: Editorial: Are The Pick-Up-And-Play Days Over?

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Editorial: Are The Pick-Up-And-Play Days Over?

You know, the idea for this editorial struck me just a little while ago when I went to review a particular game. Granted, because I like to do one editorial per week, sometimes I have difficulty coming up with new ideas (and I'm aware I will occasionally repeat a similar topic a few times), but this one hit me like a ton of bricks: when I wasn't looking, someone went and turned my video game console into a computer.

Well, partially. Thing is, I've never been a fan of PC gaming, even when I played almost exclusively on a computer back in the days of Earl Weaver's Baseball, Robotropolis, and Hero's Quest. I never liked to sit at a desk, I always hated the numerous upgrades required (new graphics card, new sound card, more memory, blah blah blah), and in the past 10 years, the lack of innovation and diversity on the PC has been nigh-on non-existent. One of the reasons I preferred console gaming was because of its pick-up-and-play accessibility. Put in a game and play. That's it. No fiddling with settings, no concerning myself with whether or not I have the correct system requirements; just sit there for a few seconds, hit Start, and go. But last week, when I went to play a game, I had to wait for yet another update to go before I could get started, and I quickly reflected on the past few years since the PlayStation 3 released. ...somehow, some way, because it really is a computer, it has traits of PC gaming now.

We're not quite there yet, of course. There's no replacing of actual PS3 parts, although I may need a memory upgrade at some point unless I buy the 160GB model. And the updates happen quickly enough, although patches and updates used to be restricted to the PC realm, which is the one thing that's starting to bug me. First of all, I've always said PC developers could get away with releasing mediocre half-complete titles because they could just patch it at a later date. Well, what's stopping that from happening on consoles now? And hasn't it happened recently? Sure, updates can add additions and enhancements to a game, but there are also fixes and repairs included in some of these updates, right? It's a slippery slope. I don't like the fact that the system requires firmware updates, I don't like the software updates, and I'm not the biggest fan of DLC that - in my opinion - should've been included with the game when it first released.

On the other hand, such advancements can allow for continually changing games that ramp up the freshness with every new update. Look at Burnout Paradise and Warhawk as good examples; if you have all the DLC for each, they're hardly the exact same game they were upon their initial launch. The possibilities really are limitless, and I'm not shortsighted enough to believe this isn't a forward step for the industry. I guess I just miss the days of popping in a game and playing it. And I even miss going back to play it again, knowing I would have the exact same experience. My SNES in the bedroom? It has games that have been the same since I first played them back in the early '90s. They've never had updates and they never will have updates. The SNES itself has a power button, a reset button, and a controller. The shift has been gradual so I really haven't noticed until now, but really, it hit me pretty hard: the days of "pick-up-and-play" are gone. Yes, I know it's all for the better, but still... 'sob'

11/21/2008 Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (20 posts)

Friday, November 21, 2008 @ 10:34:02 PM

Sony and SEGA brought complexity to gaming with disk systems, 9+ buttons on the controllers, system interface, etc.... Nintendo tried to do so and kind of failed, so they reverted back to simplicity and it's paying up today.

I personally feel that this is the best console war ever since it's well balanced, there's something for everyone. If I want to play an RPG, I got Eternal Sonata for my PS3 and if I just want hit bad guys around, I got No More Heroes on my Wii. Gamers who own at lease 2 consoles are the real winners here.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 6:49:13 AM


Console prices do drop, some people don't get a console until it's near the end of it's life cycle. As for games, well people can rent or wait for games to drop to $20 or $30 (Greatest/Platinum Hits)

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Sunday, November 23, 2008 @ 12:45:11 PM

I'm owner of one console and doesn't need more than one. The PS3 fulfills all my needs. really. Maybe it's cause i'm not a big rpg-gamer. Yet i'm still waiting anxiously on FF versus xiii.

- and please correct my spelling and such.. ! ( hope you understand, anyway)

Last edited by hald on 11/23/2008 12:45:30 PM

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John Shoemaker
Friday, November 21, 2008 @ 10:46:31 PM

I feel ya. I absolutely hate it when I put in a game and I have to downloaded the latest update for it even thought the game came out that day. Take Resistance 2 for example.
Especially when my PS3 takes FOREVER to try and get it to download first before it will download all the way.

The idea of DLC is great as long as it isn't something they could have just included in the finished game. Like Burnout Paradise.
But if you release something that fixes something that should have been fixed in the finished product, that is BS, seriously.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 12:23:29 AM

I don't think those days are over or gone at all. It depends one what kind of games you like to play and all that sort of thing, just as it did when consoles had very little similarities to PC games. If you put in Resistance 2 and have to do an update, it's kinda expected 'cause Resistance is a FPS, a style of game that began on PCs. But that doesn't mean there isn't a plethora of games out there that aren't updated all that often and you can, indeed, pick up and play right off the bat.

As a fighting game fan -- it's the majority of what I play, actually -- I have no problems whatsoever picking up and having a go. Games like Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection have no updates, neither do the SNK compilations coming out from SNK Playmore (like King of Fighters: The Orochi Saga), Mortal Kombat II on the PSN, the upcoming Super Street Fighter II HD Remix, Street Fighter IV, etc.. There's also a plethora of games on the PSN that are just like that. Mega Man 9, 1942, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and the like.

