Lucien’s First Take: Star Wars Battlefront II Reveal Trailer

EA’s Battlefront sucked.  I am pretty sure that this game will suck too.  I have no intention of playing it.  But here’s the thing I want to talk about – why I think this game could have had potential.  Because it really could have.  For a little while there I am actually invested in what’s happening.  I don’t get how a trailer can go from engaging to bullshit in seconds.  Maybe it’s because Disney decided to fuck the Expanded Universe.  I don’t know.  Whatever the case, this game goes from looking really cool to looking really dumb in seconds, and that’s amazing.  Let’s take a look at this trailer.

You know what I miss – the Rogue Squadron games.  Those were awesome.  I keep hoping that EA will do something with that license, but they would probably fuck that up anyway.  I bring this up for a reason.  There was this incredible animated short that was done in the style of Gundam where you have Imperial fighters duking it out with the Rebels and kicking their ass.  I have always really wanted to know what the Empire’s story is.  I mean, all we ever see of them is them being evil.  In the old Tie Fighter games, you get to play as an Imperial pilot.  It would have been kinda cool to see things from their point of view.  I mean, when you think about it, the Rebels are some hardcore terrorists.  How many innocent people got killed when they blew up the original Death Star?  They condemned the Ewoks to obliteration when they blew up the second one.  The Rebels are all about peace and justice, but you really do have to wonder how many innocent people’s deaths are on their hands.

So this game has you in the role of an elite stormtrooper.  Cool!  We get to see the war from the Empire’s side!  And especially after the fall of the Emperor.  Awesome!  So is it like a civil war?  Is the Empire collapsing and you get to see from the side of a lost soldier who can’t leave her duty behind?  That’s kinda neat.  We even get to see the Rebels getting their shit messed up.  Really did remind me of that animated short.  Wanna watch that again.  You all should too.

But then the trailer decides to fuck all that cool build-up and go into the stupid.  Every time I see Emo Vader’s stupid lightsaber design I laugh.  The most impractical weapon ever, and they still want us to think that it’s cool.  They are trying WAY too hard.  We also get to reenact the battle with Darth Maul?  Like, from Episode I?  The second-worst film in the entire franchise? (I argue that Episode II is the worst.  The cringe level was so much worse than Episode I) Okay?  Hell, can we PLEASE get some of the cool characters from Cartoon Network’s show?  I’d love to get to play as Cad Bane, who is one of my favorite anti-heroes.  Or maybe a cool General Grievous like in Clone Wars.  Maybe some Ventress action?  Oh, right, that would be cool.  And if it’s cool, it’s not in this game.  Instead, we have Emo Vader and Boring Girl who is played by an actress who can’t act (not even going to see Episode VIII) doing stuff.

If the story of this game is what I think, and you get to play as the Empire on the losing side of the war with the Rebellion, this game could have at least some potential.  But this is EA and DICE.  How much hope do you really have that this game won’t suck?

Initial Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Bad PR 109: Manveer Heir Hates White People (and wants you to know)

Something not many of you may know is that the bulk of the creative team at BioWare jumped ship after Mass Effect 3.  People blamed them solely for what happened, without realizing that it wasn’t their fault entirely.  EA as some of the blame.  They rushed the development cycle by a whole year, so BioWare had to cut corners.  I think we all know where the worst of it was.  That ending ruined this franchise for me.  When they saw the writing on the wall, so much of the creativity there get off like rats leaving a sinking ship.  Smart people.

Now there is a new creative director and a very new team working on the latest worthless entry into a franchise that already jumped the shark with the God Kid.  For real, I had no intentions of playing this game after how the last one ended.  Now I just have a better reason.  Because one of the important creative designers for the Mass Effect: Andromeda has some opinions about white people.  And he’s taken to Twitter to let you all know.

Let me first say that I’m glad that I chose to accept Ian Miles Cheong’s apology about his time within the SJW community.  He got back on the straight and narrow and has become a better journalist because of it.  His latest article (linked here) details some of the wonderful racism of Manveer that he was so stupid enough to impart over the SJW echo chamber – Twitter.  Little nuggets like, “I just don’t like all the white people.”  Or “Getting to mess with white people by scaring them with my brown skin is my reparations for all the racism after 9/11.”  How’s about “Some people think America’s past-time is baseball, but it’s actually protecting white fragility”?  That’s a classic.  Then there’s my personal favorite – him posing with the “White Tears” mug.  This guy makes no secret of his overt racism, and this ties in to an older PR lesson.

