Something, Something Game News – Pokemon Go: Nintendo’s guide to making money

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pokemonlegs

Welcome to the world of the real.

 

It’s no secret that Pokemon Go has become an earth-shattering success in an absurdly short amount of time. The game was released on July 6th — just one week ago, and it has an estimated 15 million downloads and counting. That’s over 2m a day, and it would be a fair estimate to suggest it will hit 20m by the weekend. It’s already seeing more use than mainstream social media apps like Twitter and Facebook, as well as other top game installs like CandyCrush and Slithr.io, with not only more total active users, but also longer time spent using the app. In just 7 days, it has become the biggest mobile game in history.

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To be fair, you really don't want to "catch" anything from Tinder.

 

From the rampant reports of server problems and security concerns, it’s safe to say that the relatively small-time developer (not for long), Niantic wasn’t ready for the kind of reception it has received. Even in countries where you can’t even officially download the app from the Play, or iOS store, people are still managing to get their hands on installers and running them anyway.

But can you really blame Niantic? I mean, their previous works weren’t exactly unsuccessful, but they were little more than a creative indie team with an interesting geocaching game not entirely unfamiliar next to their Pokemon themed successor (in fact, some clever fellow has figured out how to use it to find Pokemon). Maybe Nintendo weren’t entirely prepared, either. With lackluster sales of the Wii U, it seemed all but likely that Nintendo may be headed towards leaving the hardware business altogether. The dynasty has seen better days and maybe it was little more than an experiment to see if their interests in AR could really pay off.

pokemongym
Chicks love badges.

Well, we were ready, weren’t we?

As if a flood washed over all of popular media, suddenly everything Pokemon. Perhaps helping as an escape from recent events… well, everywhere it seems… ages ranging from, hell, everyone. Kids to old folks. Hardcore fans of the series, and people who’d never heard of it before.

PTSD afflicted veterans who’d struggled to leave the house…

pokemonvet

Cops hanging out with teenagers…

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And a rainbow of others across so many spectrum. It’s hard to name a demographic that isn’t running around in the streets being more social than one could have imagined while having their faces buried in their phones. It’s fucking incredible. I dare anyone to suggest otherwise.

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pokemonhealth<3

It’s probably a fair assumption that Nintendo is pretty excited about it, too, considering it’s raised their company’s value by well over $10 billion in the past week, and is raking in hard cash at a rate of $1.6 million per day, just on iPhones alone. Worldwide Android data isn’t in yet, but a safe estimate wouldn’t be much shy of 10 million or more. With a dominant user base expected to rise, it’s likely that those numbers will continue their upward trend. For how long, it’s hard to say. At the very least, if Nintendo and Niantic are wise, they will ride this tidal wave and continue to to develop and improve the app with features and content. There’s no denying they have a gem here, and the best thing they can do is exploit it more than a diamond mine in Africa.

pokemonbroncos

Let the product placement begin...

Just over 30 years after the NES was born, Nintendo has once AGAIN flipped a whole industry upside down. It doesn’t take a psychic-type (ha) to predict there will be a tsunami of clones and imitators. Competitors certainly aren’t about to ignore the rampant success, and you can already see every other kind of business jumping on the bandwagon just to get a taste of that Pokemon money.
Will this instantaneous phenomenon conjure a brighter future for Nintendo? Perhaps. It might be a bit early to say, but it would be foolish to withhold from the grandfather of gaming the benefit of the doubt. Nintendo has never been shy at taking a leap with a new idea, and it’s one of their best qualities. Gaming as we know it just wouldn’t be the same, and it’s on the precipice of change yet again, thanks to the one company who has never been afraid to be the outlier, and will continue to fill the treasured childhood memories of generations to come.

/gameon

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Stay safe, trainers. ;)

Something, Something Game News – QA: Who is to blame: Developers or Publishers?

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For a while, I’ve been trying to come up with an answer as to why games release in the state they do these days. It seems that lately, more often than not a game hits the market with a ton of bugs to be fixed “later.” If a developer or publisher follows through on fixing the bugs within a reasonable time, I suppose it’s acceptable, but there are many games across the industry, whether from “AAA” publishers or indie teams, which go unfixed or unfinished. Of course, the same seems to go for content as well. You buy a rather empty game for $50-60, then have to spend another $30 for “DLC” which should have been in the game in the first place.

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"Bland" and "uninspired" are good adjectives, too.

