Rant #2


So last Sunday was my last day of that work-week, just before I went for my day off I had to hit the jackpot with a customer.
I’ve changed jobs since Rant #1 happened, but the work area is the same, ergo the same type of situations happen. Early morning a guy comes in and gets to have me attending the tills, and in his all-knowing ‘wisdom’ and quite bluntly he tells me he needs/wants a charger for the Nintendo DSLite he bought the day before and that we “have to” give one to him because we didn’t provide one.

The first thing you always ask is the receipt, he said he had it and proceeded to show it to me, he also had the DSL which he flashed over by me, it seemed legit but I didn’t even get to check the serial number because next thing I know is him now telling me we did give him a charger but it was the wrong one because it wouldn’t fit on the DS port, I said DS models have slightly different charger models and he was probably just been given the wrong model charger (it was the fat colleague with a lack of attention to detail but that’s another story).
Next I tell him to just bring over the charger he was given along with everything else (receipt and DS) and we’ll just swap for a correct one, he starts rambling that he just wants a charger and has the receipt, I tell him that we can’t just give him a charger if he already has one, he needs to bring the wrong one so we can give him the right one, obviously. He finally conceded, mumbling that he spent gas coming from whatever high-class shit-hole he lives in and should be handed a charger because he has no need for a wrong charger. Yes, you don’t need it, but we do… and we can’t just let you have two chargers now can we?…

Why the hell does he bring me the console and receipt but not the charger provided – which he first said we didn’t provide – is beyond me.
Listen people, and get it in your heads once and for all; If you buy something from wherever and something is wrong with it, you have to bring all of it, everything that came with that package, especially if it’s the wrong charger/screen/cd/manual/dildo whatever it is, you don’t get to keep the thing just because it was the wrong one. Yes, ‘we’ (the fat guy) did a mistake, but if I sell you a pair of Goodyear tyres by mistake, you bring them back and get the Continental’s you wanted in the first place, you don’t get to keep the Goodyears… Makes sense yes?

But wait, there’s more. After he reluctantly agrees to bring back the charger – remember all of this was always spoken in an aggressive tone and body language as if we were the incompetent ones (well, ‘we’ were, but he raised the bar).
Next he goes and brings me one DS and one 3DS game to pay for, I do the transaction without a flinch since the ‘gentleman’ already had me on edge. Before going further let me say this right now; usually with normal people that aren’t dicks I always remember to tell them that it’s a 3DS game, not DS (although we don’t have to), but this guy was so upsetting I didn’t even remember to do so.
He comes back just 5 minutes later and asks if this game will work on his DS. I said no it won’t, so he starts giving me a lecture that we “have to” let customers know that it was not compatible, and that I saw his DS, he showed it to me and that “I knew” he was buying it for that system.

Here’s another ‘trick-of-the-trade’ for people buying stuff in retail stores: We don’t “have to” tell you anything… If you ask if this game or device is good or not we give you an opinion, and advice. If you ask if this game is compatible with this console we give you a fact, if it is, or if it’s not. If you ask! If you don’t we don’t have to tell you a thing, so regardless of showing me that DSLite, he could be buying that 3DS game for someone else for all I know. So no, I didn’t “knew” he was buying that game for that DSLite because he was never explicit about it in the first place. It’s not my fault you’re uninterested in your kids hobbies and don’t perform any homework on what you are buying beforehand.

One thing I’ve learned in retail is that you never assume anything, because what happens later is what the bad guy in that shitty movie says. So a good retailer never assumes anything unless the customer confirms it by himself or after you ask “I assume that <insert text>” and the costumer confirms it.

Seeing as that peculiar customer was a rude man to say the least, and he left me upset and at the brink of my serenity, I didn’t remember to even ask, my primordial brain was just saying ‘get rid of him’, so I guess I didn’t want to do conversation. But I guess no one dealing with such a egotistical smart-ass person would.

