It’s hitting the point where companies are turning over their financial years, meaning that for those publicly traded we get a nice look at how healthy they actually are. For a lot of the big name companies, those finances aren’t looking too good. SquareEnix posted a massive loss for the year, EA’s finances were bad enough that their CEO resigned, companies are falling all over the place, and the picture’s only going to get darker as more and more companies report in. But what’s the problem, exactly? Their games do seem to be selling well. Where is all that money going?
Do you remember when it was considered a major milestone for a game to sell a million copies? I remember. Seems like it was a long time ago. I was a mere teenage heartthrob then, I wonder what I’d think of the market now. Just on Square Enix’s side, we have Tomb Raider selling an expected 3.4 million copies, Hitman Absolution 3.6 million, and Sleeping Dogs 1.75 million of physical copies alone, and they’re all considered failures, enough so to tank the company’s finances. AAA games are selling very well. Think of all the developers who would kill for 3.6 million sales. Yet they’re still losing money like a salaryman in Vegas.
Dead Space 3 famously had to sell 5 million copies to hit its break-even point, a mark it now seems certain it’s going to miss. It does highlight the source of the problem, though. AAA games, the games developers are throwing all their development and marketing dollars behind, are getting waaaaaaaay too expensive. Sales may be great, but the amount they need to sell to cover costs is just getting ridiculous.
While you weren’t watching, history was quietly made today. Video game company EA has achieved something no organization has ever done before. Through dedication, hard work, and a complete and utter commitment to the cause, EA has become the first company to win the Consumerist’s Worst Company In America award twice in a row.
But why are they the Worst Company In America? After all, as EA itself has pointed out, it’s rated against companies that actively ruin lives and steal from their customers. Some of the other companies that were in the running actually make the world a worse place in a very practical manner. Can a company who limits its activities to the video game industry which, internet drama aside, can’t really affect the public in the way Bank of America can be truly deserving of the title “Worst Company in America?”
If you’ve been paying attention to the internet video games journalism scene lately, there’s been a fair bit of game news assaulting your eyeballs. We’re waking up from the post-Christmas slump, and some real announcements are starting to get made. One of those announcements comes courtesy of Electronic Arts, fresh off of the microtransactions in Dead Space 3. Now, EA spent some time backpedaling from this statement earlier today, but as of late February, word from their CFO was that all their games are going to include microtransactions, those fun little things where you pay money on top of your original purchase price of the game to get a number changed in their system that works out to your benefit.
Now, as you may expect, the gaming community isn’t displeased with this. I think the official word on the Dead Space 3 microtransactions is that they’re “not that bad,” but it’s still not something gamers are wanting to see more of. So yeah, we’re not happy with it. And when we’re not happy about something, we’re very, very good at talking to each other about it on the internet. Sometimes we use angry words, even. Words that might make some people cry. Well, Cliff Bleszinski, designer for the Gears of War series and a bunch of other games I may try out some day but not really, decided that instead of crying, he was going to use some words of his own! And he did! You can read them here. He likes microtransactions. And seems to think that… you should shut up about them maybe? He goes off in a couple different directions in that post, and it kind of hurts the coherent point he may have been trying to make. But he said some things! And I think he’s missing the point in a lot of the things he says. Luckily for me, I have a blog! That makes me eminently qualified to provide my own commentary on his post!