WTF is up with this Online Pass shit??

Seriously. First EA and then THQ.

For those who don't know, Online Pass is EA saying that if you don't buy a game new, you have to pay $10 to access their online servers. THQ has also adapted a similar model, but they haven't named it yet.

This is basically a way for game companies to get paid twice for one product. They say it's to "Offset server costs" but I call bullshit on that. If you buy the game new, then you get to access the servers for free. If you buy it used, then you have to pay. Even though if you buy a game used, then EA has already gotten money for it. The servers can't be overrun with people playing the used game because, if you bought it used, then that means the original buyer isn't using it any more!

Gamestop has sorta offset this. If you buy a copy of Madden 11 used, it's only $47 compared to $60. Sounds good right? Except when you add in the $10 in order to play online, you come to a grand total of $57. Plus tax of course.

Gee, I really don't see people going "Hmmm. I'm going to get the used version because it's $3 cheaper!"

It gets even better if you have an Xbox 360 though. Because unlike Online RPGs like PSU and FFXI, you NEED to be a gold member to play these games online. Which means you have to pay for a gold membership and then pay AGAIN to play online. Most people buy XBL in order to play multiplayer games online. You're seriously telling these people that they have to pay TWICE?

This is all an extremely transparent way to cut into the used game market. It's one thing to offer an incentive to buy a game new. Preorder bonuses, DLC bonuses. It's all fine and dandy. But when you start disabling core features, ESPECIALLY if people have already paid for the privilege, then something is wrong.

Granted, you don't need to play online most of the time. However it's pretty stupid to give the first person who buys a title full privileges, but then hinder the next person who buys that same copy. So I don't matter because I don't think your game is with the full $60? Well guess what? I'm not going to pay you twice. Especially when the difference is only $3

Another reason you can tell this is bullshit. If they were really worried about servers for older games, then they would charge to access those older servers. That would make more sense. The games are already dirt cheap and I can understand needing costs to keep older servers up. Of course EA closed down all of their old servers so that's not an option. On top of that, you really don't get any special privileges for accessing their servers. It's no different than the companies that don't charge you to access online.

It's a sad trend I see happening nowadays. Companies care more about money than games. And maybe they've always been like that, but they're using stuff like this as an excuse to be lazy. "Oh, lets throw something stupid together and charge for it. Or even better, lets put things on the game disc and charge to use them! No! Wait! I got it! Let's DISABLE an aspect of the game and charge to use it! BRILLIANT!"

Facebook Privacy


I think it's time that I weigh in on this whole debacle.

This whole thing started around the beginning of the year, when Facebook decided to roll out new privacy settings. Not a bad thing in itself, except that they also decided to reset all of your privacy settings also. Whether this was an accident or intentional I don't know, but it started one hell of a fire storm.

Recently, Facebook rolled out simplified privacy settings in order to placate all the naysayers. It works pretty well and things seemed to have quieted down somewhat.

However, as usual, people have started acting stupid.

The biggest thing that gets me is people complaining how Facebook's privacy pages are longer than the Constitution and that they're difficult to navigate. And this isn't casual web users. This is the TECH industry. It simply boggled my mind how much people were whining. Especially since I was able to change my settings to my satisfaction in less than five minutes.

Another thing people have said was that back when it started, Facebook was THE place for privacy. True. Back then, you had to have a college address to use Facebook. It then opened up to allow everyone, but it was still rather closed down. That was four years ago. In the last two years, Facebook has taken a more Myspace approach. With all the games, notifications and the like, you'd have to be a TOTAL MORON to claim this was the same Facebook of old.

I understand that people have an expectation of privacy, and Facebook DID fuck up royally, but people are also being a little unfair. So what if it might take you a little longer to have your privacy settings the way you want them. If you're that concerned about it, you'll do it.

Even better. If you're extremely paranoid about certain information becoming public, then DON'T FUCKING PUT IT ON THE INTERNET! Facebook has fields for your address and phone number. Is it required? Hell no! It's a general rule of the net. It applies to EVERY social network and not just Facebook.

It seems like people are using "Expectation of Privacy" as an excuse to be stupid. I agree that people should have privacy, however I also believe that people should take an active role in maintaining that privacy instead of complaining so damn much.