So in the end, and not to prolong myself much longer, I enjoyed very very much telling him that we couldn’t cash refund the 3DS game, because it wasn’t our fault he was uninformed about what he was buying. But hey, you can get a voucher and spend it in the shop you now hate so much, that’s gotta count for something!

Moral of the story:

  • The best costumer is the one that does the homework prior to buying. Always ask retailers for opinions on items, not facts, facts we might make mistakes on, in this day in age ask Google if you want facts.
  • Be nice to the people that are serving you your items or food. Remember we can always screw you more then you can screw us, we don’t get fired because you decide to file a pointless complaint like this one, because the managers know very well the difference between a moron and a customer.

 

Let’s talk ‘SONY’


What the brand was, and what it is now.

Remember the time when you had the TV adverts coming up and one of them was about a new Sony product? Remember how it ended? I’ll refresh your memory: “It’s a Sony.” And indeed it was, but let’s be absolutely honest here, this catch-phrase doesn’t have the same impact as it had in the eighties and nineties does it?

Before firing my ranting arsenal at Sony, I’d like to state both to myself and anyone reading that they do make good quality products still and I won’t say otherwise in this article, but they definitely don’t have that techie ‘edge’ any more,  not to mention they severely overprice their products just for brand-sake. Several examples can be found of Sony products having higher prices on laptops and TV’s with the same (or better) specs and quality of competitors like Toshiba, Samsung or LG. That’s but one reason that’s been dragging Sony through the mud recently, because there’s a lot more…

Another reason would be ‘forcing’ proprietary media upon consumers, thus making them loose some fidelity from the target audience, like the introduction of Sony’s memory stick pro duo cards instead of simply allowing the use of  SD cards which can be used in pretty much anything, except – conveniently enough – Sony products. So instead of making their products dynamic and open to other media sources and formats, they restrict it to only their own, bold move Sony, bold move.

Same case with the PSVita now in 2012, with it’s own proprietary memory sticks, extremely pricey (as expected) in order to make people buy their Sony addons and peripherals to use on their own Sony products.
Have you bought a PS Vita? Great. Want to download games online for it because it’s cheaper to buy the digital version? Ok, but you need room for all that, so don’t forget to buy one of the new memory sticks. Don’t want to spend money on the memory sticks? Well, ok, buy the retail disc version of the game then, albeit more expensive.

It’s a never-ending loop of how to extract as much currency as possible from the consumers, and how can they get away with it so far? a) People actually vote for it with their wallet and buy it. b) Piracy! The whole memory stick thing on the PSP and Vita revolves around avoiding piracy as their scapegoat, which is not entirely true since they know just as well as we do the Vita memory sticks will be hacked and duped eventually. If Sony wanted to really fight piracy they would, inventing new memory sticks doesn’t solve the problem, merely delays it, and they know it all to well.

Another – in my opinion bad – business decision would be the Blu-ray, Toshiba and affiliated partners were already half way through implementing and defining HD-DVD as the next gen movie viewing standard superseding the DVD format, yet Sony remembered to intervene; “Wait! we want in on this race too” and brought in the Blu-Ray in a war that lasted too long between the two formats, and the main victim here was the consumer as always. They’ve lost in the Beta/VHS fight but they couldn’t leave it like that, they had to try again, and this time they won, how good for them, making money one day at a time by imposing their proprietary media on the market.

I suppose the difference between Apple and Sony is that Apple actually gets away with all the overpricing and over-rated hardware because they actually innovate here and there and they have amazing products – gimmicky and overpriced – but still great, no debate there. Sony on the other hand… They do not hold the edge on technology any more to actually demand the prices they do.
Even their 3D TV’s do not use what is considered by a lot of reviewers as the best (and inexpensive) 3D imaging tech available, Passive 3D (LG’s) versus Active 3D (Sony).

