Tag Archives: Gaming

Are We Seeing The End Of Good Game Franchises?

Battlefield V got a massive amount of blowback when a combination of historical inaccuracies, outrage from both extreme left and right-wing groups, and terrible PR responses after the initial negative reaction to the game’s first trailer.

Then Diablo Immortals got a ton of blowback after a long-running PC-exclusive franchise suddenly went the mobile route. It was featured as the star attraction of a convention showcase where the fanbase was expecting something larger. Naturally, like EA/DICE with Battlefield V, the response from Activision Blizzard was, shall we say, less than stellar. And yes, we do have phones.

Now Bethesda is taking a turn with Fallout 76, a game that was created for a trendy genre several years too late to that party and was release as a broken, buggy and lifeless mess. Couple that with the recent outrage over a nylon bag in the $200 special edition where a refund of $5 of in-game currency (which is jack squat), and fans are also extremely pissed off.

This is just three recent cases of major franchises making a massive mistake (or several) and generating losses (or in Diablo’s case, potential losses) for franchises that before these controversies, were guaranteed to make tons of money in profits before even counting microtransactions, DLC and more. But there’s plenty of other franchises that developers and publishers alike have been slowly pissing away all the good will they’ve had over years and years, game after game.

Final Fantasy. Without counting the surprising success FFXIV: A Realm Reborn has had, single-player Final Fantasy games haven’t had a real hit since Final Fantasy X on the PlayStation 2. FFXII went well under the radar, FFXIII was a trilogy no one outside of Japan asked for, and FFXV showed promise, but was a mess from the beginning of its pre-production and could not have been saved.

Mass Effect. Not just a trilogy, but THE trilogy from the past console generation. Despite the controversial ending of the final installment, the series was one of the most well-respected franchises in gaming. Cue Mass Effect: Andromeda, a game that was released in a poor state, made by a studio that had never made a game of that scale before, and was such a disaster, no single-player DLC came out for it and the series has been put on hold, potentially forever.

Star Wars. One of the few licensed franchises to have legitimately good games and then EA decided to get its hands all over it and do what EA does best. Cancel potentially interesting titles (Star Wars 1313, the game Visceral was going to make, etc.), refuse to remake or continue promising games within the license (KOTOR, Republic Commando, Rogue Squadron, etc.) and release only Star Wars titles of the most poor quality and rifled with microtransactions and create one of the largest video game controversies in history (Star Wars Battlefront II).

There’s six franchises right there. We could talk about Konami ruining Metal Gear Solid, SEGA constantly saving Sonic the Hedgehog and then screwing up all over again, and so much more, there’s just so many examples out there, some I’ve forgotten or aren’t even aware of. It’s not an anomaly anymore, it is a yearly, if not quarterly occasion now for long-time consistently great franchises in gaming to get either destroyed or severely damaged.

With Fallout 76 being the current offender, while not striking a lethal blow on the Fallout franchise, there is now considerable worry and disdain from fans of the series because of the game that many are calling an absolute disaster, a broken mess, a failure of failures. Couple the bad game with a terrible PR response to the aforementioned nylon bag in the $200 edition and it’s clear that Bethesda is going a similar route that a lot of the major publishers and developers are going. They’re simply using the good will of their franchises’ names and making games that cost less and rake more profits in through overpricing the base game, microtransactions, and other nefarious means.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. We’re in a very important time in this generation of gaming. Thankfully, we’re responding in the way that we should, however we’re also failing as well. Sure, we may be giving companies hell for failing miserably and insulting our intelligence, whether it’s making garbage games, poor PR relations with their consumer base, or just plain ol’ not listening to what their customers want, but in the end, way too many of us are just buying or even worse, pre-ordering their games just on brand recognition alone.

I’m sorry folks, but I have no sympathy for people dropping hundreds of dollars on games that “might” be good. It’s your job as a consumer to not look at things through a rose-coloured lens, rather than just pre-ordering a game, assuming it’ll be just as good as the last one. I made that mistake with Andromeda, and I will beat myself up for that one for years to come. The signs were all there, the game didn’t look that great, what little of it was shown. The concept was all I had to go on and that should’ve been a red flag. Fallout fans, you knew this game was not going to be a traditional Fallout game. Hell, we knew it wasn’t even going to be just “Fallout Online”, it was going to be something more akin to Rust or ARK: Survival Evolved. As someone who really enjoyed Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, but not Fallout 4, just the idea of getting a Fallout game that looked a lot like a copy/paste of the latest edition in the franchise, but one that would be more devoid of life as most of these survival games are, I was immediately not psyched. Boy am I glad I steered clear of this one.

