NL Inklings Community: Our September 2018 Tournament Schedule!

It’s a new month which means new a new tournament! Well…three!

First up, last month was excellent with participation in our Splatoon 2 Tournament, but we had some issues regarding length and missing players. The October season is currently up in the air, or ARMS (HA!), so stay tuned for that info in September. But for now…

The structure of two tournaments per month remains, but with one more due to how the calendar worked out. The first will always be Splatoon 2, and two weeks later we will hold a tournament for a different game.

In this case, we have the returning Splatoon 2 tournament…and a popular eSports title…AND a classic party favourite!

 

Splatoon 2 – NL Inklings: Special Showdown! (September 1st 2018)!

The NL Inklings return to Splatoon 2!

The Special Showdown Tourney!

Organised by Golden, NinjaAceTrainer and newcomer to the team Agent Quinkling, we have the Special Showdown!

This tournament will see teams limited to one special weapon per team. That’s right, your whole crew only gets to use weapons with a specific special! The teams are Inkjet, Splashdown, Bomb Launcher and Baller!

This will be a standard Round-Robin tournament with one match played per mode, duking it out across all 5 modes. How teams are decided however…is a little different.

The highest ranked players who sign up will be assigned as team captains, and then get to enter a bidding war for other entrants to join their team! Each additional entrant will get a chance to make themselves seem appealing beforehand, so don’t worry if you feel you won’t be picked!

These teams can then synergise and work out what weapons and gear they wish to use, while keeping to their special restriction!

 

This tournament takes place on September 1st at 5pm BST sharp!

Sign ups open TODAY, August 20th!

Rules will be published TODAY!

Sign ups will be live until Wednesday August 29th!

The Auction will be held on August 30th!

 

Rocket League – NL Inklings: Rocket League of Legends! (September 15 2018)!

Another special tournament from the NL Inklings!

Rocket League of Legends!

Thanks to Shani and Nick for organising this one! A game we are quite fond of! This popular game is going to be the subject of our second tournament!

Full details will be worked out leading to the event, regarding modes and team sizes as well as format, but this will all be revealed once the Special Showdown tournament has concluded!

A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE IS THAT DUE TO SONY’S CROSS PLATFORM PLAY POLICIES IN EFFECT AT THIS TIME, PS4 USERS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PARTICIPATE! Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch users will be fine.

 

This tournament takes place on September 15th at 5pm sharp!

Sign Ups will go live on September 5th!

Rules will be published on September 8th!

Sign Ups will close on September 12th!

 

 

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U – NL Inklings: Fall Brawl! (September 29 2018)!

We will give Smash 4 a true send off!

The Smash Bros. Fall Brawl!

Organised by Haruki and Nicolai, we are bringing Super Smash Bros. for Wii U to the forefront one final time before Ultimate releases this holiday!

What better way to ring in the Fall season than by smacking around the entire Fire Emblem cast? Oh, and some other guys are here too!

Full details will be worked out closer to the event, and the full reveal will be right after the Rocket League tournament!

This tournament takes place on September 29th at 5pm sharp!

Sign Ups will go live on September 19th!

Rules will be published on September 22nd!

Sign Ups will close on September 26th!

 

 

That’s all for now. See you on the Splattlefield, the pitch, or in battle! NL Inklings out, Happy Gaming!

Our first full podcast is live now where we discuss all things gaming from recent events.

This podcast includes the Dark Souls delay on Nintendo Switch, our initial impressions of Nintendo Labo, and God of War being patched!

Plus, hear our predictions on E3 2018. Does the 3DS refuse to die? What does Microsoft have for us at E3 2018?

Check it out below, and Happy Gaming!

 

Behind The Game Podcast – Nintendo Online, E3 2018 Predictions, Labo and More!

Nintendo 3DS: It’s Time To Move On…Slowly.

The 3DS Family is now almost 7 years old, and I see two camps. Those who don’t want to upgrade to a Nintendo Switch for things that were on 3DS previously, and those who want it to die immediately.

 

REPUBLISHED MAY 3 2018 – Nintendo themselves have clarified the stance on the 3DS going forward:

“[The 3DS] has an ample software lineup at a price point that makes the system affordable especially for parents looking to buy for their kids. We expect that demand to continue during this fiscal year as well, so we will continue to sell the product”

“Given that Nintendo Switch is a home gaming system that can be taken on the go, this situation may change if it grows from being a one-per-household system to a one-per-person system. But the price of Nintendo Switch is not something with which most parents would buy a system for every one of their children in a short period of time. Moving forward, we will work to ascertain what kinds of play people want at which price points, and as long as there is such demand, we will continue to sell the Nintendo 3DS system. I see the product coexisting with Nintendo Switch at this point in time.”

