Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
24 January 2006
Dan Matkowsky (of GameFam) responds on GameTap
Dan Matkowsky has responded to my post criticizing his review of GameTap. A few points he made deserve a reply.

I wrote this paragraph in my criticism of Dan's review, and Dan thought it was about GameTap and pricing:
Why isn't it obvious that some games simply demand a premium to play them? Isn't this true of other goods and services? Food, cars, furniture, even sporting events and theater performances. What's the disconnect here?
Actually, I'm railing against ROM-mongering, a common theme on this site. Dan's GameTap review seemed to be giving a sly wink to downloading ROMs of games you can't find elsewhere legally, and with this reader comment in mind, I was saying that if you want certain games you're just going to have to pay the piper.

Dan's review said that GameTap didn't live up to its promise since the game selection wasn't as strong as he'd hoped. I think that faulting GameTap for what games they don't offer is a weak criticism, and said as much. Dan defends his stance, citing what GameTap says in their advertisements:
Even if GameTap doesn't explicitly promise "every game ever made playing bug-free on my PC for less than $15 a month" to the customer, then their marketing certainly implies something pretty close to it.

Look at their slogans:

"Expand Your Playground" & "New World of Videogames"

There's a huge implied promise in them thar words.
The promise there is to expand the range of games I can play, and indeed their service does that. We'd all like access to every game ever made, but I don't see anything close to that in these slogans.

Dan's review of GameTap says that he couldn't use a PlayStation 2 Dual Shock controller to play Splinter Cell or Robotron: 2084. I responded only to the bit about Splinter Cell, but the dual joysticks were important to Dan's claim. His response to my criticism says:
I've yet to come across anyone who can say that Eugene Jarvis' futuristic tour de force is the same game without the double joystick controls.
I can agree with that, but my complaint was elsewhere. Here's the relevant portion of Dan's original review:
...it's nice to have the option of a USB controller, which GameTap so thoughtfully allows.

However, the controller just doesn't work for some games. For Splinter Cell, my DualShock 2 controller isn't recognized, and for Robotron 2084, a game that legally requires the player to use the right joystick/thumbstick to shoot, that functionality is sadly missing.

In email, Dan has clarified that he used a real PlayStation 2 Dual Shock controller with a USB adaptor in his tests. Then the first GameTap glitch Dan addresses is that a Windows PC game does not work correctly with a PlayStation 2 Dual Shock controller. I would have been a bit surprised if it had worked.

But whose fault is it that it doesn't work? It's not GameTap's fault, since they're just a service provider. According to Ubisoft's support pages for Splinter Cell (for PC):
Unfortunately, Splinter Cell PC does not provide support for Game Pads or Joysticks.
Granted, this controller issue is not the crux of the review, but it isn't a huge glitch in GameTap either.

I also thought Dan's issue with the time involved downloading large games was weak. He was writing as a parent and noting that kids aren't going to be rational about download times. Ok, I hear where you're coming from. I know this irrationality from my own child.

However, download times are simply a fact of life for download services. It strikes me as saying "download services suffer because they involve downloads." Maybe other people are shocked that the process is time-intensive, but it's rather obvious from where I'm sitting.

Ok, that's enough poking. Dan can take me to task again, if the mood strikes him. As Bob said to me earlier, "in the end, you don't actually disagree on anything substantive, and everything else is quibblery". All I ask is that folks remember: this ain't Milk of Human Kindness Gamer and that dude at the top of the page ain't pleased.
--Matt Matthews at 10:30
Comment [ 4 ]

Comments on this post:

And to think, you wanted to get rid of the curmudgeon at the top of the page.

For shame!

By Anonymous zachary, at 24 January, 2006 14:04  

We all have our lapses, zakk. When you spend 30 seconds doodling in GIMP, you don't expect it to be used for years...

By Blogger jvm, at 24 January, 2006 14:04  

And that is what they said about timedoctor.org.

By Anonymous zachary, at 24 January, 2006 17:48  

Yes, dual stick Robotron is best....

But only if it's dual DIGITAL sticks. The GC Robotron is passable because of the cardinal and diagonal trenches, but it's still not perfect.

(By the way, why don't other consoles include those? Did Nintendo get a damn patent on them or something?)

By Blogger JohnH, at 25 January, 2006 03:51  

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