So the question remains, are we in for a long period of time, perhaps permanently, where long-time franchises are doomed to failure? Are we soon to expect other franchises like Street Fighter, HALO, Legend of Zelda, The Witcher, Hitman and many more, follow the same trend and royally piss off their consumer base, just to make a quick buck off the brand value? Hell, even though I like what I’ve seen from Kingdom Hearts III, I’m not discounting the possibility that this game could be an absolute pile of shit and completely drive the franchise into the ground, just like Square Enix has been doing with Final Fantasy.

But in the end, I remain optimistic. I think it really depends on who’s running the show. If it’s EA, there’s no hope. Activision Blizzard? Hahahaha, we know we’re screwed now. Bethesda is new to the game, maybe they’ll learn from Fallout 76. Ubisoft has learned their lesson several times, just take a look at Rainbow Six: Siege, Tom Clancy’s The Division, the Assassin’s Creed games. They’ve improved. Nintendo should be fine, they generally put real effort into what they make. It’s honestly a 50/50 chance that your favourite franchise could take a hit when they release their next game.

So have a coin handy the next time a big reveal trailer drops for a series you love and adore. Heads, you pre-order. Tails, you don’t. It’ll help you make a call so you don’t have to take those rose-coloured glasses off.

I Cannot Believe A Sports Game Has Been My Big Time Sinker This Year

It’s not that I don’t play sports games. Ever since I was little, I loved playing sports games, whether it was NHLPA Hockey 93′ and Mutant League Hockey on the SEGA Genesis, Super Batter Up on the Super Nintendo, NBA Jam at arcades, NHL Hitz 2002 on the PlayStation 2, hell I used to play the NHL series for 4 years in a row online all the time during my Xbox 360 days.

But I burned out. Especially after playing the NHL games for so long and way too seriously, I destroyed my love for these games. Oh and EA Sports had a bit of a hand in that as well, hard for those greedy bastards not to be involved in some way. But for the past 5 years, sports games have been limited to at best 20-30 hours of me playing whatever the game has as an offline “Be a Pro” kind of mode, where I get to play my way up the ladder into becoming the greatest of all-time. Except…I never reach that point. I usually fizzle out of the games around halfway into my first season as a pro player. I get bored really easily, so playing the same thing over and over again usually does go over with me very well and I end up dropping the game pretty quick.

So imagine my surprise after picking up the newest copy of MLB The Show 18 on PlayStation 4. I played the previous year’s edition, probably put like I said before, about 20-30 hours into it. I didn’t hate it, I just can’t play those kinds of games for very long. Well, at least until this edition.

Some of the big names you can unlock through grinding in the game’s “Diamond Dynasty” mode.

Now I think it helped getting into the game a bit later than others, as I started the game in the summer, whereas the game launched at the end of March. But where the game really hooked me was its “Diamond Dynasty” mode, which to EA Sports players, it’s their equivalent to the various Ultimate Team modes out there. You start out getting a ‘meh’ at best set of cards, with no superstars in sight and you work your way towards building the best baseball team possible, using both present day and past players. Hell, there’s even a few “Future Stars” cards where you have beefed up versions of rookies that could potentially be huge stars in a couple years, for example the first one being the Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr.

You play ballgame after ballgame, whether offline or online, grinding out stats on various players and teams, collecting items to complete various collections and all of this unlocks bigger and better players to make your team even more lethal. Y’know, I’m not going to sit here and say it’s some revolutionary thing, but as a veteran RPG player, what this game offered me was perfectly in line with how I enjoy playing JRPGs. I level up, gain more stuff and I’m more powerful as I go on. In MLB 18, I play a few games, achieve either a one-game mission where for example I need to get 3 hits and 2 stolen bases in the same game, or perhaps a much larger long-term mission where I need to grind out say 50 hits and 25 doubles. I’m always working towards something in the end and that’s what ends up keeping me going. I’m not just playing for no reason, I’m continually working at something, with a goal in mind and a reward at the end. I have a full-page Excel document that has all the missions I’m currently working on, as well as missions waiting in the wings as soon as I have an open spot available. Clearing off missions for me is a little like spring cleaning, you feel a sense of pride and accomplishment (yes that pun is completely intended, EA.) making that list a little smaller.

Admittedly, it also helps that I use this game as my “doesn’t demand my full attention” option when I’m listening to live shows, podcasts and more. I’m a podcast junkie, I’ve got at least 30 followed on my Spotify list and a third of them I’m listening to religiously. Maybe I’ll do a post someday about what I’m listening to and give you folks a few suggestions (hold me to this, I won’t remember…) that you might not have been aware of. But yeah, the game doesn’t really demand too much, so it’s a great multi-tasker for me, I can play the game and grind out a couple missions to completion and I can also listen to whatever I need to catch up on and just soak all that information in. I think that, large in part is how this game is working so well for me, because other games I’m big into like Destiny 2, Monster Hunter World and most single-player games where I want to hear everything, they don’t work when I have 3-5 podcasts I also want to listen to as well.

