The Mediocre Gazette: late edition. 12 January 2013
Good evening my dear readers, and welcome to another edition of the mediocre gazette for the 12th of January 2013. My name is Vincent, bringing you this weekly dose of news from the games industry, and from the city of Montreal. Before I go on, apologizes for this rather late edition of the gazette: it completely slipped my mind: thus I had forgotten to edit it and post it earlier today. Games on my steam account are just that good, and sadly distracting as well. Also, in case you were all wondering, WordPress.com runs on –what I assume – an east coast server, thus when I post anything after 5pm Pacific Standard Time, it will show up as the next day. Rest assured that I did not forget how to read a calendar; rather it is how the server is set up. Keep in mind that I run on Pacific Standard Time as I am based on the west coast, and assuming the site is based back east, differences in time estimates will exist. Nevertheless, the stories and news you care about will always arrive; even if the hour is late. Now onto the news you care about. In the headlines today: THQ is denied quick bankruptcy sale in the wake of creditor complaints, Apple looses ground on their ‘App Store’ battle with Amazon.com, Gamestop investors are uneasy over Sony’s patent that could lock down used games, work in the game development work isn’t as exciting as it is cut out to be, and Westmount’s Victoria Village is changing.
Publisher THQ continues to suffer through some serious financial issues as a U.S. court has denied the publisher’s quick bankruptcy sale, exclaiming that THQ did not give potential buyers enough time to place a competitive bid. Some of you may be aware; last month THQ filed for bankruptcy, and stated that Clearlake Capital Group was offering to front 60 million dollars to acquire the business. This acquisition includes all the studios, and games currently in development. Now I pulled another article from Gamasutra.com in which it details just how the situation is going for THQ. The creditors involved are upset over the fact that THQ has not given more time for other companies, such as Warner Bros. Entertainment, to place a bid on the publisher. Currently THQ is in desperate need of a bankruptcy loan, which must be paid off by January 15th of this year. Thus far it seems – if I am not mistaken – like a battle between the creditors, and the publisher itself. Now I am going to take a guess as to why the creditors are frustrated with how THQ has handled its financial affairs thus far: because the deal with Clearlake was a somewhat closed-door affair, the creditors may not have benefited from the rather sudden deal (if it was to go through). Therefore they are asking THQ to provide more time for other companies with interests in the publisher to place a more attractive bet than simply settling for whatever Clearlake wanted. Part of the issue – according to the second article in question – is the fact that the creditors are unsecured, meaning that they may not even see a cut of the deal should it have taken place. Not only that; it appears that THQ wants to secure this deal, mainly because it would enable the management executives to retain their positions when the transfer takes place, and once the transfer is complete. This – to me – seems like a classic example of corporate infighting, and we are bound to see more and more stories related to this drama come to light over the next few weeks. You can find the links to both the stories in the addresses below this article:
Apple has suffered a setback following a judge’s decision to dismiss the claim that Amazon’s use of ‘App Store’ is misleading, and are therefore false advertising. According to the article on Gamasutra.com; Apple had filed a complaint in 2011, stating that Amazon is infringing on Apple’s trademark – App Store – and that it provides unfair competition for the company. Now the U.S. District Judge has said that Amazon’s App Store features are nothing near similar to Apples, and thus the consumers are unlikely to confuse the two. Other portions of Apple’s complaints; such as alleged trademark infringement, is still scheduled to go on trial in August. Now this story is not surprising: Apple wants a monopoly. Why else would they take such a course of action? They dislike people using the word ‘App Store,’ a title – I might add – that is publically available to companies, and where other devices also utilize the title to advertise “Applications.” I certainly hope that the Judge set to reside over the complaint of trademark infringement will walk a similar path as the Judge on January 4th, and strike down Apple’s complaint. There is nothing far worse than a monopoly, and Apple needs to learn that it cannot trademark ‘App.” You can find the link to this story in the section below:
Investors in Gamestop – a video game retailer – are quite nervous over Sony’s plan to make their next generation console unable to play used games. Currently Gamestop houses an inventory of used games, and what the patent will do is lock down a game using RFID numbers on the game disk; in turn making them unplayable aside from the console in which they were originally activated on. Now this has investors worried, and with good reason as well. What essentially is going to happen – if this plan goes through – is Sony will lock down games using this patent, in turn making the longevity of their console shrink due to a lack of a healthy community who probably is not interested in purchasing a game brand new. Most players would like to try out a game before buying it, and even simple acts such as lending a game to a friend will become impossible thanks to the patent proposed by Sony. The article on Gamasutra.com is correct to note that this will then give Sony’s competition: Xbox, and Nintendo, a competitive edge over the system as they still allow used games to be played on their consoles. Now this whole fight against used games is ridiculous, as many of the titles produced for the PS3 are third party developments. When a publisher realizes that their game will not reach a wider audience, and that they have to invest more into marketing, they will simply move onto another platform and develop for that one instead. The act of lending a game to a friend is essentially free advertising, and if Sony kills the used game market for their console, there goes the free advertising. Not only that, what happens when a title becomes old; as in 10 years of age? Some games are only available via the second-hand market, and if Sony locks down their games, then instead of recycling a game, it will simply become another piece of garbage in the landfill. Hopefully Sony will come to their senses and withdraw from this idea before they damage their own business; as it stands right now, with them being billions of dollars in debt, they cannot afford to make stupid moves. The link to this story is located in the address below:
