Saturday, December 31, 2011

GotY is a lot harder, this year.

At first, I thought it was just me. I've narrowed down my list, of course. Five or six games are reasonable contenders for Game of the Years, 2011.

Dead Space 2, which dropped in January, is still very high on my list. It is a wonderful total-package game, with phenomenal presentation, fantastic pacing, exemplary art direction, refined mechanics and wonderful sound design. I am, frankly, amazed it's not on more folks' GotY rundowns.

Portal 2, thankfully, is still getting the praise it deserves this far from its launch - but let us remind ourselves, that was a supernaturally well-constructed experience.

inFamous 2 is, without question, the funnest game of the year for me. It's also gorgeous. It also has incredible music and story presentation and impressive tech. There almost nothing I can point out in inFamous 2 that's a genuine flaw.

Dead Island may not have lived up to the emotional hype of its ridiculawesome trailer, but it stole the show in September from big names like Resistance 3 and Gears of War 3, for me. The game's atmosphere at its shockingly wonderful combat cemented it as one of the most remarkable titles of the year.

Batman: Arkham City is, like Dead Space 2 and Portal 2, an incredibly well-constructed machine. It is polished to a mirror shine, and it still gives me warm-and-fuzzies to acknowledge that a licensed property - and Batman, of all things - is actually one of the best games to drop in 2011.

Finally, Skyrim is the game everyone expected to get all the Game of the Year nods - and it has, in places - but not all. There's actually been a touch of backlash against Skyrim because it is not, in fact, a 10/10 title, and is, in fact, riddled with bugs that render it nigh-unplayable.

Is Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception the single best game of the year?

Unlike other years, it's not an easy call in 2011. Usually you can check out your five favorite gaming sites and they will all agree on the five best games of the year, and generally the single GotY.

Not this year. This year there is simply too much awesome, and what it seems to come down to is personal preference - or who was able to make the most moving speech in their choice's defense, when sitting around the editors' table

Here's the problem - Eurogamer, GameSpot and GameTrailers aren't necessarily wrong when they each pick a different game as their GotY. Portal 2 and Skyrim and Uncharted 3 may all be the best game of the year - if that makes any sense. In the past weeks I've had friends come up to me and ask what the best game of 2011 is - and instead of just rattling off a single name, I have to pose them a question;
"Well, that depends on what you're looking for."
The best games of 2011 are so disparate. They view each other across massive expanses of design, structure and mechanics. How do you compare them when they're largely incomparable? This is like choosing the world's most delicious apple over the best orange that's ever been plucked from Florida's foliage.

It will, I suppose, come down to my own opinion - what my favorite games of 2011 are - but I fear that would be doing you something of a disservice.

Take Uncharted 3, for example. It's got fantastic gameplay and mind-blowing presentation, but its structure and narrative design really hampered my ability to enjoy it as a game.

To be honest, I wouldn't even put it in the running for GotY - but watching GameTrailers' explain why they gave Uncharted 3 their GotY, I found them hard to disagree with. It is gorgeous and it does have fantastic gameplay and its narrative pacing is exemplary - I agree with them, even while I would never give it a similar nod.

2011 has been an absolutely stellar year for gaming, and as such that makes pointing to a single title as the best game to release in the past twelve months a near-impossible task.

I will do it, of course. It's the end of the year, and that's what one does - but before I do, let me offer this; if you want to play the best 2011 had to offer on the PS3, buy these nine games:

Beautiful blogs!

On the sidebar, you will find a section called Sidebar-Worthy Blogs. These are blogs that have been found worthy. Worthy of being on my sidebar.

I updated it last night.

Blame The Lag is the blog of a fellow I only know as Professor Snugglesworth, and I credit it with inspiring me to start thegamesofchance - as such, it will forever have a place on my sidebar. Snuggles has gone on to write for Armchair Empire, I think, and his stuff makes for insightful reading.

You may've noticed that I've removed Leigh Alexander's blog, Sexy Videogameland, from the bar. This is not because Leigh has made any missed steps, but simply because (A) I don't read that blog any more - like, at all - and (B) she's Leigh fucking Alexander, editor at Gamasutra, contributor to countless other media outlets and general industry big-shot. She doesn't need more people linking to her, or my endorsement. Instead, I choose to focus on blogs from folks like me - regular dudes (and dudettes), who ain't gettin' paid.

Let's move on to anniversaries, shall we?

(Almost) precisely one year ago today, Mogs started Kupowered. Happy almost-one-year-anniversary, Mogs!

When he first started writing, I was like - "hm, this is pretty good - big, meaty posts you can really sink your teeth into - but can he keep it up?"

Well, a full year later, he has totally kept it up. Mogs' work is definitely worth checking out as he - like me - very much has his own tastes. He'll give you a heads-up about interesting indie games and little-known fare (he was talking about Ghost Trick before anyone else), and if you want to know which Yakuza game stands out or which Dynasty Warriors is a bit handsomer than the others, he's the one to ask - and he certainly has more insight into game music than I do.

