Monday, October 3, 2011

Uncharted 3 Multiplayer, Courtesy of Subway

Last week Naughty Dog announced a new promotion with Subway to promote Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. By purchasing drinks or sandwiches at a Subway restaurant, players can win prizes and play the Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception multiplayer a month before the game releases on November 1. It sounded decent, nothing out of the ordinary for a video game promotion; access to early multiplayer and some prizes. Then I saw this video that was originally posted on the PlayStation Blog.

In-game Subway items, game-enhancing boosters, exclusive weapons, and an in-game taunt to top it all off. There’s so much wrong here I almost don’t know where to start. How would you like to see your enemy wearing a McDonald’s t-shirt in the next Call of Duty game? The gaming culture has repeatedly refused in-game advertising, yet game developers and publishers continue to push the issue. Richard Lewis of Heaven Media pointed out, “When gamers see in-game advertising, they know that it is a source of revenue for the people that have already sold them a product and in general it has been received poorly by most players exposed to it.” The most recent incident of in-game advertising was with Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution. A post-release patched enabled ads during the game's loading screens.

The inclusion of game-enhancing boosters and exclusive weapons seem like the worst offenders to me. Player who participate in the promotion and acquire these boosters and weapons will have an advantage, if only for one round for the boosters, against evenly equipped and evenly matched players, created and uneven playing environment. For a mode that relies heavily on balanced gameplay, this concept is atrocious. Remember the uproar surrounding the Physical Warfare pack for Battlefield 3? Fans were upset that pre-order exclusive items were powerful enough to be deemed necessary. Based on the reaction, EA announced that the Physical Warfare pack would be free for everyone some time after release. These boosters and weapons aren’t looking to follow the same path. Ultimately, Naughty Dog and the Uncharted brand will suffer because of it.

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