I wasn’t exactly counting down the seconds over its release, but when I first gave it a whirl, I couldn’t help but get swept up into its pace. Okay, sure, there are only five new characters (four of whom, along with the latest stages, are just carry-overs from the ill-fated Street Fighter X Tekken), but just being able to play as Poison -- don’t judge me -- in a new setting made that first session with the update surprisingly exciting. We’ll see how long that excitement lasts, but as it stands? I’m glad that Street Fighter 4: The T. Hawk Is Actually Kinda Good Edition is in our midst.
Though I suppose Capcom has kind of forced gamers’ hands with this one, especially those in the fighting game community. They pretty much HAD to get the update, because if they didn’t, they’d get locked out of the competitive scene. And the same applies to more leisurely players like me; anyone who wants to blow off some steam (or build it) online has to buy in or get locked out. It’s a dirty trick, but I guess we’ve got no choice but to deal. And we will deal, because even if these constant “new additions” are a pain in the ass to keep up with, the core game has always been worth it. Worth our time and respect.
Which brings us to the question of the day…however circuitously. As is my standard.
I’ve done my best to stay away from Watch Dogs (for obvious reasons, least of all because I’ve got better things to play), but I’ve still got it fresh on my mind because it’s looking to be my personal DmC of 2014. That is, it’s a game that I can constantly look toward and point to as an example of what NOT to do. The only issue is that this time around, people have bought into the Watch Dogs lifestyle in droves, what with at least four million copies sold. From what I can gather, the reaction to the game is “it’s good, but not great” and “it’s average” and “it’s not original, but it’ll do”.
I have to strongly disagree -- and playing apologist for the game doesn’t exactly make the best case -- but that’s not what I want to talk about right now.
I suspect that WD’s success comes from it earning enough goodwill by being an IP to earn a look, but more importantly -- and despite it being the new kid on the block -- it succeeded because it has things from other games. And plenty of them. So, for example, if you liked the quasi-tactical gunplay of Splinter Cell, then chances are high that you’re going to like the gunplay in WD. And Ubisoft knew this. The game was geared as such, to the point where they could have replaced the “everything is connected” tagline with “IT’S EVERYTHING YOU LIKE!” And people bought into it.
That’s not exactly what I’d call an ideal approach, but I get it. And it worked for others. It earned loyalty to the fresh WD name; I’ve seen those who have acknowledged its faults admit without reservation that they would want to see a sequel that improves on the core game. In their eyes, WD is what the first Assassin’s Creed was: bold and new, but notably flawed, while its sequel stepped up the game considerably. Granted the industry is a MUCH different place than when AC1 was first released way back in 2007, and its vision shone through to try and make good on the promise of the then-young seventh generation, but let’s set that aside for now.
WD or otherwise, these franchises exist -- and continue to exist -- because they can reliably count on fans to support them. Because they have brand loyalty, using whatever means possible to succeed. That’s a given. But in this day and age, it feels like there’s a right way to go about earning brand loyalty (with genuine quality and respect for an audience) and a wrong way (“WE’RE WHAT YOU LOVE BECAUSE WE’RE WHAT YOU LOVE!”). It’s the difference between treating fans like a privilege, and treating them like a right.
By now I’d assume that you know how I feel about the subject, but this isn’t about me, per se. I want to open the floor so I can get some input on the subject. I need insights. I need to see how people with brains that aren’t half-broken think. And more specifically, I want to see how people respond to the question at hand:
What earns your brand loyalty? That is, what do products -- games, movies, books, shows, whatever -- do that makes you want to trust in them and support them? What should they offer, and how? Is there a right way to earn loyalty? Is there a wrong way? What happens when that loyalty gets compromised?
All corollary questions revolving around the central one, to be sure. But they are points of discussion that could serve to get your juices flowing. So if you’ve got an opinion, then go ahead and weigh in. Say what you think needs to be said.
Ready? Set? Comment -- so I can taste THE STORM OF YOUR LOYALTY!
I'll watch you someday, Orange-kun.