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ctophil

Death of Game Manuals and Inserts

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ctophil    19
Hi everyone,


I talked about how publishers are gearing towards taking away instruction manuals from our game boxes these days. And then, I read an article on retrocollect.com about the same thing. Apparently, I'm not alone, but still in the tiny minority.


I miss the days when you open up a brand new, shrink wrapped game, you have all these cool inserts and advertisements for upcoming games, soundtracks, prizes, and magazines. There were even beautiful posters and maps with incredible artwork. I make it a ritual to go through all of those things and soak in the great packaging. Then, I would read the manual from the beginning to end to get my feet wet with the game's fantasy world--all this before the game goes into the console. The recent game that I bought, Dark Souls II, only had a disc with a transparent box so you can see the Warranties and Warnings written on the backside of the box cover. I have to reiterate that it is cheaply made. They didn't even print a SEPARATE piece of paper for the Warranty information like in Mass Effect 3 (another game that didn't have a manual). But they made use of the BACK of the box cover insert to save paper.


After reading the article below, I am further disgusted that Nintendo, of all people, didn't include an actual manual for the new Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. They are old-school publishers that are also getting away from their roots.


I tell my gaming friends about these things. But they hear it and forget about it. If I don't bring this topic up, it seems nobody really cares about what they get in the game box anymore. It's all about download this, download that. Fill up the hard drive with digital stuff. It's "convenient, saves space, and I just want to play the game." What happened to the appreciation of beautiful artwork, enjoying the backstory of the characters and levels, maybe a map or walkthrough to get you started, and a poster to hang on your wall? Does a painting look better on a wall or as a wallpaper on your computer? Do they have museums for digital paintings worth millions of dollars?


Here's the article about the same subject with a similar perspective: http://www.retrocollect.com/Articles/video-game-manuals-a-inserts-a-thing-of-the-past.html

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Phillyman    403

Yeah I noticed the same thing. It really sucks that game companies are putting their profits over what should be included. I am also a bit irritated at how cheaply the game cases are being constructed these days. If you notice, many of them are cutting out plastic from the inside to cut back on the amount of plastic used. Pretty soon they will try to go "Digital Only" and stop producing physical media all together.

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E-Day    699

But it's all in the name of the environment, don't you know?? No manuals and inserts means no trees being cut down (even though they are all farmed these days), and less plastic means less material being used, and less fuel needed for shipping! Of course, they don't lower the price to us for what they are saving.

They use environmental benefits as a guise for getting stingy and trying to make even more money. Now when I buy a games I feel like I am getting ripped off. I am paying more for a now than I was last generation and I am getting less for my money? F that.

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ctophil    19

I guess the majority of people don't see it the way I do. I see everything in style and art. I like my house in a certain way that is soothing and artistic to me. I like the beauty of architecture, as well as decorations such as statues & figurines, paintings, lighting, plants & flowers, and so forth. The same applies to video games. I like the game to be both artistic on the inside (what's on the TV screen) and on the outside just the same (packaging). I like to have something tangible in reality to put on a shelf to take pride and decorate the walls of something I enjoy having. What I don't want is a bland-looking box with no instructions, no inserts, no maps, no nothing. Might as well not release a game at all if I don't have nice packaging to go with the game. I don't want to print out an online instruction manual on standard paper. It's ugly and look like junk.

Life is not all about the money, meaning how much more profit I can make today. The Internet is fine for fast information at your fingertips. But don't make it so important that we are deprived of our artistic nature with thoughtless packaging, whereby we download everything.

Additional content: It seems video games are not the only problem we have in society these days. Everything seems cheaper. My local newspaper is a shocking 40% smaller than it used to be. They cut the newspaper so they use less paper. Even my bar of soap is smaller than before. You pay higher prices for something less.

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E-Day    699

When you're a company, the only thing that matters is money and profits. If they can give you less and charge you the same amount for it, they will. Not only do they use less materials to make your soap that you still pay the same price for, but they save on shipping. That is why the large blocks of cheese have shrunk while the price stayed the same, and it's the same reason that toilet paper rolls are not as wide as they used to be. Most people don't notice until you show them the Kirkland brand stuff from Costco since they are still the width the rolls used to be.

