Digital Storefronts and Soul-Death Retrograde Collectibles

Digital Storefronts and Soul-Death

Oye Beltalowda! There may be some spoilers in here about The Expanse.

Trust me, kopeng- I am not a fan of Telltale-style narrative games. Don't get me wrong, I adore story. I love narrative. I actually prefer narrative. But these games are historically not exactly fun from the perspective of 'interactive' content. They are often very on-rails, slow-burn to a fault and rarely let the story breathe within the space it occupies as a game.

For one glorious moment, I was geeked about a Telltale-style game. While I'm always falling off the fence when it comes to Telltale games, I am no fence-sitter on the topic of The Expanse. Last year (I think it was last year? Covid has everything so space-time-compressed and I've lost track of the calendar) they announced that The Expanse had a video game adaptation on the horizon. A prequel, centered on Camina Drummer, who is without a doubt one of the coolest characters in science fiction, and it was going to be a narrative-heavy game. 

The notion of playing a game, as Camina Drummer, the polyamorous space pirate turned military-and-union-leader is fucking choice. It's brilliant. She's got a mysterious past, the strongest eyeshadow-and-eyeliner-wing game in the solar system, and absolutely legendary presence for command. 

And it looked GOOD. Like- somehow Deck 9 has built a Telltale-esque game that looks awesome graphically, looks like it has animations that work, and in a universe that truly merits a degree of choice and exploration.

And then, it happened-

Epic Store Exclusive.

So much for a degree of choice.

This has to be stopped. I know it's easy to bring console war rhetoric to the web, and to PC gaming platforms- but I finally discovered a new line in the sand. 

There are some IPs that are proven- you can get away with exclusivity. You can get away with gating it on a certain platform, knowing that the world is drooling to bite into that sweet-meat it when it comes to their platform of choice. But while games like Sony-exclusives or huge third party IPs like Final Fantasy can survive in isolation, there are some IPs, that while brilliant, do not have the following that they deserve.

A bit of entertainment media may be truly brilliant in hind-sight, but when it needs to be seen the most- those brief shining moments where upfront numbers matter- they get ignored. Or worse- poorly marketed or meddled with.

Properties like Hannibal, Pushing Daisies, Firefly, hell-- even the Expanse itself-- these were all IPs that were ended before they could wrap. Season 3 was the last season of the Expanse on SyFy before Amazon picked it up. And it was a critical darling for them. The show was doing well, but it was still too costly to keep producing and marketing.

When your IP is obscure, or even obscure-ish, visibility is everything. And when you partition that potential visibility behind platform exclusivity, you gate it worse and suddenly, those upfront sales numbers look terrible.

People who make decisions about viable profitability consistently learn the wrong lessons from kneejerk reactions. Corporate executives siphon pennies off the dollar to ensure their bottom lines are ripe for shareholder bonuses. And products like The Expanse get left on the cutting room floor.

Now, it may be obvious by starting this post with that Lang Belta patois-

I'm a pretty big fan of The Expanse. The show was brilliant. The books are amazing. The graphic novels are thrilling and gorgeous. And the game looks like it could be an absolutely emotional and ambient thrill. 

But seeing the potential absolutely squandered for more people to enjoy this universe that I've loved for years saddens me. I don't want to lose the opportunity to revisit these characters and worlds just because someone had enough money to buy the exclusive rights to a game to pad their quarterly numbers.

I really wanted to enjoy this on my SteamDeck. I really wanted this one to be something I could play on-the-go, and keep off of my consoles.

But now I'm concerned if I don't buy it on Epic, it sends a message to the publishers that there's no value in The Expanse. I believe in putting my money where my mouth is, and voting with my wallet. I'm fine with that. But when I'm not allowed to vote at my polling place, or even in the same area I live- it's hard to make my vote count. 

Sa sa ke? 

- Alex // RGC

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