Let’s Play: Rise of the Tomb Raider

Since virtually nobody else is playing or talking about this game, I decided to make it a top priority.  Here’s my first couple of play sessions!

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The Illusion of Choice

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Unless I’m misreading how people feel about the gaming industry’s economic climate, they’re sick to death of microtransactions and DLC. However, instead of rallying against these business models, folks are opening their wallets, and I can’t for the life of me understand why they’re not seeing the forest through the trees. The average consumer should be ashamed of how often they’ve fallen for the carrot-on-a-stick routine… but I guess from their perspective, ignorance is bliss. While that’s okay for some, I’m the kind of guy that would rather be bummed by knowledge than be oblivious to what’s going on. But unfortunately, consumer complacency reigns supreme, and some recent headlines have brought to light a new business model which hopes to further exploit that. And what is it? The illusion of choice.

First, let’s talk about Sony.

They’re taking a proactive approach to consumer grumblings. Instead of allowing minor complaints to fester into nasty headlines, they’re finding creative ways to appease their audience. That said, Sony’s peace offerings have been rather inadequate.

PS+ has changed a great deal since the initial launch, but much of the good will it’s garnered comes from a single perk: ‘Free’ AAA games. We’re talking Infamous 2, Bioshock Infinite, Demon’s Souls, Uncharted 3, Shadow of the Colossus, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dead Space 3, and the list goes on.

Have gamers been spoiled? Perhaps, but Sony implemented this strategy to combat the multiplayer paywall known as Xbox Live. But that’s lost on them nowadays. They, too, have shackled multiplayer behind the bars of subscription fees, and those ‘free’ titles have devolved into an eighth generation indie-thon. Not that indie titles are bad, but it’s not what PS+ subscribers have been conditioned to expect.

I don’t think anybody expected Sony to give us retail games in the PS4’s first year. If they did, they were naive and just looking for a reason to bitch. Why would they cannibalize sales just to satisfy a few loose-lipped idiots on the net? But now after two years in this generation, we have yet to see so much as a launch title on the program. Are Killzone and Knack REALLY still selling enough copies to warrant their exclusion from PS+? I doubt it. Hell, even Microsoft – who, by the way, are still losing money per console sold (once taking research, development, and marketing into consideration) – have given Gold subscribers Tomb Raider and Rayman Legends. So, what gives?

This means the value of PS+ is plummeting, regardless of whether consumers care to perceive it that way or not. The promise behind this program, specifically in regards to the Playstation 4, was to strengthen both their servers and quality of ‘free’ content, while enhancing their community-based features.

I’d argue they haven’t done that.

Their servers are weaker than their (direct) competition. The quality of ‘free’ games have gone downhill. Their community-based features are nearly non-existent… unless you count clicking the ‘thumbs up’ button on a game or app a ‘community feature’.

And little by little, people have taken notice. So, Sony have invited PS+ subscribers to collectively vote for one of three indie titles… which is smart. VERY smart. When you give your customers the power of choice, they feel appreciated and shower you with good will. But in the business world, very few – if any – decisions are made with our best interest in mind. This vote was manufactured to extract good will, and more importantly, make people forget the ‘where’s our AAA’ discussion. And unfortunately, if the comments I’ve seen can act as a decent barometer, it worked. People don’t get that this was a diversionary tactic. They’d rather believe Sony are gracious and altruistic.

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The next headline that fits in with this ‘illusion of choice’ theme, is the recently unveiled Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ‘Augment Your Pre-Order’ program.

Pre-order exclusives have plagued this industry for a long time. Publishers have held content for ransom unless you’ve promised to buy their products sight unseen, and when you do, you’re STILL missing out because of retailer specific pre-order exclusives. “Buy it in advance, FROM US, or fuck you.” That’s the gist.

How much worse could it possibly get?

How about Kickstarter-inspired reward tiers based on pre-order numbers? The more people that pre-order, the more content they’ll get! Isn’t that GREAT?!

