Take 5: JDR's Gaming Conclusions - 12/07/19
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: All you need is Fire Emblem
Quite literally, once Fire Emblem: Three Houses is released on July 26th 2019, you will need nothing else. It’s coming out on the Nintendo Switch and as such, can be played at home on the TV, anywhere without one, and out and about on your daily commute or lunch break. It’s an Intelligent Systems (and Koei Tecmo Games this time out) game and is likely to be a masterpiece as is typical from the developer of Advance Wars and other Fire Emblems, and its campaign will last you TWO HUNDRED HOURS.
In an interview between the game’s director Toshiyuki Kasukihara, its producer Genki Yokota and a French website called JeuxVideo, as reported by Gamesradar+, if you want to be a completionist about the whole thing, you’re looking at a solid couple of hundred hours. That’s playing through as each of the three houses present in the game (one house will take around 80 hours, including all cutscenes and so on), with different endings promised depending on the path you are playing.
So, what we have here is an incredibly exciting game coming soon, in the barren summer months, on a console we can play anywhere, with quality in all areas (expected, at least, based on prior experience), when we’re too early for Cyberpunk 2077 and most will have done everything they can with other classic RPGs of recent years like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Dark Souls and The Witcher III. It really is all you need. For now, at least.
Conclusion Two: Nobody knew it was National Video Game Day this week
Bear with me. I have some news that will really bake your noodle. July 8th is National Video Game Day. And nobody knew! At least, not until it was National Video Game Day.
Excitingly, if you missed it, you get to celebrate it next year on THE SAME DATE, obviously. Put it in your calendars now. If however that’s far too long, perhaps you can look forward instead to September 12th’s National Video Games Day?
Yes, that’s right, if you’re a fan of video games you can celebrate a game on one day of the year and many games on a second, or alternatively you can just continue living your life in ignorance, enjoying gaming and seeing it come to the forefront of popular media over time, in a similar (but different — cheers digital age!) way to other media before it. Film, for example.
If you detect a healthy note of cynicism, then you’d be correct. Pretty much every day in this world is a something something or other, and whilst that’s fantastic, until something gains traction, or brings with it a level of gravitas, it’s totally meaningless. Of course, very little takes on meaning without a growth curve beforehand, and perhaps in the future National Video Game (or Games) Day will be a massive event the likes of which we’ve never seen. But for now? It happened. Nobody knew. Move on; nothing to see here.
Conclusion Three: Nintendo is experimenting…
This week saw the release of Dr. Mario World on Android and iOS, the latest foray into mobile gaming from the Kyoto master, after Super Mario Run and Fire Emblem Heroes. A new imagining of a game series which first came to life on the Gameboy 29 years ago, the player gets to eliminate viruses using pills and Dr. Mario’s skills, up to a point.
At said point you have to wait to play until you have more hearts. Or, you can complete a microtransaction and buy some gems, then just play an unlimited amount during a finite time period. If you want longer, you can pay more, or do more of the microtransactions.
Super Mario Run’s earnings model asked gamers to pay an upfront fee for the full game. With Fire Emblem you can buy new characters to play as, hoping you get a really good one (similar to FIFA Ultimate Team, then), and this model did five-times the business Super Mario Run’s did, up to the start of this year according to Kotaku.com.
Mario with his medical degree is another model once again, then. Regular microtransactions rather than a fee for the game, probably to make it less of a barrier to spending something for all, with the hope that a percentage will spend big. This time to enable you to play the game, as opposed to avoiding grinding to get new characters.
Will Nintendo settle on a model, or identify a few which work and rotate dependent on suitability for the game? What importance does this have for the future anyway? Well, could you imagine a Super Mario game with no 1-Ups because you have to buy gems to give you lives to go again? Or an enthralling and engrossing RPG where you’re stopped from going into battle because you’ve not bought that level yet? If Nintendo can improve on the quality of the games they have so far on mobiles, and perhaps turn in something akin to the 3DS and Switch level of brilliance, any model would likely be gobbled up.
Perhaps this experimentation has all been to find the most profitable model and then ally it to every future game, each of which has the execution of the home titles? Hell, maybe it will all come together with a mobile Zelda game. Crikey, we’ll all be Nintendo’s to do with as they please.
Conclusion Four: Hollywood thinks it can tell better stories than Naughty Dog
That is one heck of a claim. Naughty Dog has told some of the greatest stories of the last two console generations. There’s all of Nathan Drake’s adventures, as well as Chloe Fraser’s spin-off. The second Uncharted in particular was Hollywood-beating for sure, so much so that the Tomb Raider reboot pretty much riffed off it, and that was then turned into a film. Then, of course, we have Joel, Ellie and the giraffes of The Last of Us — and at least one of them will be in the forthcoming generation-ender, The Last of Us Part II. These games and their narratives deserve to sit alongside classics of the genre from the film world. They are really that good.
So it piqued our interest to hear Dan Trachtenberg (talking to Gamesradar+) — currently attached to the Uncharted movie — say that the film he’s going to make would probably be the story Naughty Dog would want to tell if they ever decided to unretire Nate and Sully. The logic of doing something new is sound:
“...have been approached with different versions of this tale and have always been not that interested in it because I didn't really want to trace the game.”
“I didn't really feel like it was at all worthy of making a video game adaptation, we're just gonna copy what the game is and just serve people a lesser experience than what they've experienced in such an incredible way.”
“if Naughty Dog so chose to make another Uncharted game featuring Nate and Sully… this movie's story is probably the story that they would want to tell.”
Consider us excited. The guy’s filmography includes 10 Cloverfield Lane which was a lovely, taut, sci-fi thriller where you didn’t quite know what was going on. If he can up the ante, and translate that tension and excitement into something which must be bigger, then perhaps Uncharted will be the best game-to-film adaptation since Super Mario Bros. Or was it Street Fighter? I jest...maybe.
Conclusion Five: Sony and Microsoft Will Win Mobile Gaming
All of the pieces fit together so snugly it's like a hand in glove, a knife in butter or anything else where something goes inside something and it feels nice. Let's take a look at the evidence:
1) We at JDR know, and have communicated, that Sony and Microsoft are in partnership regarding cloud-computing capability
2) Microsoft filed a patent in 2017 relating to charging input devices connected to mobile devices
3) Nintendo has the handheld market sewn-up
So quite clearly, Microsoft and Sony have joined forces to leverage capability and intellectual property to allow a two-fold attack on the mobile games market, to sit alongside their home console operations. Heck, there's probably some kind of next-level companion-app stuff going on. With the threat of Google's Stadia, and Nintendo basically destroying both companies by playing a different game to them, perhaps they've realised they too need to play a new game?
Mobile gaming is that new game. Watch the companies try and nail down mobile gaming, likely by making them a handheld partner to the home consoles. Why, entering the handheld market in terms of hardware without making any hardware? Think of the margins on that!