MK vs DC didn't require an update, Dead Space went pretty quicky for me (I don't think it had an install, but I could be wrong) and Dynasty Warriors: Gundam is just that perfect blend of old-school 2D side scrolling destruction on a 3D plain. It really just is a matter of what you like to play, I think.

As for DLC, I think devs should be taking advantage of it more and not using it as a means to make more money. Instead of doing these little updates that aren't really worth the effort to download (like Namco Bandai's stuff for Soul Calibur IV) they could be using it to add new features to the games, extended gameplay, and lots of nerdjoyment. The best DLC I've had to date was the database for Metal Gear Solid. That was nerdcool. My biggest problem is the utter lack of free DLC. It's bad enough that these games are already sixty bucks a pop and having to pay for stuff that's not really adding to the dynamic of the game or extending your experience of the game but IS just putting money into the publisher's pockets is a bit ridiculous. Like the plethora of DLC that was just released for Dead Space. It's not worth the couple of bucks they're charging.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 12:34:01 AM

I'm sure exactly those thoughts of the article have flown through many a mind, especially of those victims who lost a system bricked by an update.

Last edited by Aftab on 11/22/2008 12:34:41 AM

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Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 12:53:32 AM

Poor guy must be like, "I practically got a supercomputer at my feet, broadband internet, motion-sensor and force-feedback controllers, the sharpest hd picture that money can buy, and I can't play an f'ing game! WTF!!!

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Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 1:52:58 AM

Games come out and then a week later easily have so much DLC on the PS Store. You aren't fooling me. You were gonna put that into the game then decided, hey, let's make them pay for what was supposed to be in the game. Come on.

Am I the only one beginning to feel that the Metal Gear and Gran Turismo games are the only ones worth the full $60? They craft their games like a piece of art and release them only when they feel like they are complete. If anything, they should be worth more.

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Monday, November 24, 2008 @ 8:19:58 AM

I agree with you. Have you seen the new Need for Speed DLC? You can pay for the cars that you unlock while playing the game anyways...kind of mind boggling...."Thank you for buying our game, we hope you like it...but instead of you having to actually play the game to unlock all the cars, how about you just buy them off us, and tell everyone that you beat the game..." WTF? Does anyone else find that logic a little wrong? If you haven't got the time to play the game to unlock the cars, then why did you buy it in the first place?!!

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Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 3:54:55 AM

I'm a console gamer and a PC gamer. But I'm a PC gamer primarily. There's just so much more that a true PC game can do compaired to a console game. Take "Sins of a Solar Empire" for example. It's one of the best real-time strategy games ever created, especially in the space genre. But console players won't see it. Just like the new Star Wars MMORPG that's coming out. It's supposed to match the gameplay of "Knights of the Old Republic" but on a much larger scale and the developers have already said that they aren't even considering the console as an option for it. And don't get me started with "System Shock 2" or the real "Baldurs Gate" games. Granted the consoles have a lot of games going for it as well. With all the Castlevanias, Zeldas, Burnouts, etc, etc. that they have, it would be stupid on any gamers part to not buy one to play at least some of those. In all each has their own perks and bonuses, ups and downs. PC gaming gets more of a bad rap nowadays. Yeah it takes a pretty powerful system to run most of the newer stuff, but just like consoles, a new PC will usually last you a few years before you'll need to upgrade it to the next one. But the one big advantage that PCs have over consoles is that you can emulate all the consoles, from the Atari 2600 up to the PS2, on the PC and play just about all the games available for all of them on one system.

But back to the article. I too miss the days of pick-up-and-play. Gone are the days when you could just pop in something simple like "Contra", "Loaded", "Mr.Do", and "Donkey Kong" among many, many others. Though "Metal Slug" still carries on that tradition :) With games getting as advanced and involving as they are, the simple days of gaming are long gone it seems. It's a shame in a way, but you can never advance if you don't move forward. Maybe one day a Studio will feel nostalgic and release something in the old style of gaming. If nothing else just so us older gamers can reminisce about how it used to be lol.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 10:48:24 AM

Yes, but that's my point. Outside of RTS, I see very little possibility of the PC staying relevant. It used to be that a PC could do most all genres better than a console...that has been slipping over the years, and now it's basically down to RTS, with the ongoing argument for FPSs. Technically, a PC may be able to do more, but MOST people don't have the money to spend to make it significantly better, and the best FPSs this generation so far aren't even on the PC. Killzone 2 is going to redefine the nature of that genre; 10 years ago - or even 5 years ago - only the PC could do that.

Action/adventure games are ALL better played on consoles (99% of the time, anyway), and there's actually something called diversity on a console. Every last genre is represented; it's not all Western RPGs, RTS and FPS, which apparently are the only titles in the PC library right now. The music/rhythm titles that have exploded aren't on PC. People like to use their TVs (which are also superior now to what we had 5 and 10 years ago), and they like to have the comfort of their living rooms. There are platformers and puzzlers, JRPGs and fighting games, sports and action, etc, etc, on consoles.