Gamasutra.com released an article on January 9th 2013 talking about the advantages, and disadvantages of working in the games industry. Summarizing the fairly sizeable article; game developers often work long hours, with unpaid overtime, have their intellectual rights ignored, and are forced to sign away their creations. Other disadvantages such as poor work-life balance, musculoskeletal disorders, and burnout, are a common occurrence in the industry. Now it is nice to see a site like Gamasutra.com talk about the realities of working in the games industry: many teenagers and young adults, who play games, also want to develop games. The image in their head is a highly successful developer making millions of dollars, and having their works consumed by the global populace. What Gamasutra.com has done, is it has brought the dark side of the industry to light, that being a lack of worker protection laws, and moderate salary scales. Now this is fairly accurate to a strong degree, as the games industry – like the film industry – is a heavily contested realm to work in. Consumers are not stupid, especially with today’s economy; therefore they will look for a game that is worth their hard-earned money. They may not like a particular idea presented to the market, and thus the product does not sell. Ultimately what this means is the next time this developer wishes to fund a project, he or she will be under more scrutiny than ever before due to their past history. Now the article does speak of those with a strong passion for the industry, and like many other industries out there, it takes an insane amount of work to get somewhere. The thing is – and I am generalizing here – many wannabe game developers are only motivated to enter this line of work because it is perceived as “easy.” Playing games is easy, actually developing a quality title that will be held to a high regard, is quite challenging. Imagine not leaving the office for a few days to get the final bits of code and data into place for the tech demo, eating maybe two meals a day, and sleeping in a bed roll under your desk. Sadly this is a reality for many game studios, as these projects can take months to complete, and still require many more hours of work to make ready for the demos, or even release. No industry is easy, and this article’s message seems to be the case. The link to this story is located in the address below:
In an article released on the 9th of January, CBC has reported that Westmount’s Victoria Village – an area previously known for independent retailers – is now seeing an increase of big box retailers. According to the article, some residents are unhappy with the change, citing that original products are only sold in independent retailers. Yet the people interviewed are realistic, as they know since the items are original, they tend to cost more in an independent retailer than if they were commonly available. This fact, coupled with rising taxes in Quebec, paints a fairly grim picture when it comes to the future of small businesses in Montreal. Now before I go on, I must explain that Westmount is an enclave city within Montreal, and that it has its own municipal government. However when you look on the map, it is within the borders of the greater city of Montreal; just a fact I thought my readers would find interesting. Now returning to the topic at hand, yes it is a depressing sight to see: nothing hurts more than to see local businesses go under because they cannot afford the property tax, and because their products are too expensive. While this is grim news indeed, it is reality. Consumers – especially over the past few years – are reluctant to purchase something that costs more. One can argue quality, but at the end of the day, when money is tight, it is difficult to place the quality aspect forward. The end result is small businesses cannot make a profit, nor a living off the products they sell, and are therefore forced to sell their lot and move onto other lines of work. Now I am not going to say that this disappearance of some businesses around Victoria Village in Westmount is a sign that all small businesses are going under; for this cannot be far from the truth. Montreal is known for their small businesses, and as such, even though there is a loss of businesses in and around Victoria Village, small businesses will continue to thrive within the city of Montreal in general. The only issue they truly face is simply harassment from the OLF over linguistic concerns. Apart from that, chances are when people visit they will find plenty of small businesses in and around the area offering an assortment of goods. Just because the news says that things are bad in a single spot, does not mean they are bad for the entire region. The link to this story is located in the address below:
That about wraps things up for this addition to the gazette; again apologies for this rather late post, I know I promised Saturday, but I completely forgot, and chances are it is Sunday when this gazette edition is consumed. Nevertheless, for next week expect yet another edition on Saturday, January 19th 2013. I hope you all enjoyed reading this, have a safe week ahead, and I will see you next time.