5 Conclusions - 30/11/18
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: It’s about time there was some Fallout over special editions
Gamers love buying special editions of games. They love getting that limited numbered statue, or the themed plastic helmet, or the unusable hip flask alongside their game. More importantly, they are happy to pay ludicrous amounts of money for the privilege of owning something which is likely to have cost half as much to make as it was to purchase. Ubisoft went all in with their Assassin’s Creed: Origins release, offering something that cost almost $800. No, really. Publishers know it too, as the proliferation of different “editions” has increased over the last few years to staggering proportions. We’ve reached the stage where you can now buy a “Collectibles Kit” for a game, which doesn’t even include the goddamn game.
So when Bethesda announced their Fallout 76 Power Armor Edition (found at Game at an eye-watering £174.99), and the image of said edition featured what looked like a fairly decent quality bag, one might expect that bag to be included in the bundle. Right?
The canvas bag was replaced — as one user proved on Imgur — by a cheap nylon sack. And in an astonishing display of indifference by Bethesda customer support, their response when queried on this change was that “The bag shown in the media was a prototype and was too expensive to make,” and even better: “We aren’t planning to do anything about it.”
The mismanagement of the issue doesn’t stop there either. Bethesda followed up with an apology and offered $5 worth of in-game credit to anyone who could prove they had forked out almost two ton on the special edition.
In-game credit. Amazing.
Whether this original falls foul of advertising laws remains to be seen. We fully expect someone to take Bethesda to court over this at some point. In the meantime, we suggest you focus on what’s important — namely the game. Or maybe not, in the case of Fallout 76.
Conclusion Two: Nintendo is finally catching up to the real world
This week, Nintendo announced it was closing its controversial Creators Program after three years. This has been a thorn in the side of YouTubers and gamers of all types since it effectively prevented any footage of Nintendo games from being broadcast for profit unless the creator signed up to the program. They were then only entitled to around 60% of the proceeds, or 70% if their entire channel was focused on Nintendo.
Nintendo has now said that content can be monetised but only if there is “creative input and commentary” involved, so simply uploading raw footage and sticking ads in there will likely get the red behemoth on your case pretty sharpish. A series of rules and guidelines has been published which outline the means in which you can profit from advertising by using Nintendo’s game footage (such as YouTube and Twitch).
Of course, it would be cynical to think that this change of heart has anything to do with the forthcoming release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and the myriad opportunities for free promotion Nintendo will receive from having thousands of YouTubers and regular gamers streaming footage all over the world. No, it’s far more likely that Nintendo have made this decision for the good of the gaming community...
Conclusion Three: Loot boxes’ time may soon be over
Loot boxes may be associated with cheap cash grabs and insidious placement within AAA games, but the practice of including them is now being thrust firmly under the spotlight. The Federal Trade Commission this week agreed to formally investigate them after a Democratic Senator from New Hampshire requested it.
Loot boxes could be worth “$50 billion a year by the year 2022,” Senator Maggie Hassan stated in her request. She also said that they are “endemic in the video game industry”, and that “Children may be particularly susceptible to engaging with these in-game purchases which are often considered integral components of video games.”
We hope the FTC takes this request seriously. Regardless of what the ESRB says, loot boxes are gambling and developers who design games around their inclusion — as Star Wars Battlefront II was — need to be checked.
Conclusion Four: You know, for kids.
In the Coen Brothers’ The Hudsucker Proxy, the main character invents the hula-hoop and explains that it’s gonna be big because you know, for kids. What the world seems to forget, despite gaming being part of popular culture for more than forty years, is that gaming isn’t just, you know, for kids.
This annoys me. It’s all kinds of things wrong. I mean, I’m a grown adult and I love gaming. Even if I hadn’t started when I was a kid I could like it. Heck, I could be 93 and still be allowed to like it. So when a shop called Retroids, all about selling retro games and comics according to Worcester News, applies for and gets a alcohol licence, this should be celebrated.
However the spin on such news tends to be focused only on the negatives. Negatives which must be assessed and any risks mitigated, because where there is a chance criminal activities can occur and criminal activities with children as the victim can occur, this must not happen. But can we please have the adult conversation about working hard to ensure nothing bad happens whilst enjoying the fact that adults can scour retro games in a shop whilst having a beer?
Conclusion Five: Red Dead Redemption 2 is actually a comedy
Red Dead Redemption 2 is undoubtedly one of 2018's best games — already impressive when you consider God of War and Dead Cells came out this year. Rockstar's hugely deep adventure, while ostensibly a dour tale of survival, is also the perfect playground for some unintentional hilarity thanks to incredible player freedom mixed with a brilliant (and occasionally glitchy) physics engine. BedBananas, a YouTuber who has been releasing videos of gaming screw-ups for some time, has unveiled a brilliant compilation which is well worth twelve minutes of anyone's time. There are minor spoilers but these are restricted to chapter two and earlier.
Who said the Old West wasn't funny?