 

Original Story – December 2017

 

So this is an interesting position we find ourselves in. Nintendo 3DS launched in March 2011, meaning very soon, it hits 7 years old. For any console that is exceptionally good, as the average tends to hover around 5 years, with exceptions being the DS, 3DS, PS2 and the entire 7th Generation of consoles. You could probably say 7 years is now the new average.

In reality, at this stage, we should be looking to the future, even with the New 3DS/2DS lines, you can only get so much out of the systems, and as shown with Pokemon, and as explained by the developers, that ceiling has been hit. You can’t push it anymore than you already have, and again, 7 years? That’s a great time to move on.

Thing is, I see two warring sides to this.

 

On one hand, we have the Pokemon fans primarily. They say the newly released New 2DS XL is a sign it’s not dead, and the move of things like Pokemon to Switch are just cash grabs, and that they should just keep making games for 3DS. Why should we have to upgrade, they say.

Okay so first off, you’ve had to do this before. Remember Pokemon Crystal? You needed a GameBoy Colour. Then a GBA, DS and 3DS. Now it’s Switch. This isn’t new and part of the industry. You can’t be held back for so long and you need to move forward, heck most consumers encourage it.

The concept that you wasted your money…well that depends on your individual perception of value. If you bought a system just for Pokemon, you would know an upgrade, like with anything technological, is inevitable. It will happen no matter what. You can’t expect the system to last and be supported forever.

With regards to the argument they just released a New 2DS XL, they also released the Wii Mini a year after the Wii U. Did that mean the Wii was still kicking? Not really, unless you count the licensed games and Just Dance. I will come back to the New 2DS XL though, it ties in to something else.

 

What about the other side of the argument?

The other side of the crowd simply wants the 3DS line dead, as soon as Switch is out, citing it takes away development resources and there is no reason the games shouldn’t be on Switch.

First off with this one, do you remember how everyone reacted to the near empty final year of the Wii? Yeah, that’s how support used to be handled at the end of a console life by Nintendo, and people hated it. But here, people want it? Why? It’s a dumb decision and should never be done that way.

Regarding the games still coming to 3DS, yes they could have been made with Switch in mind, ignoring late localizations like Dragon Quest. The majority of first party titles have been smaller studios owned by Nintendo, outsourced remakes like Metroid and Superstar Saga, or again, late localisations. Or third parties, who do whatever they please, and Nintendo would be very unwise to turn around and say hey, stop making games for the 60 million plus 3DS systems out there. They already had a bad rap with developers for their controlling ways with the NES, why go back there and force people onto a new platform?

 

Secondly, really now? You want them to throw away all investment into well in-development projects and have the extra time, money and man hours put into changing everything for the new architecture of the Switch, its features, and HD development? Sure some 3DS games have been ported up, like Monster Hunter XX and Resident Evil Revelations (Albeit that was ported elsewhere first) and games like Fire Emblem Warriors came out on both systems, but doing that is in of itself splitting the game in two sides. One version will be inherently inferior, but unlike a game across Vita and PS4, there is nothing gained by having the Switch version except TV play and maybe a boost in sales from the limited install base, and an extra feather in the library of a young system. IT would likely sell to the biggest audience anyway (Obviously), and frankly, many companies wouldn’t want to spend the extra time and most importantly money.

Is this normal?

 

This is the thing, systems are allowed a crossover period. It’s normal. Normally the last few already in-development first party games trickle out, and third parties catch up with localizations and support dries up over a year or two, save for the odd third-party game to cash in on the install base and drive software sales from, get this, late adopters.

So coming back to the New 2DS XL, it is the Wii Mini to the 3DS. The PS3 Super Slim. The Xbox 360 Elite. When manufacturing a system gets cheap enough, it’s actually very wise to leverage that huge back catalog accumulated over the years the system had, and sell a revised, cheaper to make, more affordable to the consumers budget system, which is exactly what the New 2DS XL is. For suspiciously half the price of a Nintendo Switch (Wink wink) you get the entire 3DS backlog (And DS backlog too!) on a now very cheap to make system.

As a deal to late adopters, those who pick up systems late in life, it’s a great way to squeeze potential last sales with a low price and huge catalogue of games. Just as the PS3 and Xbox 360 and even the Wii were sold for a few years into their successors lifespans with their cheapest models and games, so will 3DS.

This image tells a thousands stories on its own…

7 years is a very long time, and for Pokemon and other games, they have a new home, a new ceiling to jump towards. This happens with any system, and any system is wise to be revised and made the budget option for families or Little Timmy’s first system. This extends to even the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X now: The premium models, like Switch, to their now cheaper to make, huge catalogue, revised systems in PS4 and Xbox One S. Difference here is yes, it is a completely different ecosystem, but the reasoning is the same.

