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Marc Ecko On The Defensive Over His New Game

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It’s hard to say this for a lot of people, and many of them won’t admit it, but Marc Ecko is right. The media has latched onto a recent quote from the fashion designer about gamers. The single line is as follows:

“I would say there are gamers that have a predisposition to have a bug up their ass for anything urban.”

Again, Marc Ecko is right. Getting Up, his first foray into the video game world, has been mildly received at best, and it’s a shame. This is the way the video game industry works now for some reason. Anyone who comes in and wants to try their hand at a video game is immediately rejected and ridiculed. With a snobbish attitude like this, it’s going to a tough climb to keep this industry growing.

In this case, most people never game Getting Up a chance. Most probably haven’t even played it. Yet, visit countless message boards and you’ll see opinions ranging from how awful the game is to pure, 100% hatred. The vast majority, if they have touched it, failed to spend more than a few minutes with it before finding a small reason to dismiss it.

Looking at it from a game design standpoint, there’s no question this title has problems. The combat system is sloppy, some of the tasks/missions are a bit much, and the excessive advertising is annoying. However, it’s fun, and everything from the menu system to the lack of collectables is strong. It’s not game of the year material, but as a piece of entertainment for a few days of your gaming time, it’s certainly worth setting aside some other games to experience it.

Most people don’t care. They see Marc Ecko’s name on the box and reject it. They can’t seem to get past that. Obviously, you could place a large wager that he never wrote a single digit in this game’s code and win. Apprehension is acceptable given some of the utter disasters that have been born of this new sub-genre, but expecting this to be on the same level before even playing is disgusting.

The media lashed out at the title early on at an apparently weak E3 showing. That started the “nose up” attitude towards the product from the hardcore gaming community early. It’s since grown harsher and more critical, with people looking for something to hate about it and not letting go.

It’s another example of how gamers are fickle, and yes, do have a bug up their ass sometimes. It’s not just a matter of opinion as to what makes a good game or the quality of this singled out title. It’s about acceptance, and that seems to be the hardest thing to do when releasing a game these days. You’ll never know what will make a connection. It’s times like this when it can be frustrating and almost embarrassing to be a gamer.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Success in fashion design does not readily equate to success in game design.

    I’ve never played the game, so I offer no opinion on it, but I have worked in the gaming industry for a few years and I can tell you that knowledge across one area of creativity and expertise does not always translate. Good game design is a tricky proposition, hard for even the Sid Meier’s of the world (whom I doubt could take his gaming design expertise and turn out cool urban fashions…) to get right.

    The gaming industry is a deadly serious, low-margin, cut-throat industry that is now larger than the movie industry. There are literally thousands of games a year being churning out, competing for buyer attention, ads, news stories and reviews, and shelf space in the store. The shelf-life of a game is measured in weeks with unsuccessful games and older titles hitting the remaindered bins with increasing regularity.

    With less than 10% of all gaming titles actually making any profit, it is manifestly unsurprising that Ecko (whom I had never even heard of prior to your post) is facing difficulties in his product. The timeframes involved in game development, marketing and launch are extremely tight and games ship all the time with features missing or cut, known bugs etc. It is driven by the marketplace.
    he can cry that gamers are to blame but at the end of the day, gamers, even the highly critical ones, are driven by the game experience. Provide an excellent gaming experience and they will come. Provide a mediocre or buggy experience and the word-of-mouth will burn you extremely fast.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    Success in fashion design does not readily equate to success in game design.

    And you’re right, but again, Marc Ecko had the concept. He didn’t program it. His name is pointless to bring up in a discussion about the game’s merits from a gameplay viewpoint.

    Provide an excellent gaming experience and they will come. Provide a mediocre or buggy experience and the word-of-mouth will burn you extremely fast.

    And we all know that doesn’t happen. Driv3r is a Greatest Hit now, so is True Crime. A lot of people obviouasly don’t care about an excellent gaming experience. Prince of Persia, Beyond Good and Evil, etc., fail to sell every year, and these are the potential classics of this generation.

    If they cared about great game design, than Ecko’s game should be a hit. Again, it’s far from perfect, but defnitely more worthy that a lot of crap out there like 25 to Life.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    True, many great games are overlooked and many mediocre ones (Big Game Hunter anyone) thrive despite abysmal quality but I still would be hesitant to lay the blame on the customer for not embracing the title.

    Blaming customers for the failure of your product is a short path to ruin in any business. You need to understand your customer base, attributes and attitudes. Marketing a game around a key individual can be highly problematic even if they are well-known in the industry (John Romero and Dai-Katana is the prime example of “really, really poor marketing” that springs to mind).

    Personality and approach carry a lot of weight and if your marketing approach is poor, you can alienate or irritate a large segment of your particular marketplace (in Romero’s case it was the infamous “John Romero wants to make you his bitch” ad).