So, let’s break down why this sucks major donkey dick:

Kickstarter is meant to fund projects that wouldn’t exist without some financial help. But Square Enix and Eidos Montreal aren’t doing this to bring a passion project to life, but to sucker people into a ‘buy before you try’ agreement.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a loyal fan of the franchise, either. If enough people don’t pre-order, these companies are basically going to punish you and say, “Too bad, so sad. You should have told all your friends to pre-order, too.”

Now, pre-order DLC usually consists of cosmetic items, but the third tier for Mankind Divided features an in-game mission.

Last but certainly not least, three of the five tiers force you to choose between one piece of content over another. That means there’s no possible way to acquire all the extra goodies in the ‘Augment Your Pre-Order’ program… unless you feel like buying multiple copies..

Of course, the whole idea of ‘Augment Your Pre-Order’ isn’t meant to make you feel like you’re being raped by the anal splitting cock of a minotaur. No, it’s supposed to make you feel like you’re in control of your own destiny.

Well, whoopy-fuckin’-doo.

All gamers really want is to get a complete game at the complete price. But is there an option for that? Of course there isn’t. And why? Because ‘fuck you’. That’s why.

The ‘choose your own rewards’ mantra, much like ‘vote for your next PS+ game’, is little more than marketing bullshit to make you forget how hard you’re being screwed. I sincerely hope consumers are wise enough to tell Square Enix and Eidos Montreal to shove it up their ass. If that message isn’t delivered loud-and-clear, make no doubt about it: We WILL see more of this. A LOT more.

Metal Gear Solid: Phantom Pitchforks

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen Konami and Kojima saturating headlines for weeks. We’ve gone from the publisher removing Kojima’s name from Phantom Pain promo material, to rumors of Silent Hill – another project Kojima was invested in – being canceled. In the last week or so, the internet has discovered some striking similarities between Italian Doctor Sergio Canavero – who has, himself, made waves in the news with plans to perform a head transplant – and a doctor we’ve seen in early Phantom Pain footage. Everyone wanted to know: What’s fiction, and what’s reality? Well, thanks to journalist Gabriel Galliani (Official Playstation Magazine of Italy, and Byte-Size Impressions Editing Advisor and Podcast Co-Host), we finally have an answer.

Meet the Head Transplant Doctor at the Center of a Metal Gear Conspiracy

Could The Metal Gear Solid Lookalike Doctor Really Sue Konami?

People weren’t sure if the similarities were mere coincidence, or the best marketing ploy by Kojima to date. In a statement to goodgame.hr, Doctor Canavero stated, “No link, thanks for the heads up, I will notify my attorney.” The knee-jerk response from the gaming community has been, “Isn’t that precisely what he would say if he was in on it?” Well, maybe… but journalists have to run off facts, not assumptions. So, Gabriel Galliani decided he wasn’t satisfied with that response and did some old-fashioned sleuthing. And we’re talking the whole nine, here. He called anyone and everyone and obtained official documentation.

In the end, he got answers straight from the horse’s mouth: Not only had Doctor Canavero contacted his attorney, but he’s also filed charges with local authorities. He was also able to confirm that Canavero is looking to sue Konami for using his likeness, although the doc’s attorney needs to do a lot of legwork to see how plausible their case would actually be.

Hear that toilet flushing? That’s the sound of a ‘wink-wink, nod-nod’ marketing conspiracy going down the drain… maybe. But hey, at least we can finally speculate as to what might have happened between Kojima and Konami.

I know a bunch of skeptics still want to believe Kojima is trolling, and because things still don’t make much sense, they could be right. But, on the surface, it appears that Kojima was SO fascinated by his research on phantom pain, that he couldn’t help but interject Canavero, and his work, into Phantom Pain. His likeness was used BLATANTLY, and not just his look. No, we’re talking mannerisms, accent, the whole shebang. Maybe he wanted to use this specific doctor to push a message? After all, in 2010, Kojima told us:

“The next project will challenge a certain type of taboo, if I mess up, I’ll probably have to leave the industry. However, I don’t want to pass by avoiding that. I turn 47 this year. It’s been 24 years since I started making games. Today I got an ally who would happily support me in that risk. Although it’s just one person. For a start, it’s good.”