For those who followed the drama surrounding Mighty No. 9 in it’s early days (a refresher for those who want some context), Dina decided that she was going to go on a personal crusade to shit all over the fans and backers based on her personal vendetta.  The fact that she wasn’t fired is purely nepotism for the reason she got that job.  Watch the link I posted at the top of the paragraph.  It’s eye-opening.  Her tirades for the cause of social justice began a domino effect that had backers asking for their money back.

Manveer is on the same path.  See, he’s part of a new mentality that tell us that it’s okay to be a racist bigot, so long as the ethnic group you hate are white.  It’s fine to hate white people for no other reason than their race.  Just like it’s cool to hate men for no other reason than their gender.  And it’s cool to hate straight men for no other reason than their sexual orientation.  Combine all three and you have a wonderful trifecta of bigotry that is culturally-acceptable.  Manveer even said that he was going through his Twitter followers and blocking those who are white men.  He said that if they have a problem, blame their ethnicity.  I sure do hope that this guy doesn’t work for a company that sells products whose success can be easily destroyed when you piss off the people who are supposed to partake of said product.  That sure would be bad, wouldn’t it?  I suppose we could ask Paul Feig what that’s like.  After all, he went so far out of his way to insult the fans of the original Ghostbusters movie, and also to make sure they know how awful they are for being fans of that movie.  Now we have a game designer whose Twitter account has archived posts about how much he hates white people and doesn’t care if they don’t like it.  If this guy were selling a product that needs buyer confidence, he sure would look dumb right about now.

There’s this great joke in YMS’ review of Ghost Rider, when Eva Mendez’s character asks a waiter if he thinks she’s pretty, and the guy just shrugs.  “He doesn’t work for tips.”  When you do a job that requires you to be on good terms with the public to inspire them to partake in it, then what kind of idiot do you have to be to have your public Twitter page be a litany of blatant racism?  What’s more, it makes BioWare look bad because if this guy had been saying stuff like this against ANY other ethnic group, he would have been fired ages ago.  This isn’t even stuff you have to dig for.  We don’t have to pull an SJW tactic of shaming this guy and sending it to his boss.  This guy is representing BioWare with his social media.  He lists himself as a BioWare employee in his Twitter handle.

What’s more, thanks to this guy being part of the racist SJW circlejerk, it’s pretty much guaranteed that the bulk of the corrupt games media is going to drown this game in praise.  Regardless of how good in quality it is…or isn’t.  Hell, the games media was attacking the fans for hating the end of the last game, so I guess this should be no shock.  But this isn’t even about this game.  It’s about this mentality and the harm it’s doing to the gaming community.

During the days that Anita Sarkeesian was Kickstarting a video series about sexism in video games, sellouts like Jim Sterling and buffoons like Movie Bob were saying that these kinds of people were never going to influence games.  They were just going to be commenting on them, and they’ll disappear if we don’t listen to them.  Well, here we are, four years later, and now we have people like Manveer, who are openly bigoted and gets no repercussions because he is racist against the group that it’s trendy to hate.  Naturally.  BioWare should think long and hard if this is the image that they want associated with their company, who requires people to want to play their games.

Manveer Heir White TearsChoose wisely.

Until next time, a quote,

“If Manveer Heir expressed any of these views about any other race or ethnicity, there is no question that he would’ve long ago been taken to task for bigotry and racism.” – Ian Miles Cheong

Peace out,

Maverick

SIONR: A Battlefront Sequel Already in Development?

I called it!  I fucking called it!  I knew that this would happen.  Everything that I saw about the development of the new Battlefront told me that this was going to be another flagship series.  I bet that EA was singing when they got the rights to this game.  The corporate pieces of shit who run that company must have known that this was the best thing that could have possibly happened to them.  So they released a game that was stripped down to the bare necessities.  So they could sell you the stuff that was already supposed to be in the game as DLC.  I fucking knew it!  It’s too easy to not see it coming from a mile away.  What’s more, it is taking what could have eventually become something special and ruining it.

EA just announced that a sequel to Battlefront is already in development.  You know, when they haven’t even finished the game that is already out.  Of course.  Because if we don’t make this into another yearly franchise, then what’s the point?  Am I right?  Just like Ubsioft and Activision have done.  Here it is, happening again.  I guess that everyone should have seen it coming.  Because if there is a fandom whose nostalgia can be exploited, then you know that these companies are going to be all over it, just like the greedy sacks of shit that they are.