It's his custom to do a post every day (doubly impressive, given the size of them - I certainly can't reproduce that), and only inclement weather slows him down.

Here's to you, Mogs!

Infinite Backlog is the blog of Chamberlain, a masochistic fellow who willingly subjects himself to the worst gaming has to offer, and so provides the warm-and-fuzzy confidence that I was right not to play most of the crap he does. He started it two years and one day ago, but I only discovered it halfway through this year.

He doesn't (often) do a post every day, but let's be honest - I'll be you sometimes wish I didn't post every day, and just saved it for when I actually had something reasonably interesting to say. Chamberlain does have something interesting to say every time he posts, and I suggest you add it to your reading list.


A big official welcome back to All Games Beta!

Surrounded in mystery, All Games Beta has a long and storied history. Who runs it? Who knows - but it could be someone going by Endless. They never write a word, beyond the occasional post title - All Games Beta consists entirely of images, art, embedded videos, the occasional magazine scan and full, official press releases from publishers.

It is gaming media with all the chaff cut away. It's pure information - without questionably valuable 'words words words' like you get, well, here.

Bookmark that shit.

* * *

Happy New Year's, everyone! Here's to 2012 kickin' the shit out of 2011!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of 2011 - gameplay.

This, for me, is always the easiest category to call. That's not to say it's a shallow category - clever design, original mechanics, depth of play are all at work, behind the scenes - but it merely boils down to one question: is it fun?

That's not to say that many games missing from this list aren't fun - Skyrim, Deus Ex, Killzone 3, Alice and Shadows of the Damned are all fun and Dead Space 2 is an absolute blast - but you won't find them listed here. Here you will find games that, when you strip away all the window-dressing, all the context for your action, are games that are sublime in their moment-to-moment interactions with the player. Games that are remarkably fun.

In a climate of ever-increasing production values, clever hooks and annoying gimmicks, these are games that simply feel good in the hand. There is a comfort, here - something that is, dare I say, wholesome - that allows the player to effectively ignore the fact that they're playing something, and go a little zen.

As Bart Simpson said, be in the game - but not of the game.

Let's begin.

(and there's a lot of 'em)

You spend half your time in Catherine watching animated cutscenes and negotiating dialogue trees - but the other half is some off-the-wall block-pushing puzzle-platforming shenanigans. As a general rule I don't pursue puzzle games, but Catherine's glossy coat of context and wrist-snapping puzzle play proves strangely thrilling.
"By the time I was nearing the end of the game, the nightmare sequences were both intimidating, fear-inducing monsters of challenge and deeply pleasurable, elegant, meditative exercises. As I wrote this review, I kept hoping I'd come up with a better analogy, but this is the best I've got - everything prior to the end of the game is a montage in which Rocky punches beef carcasses and chugs raw eggs, and the last few stairs are Appollo Creed.

You are Rocky Balboa. You have punched all the cows as drunk all the eggs - and you are ready. You have learned all the tricks and mastered the techniques. When you step into that final ring, yanking, hanging from and pushing blocks has become a second-nature, lightning-fast martial art."

Rage's narrative may have been nonexistent and its much-touted mexatexture tech may have been a bit of a missed step, but it's hard to suggest its first-person shooting offered anything but delicious, comfortable play. Your weapons feel weighty and vital, and just dealing with its clever, bouncing, lethal enemies over the barrel of a gun was a surprisingly old-school pleasure.

Meanwhile, Bulletstorm stepped into the guilty-pleasure shoes left unfilled by Duke Nukem before blowing them off with a four-barreled shotgun. Unlike most first-person shooters, Bulletstorm seems to intentionally break with the cardinal goal of immersion in pursuit of its freakish skillshot system. Whereas, in other first person shooters, your primary goal is simply surviving the onslaught of the enemies hunting you, in Bulletstorm it is to kick the crap out of these guys in the most creative and visually spectacular way possible by leveraging weapons like a grenade-flail launcher, a ground-pounding energy whip and the ability to kick dudes in the face and off a cliff or, say, into a giant cactus.

And yes, it is as fun as that sounds.

Where Catherine's action-puzzling is a lightning-fast, twitchy affair, Portal 2 is less concerned with introducing the early symptoms of arthritis as it is in dancing across your brain pan like a summer rain.

Valve are supernaturally skilled at introducing and layering mechanics at a clip that is constantly, perfectly expanding your toolset. You are often intimidated by the impossible rooms Portal 2 asks you to solve - your lack of understanding teetering uneasily on the brink of frustration before your lenses of thought settle into place and the answer snaps into focus like an old 3D-eye poster. How could I not have seen it before?

Portal 2 offers more 'eureka!' moments than any game this year.

The fact that, in executing the solution you discovered, you jump off hundred-foot towers to shoot into a quantum space hole which will fire you into across an otherwise impassable chasm is just icing on the cake.