So, despite knowing he was going to enter dangerous territory, he’d rather stand up for his beliefs than avoid controversy, no matter how damning it might be. He calculated the risk, and took the plunge anyway.

But who was the ally he spoke of? That seems like a key piece of evidence, doesn’t it? For all we know, that person could have been the neurosurgeon in question, but that makes the prospect of a lawsuit seem kind of… awkward.

Another strike against the ‘marketing ploy’ idea is that while most people believe Canavero only ‘appeared’ in 2013 (mere months after Phantom Pain’s reveal), that’s simply not true. He has writing that’s been published prior to that. Also, in 2008, various Italian news outlets reported the neurosurgeon had successfully pulled a girl out of a coma. According to the news source linked, “she was able to swallow food and obey simple commands.” Wouldn’t this all have predated anything Kojima would have done for Phantom Pain? At least in terms of stealth marketing preparation?

So that’s why I believe this might be a case of Kojima having art imitate life, and to a dangerous degree at that. In early MGSV footage, for example, we see Big Boss awaken from a coma. One of the first faces he sees is that of Doctor Canavero.

“But they didn’t use Canavero’s likeness. They used an actor.” True enough, but does that make the connections and similarities any less real?

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Also, remember Quiet? Of course you do. The scantily clad female character had everyone screaming ‘sexist portrayal of women!’ from the rooftops. But the interesting thing to note is that, like the patient in the story mentioned above… she can’t talk. What if she’s another in-game representation of Doctor Canavero’s work? What if she went under the knife, had her brain tinkered with, and has to obey commands from evil men (including dressing like a fishnet hooker)? Kojima is on record defending Quiet’s attire:

“I know there’s people concerning about “Quiet” but don’t worry. I created her character as an antithesis to the women characters appeared in the past fighting game who are excessively exposed. “Quiet” who doesn’t have a word will be teased in the story as well. But once you recognize the secret reason for her exposure, you will feel ashamed of your words and deeds.”

Anyway, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure all of this spells trouble… and what troubles me, is that nobody seems to be questioning any of this. Instead, everyone’s content with laying the blame at Konami’s feet. They’ve been labeled the bad guy, and people are marching on their castle with torches and pitchforks… but, why? All we really have at the moment is speculation. Has nobody entertained the idea that maybe, just MAYBE… Konami is innocent? I know there’s a ‘publishers are bad’ mentality at play, but come on…

Put yourself in their shoes:

Let’s say YOU had Kojima and his talented team working for you. You owned the MGS franchise, but Kojima had complete creative control. Then, really late in the development process – in which a considerable amount of time and resources had already been spent – you find out Kojima was playing with fire, leaving YOU to (likely) get burned because your company name is all over the product. So, perhaps a dialogue opens at this point. You say, “Hey, Kojima, you can’t do this. There might be legal repercussions, and the themes you’re tackling are going to attract all the wrong kind of attention.” Maybe Kojima says, “Tough noogies, brah, but this is what I want to do. I’m not running from controversial ideas just because a ‘suit’ tells me to.” So, in order to protect yourself, you distance yourself from Kojima as much as possible. This includes ripping Kojima’s name off the product, ‘firing’ him after development on Phantom Pain concludes, and canceling whatever other projects Kojima had in the pipeline.

I’m not saying that’s what happened… but it’s a plausible theory, don’t you think? I mean, what the hell was Kojima thinking? Using ideas and theories is one thing, but to essentially replicate a real person with a controversial career in your game without their consent? Another thing entirely. Such a thing could jeopardize that person’s image, and that’s precisely what’s happening with Canavero. He’s been labeled a real life Frankenstein. He could have ignored the criticisms now, sure… but what happens if his planned head transplant procedure fails? He’ll likely be branded a monster and a hack, and who knows, he might have to step away from his career in total. And who would he set his sights on for compensation? Konami, of course.