It’s time to move on, but it’s not wise to just kill the system where it stands. Let it trickle out slowly, as other systems do. Oh, and please, get used to the idea of upgrading your hardware, it’s been 30 years already.

 

As always if you enjoyed this article, give it a share on social media and leave your thoughts below, and until next time, Happy Gaming!

Battlefront 2 Didn’t “Meet Expectations”, and Nintendo Made Bank!

I’m surprised about both of these stories for different reasons.

 

Update – 2/2/2018

So we all failed to note one thing about the entire lootbox backlash to Star Wars Battlefront 2: EA wins either way.

Here’s the thing: If gamers didn’t give backlash to EA in such force that sales were impacted, then the game would have sold as expected, and EA would be justified in continuing their current practices.

As a result of the backlash, EA has noted lower sales of Battlefront 2, and we figured it would send a message. It hasn’t. In fact it’s response to investors was that in-app purchases will return as previously noted, but now with the added note that those purchases can be used to make up for the lost sales, justifying their inclusion.

Personally I can’t fault that logic. That is actually sound business practices there, so well done to them on that. The downside is we end up in the potential situation we began fighting back against in the first place-

If EA knows micro-transactions will cut into sales, but make up the lost revenue, why wouldn’t they keep them in, when the alternative is losing that revenue AND sales?

In response their stock has hit all time highs.

As I said, sound business sense to cover for potential losses but…I guess we can hope the big stink that was raised about lootboxes leads to some legislation huh?

Original Story

Let’s start with Nintendo, namely 3DS. It’s sales are down year on year, yes, but it’s also nearly 7 years old. Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon sold 7.17 million units. So good stuff for the budget entry into the ecosystem.

The real story is the premium system: Nintendo Switch. Within just shy of 10 months, as of December 31st 2017, Switch has outsold the first 12 months of the PS4, at 14.86 million units. That is firstly maddening to see, but also shows the 3 month holiday period accounted for half of the lifetime sales so far.

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So in doing so, it has also surpassed the Wii U, so comparisons can finally stop on that front. The system has shown itself to be a viable platform for many developers, and I can only hope this continues. Next stop is the 21 million of the Gamecube!

On to software however, we see a few interesting pick ups. Firstly that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 has sold 1.06 million in just a month, placing it firmly in the heights of its franchise, an excellent result for a release many people thought flopped due to low sales charts rankings.

Next is Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, a re-release of a Wii U game that many seemingly didn’t want, having already owned it, logically, but one I and many others assumed would do well due to now hitting a much larger market, many of whom simply won’t have played Wii U games. Evidently the latter is true as the release has hit 7.33 million units and is well on its way to surpassing the original Mario Kart 8. As an evergreen title, it will surpass that, and shows that yes, if a port goes to a new, bigger audience, it probably isn’t a bad idea, you know?

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Finally of note is Super Mario Odyssey, selling 9.07 million units in just two months, and becoming the top-selling software on the system, and the 2nd best-selling Mario title ever in the main series, only behind New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Could it beat out that game? Possibly, we need to see if it remains as evergreen, as 3D Mario typically falls below 2D Mario.

Full financials are available here: Source

But what really gets me is how Mario Odyssey performed compared to another game of note…

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It’s time to talk about everyone’s favourite game ever: Star Wars Battlefront 2. EA seems disappointed by its performance, namely how if we include digital sales to physical shipped copies to retailers…it’s around 7 million units. It’s going to fall well below what they told investors it would hit by March, as well as falling below the prior Star Wars title.

So for reference, Battlefront 2 fell below a game like Super Mario Odyssey, that was only released on a single platform. That’s insane.

But the proof is in the pudding. Legislation is being looked at for lootboxes, because of course they are, and EA is blaming consumer backlash. Not only that, Bioware developers are feeling stressed over the inevitable forced monetization EA will make them include in Anthem, a game that seemingly could spell the end for the studio, understandably given EA’s record.

Micro-transactions are to be reintroduced to the game in the coming months “When the time is right”, but EA is already feeling the burn. Gamers weren’t happy, investors won’t be happy.

vader-nooooo

 

Sadly I do feel EA will learn nothing from this, but if nothing else it acts as a sign.

With the previous comments of people not wanting single player games, games costing too much to make thus mandating additional, aggressive monetization and the like, to see Super Mario Odyssey, on a system EA dismissed no less, outsell the game and probably due to less extravagant spending by Nintendo, make more money than Battlefront 2 has in all likelihood, is a huge slap in the face to EA.

Words cannot accurately describe how EA must be feeling right now, but it proves that gamers just want good games, especially from Star Wars, and even stuff like cosmetics can be done for free, and games don’t need to cost as much as EA pumps into them.