What is it about these companies?  Why do they have to take things that have potential and promise and ruin them like this?  Why do they have to take all the heart and soul in games that have it in droves, and dash it against the wall this way?  I genuinely don’t understand.  I watched it happen with Assassin’s Creed.  A game about exploring parts of history and going through various cultures.  A game about experiencing worlds and parkouring around.  It wasn’t that hard a concept.  But because Ubisoft is a bunch of greedy cunts, they had to make sure that we sucked on their money-grubbing tits.  Naturally.

The thing that gets to me is – is this a sign of the industry?  Are companies unable to survive unless they are making yearly sequels?  Is the gaming industry so hard-pressed for cash that games that they have to have giant cash-grabs every year, the companies are unable to be financially solvent?  That worries me.  That worries me a lot.  Why?  Because this can’t be sustainable.  All of these games have microtransactions.  All of the sequels to Star Wars: Battlefield will have a Season’s Pass, and probably microtransactions as well.  What is going on in the industry?  I am genuinely worried that the industry is going to have a major collapse.  This can’t be healthy.  This can’t be good for consumers.

And get this – none of the sequels to this mediocre boredom will tie into the new films.  At all.  Why, that would require some kind of story mode!  Can’t have that!  Then this game couldn’t be cranked out every fucking year!  Fucking EA and DICE!  But I guess none of us should be surprised.  This is their MO.  This has been their business model forever.  Each and every one of these yearly-cranked sequels will have a Season’s Pass, and little ways for them to nickel and dime you.  So maybe people won’t notice that these games are a waste of the license that they were given, made with the thought – let’s make money!  Lots and lots of money!

When will gamers stop settling for this?  When will we do the only thing that we realistically can do – vote with our wallets.  Do NOT buy these games!  If you must, buy them used, so EA and DICE don’t get anymore money than they absolutely must.  Don’t buy the DLC.  Don’t buy the Season’s Pass.  Do not give these people money for releasing mediocre, unfinished games!  Don’t do it!  We need to stand together on this!  Because something has to be done.  A message must be sent.

Pretty much every review I saw acknowledges that Star Wars: Battlefield was not up to the standards of the predecessor that I refuse to name (they don’t belong in the same article).  They all try and desperately separate themselves from it.  Even then, the game had so little content that it is something you can get through in an hour or two.  No campaign.  No space battles.  No features.  It’s all such a joke.  But it looks and sounds like Star Wars, so it’s okay.  Right?  Wrong!  This is bullshit, and should not be tolerated.  Unfinished games are wrong!

EA has the rights to an awesome IP.  They could have turned this into something spectacular.  Something special.  Something that would keep people coming back for years.  But no, they know that people won’t be coming back, so they are making this into a yearly cash-grab, until the nostalgia has finally dried up, and just like Call of Duty, everyone is wondering why they bother.

Fuck you, EA.  Fuck you, DICE.  This is bullshit.  Money-grubbing bullshit.  I knew it would happen, and it still annoys all the same.  If this is what the industry has become, then maybe it should just collapse already, and let that be that.

Until next time, a quote,

“The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned.  The Drowned God wants them drowned.  Why are all the gods such vicious cunts?”  -Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s First Take: Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst: Gameplay Trailer

Something to know about me – I loved the first Mirror’s Edge.  A hardcore adrenaline rush combined with parkour and platforming.  The goal was to get through an area, and do so as fast as you could.  Given the trippy art style and the neat perspective, it was a fun game.  But it wasn’t perfect.  The combat was clunky as fuck, and that never got better.  In fact, it usually got worse.  That said, it was still a good game, and a lot of fun to play.  When I heard that they were making a sequel, I was a little skeptical.  This is EA, after all.  They have a history of fucking things up.

After hearing very little about this game for a long time, they finally decided to get it out there, and have the fans begin to know a lot about it.  They released a gameplay trailer, which is the thing I waited for, because that is the thing that matters.  In a game all about parkour and traversing what I now know to be a much larger cityscape, it all comes down to how smooth this game plays, and how eager I am to dive in.  Let’s take a look.