Again, I don’t want to say Konami is innocent… just that it’s possible. Regardless of the type of relationship they might have had with Kojima, with the theory put forth above, the publisher would have little choice but to put their best foot forward. Distancing themselves from Kojima would have been the only way to do that, at least for the time being (that is, without straight-up canceling MGSV). Maybe this is why there’s so much confusion on whether Kojima was actually fired. Maybe he wasn’t… maybe he was ‘let go’. Maybe Kojima WANTED to go, and Konami let him. Who knows?

And those are the key words: Who knows? Nobody right now, really, except for those directly involved. So, put down your pitch forks and stop threatening to boycott the company in the future. We have no idea what happened.

But, I will say this: There’s still a slight chance this was a marketing ploy, and we’re all the fools for buying into it. Or, maybe Canavero is helping Kojima retaliate against Konami. Maybe Kojima planned the whole thing to help fund Canavero’s research. All I know for sure is that regardless of what the answer is, it can’t be good. I mean, at best, what do we have? Kojima is leaving Konami, one way or the other… and if this DOES happen to be some sort of ploy, well, reporting a false incident to the Italian police is illegal.

Let’s just wait and see… Because nobody has enough information to take sides.

As for Gabe: Despite all the evidence pointing towards Canavero and Kojima not being in cahoots with one another, a healthy dose of skepticism remains with him, as there’s some minor inconsistencies he’s not ready to talk or write about just yet.

Opinion-Bytes: So Much For Unity In The Community

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So much for unity.

If you’ve ever so much as glanced at next-gen console news, you’re probably familiar with Resolution-gate. For the rest of you, it goes a little something like this:

Just prior to the PS4 and Xbox One launch, bloggers and news outlets made a big stink over Call of Duty: Ghosts’ resolution. While the game ran at 1080p natively on the PS4, it was only pushing 720p on the Xbox One (and subsequently upscaled after the fact). Needless to say, the internet erupted with cries of, “EHRMAHGAWRD! The Xbox One is a hunk of junk! Game over, man! GAME OVER!” In the months that followed, Microsoft were continually barraged with negative press, as nearly every cross-platform title showed similar disparity. Of course, gamers and press alike continually fussed over resolution and frame-rate, and now, they’re pretty much used as marketing tools… and we, as a community, allowed it to happen.

What happened to playing video games for fun? Forget the numbers: 1080p, 960p, 900p, 720p… who cares? If resolution and frame rate were the only two things that mattered, shouldn’t I be tossing my last-gen library in the trash? Of course not, because resolution doesn’t tell the entire story. RYSE is still up there as one of the most impressive looking next-gen titles to date, and what was its resolution? 900p. The bottom line, is that games and features should determine the outcome of any ‘console war’ – which is a ridiculous term, in and of itself – NOT resolution.

Well, apparently, gaming communities across the net don’t agree.

Yesterday, news broke that Assassin’s Creed: Unity was locked at 900p/30fps on both the Xbox One and PS4. Here’s the actual quote from Senior Producer Vincent Pontbriand (as reported by Videogamer.com):

“We decided to lock them at the same specs to avoid all the debates and stuff,”… while explaining that it’s the consoles’ CPUs – not the GPU – that prevents Ubisoft Montreal from improving the game’s performance.

“Technically we’re CPU-bound,” he said. “The GPUs are really powerful, obviously the graphics look pretty good, but it’s the CPU (that) has to process the AI, the number of NPCs we have on screen, all these systems running parallel.

“We were quickly bottlenecked by that and it was a bit frustrating, because we thought that this was going to be a tenfold improvement over everything AI-wise, and we realized it was going to be pretty hard. It’s not the number of polygons that affect the framerate. We could be running at 100fps if it was just graphics, but because of AI, we’re still limited to 30 frames per second.”

Of course, the gaming community immediately went into knee-jerk reaction mode. The most popular theory is that Microsoft paid Ubisoft to maintain parity across the board. Also, for whatever reason, Ubisoft may have their own incentive for console parity. Another idea is that Ubisoft are so lazy and hungry for money, they didn’t feel like optimizing the game for each platform. Yet another possibility – and this seems to be the one that gets overlooked the most – is that because this is the first next-gen exclusive Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft may have hit some snags in development, which in turn could have forced their hands into making some concessions.