It’s  a sign that the AAA business model is inherently flawed and self-destructive. Where one company prospers by tightly controlling expenditure and not pursuing aggressive monetization in full price games, another gets knocked back for saying that model wont work, and then seeing the alternative is more damaging, at least in the short-term.

It’s that short-term that needs to be taken away from this, as that is the primary interest of a majority of investors: Short term profits. In the long-term EA is likely to be fine, but in the short term the fall of Battlefront 2 to something like Mario Odyssey, a business model EA has repeatedly dismissed, just shows what the market wants.

 

Make good games, and they shall come. Don’t be stupid with your games and licenses, and they shall come. Then everybody wins.

Behind The Game Podcast – Episode 1! 27/01/2018

Welcome to the first Behind The Game Podcast, discussing the last week in gaming.

Today we have the PSN outtages, death of Miitomo, Paragon and Twitch’s push to surpass YouTube, as well as GDC Surveys, Switch Sales, and more!

 

If you like what you see, give this a share on social media, feel free to suggest topics for next week, and we will see you then on Behind The Game! Happy Gaming!

2017 In Gaming: A Look Back Over 12 Months

2017 has been a bit of wild ride, from new systems, new franchises, a lot of old franchises, incredible highs and some very deep lows.

 

If you were to really take away one from this year in gaming, it’s that new hardware came and really impressed the world.

Where the PS4 Pro was a relatively safe (And some would argue lacklustre) refresh of the PS4, the Xbox One X stormed ahead and probably could just be considered a new generation of hardware of its own. This machine has proven itself to be a real powerhouse, and a lot of people were doubting it, both in part to the Xbox One having lower sales than the PS4, but by no means bad, we should stress, and its high price leading to a question: Who is it for? For the enthusiast it has taken the crowd by surprise.

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Also of note is the Nintendo Switch, a machine so many were down prior to launch, and coming off the back of the Wii U and 2016 had many wondering if Nintendo had a place in the market anymore, including its own software partners. While it had a quieter start, demand was high from the off, and only grew. The real story is how over 10 months the perspective changed from doom and gloom, to “Oh it’s only early success, itll fall off”, to “Itll be dead by Xmas”, to a quieter rumbling of things still left to improve. If that isn’t a turn around, who knows what is.

The 3DS also had a hot year with many in-demand games and its end of life revision in the New 2DS XL being released. The little handheld has some time left in the sun, but no more than a year or two.

bullshit

The PS4 had a quieter year, if only because business as usual isn’t noteworthy. 70 million units out in the world now, 4 years in, that’s pretty good. PSVR also hit 2 million despite a lack of compelling software because…price cuts I suppose, but the VR competition is lagging behind, and the market shows a chance of stalling without further innovation and software.

Overall then, hardware wise, it has been a fantastic year with every company really on top of their hardware game.

Breath-of-the-Wild-Walkthrough

On to software then, the success stories really come from Sony and Nintendo, with Sony opting to front load its year with first party releases and major third-party titles before dropping off and letting the maligned GT Sport and third party deals flood the latter half of the year. Additionally, press events like Paris Games Week and E3 left a lot to be desired. People can only see the same game so many times without a release date.

Nintendo maintained a steady stream of games for both systems throughout the year. Critical and commercial darlings flooded their hardware and third parties developer some strong showings for once, despite a lack of desire to do so early on. Furthermore, gamers proved receptive to the software, with titles like Splatoon 2, Breath of the Wild, and Super Mario Odyssey setting records for their respective franchises.

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Microsoft once again limped along on third-party offerings, but majority of sales were on PS4. Furthermore the cancellation of exclusives like Scalebound and closure of notable studios left the future in question, as well as delaying what few exclusives were planned to next year. Maybe it will pick up then.

The indie scene proved to be on fire with once again the Nintendo Switch dominating the stories there with very high indie sales. Steam fell behind in this regard and Sony seemingly lost interest, but the quality on display this year has been unmistakable.

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Third parties as well proved a force to be reckoned with. If we ignore EA, as Mass Effect was a mess and their later games proved less than welcome with bad business decisions. Games like Nier, Nioh, Sonic Mania, Wolfenstein 2, Assassins Creed Origins, Mario + Rabbids, all proved surprise hits. Sure there were duds like Sonic Forces, but third parties not only showed renewed passion in their work, but renewed creativity.

Interestingly 2017 saw huge backlash against micro-transactions and lootboxes in gaming, as companies attempt to push them harder and harder into the core structure of games. This perhaps will be evidenced next year if more games opt to do this, and maybe this indicates a boom in the indie scene. Certainly “AA” games like Hellblade have shown they have a place, and companies like Square Enix have renewed interest in mid-range titles.