An example of the collections. Mine is a lot more complete than this.

What’s also made this year’s edition better for me is that unlike last year’s edition where I felt I got a respectable number of decent players. I got a couple of Diamond-level players, which is the highest rank, going from Level 85-99, but not many. This year, I’m literally less than 10 present day (or Live Series as they call it in-game) players away from completing the entire collection. Now if we’re talking other cards, I’ve still got a ways to go, there’s a lot of grinding left to do and I definitely won’t finish it all, but the fact I can look at my collection this year and not only see some progress, but a LOT of progress? When taking into account as well that I wasn’t frustrated or bored the entire way through thus far, that’s a major plus.

And the biggest part of it? I spent less than $40 to do what I’ve done. I got the game on sale and I haven’t spent a penny on microtransactions in the game, so to all the suckers out there throwing hundreds of dollars at fake currency just so you can own that extremely rare 94 overall Mike Trout? Suck it, cause I got one without praying for luck in a card pack (aka a loot box) or buying tons of stubs (the game’s currency) to get him. Patience and hard work pays off.

To those reading this that are actually familiar with the game, I’ve been playing the game on and off since June. I never played online and refuse to at this point, as the way people play and try to use every glitch in the book to win a single fake baseball game, it’s not worth it to me. I’ve done everything offline for mission grinding and in terms of making currency, I just slowly worked away at the game’s marketplace and grew my stub numbers over time. I think it helps that I’m so good at micro-managing things, so I was always paying attention to what I was doing and not getting suckered into spending the stubs I’d made through hard work on loot boxes that would’ve never gotten me anything. For example, any pack I’ve ever open has never landed me a Diamond card. Ever. So instead of hoping for luck to shine on me, I always set myself goals and limits that made it work. And to progress the way I’ve had, it feels pretty damn good!

In the end, I think the biggest help is that I am a baseball fan through and through. I played from the age of 6 until I was 14, now I’m back to playing Slo-Pitch Softball with friends and co-workers (I don’t mean to brag, but I’m actually super good. All those years training to be an anime protagonist paid off!) and staying healthy through that, along with other sports. But baseball is my bread and butter, it’s always been a big part of my life, so it’s not that surprising to me that if a sports game was going to really grab my attention this year, it’s a baseball game.

I think it also just has to do with so many other genres starting to dwindle with me. I’m completely Destiny-ed out, I’m finding it really hard to pick up the game and grind some more, even though I don’t necessarily hate the game. I’ve put over 2000 total hours into the series thus far, I’m burning myself out. Open world games aren’t grabbing me the way they used to, there aren’t a lot of great JRPGs out there these days (though I am waiting for Dragon Quest to drop in price…) and I’m also just waiting for games I want to play to go on sale, cause it’s harder and harder for me to justify paying full price for games that I’m not 100% sure I’m going to love.

So I’ll take a baseball game I paid about half-price for, being the game that’s been my time sinker this year. I always need one.

 

Is Suikoden Coming Back?

So apparently Konami has relaunched their Suikoden website for the first time in over 5 years. There’s no reason as to why as of this point, but there’s many ideas floating around:

  • Suikoden or Suikoden II being featured on the PlayStation Classic
  • A digital re-release of the original two PS classics on PS4
  • A remaster of either or both of the original two
  • A new Suikoden game altogether?!!!

I did notice on the website that it mentions every game in the series, so I wonder if that could possibly mean that a potential compilation disc could be released, featuring all five of the main games in the series.

Personally, that would be fantastic for me. I’ve played through Suikoden IV and V, got a little bit into III, but never finished it, but most importantly, I’ve never played the original two, which most fans of the series call the two best. I would love to be able to check out these games, as I’d have a physical copy of the original games already, but have you seen the price of Suikoden II?! It’s like 200 bucks, minimum!

I own all three of the PS2 games and am glad I got my hands on them, but man if there was a re-release of all five games and I didn’t have to dust off the ol’ PS2 to play them? Well, I mean…my PS4 is dusty too, but that’s not the point! Being able to replay the two I’ve beaten, attempt to finish the one I never finished and then play the two originals that I never got a chance to play, as I missed the original PlayStation as a long-time owner of a Nintendo 64 before moving onto the PlayStation 2…

…Yeah. I’m 100% behind that!