I also can’t let this article go without shaking my head to their Gaming branch. We can’t forget that the PS3 flopped on release due to (again) overpricing and was later dumbed down (partially due to user complaints I’ll give it that) into a cheaper build material/less ports/no backwards compatibility version. What was one of the best aspects and selling point of the PS2 was the Doom for the PS3. No wonder they want to name the next one differently.

The Playstation Move was another ‘ginourmous’ flop, literally copying the Wii’s control scheme in order to win some of that casual market-share, at least Microsoft didn’t blatantly copy Nintendo’s Wiimotes & Nunchuk with the Kinect. So where’s the PSMove now? Right, in that second hand goods drawer in my shop gathering dust, that one in the corner where we store our stool because no one uses that drawer anyway.

This is Sony now, in 2012 and has been for the past 8 to 10 years, imitating rather then innovating, creating good (but not excellent or ground-breaking) products with over the top price tags. No, saying “It’s a Sony” definitely doesn’t have the same impact as it did in the Walkman, Trinitron or PSX age.

The Changing Face of Games Retail


Keza MacDonald hopes the demise of Game Group might herald the return to the high street of small enthusiast shops.

“Game Group, the company that owns both of the specialist high-street games retailers Game and Gamestation, has officially gone into administration , after suspending trading on its shares and filing for administration last week. Along with practically everybody in the games media, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and writing about this over the past few weeks, going over the potential reasons for Game’s failure to compete and its spiralling implications – not just for the obvious victims, its UK customers and employees, but for everyone who buys, makes and sells games. You can read about all of that here if you’re interested, but there’s no other way to spin it – this is bad news for all of us.

What I haven’t seen much talk about is our personal relationship with games retail. Game as it currently stands, with its limited selection of strong sellers and at times rather aggressive emphasis on pre-owned, up-selling and pre-order deposits, bears little resemblance to the Game that I visited when I was growing up. Games shops were actually places that I used to go to hang out when I was a teenager, to browse with friends and occasionally make new ones. It’s this experiential side of retail that things like Steam and Amazon haven’t replaced, and I really miss it.

Our local Gamestation in Edinburgh, before it was swallowed by Game Group, was a two-floor gamer’s paradise with new stuff on the bottom floor and a top floor full of T-shirts, figurines, demo stations and racks full of retro games going back to the NES. The most valuable of these items were displayed in glass cases. I remember staring longingly at a mint condition (and very overpriced) copy of the super-rare SNES game Secret of Mana inside one of those cases for about two months. Now and then there’d be someone else staring longingly at it right beside me, and we’d strike up a conversation. The staff were friendly and passionate (as many Game and Gamestation employees still are), and would happily chat for a half hour, trading recommendations and experiences. It was a real enthusiast store. I spent a faintly ridiculous amount of money and time there.

After Gamestation’s acquisition, whilst games sales were really booming between around 2006 and 2010, a lot of this disappeared. Retro was sidelined and eventually eliminated entirely in favour of a Game-like pre-owned model that focussed on newer games only. The merchandise became slowly more generic until most of the quirky stuff was gone and only the DS cases and Mario plushes remained. I stopped visiting games shops very quickly and started buying online. I attributed the death of the games shop as I remembered it as a necessary complication of my hobby’s move into the mainstream, and mourned it only briefly.

When I moved to Japan at the end of 2008 though, I discovered a world where the game shop was still an experience. There, alongside the rows of shiny new games at the front of the store, you’d find Dreamcast and N64 and Mega Drive games just an aisle away. Pretty much every games shop apart from the massive Bic Cameras and Yodabashi Cameras superstores gave as much floorspace to older games as it did to the new stuff, with 10-year-old boxes proudly displayed and baskets full of miscellaneous cartridges in which you might find a treasure.

Near where I lived in Nagoya there was a second-hand games and CD store, K’s House, that looked and smelled like someone’s attic, with cartridges and disc cases and mysterious, obsolete peripherals and controllers stacked head-high. Now and then, flipping through N64 games in there, I’d see some Japan-only game that I’d read about as a nine-year-old in a magazine and delightedly hand over ¥500 (£3.80) for it. My shelves are liberally adorned with such curios. God only knows how much money I spent.

