good scariness, and has only happened to me once). See, even writing about the fact that I don’t get scared easily anymore is in and of itself quite scary as I can only genuinely hope that no one on the internet is like, “oh, I’m going to show you scary”…please don’t.  I’m not interested in that type of weird scary…just make me a video game that scares the crap out of me and that will suffice.
When I was a kid my grandma would watch Return of the Living dead and it would scare the bejesus out of me. You go to sleep and when you wake up if the house is silent, it’s time to make some noise to remind folks that even with all those top notch special effects from 1985 this was not real. Childhood is a good time for being scared, with a lack of experience and knowledge you are ripe for the scaring. As time passes and you move into adulthood, your fears change from that which you don’t know and understand to more immediate and real fears. So the games that are scary for kids won’t simply work for adults. We all know adults still get scared, it’s just that different things scare them.  I have played enough scary games to know that regardless of the consequence I can simply restart and try again. So then how do you scare the crap out of adults consistently?
I honestly believe the key to scaring adults is going the psychological route vs. gore and shock. Here are some general features that would freak me out but have not been implemented as of late if ever. When I think of what would scare me now I instantly think of Psycho Mantis and the way in which the boss fight went far and beyond convention by literally taking control of different aspects of the then current console. It was so novel and yet has not been expanded or improved upon.
We have been well aware of the Rockstars, EA’s, Ubisofts, etc… collecting our gamer information, so why not utilize that information to tailor a uniquely horrific experience to gamers. One of the biggest issues with something being scary is novelty. If you don’t play a scary game soon after release some of the most shocking aspects are discussed due to the internet and social media diluting the effect for many late consumers, however if implemented correctly the story would actually by unique to specific gamer profiles. Think of walking into room in a game like Max Payne and being in what would be considered a thanksgiving scene only to see characters playing Madden specifically the last game saved on November 26th with teams and scores synced with the game. This would be subtle, as numerous other aspects of the game would be tied into gamer profile, trophy achievements, etc…It would be the subtly that would be unnerving. No one element would encompass what gives you that de ja vu feeling but rather it would be the sum of the experience having you wonder how much of my information is found throughout this game. This would drive you to also play on to not only see what information the use but how…nothing is quite as engrossing as trying to figure out what else makes my game different from my buddy’s and how much do they really know about me.
See, you would have the over arching story which I would aim at a current psychological thriller theme being populated with 50%-60% unique personal information. I would keep the character to one life with average abilities. No stat building or grinding, not even super action oriented. Slow down the pace but keep it driving maybe need to kill 1 person the entire game or piece things together a la Momento. I am thinking of maybe a Persona 4/Yakuza style of pseudo realistic with the ability to do side activities (such as games but good friggin game, like crazy taxi, etc...only maybe 1 generation behind, get some of those short pretty games from last gen launch and tie them in).
Now for some more fun, all we have discussed is the actual in game usage of personal info to freak you out. What about when you are not playing? The PS3 now has the ability to auto start to complete downloads and updates, how about tracking usage patterns of users and force start the PS3 when the game is normally played if in the drive and display a message like…,”are you there?”, “We’re waiting”. They are also now promoting cross play between the Vita, PS4, and Mobile Phones you gotta use this synchronicity to scare the **** out of people. Have the PS4 app change your phone desktop picture to reflect a graphic in-game screenshot from one of your recent forays into it.
Predictability is the bane of fear. When developers try to create a scary game they seem to forget that the system as a whole can accomplish so much more with regard to keeping an experience fresh and innovative. The first forays into this may need to be a first party developer/publisher because they may be permitted the most leeway with regard to modifying system code to allow for some of these ideas but I am telling you if Naughty Dog can create a horror game (not suspense LoU) and implement some of these mechanics you will scare the **** out kids and adults alike.
As an adult what makes games less scary is the idea that I understand that each and everyone has a start and end determined by when I turn it on and off but take away that control in a very subtle way and you would be surprised by the freakouts. I could just picture some kids sitting in the living room and the Playstation turning on and asking whether Frank is around? And then going into a full on script about how it feels for people to think it’s just a game and then start rumbling controllers, turning the camera on,  and google searching sentient beings etc…think evil GladOs. Putting a face (more accurately a persona) to the “They” are collecting my personal info will freak people out in and of itself. With so much potential you just gotta think about not only how can you create scary software but rather how can you maximize the overall fear experience via a combination of hardware, software, and accessories.
The cool part is you can get approval from the user to do all of this by simply putting a user agreement upfront and asking them to agree before they can continue. Apple says agree or take it back for a refund! 

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My experience at the Rockstar Diner: GTA V Revisited
Posted on Tuesday, November 12 2013 @ 17:17:09 Eastern

While enjoying a hot bowl of Pho, I was texted by a buddy of mine who inquired as to whether I had gotten onto GTAV Online yet. As some of you may be aware, this has been an issue of contention for me. See, when GTAV came out I ranted...   read more...

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Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm Full Burst Review Rebuttal
Posted on Wednesday, November 6 2013 @ 15:32:32 Eastern

Dear Ryan,
I had a chance to read your review today regarding Full Burst and as a fan of the series I just wanted to play devil’s advocate (aka: pseudo fanboy) for a moment. I am all good with your score but just wanted to ...   read more...

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The Segregation of Online Communities…it’s only natural.
Posted on Wednesday, August 28 2013 @ 16:31:52 Eastern

There has been quite a great deal of discussion regarding the under representation of minority groups in video games and in the industry as a whole. From these discussions, further topics branched off into online bullying/harassment as well as how to...   read more...

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X-Com: I know my enemy
Posted on Friday, August 23 2013 @ 13:00:00 Eastern

Well I was going to do a really nice piece last week on the “GaymerX” Convention and had all types of insightful responses to BTS and yet something went terribly awry…or amazing. I received my $14 used copy of X-Com: Enemy ...   read more...

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Damn...Damn...Damn...I think I might be a "Gamer"
Posted on Friday, August 2 2013 @ 08:38:20 Eastern

I was reading through some of the comments in the article Identity Crisis: What Makes Someone A “Gamer”, and I found the definition which resounded most with me was provided by Yossarian29:

I feel like when I strike...  

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PS4...Xbox1...yada yada yada...Let's talk about the games!
Posted on Wednesday, July 17 2013 @ 14:14:35 Eastern

With all this “who ha” about next-gen hardware it seems that one fundamental aspect of gaming is being overlooked…the idea that certain game mechanics will be perfected in the next generation. Wait what, “perf...   read more...

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The Great Migration: Current Online Communities
Posted on Monday, March 4 2013 @ 13:49:29 Eastern

Late in February, it was announced by Sony that the PS4 would not support backwards compatibility. Well, what’s going to happen to my clan, elite status, the war on Tachanka, etc…? When we transitioned from the PS2 to the PS...   read more...

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