Saturday, March 9, 2013

And The Outliers Shall Inherit The Earth

Outliers and oddities are the signs of any healthy group or population. And by healthy I mean fit-to-survive. Because when change comes (and it inevitably comes), there will be blood but there will also be options. What was considered strange will now prove invaluable, and what was scorned will now be coveted.

The Gaming Industry is run by a small number of people at the top. They are no better or worse than the average Joe. They too have instances of brilliance and weeks of mental slumber; they too rely on luck and intimidation and connections to jump ahead; they too get scared and frustrated and greedy. Petty competition breeds fear and fear is not the best consul for one's character. The problem is that, because of the power they yield in the industry, their flaws get amplified and their bad decisions have a far greater impact. And nothing can take ways the bad aftertaste of been treated like cattle, to be herded in and milked again and again.

By buying out (and closing up) numerous gaming studios they have managed to consolidate their market share and lay the tracks towards their pay-per-play vision of the future. It all seems uniform and homogenized and inescapable. But, we only think there are no alternative options. There are plenty. And the experience they can offer far surpasses the miserly pay-for-as-long-as-our-servers-will-tolerate-you. Indie developers and independent studios are like grass and wild flowers: no matter how much ferroconcrete and weedkiller is applied, life and human creativity will find a way to break trough and thrive. 

A great example is CD PROJEKT RED, a small gaming studio from Poland. These guys came out of nowhere to bring us, so far, two of the greatest cRPG games ever produced, The Witcher and The Witcher II: Assassins of Kings. And that is not all. They proved to both stand behind their product and to show respect to their customers. Each game got a totally redesigned edition a year following its release. They gave it away to their customers for free. The did the same thing with every single DLC that was released: their customers received them for free as well.
This added value to their product, convincing more people to buy it. And when we do, we feel like valued friends. 

It is game developers and gaming studios like that we need to keep supporting. They are the hope that when it hits the fan (and it always does at the end!), there will be a robust PC gaming community to carry on.

Some days ago The Witcher III was announced. It is to be the last of the Geralt of Rivia Trilogy. I think it is the only game that can persuade me to switch from my trusted WindowsXP to Win7. And that is saying a lot. 

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