Friday, September 20, 2019

Eric Vs. 365 - Day 82 - Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game

Quite often the argument against the glorious all digital future for video games is the fact that games can, and do, get de-listed from services and are no longer available for purchase. If you bought them before the de-listing, you're OK 99.9% of the time as you still own that game and can re-download it (some exceptions apply), but if you didn't buy it before that you're out of luck. One game that is always brought up in these discussions is Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game for XBLA and PSN that was only available for a relatively short period of time - 4 years - before it disappeared. We talk about licensed games and Scott Pilgrim The Game here on day 82 of Eric Vs. 365. Click to read and watch.

First, a note about Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game. It kinda sucks, to be honest. The first level is amazing, which is what everyone fondly remembers, but the rest of the game is borderline awful with really terrible boss fights in the last third of the game. Andrew and I did a full LP of it (click to watch!) and the only way we actually beat it was because I used an infinite money trick to upgrade our characters to the max so it would be easier. And even then it was still a pain. People prop it up as a great game they missed out on, but you didn't miss much. It is only sort of like the books and nothing at all like the movie, so you aren't missing out even if you're a HUGE Scott Pilgrim fan. 

As for licensed games, there is a lot of confusion about them. I always hear people (Andrew) say "Why doesn't Konami just re-release Ninja Turtles?" Well, because they don't have the license. They have the rights to the game itself, of course, but they can't sell it without the licenses. The problem with a lot of beloved licensed games from the 80's and 90's is that, back then, the license was probably super cheap, but now re-acquiring the license is much much more expensive. Likely prohibitively so considering that the return on re-releasing these games will absolutely be fairly low regardless of how much demand there seems to be (because gamers are hypocrites who don't usually actually buy the stuff they say they want).

Licensing issues extend to other things like the digital storefronts every console has these days. Fifteen or twenty years ago there was no such thing as a digital storefront for games so games were only licensed for physical distribution. In order to release games digitally, even if the publisher still has the license, they have to re-negotiate and re-license it for the new version which, again, likely involves more money. Pretty much every game released on PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, and Switch was negotiated with physical and digital in mind, so this shouldn't be a problem going forward, thankfully. At least, not until the license agreements themselves run out.

Another thing about licensing is that it is one of the biggest things that determined which games ended up backwards compatible on Xbox One. The Xbox 360 emulator used on Xbox One was basically 99% compatible, so it wasn't as if they couldn't get certain games to work and thus never released them. We ended up with the lineup we did mostly because the Xbox One required digital downloads for all of the BC titles so the digital distribution issues mentioned above were a factor. For games that the publishers fully created and owned, it was a relatively simple process. Publishers still had to sign off on the new releases, though, and as we all know, there were a lot of games left on the table for whatever reason. 

For any games that had licenses for media franchises, music, characters, cars, products, apparel, etc. those all had to be re-licensed in order to be made BC on Xbox One and most of the time it just wasn't going to be worth it. This is also the reason why some games were available at one time, but aren't now (like Forza games), because the licenses expired. 

That is the reason why we didn't get more games on BC - licensing. I'd always laugh when I saw people clamoring for certain games that I knew were never going to come. Hint: It almost always involved a licensed soundtrack.