Arkham City is a much more elegant cobbling of mechanics than its predecessor. Comfortable, open-world gliding and platforming move way upstage, here, standing proudly just behind the game's centerpiece of kicking the hell out of thirty goons at once.
" one else has ever done combat in the same way as Rocksteady's Batman. It is mechanically unique - which alone should exclude it from success - but it's intensely pleasant, and wonderful to watch.

It's all too rare, that that can be said of a game. It's so different, yet it succeeds. Batman's combat is deeply different - mechanically, emotionally unique - while managing to be exceedingly fun, flashy and rewarding. Rocksteady deserves a standing ovation for that alone."

honorable mentions

I wasn't exactly easy on Uncharted 3 in the review - in fact, I took it to task for spending too much time away from "its cornerstone cover-based shooting" - but that doesn't meanUncharted 3 doesn't have phenomenal cover-based shooting.
"The franchise's shooting has never been so refined and rewarding, with vicious enemies sporting heavy calibers and eagle eyes. Once one is deeply comfortable with all the mechanics Uncharted 3 offers, its shootouts become an incredible action movie simulator with a great deal of depth for those who would seek greater understanding of its systems."
Uncharted 3's combat is breathless, and beautiful. It's so finely-tuned that, if you find yourself not entirely focused on the task of survival, it will kick you right in the nuts and push you overboard. It's viciously fast-paced, with gunshots and grenades coming at you from all angles - but built into it are all these delicious tools to pull off some awesome sequences.

When you're surrounded by goons, all spitting bullets and explosives, your screen splattered in red against a monochrome view, you may be struck by momentary panic. A grenade slaps into the sand next to you, and Drake gasps "oh no no no" before you nail the perfect timing on a toss-back - "present for ya!" and the explosive sails right where you aimed it, into the face of a nearby shield-wielding beast. With that taken care of, you leap from cover, spraying wild lead in one direction while running in the other to take a flying leap at an unawares foe and crack him in the jaw with your mighty Uncharted-dude fist. Grab his ammo. Take cover. Take aim. Make this one count.

Uncharted 3 - thanks in no small part to deeply thoughtful mechanics and fantastically responsive controls - is quite possibly the best action-movie simulator I've ever seen.

Dark Souls does not, at first, impress upon you that it is an action game. Its weapons, with their seemingly bare-bones variety of attacks, doesn't seem to offer enough options for offense. Its restrictive weight system - which will slow you to heavy, plodding gait when decked out in plate - seems to flatly punish you for wanting defense against its nightmare creatures.

So it seems - but it's not asking too much, you'll find. It simply has some rather realistic and well-defined rules. Rules like, for example, a heavy sword takes longer to swing than a tiny one, and it can't, say, cut through a wall, but will instead uselessly clang off the stonework.

It expects you to figure this out right quick. 'Cause if you don't, it'll kill you.

Instead of handing you the ability to kick the crap out of an army, it asks you to first get really, really good at killing just one tiny enemy - who will, if you let it, rip your head off and throw it from a cliff.

"I did it!" you'll proclaim proudly. "He didn't touch me!"

Good, Dark Souls will say in return. Now kill two at once. And that will shut you right up. The game builds on its expectations of you - and soon, your expectations of yourself - until you are consistently, repeatedly achieving what once seemed impossible.
"Dark Souls is a hard teacher. Cruel, even - but never unfair. It will crush and maim and burn you. It will eat you and impale you - and gently suggest you get it right next time - and when you come out the other side, you are not a frightened and abused little knight, trembling at the dark.

You stand proud, your feet planted firmly - a trusted piece of steel gripped tight. You have seen the worst this beautiful and terrible world has to offer, and you have defeated it.

You can defeat anything. You had a great teacher."


There are two games this year which, upon completing them, I had to use the word "fun" about fifteen times in each attempt to explain my position. Dead Island - badly-written, poorly-voiced, graphically sub-par with its infuriating system of auto-saves - is one of them, thanks to its deliriously delicious combat.

Ever since I first shot mecha-Hitler in Wolfenstein 3D almost twenty years ago, I've been waiting for a game that really nailed first-person melee combat. This, my friends, is it. It is so good, it takes what is usually the most boring part of many RPGs and turns it into the part you're constantly looking forward to.
"Here, one shrugs and accepts the amateurish narrative because it is the thing that permits you to wander off into its world and get in awesome fights with zombies - and these fights are awesome.

Lose your head and they are a frantic, panicked affair - desperately swinging your bludgeon at a swarm of grasping, cold and rotting hands that will tear you limb from limb in two shakes of a lamb's tail. Keep your cool and you are a grim reaper of dead souls.

You often see them long before they see you, and can plan your attack. Fools rush in, as they say, and staying alive is about staying in control of the situation. It's about managing the crazy, screaming, dashing Infected and the shambling Walkers. It's about jump-kicking a dude in the face before you turn around and bring your sledgehammer down on the head of a fallen, living corpse, giving you just enough time to turn a few more degrees and bash another killer into the dirt.

Don't stop. Stay in control. There's more coming. Bring that hammer down again.

