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Refunds on Video Games and the No Man’s Sky Debacle

TT_NotTheFandom

Recently, the internet is abuzz with debate over refund policy changes from sellers like Steam in regards to the game No Man’s Sky.  Refunds for games have always been sort of a gray area in the past.  Most of us knew, coming up in the community, that if you bought a game it was pretty much yours unless there was some defect in the media.  Especially when it came to PC games.  You didn’t return a game because you didn’t like it, though in some cases you could get a little cash for it at resale shops and from friends.  Then again, back then games didn’t release with a ton of game-breaking bugs that required several patches just to get them going.  You also didn’t have DRM to worry about that prevents the resale of a lot of games.

That all changed as recently as last year when both major digital game sellers Steam and GoG began offering broader refund options.  Previously, a game had to have some serious issues, and refunds were only granted in extreme circumstances.  So far that I can tell, twice now a game has been made an exception to Steam’s two hour policy, Batman Arkham Knight, and now No Man’s Sky.  Out of the hundreds of games on the marketplace, as best I can tell, these are the only two that have been considered so broken, or so bad, that sellers are offering the customer such a deal.

Some in the community are happy with this, glad that a developer is finally held accountable for how they market a game and what they charge for what many are saying is a broken game missing many of the features originally advertised.  Others were upset at how massive the media hype was, only to find out how disappointing the reality is.  There’s a few who aren’t happy, however, one of them being former Sony employee Shahid Ahmad, who called those getting a refund after 50 hours of play thieves.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>If you’re getting a refund after playing a game for 50 hours you’re a thief.</p>&mdash; Shahid Kamal Ahmad (@shahidkamal) <a href=”https://twitter.com/shahidkamal/status/769882257964294144″>August 28, 2016</a></blockquote>
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Honestly, 50 hours seems like a lot of play time to then get a refund, but not if you consider this player most likely got more than two hours in before they realized the game wasn’t what they expected, and may have played it further knowing they were stuck with it.  Once it was announced they could get a refund, they jumped at the chance.  Some people have also pointed out that with the size and scope of the game, it could have taken that long for a player to realize that the game wasn’t going to live up to expectations.

Other developers have made comparisons to art, and stating developers deserve to be paid for their work.  First, yes games are art.  Second, yes artists should be paid when people collect their art.  The problem here is there’s one more caveat that isn’t being talked about.  Games are also a product that has to be experienced after they are purchased.  Imagine if you were told you were going to get a beautiful painting of a Greek Goddess, complete in classical style, exquisite frame, hand-painted in traditional oils.  You like the sound of that and you like the small samples of the artist’s work, so you buy it.  Then when the painting is delivered you find that it’s actually a puzzle depicting a Greek Goddess, glued to cardboard and in a metal poster frame.  Then imagine you justifiably ask for a refund, and the artist calls you a thief for demanding your money back for his ‘art’ that is not representative of what was promised.

That’s what it boils down to for a lot of gamers on this.  There are the bugs, many of which still haven’t been fixed, but more importantly are what are being seen as broken promises based on media and marketing hype leading up to the release.  Cymen90 broke a lot of it down on reddit with links to interviews and articles from the developers about what we could expect.  It’s probably one of the reasons other developers don’t talk about features for games until they are confirmed as part of the final release.  When you are creating a product, even as art, that people really only experience after they pay for it, you need to deliver what you advertise.  No one wants to see a great action trailer for a huge blockbuster movie, only to show up at the theater to get a mashup of Spongebob and Teletubbies.

What’s the final word from this guy?  Well, if you like the game awesome, you keep on playing what you enjoy.  Has this refund debacle started a precedent?  Yes, and I think it’s a good thing.  For so long, we’ve had developers, AAA and indie, banking on the fact that they can put out a product that doesn’t meet consumer expectations and once they have your money there’s little recourse for the purchaser.  Sure, you can avoid buying their next game, but how many times do we see a developer continue to cheat the gaming community time after time?

People have short memories, new gamers coming into the scene don’t always know a developer’s history, and let’s face it, our gaming media has been doing a terrible job informing us about the market.  Hell, even after Tim Schafer made off with millions, breaking promises and essentially scamming gamers, people still gave him another 3.8 million for Psychonauts 2.  This sends a clear message to developers that they need to start releasing quality product, not rush to market and promise fixes and updates down the road.  They cannot promise features and cut them out unexpectedly, or not put them in at all.  No more counting on our addiction to games to slip one by us.  You can return just about anything else that doesn’t live up to expectations.  There’s no reason video games can’t be part of that model as well.

Free Game Spotlight: Brawlhalla

Dev: Blue Mammoth Games
Platform: PC (Steam)
Release Date: November 3rd, 2015

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If you’re a Steam user, you’re probably aware that there are a number of free games in Steam’s vast library. While free games can often be something of a gamble when it comes to quality, there is a gem hidden among Steam’s free to play games: a 2D platform fighter called Brawlhalla. Read the rest of this entry

Town of Salem

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Blank Media Games
PC/Mac

I’ve had Town of Salem for awhile now. I bought it based on a suggestion from Noah of +2 Comedy, as we were talking about my love of Werewolf the board game. Both are similar to Mafia. If you don’t understand anything I just said, that’s fine. I’ll explain.


