Versus Mode: In-game Ads, DLC, Guitar Controllers, and More

Mean Hamster Software’s John Swiderski and former GC writer Brian Vanek discuss in-game advertising, DLC, whether more games should offer guitar controller support, and more.

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pepsiWelcome, one and all, BACK to Versus Mode—the column that calls upon GameCola writers as well as denizens of the videogame world at large to talk about what’s up in gaming.

This month in Versus Mode we’ve got:

vmjohn vmvanek

John Swiderski vs. Brian Vanek!

John Swiderski is the President of Mean Hamster Software, a company that develops games for a variety of platforms, including the Pocket PC, Smart Phones, PDAs, Sony PSP, and Windows PC, as well as retro games for Amiga and Atari. Recent projects include developing Pocket PC versions of Myst and Riven and working with Fossil to write the Wrist PDA development paper. This is John’s first appearance in Versus Mode.

Brian Vanek is a former GameCola writer who was known for his reviews as well as for You Learn Something New Every Play, a monthly column about the things you can learn from playing videogames. This is Brian’s second appearance in Versus Mode, having written previously with Michael Gray.

1. Gamers would be better off if there was only one gaming platform.

JohnAbsolutely not. Having multiple platforms keeps companies privy to innovation and the differences between them. It might help developers, but it certainly wouldn’t help gamers. I enjoy the differences between the DS, PSP, cell phones, the Wii, Xbox 360 and PC gaming. Each platform has its advantages and disadvantages. I mean, while a gamer might want WoW on a cell phone, would it really work the same, or would it just be frustrating? Let’s not forget the days when the Atari 2600 ruled and nearly killed all competition. Games got stale and boring!

BrianProbably not.  Fewer systems means less diversity.  I don’t really see how it would be possible, anyways.  Who would stand in the way of making more systems?  Would there be some kind of videogame governing force?

2. In-game ads hurt the gaming experience.

JohnThis is one I do agree with, but I don’t have an immediate solution for it. Having product placement in a game does provide a familiar world to gamers as long as it’s subtle. When an add is blatant, I would expect that from a free online game, not one I just shelled $60 out for!


Brian: TOTALLY!  I hate advertisements no matter where they are.  Games, billboards, television, volleyball players’ bodies—wherever.

3. Downloadable content is a huge rip-off.

John: Yes, additional downloadable content is a good thing to offer, but the core game should already be packed with enough goodies to make the game worth buying. Downloadable content in that regard would just be extra icing on the cake.

BrianDownloadable content is not necessary in games.  That’s why there are sequels.  Haha.  But seriously, if the game is content-packed, I don’t see the need for extra, downloadable content.

rockout4. Good writing can make a mediocre game worth playing.

JohnDefinitely. In this day and age, all too much care has been placed in graphics and soundtracks, visual effects and gimmicks. Good writing is just as important. Storylines are not as ignored as publishers might perceive. I personally don’t think that the adventure game genre is dead simply because publishers like to believe that the public is not smart enough to read into a good story. Take Harry Potter, for instance.

Brian: Good writing will only make the story element of a game better. If some other aspect is terrible, then the game is still mediocre.

5. More videogames should offer guitar support.

John: That’s a good one! Perhaps more guitar support isn’t the right question. But innovative new input devices, yes. Let’s see a real ocarina controller!

Brian: I kinda feel like a big plastic guitar is a waste for such few games to use it on.  Though, I don’t really see what else you could use it for, so I just think it is what it is.

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