The first thing I notice about this new game is the color.  The previous game had a very limited color palate, and that was for a reason.  They wanted the player to be able to notice environmental clues that would show where to go next.  Various things you were supposed to interact with in the environment were red.  The rest of the world was typically white.  That was a nice, simple way to let the player know how to progress, while still giving them options.  This new game has a much prettier palate.  No joke, the game looks amazing.  But that means that the player is also challenged to be more noticing of their environment and will have to make on-the-spot decisions about whether or not something is able to be parkoured on.  That’s actually kind of nice.  I liked the previous game’s art style, but there’s something refreshing about a game that respects its audience’s intelligence enough to tell them that they need to actually pay attention and think on the fly.  That sounds like it’ll be cool.

Next, there are the character models.  This is AAA gaming.  It looks fantastic.  I will say that there’s something still cartoon-y about it, but that doesn’t strike me as a bad thing.  Far from it.  It feels right.  Maybe it’s those strange shoes of Faiths that throw me off.  Or that tattoo that is now on her eye.  No joke, they put a tattoo on her eyelid.  Is that even a thing?  Sounds painful, and dangerous.  If anyone knows anything about that, please let me know in the Comments below.  Sounds like a fascinating thing to learn about.

The voice-acting is pretty standard.  It works, but that doesn’t say much.  There aren’t a lot of clues to what the plot of the game is.  Faith is breaking into an agricultural building called Elysium.  Guess she’s gone from a Runner to a full-blown thief now.  Won’t argue with that.  It make her way of getting around that much more interesting.  They did change the voices between games.  Won’t make too much of an issue with that.  The voice acting in the last game wasn’t that great, either.  I will say that the girl who they have doing Faith’s voice makes me think of Chloe Price, from Life is Strange.  Probably just a coincidence.

But there is something that gives me pause.  This game seems to have a lot of focus on hand-to-hand combat.  That makes me worried.  Combat was some of the worst stuff in the last game.  It was clunky, awkward and never felt natural.  If they are going to make that a big part of this game, then they had better have done some tuning to it.  Make it a little more user-friendly.  That said, the way that they integrated the environment into combat looks kind of cool.  I especially like the glass breaking and how real that feels.  Environmental kills is a thing that everyone who plays a good action game likes, and if that comes into this game (so long as the combat is refined), it looks like it will be fun.

So, what do I think?  I am optimistic.  Still going to be reserved.  This is EA, after all.  These people are known for their DLC and releasing games before they are done.  It doesn’t help that this trailer says that this is pre-alpha footage, yet it has a release date of February of 2016.  Then I also remember that EA is a corporate behemoth that forces people to work their asses off and majorly crunch to meet deadlines.  If only this franchise was in the hands of people who have more respect for it.  Oh well.  I guess the only thing I can do now is wait and see.  Here’s hoping it all turns out alright.

Initial Verdct
7 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Self-Indulgent and Overstated Nerdrage: Always-Online DRM

I was watching random videos, passing the time, when I came across one on one of my favorite gaming websites – Gametrailers.  Their reviews are some of the best I have seen, and I often agree with them.  However, I came across the latest episode of their show “Bonus Round.”  In it, we have Geoff Keighley, who has already proven himself to be nothing but a corporate shill.  The video of him in front of a thing of Doritos and Mountain Dew, with a totally blank stare, talking about the gaming media industry perfectly capsulized the view that people have of this guy, and always will.  For real, Keighley, you are never coming back from that.  You are a corporate shill, and always will be.

With him, he had a panel of three other people.  The first was David Jaffee.  He was the creator of the God of War series and is still a game designer.  Then there was Michael McWhertor, who is a gaming journalist for Polygon.com.  The final member was some guy named Jeff Cannata from a group called Newest Latest Best.

The first big panel question was – what’s the deal with the controversy behind always-online DRM?  And what I got to see what three guys who literally just did not get it and were quick to defend the corporations.  For real, only one guy got why people have a problem with this.  One panel member got pretty close to what people’s problem with this is.

The first major problem is that not everybody has internet.  I don’t know if Keighley and Jaffee (the two most outspoken critics of the critics) know this, but America is getting this HUGE divide between the lower and upper class.  There used to be this cozy place called the middle class, but that has now divided into the middle-upper and middle-lower classes, and the divide is growing every single day.  Money isn’t just raining out of the sky for us.  So there are a lot of gamers who have their systems never hooked up to the internet.  Myself among them.

The next big problem is that it isn’t just the internet connection itself.  Most internet plans in this country come with a data usage limit.  It’s one of the many reasons why America has the worst internet of the developed world.  We can thank the corporate overlords that this group of panelists are clearly shills for for that.  And guess what can just eat through a person’s data usage?  Online gaming.  If an internet connection is needed to play, then you bet your ass that there is a data transfers, which eats up data usage.  And the fees that one gets when one goes over their data limits are hardcore steep.

