27 Jan 2009

Iron Curtain

Rant: Microsoft needs to sort out this fucking mess with region-locking on Xbox Live. See: as a German Xbox360 owner it’s like back in the Cold War, but this time it’s not just the Eastern Germans who are fucked because they were born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain. We’re condemned to buy overpriced, censored, poorly localized games. If they’re available at all.

Which itself is not a problem for every 360 owner in his right mind. Simply order the UK version of a game, which is usually cheaper, has the original voice tracks, and isn’t mutilated beyond recognition. That’s all good and dandy until it comes to DLC. In the good old days before The Wall was erected (this was around the time when the movie download service started on XBL), this was not a problem either. Just create an English Live account, upload a few space bucks, and buy the matching DLC for the UK version of a game. Not so anymore! A strict IP address check is performed now. If you’re dialing in through a German provider you’re fucked. There is a way to circumvent this by using a foreign VPN service. But come on! We’re living in the free world now, not in some frigging soviet colony.

The whole situation is really a completely incomprehensible mess:

  • some games are not released in Germany at all, mostly Microsoft first-party games, for instance Gears Of War 1 and 2, Ninja Gaiden 2 and Crackdown
  • some games are released, but in a cut version (no blood, etc…)
  • some games are released which are not cut at all (Dead Space, Resident Evil 5)
  • some games have the original English voice track, some only have a localized track

Somebody please explain to me, why a game like Resident Evil 5 is released here, while Crackdown (a comic game for fucks sake!) is not. Why does EA or Capcom manage to get USK-18 ratings for their *uncut* games with realistically exploding heads and all, while Microsoft doesn’t even bother? And why the fuck does Microsoft care at all if the USK doesn’t want to rate a game? Put a fucking “this game is unrated” sticker on the box and be done with it like everybody else does. It’s not like its forbidden to sell a game in Germany which didn’t get a rating.

And instead of working their ass off to fix this Kafkaesque situation, the German Xbox product manager writes this on his blog: http://www.dreisechzig.net/wp/archives/1572 (short translation: don’t buy English).

The solution has to be: let me access downloadable content for games I legally own. Period.

Rant off.


Garvin said...

I find that very sad as well. Instead of censoring and cripping markets, the industry should try to satisfy their customers.

Makes me sad that product managers (even though I have a very high opinion of Boris) rather like to rant against their customers and others' cluelessness than to accept and understand their customers' needs and adjust their business to suit those and work on improving the situation.

That's the short version of what I also wrote in german ;-)

Electro said...

Sure this sucks... but trust me... it's worse in america. Quake 4 was extorted into supporting eax so they could use shadow mapping. XD Just be glad you don't live here. When I inevitably get an XBL account, I'll gladly upload a localized version for you, as will, I'm sure, any of a few other fans of the nebula device. Oh wait... you probably have an actual dev kit XD.

At the very least, it gives you an advantage in local markets, as well as less competition. You can bet that if I ever get my cinematic game done... which will probably be started in 2022, that it will feature localized versions in every country... I even plan to go so far as adapting the game regionally and culturally, if possible. (In one game's case... it's only the dialogue of one character that needs to be adapted, so everythings simpler).

Where you see a problem there is also an opportunity... you can compete in a limited market with a limited number of competitors. And all it takes is a VPN.

And if the german market is dying for good games... give them one! Heck, give them TEN! Not every game has to be a big budget epic.

Sorry, I'm kinda psyched... I'm not a big fan of competition... the possibility of there being a market without many good games... I like. n.n me = excited