If It Doesn’t Come In A Box…

I’m Glad You’re Here, But… After the Break…

If It Doesn’t Come In A Box…

There was a time when the computer game developer and publisher 3D Realms was “a playa” in the world of computer games. “Commander Keen” was a big deal back when the concept of shareware was still a viable business model. “Wolfenstein 3D” introduced a lot of people to the age of first-person shooters. “Duke Nukem 3D” is an iconic first-person shooter that introduced a whole new level of interactivity with props that hadn’t been seen before in prior first-person shooters. Oh, and it also had a fairly memorable main character.

“3D Realms” faded from view for reasons to numerous and nuanced to be mentioned in a single blog post. That’s too bad; While they were still innovators in the industry, their name was stated in the same breath as “iD software,” “LucasArts” and “Sierra.” Nothing lasts forever, though, and like rodeo stars, they eventually got thrown off of the bucking bronco that was the computer game industry.

3D Realms has now returned, though, in a way; Much like the “Atari” or “Intellivision” brands, there isn’t a lot of genuine 3D Realms staff that has returned and, of those who have, it is doubtful that they’ll be the ones up at 3 AM producing code for a new computer game.

While I am glad that 3D Realms “has returned” (for now, in name and, hopefully, with new titles), I do take exception with one aspect of their relaunched website.

On their website, they list an anthology product for sale (anthology being the euphemism for “shovelware”) and that, by itself, is perfectly fine and I have no problems with that.

Where the difficulty lies is that you see a picture of a simulated box and a jewel case with a disc in it. Except that is all that it is – A picture. The actual product is a digital download only. Yes, they say that the product is a digital download only but they have a picture of a rectangular box with an opened jewel case and a disc… With no warning that the product is a digital download where the picture of the box and jewel case are.

I get it – Advertising. People are visual creatures. They need to see… Something. Yet showing the picture of a simulated box and jewel case is just a wee bit too deceptive to be “above water.” I’m not a lawyer and I don’t care to get into the granular detail of what you can and can not do in order to advertise a product before it falls under the legal definition of “deceptive.” Television advertisements of fast food always show the most sumptuous example of what you will get even though you will never receive something that gorgeous looking at an actual fast food restaurant. Ice cubes in television advertisements are supposedly clear plastic. Milk is often anything from colored water, colored paste, and a lot of other things besides actual milk.

For a new “old” company (or should that be an old “new” company), though, they should hew on the side of caution. Regardless of whether or not the 3D Realms Anthology is a good buy or not, a good deal or not, having a simulated picture of a box and jewel case for a product that does not exist is akin to an eBay listing of a computer game showing the box and then, in the fine print of the description when you click on the item it reads, “CD in paper sleeve only.”

The old 3D Realms partially ended their life because they kept advertising products that they failed to deliver on. The new 3D Realms ought to be careful about falling into the same practices. If the game doesn’t come in a box, then don’t show one… Simulated or otherwise.

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