In the video, however, you hear these talking heads not only not getting why people may have a problem with this, but also mocking the complaints that gamers have with this issue.  Which, by the way, are very legitimate complaints.  Basically doing nothing but calling the people who buy these products whiny brats.  Yeah, that’s a great way to expand your customer base.

This sort of thing is yet-another reason why I am starting to think that the gaming companies don’t give a shit about their consumers.  And that is NOT a good way to play this.  For real, let’s look at the evidence.  The new SimCity releases, and when the always-online DRM leads to server problems, the game goes dark for the majority of players.  They can’t even play single player.  Previously, Blizzard has the exact same problem with Diablo III.  But whereas Blizzard quickly worked on patches for this problem, EA doubled-down.  They basically just told the consumers to shut up and go away.  This trend of always-online DRM has never once done any good.

More evidence of the lack of respect for their customers was with the handling of the Mass Effect 3 debacle.  EA held firm right until the point where consumer rage reached critical-mass.  Disney decided to close up Lucasarts after buying the Star Wars license.  When consumer backlash went critical mass, there was almost nothing heard from Disney.  Square Enix has shown nothing but contempt for their consumers, pandering to the fans of Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts to keep the capital still flowing in.  And how well is that working out?  Then Capcom had the brilliant idea to decide to make a bad joke in the new Devil May Cry which was mocking the previous games.  I’m not insulting the new DmC.  I love that game.  Ninja Theory did a damn good job.  But giving the finger to the fan base when you make a new game is NOT how you keep consumer loyalty.

The gaming companies need to stop abusing the loyalty of their customers.  This kind of thing needs to stop.  In an age when consumer backlash is so easily amalgamated, gaming companies need to stop spitting in the face of their consumers.  You can only insult the people who are being asked to buy your products so much before it comes back to bite you right in the ass.  It’s happening already.

The crowds who want a new Final Fantasy games are becoming nil in the US.  In Japan, there is still a lot of loyalty, but that market alone won’t save them, and they know it.  I could go on all day about how Capcom has fucked up and how people don’t like seeing their name on new games.  EA has been labeled the worst company in the US (a designation that is hyperbole, by the way) because of their business practices.

But the reason that this issue is as controversial as it is is because of the fact that it shows just how detached the corporate side of gaming is with the consumers and how little they care.  When the consumers point out the mistakes, they simply brush us off or worse, insult us.  This is a major issue, and the fact that people like Jaffee or Keighley just want to brush us off and tell us to just shut up is beyond insulting.  This is how you lose customer loyalty.

And for the major gaming companies, I want you to think LONG and HARD about this.  Because the Indie market is growing every day.  New and better ways are being made to reach consumers.  What side of this do you REALLY want to be on?

Until next time, a quote,

“We are all in the same boat, in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.” -G.K. Chesterton

Peace out,

Maverick

Self-Indulgent and Overstated Nerdrage: Square Enix (AGAIN!)

God am I getting tired of talking about you people!  For real, this is getting old!  Between the stupid shit that you and EA are doing these days, it is getting almost a little insane.  I mean, it is like your companies are simply unable to do smart things.

And that isn’t hyperbole on my part.  EA’s failures are mounting up so fast that it’s kind of getting sad.  Between the absolute disaster that was and still is the ending to Mass Effect 3 (which the Extended Cut made worse, for me.  If you want me to go on an insane tirade about all the plot-holes associated with that ending, from my perspective, let me know in the comments section), the cookie-cutter knock-offs of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, the disastrous launch of SimCity, along with the stupid-ass idea of having always-online DRM and worst of all – the god-awful sequels that have been coming out to great series lately (Dead Space 3, Army of Two: Devil’s Cartel, Crysis 2 and the list goes on), they can’t seem to get anything right.

The worst part about what is happening with EA is that they have this REALLY bad habit of writing off fan outcries are just bitching and moaning until it reaches critical-mass.  But then there is you, Square Enix.  Part of me is thinking that you just don’t care anymore.  I mean, what have you shown me that should make me think that you do?  Let’s take a look at recent history.