It is - when your cool is kept - elegant, practiced, and deliciously savage. When a pack of six zombies rush you and you walk away without a scratch, a bloody mess in your wake, it's one of the most satisfying, rewarding feelings I've had with a Dualshock."
Dead Island has effectively redefined what I'm prepared to demand of any first-person game, never mind an open-world one. It is the game I'm constantly trying to convince people about - a special, thrilling experience I've discovered nowhere else.

First-person zombie bludgeoning. Who knew?

best gameplay
of 2011

"inFamous 2 may not be perfect, but it is without question the most fun I've had with a video game since... well, I'm actually having trouble thinking of an example."
-from the review-
Six months later, the above statement holds true. I wonder if it's a personal preference thing, but I am unable to conceive of the human being who can't adore the fundamental pleasures of a wonderful platformer - and this is the straight-up funnest platformer I've ever played.

Sucker Punch have been fine-tuning their mechanics since Sly debuted nine years ago, and launching one's self from a power line to slap into a rooftop, rolling to absorb the shock before emerging into a flat run and flying off the building to touch lightly down on a lamp post has never been more sublime.

There is something infinitely wholesome about these mechanics, and their slick, precise execution here. It just feels good to play it.

inFamous 2 brings to mind days long past, when one found themselves absorbed entire not in the spectacle or the story or the stats of a game's systems, but the act of playing. One can be consumed by inFamous 2's gleeful offer to just play. Just run around - this world is your jungle gym - and while you're up there, climbing around, you may as well chuck some balls of concentrated energy at evil-doers.

By combining their ultra-refined, gorgeously responsive platforming with crashy, flashy, impactful electric third-person shooting, Sucker Punch have crafted one of the greatest action experiences in recent memory.

It's a gorgeous, well-written, technologically impressive, artistically pleasing, beautiful-sounding triple-A title - but that's not why I love it so.

It's because inFamous 2 is easily the funnest game of 2011.

C'mon Blogger! My English is impaccable!


Anyway - it totally annoys me that I'll be writing a post and Blogger will erroneously tell me a word is spelled wrong. I'll be like, "seriously? I was sure 'impactful' was a word. It shouldn't have that red squiggly underline - that shouldn't be. ...I could be wrong, though... I should look this up."

Well, screw you for making me second-guess myself, Blogger! It's a fucking word.

Music - The Heavy - And When I Die.

Hey, I found a song I'd never heard by The Heavy! I love these guys!

I should try to track down any other one-offs they've done.

Ooh, another one!

Ohmigod another one! This is like shooting funky beats in a barrel.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Dragonborn comes (to the antarctic).

A buncha' Darksiders II screens.

You can enlarge all of these.

Prototype 2 TV commercial.

Just four months away!

I wrote a ton of posts this year!

Finally, I broke a thousand posts in a single year. Last year was close - 991 - but yesterday's image of Eddard Stark going over expected weather patterns was 2011's one thousandth post.

How does it feel?

Feels good. I should shoot for 1500 next year.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Ballad of Paul Christoforo: an editorial.

I'm hoping the situation with this dudebro is winding down - I'm getting a little tired of him, myself - but today he tried in his entitled, alpha-male way, to apologize.

As I read through it, the hypocrisy was so delicious I decided to respond to it in my own, limited way - via a blog post.
"I want to clear my name. I want to get these people to stop bothering me."
Yes, it's very hurtful when someone is treated in a disrespectful manner, isn't it? He said he was "caught on a bad day." Given that it took me about thirty seconds of effort to find a second example of Paul treating a totally different fellow with the precise same level of maturity and tact he subjected Dave to - which suggests we have located the tip of a gargantuan iceberg of behavior - I have to wonder if it wasn't so much "a bad day" as "a day I actually dealt with someone who noticed how incredibly badly I treat people."
"It's caused me more annoyance than anything else, but there are some threats and a lot of disrespect."
You aren't actually entitled to respect. He says his biggest mistake was not knowing who Mike Krahulik is.
"I didn't know who that guy at Penny Arcade was. If I had known, I would have treated the situation a little better."
Essentially, if he knew he was going to be held accountable to how he treated that particular person, he wouldn't have been so incredibly immature, insulting and cruel. I suppose.

Though, that doesn't explain why - once he understood who he was dealing with - he went ahead and said "your sites amateur at best my son could put together a better site than yours and you run PAX ?? Wow , Ill put my marketing team on a smear campaign of you and your site and your emails."

Truly, the height of professionalism. In today's apology, he goes on to say
"PAX is a great show. What he does is what I've been idlolizing since I was a kid. It's admirable he's put that together. He has a lot of connections, ones I want too."
I believe that. I entirely believe that what you want is more connections, more power to throw your weight around so you can legitimize, to yourself, treating people like you treated Dave, Mike and Nate back in June.
"He called me a bully, but he was being a bully ... especially when he emailed me out of the blue, saying 'That's f***ing s***ty, you're banned from PAX,' I was like 'Who the f*** are you? That's how you introduce yourself? ... I dont want to call him out, but he could have gone about that a totally different way, he could have said, 'Hey, I run the show, that email was a little unprofessional, if you don't do something to apologize I don't want you at my show.' But he just came at me and said, indirectly, 'Hey, f*** you, you're banned from PAX.' Is that what you'd call professional? I wouldn't."
Actually, after witnessing the insults Paul was throwing at customer Dave, Mike simply said "holy shit this is unbelievable. Dave, if this guy has a booth at Pax east we will cancel it." Because Paul's behavior was completely, entirely obscene.

