Saints & Sinners (May 11)
In the video game industry, the fans are bombarded by two separate yet equally important groups: Saints, who bring with them only the purest form of joy, and Sinners, beings dedicated solely to evoking misery. These are their stories.
My name is Drew Robbins and I am, for one week only, livid. I don’t even want to talk about basketball, the Chicago Bulls, or anything related to the state of Philadelphia. Let’s get to the angry before I curl up into a ball and die.
2K Games: I’m considerably excited for Bioshock Infinite; all of the coverage regarding the game, from the day of announcement to the several shows that followed, has shown it to be a title of utmost excellence and polish. As a connoisseur of the industry, I can appreciate that, but, as a fan of the industry, I can also appreciate when this undoubtedly phenomenal product is delayed in favor of an entry into a prominent franchise.
Bioshock Infinite is delayed, yes, and this is news that, initially, rocked me to my core. In a year so watered down with mediocre, dime-a-dozen content, where was I got get my fix of top-shelf goodness if not from Irrational Games? The answer is, as it so often is, simple: Rockstar Games. In the wake of the devastation that so followed this story, analysts such as Michael Pachter emerged from the woodwork to assure followers of the industry that their hard-earned dollar could still be spent this fall on a new game being published by 2K Games, but, instead of being the successor to Bioshock and Bioshock 2, it would be the successor to Grand Theft Auto IV.
When I saw the trailer for Grand Theft Auto V at the beginning of this year, I thought that there was almost no chance of the title seeing shelves before 2013. Now, with the removal of Bioshock Infinite from the latter half of 2012, I have reason to believe. As much as I love Bioshock, my loyalty to Grand Theft Auto forbids me to see this as a negative occurrence.
While I still think that the odds of seeing Grand Theft Auto V launch later this year are low, this story brings me hope, and that’s a good thing. After a night such as tonight, when all of my dreams were crushed in favor of those of a fan base that once booed Santa Claus, hope is the best that I can ask for.
Shiggy: Actually, there is one thing that I can ask for that is better than hope: rational thought. Well thought out, articulated arguments aren’t really a thing in gaming anymore; blogs and other such publications seem content to sensationalize the industry to the point that every article and column is either declaring us to be in the golden age of one thing or the end of an era for another thing. A case in which this is best scene is with the Nintendo 3DS, a platform that, a little over a year ago, was regarded as dead to rights due to a slow launch. Of course, anyone that would stop to think over the issue for more than five seconds could have attributed the system’s sluggish sales to its lack of must-have hardware, a concern that would be alleviated the moment a box was published with Mario plastered all over its cover.
Despite having seen the fall and rise of the 3DS come to pass, the very same blogs and publications that sensationalized that hardware cycle are doing the same for the PlayStation Vita; because of a slow start, those claiming to be in the know have begun plotting the grave for Sony’s latest handheld. Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo mastermind and all around great human being, isn’t so quick to predict the platform’s demise. The Vita, he says, has a lot in common with the 3DS in that it hasn’t launched with the variety of software that ensures numerous sales. He does, however, believe that Sony’s device can pull itself up just as the 3DS has due to the fact that it’s technologically stunning hardware with the potential for great titles down the road.
Thank you, Miyamoto, for mastering the art of talking without sounding like you are chewing on your ear the entire time. Hearing folks inside of the industry declare the end of such hardware as the 3DS and Vita right out of the gate has been one of the more frustrating trends of the past generation; it does my heart good to see that one particular folk inside of the industry has enough cognition to see past the current state of the platforms. Best of all, Miyamoto was put it an ideal situation to tear up the competition and call for an end to their product before it could even gain traction. Clearly, he is a better man than that.
I’ve always loved Shiggy, but I’ve never appreciated him like I do now. In this time of instant access and social media, a wise man that rises above reactionary tendencies is deserving of the utmost respect.
Microsoft: When I first heard that Microsoft would be offering up an alternative method of payment for the Xbox 360 bundle, a collection that includes a 4 gigabyte console and a Kinect, I was thrilled at the prospect. After all, can allotting more choice to the consumer ever a bad thing? In this case, yes, it is.
In my time, I’ve been on the receiving end of some fairly shoddy deals; at one point in my life, I traded an entire cow for a handful of supposedly-magical beans that an old man was offering me on the way to the local market. This deal, though, is even worse. For the low price of $99, the aforementioned Xbox 360 bundle can be yours, but, by agreeing to that price, consumers are also agreeing to pay a $15 monthly fee for Xbox Live Gold over the next two years.
I’m about to suggest to you to do something that you won’t enjoy in the least: math. Take a seat, pull out your calculator, and start crunching numbers. The very same Xbox 360 bundle being offered up in this deal goes for the retail price of $299. That number, to the naked eye, seems to be much larger than the meager $99 being put on the table in the contractual offering. Now is the time in which the calculator that you (hopefully) unearthed comes into play; the two year contract for Xbox Live Gold costs $15 a month for two years, or 24 months. 24, when multiplied by the $15 monthly price tag, equals $360. Add the $99 that you had to put down on the console at the beginning and you end up with the price of $459, a sum that is well above the typical $299 price tag that the bundle is typically labelled with at retail.
There is no situation in which I think that agreeing to these terms is a good idea; in order to save $200 up front, you must pay $159 more in the long run. I’m not entirely opposed to this model being used in future products, but, if it does resurface, I’d like to see it do so in a way that is more fair to the consumer. Obviously, interest has to be paid, but is this amount even close to a number that one would consider reasonable? I certainly don’t consider it to be so, and I would hope that everyone else sees this travesty for what it is as a rather shallow money grab by Microsoft made in the waning days of a great system.
Ubisoft: As I’ve alluded to many times over in this week’s column, a certain professional sports team of mine has dropped the ball. I mean this in both a literal and metaphorical sense as not only have they, at many points in the past week, dropped a physical sphere, but they have also sabotaged a chance that was so kindly gifted to them by their fantastic regular season. That said, they weren’t the worst offenders in the world when it came to dropping the ball this week; Ubisoft takes that title with relative ease.
The Avengers was a pretty good movie that I happened to see three times last weekend. Not only was it a good movie, though, but it was also a good movie to be converted into a decent video game. There aren’t a lot of films that I would say that for so it should come as no surprise that one studio emerged to claim the rights to its production. It seemed fairly obvious what to do with the game given the context of both the movie and past video games based off of its likeness; group together all of the super heroes, throw them into a troubled scenario, and then have them go at it with all of their otherworldly powers in a beat-em-up for the ages.
At this point in the process, it does not seem that this is the ideology that Ubisoft has chosen to adopt; The Avengers: Battle for Earth is a game launching exclusively for the Wii U and Kinect. Releasing exclusively for the Wii U in this scenario isn’t so much of a problem as launching exclusively for the Kinect is. Can you imagine a sophisticated, well-made beat-em-up being crafted around the monstrosity formerly known as Natal? No, you can’t, and don’t even bother trying; it’s not possible.
I suppose that it was a bit of a long shot to see Ubisoft reprise the likes of Captain America and The Avengers, an old school arcade game based around this subset of the Marvel universe, in creating a game for the film incarnation of The Avengers, but it was certainly something to hope for. I see little room for that same level of hope in a project that is seeing much of its development centered around Microsoft’s Kinect. The game hasn’t even made a public appearance and already I’m numb to its charm. If the guy that saw a movie three times in one weekend can’t get pumped up for its video game recreation, then you know that you’re a rightful occupant of the Sinner position, Ubisoft.
Judgement has been passed