Either way, it wasn’t a great PR move. For wanting to ‘avoid all the debates and stuff’, they managed to shoot themselves in the foot in spectacular fashion.

Ubisoft then attempted to clarify the situation a short time later:

“We understand how Senior Producer Vincent Pontbriand’s quotes have been misinterpreted…” Ubisoft said in a statement to Kotaku. “To set the record straight, we did not lower the specs for Assassin’s Creed Unity to account for any one system over the other.

“Assassin’s Creed Unity has been engineered from the ground up for next-generation consoles. Over the past 4 years, we have created Assassin’s Creed Unity to attain the tremendous level of quality we have now achieved on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC. It’s a process of building up toward our goals, not scaling down, and we’re proud to say that we have reached those goals on all SKUs.

“At no point did we decide to reduce the ambitions of any SKU. All benefited from the full dedication of all of our available optimization resources to help them reach the level of quality we have today with the core Assassin’s Creed Unity experience.”

It’s the highly sanitized PR babble you’d expect when a situation like this erupts, but this, too, backfired on Ubisoft. Mere months ago, a Level Designer for AC: Unity told GamingBolt that ‘they are indeed targeting 1080p resolution and 60fps for both consoles.’

Oops. So much for achieving those goals… BLAM! Aaaand there goes the other foot.

You should never lie to your customers… ESPECIALLY while they’re parading #PS4NoParity on Twitter, with the hopes of getting next-gen console owners to boycott the game.

Feeling the rug sliding out from underneath them, Ubisoft provided another update, this time to Eurogamer:

“Final specs for Assassin’s Creed Unity aren’t completed yet,” a Ubisoft spokesperson explained, “but we can say we showed Assassin’s Creed Unity at 900p during our hands-on preview event last week. We’re confident that gamers will be thrilled with the gorgeous graphics and how Paris is brought to life in Assassin’s Creed Unity.

“The development team has been hard at work delivering the best Assassin’s Creed possible on next generation consoles. Regardless of which platform you’re playing on, Assassin’s Creed Unity will answer what an Assassin’s Creed game built from the ground up for the next generation of gaming looks like and will be the best looking Assassin’s Creed game ever developed.”

So, what are the facts?

Well, it’s basically just a bunch of PR nonsense that’s inconsistent at best. Nobody REALLY knows what happened. That said, I’d like to dissect some of what the various representative at Ubisoft have said:

“We decided to lock them at the same specs to avoid all the debates and stuff,” and then goes on to explain why AC:U’s performance isn’t better than that.

Personally, I don’t see the conflict here. They aimed for parity (at 1080p), and they achieved parity… at a lower resolution and frame rate, yes, but parity WAS achieved.

‘They are indeed targeting 1080p resolution and 60fps for both consoles.’

People REALLY yanked their ‘jump to conclusion’ mats out over this, all while ignoring the most important word of all: TARGETING. Ubisoft may have set their sights on 1080p/60fps, but that didn’t mean it was going to happen. And by the way… did ANYONE complain when those parity numbers were 1080p/60fps? Of course not. Now that the numbers are lower, however, people are assuming the worst and passing conjecture off as fact.

“To set the record straight, we did not lower the specs for Assassin’s Creed Unity to account for any one system over the other.”

There is literally ZERO evidence to show that the decision to go 900p/30fps was to accommodate one console over the other. Parity was in the cards before making the decision to drop resolution and frame rate.

That’s not to say there isn’t anything worth complaining about. Ubisoft lied and hoped nobody would notice. It upsets me, and it should upset you, too. There’s a blatant lack of transparency in this industry, and when publishers make up whatever they think we want to hear just to shut us up, it’s insulting.