I could have predicted that the experience of shopping for games somewhere like Osaka’s Den Den Town or Tokyo’s Akihabara would be exhilarating for any geek, but what I didn’t understand about Japanese retail is that most stores were like this. In Britain, shopping is something I do grudgingly and in as little time possible, picking up things online wherever possible. In Japan it became a recreational activity.

All of this will probably sound intimately familiar to anyone who collects vinyl. The record shop is perhaps a British equivalent to the Japanese games store. But surely there must be a place for enthusiast shops here, still, alongside the megachains like Game (or whatever Game is replaced with in the coming weeks). If it turns out that the British high street cannot support a games megachain, does that mean it can’t support smaller, more specialist shops either? Can’t there be somewhere for enthusiasts to shop, too, whilst mums and gifters and more casual browsers pick up FIFA and COD and Just Dance from bigger chains and supermarkets? Bigger retail stores are vital to the health of the games industry, but for a long time they’ve been all there is.

Maybe they do exist, somewhere, and I just don’t know about them. Do you?”

Keza MacDonald is UK games editor at IGN.com. You can follow her on Twitter @kezamacdonald
This is merely a repost of a very interesting article, you can read the entire piece here.

Game Over for GAME


http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/articles/319331/20120326/game-group-enters-administration.htm

After following the situation for the last week or so, what I find amusing is the ex-CEO of the company blaming the poor fate of the company on a poor 2011, including Christmas on some articles.

Yeah, I suppose titles like CoD:MW3, Battlefield 3, Skyrim, Fifa 12, Madden 12, Uncharted 3, Professor Leiton IV, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, Zumba, Dead Island, Forza 4, Gears of War 3, Dark Souls, SW:TOR, Batman: Arkham City, Saints Row: The Third, Deux-Ex, Halo Combat Evolved Anniversary, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Need For Speed: The Run, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, God of War Collection 1 & 2, Sonic Generations, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Just Dance 3, Driver, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, L.A. Noir, Mortal Kombat, Mass Effect 2 and Dead Space 2 were just total garbage (some better ‘garbage’ then others) and the lack of AAA titles this year was the company’s doom…
/sarcasm

Gotta love people that manage company’s without so much of a clue of what they are actually selling or talking about. But hey, it’s easier to blame the “lack of titles” over last Christmas and the digital distribution market (Steam) and Online only retailers (Amazon).
Yes, that sounds legitimate, let’s blame Steam which is but a small portion of the market compared to the consoles and might as well blame online stores like Amazon for being intelligent and having stupidly amazing prices and promotions strictly online. What’s that you say? Oh GAME’s website also had cheaper products then the stores? Well, why not do those prices in-store as well? Oh you got rent, shipping and employee costs to pay, that’s right. Well look how that turned out eh, people rather buy online then, there goes the rent money, oh snap.

Oh but they still don’t buy from YOUR online shop, but rather from Amazon or Steam, or even eBay? Damn, I wonder why that is… Maybe the over-the-top profit margins? Ever heard less is more? Steam sure did, so did Amazon.

I suppose 2 years since Ian Sheperd took the reins wasn’t enough to see how game was spiralling to their demise, nor to adapt to a market THEY should actually know about, digital distribution and price slashes right under their noses and still they missed the train, amazing…
You don’t charge people extra on a time of crisis like the world (and specially Europe) is still in, you charge less and do amazing deals and behold, you actually end up selling more.

Example time:

I was still working at a GAME store when Dead Island came out, the game was a blockbuster hit, sold out in every GAME shop in London, except ours, we had so much stock due to ghost pre-orders (that’s when you pre-order games for a fictitious costumer). And what did the brainiacs in head offices decided to do? Increase the price from 34.99£, to 39.99£ and when stock was really low, up again to 42.99£, boy, they were so smart! You know what people did? Hit the road to online retailers and Tesco’s. Gratz GAME offices!

