[NOTE: There is a mildly NSFW image included in this posting (for illustrative and educational purposes, of course!). Still, if your boss frowns upon pixelated boobs, best not to go past the jump / scroll down until they’re out to lunch…]
Those few of you who read articles on The Satellite Show that aren’t involved in writing them may not be aware that the default category for new postings is termed “Puffery”. Believe it or not, this is an actual legal term used in courts of law, and “refers to promotional statements and claims that express subjective rather than objective views, which no reasonable person would take literally.” The U.S. Federal Trade Commission defines it as a “term frequently used to denote the exaggerations reasonably to be expected of a seller as to the degree of quality of his product, the truth or falsity of which cannot be precisely determined.”
Puffery in the legal sense is something that the FTC does not consider to fall under the definition of deceptive or false claims, which is why every weekend we are informed that five different films are “THE #1 MOVIE IN AMERICA!”, and why there are uncounted food establishments out there offering up the “WORLD’S FINEST HAMBURGER!”. I could go out right now and order up a thousand fliers proclaiming Zombie Ranch to be the best webcomic in the whole universe, the Alpha and Omega, world without end, amen, and hand them out, and if you buy an issue and then happen to think it sucks, you can’t sue me for false advertising. It’s the murky realm of subjective opinion mixed with the mass media version of the guy yelling at you from his market stall that his hookah pipes are the best you will ever find.
Then we get to the journalistic sense of puffery, from which the term “puff piece” derives: “an article or story of exaggerating praise that often ignores or downplays opposing viewpoints or evidence to the contrary.” A lot of reviews out there are accused, rightly or wrongly, of being puff pieces. Right now, I’m about to review a couple of predictions I made over the last year, and how they appear to be coming true… and seeing as how I’m making little effort to not bask in being right (or point out others who made the same forecasts), I’d say it’s time to leave the poor, neglected default category for this post right as it is. Sure, it might be peripherally about geek topics, but in the end, it’s pure puffery.
Prediction #1: “Free To Play” is the Future of MMOs
I wrote this article last September talking up my time with Everquest 2 Extended, and my surprise at just how robust the experience was despite being absolutely no impact on my wallet (beyond, of course, what I might be willing to shell out for extra content). The Free To Play, Pay To Customize MMO model had started to hit the big time, with Dungeons & Dragons Online, EQ2, and Lord of the Rings Online all having adopted it at the time of my post. And looking at how friendly the scaling content model was towards both casual and hardcore players, not to mention how the integration of official, developer-managed stores was a “gold farming” killer, I pondered: “is this the future”?
Well, let’s look at what’s happened since amongst the established major MMOs:
– Champions: Online went F2P in January, which I documented here.
– Age of Conan went F2P just this past 4th of July weekend.
– The venerable City of Heroes will be going F2P at their next big patch release, possibly as soon as this month.
There’s been some other alternate developments along the way, such as Warhammer Online’s “Endless Trial”, but for the most part the tiered play / micro-transaction model is being adopted. It also appears to be working out quite well, to where even the lead designer of World of Warcraft didn’t consider it forever out of the question… even if this article’s content doesn’t quite measure up to its inflammatory title.
Now on the other hand, there have been major new releases such as DC Universe Online and Rift that hew to the ancient model of subscription or bust, but time will tell how well that works out for them when the competition is free.
Also, at least one of those examples of competition is now Age of Conan, a game featuring bloody deaths and exposed, nippled boobies. With no credit card involved, and a simple matter of answering “Why yes, I am over 18!” when the sign-up asks.
Prediction #2: The Geek Bubble, She Is Bursting
My other bit of prophecy comes courtesy of this January post I made wondering if and when Hollywood might wise up to the fact that they don’t need to succeed at San Diego Comic-Con for their movies to be hits. I pointed out that Scott Pilgrim was a Comic-Con darling that utterly failed in the mainstream, while Avatar was the laughingstock of SDCC ’09 but went on to make such a ludicrous amount of money it sparked a whole new cycle of industry-wide 3D gimmickry.
Since I’m in the midst of rampant puffery, I’m going to just come right out and claim the credit/blame for the news that broke starting last month.
The shine is off. No longer are these studios going to break their backs getting a promotion ready for Comic-Con “just because”, although in some cases there’s an ulterior motive above and beyond just recognizing that geeks are, at best, a vocal minority of the ticket buying public. For example, one new Southern California convention I didn’t bring up in my blog of two weeks ago is the fledgling but high-powered D23. What is D23? It started in 2009 as an exhibition celebrating all things Disney… then it skipped 2010, but now, it’s back, and it’s set for just one month after Comic-Con.
Why is this a big deal? Well, for one thing, remember who owns Marvel these days. For all the talk from Marvel Studios that they “just don’t have anything ready to really offer” the fans at San Diego in regards to properties like the Avengers movie, or that they had trouble getting hotel rooms, I remain convinced that any day now we’re going to see an announcement of all sorts of D23 Avengers exclusives. They already have a 90 minute Marvel comics panel penned in for Sunday in their schedule.
We could see this as similar to how the Blizzard Entertainment presence at Comic-Con has gotten smaller and smaller over the years, as BlizzCon has gotten larger and larger. But you suck World of Warcraft out of Comic-Con and a lot of people’s reaction was probably “good riddance”. You suck Marvel Comics out of Comic-Con, and that’s something entirely different… so hopefully any sucking that’s to be done remains confined to the movies.
Maybe I should rephrase that.
But anyhow, thus ends the puffery. Except to say that this was the best blog of all time, in the history of ever. ‘Cuz you can’t prove otherwise.