Sadly, most gamers today don't care about the packaging and manuals. They only care about convenience and playing a game as quickly as possible so they can play the next new game right when it comes out. It's not like when we were kids and we only played what we had and had to rely on parents for games. That is the problem with gaming being focused on people our age and those with their own income. When it was focused on us when we were kids, there weren't the insane number of releases coming out like there are now, and we couldn't buy everything we wanted like we can now. We had to pick and choose very carefully what game we asked for because we would be stuck with it for a long time before we got another one. Plus a lot of us didn't have access to a second TV if the main one was being used by the parents. So we would stare at the box, read the back cover many times, and flip through the manual over and over, dreaming of the next time we could play.

Nowadays as adults we can play our games pretty much whenever we want. But we have less time, so we don't want to waste it on the nice stuff like manuals; we want to just play so we don't fall too far behind.

It's annoying.

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twiztor    100

i've mourned the loss of instruction manuals for a few years now.

as a kid, when i got a new game, i would pour over the details of the booklet, taking in the artwork, immersing myself in the lore of the game's world. Plus, you could do that in the back seat on the way home from the store. By the time you got home, the excitement was overwhelming and you couldn't wait to meet character "X" or try out some of the moves you just read about.

my first step is still to open the case and check for a manual. i would always get excited about the first party Wii ones because the book looks thick. But then you realize they print it in three languages and really don't give you too much for involved information. sigh....

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KiwiArcader    471

It's as much about the changing attention spans of users as anything else in my opinion.

Nowadays the console generation have wanted their fix immediately so the attention span has shortened considerably, to the point where if they cannot simply load and go, they generally move on to something that is. I know that is a somewhat simplistic over-generalization but you only have to look at the types of games on the shelf now to see that adventure gaming where serious thought was given to progressing further has fallen by the wayside to be replaced by games that are scripted to point you in the direction you need to take. Open ended gaming is largely non-existent on consoles. The PC remains the sole gaming platform where an Elite type open ended experience can be found even though consoles are a million times more powerful than the Acorn BBC which started it in the first place.

It's a sad state of affairs if like me you were brought on games that had a novella to immerse you into the game before you even started and had a manual the size of a telephone book but truthfully, even if the publisher offered exactly the same content on the disc in PDF format what percentage of people would actually bother to read them? Not many methinks ...

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ctophil    19

Contrary to popular belief, time doesn't change people, it's the people that cater towards the general public and follow its "trends." I can't speak for other people. But I can speak for myself. As an adult, my tastes in gaming and how I perceive gaming have not changed.

I still love the thinking-based games, such as RPGs, Adventure games (point & click type), and puzzles. If I buy the modern "collector's edition," I still make a ritual of going through all the manuals, inserts, and collectible goods. It's as much fun going through and reading that stuff as playing the game itself. Don't have time? So what? I will find time dedicated to gaming each week. When I was a kid, school kept me really busy all year long. The only time I had for gaming was on Sundays and maybe Saturday night. In fact, I have more time as an adult than as a kid! lol. Because I am better at time management and knowing my priorities.

As opposed to the public where people's attention span has been deteriorating, my attention is a lot better than before. Therefore, I appreciate long, deep, and difficult games that make you think more than as a kid.

As for offering the same huge manual on PDF, I definitely wouldn't read it. I despise digital things, especialy since you gotta sit in front of a glowing screen. For some reason, I love a physical manual/book in my hands to flip through the pages. This is probably why I like physical magazines the same way. I have a ton of books in my "research room." They are all physical. I don't own a single digital book.

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KiwiArcader    471

You pretty much describe what I am saying. People that lived through the dawn and golden age of home computing have not generally changed other than ruing the fact that when it comes to game packaging things have definitely changed. My kids wouldn't even contemplate sitting down with a 200 page manual even though games they liked like Neverwinter Nights? came with a honking big manual. I actually think that was the last game I saw with one. Something like that anyways if it isn't the actual game.

