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 411mania » Games » Columns

Four Player Co-op 01.16.13: Australia, Netflix vs Gamefly, PS Move, More
Posted by Stephen Randle on 01.16.2013

John Cash has joined the game.
Mathew Sforcina has joined the game.
Todd Vote has joined the game.
Dan Watson has joined the game.

Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Four Player Co-op. I am the Quizmaster, the eternal presence, and this is our weekly panel of four, who are less eternal but nonetheless vital to the process. Sort of like how the cow is vital to the production of steak.


Start the game!

QUESTION ONE: Huge news for Australia, after years of flatly not allowing games with a certain level of mature content to be sold in their country, they've finally relented and allowed the creation of the "18+" designation (which would be roughly equivalent to everywhere else's "M"). And this week the very first game to receive that classification for sale in the Land Down Under was announced: Ninja Gaiden 3 – Razor's Edge. Since we've got an Australian on the panel, this seems like a good new item to start with. How do we feel about those Aussies loosening up a little and allowing them to play all sorts of awesome games that they weren't allowed to before?

John Cash
I have no doubt there were many women and Men At Work to get this 18+ rating put Down Under, and I tip my hat to them. For a nation with such a seemingly laid back social attitude, their ban on mature games really seemed like Overkill. Censorship of art is something I take very personally, as someone who has dipped a little into most forms, from Still Life to playing cello and even film-making, It's always A Mistake to try to keep people from seeing something, because that will just make them want it and seek out other things like it more, which if I may be so bold could actually lead to more Underground crime like Cargo theft or piracy. We're not talking snuff videos, or forced pornography, we're talking video games, finely crafted experiences that are birthed from the marriage of all of the arts coming together to create a single work, and it's about time our friends in the outback get to experience it all without government restraint.

Mathew Sforcina

Although I should point out first of all, Quizmaster, that our R18+ does not correspond to 'M' everywhere else. We had that, in MA15+. M here is 'You should be over 15 to view this' and MA is 'You must be over 15 unless your parent/guardian clears it'. This is a 'You must be 18+ to view this' rating, which is pretty much America's AO. But the difference is that in Australia, R is not a kiss of death for media. You can have a movie rated R and still be popular and successful and sold places, it isn't like American where NC17 is the kiss of death. Australia was fully on board with the idea that movies and TV shows could be adults only and that was fine. But the flip side is that while an R rating isn't death, it meant that games that should get such a rating, games on par with movies and TV that deserve that rating couldn't be rated and thus couldn't be sold. But now they can.
And huzzah for that. Although I do hope that means that a few games we've been missing until now will get special Australian editions. Although really the only recent ones are an uncensored Witcher 2 and Mortal Kombat. Please, developers?

But still, either way, the future is bright. Let's celebrate!

Todd Vote
Well obviously, if you listen to the NRA, this is a very, very bad thing. Damn Aussies will now have something to blame violent behavior on... Welcome to the age of no accountability. Feel like shooting someone, just blame that game you played last night. Now the gamer in me wants to talk about how nice it will be for my Aussie compadres to be able to play these games without having to order them from a different market.

Dan Watson
Growing up I had heard that some areas made zombies into robots for their games or different issues like that. I could imagine it took away greatly from the story and really just screwed things up. Hearing that there is a bit of changing taking place, I hope that the gamers down under are all happy and lining up for any game that can be released with the 18+ rating. I am sure we will see a huge increase in online gaming for many of these titles in the near future. This should also help the gaming industry that was struggling to keep sales up.

I pretty much have to give 934 points to Sforcina here. He's just…so happy.

QUESTION TWO: An interesting war is reaching a climax on the "rent by mail" front, as Gamefly has apparently been involved in a legal battle with Netflix over illegal tactics. This week, it was revealed that the US Postal service has, in fact, been giving Netflix preferential treatment, including providing special packaging that expedites delivery times, completely free of charge, an advantage not offered to anyone else. Gamefly has maintained that acquiring the packaging themselves would cost millions, and the US Court of Appeals has ruled in their favour in this matter, which will probably lead to…I don't know, probably wads of cash changing hands somewhere along the line. Well, I know everyone here enjoys some good courtroom drama, so do you have any thoughts?

John Cash
OBJECTION! *slams hands on table* Without going too far into personal politics, I cannot imagine too many people being surprised by this if they know anything about the constant battle the US Postal Service is currently waging to survive. I'm actually more surprised that its even a case, I would have just assumed the USPS would have settled without making any legal noise, and then Netflix and Gamefly would have just enjoyed having the last couple years of physical format shipped for free. I watched pretty much all I wanted to watch on Netflix, let the account sit there for a month or two, and have now cancelled, all because there is just so much to watch on YouTube now I don't even bother. I don't have any experience with Gamefly, but if its anything like Netflix, it was probably better to just buy the new games you wanted rather than wait 3 months to have an available copy shipped to you. So I imagine both sides will try to get as much money out of this as possible to keep the dream alive.