 

2017 will likely go down as a highlight year for the renewal of an industry that seemed to be struggling with staying fresh. Many companies came back from the brink and brought their A Game, and while there were some very loud duds from some, and some fresh controversy, it doesn’t drown out that regardless of what platform you choose, you had a fine year.

Except maybe Steam. I can’t see wading through that as fine. Seriously, sort that out Valve.

 

You’ll need to forgive me about this being a shorter piece. There isn’t much to say for this year beyond “It was really good”. Barring the issues around lootboxes later in the year and EA being EA…it’s been a fine year all around! So until next time, Happy Gaming!

“For The Players”: It’s Almost True…

At the end of every PS4 ad, I see that slogan. It’s the only slogan from a console maker I call bull at as well.

 

The PS4 got its early success from appearing “Friendly” compared to the upfront jackassery of the Xbox One reveal. Those anti-consumer practices of the launch were turned around and only really forgotten recently, under waves of good moves that are for the players of games.

Sony used this slogan early on, to show how they weren’t (But also kind of *were*) doing the things Microsoft were doing and talking about openly. At this time, the slogan made perfect sense. Position yourself as pro-consumer, all is good, and it worked. At the time, “For The Players” was very much the case.

 

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Now readers may jump to the defence of the PS4 with “It’s just marketing” but also remember that marketing places an expectation. This is how you sell your product, this is what the buyer expects. The buyer will expect a pro-consumer experience except…nowadays, and always in reality (Though it wasn’t as prevalent back in 2014), this isn’t the case.

Before someone says “Well what about the other slogans for other systems?”, let’s look shall we?

Xbox One X: “The World’s Most Powerful Console”. This is objectively, for right now, true.

Nintendo 3DS: “There’s No Play Like It”. This is also objectively true, as right now there is no other dual screen stereoscopic 3D system.

Nintendo Switch: “Anytime, Anywhere, with Anyone”. Objectively true. You can play the console anytime, anywhere you want, with anyone you want.
Yet every time I see “For The Players”, man, it’s easy to fault it. It’s so simple to just look at what PlayStation is doing and seeing without even having to look twice, how they are right now the most anti-consumer of the three console makers.

So let’s start with backwards compatibility shall we?

 

Xbox-One-backward-compatible-Compress.Photos-1

So Sony with the PS2, allowed you to play every single PS1 game you owned. Straight away, no strings attached. With the PS3 they had to drop PS2 support entirely not long after launch for cost reasons which I admit is fair play. With PS4, good luck emulating the PS3.

Jump ahead to today, and we have the minimal trickle of PS2 Classics on the PS4. The rate at which these come out is frankly absurd with months between releases. Imagine the Wii U first party release schedule, but for older games. Yeah, it’s bad.

But it doesn’t stop with how fast they come. Even on PS3 some PS2 and PS1 Classics had emulation issues, or vanished from the digital store with no notice and re-appeared two years later (Crash 2 did this in the EU for no reason). The reason they once gave on the official PlayStation Blog was:

The journey from PSone disc to PSone emulation can be a long one – here’s the short version.

We make sure we’ve got a good copy of the original disk (or discs if there are localised versions), then the game is cleared for publish by our legal department.

Why are some games available on the US Store but not available on the EU Stores?

The million dollar question…

This usually comes down to either publishing rights or bugs that occur within the emulated PAL version that did not occur within the NTSC emulated version. There are several PAL titles that don’t play well with the emulator because of a PAL-only copy protection system that was used in several key releases, and sometimes other bugs occur at random.

Source

Which is bulls***. Explain to me good sirs at Sony, why we here in the UK got the US versions of the Spyro Trilogy, two years after other regions mind you, with permanent slowdown, music playback errors, and frame rate issues? If you get the EU version of the game, why isn’t that the one we got and why is the emulation sub-par for those games?

 

In addition though, on PS4 in addition to the molasses pace at which old games show up, emulations issues are abound. I spent the past night with the PS4 edition of Jak X, emulated in 1080p on the PS4 with Trophy support (Hooray…) and it had frame pacing issues, frame rate issues, and combined with the games already rather loose control….this was a problem. Not unplayable, but certainly below what we expect.

But it doesn’t stop there, oh no. Remember on Wii U you could transfer your Wii stuff to the new console, and any Virtual Console games you brought were given a hefty discount on the Wii U Virtual Console if available? Sure this was clunky, but the system did have a way of making that purchase easier on you (Shame it isn’t also on 3DS mind…). Then we have Xbox One. Pop your disc in, and hey, a BC game is now there downloaded and ready to go free of charge. Or they see you have a 360 game downloaded to your account, and add it to your Xbox One queue immediately, as a free game, because you already owned the original release on your account, or in disk form.