Another day, another blogging platform


So I did a google search for a blogger client, because as much as I like blogger, I hate having to visit a website in order to post. I've tried Flock a few times, but I like having one program that does one thing well as opposed to a program that does many things good.

So I'm using Zoundry Raven, which supports a shitload of features. Mostly little things like photos, links, and multiple blogging protocols. I'll probably put more later, as this is mostly a test post.


Let's see. Uploaded this from my computer and resized it. I really like this so far. That's Tekkaman Blade BTW, which happens to be one of my favorite anime of all time. Also, there should be a link to Tekkaman Blade's wikipedia entry. Another nice feature of Zoundry Raven is that I can highlight text and add a wikipedia tag from the context menu.

All in all, it's a nice little program. I have high hopes for it, especially considering that it's Open Source. Keep an eye out on this program.

Zoundry Raven

You know what sucks about having a blog?

I never seem to have anything interesting to write about. Oh sure, every so often I have a nice long post about something interesting, but my life tends to be boring.

Never mind the fact that I can never seem to commit to one blog. I have this blog, a blog on livejournal and one on wordpress. I like Blogger, but LJ has an interesting community. However it's light on features. Wordpress is nice, but for some reason, you can't add HTML in a text block. I hate little restrictions like that. Live Journal is rather hard to get looking how I like. All the themes seem a little TOO basic.

So I guess I'll use blogger for a while.

Not much to report though. Moved about two months ago. Mother in Law driving me NUTS. Been busy with SvR2010, so that'll probably be the focus of my next post. A nice little review.
Blogged with the Flock Browser

Epic Fail!

So as I a gamer I, like most gamers, have been following E3. A lot of interesting things have been revealed. Project Natel, Social networking on Xbox Live, things like that.

Like most gamers, I was waiting for news on the new PSP. It was the worst kept secret in gaming after all. Unlike most gamers, however, I really didn't care much for it. No UMD Slot seemed like a stupid idea and , like the DSi, I figured it would be a minor upgrade.

So it comes out. The design was anticipated...the extras were anticipated, with the exception of a touch screen...or lack thereof.  Still, it seemed like an interesting little machine. Until you get to the price.

Now the DSi is $40 more than the DS Lite. It's a modest little upgrade, so that seems pretty reasonable. If you're in the market for a DS, you can spend some extra money and get a DSi if you so desire. So everyone though this would be the same. Probably around $200 since the PSP is $170 brand new.

Not a chance.

In a move that showed everyone that they don't know what the HELL they're doing, Sony announced the PSPgo (terrible name) at 249 bucks.

$249 dollars for a machine that DOESN'T have a UMD slow and is indeed SMALLER than a PSP. Granted it has internal storage, but for that much, I can get a regular PSP and an 8gig memory card, which is all I would probably need. Plus I can play old UMD games and it just looks a lot better all around.

So it seems Sony hasn't learned from the PS3 debacle. They're number three for a reason. The PS3 would be a contender if it would only drop in price, but Sony's need to push propietary storage on us is their downfall. The main reason the PS3 is so expensive is because of the Blu-Ray Drive. Meanwhile the Xbox 360 is $199, 299 if you want a hard drive, though you can easily find a Hard Drive for cheap. The Wii is $250. If this were a console, maybe it wouldn't be an issue, but it's a handheld that is, in some cases, inferior to the current model.

I bet you anything that Sony will wonder why these aren't flying off the shelves.  Perhaps this will stimulate the demand for the original PSP like the PS3 seems to be stimulating demand for the PS2. Perhaps that was sony's plan all along.

The Gamefly Aftermath

An interesting thing happened this morning. I actually got a call from Gamefly. The guy explained that he saw my emails and my blogs and would try to smooth things over.

First thing I thought was "Wow, someone reads my blog?"

At any rate, I explained my grievances and he did something that reminded me of the Gamefly of old. He didn't do the whole "game availability spiel". Instead, he actually explained in explicit detail how the process works.

And he made sense.

The short of it is this. They don't look at just your queue order, but instead how long a game has been in your queue, along with how long it's been in other queues. If I put a game in my queue yesterday and a guy who had the game in his queue for a while puts it at the top of his list, when a copy becomes available, he'll get it first. Makes sense right?

