Sometimes, Gaming In The Old World (Still) Sucks

old-map-europeWhether gaming is, on the whole, ‘better’ now than it was in days gone by is a matter of opinion. What we can say for sure, however, is that we Europeans are mercifully no longer treated like we’re bottom of the priorities list. Well, for the most part, anyway.

Up until the dawn of the last console generation, it’d often be months before non-PAL games reached these shores, and if they did at all, they’d often be patently inferior owing to our slower 50hz TV standard.

What changed is obvious. America superseded Japan as the centre of gaming universe, and en mass adoption of HDTVs killed the PAL standard stone dead. Both of these made localisation quicker and cheaper than had been the case previously. Also, the rise of PC digital distribution, broadband internet and the easily available illegal downloads changed consumer attitudes in such a way that they expected to have content available entirely at their own convenience. What choice did console manufacturers have but to make such a thing a reality?

The other day, I came across a pixel-tastic indie ‘Metroidvania’ offering called Xeodrifter. Originally released for the 3DS, but later ported to Playstation and PC, it looked quite fun and had reviewed rather favorably. I’m currently in the market for a few low cost distractions to take on holiday with me, and Xeodrifter seemed like as worthy addition as any to my shopping list.

Imagine my surprise, then, to discover that it wasn’t available on the European eShop. In this day and age, such a thing seemed absolutely unthinkable. The entitled bastard in me came racing to the surface.

“What hubris”, I thought to myself. I mean, who the hell did they think they were, deeming European gamers unworthy of bask in Xeodrifter’s glory? I may not have been stomping around the house screaming bloody murder, but was certainly pretty miffed at, what I perceived to be, an inexcusably archaic state of affairs.

It would turn out, of course, that there was a perfectly rational explanation game’s thus far no-show on the EU store. I did some digging and it turns out that Jools Watsham, of the game’s developer, Renegade Kid, has gone on record with Nintendo Life and commented on the practical and financial difficulties of getting their games rated by multiple EU bodies. In my defence, Nintendo’s digital content stores do seem far more tilted in the US and Japan’s favour than their competitors’, as a number of other titles that piqued my interest were also unavailable. What gives, N?

I guess in the era of Kickstarter, all powerful mega publishers and myriad indie success stories, it’s easy to forget that many smaller studios still exist pretty much hand to mouth. Conversely, it’s more than a little unfair to be expecting them to operate on the same terms as a sprawling multifaceted, worldwide enterprise, or as if backed by one.

By sheer coincidence, it just so happens that Xeodrifter will finally release in just a few days, on the 18th of June. But heed my warning, and spare a thought for the little guys that globalisation leaves behind, next time you’re wondering why some oddball time-waster is missing from your digital storefront of choice.

Also, don’t be a dick about it.

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