 

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PS4 doesn’t have this. Sure, it makes sense not to, BUT IT COULD HAVE THIS! So hear me out on this one.

When I downloaded the 4 Jak and Daxter games to my PS4, I realised, wait, I already downloaded the remasters on PS3. This is the same account. Am I not getting a discount here? Nope. To further compound things I check my trophy list, I have two separate lists now, one for the PS3 releases, one for the PS4 backwards compatibility releases! I can see this on my PS4! There is no reason this couldn’t be discounted by checking my account, or popping the disc in, as yes the PS4 can read DVDs.

dafuq

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But to compound this issue even further, because it goes even deeper than that, let’s hold up the PS Vita for a moment. Who remembers cross-buy? Anyone? The notion that you get a PS3/PS4 and Vita copy of a game in a single digital purchase? This is something they have already done, between systems, why hasn’t it been done here?

Again, “For The Players”. Where we see they could do it, and have done it in the past, and clearly have the capability to do it, they won’t. Still your friend yet?

 

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Moving on let’s talk about cross-platform play. Oh boy. So the official stance from developers is that yes, they want cross platform play. Microsoft and Nintendo, will let developers do cross platform play, with no hesitation. Middleware developers like Epic Games have shown that they too want it. Sony doesn’t.

The reason why is simple. If your friend has a PS4 and you want to play a game with him so buy a PS4. It keeps them in the PS4 ecosystem, holding it to ransom basically. From a business standpoint that is sound logic especially as the dominant console. Until you meet someone like me. All of my friends are on Xbox and PC. Am I going to have them go buy a PS4 to play with me, one each, or am I going to get the game and take my multiplayer gaming elsewhere?

The answer is the latter, obviously. It’s an effective strategy until they consider people who want to play with their friends who already have another system. It won’t be logical to both go and buy a PS4, when only one of them needs to go buy an Xbox or Switch or PC. You can argue this won’t be the case for many people, but it also won’t be an insignificant number of people where this is in fact the case.

Again, this is a stupid anti-consumer move. Why would you limit this to force people into (Or away from as the case seems to be) a PS4 purchase when by all accounts the PS4 has enough merit to be a purchase of its own accord just by glancing over at its library? Funnily enough all these cross-play enabled platforms are doing just fine without gating away your friends, because their libraries are compelling. The PS4 most definitely has enough power behind it to not require this dumb move, anyone will tell you that, and given the freedom of choice, many people would pick PS4 anyway, if it interested them. Now they will be turned away, especially if their friends are on other systems.

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But what really gets me is how Sony “Responded” to this at E3 2017. I say “Responded” because well…they gave several answers and didn’t stick with any of them…

Unfortunately it’s a commercial discussion between ourselves and other stakeholders, and I’m not going to get into the detail of that on this particular instance. And I can see your eyes rolling.

We’ve got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base

Everybody has to take their own decisions. We’ll do that. Like I say, we have no philosophical stance against cross-play at all.

That said, to my knowledge, there is no live conversation ongoing at the moment.

Source (Seriously read it all, it is pure gold!)

Props to Eurogamer for this grilling, as it shows their reasoning is…well flimsy, is probably the right word. That’s all I will say on that matter, because again, they are still “For the Players”, right? Right?

 

indies

Now let’s talk about indies. Hey Jim Ryan, come put your foot in it again. You were all about indie games early on, what happened?

It was just good to talk about in 2013/2014. It is less relevant now.

Source

Well…that’s nice. I’m actually going to quote Jim Sterling here as well, who asked some indie developers regarding Steam and the other platforms, and what they noted was “Sony isn’t interested“, and this has shown. The indie games are drying up on PS4.

But that’s what is odd. Other indie developers have noted in interviews that the people leading Sony’s indie charge a few years ago have since left.

“Our contacts at Sony are not as reliable as those at Microsoft, to be honest,”…

“I don’t know them as well, they’re less engaged with what’s going on here at IndieCade — I’ve seen the Xbox people all over here all the time. I see, definitely, a difference.”

Source

The general mood appears to be one of Sony almost withdrawing from indies as a pillar of their business and frankly doing so I think is damaging. These are the niche releases, the quirky creative games and no all of them can’t be good, but many are and they fill a much-needed gap in releases.

This rich, full and varied line up and promoting other developers (Like they promote their wonderful third-party partners in exchange for hot cash) will do nothing but promote game sales on your platform, which you get a cut from. Just look at sales of indie games when promoted by Nintendo, it fills in gaps, gets the games out there, and they sell well. Same for Microsoft.

Put your hat in the ring and push some more games and promote them during the period. Players will thank you, normally with money.

