This is not a rant, although it could easily be mistaken as one. This post points out a small but nagging problem I'm having: being broke. No, this has nothing to do with my salary; I'm totally loaded being paid as a Research Assistant at the Convergence Culture Consortium.
This is about me being broke because of the savvy marketing/PR people working year after year to market games that are just updated versions of a past successful title with a few new features (on maybe a new system) for more of my money.
A year ago today, Sam Ford wrote a piece about the emerging storytelling more "serialized" narratives that were being seen in games. These episodic titles, being shorter in length, would be lower-priced.
I just paid $130 for the Legendary Edition of Halo3. It included an (unwearable) Spartan helmet case and two bonus disks. One of the disks has the jetsam and an audio-visual calibration tool designed to enhance my high-def., big screen, sound experience with, oh, that other thing for my money--the game.
The other disc that really hooked me in had completely remastered cinematic material from the first and second Halo as well as some other behind-the-scenes gamumentary material. Oh, and this is cool-machinima content.
Without getting into a discussion over whether or not gameplay was good (it was much better looking than lots of games). I want to concentrate on something important: my empty pockets and the lack of a sustaining narrative. Microsoft, where was it?
Maybe I missed it with the updated graphics. Game mechanics were better than previous versions of the game, (the game felt more realistic) but where was the complex narrative, innovative new features, or availability for play on the Wii for arguably more immersion?
But, really, this is about the fact that I just paid $130 for a video game. This is not a new, innovative game. It is sequel #3 of a video game. Sure, I could have paid $60 for just the game without the bonus features. I could have also paid $70 for the Limited Edition, which includes the bonus disk as well as Halo fiction and art book. But I'm totally a sucker. You got me good.
Maybe its just time game companies are starting to follow savvy product packaging techniques from Hollywood. In 2003, Disney added to the DVD "special edition" of its 1994 film The Lion King two hours of new material, including a second version of the film (only one minute longer than the original), an "all-new song," four animated games, deleted scenes, a director's commentary, and the music video "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," performed by Elton John. The DVD sold 11 million copies (and brought over $200 million in new revenue into Disney's clearinghouse.)
Disney and Microsoft are doing phenomenal jobs of packaging content. But for me, its Game Over until I hear about a game that gives me serial with my $130 milk. Until then, I'll be saying H-a-l-o to the money I'll be saving.