Arcades Ain’t Dead (…you just have to drive)

Still have the urge to go out to game after 40+ odd years? Well, believe it or not, that’s still a viable option if you’re willing to plan ahead. Here are a few arcades in Memphis that don’t suck– give your own local area a shot too!

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Past, Meet Future

Hello all! It’s been a long while since I updated, but I’ll cut right to the chase–

I was able to sit down this afternoon with Frank Johnson, Product Manager at Perfect World Entertainment, and hammer out a brief one-on-one about where the industry is headed in terms of sustained profitability, adaptability, and overall engagement of a demographic– essentially, how to keep the ball rolling and remain relevant as tech rapidly changes.

Not many industries require a complete overhaul of the platform you sell on, the product you’re selling, and who you’re selling it to every few years, but the gaming industry is arguably the poster child for said business model, so I went straight to the horse’s mouth for answers.

FJ mugshot

Frank Johnson, currently serving as Assistant Product Manager for Perfect World, originally began work as a Community Manager, bridging the gap between social media venues and the nerds that avoid them.

Wilson: How do you use social media to promote your brand?

Johnson: The key to successful use of social media in promoting a brand is a solid balance between quantity and quality of posts.

Wilson: How do you generally go about achieving that, in your experience?

Johnson: In addition to simply promoting your brand via social media, it’s also important to promote the community that drives the brand. Shining the spotlight on interesting community contributions goes a long way in building brand loyalty.

Short, but sweet, and very to the point. Huge thanks to Mr. Johnson for taking the time to contribute, and thanks to you for reading! You’ll be seeing a much greater frequency of updates in the next few months.

Til then,

-B

Out with the New (Part 2 of 2)

The phrase “nickel and dime” seems to be coined (no pun intended) in virtually every discussion on EA’s business model you might engage in or read about. An emphasis on “premium content” reigns supreme, and those who are bothered by it are generally encouraged to simply take their business elsewhere.

Fair enough– as many have pointed out, Electronic Arts doesn’t power your home, deliver your mail, or provide your cell phone coverage. But while essentials demand justice, one would think that entertainment, at the very least, demands a general sense of customer satisfaction.

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Industries like music and film boom this generation, due to the advent of services like iTunes and Netflix, which strive almost exclusively to give you the most complete bang for your buck, not to even mention excessively “complete” editions of DVDs/Blurays flooded with enough hours of bonus material to last you a few seasons.

The precedent set by EA, however, seems to be a stark polar opposite to this approach, encouraging consumers to shop around inside their video games, credit card in-hand, picking out costumes, levels and features that many say should have been there in the first place.

“I bought Rock Band when it was still pretty new, and there were already songs that you had to buy separately through the in-game menus. There’s no way they don’t plan that,” English Literature sophomore Brady Richardson remarked on the company’s approach to revenue.

Rock Band includes 58 playable songs in the full retail version of the game, while, as of writing this article, over 2,000 playable songs are available exclusively through an in-game store, priced at two dollars each.

More recent Electronic Arts controversies include the release of Mass Effect 3, met almost instantaneously with jeers by die-hard followers. The fans seemed to unanimously assert that the intensely-promoted wide selection of personalized endings had actually turned out to be simply the same exact ending three times with a slightly altered hue overlay– a red ending, a blue ending, and a green ending. This was, of course, confirmed to be true within a few days of release, as anyone can see for themselves by playing the game or watching a video review.

“I definitely won’t be buying three,” psychology major Khary Williamson asserted. “Mass Effect ended for me at the second one, before they [Bioware, the original development team] got bought out. It’s whatever now.”

One can’t help but wonder, through all this, why a core demographic that so consistently despises a company continues to somehow support them through the years, even enough for them to show record profits through tough economic times.

Oh well. The people have spoken, I suppose.

Out with the New (Part 1 of 2)

Electronic Arts voted Worst Company in America

Electronic Arts, the hugely successful and monolithic entertainment giant responsible for countless blockbuster franchises and a longstanding track record of acquiring smaller game companies, was recently voted The Consumerist’s “Worst Company In America” for 2012, bestowing the company with the highly-regarded honor of the “Golden Poo” award.

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It was no easy victory by any means– the arduous battle to the top pitted EA against hugely controversial rival corporations that included Bank of America, AT&T, and even Wal-Mart, in a long series of bracket showdowns akin to a fantasy football line-up.

Hundreds of thousands of votes later, EA ended the final competition in a landslide victory over Bank of America, leaving many to wonder whether a video game company truly deserved such an acknowledgment over the more serious and impactful competition. The Consumerist gladly came to the defense of voters, stating:

 

“To those who might sneer at something as “non-essential” as a video game company winning the Worst Company In America vote: It’s that exact kind of attitude that allows people to ignore the complaints as companies like EA to nickel and dime consumers to death.”

 

The problem with Electronic Arts isn’t necessarily the quality of their products– EA franchises such as Madden NFL and The Sims achieve no shortage of Game of the Year awards, with billions of dollars in consistent revenue to boot.

Nor does the problem necessarily lie in a failure to adapt or integrate with shifting technological mediums– they currently hold down the second place position for leading publisher of “social games” on networks like Facebook, with The Sims Social leading the charge as the fastest-growing Facebook game worldwide.

The problem, according to fans, can probably best be summed up as a very severe customer service issue.

“I noticed a pattern with them after a while of purchasing their games,” said Matt Longley, Computer Science junior and veteran video game enthusiast. “I’d either buy a ‘deluxe’ edition of a new release or wait until a definitive collector’s edition came out. But no matter what you do, some huge chunk of content is always barricaded off, and you get prompted to pay extra for it.”

 

‘Metal Gear’ Series turns 25

Metal Gear, the longstanding series of Hollywood-inspired stealth/action video games created by Hideo Kojima, hits a solid 25-year anniversary this summer. Starting with the original Metal Gear for MSX, the series was popularized with the release of Metal Gear: Solid and the subsequent explosion of sequels, spin-offs, and general franchising that followed.

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The future is bright for tactical espionage action. Recent releases include Metal Gear Solid 3D and the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, with Metal Gear: Rising still on the horizon.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em.