Thursday, 23 May 2013

So long Orange days

With the mist of the Xbox reveal now gone and the fact that they emphasised so much on non gaming aspects of next gen console owning I  started to think back to when games were the focal point of gaming consoles - I know that sounds almost scandalous!
I remember getting Half Life 2 on PC and having to return it he very next day as it wouldn't run on my average laptop. I then got Half Life 2 on Xbox One..wait I mean the first Xbox, the original one, not one one but YOU KNOW!

See, this one!

Remember how great that game looked even on Xbox? Remember how great a game it was in terms of game play, stories and replay-ability?

After the release of Portal, Valve gave us a nice little bundle offering in the form of The Orange Box, which contained not only Half life 2 and Portal but Episode 1, Episode 2, plus Team fortress 2. Since then I haven't really seen a bundle come out of big name games on a console to match the Orange Box.
You can get Bioshock and Oblivion  in one set now which is quite a nice deak, but that seems more like a method of retaining space and flushing out sales a bit more, plus a random pairing. Valve knew that the Orange Box would sell well because it was intended to be a collection for people who would be interested in playing all components and not just for them to get in on a quick buck money maker attached to their titles.

The packaging isn't that great either

These days we have Game of the Year Editions, which are excellent bundle bargains, but sadly to many games at the moment bring these GOTY packages out after many people have shelled far more money on getting the standard game, special edition and DLC earlier on. 
Batman Arkham City had an outrageous variation in it's pre-order options and DLC bonuses. You could only get a certain skin with your purchase in a certain shop in a certain country in some cases.
Still don't know why Yellow Lantern was even an option
Then GOTY edition comes out, which includes all skins and DLC for a steal price. Similar happened with Fallout New Vegas, though it was a less messy affair. I personally paid £40 for a new retail copy of the game, which had no added extras. Fair enough, but then months later, the GOTY edition which contains all add-on DLC could be purchased brand new in stores or online for a mere £20.

What I liked about The Orange Box was it wasn't trying to make you feel like you wasted your money if you had bought the games separately. The Orange box was for those who maybe hadn't played any of the games previously, or just played one and got to have it all confined neatly in one easy to access package, plus it contained no extras or DLCs. Granted this was before the special edition market got out of hand (I'm look at you Mass Effect 3).

Except you Mordin, can't be mad at you!

Valve seem to actually treat their customers and fans as if we're not morons and value not only our cash but the level of entertainment we get from the games they produce. They don't need to throw stuff at us, they know we'll be loyal if they continue producing quality games for gamers, first and foremost. This age of gaming and before has also been a great avenue for new gamers or lapsed ones to hop back in.

Xbox One's reveal wasn't about gamers, at all, despite the fact that is should be primarily a gaming console. It's not a crime to want to water for a wider audience, but it is a crime to cast aside the prime audience who has stuck with you from the beginning and who were your primary live-stream audience, because they wanted to see a reason to yet again, give you their money and hopefully see an expansion on the ride that is being an Xbox gamer.

Xbox had great exclusives, but now all they have is a big box acting like a Minority Report driven android phone. My worry is that the time of games being something to research, get excited about, purchase and indulge in, is becoming diluted and that bundle packs and respect between creator and consumer is dwindling. The time of games mattering and being used in fun ways via marketing seems to be dwindling too. I can only hope that Valve stay firm and consistent and we still have some remnants of Orange Box days ahead.

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