Battlefield 3

Are Shorter Games Better?

You could argue that gaming is like waiting for a bus. You spend the baron wasteland of the summer months patiently hoping for a decent release to appear on the horizon and just when you start to lose hope, loads arrive together at the same time. Within a two month period we have had Arkham City, Skyrim, Gear of War 3, Forza 4, FIFA 12, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: MW3 and Rage all vying for our attention. Even though it is said the average gamer is now around 34, not many people can afford to spend over £300 in the run up to Christmas in the current climate, or even have the time available to fully enjoy the experience offered by some of these games.

With this is mind, it appears that gaming is becoming a double-edged sword where we pay £40 for a game that lasts 6-8 hours and then trade in the following week for the next must have title. Does this cheapen the experience and simply add gaming to the disposable culture heap of the 21st century, where we lust for something only to bore of it very quickly, and move onto something else?

I thought it would be interesting to look into the case for and against short game lengths.

In many ways we have now come full circle, as gaming actually began life with short playtimes in arcades all over the world, with titles that were designed to get all of the loose change out of your pocket at a rapid rate. A quick visit to some of the classic arcade titles available on XBLA or PSN illustrates this. As soon as games moved from cartridges onto discs, developers rushed to cram as much information as they could in order to have the biggest and best game.

8 hours of quality over quantity?

However in 2011, the audience is a little more sophisticated and a less forgiving about games that are padded out for the sake of it and quality now takes precedence over quantity. This can only be a good thing, after all, six hours of pure ‘wow’ has go to be better than twenty-five of ‘meh’, hasn’t it? (more…)

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COD XP AND THE KAYNE FACTOR…

We are living in the age of celebrity, where Heat Magazine sells by the bucket-load. Cynical gamer types like us don’t need to worry about trivial things like that because we’re different, right? Sorry, guys and dolls but you may have missed the memo. Gaming is the new rock n’ roll.

With budgets and sales to rival Hollywood blockbusters, I guess it was only a matter of time before the PR Machines began to throw celebrities into the mix. They’re trying to make the big game releases feel more like movie premieres; complete with full red carpet treatment.

With Call of Duty: Black Ops officially being the “best-selling game of all time”, maybe it’s of no surprise that Activision have announced that their Call of Duty XP Event will hit Los Angeles on September 2nd and 3rd and will headlined by Kanye West. There are even rumours that Jay-Z will make an appearance in front of 6,000 people paying $150 for the privilege. The event will be the public’s first chance to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 online and Microsoft are even sponsoring a $1 Million Tournament.

We are talking about big business here, considering how much the average CoD fan will spend on map packs, DLC and the title itself over a year before repeating the process all over again (break the cycle people!). When you strip this down to the bone, you can see that this is no longer about gaming, but simply a huge ad campaign defending a multi-billion dollar first-person shooter brand to ensure Activision’s market share remains intact. This is not something the average gamer will think about when buying Modern Warfare 3, but to the men in suits this is all that it’s about.

Some serious money is being spent on the event. To me it feels like a boxing movie, where the ageing champion has become arrogant and having lost sight of what made him the best in the world has resorted to entering the ring throwing money into the crowd. Despite spending thousands trying to guarantee CoD retaining its title as the best FPS, there is a worthy challenger in the form of EA’s Battlefield 3 waiting for their moment of glory after smelling a weakness in their adversary.

I’mma let you finish, but…

As fiercely loyal as CoD fans are, a look on Twitter, Facebook or the many gaming forums online there is a definite wind of change in the air. It is almost considered very cool to knock Activision and dislike the Call of Duty franchise, where the Battlefield series appears to be gaining much online love since July when the official site for EA’s upcoming blockbuster launched. Although EA are far from being small fry, it seems people will always root for the underdog, especially when they announce that they want to destroy their opponent.

Here at This Is My Joystick we have interviewed several gaming celebrities who genuinely love gaming, but there seems to be a growing trend of using big-name celebrities who have clearly never played a game in their life. Take Helen Mirren and Terry Wogan in Nintendo’sChristmas Campaign last year. You can imagine some hipster standing in a boardroom saying“If we are going to sell this shit to the public we need to add the Hollywood Effect”.

Whatever you are selling, it’s common knowledge that if you want to fool your customers then you need to use celebrities in your ads. It’s the modern way and somehow makes people think the product is must have and glamorous. Hell, it may even make you cool if you buy it.

The reality is that the agent calls the so-called celebrity and says something like “Pretend you like Product X and you’ll get a suitcase full of cash for an afternoon’s work. You in?” I like to think that gamers are a little more switched on than this though and can smell a sell-out when they see one.

Mock my knitwear collection but don’t mention the fish sticks joke…

Despite the idiocy of it all and the ridiculous lengths that Activision are going to simply to protect their turf, I think it is testament to just how successful gaming has become as an entertainment medium. A game release is just as an important as a Hollywood summer blockbuster premiere in the eyes of the world, which is something that I never thought that I would see in my lifetime. With this comes the dreaded celebrity endorsements and the hypocrisy that comes with them, but unfortunately feel that this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

As the two giants, EA and Activision, go toe-to-toe with each other, the only real winners will be the gamers. Tough competition will force the developers to up their game to create the best possible gaming experience, so maybe it’s not that bad after all.

Let us know what you think about the battle of the two FPS giants, celebrity endorsements and gaming getting the Hollywood treatment.

UK game advertising: Our Super Bowl moment

Whilst watching the recent Champions league final, I must admit to being a little surprised at the heavy advertising of video-games, which even contained trailer premiers. Sure, video-games have come a long way and feature heavily in the mainstream of entertainment but this illustrated that gaming is now one of the top forms of entertainment.

For the first time, the UK experienced what is probably best described as a ‘Super Bowl’ moment, when a range of major brands chose to invest millions of pounds. Reports suggest that it was estimated that ITV made in excess of £8m in TV ad revenue during Europe’s biggest football night of the year, as some late spots in key breaks went for up to £300,000 for 30 seconds.

Saturday night prime time advertising space featured full trailers for Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and even Brink got a mention too. What is strangest about this aggressive video-game marketing technique is how unique this form of advanced advertising actually is, especially considering how seldom we see big budget adverts on our TV screens for even summer blockbuster movies 4-5 months before they are officially released. (more…)