I'm (not really) sorry, Paul, but when you begin conducting yourself in the way you were, you are no longer entitled to polite professionalism. Dave was being perfectly polite when he began dealing with you, and instead of treating him with any level of courtesy or even manners, you insulting him, his family, his pastime and even his support of the company you represented.

You gave up your right to be treated like a human being when you began treating others as if they were less.
"Not that I don't have respect for anybody, but if someone's badmouthing me or being a little punk or being a jerk, they don't deserve respect."
Precisely - that's why no one's been giving you any for the past two days.
"I trust everybody until they give me a reason not to respect them."
Good, so you understand why your behavior has garnered the reaction it has.
"I'm not a tough guy, not a bully."
Not today, you're not. But given time, I expect you'll find your way back.
"If this didn't get escalated to Penny Arcade, it would have never gone viral like it did. Ultimately, if I was able to control the customer, it never would have happened. I've dealt with thousands and thousands of customers with similar complaints, they were all asking the same question. When is it big enough that it hits the news? When it hits Penny Arcade, when it hits a guy who has the biggest affiliations in the industry."
Yep. It seems your ridiculous abuse of Dave failed to "control" him like it has "thousands and thousands of customers with similar complaints." And Dave was thoughtful enough to drop Penny Arcade a line - and now everyone knows how you behave.

How sad for you.
"At the end of the day, I'm a human being, and it feels like the entire world was bullying me."
...that must feel just awful. I hope you remember that feeling for a very, very long time - and I hope it stays with you every single time you deal with another human being.

In the meantime, let's enjoy some yuks at Paul's expense, courtesy of insurance giant Geico.


And now for the weather.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Two things.

First of all, there was a pretty bare-bones PlayStation Store update today - not much worth mentioning, aside from Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath HD. Stranger's Wrath is a somewhat legendary title - and what I've heard about it makes me seriously want to throw some coin at the PlayStation Network and take a good chew at some classic adventuring.

That said, with Resistance and Rayman still on the table, it would be downright silly of me to jump right into another new game - particularly when it's supposedly getting a Vita release that I could review instead. Will I be able to resist? Time will tell.

* * *

The second thing is that I realize I'm really not happy with the best presentation post. I feel like I really phoned that one in - so hopefully I'll have the gumption over the next few days to revisit it.

That's it for me, folks! G'night!

Ocean Marketing Vs. Dave and Penny Arcade.

So there's this dude named Dave (not me), who ordered a controller, which was due for release in "Early December." For most of us, that would suggest a release date within the first half of the month. When December 16th rolled around, he decided to email the company and ask when he could expect to receive the item he had paid for.

After the individual he deals with becomes more than a bit rude he decides to CC Penny Arcade, Kotaku and others on his reply. Things spiral, and Mike Krahulik (Gabe) decides to speak up when the PR dude mentions PAX.

It ends with the PR dude just going psychotic;
"Your sites amateur at best my son could put together a better site than yours and you run PAX ?? Wow , Ill put my marketing team on a smear campaign of you and your site and your emails , I have about 125 dedicated people to run PR , Blogs , Articles , Videos you have no clue who I am . Thanks again"
The Twitterverse exploded with this story today, and IGN's Scott Lowe - among others - distanced themselves from the PR dude's comments that he had the support of that media outlet.

The PR dude, of course, couldn't help but respond - though he quickly deleted the Tweet. Fortunately, this is the internet - and here's a screenshot;

I'm going to post Gabe's entire blog post, for the sake of posterity. This, precisely, is what went down:

I got an incredible email today from a Penny Arcade reader. Dave shared with me an email chain between him and Ocean Marketing (the folks behind the Avenger controller) Trust me when I tell you that this is one wild ride. I’m serious, Mr. Toad would look at this ride and just give a slow clap while shaking his head. I have tried to arrange this as best I can in chronological order. I’ve also removed email addresses and other private information. So let’s just jump right in, here is Dave’s first mail to Ocean Marketing:

From: Dave
To: Ocean Marketing
Dec 16, 2011, at 1:34 PM

I ordered 2 of the upcoming PS3 controllers (invoice xxxxxxxxx—Nov 3, 2011). Any chance of getting an update of when these items will ship? I’m not really happy about being forced to pay upfront then have the advertised date of “Early December” be completely missed without any sort of update on availability. I really need one of them for a X-mas present as well. Anyways, looking forward to finally using one of these bad boys. Thanks and happy holidays.