I still have dozens of manuals for games I don't even have any more as I loved them more than the games themselves. LOL

However, unlike you I have embraced digital as a means of having lots of content available to take anywhere. That's why I debind and scan my mags then throw them out once I have created a PDF. I simply don't see the need to harbor a veritable ton of paper in my basement any more. Getting brownie points from the wife for moving it out the door doesn't hurt either and it made a great bargaining chip for getting a Samsung 12" tablet too :-)

On a side note, hopefully Elite Dangerous when it arrives will allow us to relive the days of old Elite all wrapped up in modern day visuals. And even more hopefully it'll include those things like the novella, key guide, system charts etc that made it's granddaddy so much fun to open the box let alone actually play.

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ctophil    19
I have some more thoughts about this topic. Not only do modern games lack manuals and inserts to make them lighter and cheaper, but they are also made in China, Mexico, Thailand, Indonesia, or somewhere that has cheap labor to manufacture them. The same goes for game consoles, TVs, and other electronics. If it says, Sony or Toshiba, it's not really made in Japan. It's made in China.
If you look at retro games for NES or SNES, they are all Made in Japan, including their respective consoles. I don't have to say much about Microsoft. It's already made in China, Indonesia, or Mexico by default, even the discs. lol.
If you watch the Pawn Stars and American Pickers, products that were made back in the day were very high quality. It would probably last 100 - 200 years no problem. And everything were made in America or Japan, you know, within their respective countries. But the things we get today are so flimsy, cheap, and thin looking. I'd be surprised if they last 5 years. Hehe. I ask you, "So 20 years from now, will there be any classic antiques left in the world with the junk we're making to have an American Pickers or Pawn Stars show? Or will real Pawn and Thrift Shops just throw everything away and go out of business?"

For example, let's say in the future you sell a "rare" RPG game that came out in 2014 on eBay. You say in the description that it is complete and in good condition. With retro to semi-retro games, you have manuals, inserts, posters, maps, etc. It would look awesome in the eBay picture spread out like that. But with a modern game, all you have is a cheap case with a disc. *Crickets chirping* Certainly, collectors like me would pay much less, since it's not really a "collector's item." To me and I'm sure many game collectors out there would agree that all those physical objects in a game box adds a ton of value to the whole package deal.

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TheRon    1

An argument can be made that, these days, manuals aren't really needed as much as back in the day, today games usually introduce you to the mechanics of a game through some form of a tutorial, which covers much of the ground that a manual would cover as well. As a whole, gamers today don't really care about manuals being included and I can't blame them. I know, personally, I only once ever really looked at a manual and that was for the original Pokemon Blue, for every other game I simply jumped in and figured it out on my own (which explains why until recently I had NO IDEA that there was a long jump on Super Mario 64). Ultimately, whether or not this is a good thing depends on when you grew up and your own gaming habits. I will say that, technically, with the loss of manuals it would make buying complete versions of games easier since there will be less items to track down than if you want to buy, say, Super Smash Bros. Wii U complete compared to Castlevania complete.

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There's another aspect to the lack of included manuals. Tutorials in-game have replaced them, and often I feel like I'm being talked down to during the course of the game (yes, game, I gathered that I need to press the Analog stick to move). Worse, programming time and space has to be devoted to putting the tutorial in, often ruining game flow.

I like controls and commands available via the pause menu, but I also like a physical manual. Skyrim, for example, had a physical manual I keep right under my monitor for quick control reference.

As for cost and waste, the book industry has the game industry beaten by a mile. I mean, the Twilight series alone...

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KiwiArcader    471

All my PC game purchases now are via Steam. I gave up on buying disc based games from the stores right about the time Half-Life 2 came out and forced me into Steam to decrypt the contents of the disc before I could play the game anyway. So physical manuals are non-existent with my current game collection.

Books, specifically novels, are the same for me. I tend to look on Kobo or iTunes for the novel I want and only buy physical versions if the book doesn't exist in digital format. I spent a lot on my iPad and I want to get my moneys worth out of it. The fact I can take hundreds of novels, comics or game magazines with me on holiday far outweighs the feel good factor of having a KG of paper in my hand or flight luggage for a couple of books etc.

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Britanica    0

I honestly never used an instruction book. I was one of those kids who just took the game out and threw the box across the room. haha I can see why cutting out paper is beneficial for saving money and paper, ya know trees and such, but at the same time, they should give back the savings to the players. Instead of having $60 games, make them $50 new. But I know that wont happen.

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