Thursday, May 29, 2008

The devil's axe is not golden

So there's been some research various sites have done to figure out which Arcade games might be getting the axe when Microsoft starts "delisting". There are three criteria that's going to be used: 1) a Metacritic score of 65 or less, 2) released over 6 months ago, and 3) a demo to full version conversion rate less than 6%. Of those three things the first two are easy to find out. The last one? Only Microsoft knows.

I went to the Metacritic website and found that I had 41 Arcade games that fell under that magic number rating of 65. I also had 6 demos that haven't made the mark. Some of the games I'm not surprised about. Yaris had the lowest rating of 17. One of my favorite games, Boogie Bunnies had a rating of 54. Some of them I'm really surprised about. Aegis Wings seems a very popular game but only got a rating of 58. Frogger and Pac Man only got 62. Texas Hold 'em got a 63. Since the metacritic number is based off of reviews given to games I guess it all comes down to just a couple of people's opinions about a game.

I read several gaming magazines, in print and on line. Some of them say they pick someone to review a game that isn't a fan of the series or game so that an unbiased opinion can be generated. Unbiased? If they don't like the game to begin with do you really think minor flaws (and every game has them) aren't going to pointed out and nit-picked on? If there's something wrong with a game (like sticking to walls in Gears of War) that reviewer is going to use that to give the game a lower score because it's just going to be one more reason why they don't like the game in the first place. Yes, I know some games might be good enough to win people over, but that's less likely to happen.

Some magazines say they have fans of a game/series review it because they'll know what really works for the game and what true fans will be disappointed about. This too can have a negative effect as the hype of a game can generate such a great expectation that can exceed what a developer can actually deliver. Just look at Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 as an example of that. Yes, I know journalists are suppose to be fair and unbiased about their subjects, but can you honestly say that's how you want your reviews of games to be handled? Don't we all enjoy it when we get recommendations from friends about games, try them out and like them? We want to know why they liked the game not just that it had good graphics or a great physics engine.

I found another website that listed the games that had a metacritic score less than 65 and had been out for over 6 months. Now if a game meets ALL three criteria it's not automatically going to be delisted but will be eligible for delisting. Since we don't have the ability to measure the last criteria, just based on the first two the following games just might get the axe: Crystal Quest, Texas Hold 'em, Hearts, Contra, Pac Man, Frogger, Root Beer Tapper, Double Dragon, Asteroids and Centipede/Millipede just to name a few. While everyone who's downloaded them previously will still have access to them through their "download history" option on the dashboard (at least that's what they're saying) what about new first time buyers of an Xbox 360? Just because they come late to the game why should they be prevented from taking advantage of some of the great games out there?

I really wish we could find out what the conversion rate is for games. I know I've purchased games without having first downloaded the demo. Do you really think I need to play the demo of Pac Man before I decide to buy it? I know that game. I've played it in the Arcades. On real game cabinets not game consoles. And yes, I've downloaded game demos that I've tried but not purchased. Even though I didn't like the game some other people might so let them have a chance to experience it too.

One of the reasons Microsoft says they're doing this to stream line and clean up the Arcade Marketplace because it's too confusing. I don't think that has anything to do with the games on the Marketplace but the interface you created to list and display them. You don't throw out the furniture just because you built a house that doesn't have any stairs to the second floor. It doesn't make any sense. And am I the only one who's noticed that the number are 6 month, 6% conversion and 65 metascore. 666. The devil's axe isn't gold after all. It's Microsoft green. At least Golden Axe, the arcade game, is safe for awhile. Its score is 68.


metallicorphan said...

Aegis wing,Yaris are free downloads

i had to use my U.S account to get hold of them,as they are not available outside North America

Texas Hold 'Em was free for a limited time,thats how i got it

so,for these games to be deleted,will they need to fail on all 3 reasons,or will one reason be enough?..i am sure these titles have passed their demo to download rate..i cant even play poker but i got for the other two,yup,they are terrible,but i still downloaded them

pengwenn said...

Yaris is terrible, but I like Aegis Wings. I guess the side scroller games (I've got a few of the them) take me back to my childhood days in the arcade......