From: Ocean Marketing
To: Dave
Dec 16, 2011 2:45 PM

Dec 17

- Paul Christoforo

From: Dave
To: Ocean Marketing
Dec 19, 2011, at 11:02 AM

Thanks for the reply Paul. Can you clarify whether my particular order already sent or if Dec 17 was the first day shipments went out? I have not received any sort of shipping confirmation email or tracking information.

From: Ocean Marketing
To: Dave
Dec 19, 2011 11:21 AM

They still haven’t shipped yet on the way here from china

From: Dave
To: Ocean Marketing
Dec 20, 2011 4:29 PM

So then delivery to customer doors by December 24th is no longer likely correct? Do you have an estimated date of when units will arrive in California? Thanks.

From: Ocean Marketing
To: Dave
Dec 20, 2011 5:11 PM

They are in the USA now in customs so its wither before or after Christmas.

From: Dave
To: Ocean Marketing
Dec 26, 2011, at 9:47 AM

I noticed the updated info on the webpage, and I don’t understand why there is absolutely no benefit given to those like me who have already ordered, and paid their money. You’ve had my money interest free for nearly two months, yet now ANY new order will get $10 off….meaning I should just cancel my order for 2 controllers, get my money back, then re-order.

My other questions is regarding item compatibility. Ocean Marketing seems to be involved with the Xtendplay controller holder, so I was wondering if the Avenger N-Controller can be used in conjunction with the Xtendplay (for both Xbox and PS3)? Thanks

From: Ocean Marketing
To: Dave
Dec 26, 2011 10:14 AM

Yes it can be used with xtend play if you remove the stand and no one is allowed to cancel and re order if we catch anyone doing it we will simply just cancel your order all together and you can buy it retail somewhere else.

Things happen in manufacturing if your unhappy you have 7 days from the day your item ships for a refund. You placed a pre order just like any software title the gets a date moved due to the tweaks and bugs not being worked out and GameStop or any other place holds your cash and im sure you don’t complain to activision or epic games so put on your big boy hat and wait it out like everyone else. The benefit is a token of our appreaciation for everyone no one is special including you or any first time buyer . Feel free to cancel we need the units were back ordered 11,000 units so your 2 will be gone fast. Maybe I’ll put them on eBay for 150.00 myself. Have a good day Dan.

At this point Dave is (I think) understandably frustrated. His next email is sent to me as well as Kotaku and a few other news sites.


From: Dave
To: Ocean Marketing
Dec 26, 2011 12:11 PM

Then cancel my order if you want to. I’m making a legitimate complaint about your poor communication and you’re the one stooping to childish levels, a patronizing attitude, and threats. Hell you can’t even get the spelling of my name right.

And Gamespot pre-orders…wow what a terrible comparison. Retailers take a couple dollars IF THAT for you to guarantee your game availability on the release date, whatever that is. That’s the understanding and that’s what you get. Plus, I don’t have to complain to Activision or Epic games about these issues because they’re usually not missing the street dates for their AAA titles.

Now let’s take YOUR situation:
1) You’ve promised a new product based off the design for an existing, working product
2) For the longest time, you’ve stated on your website (your failure to update regularly is another issue) the initial/special/limited batch of your new product by early December, obviously in time for the all-important holiday gift-giving season. I and thousands of other customers GIVE YOU OUR MONEY, INTEREST FREE on the promises you made online.
3) I reach out to you, on Dec 16 (AFTER you have FAILED TO MEET YOUR ADVERTISED DEADLINE AND FAILED TO COMMUNICATE TO ANYONE WHAT THE SITUATION IS) obviously a little frustrated but more curious about when I and other customers can expect the product we paid for.
4) Your reply to me is a cryptic “Dec 17” with absolutely no explanation of what that means. In the mean time you having been using funds from pre-paid customers to complete Research & Development, product redesigns, and manufacturing mis-steps.
5) You force me to follow-up with an email asking for clarification about what “Dec 17” means since the day has passed and I have yet to receive any new information about my order. Now you instead of ANSWERING MY QUESTION OF WHAT THE NEW DELIVERY DATE IS, you tell me the goods have yet to leave China… Why are you telling me this? I’m not your employee I’m your goddamn customer! TELL ME WHAT THAT MEANS IN TERMS OF MY TIME AND WHEN I CAN EXPECT MY PRODUCT I PAID FOR.
6) So great…I have to email you AGAIN trying to get a CLEAR answer from you whether a Dec 24th delivery date is possible and if not, what the new date is. Rinse & repeat: You give me an update of the delivery process (wow, thanks…you haven’t told me anything I don’t know about the order of international shipping procedures) but instead say “ its wither before or after Christmas.” WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN? GIVE ME A DATE!? One that you’re actually going to follow, because I already see “late Nov to early Dec”; “Dec 17”; and now “CHRISTMAS” in my rear-view mirror.
7) So I guess what’s left for me to do but just wait? Oh but what’s this, you’ve updated your website…Ok at least you’ve clarified the dates more, I can expect my controller my latest first week of January. But now as a “token of our appreciation” to all your “loyal customers” (you mean like customers who put up cash for you hold an use?) you’re giving a $10 coupon. Let me get this straight…so you held my money interest free for 2 months to help bring this product to market, and now some new customer can place an order and pay $10 less than what I paid? You have financially penalized me in two ways for being a “LOYAL CUSTOMER.”

