Sunday, September 06, 2009

7 Deadly Sins of Gaming - Sin 6

Sin 6: Shovelware

Now, before you think I'm about to pick on the Wii here, let's get one thing straight: every system has a heaping helping of shovelware.

Have you ever seen the bargain bin at a Walmart?

Okay... so the Wii has the majority of the shovelware. Probably more than twice that of the other systems.

It's just a side effect of its popularity.

Making good games is hard. It takes time and energy. It takes a careful understanding of what an audience really wants and the desire to create it.

Unfortunately, this also costs money.

Making bad games is easy. Throw a mediocre control scheme at a tired or pointless story and bing bang boom, you got a bad game.

It takes extremely little effort and yet, bad games often sell for the same price as a good game.

Yeah, once we figure out it's crap, that game is on a one way trip to the discount bin, but for a brief, glorious time, that game makes some serious coin.

Little effort + generous return = good idea


From a business standpoint, I get it. They're making games that are easily cranked out and yet still sell.

This is the definition of a practical business plan.

Unfortunately, it produces a glut of useless, terrible games that no one in their right mind could say are worth playing. These are the games that only sell when your Aunt Edna, who has no idea what a gamestation 380 is, decides to be cool and buy you game for your birthday.

Damn you, Aunt Edna.

Now, shovelware shouldn't be held against a system. Saying a system is bad because of a huge amount of terrible games doesn't make sense.

It should be held against the game companies.

There is no way most of these games could go through the development process and someone not point out that they're basically producing digital shit.

I would.

You would.

Someone in that company had to.

Someone had to point out that they're doing a huge disservice to both their consumers and their profession. Someone had to point out that they are the dregs of gaming society, a blight on our community.

And when they fired that guy, someone may have pointed out that they'd make more money if they made better games.

Not great games, mind you. I'm not saying they should be creating epic works of art or anything.

Just make games that don't make people want to jam their fingers into their brains and swirl them around.

I don't think that's asking too much. I really don't.

Here's a little system that I invented. I call it Reactive Quality Control.

Someone at the game company has to play their product. If that person:

a) becomes terrifyingly angry
b) becomes violently sick
c) threatens to destroy all of humanity
d) dies

Then you don't release that game.

Crap. Billy died. Back to the drawing board, people.

Then you start over with the next game you make. Not only will this increase product quality and decrease shovelware, but it provides a steady supply of jobs as previous testers just die.

It's like a make work program, but with more spontaneous death.

The worst that could possibly happen is that every single person at one of those companies could end up dead.

Still, it'd solve the shovelware problem.

Oh, well. You can't make an omelette without killing hundreds of people.

Since none of those people are me, I'm actually okay with it.

Isn't that funny how that works?


At 10:07 PM, Blogger guario said...

Here goes a shovelware comment: first!

At 11:15 PM, Blogger Jesse said...

"If that person:

d) dies

Then you don't release that game."

What if the game is so good the tester dies from lack of food and sleep

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Beltayn said...

"And when they fired that guy, someone may have pointed out that they'd make more money if they made better games."

In most game companies you can either A) have a positive attitude and not get fired or..
B) Not have a positive attitude and get fired.

Not having a positive attitude entails mentioning that the game you are currently working on is a cancerous, festering pile of shite built around the sole concept of leaching as much money as possible from the end consumer.

A positive attitude entails the ability to smile and tell them that yes, the idea that Mr Lanerty just came up with, of putting 'cute mushrooms' into games and charging users real money to unlearn their skill points, is a great one.

People with positive attitudes are becoming the majority in the industry, mainly because people like not being fired.

At 12:59 AM, Blogger Bufuman said...

You know what's a good sign that a game's going to suck? When a developer refuses to send game reviewing sources (like magazines or certain websites) an early copy so they can have a review out before a game comes out, or even on the same month. After all, the developers can't have these pesky reviewers ruining their get-rich-quick scheme, now can they?

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Kenny said...

It's weird. Back in the day, Nintendo would restrict the amount of games that developers could release, just so they wouldn't get into a situation like Atari was, and being overwhelm by shitty games. Now, it seems they let anyone develop games for the Wii, and they're going right back into the same hole that Atari was buried in (and I'm not talking about the one in New Mexico).

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Mil'bereth said...

To quote the COO of my company who shits rainbows and farts sunshine...

" In this time of 'unprecidented financial challenge', (you know you got a winner when the use the words unprecidented and challenge 27 times in a company town hall meeting) we all need to make sacrifices to meet the bottom line."

This was when asked if our medical coverage was going to be one of the cut backs we would be receiving along with salary decreases, salary and promotion freezes, and losing overtime pay.

Its all about the bottom line...especially in this abortion of a world.


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