OPINION: Our US reporter Chris Smith praises Amazon for the epic calamity that was Prime Day, looks at how OnePlus is making the tiresome pre-launch process more enjoyable and how Season Passes are shifting the value proposition of video games. Also, why Netflix needs more OITNB and less of everything else...
Amazon Prime Day: The most successful s**tfest ever
Amazon is tickled pink about the success of Prime Day, and so it should be. It hoodwinked everyone into buying every scrap of junk it had clogging up its cupboard under the stairs! It was the world’s crappiest garage sale and we all loved it.
I’d like to call this ‘bigger than Black Friday’ extravaganza an absolutely unmitigated disaster… but clearly it was anything but. Need proof? Amazon sold 10,000 Meguiar’s X2020 Supreme Shine Microfiber Towels and 28,000 Rubbermaid 42-Piece Easy Find Lid Food Storage Sets… in one day!
Of course, for consumers thinking they were about to get the deals of the decade, it was the biggest letdown since that one guy decided it would be a good idea to watch The Phantom Menace, Indy IV and The Matrix Reloaded on the same day.
Yes, it was a huge disappointment in terms of quality deals, but it didn’t stop us buying junk by the veritable warehouse load, did it? It’s almost as if we collectively said, “Well, we're here now, we have to buy something, right?”
Personally, I’m pretty pumped that my Lord Of The Rings Complete Trilogy Blu-ray (Extended Editions, Whut! Whuuuut!) is arriving tomorrow. Now to get the Blu-ray player out of storage… Where is that thing again?
OnePlus puts two and two together with the longest product reveal ever
No-one seems to have a good word to say about OnePlus dripfeeding us the specs for its new smartphone, the long-awaited OnePlus 2. Admittedly, it’s turning into the most drawn-out product launch in the history of tech, but it still feels quite refreshing.
For years we’ve reported – and you’ve read – about product leaks. In the months leading up to a big release it allows us all to slowly build up a picture of what we think the device might be. Sometimes the leaks are on the money, other times they’re utter conjecture. By the time the product rolls around we’re either underwhelmed that the reports were proved correct or disappointed the highfalutin speculation was nowt but.
With OnePlus, we’re getting facts on a weekly basis, with the manufacturer explaining why it's chosen a certain spec and how it will benefit the user. As a result, anticipation builds rather than hope. As consumers you can actually start to make purchase plans before the launch event.
Surely this is better than dodgy leaked components, spec sheets or blurry photos mined from Chinese social media sites? As a journalist I’m sick of chucking the proverbial "pinch of salt" on these reports and I’m sure you’re sick of reading about them too. Let’s enjoy dealing in facts for a change, shall we?
The dangers of giving game studios a free pass over DLC content
This week Rocksteady Games announced it was releasing more exclusive content for holders of its £33/$40 Season Pass for Batman: Arkham Knight.
Those who forked over the extra cash, beyond the £45/$60 they paid for the game, get to play in Michael Keaton’s Batsuit and drive around in his Batmobile. Well, whoop-de-frigging-do!
I know it’s all part of a bigger package involving new story missions, race tracks and additional characters like Batgirl, but it feels like these skins should be something that’s unlocked as a reward for those who’ve bought and enjoyed the game, rather than used as a mechanism to fleece those who’ve already forked over a significant sum to play the game (and probably the two before it as well).
When you think about it, paying to play in a different Batsuit is no different from EA Sports asking you to pay extra to play in your team’s away kit in FIFA. (Shhh! Don’t give them any ideas!)
No-one expects studios and publishers to just hand over a ton of additional content for free once their initial hard work on the game is complete. They should be rewarded for providing added value for gamers that improves the title's longevity.
However, the average gamer is completing the main Arkham Knight story in just 14 hours (as per Howlongtobeat) so let's focus on the value before the added value, eh? This isn’t some freemium mobile game where you should be charged to access anything beyond the absolute minimum; it's a triple-A experience. Ask yourself this: Is this Season Pass really worth three quarters of the price of the entire game?
Netflix is on the right track, but now it needs more hits
Orange is the New Black season 3 helped Netflix rack up a daily streaming record on the Sunday following its launch. That’s no surprise; it’s probably the company’s most popular show. What is significant is that the Game of Thrones season finale – generally considered the biggest annual TV event these days – aired on the very same day.
All the time we’re witnessing landmarks in this televisual changing of the guard and this was no different.
Netflix said it was a validation of the fortune it's piling into original content and, in a way, it is. However, the success of OITNB and House of Cards needs to become the rule rather than the exception, because I don’t see the records coming from anywhere else. More hits than misses, please, Netflix.
See also: Netflix vs Amazon Prime Instant Video
The Oculus Rift could prove very handy…
So Oculus VR is about to buy a hand-tracking technology company? When are we going to admit that this virtual reality craze is about porn and nothing else? Happy weekend, y’all.