Square Enix recently laid off a bunch of people from their studio Eidos: Montreal.  The studio who brought us the amazing Tomb Raider reboot, something that was desperately needed for a character who was in danger of fading into the abyss of gamer unconcern.  They brought us Deus Ex: Human Revolution.  A new sequel to Thief is coming out, and it looks pretty damn cool.  They have been doing amazing things.  The kicker is that the stated reason that Square Enix did this is because Eidos: Montreal studios games haven’t reached the sales that they were hoping for.  REALLY?!  The sales for that game were the best of the entire series!  Not to mention that the first-weeks sales were some of the best the studio has ever had.  But that wasn’t enough?  What exactly were you expecting?  Were you expecting money to rain from the sky?  These people are trying new things and giving us new content.  And what exactly has their Japanese studio been doing lately?

Well, I’ll tell you.  Because this is why I am starting this new kind of post where I can vent my nerdrage to all of you.  This post is about to go off on some of the stupid shit that their Japanese side of gaming has done lately.

In a recent Twitter post, Tetsuya Nomura was trying to raise the hype for what is being promised at E3 this year – some answers to the questions that fans have about the games we have been waiting for the longest – Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Kingdom Hearts III.  These are two games that we should have heard about and (at least in the first one’s case) probably been able to play by now.  It has been far too long coming, but now it is going to happen.  Anyway, he posts on Twitter, saying that if we loved the previous stuff we have seen of Noctis, we are going to love “her” (his fucking words, people!) at E3 this year.  Her?!  Look, I’m not against a female protagonist.  For real, I’m not.  But here’s the thing – it doesn’t make any sense!  Here’s a link where you can see the Twitter post for yourself.  As soon as the fans started after him, Nomura deleted the post.  Thankfully, somebody screen-capped it and sent it out.

This character was called the last prince of his kingdom.  He has been in scenes where he is talking to a girl, and there is some genuine dialogue about their respective problems, which hints at relationship-building.  He is a little frail, but his features are still masculine.  Nothing about this character hints at him being a woman.  So why post that?  Better yet, why delete the Twitter post if it was a mistake?  Why not just hit us back with “Oops, my bad.  Typo.  Sorry, dudes and dudettes.  LOL”?  I wouldn’t care past that.  Instead, he pulled a Sarah Palin and tried to get rid of the evidence.

If you think I am just being a fanboy right now, don’t.  Square Enix has been incredibly tight-lipped about this game for far too long, and this has led me to a bunch of serious and very upsetting questions.  First, is this game going to be next-gen exclusive?  I hope not.  For real, we should have had this game by now.  It looked pretty damn well under way back when it was first announced.  Second, is Noctis now being seen as a woman by your company?  I ask because both me and the source of the link above have the same thought – that this is not a typo and is on the level, and was a redesign of the character for this installment.  Why would they do that?  The most logical conclusion seems to be that it is a response to how much people liked the character Lightning.  They want to recreate that with this game as well.  If that is the case, then I am going to be SO incredibly pissed off.

I won’t lie to you – the very moment I saw the trailer for Versus, I was hyped.  Though I was also hyped for XIII, when the trailers for it came out.  We all know what happened with that expectation.  Are we being a little too optimistic?  Maybe.  Maybe I am just getting all annoyed for something that is going to suck before it even hits the ground.  But dammit, it looks so cool!  A game that combines realism with the Final Fantasy style.  Giving us memorable characters and a world that is both familiar and foreign to us.  The possibilities are unbelievable.  So much potential.  Though the same could have been said of XIII.  And I am desperately hoping that it doesn’t all go to waste, because this franchise still, after all the stupid shit (like the cash-in sequel XIII-2, and another cash-in sequel slated for XIII) that Square Enix has done, I am thinking that this is going to be my last straw for this franchise, which may be running on its last legs.

With it having been CONFIRMED that Versus is going to be at E3 this year, you had better believe that it is do-or-die time at Square Enix.  Either they deliver us what we are looking for, or you had better believe that they will be doing PR damage control when a flood of hate-mail and nerdrage comes smashing against their door.  It is worth mentioning that Square Enix’s awful record has left most of us who are STILL dedicated to this franchise caring more about this game than anything they have confirmed for this year.  It’s do-or-die, Square Enix.  Choose wisely.

But what’s more, I am afraid for Kingdom Hearts as well.  This franchise was something I partially grew up with.  I remember my cousin who was a brother to me, and a cousin who I happen to love with all my heart playing the first game.  The combination of Final Fantasy and Disney.  Two amazing things that had so much to give us.  And then an awesome sequel to the game.  How could this go wrong?!  Well, having a bunch of cash-in sequels, doing their damndest to keep us from forgetting that this franchise still exists hasn’t helped.  And with Kingdom Hearts III an announcement away, I am hoping beyond all hope that this isn’t the end of a genre, and the breaking of my heart.

