5 Conclusions - 02/03/18
A regular look at gaming-related stories from the past week or so whereby conclusions are drawn from anything and everything. These may be incredibly well reasoned based on events from the week. Alternatively, they may be highly speculative, drawn from very little evidence. More likely, they will be somewhere in between.
Conclusion One: Remasters are very 2018...
So far this year we’ve had the excellent Shadow of the Colossus and the not so good Secret of Mana. Final Fantasy VII is on its way and later this month we have the (hopefully) delightful Burnout Paradise Remastered. There are so many games in the past which so many of today’s gamers will have missed, either through the lack of a particular platform, or lack of resources, or just life. So it makes sense that game devs and publishers want to revisit their better titles. It is comparatively cheap versus creating something from the ground up and you have a ready-made audience — those who remember it fondly — and a brand new group of fanatic gamers to call upon.
Indeed, Activision Blizzard — one of the behemoths of games publishing did it themselves with the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered last year. And they will continue to do it. In their annual report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission they state:
Expected Upcoming Releases
We expect to release World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth and our latest Call of Duty game in the second half of 2018. In addition, we expect to deliver ongoing content for our various franchises, including expansion packs for Hearthstone and Destiny 2 , in-game events for Overwatch , and map packs for Call of Duty: WWII , as well as releases of remastered versions of titles from our library of IP. We also expect to release at least two new mobile titles during 2018, including a social casino game from King.
So expect a lot of remasters from a lot of companies this year, and beyond.
Conclusion Two: ...while the Chrono Trigger port to PC has triggered a backlash
If remasters can divide a community (as Secret of Mana has done), then ports — where very little is done, other than replicating almost the exact same game to a new format — should be easy pickings for publishers. That is, assuming they pick the right version of a game to port.
Unfortunately, Square Enix have put their foot in it again by releasing a long-awaited PC version of the SNES classic Chrono Trigger. Why is this a mistake, when the game is beloved by almost everyone who has ever played it? Because they decided to port the mobile version, rather than the console release.
While the SNES version was one of the highest-rated RPGs on the system, it was ridiculed on iOS for its awful touchscreen menu system, dearth of options and mediocre visuals. Why did Square Enix choose this version to release on PC, rather than the SNES version? If it was to save money, it’s a move which has massively backfired — if the current Steam feedback is anything to go by.
Conclusion Three: Sega will review release protocols
Sega (a portmanteau for Service Games) was founded in 1960. It’s been publishing retail games since 1983. For a company as experienced and practiced as this you’d think they’d be able to get the big things right, wouldn’t you? Apparently not. Earlier this week Sega released a demo of Yakuza 6. It weighed in at a chunky thirty-plus gigabytes, reasonable once you recognise it was the full game locked behind a paywall.
You see, some lucky gamers were able to just keep on playing, earn trophies and do just about everything you would want to do. They had the full game — for free. It’s safe to say that right now, having corrected the issue by removing the demo from PSN for now, some folks in one of Sega’s offices will be root causing what went wrong and working to put in place updated systems to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If anyone from Sega is reading this and you’d like some help, I’m available.
Conclusion Four: Microtransactions to burn?
Microtransactions have been around for years. They are typically ugly bolt-ons which add little value to a game but somehow entice multiple gamers — young and old — to part with more of their cash to aid them in their quest to git gud. It’s a way for companies to just make more money for very little effort. We have seen a couple of times so far this year that the authorities are starting to take notice and this week we have the latest movement in this area. The United States ESRB — who rate games ahead of sale — will require something to be communicated at point of sale which tells the buyer that the game includes microtransactions.
Whilst a small step, it’s one in the right direction. Too often a parent or other family member has bought a game without fully understanding it only to find that a lot of money has gone on the credit card for loot boxes or card packs. Whilst this in itself is a whole other discussion, it’s a real issue and if the real cause can’t be fixed, helping ease the symptoms is a good second choice. Equally, if it means more focus is on microtransactions and more people realise what they are, it might encourage the game’s makers to do something else, or at least do MTX differently.
Conclusion Five: May 25th will bring a dichotomy to the world of gaming
Sony has just announced that Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Being Human has a release date - 25th May 2018. This is a game we should all be looking forward to. It’s from David Cage and his team who have brought us Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls previously. Detroit is going to be more of the same — a tale of morality with philosophical leanings all wrapped up in a beautiful game with limited interactivity. The narrative will be the focus. Experiencing the story the makers want to tell is the point of playing the game. Everything else is secondary. Which is why on this day when we all get our hands on it, there will be a dichotomy between two sides of the world’s gamers: those who want a good story, told well, and those who want to actually be able to play the game. With Quantic Dream, they haven’t yet managed to balance the two consistently. All eyes will be on Detroit to see if things will be any different this time around.