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When I read Keith's post and they comments he received, something kind of irked me. But, I couldn't put my finger on it until Bill said this: "People feel comfortable buying what they know, which explains the success of licensed videogames that without the license wouldn't stand a chance because they suck."
To me this is exactly why Keith didn't need to mention branding in the first place. We know that sequels imply branding. But sequels don't always guarantee quality. And, I think the Fallout series is the perfect example of where it would be nice to have a video games journalism industry that could better inform us of games that suck. Fallout 3 might be good compared to games in recent memory, but don't compare (in my mind) to the original two Fallout games. And for that matter, they don't compare with the best that RPG's have to offer in general. We all could have been much better informed about that game.
Roger Ebert was the guy I always went to for movie reviews. He has a vast knowledge of film, and has more experience than anyone I know concerning movie reviews. This is the kind of guy I would look for to review games. (Unfortunately most of us know what Roger Ebert thinks of video games.) And really I think one of the closest things to a Roger Ebert of our video games industry is right here with Matt Barton and Bill Loguidice. You guys have a vast knowledge of video games. If only our more popular reviewers were as educated about video games as you guys are, instead of these kids at IGN giving Fallout an 9.4. Why? When we see an IGN review I always wonder what the hell they are comparing the game to. It would be much more interesting to me what Matt Barton thinks of a game like Fallout 3.
Isn't that why Keith's post about sequels is even on here? We feel like the Armchair Arcade guys might be able to educate the masses more than IGN could. I took his post as sort of a subtle compliment to Armchair Arcade for being so awesome.
Now, I'm not sure what to think of the idea of the video game industry shrinking. But, I know that because of the lack of knowledge from our current video game reviewers - that most people do not know what they are really getting for their money when they buy another Madden for 60 bucks. They don't really know what they're getting when they buy Fallout 3. They don't know what they're missing out on when they buy Fallout 3 and have never played Fallout 2. Without proper reviews and educated journalists, the nature of technology will swallow up old games. The best games end up needing to be bought on specific websites or torrented (almost all of the games on Matt Chat are like that). It's hard, even when informed, to be able to go back and buy Fallout 2 (unless you know about gog.com).
At this point I'm just sort of reiterating what Keith is saying. I think he's spot on with his bullet points. It's easy to understand publishers and their focus on what sells. If branding alone is making enough money to keep publishers focused, then they'll keep doing that. But, I think people can be convinced not to buy a sucky sequel. For the most part, just for example, that's what I think happened with Silent Hill: Homecoming, but Silent Hill games are newer and the kids at IGN have played all the Silent Hill games. I think people can be educated, and that publishers can be convinced to put their money into something that would suit our refined palettes.
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