I’m SURE you’re getting tons of other inquiries and I’m sure you’re not enjoying the fact that your product is not out when you wanted it to be. I and everyone else understands that “sh*t happens,” but if you want us to be understanding of that, then you need to keep us in the loop. You’ve already set yourself up for failure by making explicit promises that aren’t even “likely” given that the design and manufacturing are still be refined. Then you make sure you’re going to fail by actually taking all of our money, Not just a little bit….THE WHOLE F*CKIN BEEFALO. Why wouldn’t we trust that you’re going to deliver our merchandise on time? Besides…it’s based off an existing product so how hard can it be? Well as your youtube video shows, making any consumer device is hard and requires many iterations and improvements. But I’m not going to apologize for holding your feet to the fire. You created these expectations by acting like the release was already a done deal and by hiding the fact that it was faaaar from it.

I want my two n-controllers. I 1) PAID FOR THEM 2) WAITED 3) DEALT WITH YOUR UNHELPFUL ASS. I also didn’t want to feel like my trust and loyalty as a customer was being abused and then actually punished in comparison to other customers. But I guess we can’t have it all… so right now I’ll settle for getting my merchandise and hopefully never having to deal with you again. I’ve spent enough time writing this email which I hope you gain some insight from. If you actually do want to screw me over by not fulfilling my order, then I assure you be hearing more from me or people representing me.

You show a surprising lack of business polish for someone who’s quite established, AND an lack of awareness of your customer base: Hardcore gamers. We’re a demanding, vocal customer but the flip side is we’re loyal and eager to spend. It’s lucky for you that I really want this product because it seems really deliver on making the gaming experience more effective and enjoyable. Hell, I want to combine the aventer-controller with the xtend play to make the ugliest, most comfortable, most awesome controller ever. And I’ll still buy the xtend, so let that be a testament to your products, the rise above your poor representation.

-DAVE with a V

p.s. You look really douchy be having one youtube video complaining about the noise of traffic next to your home and then another video showing off your obnoxiously loud rice rocket (which is nice, I gotta hand it ya).

p.p.s. Welcome to the internet, bitch. That’s how I roll.

From: Ocean Marketing
To: Dave
Dec 26, 2011 2:19 PM

LOL Thanks for the Free PR I know the Editor N Chief of Kotaku , IGN , Engadget I’ll be meeting them at CES .The noise complaint was for people high up on the food chain in a corporate world of real estate you have no clue about. Thanks for the Rice Rocket Compliment too love me some motorcycle . Send that over to Engadget you look like a complete moron swearing and sending your customer service complaints to a magazine as if they will post it or even pay attention do you think you’re the first or the last what are they going to do demand us to tell you were your shipment is or ask for a refund on your behalf … Really ... Welcome to the Internet ? Son Im 38 I wwebsite as on the internet when you were a sperm in your daddys balls and before it was the internet, thanks for the welcome to message wurd up. Grow up you look like a complete child bro. I Don’t have my controller so im gonna cry to the world … Really ?? Hey take that free time and do something more productive. All you had to do was check the like everyone else , people have inquired but you’re the douchiest of them all J

To all our pre-order customers looking for information on the status of their orders after a busy couple of months The PS3 Avengers are on their way from our Manufacturing plant overseas. We are aware that everyone is anticipating having their Avengers under their Christmas Tree and were doing our best to get these orders shipped out as fast as possible. We appreciate you as loyal customers and for supporting our company. Customers will start receiving their products this week before Christmas and After Christmas and into the New Year. As a token of our appreciation we are offering all our pre-order customers and new customers 10$ off your next order with us just enter Avenger1001 at Checkout. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

Oh and FYI When a street date gets pushed by a publisher on a video game you pre ordered do you cry to them too ?

You just got told bitch … welcome to the real internet check kotaku in 2 weeks when they are reviewing free PS3 Avengers we send them as well as G4 and all the other majors hell yeah , don’t forget to check Amazon,, play n trade , Myers , Frys and a ton of other local stores coming your way you think you speak for billions son your just a kid you speak for yourself no one cares what you think that’s why were growing and moving 20-50 thousand controllers a month. We do value our customers but sometimes we get children like you we just have to put you in the corner with your im stupid hat on. See you at CES , E3 , Pax East ….? Oh wait you have to ask mom and pa dukes your not an industry professional and you have no money on snap you just got told.

The Pax East comment gets my attention and I decide to engage. I tend to have a calming effect on these sorts of arguments.


From: Mike Krahulik
To: Dave, Ocean Marketing
Dec 26, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Holy shit this is unbelievable. Dave, if this guy has a booth at Pax east we will cancel it.

