New ‘Just For Fun’ Podcast Introduction

Hey guys!  I don’t like disrupting the main feed for stuff going on with this site, but I thought I’d take a moment to introduce a couple of side things, just so it’s done and out of the way.  And hey, you may actually enjoy this stuff so, check it out.

First, when Gabe and I record the Greatness Delayed Podcast, we hang around for a while just shooting the shit for a while… so we’re putting that to good use in the ‘We’re Sorry Podcast’, which you can see here (just below), or via the tab up at the top of the site:

We’re Sorry Podcast

And, of course, there’s also the Byte-Size Cinema addition which will have more content coming soon:

Byte-Size Cinema

Enjoy!!!

Possible effects of Brexit on the games industry: a tentative list

As you probably already know, UK and Commonwealth citizens voted in a referendum on 23rd June to leave the European Union. This is predicted to have widespread effects on various economic and political issues, though as for what the precise effects will be, nobody knows just yet. The new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will have anywhere between a couple of days to approximately 6 months to trigger Art. 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which is a fancy way of saying the UK will hand in its resignation letter to the European Union; after that, the terms of Britain’s “Brexit” will be negotiated for a maximum of 2 years. The reason why nobody can say for sure what the precise effects of Brexit will be is because it all depends on this negotiation period; it could be that very little changes, or it could be that Britain retains its “European-ism” purely by way of its geographical location.

Brexit could potentially impact a variety of serious issues, such as migration, trade deals and laws on farming/environmental protection, so it might seem a bit unusual to ask what the effects may be on the video game industry. However, this could potentially affect people’s livelihood and major hobbies, so it is worth pausing for thought on how the industry could change – or indeed how it may escape unscathed.

POSITIVE: distribution of employment/studios may be on a more equal footing

For gaming production companies based in the United Kingdom, such as Rockstar North, membership of the EU made it much easier to communicate with its subsidiaries/sister companies also based in EU Member States. In addition, hiring EU citizens above, say, US citizens was a little bit easier, due to the freedom of movement rules in the EU which remove the need for work visas to employ such members of staff. You could argue that this skews such studios towards being more Eurocentric; there is now no incentive to bias operations and employment towards fellow Europeans, and we will see a wider mix of influences on the work produced by these companies, as they begin to employ more US, Australian etc nationals.

NEGATIVE: not as easy to employ EU citizens at UK companies, and vice versa

Imagine you’re a Brit and you aspire to work at Ubisoft Montpelier on the next Rayman game, or you’re intent on moving to Finland to work for Rovio on the next Angry Birds expansion. Before Brexit, you could be rest assured that there’d be no need for visas or any sort of residence permits to stay in the country you’d have to move to. While for those with language skills, a high level of formal education or perhaps a partner in their country of destination, a visa may have been easy to get, this still cuts through a layer of red tape that would otherwise be there. However, in a post-Brexit world where freedom of movement has been restricted, this extra level of bureaucracy would suddenly become necessary. While if a company really wants to employ you, this may not be such a big deal, a lot of companies may be bothered by the extra paperwork and simply favour an employee from France, Spain or another Member State, where this alternative candidate is of comparable talent to you or even slightly less competent for the job. This could make British production companies and British game production staff quite isolationist, and at its worst could lower the quality of output that affected companies can maintain.

POSITIVE: UK’s less Eurocentric focus may forge better links with US/Japanese studios, breaking down market barriers

Those eagerly waiting on Persona 5 will already know the story: both Japan and the US have a fixed release date, while Europe does not. In fact, it was only last week that the game definitely coming to Europe, through Atlus (which doesn’t have a basis in Europe) partnering with Deep Silver once again after its partnership with NIS broke down. It could be argued that these difficulties arise because markets are quite insular; the business benefits from trading within Europe and finding your employment basis therein don’t create the ideal arena within which to break down Transatlantic or East/West boundaries. It could be that the loss of these benefits would create the impetus to shift focus elsewhere. If the UK forges some generous agreements with the US or other countries in the aftermath, they could see the UK as the perfect hub for opening more international offices, resulting in quicker European release dates for some games; it’s also possible that such agreements could make importing games from the US/Japan cheaper.

NEGATIVE: importing within Europe could become more expensive and game versions could change

My fellow eBay bidders will appreciate that buying from the UK or neighbouring countries whilst in continental Europe can be a cost-effective way of getting hold of rare gems. The UK is a surprisingly cheap-ish place to find older PAL games thanks to CeX and its ilk, and while postage fees can run a tad higher than when I buy games off German sellers, it tends to be competitive compared to buying from Austria, for example (you’d think it’d be cheaper as Germany’s neighbour). The fraying of the common market with the UK could put an end to this, as import fees are slapped on and shipping instead becomes comparable – from the UK to Germany and vice versa – with importing from the US.

Furthermore, Europe has traditionally had 1 version of a game, with different censorship labels slapped on depending on the country. Older games had a language select screen; newer games detect which language the system is set to and adjusts accordingly. Some games are admittedly English language with subtitles regardless of location thanks to budgetary constraints. A notable exception to this is NES carts, which are split into PAL-A and PAL-B (UK and Italy being A, alongside Australia, with the rest of continental Europe being B). What we could see more of, if a closer US-UK trade tie develops, is the UK instead getting the US version of some games. It might also get its own separate version of games. With the latter option, this could either be a positive or a negative, as there would be more versions for budding collectors to buy, if their collection is international. As a clear negative, it could mean that those living in mainland Europe who can only speak English, and are not fluent in the language of the country they are living in, may find themselves unable to play the local versions of certain games if the English language component is removed, instead having to import a UK, US or Australian version. A lot of this is very speculative or even unlikely, but the possibility of the UK uniting with the US on gaming matters, to the extent that we become an NTSC country, is impossible because of what NTSC/PAL variation actually means: see here for an explanation. This inability to make a clean swap may complicate game production matters and slow production down.