Mathew Sforcina
To be honest, I'm still partying over the fact that my county now has a sane rating system for video games. I mean, sure, this shows a total lack of smarts on behalf of the US Postal Service, in that just because someone is a very good customer, you can't give them preferential treatment without then getting sued because of it given that you're part of the government and every arm of the US government will get sued at some point for discrimination, and so the last thing you want to do is actually do it. They should have just offered Netflix a discount, not free stuff. Because now, they will pay, a very large sum I am sure. But hey, Australia has an R rating for video games! Party Hard!

Todd Vote
Was it just something that Netflix knew to ask about, that is available to anyone that does ask? If that is the case, then Gamefly is out of luck, not Netflix's fault the new kid on the block didn't know enough to ask about these things...

Dan Watson
This makes total sense. I was using the Netflix mail system and never had an issue with a movie not making it to me or back to the company. With Gamefly there were several times I would have to complain because of titles not making it to me or to them. It also makes sense because I would assume Netflix sends at least 10% more through the mail than Gamefly. Gamefly is sending out discs with a higher value as well. They should be paying more, but at the same time they should both be receiving the same treatment. I figured the only mail that wasn't handled in the same manner was bulk mail or junk mail. Maybe this is why the US Postal System is failing.

John slammed his hand on the table hard enough to leave a mark, so I guess he cares enough to get 1258 points. I think it's interesting that Netflix and its ilk pretty much ran brick-and-mortar stores out of business by changing how movie and game rentals work, but then pretty much had to re-tool their entire business model from mailing to a bigger focus on digital downloads in order to survive themselves once the entire rental concept quickly changed again.

QUESTION THREE: All right, so I think we've finally gotten this all straightened out: As of right now, THQ will be sold as a single entity, with a current offer of $60 million on the table from the original planned buyers, Clearlake Capital Group. Anyone will to purchase the entire kit and caboodle for more than that can submit an offer. However, there will still be an auction of THQ's individual assets, with bids (both for pieces and the entire thing) submitted up until January 22nd, at which point, if the total amount of all the winning bids is greater than any offer to purchase the entire company, the assets will be sold off piecemeal. Go it? Okay, so how do you see this ending? Does somebody get it all, or does everything end up split fifteen ways?

John Cash
Barring someone like Richard Branson or Mark Cuban deciding to get into gaming, and the possibility of EA or Microsoft buying it all, I would imagine it will all get split up. Outside of Saints Row, Darksiders, the under-rated Metro series, and the WWE franchise, they don't really have all that much going for them in my opinion. The WWE franchise has a built in fan base, not as crazy as Madden, but for the most part consistent, so I think it and Saints Row will be the most attractive bids for potential owners.

Mathew Sforcina
OK, this will bring me back, if only so I recover from the whole "Yay for Violence and Boobies!" deal I got going in the other room. I like THQ. Sure, I think the WWE games got far too repetitive near the end there, but they made several good games, and I still ADORE the Saints Row series, even if 3 went a little too off the deep end (but it was the downgrade in clothing customisation I really missed. My girls always got around in bras and open shirts, I miss that...). But what will happen here? Honestly, I think with this deal in place, with this system, Clearlake ain't getting anything. Warner Bros and EA are going to get into a bidding war for Saints Row (... WB please.), and that'll probably push the total amount nearly all the way there unless one blinks early, and then you'll have smaller companies buying up the smaller properties like Double Fine and what have you, and then the studios being sold off, and maybe whatever part of THQ is the part that published the WWE games getting bought by Vince, so he publish himself with just Yukes... I can see that number getting reached easy. So yeah, THQ ends up in 15 different places. But still... Party!

Todd Vote
The THQ name is not what is important here. the 3 or four franchises someone will want to get paws on is. The question is: Can Saints Row, WWE, and Darksiders garner more than a $60 Million offer? If I had to guess, I say the individual offers will be greater than the whole of the $60 million offer.

Dan Watson
In the end I see this being split up in many different ways. There are a few titles that are well worth splitting up and probably bringing in more than $60 million. The Saints Row, WWE, and Darksiders Series should be able to bring in $40 million or more I would think, especially with how well Saints Row sold and having the next title getting closer to release or at least already being developed. You purchase the rights and get ready to sell the games, no major fees there. I don't see one company holding onto all of a dying company's assets.