I didn’t have the same level of heart-break that most fans did for Star Wars: Episode I.  But if everything that I am thinking comes to pass, you better believe that I am going to have a lot of hurt feelings for Final Fantasy, and a desire to blow the fucking heads off of the heads of Square Enix.

And that’s my nerdrage for tonight.  If this is something you enjoy, let me know.  And if you do actually want me to go into nerdrage over what I saw, especially with the Extended Cut, as the King of the Plotholes (of which there are oh so very many) that is the ending of Mass Effect 3, let me know as well.

Until next time, a quote,

“Ah, the spiral of death.  Summoners challenge the bringer of death, Sin, and die doing so.  Guardians give their lives to protect their summoner.  The Fayth are the souls of the dead. Even the maesters of Yevon are unsent. Spira is full of death.  Only Sin is reborn, and then only to bring more death.  It is a cycle of death, spiraling endlessly.”  -Auron, Final Fantasy X

Peace out,

Maverick

The Future of Big-A$$ Gaming Companies

Yeah, another post about video games.  Don’t hate on me.  To be honest, the reason that I am talking so much about this and not other things is because right now, there aren’t a lot of other things that are interesting me.  For real, that’s it.  Come summer, I will have film reviews, and I will actually be able to get back to the series I was doing on here.  I haven’t forgotten it.  I will get back to it.  And I will also be talking about stuff that comes up that gets my attention, most of it things that piss me off or confuse the hell out of me.  But right now, video games are the thing, and that’s because this year has a lot of talk about the future of this medium, with the release of the PS4 and the new Xbox console on the horizon.  And for those of you who think I should do book reviews, well, you can shove that right up your ass.  Because that would take a million years and involve a lot of pretentious discussion about the themes, character archetypes and all that.  I don’t want to do that.  With films and games, it is a lot easier.  So I will enjoy my books at my leisure.  Don’t like it?  Your problem, not mine.

The fall of THQ took the entire gaming community by storm.  We didn’t expect this.  We didn’t understand this.  We didn’t know what to think.  A lot of people talked about why they failed, and there was a lot to talk about.  The reality is that the reason that THQ failed (and I am going to be making a REALLY big hyperbole jump here), in my opinion, is the same reason that Zynga is dying on the vine and big companies like EA and Ubisoft have a bad habit of breaking even these days.  The reason is this – their formula is getting old.

The best way to show this is to look at two of the games that were not anywhere approaching AAA budgets, but sold unbelievably – The Walking Dead and Journey.  These two games are awesome.  They combined atmosphere, character development and my personal favorite – story-telling over action.  Both of these games were small Indie projects that were done by companies who want to expand the medium and challenge players instead of give them lots of things to shoot at.  But the formula of having lots of things to shoot at is almost ubiquitous to the medium these days.  That’s not to say that having lots to shoot at is a bad thing.  Far from it.  Games like Mass Effect, Dead Space (minus the boring third act), and any number of games that have action but don’t have guns, such as Assassin’s Creed or Final Fantasy and the series’ they inhabit have been fun to play and enjoyed by their respective fans.  But did you notice something in that list?  All these series’ are having their respective problems.  Some of them are done, like Mass Effect (hopefully).  But on its way out, Mass Effect felt less and less like an action RPG and more and more like just a regular old action game.  That’s not to say that it was bad.  Far from it.  I still did and still do love the series (minus that god-awful ending of the third and the god-awful way they tried to fix it).

Let’s do a tangent here and talk about big-ass gaming companies.  Big-ass gaming companies are big.  Hence my unofficial and totally dickish approach in talking about them.  But being big is not necessarily bad.  For real, there is nothing wrong with making money.  I may be a far-left whack-job liberal, but I am not against making money.  What I am against is making money and not respecting your customers, along with a bunch of other things like not exploiting workers, the laws of your respective nation and the people in general.  The problem with being big is that you become so big that you eventually try and think up ways to get even bigger.

