Take 5: JDR's Gaming Conclusions - 20/09/19

September 20, 2019

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: Borderlands 3 is too hot for its own good

A week after Borderlands 3 was released, numerous players are reporting that the game is causing their Xbox One to overheat significantly. Seven days is a long time in the gaming industry and 2K and Gearbox are coming under fire for the release, not least the decision to withhold review copies from publications. On the face of it, a current Metacritic score of 84 for PC seems decent enough. However, this belies the fact that the PC release has had a host of issues, Not the best start for a game which has had troublesome framerate issues on console, as well as console performance dire enough for some industry testers to recommend that gamers choose 30 frames per second. Hopefully these issues will be patched soon.

On a more positive note, it appears that becoming an Epic exclusive has had no impact on the success of the game, despite a small but vocal section of the community venting their fury that the game isn't on Steam. Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford was jubilant about the game's sales, which is understandable given that Borderlands 3 is the biggest physical release of the year so far.

That isn't to say Steam users who refuse to install Epic's (free) launcher aren't gloating themselves. Quite the opposite. As desperate players look for help with the launch issues — in some cases, going onto the Steam forums for Borderlands 2 — the pleas for help have fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps it's time for Epic to set up some forums of its own...

Conclusion Two: Gears 5 is both a massive success and a huge failure

Microsoft is celebrating after the launch of Gears 5 became the biggest title for the Xbox Games Studio in this console generation. Over three million players jumped back into the fray on Xbox Game Pass for the opening weekend, doubling the first week debut of Gears of War 4. It is also the biggest launch for Game Pass on PC and the best Steam debut for the studio.

Great work all round then. What the press release doesn't mention though is that the physical sales of the game have been truly dreadful. Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad laid out the stats in brutal form:

Essentially, the success of Game Pass — and digital downloads — are devastating Microsoft's physical retail market. What does this mean for the future of boxed games? While there will always be collectors who love the tangibility of owning an actual disc, the nature of game distribution (where day one patches mean even gamers with physical titles need to endure massive download wait) is almost certainly going to veer more and more towards digital. The next generation of console will have physical drives, but if games perform as badly as Gears 5 has, we can't see that being a thing by the time generation ten rolls around. Stay tuned for our Gears 5 review next week!

Conclusion Three: Gaming has a huge part to play in education

Minecraft is still a constant presence, despite falling somewhat out of the news over the last few years since Microsoft bought Mojang. The Guardian this week called Minecraft the greatest game of the 21st century. Even now, the game still has the power to surprise. It's been widely accepted that Minecraft is both educational and beneficial for kids to play, with Microsoft launching an educational version of it. The ingenuity of children knows no bounds, which a student demonstrated by spending 30 hours in Minecraft Pocket Edition building a fully functional digestive system.

Given the option of creating a physical or digital model, Reddit user Yonda89 opted for digital and knocked up the whole thing on a family holiday. The project received full marks, and rightly so. Let's see more games in education please!

Conclusion Four: Red Dead Redemption could be coming to PC

This might be a long shot, but we think there's the potential for Rockstar bringing the Wild West action-adventure series to your desktop in the not-so-distant future. This week the studio tweeted that they were releasing a new launcher and if you download it, you'll get a free copy of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

What possible motive could a game studio have for creating a launcher, other than laying the groundwork for releasing more content (i.e. games) onto PC? There have been rumours drifting around for months that a PC version of Red Dead Redemption II was in the works, so it stands to reason that this is the most likely candidate for a launcher-required game.

However, it's not all good news as Ars Technica reported that GTA V now requires the launcher to be installed in order to play the game. Even running it through Steam forces you to download and install the launcher, meaning there's no way to play Rockstar games without it. With Valve, Ubisoft, Epic, Origin and Blizzard all requiring launchers, that desktop real estate is beginning to look pretty crowded. But if it's the price to bring RDR II to the PC? We think most people will grin and bear it.

Conclusion Five: The Death Stranding train rolls on — now in English

Finally this week, if you tuned into Hideo Kojima's gameplay presentation from TGS 2019 and didn't speak Japanese, you probably would have missed much of the gist of the Death Stranding gameplay demo.

The people over at IGN have now subtitled the presentation in English. Does it help the game make more sense? We'll leave that for you to decide.

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Rob Kershaw

I've been gaming since the days of the Amstrad. Huge RPG fan. Planescape: Torment tops my list, but if a game tells a good story, I'm interested. Absolutely not a fanboy of any specific console or PC - the proof is in the gaming pudding. Also, I like cake.