Everything else though – from Xbox moneyhatting to whatever – is merely conjecture. As of right now, nobody ‘knows’ why Unity has the same specs on both consoles. For all we know, Ubisoft could have bitten off more than they could chew – keep in mind, the game already had a minor delay – leaving themselves little time for optimization… but that’s just it. We. Don’t. Know. It’s also worth noting that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag launched at 900p, but was eventually patched to 1080p on the PS4.

Me? I’m still going to buy Assassin’s Creed. Why? Because I like Assassin’s Creed.

As Andre Gide once said:

“Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.”

Congratulations Xbox One – And A Reminder On Perspective…

First and foremost, congratulations to Microsoft for their release of the Xbox One, and congratulations to anyone who picked one up at launch. Thanks to the launches these last couple of weeks, Christmas has come early for many of us, indeed.

For some who haven’t read back in my blog, I’ve been asked if I plan on picking up an Xbox One to sit next to my PS4 – No. I can’t really afford to dump money on two consoles at once, and Microsoft made me pretty upset with their DRM policies early on. They’ve reverted, but the damage has been done. In terms of features and games though, the Xbox One seems like an awesome machine for those who want (mostly) full media integration in the living room, so all the power to anyone who prefers it to the PS4. Personally, I just don’t care about any of that stuff. I want a simple gaming machine, and that’s what the PS4 delivered. Games? I figure Sony is going to have the better exclusives, so I’m pretty excited to see what’s yet to come.

Anyway, there’s something I want to address – The internet hate. Holy shit, it’s been absolutely bananas. When the PS4 launched last week, Microsoft fans were jumping on Sony’s willy for having some issues… issues which were allegedly under 1%. Furthermore, fake reviews were written across the net in an attempt to make the PS4 look bad. There were those of us who said, “Media integration in our society is making this sound wayyy worse than it is… just relax, and enjoy your new console people. Xbox One will have issues when it launches next week as well… and not because we wish harm on the Xbox One, but because that’s just the nature of the beast.”

Well, here we are one week later, and guess what? The Xbox One has issues as well… and you know what? It isn’t a big deal. It sucks for anyone to have a bum console on day 1, but the vast majority are enjoying theirs. There’s no need to drag company names in the mud for errors which obviously happened in a variable manufacturing and shipping process. These things happen, and no product launches at a zero percent fail rate. Ever. Last week, I told many that the PS4 seemed to be well in line for a low rate of failure, and the Xbox One issues appear to be isolated as well.

This just goes to show you folks, that there’s no conspiracies and nothing sinister going on behind the scenes… this is product launch 101. If you’re that concerned about what awaits, get the extended warranty through your company of choice. But please, stop all the bickering online and stop trying to blow minimal fail rates out of proportion.

With that said and out of the way, I want PS4 and Xbox One owners alike to have a great time with their recently acquired games and consoles… I know I have.

Stay tuned to the blog for a review on Killzone Shadow Fall’s single player campaign in the next day or two!

Opinion-Bytes: Next-Gen Console Prices Aren’t Outrageous

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I remember a time when the going price for a console was $199, and at the time, it was undoubtedly a parent’s worst nightmare. Could you imagine the shock? Last year, little Jimmy only asked for a big-box toy which cost $40, but this year? He wanted a Nintendo Entertainment System, the premium in-home gaming solution that was priced at an ‘affordable’ $199. After his mom and dad finished cleaning the coffee the spit across the kitchen table, they figured it was time to start saving. After all, the kid had never asked for anything so expensive, and he was a good boy, so why not? Besides, an NES was the gift that kept on giving – Gone would be the days when a rainy day forced a child to drive his parents up the walls! Of course, that gift only kept giving as long as the parents did. Spare controllers were needed, game cartridges, and it wouldn’t be long before a Light-Gun and Power Glove would be added to the list.

Over the years however, prices have gone up. Consoles began to cost a little more, as did the games. Before long, a brand new console went for $299… and then the PS3 launched its premium package for $599, which made the future of gaming seem a little intimidating. Compared to that however, next-gen offerings aren’t going for the throat as many had imagined. The PS4 seems to be the bargain at $399, whereas the Xbox One, while offering more in the box, is asking for $499. While a majority of gamers consider these prices to be fair, if not better than expected (especially in the PS4’s case), there’s still a number of consumers who feel they’ve being extorted. To them, my response would be, “Really?”