    I’m not following the industry very closely now but my guess is that the marketing for this product has been:

    a). Constrained in some respects due to the content (i.e. won’t be seeing it in Wal-Mart anytime soon) which limits distribution and advertising due to the game content (i.e tagging and graffiti)

    b). Viewed as yet another variation on the gangsta/rapper/urban themed game (i.e. yet another player in a very overcrowded market niche). Last time I looked even the sports games were trying out an “urban” style (i.e. “NFL Streetball”). The genre is rapidly becoming the next big cliche.

    c). having a poor pre-marketing effort that didn’t drive interest and over-promised on delivery dates.

    d). Tied too closely to the personality of a guy who, big as he might be in certain sub-cultures, is not at the level of awareness among the game customer base necessary to sell the product based strictly on his name (and reading the interview you linked to – he comes off as arrogant and rather full of himself).

    d). Lastly, the game might not be that great. The one review I checked indicated it was fairly solid in gameplay and gave it great marks for style. I haven’t played it so I withhold judgement on that matter other then to observe there is one shitload of mediocure games out there and industry reviews are often marketing driven rather then consumer-driven…

  • sal m

    Matt when you write,

    “Looking at it from a game design standpoint, there’s no question this title has problems. The combat system is sloppy, some of the tasks/missions are a bit much, and the excessive advertising is annoying.”

    how can you or anyone blame the negative reviews and feelings towards this game as due to anything but the fact that it’s not a good game? For 50 or 60 bucks gamers don’t want to buy a game that has the problems that you mention. I certainly wouldn’t try it based on these issues, and not trying this game has nothing to do with me having a bug up my ass about games that are “urban.”

    and by the way, if gamers don’t like “urban” why has grand theft auto done so well? perhaps because it’s a good game. and is “urban” a euphemism for “black?” are we now using the race card when discussing the merits of video games? i’m not saying you are, i’m just checking.

    gamers should be embarassed for accepting a game strictly because of the premise, not because they reject a game that has major issues that affect gameplay.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    how can you or anyone blame the negative reviews and feelings towards this game as due to anything but the fact that it’s not a good game?

    Aside from excessive marketing, I could find the same exact flaws in GTA, and that title reguarly recieves near-perfect scores.

    and by the way, if gamers don’t like “urban” why has grand theft auto done so well?

    Simple. GTA set a standard, and anything that doesn’t live up to it, they don’t want to play. Gamers are creatures of habit. For as repetitive as games are, they have to be. The problem is that if any of that changes, they have a rough timee accepting it.

    and is “urban” a euphemism for “black?”

    Not really. I think the term came up to describe something like GTA a little qucker than typing out Grand Theft Auto-like everytime.

    Deano:

    a). Constrained in some respects due to the content (i.e. won’t be seeing it in Wal-Mart anytime soon)

    Australia is the only place to give the game distribution problems. You’ll have no trouble finding a copy at Wal-Mart.

    The genre is rapidly becoming the next big cliche.

    I agree, but that doesn’t make an excuse for not at least trying it before bitching about it.

    is not at the level of awareness among the game customer base

    I think it’s the opposite. I think most of the public is aware of him, and that’s the reason they’re staying away. Again, they’re not judging the game fairly.

    d). Lastly, the game might not be that great.

    Most of the reviews have been quite high, IGN really loving it with a super high score. It’s a solid game, not perfect, but a solid game.

  • sal m

    GTA set a standard so that gamers now know that they don’t have to accept any game that is below the standard…for $50 or $60 why should we accept less…i don’t buy games to be charitable to the developers,designers, etc…i don’t go to a restaurant that is below the standard of a good restaurant just to go. if i’m spending the same amount of money for a meal i want the best meal i can get, and the same goes for a game.

    you may feel getting up and gta share the same flaws, but you are definitely in the minority with regards to this view.

    the score averages for getting up and the recent gta game are about 20 points difference. getting up has had some bad reviews, but it got many good to decent reviews as well. the acclaim for gta has been universal.

  • http://www.breakingwindows.com Matt Paprocki

    GTA set a standard so that gamers now know that they don’t have to accept any game that is below the standard

    That’s like saying no movies after Citizen Kane are worth watching. Maybe not all of them live up to it, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be entertaining.

    you may feel getting up and gta share the same flaws, but you are definitely in the minority with regards to this view.

    Um, no. While I haven’t played San Andreas, the targeting system in VC and III was awful. It’s not even debateable really. It sucked, but people overlooked it because of how fresh the games were. They’re BAD games. They’re the Mortal Kombat of this generation. They do something new, something shocking, and people ignore that as a game, they’re not that great.

    However, GTAs are open ended, and that changed a lot for some people. Now, since a lot of “urban” games aren’t (I really do hate that term personally), they’re unfairly judged if they’re linear. That’s wrong.

    the score averages for getting up and the recent gta game are about 20 points difference. getting up has had some bad reviews, but it got many good to decent reviews as well. the acclaim for gta has been universal.

    You can look at scores all day, but the only thing that matters is the text. I can assure you there’s a lot of hostility being tossed around at Ecko’s game simply because of who he is.

  • http://www.acpgaming.com Jason “Njiska” Westhaver

    I’ll stick to my original though.

    He’s right. He’s an asshole for saying it, but he is right.

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