g-Ripe: My Take on Consolidation

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Pretty Woman

I am . . . by no means . . . an expert on these things. So, suffice it to say, this will be a man-on-the-street perspective on the whole deal. So, please feel free to enlighten me if you have better insight.

Activision bought Vivendi. EA wants Take Two. Michael Pachter tells us it is inevitable that Take Two will cave in. I agree. Pachter, though, is baffled at the rejection. I’m not. He’s the guru, so he should know better than I that, as generous as the offer may have been, Take Two knows they can milk EA for a lot more. Take Two is playing hard to get and they are making money in the process.

Pachter also believes that the acquisition is because of an interest in the sports division of Take Two, rather than the Grand Theft Auto franchise. Again, he’s a bigger smarty-pants than I am, but I don’t totally follow on this point. GTA is going to make EA money, right? The 2K Sports is most likely going to get dissolved, right? That’s what’s called a statutory merger. It’s so funny that “statutory” is an adjective for two activities that suck for the weaker party. Back to his point, though, what he’s saying is that EA wants to eliminate the competition. That’s good for EA. Bad for gamers.

In truth, I’m not a sports game fan. The only time I really every played Madden was back in the day when it was on the PC and there were only X’s, O’s, and lines. Yeah, I just dated myself. So what? I may not play “simulation” sports games, but I do like to play the over-the-top sports ones like Midway and EA Big put out. Oh, I can’t forget Nintendo as well. I imagine I am one of the few fans that remain for this genre. Remember how fun Tecmo Bowl was? I hear they’re bringing that game back. Sweeet.

Personally, I don’t see the acquisition as a positive event for sports gamers. I know everyone has been lamenting the fact that they will no longer see the price-cuts they enjoyed last holiday season, but I am personally okay with that. Less because I do not actually play sports game and more because that would usher in a bargain game crap era. To speak the truth, $50-$60 is a bargain, folks. Don’t flame me. Do the math. It’s a bargain. What gamers don’t realize is that they are being duped into paying something closer to the actual price by buying the limited editions. Do the math there as well. It really doesn’t cost them anything to put that little figurine and DVD extras into the box and put a new wrapper on it, but you’re paying for it. Can you hear the evil cackle of the publisher?

I think the take-over is bad for sports gamers. The EA catalog has been somewhat of a roller coaster ride for us consumers throughout the years. As I understand it, this has especially been the case for their sports division. With the absence of even a mediocre competitor like Take Two, EA Sports games will definitely suffer in quality as they lull back into the laziness that comes with global domination.

EA has tried to assure employees of both companies that this is good for everybody. They have not, though, assured job security. People are going to be let go and there will be an exodus of talented individuals looking for a less stifling environment. “But, Bioware loves having been assimilated. They said so.” What are they supposed to say? “I can’t believe we did this. What were we thinking? I feel so used and my butt hurts.” We are comparing apples and oranges by assuming that the Take Two experience will be the same as the Bioware and Pandemic experience.

In the end, it really only benefits the boys and girls at the top who will be lining their pockets with more of our money. If consolidation was good for anybody other than the suits, why did Bungie exit? Why did David Jaffe leave Sony? Why did Nobuo Uematsu leave Square?

Remember when 2K Sports first started developing for the Dreamcast? Madden was going stale and 2K brought something fresh to the plate. They weren’t able to hold on too long, though. Why? Because EA realized they actually needed to put some effort into their games. That’s called competition. Competition is good. Keeps everything fresh.

Think about it. HD-DVD recently threw the towel in, but what a fun ride it was, right? Arguable, I know, but Sony and Toshiba were forced to put in 110%. Now, we can all go buy an awesome Blu-Ray player (or a PS3 if you haven’t already), right? Do I contradict myself? No, because competition will continue. With Toshiba’s exit, there will certainly be focused competition between each of the harware manufacturers. Although Toshiba has their tail between their legs right now and they deny the possibility of a Toshiba Blu-Ray player, they’ll come around within the next two years.

Competition is good. I don’t want a single console world. Do I contradict myself again? No, because the high-def player market and the game console market are different. I’ve lived in a one console world and I didn’t like it. I said it before and I’ll say it again. I hated it when Nintendo was king. As soon as Sega came into the picture, it was game on. Sony joined the fray and then eventually dominated the market and when they did, there began to be a ton of crap on the PlayStation 2. Last year was an awesome year for gaming, because all three companies had to put out their best.

Take a lesson from Edward Lewis. He developed a genuine relationship with a woman of the night and he came to realize that destroying an old man’s family business was bad for everybody. The big dogs in the game companies need to do the same. No, not get lost in Hollywood and pay a hooker to give them directions. They need to get down from their plush offices and develop a genuine relationship with the people that sell their bodies (and souls) to them and take a look at the big picture. Ah . . . what do I know? I’m just a little guy using the drugs they push on me.

Oh, and what is the g-Ripe? I don’t know. Anyone who has ever sat down with me for any extended length of time knows I like to rant on this or that. I’m an anti-establishment guy. Here on The Bitbag, I’ll focus on my gripes about the game industry. I can’t promise it will be daily, weekly, or even monthly, but at least if I announce it this way, maybe it will catch on. Oh, the “g?” That’s the name I use on LAN games. Why “g?” That’s another story for another day.

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