ScattershotsShawn Drotar

Posted on July 8th, 2009 in Gaming, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, News, Opinion, Wii by Shawn Drotar

I guess I’ll need to release a patch or exclusive demo; all the other kids are doing it…

  • Shockingly, the Fight Night Round 4 development team announced a patch - although EA Sports is adding some new in-game equipment, so they consider it downloadable content (DLC) instead - that will add button-based punching controls to its command scheme. Shocking, because when I attended the Fight Night community day at the EA Canada studio this spring, the developers were fully aware that many gamers preferred to mash buttons instead of try a new (and innovative) command scheme, and the developers had - at that time - decided to commit to their right-stick-based Total Punch Control system anyway, believing that it represented the sport of boxing best. I agreed with the decision and have stated the same multiple times since. Nevertheless, the decision’s been made to take a step back and grease the squeaky wheel of hyperventilating forum posters all over the Internet. Producer Mike Mahar has more details here. From a business/sales standpoint, it’s an understandable (and probably profitable) decision, but from a design standpoint, it’s a disappointing surrender. Sure, Fight Night Round 4 has a learning curve, but I’m not convinced that learning curves are inherently bad; as a gamer, I prefer to be challenged and enjoy adapting to new experiences. Then again, the latest “Transformers” flick is going to make a bazillion dollars… intellectual challenges don’t seem to be all that popular nowadays.
  • UFC Undisputed’s development team has also announced a patch for it’s wildly popular title, in an effort to stem the tide of complaints from users, specifically regarding online play. In UFC’s case, they’re addressing these online concerns, mainly revolving around plug-pullers and lag, but they’re also tweaking the gameplay to reduce the number of “flash” knockouts and improving the likelihood of earning submissions during wrestling or jiu-jitsu moves. The delightfully steep learning curve remains intact, however. Details on the UFC Undisputed patch can be found here.
  • Perhaps I don’t understand what a game demo’s for. From my perspective, it’s a test drive; a try-before-you-buy to help you make an informed purchase. But for EA Sports, a demo has become a post-purchase enticement… except it isn’t, you know, enticing. Instead of releasing a five-minute quarter demo for the forthcoming Madden NFL 10 through the usual channels of Xbox Live (XBL) and the PlayStation Network (PSN), the Madden team will only be offering that demo to people who have 1) pre-purchased the game, and 2) at only one store - GameStop. The only sensible reasoning for this goofy decision is that 1) GameStop paid EA a ton of cash to steer sales in their direction, and 2) EA and GameStop must think that Madden fans are such slaves to the game that they’ll find a slightly longer demo - demo! - a valid reason to purchase the title before it comes out. If they’re right, and they probably are, that’s a poor reflection on Madden gamers. The 20-minute demo can be picked up at GameStop on July 15, but it won’t work until July 23. The regular, two-minute quarter demo will arrive on XBL and PSN on July 30. It’s clear that EA Sports doesn’t expect any problems selling Madden NFL 10, because the best demo will be in the hands of people who already bought the game, and the demo that they’ll release to try to entice new customers will misrepresent the game itself. It’s completely backwards, of course, but it’s a testament to GameStop’s powerful pimp hand, isn’t it?

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