They are the heroes of our childhoods. The glory of their times. Their video game comes out later this month. For the entirety of the current console generation, just one mega-publisher has solely controlled the exclusive right to immortalise their triumphs. It's a deal that has reaped gobs of cash, and the latest edition of that money grab hits shelves later this month.
Even after the years of disappointments, the gameplay gimmicks and vaporized promises, the listless Metacritic scores and consumer indifference, there's no reason to think we'll ever see a true competitor pushing it to be better.
Really, why should these guys try hard? You think that studio's getting any money from the publisher? Not when we've seen how emotion and nostalgia are enough to separate overgrown teenagers from $US60 of their money every year, even if it's for basically the same game with an updated roster of players.
Now, some people might tell us that this kind of an exclusive licence isn't really a "monopoly," even if the customer has no alternative. Some might call this a private deal, between private businesses. But we really know it's only because one company owned something really valuable and another company had the money to pay for it.
Is that really what a free market is all about? Aren't we talking about legends? Legacies? A cultural mythology? Aren't we talking about a public trust here, really?
This is simply un-American. What about our right to competition? Will we ever see a real challenger to this series? Something that forces it to innovate? To listen to customers who are entitled to something better? What can we do, start a petition? Sue someone?
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron releases on Tuesday.