 

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Now let’s look at basic features. External hard drive support? Took 3 years to arrive. Couldn’t tell you why, it just did. The basic feature that is expandable external storage was missing from PS4 for 3 years!

Oh and let’s quickly discuss PSN Names. You can’t change your PSN Username, unlike on every other system and platform imaginable, but I believe I have found the reason.

So in a database there will be a value, just a random string of digits, like a friend code on a Nintendo system. This value will never change. This is your account in the database.

Attached to this value are all the variables, things you can change, like your address, real name, card details, purchase history, settings, so on so forth. All those are changeable and tied to that unchangeable value. That is how the accounts on other systems are set up. Your username, your display name, is just another variable, as it should be.

On PSN, the thing all your variables are tied to is your account name. That username you are stuck with is the string of digits you can’t change in the database. That username is what holds all your data for your account in Sony’s servers. Brilliant foresight I have to sarcastically say, and though they claim they are working on it, we know that if this is the case the PSN will have to be completely rebuilt, as it’s still stuck in 2006.

 

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To conclude, let’s talk about John Kodera. This is the man behind the PSN, PSVue, PSNow, all the services and streaming things tied to the PlayStation brand. He is now head of the branch, rather suddenly, and likely this is to leverage a service based, subscription based future for the PS4 and successor devices.

He is also very interested in micro-transactions too. Lucky us right?

With words recently from Kazuhiko Takeda (Head of Corporate Planning) at an investors meeting, I do worry about this approach lining up a little too well with their future strategy…

Our business model involves selling both the game console and the software for it, so we’re working to get more customers paying continuously for content, for example through paid subscription services.

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As Sony has said, their future for PlayStation is constant payment from you, the consumer. Tie that idea in with Kodera and his admitted enjoyment on micro-transactions, and his big focus on subscriptions and streaming things to you, as well as PS+, and it gets a bit…of a mess.

Oh and speaking of PS+ I didn’t even mention the service outage problems or the fact that they gleefully advertise that some DLC is on PS4 30 days before any other system! “For the Players!”.

Oh, and apparently what you see below happens on PS Now as well…

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Seriously though, sarcasm aside, I think Sony has a lot of work to do. Their slogan was true early on with PS4 but now it holds no water, and as a tagline that is meant to sell you on something, and promise an experience accurate to those words, it falls flat in every way, outside of a good library of games.

But to their consumers, to us watching from the outside, it’s daunting. A lie on every box as it were. It has some merit, but dig just a little and you see a company that is very much against the players.

It has to change, otherwise they will find themselves where Microsoft was in 2013.

 

 

And that is our Christmas article for the year! A very long one I know but I had a lot to say and a lot of words to say it with. As always share this with your friends, leave comments here or on social media, tell me I’m wrong in every way and I will see you next time. Until then, Happy Gaming!

Behind The Game: Games of the Year!

Rather than do a numbered list, we will just be posting our favourite games of this past year.

 

In reality, a lot of games I played this year were from years past, but I have picked up plenty of 2017 titles, so let’s dive right in, in no particular order of course.

There will be some close omissions, and a fair few popular games are ones I haven’t simply had the time or money to get around to playing this year, such as Persona 5, but I am most definitely aware of their impact and deserved praise.

 

Sonic Mania

Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch

Developer: Christian Whitehead, Headcannon, PagodaWest Games

Publisher: SEGA

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We reviewed this game and gave it glowing praise, granted it isn’t perfect, as a testament to what makes a great, fast paced, replayable 2D Adventure. Be it the stunning visuals in all their HD Pixel-y glory, or the jazzy retro soundtrack from Tee Lopes, there is something for any fan of platformers to enjoy. If you want some retro 2D goodness, this is where you go.

 

Chicken Wiggle

Available on Nintendo 3DS Systems

Developer: Atooi

Publisher: Atooi

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From the 2D wizards at Atooi under Jools Watsham we have Chicken Wiggle. This game is certainly a welcome addition to the ever-expanding 3DS family that flew under everyone’s radars amongst all the Switch hype this summer. The gameplay is charming and simple, but buried within is the incredible level creation tools used to create the game with different objectives and the ability to share your creations with other players. Give this one a go if it’s your fancy. This is the prime level creation community game for 3DS!

 

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle

Available on Nintendo Switch

Developer: Ubisoft Milan/Ubisoft Paris

Publisher: Ubisoft

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Another game we have written about before, this time in the form of a Behind The Game examination, Mario + Rabbids is a game that admittedly drew me in to tactical RPGs. My wallet cries already. Where other games have lost me on overcomplicated mechanics, Kingdom Battle strives ahead with simple but in-depth mechanics, and a true to form presentation backed up by Grant “Noggy” Kirkhope (Sorry Grant, but Twitter doesn’t lie!) and his traditional jaunty tunes bringing each world to life. This is a game full of surprises and well worth picking up, even if it can beat you down without mercy!

