5 Conclusions - 07/12/18
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: Bethesda reminds us all that it has a soul...
Bethesda doesn’t seem to be catching much of a break in these last few weeks. Whether from the critical panning of Fallout 76 (we weren’t enamoured, either), or the transparently corporate handling and response to ‘BagGate’; it is safe to say that Bethesda’s darling reputation within the gaming world is somewhat waning.
However, in a move that has reminded us all that there is still good in there — we can feel the conflict — Bethesda publicly banned vicious players who were actively harassing other players on Fallout 76 with homophobic slurs and threats. The group of players, led by NathanTheHicc (why aren’t we surprised?) were reported to Bethesda by a player named AJ, who just so happened to be live streaming his playthrough and captured the whole thing for the world to see. (Please note that the footage contains frankly disgraceful language and behaviour that any decent human being will find extremely offensive).
Presented with the evidence, Bethesda immediately instigated a 3-day ban on the offending players pending further investigation.However, when NathanTheHicc was questioned about his behaviour, he essentially responded with what amounted to “I did it for the lulz”. In an act of will and consequence that will nourish onlookers for days, Bethesda saw the offender’s lack of remorse and self-awareness (he has still not apologised) and swung the Lifetime-Ban-Hammer so damn hard that I’m 99% sure that even those in Valhalla took note and gave an approving nod.
Beautiful. Just beautiful.
It should be noted that Fallout 76 does not have an in-game reporting feature and AJ had to directly contact Bethesda via Twitter to get a resolution, swift as it was. But credit where credit is due: the fact that Bethesda acted publicly is where the praise should be truly heaped — we all know that hate speech is rife in the gaming world whether we want to admit it or not, and seeing it be crushed underfoot without so much as a backwards glance or hint of remorse is a welcome palette cleanser for both the community as a whole and those who feared that Bethesda had lost its soul.
Conclusion Two: ...and it also reveals its support systems are as buggy as its games.
On the flip side, Bethesda ended up with red faces after a data breach in their online support ticketing system led to the names and addresses of Fallout 76 players being published publicly.
Bethesda tweeted an apology after the issue came to light, stating:
"We experienced an error with our customer support website that allowed some customers to view support tickets submitted by a limited number of other customers during a brief exposure window.
We are still investigating this incident and will provide additional updates as we learn more. During the incident, it appears that the user name, name, contact information, and proof of purchase information provided by a limited number of customers on their support ticket requests may have been viewable by other customers accessing the customer support website for a limited time, but no full credit card numbers or passwords were disclosed.
We plan to notify customers who may have been impacted. Bethesda takes the privacy of our customers seriously, and we sincerely apologise for this situation."
It seems that most of the exposed personal details were from gamers who had purchased the Fallout 76 Power Armor edition. The above tweet from a user would also suggest that Bethesda’s claim that “limited numbers” of customers having their information published is stretching the truth somewhat. It wraps up a miserable couple of weeks for the developer who will no doubt want to get Fallout 76 out of the news as soon as humanly possible so it can work on turning it into, well, a better game.
Conclusion Three: The PlayStation Classic could possibly have been a classic
That is, if the line-up of games had included many of those which were allegedly found in the console emulator’s source code this week. A post on GitHub suggests that there were an additional thirty-six games referenced in the electronic bowels of Sony’s £90 machine, including actual classics like Suikoden, Vagrant Story, Crash Bandicoot and Silent Hill. The full list, taken from a deleted tweet, is below:
What was actually released on the PS Classic failed to set the gaming world on fire, containing twenty games which — other than stalwart favourites like Final Fantasy VII — did little to excite. Want to play Ridge Racer Type 4 or Cool Boarders 2 and pay almost a ton for the privilege? Us neither.
If that code interrogation of the PS Classic is genuine and the list of games truly was considered before launch, it seems like nothing so much as a missed opportunity to challenge the likes of the SNES Classic. Emulation boxes in general are proving to be big sellers, but this is a bone of contention at JDR Towers — we’ll be covering this in a separate article in the near future.
Conclusion Four: Stranger Things 3: The Game is a TV adaptation which could actually work
At last night's Game Awards the focus may have been on big wins (Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War) and big AAA reveals (The Outer Worlds, Dragon Age), but one of the more interesting "smaller" announcements was a trailer for a game based on Stranger Things Season 3.
Featuring retro 16-bit style graphics, the game fits right into the series' 80s aesthetic. While it's unclear exactly what kind of format the game will ultimately end up being (Strategy? RPG? Strategy RPG?), it already looks intriguing. Dungeons & Dragons features heavily in the series so we expect at least light RPG elements. If anyone was going to pull off a decent game adaptation of a show, it's going to be the Stranger Things crew.
Conclusion Five: Microsoft's disc-free Xbox could spell the end of physical media
Microsoft has been working on a new Xbox without a physical drive for a while now, but this week details appeared in Thurrott that a cheaper version of the console will be ready for early 2019. Not only this, it will hook into the Xbox Game Pass and be bundled with subscriptions to the service. This means you'll be getting a console which can play a hundred games right out of the box, and with no need to purchase physical media.
It's a brave step for the corporation, but an inevitable one. As we move further and further into the cloud, digital streaming and an always-online society will surely render discs and cartridges obsolete. To add a further incentive, Microsoft announced that the console will be compatible with the forthcoming xCloud service allowing you to play games across multiple devices.
As the PS5 is likely to be announced next year, we'll be interested to see what Sony does in response — and whether their new console includes any sort of optical drive, or if they too will be embracing a digital future.