Take 5: JDR's Gaming Conclusions - 30/08/19

August 30, 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: Fighting Nazism should ALWAYS be acceptable

We live in a world where stating the blindingly obvious is now a necessity. The gaming industry is not immune to this bizarre shift in public expectation either, as MachineGames’ senior game director Andreas Öjerfors noted this week in an interview with PC Games Insider. Nazis, as it turns out, were bad people, so offing them in various forms through Wolfenstein: The New Order would normally have been met with a general chorus of approval. Not so, when it came to Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

As incredible as it may seem, Öjerfors confirmed that some people found the story about fighting Nazis to be “problematic”. MachineGames weren’t expecting the series’ stories to have gained relevance over the years. Yet the rise of the alt-right has caused a shift towards a more right-wing and authoritarian mindset among governments of some western countries. This in turn has caused push back at media depicting opposition to it, — as in games like the Wolfenstein series — whose stories and themes revolve around liberating people from the tyranny of fascism.

 “Right-wing extremists are great at affecting the debate online,” Öjerfors said. “And of course, maybe they abused us to whip up some anger when we were making Wolfenstein II." It beggars belief that people are defending a totalitarian regime, but in 2019 it seems that this is where we currently are. Won’t somebody please think of the fascists? 

Conclusion Two: Football matches go faster in Stadia

Well now, this is intriguing. We have independent confirmation that Google’s Stadia will enable games to run faster, meaning the tech does work in real-world situations, presumably. We have this confirmation from Miles Jacobson, Director of Sports Interactive, the developer of Football Manager which is published by Sega. 

This is important. Nobody outside of devs and select media has seen Google Stadia running, unless you include those who were lucky enough to partake in the Ubisoft-supported public beta, before we knew Stadia was a thing. So to have a third-party telling us that their game will run faster because of the cloud infrastructure is significant. It makes it real, and shows us that in a computer simulation football matches go more quickly when you’re in a stadium. 

In other news we also learnt — if we didn’t know already — that if you want to play a game on Stadia, you need a separate copy to any you may have on Steam. That could be an issue for Google — sure they have the resources to go head-on with Valve, and Epic to a far lesser extent, but will Stadia and the overall offering be compelling enough to make gains? We’ll find out in November I guess.

Conclusion Three: Sega is different shades of blue

Sega is a cheeky one, isn’t it? They have always done things their own way, similarly to their old sparring partner, Nintendo, but often with a streak of something. It seems it's still doing it, or has been for a very long time depending on how you think of it. 

You see, Sega’s logo in the West is different to the East. Not that different obviously otherwise it would be well-known. The shade of blue used in the logo is a darker one in the West. Mind. Blown. 

Why might this be? There will be a very purposeful reason as a company like Sega would not make a branding decision lightly. I know that in different countries perception of colour is different. Whilst there will be variation by individual driven by their eyes and brain, regions can see things differently because of what they’re used to. For instance, in the UK we think something with a blueish tint is white whereas in South America something with a pink tint will be lighter. Perhaps there’s a similar thing regarding blue going down between the East and West?

It’s used on the games and everything, too, by the way…

Conclusion Four: Tales will be told once more

It’s nearly one year ago that Telltale shut down entirely, with all staff losing their jobs and the world wondering what would happen with The Walking Dead and all the other adventure series the company had developed and was continuing to develop. 

Well, it now seems like some of the series we thought we’d never see again could come back, thanks to Telltale studios being rebooted according to Polygon. 

It’s possible that we’ll see more of The Wolf Among Us which would be fantastic in my opinion, but don’t expect anything too quickly — this is a new venture which will begin in a sensible fashion to avoid the mistakes which led to the studio’s demise, if I am reading Jamie Ottilie correctly (who is doing this alongside Brian Waddle):

“This is a viable business that went away due to market conditions and some scale choices [Telltale’s previous management] made,” he said. “I like games that tell stories and I think our industry should have a company that specializes in narrative-driven games.”

However, once it gets going, we should expect a more predictable and speedy delivery of episodes, which would be mana to the ears of anyone who sat there wondering when exactly the next episode of their favourite Telltale adventure would appear:

“We will probably keep the concept of episodes but with different pacing. This is a different world, from a media consumption standpoint. We need to look at how people like to entertain themselves. I like the idea of binge watching.”

Whatever happens now, this is great news. The rights to Telltale’s series has new ownership and said owners have plans to do what was done before and evolve it, which means we have every reason to hope for new tales being told in the future. 

Conclusion Five: Microtransactions are moving in the right direction

At Jump Dash Roll we often talk about loot boxes and our multiple and various concerns about them. Whilst legislators and regulators, not to mention console manufacturers, are trying to better manage the issues — such as children spending lots of money via microtransactions without fully understanding what they’re doing — it is something the game developer and publisher should be looking to better manage, too. Sure they want to make money but let’s at least do the right thing, yeah?

Which is why Mattel’s Hot Wheels Infinite Loop (available on iOS now and Android soon) microtransactions idea is interesting, as a start. US Gamer reports that all microtransactions in the game will be eliminated from the game if you’re under the age of 16.

"It's a free-to-play model for people over 16. So if you're under 16 it's still free, but we don't have some of the monetization, for example, with ads..."

It’s pretty robust in that to get around it you’d have to delete and reinstall the game by the sounds of it — if you wanted to change your age — but obviously not unavoidable. I mean, there is nothing stopping a child putting a fake age in when they start, so education of the parent or guardian would be helpful here too. Regardless, it’s a step in the right direction from a group (devs and publishers in general) which previously has not shown anything of the sort.

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Luciano Howard

I've been gaming for 35+ years on the Commodore VIC-20 to the PlayStation 5 and pretty much everything in-between. I enjoy all kinds of games but if I had to pick a couple in particular, I'd say I adore Mario and love Dark Souls. I can talk about either an awful lot should you want to!