 

Metroid: Samus Returns

Available on Nintendo 3DS Systems

Developer: MercurySteam

Publisher: Nintendo

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MercurySteam may have a history with Metroidvania titles, but nothing quite does their talents justice than Samus Returns. Sure the game can be difficult, very difficult at times, and it’s structure being based on Metroid II Return of Samus maybe doesn’t give it quite that open-ended Metroid feel we are used to, it is still a fantastic atmospheric and well-developed title, with unique twists to really make it stand out amongst its 2D Metroid brethren. Even just as an action game, you can’t go wrong here.

 

Crash Bandicoot: The N. Sane Trilogy

Available on PS4

Developer: Vicarious Visions

Publisher: Activision

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Crash is back, and it is truly fantastic. Faithful (At times to a fault) remakes of the original trilogy from the PSone days, this is a trilogy available on PS4 that any PSone, platformer or retro fans want to nab. Difficult, charming, and true to the spirit of the originals we remember, this is the return the Bandicoot deserved. They even threw in some little bonuses and attention to details that fans will appreciate.

 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Available on Nintendo Switch and Wii U

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Publisher: Nintendo

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So full admission going in to this: I’m not a huge fan of 3D Zelda. Something about the slower starts really turns me away. Up to the release of this game the only one I beat was The Wind Waker HD. So to my surprise, the speed at which this game lets you begin, let’s you learn and progress entirely at your own pace and gives you this huge captivating world you want to explore, even if the rewards aren’t all worth it. There are annoyances, but like many games above, this simply captivated me into continuing, just to see what was over the next ridge. This is a game I can safely say will give you an experience totally unique to you.

 

Snake Pass

Available on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch

Developer: Sumo Digital

Publisher: Sumo Digital

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One thing I always adore in games is a unique idea, and this is no different. How do you do a platformer….without the power to jump? Simply put, you use a snake. Snake Pass caught my eye from day one just as something different. Another charming almost throwback to the past, with the unique challenge of learning the physics and how Noodle works to explore the levels. There are plenty of optional challenges should you desire them, especially going for 100%, but impatient sorts will find themselves in a bit of a tangle. Stick with it though, and you’ll soon see what makes this such a gem.

 

Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together!

Available on Nintendo Switch

Developer: SFB Games

Publisher: Nintendo

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Yet another game that caught my eye due to its unique premise. You and a friend, or yourself on your own I suppose, co-operate and communicate in short puzzles that test your cunning, wit, and inevitable use of innuendo to refer to certain strategies. This is a game I am very happy to see get more content, if only for simple fun with friends. This is the top co-operative game this year for me, and nothing beats the blushing, laughter, and sound of gears turning in your mind when you sit down and play with friends for a few hours. You’ll be hard pressed to keep a straight face with this as your friend asks you to “Snip” them!

 

Super Mario Odyssey

Available on Nintendo Switch

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Publisher: Nintendo

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Another for us platformer fans. Of course a successor to Super Mario 64 would be great but I had no idea I would be sinking 40 hours of my time, over a few nights, to get 100% in this game. I was unprepared for the variety, the creativity, the sheer joy at even simple actions, in a game that both looks back, and pushes forward. What it has is unique and incredibly solid mechanics and worlds, and only rarely loses focus with the sheer volume of content. This is a game you will come back to in years to come and still find new ways to approach things.

 

Splatoon 2

Available on Nintendo Switch

Developer: Nintendo EPD

Publisher: Nintendo

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Rounding out one of my favourite years in gaming so far is Splatoon 2, a game that manages to pull me back in for an hour or two a week just to mess around with the new content. Fun, colourful, and an improvement over the original, this is my multiplayer game of the year and for good reason: It’s simply fun. Not only does it capture the perfect “One More Round” mentality, but it keeps itself fresh week after week, and the sheer abundance of modes means every time you play, you’ll catch yourself trying something new. This takes an already unique concept one step further by simply giving you more bang for your buck.

 

 

Those are just 10 of my favourite games from this year. Of course I intentionally left out re-releases like Mario Kart and Mega Man, but some genuinely amazing games were also up for consideration.

I’m very glad to have had an amazing year in gaming with both big and small companies providing the good stuff in a multitude of genres and it’s a shame I can’t play them all. I have an ever-growing wish list of 2017 games I still want to pick up and play!

Yes there are the usual suspects, but one can’t forget this year for me has been a year of unexpected gems, and indie developers absolutely bringing their A game.

As always if you enjoyed this or have any other games you personally loved this year, please let us know on social media and give this article a share, and I will see you next time. Until then, Happy Gaming!