NEUTRAL: censorship changes

It’s worth mentioning that censorship is unlikely to be affected very much by Brexit. The reason for this is that the European standard, PEGI, has not been especially restrictive as its own measure. It has instead been national certification standards that tend to border on the draconian in their stringency, and there’s no reason to believe these will soften post-Brexit. Taking Germany as an example, it is the FSK that mandates that selling 18+ games requires ID even through online sales, and that PS Plus membership requires entering your ID details into the PS Store system. Furthermore, it is the FSK and, in the UK, the BBFC which have had serious gripes (understandably so) with games such as Manhunt 2. Since PEGI tends to act as a bare minimum standard, even leaving PEGI completely is unlikely to create much of an impact in the UK, unless the UK suddenly becomes extremely liberal in its assessment of games. If we cast the net wider and consider the whole “video nasties” era of film censorship in the UK, it is highly unlikely this will happen, to the extent it is not worth considering too heavily.


In conclusion, there are a large amount of potential knock-on effects on the gaming communities in UK and mainland Europe, assuming that Brexit is going full steam ahead. This remains a speculative list though, as a picture is emerging of a bunch of politicians finger-pointing, with no clear policies on the horizon. Once Art. 50 of the Lisbon Treaty has been triggered by the next Prime Minister, either Theresa May or Andrea Leadsom, we’ll start to get a better idea of how all industries, never mind the games industry, will be affected. Until then, we can enjoy the gaming benefits (or downsides) that are part and parcel of the UK being a Member of the EU.

Greatness Delayed Podcast – Pre-E3 2016 and More

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Mike, Gabe, Gus and Pete chat about Overwatch’s perma-bans, covert art censorship, and of course, what they’d like to see at E3 2016!

Download Link (right click, save as)

I’m Back – Full Circle

This blog has been in cryostasis since the first quarter of 2014, but that’s about to change. Byte-Size Impressions didn’t have a sizable following by any stretch of the imagination, but so what? While it’s preferable to write for an outlet that provides exposure – more on that in a bit – that’s never been my primary motivation.

My entire life has been devoted to film, video games and writing. Since about 2006, I’ve been writing DVD and Blu-ray reviews for DVDTalk.com. I still am, as a matter of fact, although the amount of time I’m able to devote – as a father and husband with a full time job – has been reduced to a ‘when I have the time’ basis. That’s not the only reason, though: My creative juices were fizzling out. That’s not to say I didn’t give every review my all, because I did. If anything, DVDTalk was the outlet which allowed me the time, patience and understanding to better my writing. As it stands today, I’m pleased with the content I produce, and have even used my skills to help aspiring writers ‘find their voice’ and/or improve their craft. But that’s enough background information: Why did I put this blog on freeze in the first place?

Well, I was directed to the Indiegogo campaign for Pete Dodd, also known as famousmortimer. Basically, he’s the guy that blew the lid off Microsoft’s plan to make the Xbox One a DRM machine. Anyway, he was seeking funds to build his own website. The mission statement was, more or less, to build a website and community where there would be no conflict of interest. This meant no ‘wink wink, nod nod’ relationships with publishers or devs, no paid advertisements from the software makers or hardware pushers, etc. Because there would be nobody to appease, every piece of writing, be it reviews, editorials or otherwise, would be completely transparent. No hidden agenda.

I knew I had to be a part of that. Even in my DVD and Blu-ray reviews, I made it a point to discuss the lack of transparency in Hollywood, or all the bad decisions that were made due to financial motivators, so to do the same in regards to gaming? It was a no brainer. I e-mailed Pete, and it wasn’t long before I was added to the staff. This was about the time I stopped adding content to my blog. Any and all ideas were placed in a mental vault, as to unleash them on Dodd’s website when it was ready. But, as with anything, complications arose and the site kept getting pushed further and further back. Some ideas were timely and had to be ditched, whereas others survived and made the site’s launch in August.

So, why am I back on Byte-Size Impressions?

I’m not going to get into any of the nitty-gritty details, because that wouldn’t be fair to anyone. All I’ll say is that the potential for the site hasn’t been met, and with the way things are going, I doubt that potential will EVER be realized. I did my best to steer things in the right direction, but my thoughts and ideas would seemingly vanish in the ether.

And with that, I’m back on Byte-Size Impressions, ready to continue writing for any and all who are willing to read it. Even if nobody cares enough to do so… it’s not a big deal. This is a passion project of mine, after all, and it doesn’t matter where my writings are posted. Again, while exposure is nice, it isn’t my primary motivation.

The articles I posted at the other site will appear on this blog in the very near future. They won’t be disappearing from where they were originally published, because my intent is not to hurt that place by removing content. They’ll be here, though, because the writing is mine, and nobody ‘owns’ that besides me.

I can’t wait to discuss video games and the gaming industry with you all. Despite not having written here in some time, I love this page, as minimal as it may be.