Before the crash of 2008, the gaming companies were soaring high with profits that you can’t even begin to imagine.  After that, their stock prices plummeted.  But so did every major corporation’s at the time.  No big deal there.  However, the sudden turn of the economy, along with new hardware created a new trend that we are still seeing, even today – the rise of the Indie market.  See, the big gaming companies had a formula that was so repetitive that it was getting a lot of gamers bored.  More Call of Duty?  Yay…(see sarcasm)  We wanted something new.  Something different.  A return to games that tried new things, not knowing if they would work.  They wanted to make games instead of having companies make money.  The introduction of nickel-and-diming DLC didn’t help.  But there were new groups out there.  New companies with just a few people who were trying new things and making it work.  People were staying tuned.  People wanted to learn more.  The gamers wanted to see where this new growth of the medium would take us.

You may think that I’m rehashing my “The Future of AAA-Gaming” post, but I’m not.  See, the thing that needs to be kept in mind here is that we are talking about the corporate side of this.  EA, Ubisoft, Square Enix and Activision have all fallen into step into a predictable formula – get big hits out and get them out quick.  Big games like Call of Duty, Battlefield and almost the entire FPS market is full of this.  The reason they do this is simple – big money in the short term.  But this kind of short-sightedness is going to kill their companies.

For those of you who are going to come back at me and say something like, “But what about Michael Bay?  He makes the same kind of shitty movie over and over again and still makes a gajillion dollars!”  You’d be right, but here’s the difference – Michael Bay doesn’t have a bad economy to fight it out with.  The fall of 2008 hurt the regular Joe pretty damn bad.  The job market was torn to ribbons here in the US, and the incompetence of our government is showing that this problem isn’t going to be fixed any time soon.  Instead, we are having to do the best we can with what we can get.  And getting a game isn’t as cheap as sitting through Michael Bay’s crap.

Enter Steam

Steam was a game-changer.  Steam is the least talked about next-gen console there is.  It is giving gamers the games that they want.  It is giving new game companies with small budgets new platforms to have their games on.  Sure, it has hit a roadblock or two, but all things considered, it is still doing well.  What’s more, it affordable.  Very much so.

Then there’s Kickstarter

Kickstarter projects are changing the game in other ways.  Now, groups who were marginalized and consumed by bigger companies have splinter cells who want to go back to the way things once were, but still want to make good games.  So, they are making games that are pushing boundaries while also giving people a taste of the familiar.  You can have both world.s  It’s been done before, and well, too.  What’s more, it allows small game designers the chance to make the games people want without needing big studios to supplement their budgets.  They can get this money directly from the consumers who want their products.

Meanwhile, back at companies like EA and Square Enix, things aren’t looking too good for them.  The AAA market is getting more and more unsustainable.  The short answer to why is because of the crash of the economy and it’s stagnant growth.  The long answer is…well, forget that.  Parts of the long answer are because the budgets that these companies need to invest in these games is getting unbelievable, and they are not throwing a bone to new talent and taking chances, because the reality is that their bottom lines are breaking even.  They can’t afford to take too many chances.  They are stuck in their respective ruts and it will drive them into the ground.  Not today or tomorrow, mind you.  It will still be a while.  But once the ground has crashed out from under them, the fallout won’t be pretty.

We’re already seeing it start.  Following the Mass Effect 3 catastrophe back in 2012, EA and Bioware released statements that they would listen to the fans and fix what was widely perceived to be a mistake.  By the fans.  Not the gaming journalist machine as a whole, and especially not the PR behind them.  They promised us DLC that would address this problem and give us a solution.  What did we get?  We got a continuation of an ending that was already broken and didn’t make sense.  And nobody won.  The fan base who wanted a new and better ending didn’t win.  Bioware lost because they were now losing customer loyalty from the billions of holes that bad forum response gave them.  EA looked worse than they already did.  A trend they have been continuing, by the way, with their stupid-ass decision to have always-online DRM for SimCity.  The media just wanted this to be over so they didn’t have to talk about it anymore.  Nobody won.  Bioware has redeemed themselves a bit with the release of some fun DLC, like their latest, Citadel, which feels more like closure to the game than the actual game itself.  Still, this is the start.

However, for the consumer, all is not lost.  Games are going to be still be made.  New software makes creating very good-looking and smooth-playing games much cheaper than before.  A team of college students with only $100,000 made the game Cube, which looked amazing and wasn’t a massive project.  And there is an even stranger trend with games that are absolutely massive being released for free and free to play.  These things are awesome news.

For the big companies, they will still be making money, but the ground beneath them is starting to turn to sand.  Brace yourselves, people.  Years down the road, the same crying that got the Zynga CEO famous will be making other big companies famous, too.

Until next time, a quote,

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”  -Apple, Inc.

Peace out,

Maverick