From: Dave
To: Mike Krahulik
Dec 26, 2011 at 8:53 PM

Hey thanks Mike. It’s truly a shame because I think this device is great for gamers with disabilities and problems. I think of Child’s Play and if anyone’s gonna need greater accessibility when using complicated gamepads…it’s sick kids! Shit man, I’m really gonna feel bad if I think that sick children may somewhere down the line have fewer avenger controllers because I got into a pissing match with a sad old man. Please don’t cancel their booth on my account. As much as I hate this asshole, I still WANT his product and think it should be out there. GAH, I wish I was in a position to make a competing product to really stick it to guy.

From: Ocean Marketing
To: Mike Krahulik
Dec 26, 2011 at 8:54 PM

Hey Mikey,

We’re not renting a booth at pax east this year , bigger and better shows to be at we got nothing from the show . Oh so you know this guy has sold over 500 thousand dollars of product in Dec and is my main distribution arm landing us in GameStop , fry’s , Myers , Best buy , Activision , MLG , play N trade and a lot more . Were in 6 countries and you’re not going to take my money for a booth that’s a crock I can guarantee I’ll get a booth if I want one money buys a lot and connections go even further. He’s a native Bostonian from Little Italy . Who are you again ?

Oh Teh Noes!


From: Mike Krahulik
To: Ocean Marketing
Dec 26, 2011 at 9:08 PM

I am mike krahulik, Pax is my show. Feel free to google me=) I can promise you that you will never have space at any future Pax event.

From: Ocean Marketing
To: Mike Krahulik
Dec 26, 2011 at 9:33 PM

OK Mike whatever you say lol , are you sure hour not in Boston I spoke to the person who ran the show in Boston last year. If you let some little kid influence you over a pre order then we don’t want to be a your show ,Ill be on the floor anyway so come find me , I’m born and raised in Boston I know the people who run the city inside and out watch the way you talk to people you never know who they know it’s a small industry and everyone knows everyone. Your acting like a douchbag not that it matters pax east pax west , e3 , CES , Gamer Con , SSXW ,Comic Con, Germany I’m all over the place. If we want to be there we will be there with industry badges or with a booth you think I can’t team up with turtle beach , Callibur or Koy Christmas , I can’t get Kevin Kelly to pull some strings or G4 , Paul Eibler Ex CEO of take 2 , Rich Larocco Konami , Cliff Blizinski Epic who were working with on a gears version , Activision who were working with on a MW3 and Spider man Bundle , The Convention Center Owners themselves , Mayor of Boston come on Bud you run a show that’s all you do and lease a center in Cities you have no pull in its all about who you know not what you do. I’ll see space where ever I want , with who I want when I want and where I want so many ways around you and so many connections in this industry its silly. Anyway , I have no issue with you Sean Buckley Engadget, Scott Lowe IGN and the list goes on and on. Little kids unhappy with a PRE ORDER starting trouble and you email that to us , he’s a customer unless you’re his boyfriend then you should side with the company not the customer. Be Careful

From: Mike Krahulik
To: Ocean Marketing
Dec 26, 2011 at 9:40 PM

I do run Pax, but I also run a website called penny arcade. It’s kinda popular.

From: Ocean Marketing
To: Mike Krahulik
Dec 26, 2011 at 9:41 PM

Love penny Arcade !!

From: Mike Krahulik
To: Ocean Marketing
Dec 26, 2011 at 9:42 PM

I’m glad you like it! You will be on it tomorrow:)

From: Ocean Marketing
To: Mike Krahulik
Dec 26, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Great !! Love PR

From: Ocean Marketing
To: Mike Krahulik
Dec 26, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Mike I’m not trying to fight with you I’m really not , you should give me the benefit of the doubt before judging over one person’s bitching . Did I feed into his emails a little bit too much yeah ok . But it’s one person dude for real. No disrespect intended for you , My name is good in this industry and I know a lot of people. I’ll be at CES are you going ?

From: Mike Krahulik
To: Ocean Marketing
Dec 26, 2011 at 9:47 PM

Please remove me from this mailing list

From: Ocean Marketing
To: Mike Krahulik
Dec 26, 2011 at 9:57 PM

Your spamming me you’re not on a mailing list you idiot ! You sent me an email remember . Make sure you stir up a lot of controversy about us the more the better we needed some drama gets good blood flow going about the new product launch . Your sites amateur at best my son could put together a better site than yours and you run PAX ?? Wow , Ill put my marketing team on a smear campaign of you and your site and your emails , I have about 125 dedicated people to run PR , Blogs , Articles , Videos you have no clue who I am . Thanks again

I can’t wait for the Penny Arcade smear campaign!

Oh and I’ll just leave this here:

-Gabe out

Ocean Marketing Paul Christoforo on Twitter - @OceanMarketting

* * *

Ooh, here's a whole 'nother conversation with the guy "helping" a different customer back in June. He is just priceless.

[update] Paul Christoforo has been effectively burned at the stake, and the company that makes the Avenger controller have announced that they are no longer represented by Ocean Marketing. In the meantime, hilarious YouTube folks have already satirized the situation:

Nice. [/update]