He also explained that distribution centers serve their primary areas first. Again, that makes sense.

He stressed the importance of having games in your queue, which makes sense of course. I told him that since I split an account with my wife and rent for two systems, it's important that I get the games for that system instead of risking being sent something from another system. This is where a profile system like what Netflix has would come in handy. He stated the best thing to do would be to plan ahead and put those games in my queue instead of adding them last minute.

At the end of the call I was actually satisfied. He even gave me the phone number, which on the website is harder to find than the holy grail.

So apparently my problem is that I was using it like it was 2003. Back when I didn't have to worry too much about queue management. The system does have some flaws, but apparently I have to plan ahead somewhat, as there are other factors involved.

Now there's just one thing that Gamefly should do. Put all of this information on their site somewhere. Their FAQ is a joke for all intents and purposes. Also they should fire all the guys who handle the emails, since they seem to send canned responses for the most part. Then, have the guys who handle the phones do the emails as well. If someone would have explained this in better detail long time ago instead of doing the whole "game availability" shill, I wouldn't have this problem.

At any rate, only time will tell at this point. It's nice to know that they took the time out to try to keep me as a happy customer. Of course, as usual, it seems that if you actually complain about something on twitter, then the company will bend over backward for you. GameFlyInc on twitter kicks ass in this regard. Keep that in mind folks.

More Gamefly goodness


And the saga continues. I sent back Saints Row a few days ago and put Smackdown 07, a game with high availability at the top of my queue. So what game do I get?

Madden 09.

A game that's near the bottom of my queue with LOW availability.

So I have to hear the reasoning for this. So I shoot off an email to their customer disservice. The letter is as follows:

Is the availability status for games even accurate anymore? I remember being told in the past that what's shown on the website and what you guys see are two different things. After a few months I'm inclined to agree. I've complained before about receiving a lesser rated title before and was told it was due to availability. I can understand in some cases, but there is no excuse for a low availability game to be sent over a high availability game unless the levels on the site are incorrect. Yesterday I was sent Madden 09 which was in the middle of my queue and had low availability. I was sent this over Smackdown 07, which was at the top of my queue and had high availability. So can I please get a clear explanation for this? I rent for two systems now and it's getting VERY annoying to have to clear out my queue and put the top games I want for that system every time I want to rent a game for that system.

What happened to you guys? You used to be so accurate when it came to queue positions and such.

It’s civil and to the point. I seriously wanted to know what the hell was up. So after the usual 24 hours, I get this lovely gem in my inbox:

Our apologies for the inconvenience. The availability status on the Web site reflects inventory across all shipping centers. Therefore, although your top ranked game may have reflected high availability on your GameQ, it may have only been available in the shipping center that is more distant from your residence.

We ship games to you from a facility that can best serve you. If we are unable to ship any games from your primary shipping center, we may ship from an alternate one. When this occurs, the shipped email will identify the center your game was shipped from. We pay close attention to the inventory levels across the shipping centers and re-order key titles regularly to minimize the number of unavailable games.

We do realize that it can be disappointing to not receive your top choice. We appreciate your feedback and apologize again for any inconvenience. If we can be of further assistance, please let us know.

Yeah. Smart readers will understand the contradiction right away. But I’m still going to explain it.

It’s all fine and dandy that they try to get games out as quickly as possible. At least it would be if that’s what they did. However, when the reason they give is “Your game isn’t at the primary center” and they end up shipping a game that doesn’t come from your primary center anyway, it’s delves into the realm of non-sensical.

Seriously, this response is a piece of work. It manages to contradict itself. They say “your top ranked game may have reflected high availability on your GameQ, but it may have only been available in the shipping center that is more distance from your residence”. However in the next paragraph, they state that “if we can’t ship any games from your primary center, we may ship from an alternate one.”. Okay....then why the HELL didn’t they do that in the first place. If the game I want isn’t at my primary center, but is at another center then FUCKING SEND IT! I will wait an extra day or two for a game that I really want. But sending a game that is lower on my queue AND unavailable? Who signed off on that stroke of genius?

At any rate, I’m through with gamefly. They’ve gotten terrible in the last year or so and this shit is becoming intolerable.