Oh GAME… I guess a fair analogy would be to compare you to a sexy blonde, best thing that ever happened to most men, yet dumb as a door knob.

At this point, I just really hope GameStop or whoever saves your ass, because I want my Diablo III CE pre-order! But if not, well, I guess I’ll have to go Amazon, teh-heh! :>

/tacticalfacepalm

Rant #1



Yesterday I served what I thought was a very arrogant customer, making snide comments about my line of work, and aggressive body language, I eventually confronted him about it saying he was acting arrogant to which his reply was: “I’m better then you”. I want to thank him for proving my point.

Blizzard Partners With Mega Bloks


Let me say here first that technically I don’t really care, because I wouldn’t pick them up anyway even if it was LEGO, not exactly my priority these days.

With that said, I’m a regular lego fan I guess, I loved them when I was younger, had loads of’em, but not enough (you [u]never[/u] have enough legos , ever!). I can really appreciate that work you’ve done with that castle and starship, really really nice work man. I remember creating from scratch the car/tank from ‘Aliens’ and having it for over a year unable to muster the courage to dismantle it, it was absolutely beautiful.

Shame about Blizzard thou, I can understand their decision, it was a good financial decision, a very good one, but long term it will have it’s own repercussions and reveal it self as a bad business decision overall.
This coming from a company that prides on quality, just looks, terrible, even as a PR move, it just looks wrong.
I believe the fact of being an American company and looking out for their US community a lot more then, say Europe or Asia, has a lot to do with this decision.

Outside the US people have no idea what the hell are ‘Megabloks’, and usually most companies like to go for the quality things if they [u]can’t[/u] get away with going with a cheaper one, which is the case of legos. It’s quite obvious that if your company sides with lego to expand your franchise, it means you care about quality stuff, while siding with a sub-par look-a-like will just seem greedy and like I said above, a very bad PR move.

Luckily for Blizzard, a lego/blok sets of their games aren’t one of the main concerns and things that the fans want or demand, (but it could be! just look at Harry Potter and Star Wars) so they can get away with the cheapest one.
This decision however is most likely going to backfire and their expansion of the franchises (warcraft, diablo, starcraft) to blocky versions will probably fail miserably, because megabloks just doesn’t have the know-how, notoriety and quality enough to build a great sub-product of what they already have, it will be mediocre at best, with mixed reviews and a commercial failure, but don’t quote me on that, it’s merely my opinion.

Blizzard is playing safe, and thinking this can be an add-on of their franchises, and thus sales, when they should think that this could be an extension of those franchises to lego lovers and the world besides the US of A. Who knows, even influencing people who never heard about or didn’t care about Blizzard to try their games. Megabloks will never achieve that.. it just won’t, it’s way out of their league. And that’s Blizzard’s first (big) mistake with this partnership.

As for the parts, the necessary parts required to ensemble sets, I just have to indulge whoever mentioned them (forgot the name). The parts required to make any Blizzard game set would be minimal, most of the parts to create anything (and I mean anything) are already there (in lego). But just look at Lego Harry Potter, Pirates, Batman, Indiana, Starwars… It would be just a matter of creating a few dozen, [u]maybe[/u] a hundred something new pieces, but that’s it. It’s a drop in an ocean of thousands upon thousands of different pieces.
This decision had a lot of variables put into it, but if required parts was one of them, then that would just give the community an excuse to call them lazy, either Blizzard or Lego, we don’t know, but the ‘parts’ thing would be a p!ss-poor excuse to add to the list of ‘why-we-won’t-go-lego’.

TLDR: They should have gone with LEGO.

Source: http://eu.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/2793390688?page=2#36

Press Release: http://www.megabrands.com/media/pdf/corpo/en/20110613.pdf

At Blizzcon: http://us.battle.net/blizzcon/en/blog/3542795/Pointing_the_Way_to_BlizzCon_MEGA_Bloks-9_20_2011