Everyone's pretty much of the same opinion here, so much like THQ, we'll split 1249 points up four ways. And if WWE does bring their gaming franchise in-house, I say we blame Sforcina because you know they're going to ruin it.

QUESTION FOUR: Sony has been all about the patents lately, so here's another one that details a potential new setup for the Playstation Move. I don't even know what to say about this one. What have you got?

John Cash
Sony, darling, if you want the foot off, we'll cut it off, there's no need to keep shooting it. All seriousness aside, you have to wonder if maybe they just rode the high given by PS2 sales too long, and when the PS3 started off so badly it was like a sucker punch, and now we have this global electronics provider stumbling around in a concussed stupor, throwing punches and hoping to land on something that will take it back to the main event. It's also strange to see a patent like this so close to what is assumed to be a new console announcement. This, on top of the absolutely MENTAL idea they are pursuing of chipping their discs, you have to wonder who we will have longer at this point; Playstation, or Nintendo?

Mathew Sforcina

One Broken Neck, and Sony gets sued into oblivion. So that ain't happening any time soon. They just want to try and make sure no-one else gets there first.

Still... PARTY!

Todd Vote
Ah yes, many lawsuits will be had, many millions will be awarded, and all because one kid decides that he can do Liu Kang's scissor kick fatality better than Liu himself can do. It's like Sony doesn't even want to make money anymore. Let's just patent a bunch of stupid shit and see what happens.

Dan Watson
I honestly was hoping that motion gaming in general would be disappearing with the next generation. Is there that big of a need to move while playing games? I prefer sitting around being lazy while I relax with a game. Maybe I am wrong, maybe people want to act in movies too so why don't we just have interactive movies where you have to move with the characters to see the ending? This is a terrible idea.

I'm with Dan, who gets 3459 points, I just want motion gaming to disappear, along with the latest 3-D revival and the increasingly crappy Resident Evil franchise. Also, I'm pissed at Sony and their patents, because a couple years back they patented something that would attach to PS3s and make them able to play PS2 games, and we still haven't seen that. If this thing comes out first, I'm going to burn something down.

BONUS QUESTION: I want to bitch about the Oscars (because we're pretending that they're still relevant, that's why), and you're going to sit there and answer me. What kind of awards show gives zero nominations to The Dark Knight Rises (and snubs Affleck for directing) and two (TWO!) to the ridiculously awful Snow White and The Huntsman? I swear, I thought I had misclicked on the Razzies noms when I read that.

John Cash
It is the same academy that gave "Crash" the best picture nod over "Brokeback Mountain" and "Good Night, and Good Luck". The same academy that created a best animated feature award after Beauty & The Beast nearly besmirched their precious tiny naked gold men with it's wonderful animation and gorgeous songs, in hopes that it would never happen again (although at least it lost to a great movie.) The same academy that will rarely give best pictures to sci-fi and fantasy, but will give them all the awards nobody watches the show for. To keep it brief, it's an academy that makes safe picks on names it knows, throwing the odd bone to a small-time flick to make it seem like it's not a complete circle jerk of the already-acclaimed in their mutual appreciation society. Almost all the awards shows are like that now, and the ones that aren't are either obviously in people's pockets in an obscenely blatant way (VGAs) or they aren't worth watching (AMA's, anything with "Teen" in the name). You should run an award show, Quizmaster, where you just give everyone the options, we give our opinions, and then you pick what you like best! It works for this column, right?

Mathew Sforcina
Well now I can defend costume design for that thing, and Visual Effects... Well it ain't gonna win, so whatever. And TDKR was, frankly, not TDK, and thus I can't be too torn up about it not getting nominated. But I will storm whatever building I need to go get Affleck's Direction Oscar. Just point me and let me go. Or at least, I would, but I have a bunch more new games to play now so... Yeah.

*blows party horn sadly*

Todd Vote
I don't think TDKR was worthy of a nom this year. I tremendously enjoyed The Dark Knight, so I had high hopes for TDKR, maybe even unfairly so, but it failed to live up to what I was hoping the movie would be. As far as Argo goes, I have yet to see that, but I was a fan of Affleck's previous efforts in the director's chair. Eh, the Oscars are the place for boring shit to win boring awards from a bunch of boring ass artsy fartsy old timers. Who gives a shit?

Dan Watson
I have always hated the Oscars. These awards do not honor what normal people like to watch. If Lincoln was such a great movie why didn't it have a box office run like Dark Knight or The Avengers? The awards look at artsy movies or movies with meaning as opposed to movies people want to see. As for Affleck, I am mind-blown as to why he wasn't even nominated. There are very few movies that I can think of recently that won best overall movie and deserved it for that year. Even movies I enjoy (American Beauty for example) that have won weren't the best movie and are normally overated to begin with.

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