Take 5: JDR's Gaming Conclusions - 31/05/19

May 31, 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: The Last of Us 2 will be the PS5 launch title

Some might consider this a bit of a punt, but it’s one we think has credence. This week has already seen an announcement for Death Stranding and its absolutely bonkers gameplay video which includes jar babies and magic ladders.

Sony has been tight-lipped about the release of the PlayStation 5 and its absence from E3 has only furthered rumours that the launch of the console won’t be until next year. Though there were mutterings about a State of Play coming soon which would include a release date for the highly anticipated The Last of Us 2, it seems like these were all for naught.

As such, we can only assume that TLOU2, along with the PS5 won’t be hitting stores until next year (Kotaku also commented on a potential 2020 release for the game), and Ellie’s next adventure will serve as the huge launch title Sony needs to kick off Generation Nine. What other title could it be? Ghost of Tsushima looks fabulous, but it wouldn’t have the same draw as Naughty Dog’s sequel to a much-loved game. It would be like kicking off the PS5 with a FromSoftware game: sure, there would be a lot of love in certain corners of the gaming community, but the level of accessibility Sony needs to make the launch a success wouldn’t be there.

While we have been told that TLOU2 will be on PS4, that doesn’t preclude it from also being a PS5 launch title too. It makes sense to go with the biggest draw game — and that’s where our money is right now.

Conclusion Two: Heavy metal cannot be confused with games

Creative individuals, organisations, groups and more will always be interested in protecting their IP. Sometimes though, things go too far.

Iron Maiden — the British heavy metal band made famous in the 70s and 80s — have a definite brand. It makes sense they’d want to maximise that brand and ensure people know what is related to and endorsed by the band, and what isn’t.

And yet, when an Early Access game available on Steam since February 2018 which looks like DOOM calls itself Ion Maiden, you can’t help but feel the band has overstepped the mark in their latest legal action. I mean, it’s a computer game where you move around the screen using the tried and trusted WASD layout, strafing like it’s 1993, and generally shooting and blowing shit up. There isn't a Powerslave in sight. You do not sing about the devil, or the band’s mascot — Eddie — fighting with a Tomahawk.  Even if you did, you’d have been doing so for over a year, potentially.

I understand that IP is important to protect but when the argument around the suit, according to The Guardian, is that people will be confused, I’m somewhat surprised. I’m not a lawyer, and this will probably work, but does it look good for the band? It’s not even as if that game is making lots of money or seeing innumerable users, is it?

Conclusion Three: Loot boxes — the pressure is mounting

Google took the first proactive step against loot boxes this week when it updated a number of its policies in order to put better protections in place for children. As part of the overhaul of Google Play which included specifying a target audience as well as changes to sexual content and hate speech, Android Police noted that loot boxes must now "clearly disclose the odds of receiving those items in advance of purchase."

This comes after legislation was filed by a US Senator which demanded that pay-to-win mechanics and loot boxes are banned. It seems that Google is planning on getting ahead of the curve, which would make it easier for it to remove any such games which are deemed to have gambling mechanics in.

It’s another nail in the increasingly sturdy coffin being built for loot boxes which are coming under increasing pressure from governments and regulatory bodies. We can’t say we’re disappointed.

Conclusion Four: The on-demand market just got even more crowded

It’s a great time for gamers who want to binge titles in the same way they do box sets. The likes of PS Plus, Xbox Game Pass and, erm, whatever the Switch is doing with its NES catalogue, means that console players are spoiled for choice when it comes to subscription services. But what about the poor PC player, floundering alone in a sea of old Steam titles? Pity them, for they know not the bounteous joy of dozens of games at their fingertips.

At least, they didn’t until now.

Microsoft has announced this week that the Xbox Game Pass is coming to PC, and bringing with it over a hundred games in a rotating library of curated titles from the likes of Bethesda, Paradox Interactive, Deep Silver, Devolver Digital, and Sega. The confusingly titled “Xbox Game Pass for PC” will emulate its console sibling in other ways too — including the option for players to stream new games on their release day. They will also get 20% off titles in the Game Pass library and 10% off DLC for those games. On top of that, they’ll be chucking at least twenty Xbox Studios games into the mix (Halo: The Master Chief Collection has already been confirmed on PC).

So, a step towards parity for PC players and another interesting move towards an on-demand future for the industry overall. Epic and Valve may need to take note: the market appears to be slowly moving away from game ownership. More will be revealed at E3!

***SPOILER ALERT - If you haven’t yet seen Avengers: Endgame, DO NOT read the final conclusion in this week’s Take 5!***

Conclusion Five: The Avengers computer game universe is enabled by the multiverse

It seems bloody obvious now, doesn’t it? Square Enix tweeted this week to say that in their E3 briefing on June 10th we’ll get to see what the in-development Avengers game is all about. That’s exciting, but wait! With the end of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s third phase coming with the upcoming Spider-Man movie, and pretty much completed by Avengers: Endgame, how does it all fit in?

The game’s been in development for a couple of years at least and to enable this a deal was struck which covers multiple titles. A computer game universe, if you like. So did Crystal Dynamics (the devs) and Square Enix know what was going to happen to specific characters to ensure it’s aligned with the cinematic world? Or, did they know we were going to go full multiverse, so they could do anything they want — create their own canon without impinging on the cinema — and include major characters like Iron Man (specifically, Tony Stark's Iron Man)?

It’s all so very clear now. So here we go: in addition to the MCU and the 2014 universe sans-Thanos (plus any created by Cap not getting the Infinity Stones back at exactly the right moment — for example the one where Star-Lord was knocked out to take it) we now have the gaming world’s universe. Will it reference Endgame or stand totally separate? That, we’ll find out soon enough — hopefully in June.

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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.