Town of Salem is a 15 player game. You and 14 other people form a town and you each have a role to play. Depending on what version of the game you play, you could be anything, but let’s talk about classic mode. 


In classic mode, you have the following good guys:
Sheriff (interrogating others to find out what they are)
Doctor (healing people)
Investigator (investigate for clues on a person’s role)
Jailor (interrogate and possibly kill a person)
Medium (can speak with the dead)
Escort (can block a person from doing their job)
Lookout (stalks people to figure out what they are)
Veteran/Vigilante (can kill people, hopefully for good)
Random Townie (can be anything)

Your bad guys are: 
Godfather (in charge of the mafia, orders the killing)
Framer (can plant evidence on other townies)
Executioner (whole job is to get one particular person lynched)
Mafioso (does the killing for the Godfather)
Serial Killer (kinda self explanatory)
Jester (tries very hard to get him/herself lynched)

I know that is a lot to take in, but that isn’t even half the roles in the game.

So, you 15 are in this town and have one of the above roles. You either have to kill all the good guys or kill all the bad guys, depending on which side of justice you’re on. During the day, you have to convince the other townspeople of your innocence and another’s guilt or lie through your teeth to get someone else killed. During the day the town votes on a person to lynch and at night murder and mayhem happen.

 

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In the game, you are given tools. You have a Will that you can use to keep track of what you’re doing. If you are a jailor or an investigator, you can use this tool to record what it is you see or hear. By doing this not only do you keep a track of what’s happening but also, if you die, this is made public to everyone. Your second tool, if you’re a bad guy, is a death note. This can be useful, even if you’re evil. If you are the mafia and find someone is immune to killing attacks at night, they are most likely the Serial Killer. You can put that in your note, hoping that the town pays attention when you kill your next innocent and hangs your rival.


Besides classic mode, there are several other play modes. My current favorite is Chaos Any mode. You have no idea what the roles are and anyone could be anything.

I think the graphics are adorable. You have little avatars and houses that you come out of each morning. With coins, or cash, you can change your avatar, house, pet, method of death (I get struck by lightning) and even the playing arena.

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I love playing this game. I bought it on Steam for $5 and it was some of the best money I ever spent. Despite my love for this game, however, I can’t stand most of the people who play. Unless I am playing with a group of friends, I get annoyed very quickly. It boils down to the maturity of the people playing, really, and most of the time it’s low. A great deal of the time, people will leave if they don’t like their role or if they die they will abandon the game, which pisses off the medium.


Fortunately, they seemed to put a cap on my biggest issue: the entire game would be filled with racist and sexist jokes. Thankfully, they put a filter on so it says something cute, like “tarnation,” when people are being douches. I’ve seen people get around it by adding spaces, but it is a step in the right direction. Of course, we are still left with people being idiots in game, so it makes it increasingly difficult to make proper deductions. This feels like one of the unfortunate things you will just have to deal with because, as we all know, playing online subjects you to all sorts of people.

If you don’t have this game, you should. You can play it for free at BlankMediaGames.com or you can purchase it on Steam. Feel free to add me to your friends list!

Banished Game Review

I recently purchased the game Banished from a Steam Sale and I was super excited because I love building/resource management games, even though they infuriate the hell outta me.

I’ve been playing on the easier levels and, even at easier levels, I had to restart at least 20 times before I had a working town that would survive more than the first few years.

Banished has no real story. As far as I can tell this game is about a group of people who’ve been banished to this land and have to rebuild/start over. You have trees to harvest, iron and stone to mine, herbs to gather for medicine and food to collect.
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Review 2/19/14 ~CP~

FF13BiggerSo how do I decide what I’m going to review? Well, I pick games that interest me. I know that is a horrible standpoint for someone to review games but its the truth. I should jump on any game that scurries by and give it a chance, which I would love to do. However, most of the time, I find myself staring at the screen whilst inner dialogue is something a lot like two children arguing about why we should, or shouldn’t play said game. I will try anything once, and I am more than happy to demo any game people say I should look into, but I find it hard to force myself to play a game because that is the current awesome game that everyone else is playing. Honestly I could care less what everyone else is playing. I game so that I can have fun or that WE can have fun, we being the group of people I am currently with. Isn’t that why you game? Why would you sit down with Ghost Recon if you despise first person shooters? Why would you pop in some Final Fantasy if you hate RPGs? Why would you go become a  Zoo Tycoon if you hate animals? *By the way, if you’re reading this and hate animals I’m sending the flying monkeys to beat some sense into you, seriously! What insane person hates animals?!*

My point is that, unless someone says hey give this a try, we usually go around doing stuff that we are fairly certain we will like. The point of the rant is this. I am open to playing anything, if you want me to play it, however, you HAVE to let me know, otherwise I will stay in my happy little bubble of games that I think suit me.

Now that you are all confused, shall we begin this week’s review?

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