I guess my point is this- take a look at the best games of 2007 and 2008. See what will likely be Game of the Year candidates. Most every last one is on a console, and while some are also on PC, few will argue that something like Fallout 3 is an inferior experience on the PS3 or 360. MGS4, LBP, GTAIV, GeoW2, Dead Space, R2, Wipeout HD, Mirror's Edge, Valkyria Chronicles, Rock Band 2, Guitar Hero IV, Soul Calibur IV, Devil May Cry 4, Burnout Paradise...these are the games that top 2008. These are what will be remembered. Few even exist on the PC, and those that do aren't better because of that. Things have reversed completely.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 7:58:10 AM

It really does suck when you buy a game and you have to update it to the latest version. It doesn't really bother me too much but it can be a pain, but with games like Burnout you can just keep adding to the game it's great!

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Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 12:46:20 PM

orange box lol

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Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 3:09:47 PM

Guess I'll grasp at an idea not really discussed, the pick up and play of games themselves.

I was playing a rousing game of Super Mario 2 yesterday and I gotta say it was really refreshing, not just because I didn't have to update this and patch that, but because the game itself was just 'grab controller' 'play game' and to my surprise I was actually better at this one than I used to be (as opposed to... say Megaman) and I kind of miss that. Yes it was simpler because of the few buttons involved but I have a friend who, as we get older, often doesn't even try to play a game because you can no longer just grab the controller and figure everything out with your hands. Look at the whack set of fighting moves on the 3D Mortal Kombats, 2 fighting styles and a weapon style and the special moves and fatalities and you gotta be rainman to keep it all in your brain. I think that's why MK v DC went back to simpler play.

The hope lies in this return, I noticed that playing Dead Space was pretty damn close to 'grab controller and play' and I like that. Try to play Kane and Lynch and you don't know what the hell your doin' or where your goin'. It's not just control scheme either, cameras have gone buck wild. In GTAIV the camera kept sitting low on the horizon, which makes it hard to drive so you have to keep tilting it with your right thumb and the bothersome factor goes up. When its not clear whether your button is going to do one of three things or your camera is going to kill you the gameplay has just gotten too complex. The old axiom "Keep it simple stupid" ought to be kept in mind these days as the pick up and play of a fully updated patched game is in jeopardy as well.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 5:42:36 PM

Yeah, that's another interpretation of "pick-up-and-play" and it also encompasses a time long past. Super Mario 2...damn, maybe I should go play that now. I got Super Mario All-Stars. :)

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Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 6:08:41 PM

I used to have so much trouble digging in that bloody desert, but I think I got it down now :)

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Monday, November 24, 2008 @ 8:24:33 AM

Yeah, We still play some of the classics every now and then too. After I got my PS3, my girlfriend was wishing she could play some of the old nintendo games, so I bought her one of the aftermarket emulators that plays all the old games..It's fun to throw on Classic Mario, or Excitebike every now and then. Now anytime we see a yard sale or a flea market we have to stop and see if we can find some of the old games. lol

Last edited by CH1N00K on 11/24/2008 8:25:02 AM

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Saturday, November 22, 2008 @ 3:44:40 PM

I personally like the simplicity and one-dimensional nature of consoles past, the first and foremost application devoted to gaming, and not having to navigate menus and home-pages to get to the game that I just placed into the console. The releasing of games that are underdeveloped--where the fixes for the game can be released through download--is something that I do not like at all, it encourages rushing an incomplete product, in particular if there is a release deadline involved. I also do not like the way that companies now will charge you for extras--such as extra vehicles/units/costumes--that in the past were a normal, sometimes unlockable through achievement, part of a given game. That kind of nickel and diming makes me feel deterred from purchasing a next-generation console any time soon.

For my PS2 I still play all kinds of games but I give the adventure and role-playing games to my younger brother, knowing that I will never play them again, and keep the more accessible fighting games and arcade/console compilations (Which I wish there were more of) as I know that they are more appropriate if I only have limited time to spend playing a game, which is often the case.

What was nice about the 8 and 16-bit generation was that you could pick up any style of game--besides a role-playing game--and play through it in its' entirety in one sitting, and in a reasonable amount of time. The ratio of fun-factor/excitement to time-spent was higher back then in this respect, the replay-value was much higher, which would nurture my personal appreciation level of the games made then. Not that I am complaining about how things are now, I am satisfied with all of the gaming choices and options for PS2, now that everything is inexpensive and I get a substantial bang-for-my-buck.

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Monday, November 24, 2008 @ 3:19:08 AM

Online multiplayer dlc & system updates are the best part of this gen. Without system updates & dlc Burnout never would have had online Stunt Runs one of it's coolest features & the XBE & Home wouldn't be possible so everyone should love the fact that we are no longer stuck gaming all alone in a lifeless world thanks to internet connectivity.

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Monday, November 24, 2008 @ 8:27:25 AM

But have you seen what they are doing inside of Home? You can go into Home and download and play some pick-up and play games..lol. We're not alone anymore with online, but there is still a good market for the classic type of gaming.

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