Let’s just look at all the technological doodads many of us use, or see prominently displayed at retail. How about smartphones? Most of us have one, and most of us probably spend $199-$299 with contract terms attached. Want to upgrade early or get a phone without a contract? That price skyrockets to anywhere between $500-$700. How about those tablets that have become all the rage? There’s a variety of brands and models to choose from, but you can pay as little as $150, or as much as $1,000. Then there’s e-readers. They cost a bit less, you’re still likely to spend over $100. MP3 players are all the rage, and a decent one with larger storage capacity is going to set you well over $200, if not $300. There’s also laptops and PC’s to consider, as they’re the ‘other’ (and in many cases preferred) platform to game on, and we know the price for any kind of gaming rig can range from $500 to… well, the sky is the limit depending on how much you plan to future proof.

So I have to ask – Why is a console priced at $400 such a big deal? People obviously have no problem justifying the expense of various other devices, so why are consoles unable to escape the financial stigma they’ve been associated with? Yes, many of us remember the early days where consoles were only $200… but our dollar was worth more back then. Everyone’s aware that prices have escalated substantially over the years, and it’s hard to ignore the contrast of living costs from 1985 to where it’s at today… so why do some people feel that consoles shouldn’t cost more than $199 or $299? Some people just don’t want to spend that kind of money when a price drop is inevitable, and that’s fine – I’m strictly inquiring about the people who solely believe the price to be out of this world.

Part of the answer rests with the rate of inflation. We don’t seem to notice when things go up a few cents here and there, and even if we do, the cost isn’t enough for us to miss. “It’s just a few cents, who cares?” But that difference becomes increasingly notable over time, and because most of us don’t have time to ‘stop and smell the roses’, it’s a shock when we finally catch up with what’s happened. ‘Meh, it’s only a few cents’ is an attitude that knocks our perspective out of whack, and allows us to maintain an unrealistic idea of what things SHOULD cost. So, naturally, people are recalling the days when consoles were $200-$300, wondering why they have to spend at least $400 today.

To be clear, I’m not saying that anyone is ignorant. For the most part, we’re talking about human nature here, and the snail’s pace at which our economy gouges us is a blatant attempt to exploit that. I’m merely suggesting that if you’re one of the consumers affected by ‘sticker shock’, you should pick your jaw up off the floor and understand that these price hikes aren’t ‘just because’ (well, Microsoft could have dropped the camera and charged $100 less like Sony but, I digress). You’re more or less paying the same financial value as you did in 1985, or 1995, etc.

Outside of price, there’s the perception of gaming to consider. There’s a fair number of people who enjoy their time behind a controller, but consider it to be a lesser form of art (The Last of Us says hello, by the way). In the eyes of these individuals, consoles are nothing but mere toys, and what toy can be worth nearly half a grand?

Now THAT’S ignorance.

Consoles. Aren’t. Toys… Period. They’re PC’s that are designed specifically for gaming. Each unit is produced with uniform hardware, thus allowing everyone to experience each and every game as the devs intended. You can browse the web, watch DVD and Blu-ray, stream from various services (Amazon Instant, Netflix, etc) and your PC, and more. If you’re one who fails to see why consoles are so much more than toys, just ask yourself a question – do you consider your desktop and laptop to be toys? How about DVR, digital disc and mp3 players? If the answer is no, it’s time to reevaluate from a perspective of logic.

Gaming isn’t just some idiot’s chore, and pricing isn’t quite as crazy as certain people make it out to be. Games are just another form of expressive entertainment, and considering the hundreds, if not thousands of hours you’ll spend gaming throughout the course of single generation, half a grand really isn’t that much to ask.

But how do you feel about it? Do you feel that people have blown the prices to enter next-gen out of proportion, or that they’re justified? Are there any other angles to this debate that you care to express? Leave a comment, and I’d be more than happy to continue this discussion/debate.