I understand that much of it has to do with the nature of technology these days. With our always connected devices, software can be updated at any time to add more content or mend problems. The issue is that this has become a strategy rather than a convenience, resulting in poor on-site QA and relying on the community to discover the bugs after having paid for the game. It just seems unfathomable to me, coming from having grown up with a generation of games which couldn’t possibly have the number of bugs they ship with now. If Ocarina of Time wasn’t working out of the box, it would have ended up a relic on the Pre-Owned shelf, destined to collect dust as a failed title.

But when EA or Activision have a launch riddled with problems which go on for months, people still line up for the next game. C’mon people! If we want higher standards, we have to stop buying into the hype.

shortsightedgamers

DID SOMEONE SAY, "FREE?"

I know, it’s hard. There are big publishers who have control over franchises many of us have been playing for a decade or more.

One of my favourite games to come out last year was TMNT: Out of the Shadows. Well, I’d say more like would-be-favourite. It had some great fight mechanics and truly felt like a Turtles game worthy of the franchise, but it shipped with an uncanny amount of bugs which were never fixed even with frequent requests to Activision’s customer support. Of course, there were absolutely NO official lines of communication for that specific game, so it became clear rather quickly that Activision didn’t give a single fuck that online multiplayer would go unfixed to this day. Not to mention the fact that the Playstation 3 version which was promised within a few weeks after the 360 and PC launch, wasn’t launched until 7 months later… and of course, the 360 and PC would still receive no patches or attention.

activision-blizzard

Exactly.

But this isn’t entirely the status-quo, either.

A little game known as PAYDAY 2 is a great example of a game whose developer is concerned with keeping their audience. The game has frequent content updates (some paid, but even the paid ones tend to throw in a few pieces of free loot) and bug fixes with constant communication with the community. Every patch is lead with notes and hints of what’s coming next. Every patch is treated like an event in which to participate, rather than a wave of hope and/or dread that perhaps they fixed that thing you were hoping they’d fix, and didn’t break something else in the process. It may not be the greatest game ever made and it’s not without bugs, but it’s obvious that the developers care. They’re directly active in the community, rather than putting up complicated and convoluted “customer support” lines of communication which only put up more barriers between the developer and the user.

Nintendo seems to still understand how to make games without bugs as well. Most of the recent games I have, even with online features tend to receive one, maybe two updates in their lifespan. Game breaking bugs are rarely, if ever an issue, and there’s never any complicated DRM procedures to muck up the process of actually playing.

twogens

It's almost like they've been doing this for 30+ years...

I know I asked the question, but I feel like my answer is coming quickly. I know there are plenty of indie developers with a massive disconnect to their audience, but they are often run off the road like the infamous Fez developer, Phil Fish or given hell for vanishing like the developer of The Stomping Land. Meanwhile, it’s just business as usual for the big corporate publishers like EA, Activision and more recently, Ubisoft with their intentionally crippled PC port fiasco. Why do they get to stay in business while indie devs get slammed?

I’m actually sure the developers working on some of the big publishers’ titles would probably like some direct contact with the gaming community, but they aren’t allowed to — so we end up with idiot PR dept amateurs who know nothing about game development, because they never even end up talking to the developers, either.

pcwhocares

 

"I recall replying saying that the game was not downgraded, i still stick to that yes." - Ubisoft PR

So I guess the real question is, do the big publishers still deserve our money after consistently releasing disappointing products? Should we not expect more? Is it really worth it to spend $60 on a game you know in your very soul will be terrible, but happens to have a fully rendered Kevin Spacey? I’m not necessarily calling for a boycott, but perhaps people shouldn’t line up for the midnight release when it’s becoming more likely that the game will end up in the bargain bin for $10 after 6 months. If you don’t want a repeat of Ghosts, or the BF4 launch, don’t rush out the door to line the big publishers’ wallets. That’s exactly what they’re expecting you to do.

/gameon

halrrod

Hardware is not exempt, either.

Something Something, Game News – Next-Gen Consoles: Where is the “Next-Gen?”

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It recently occurred to me that the so-called “next-gen” consoles (PS4 and XBONE, specifically) will have been released for a whole year in two months. Now, I don’t have much experience with either console as I don’t own them, so I don’t pretend to be an expert on their daily operative functionality. However, I will be spending the entirety of this entry explaining why I have no interest in them at all, and will likely never own one. Aren’t you excited?

Instead of my typically cheeky image, let’s start with a short video from ReviewTechUSA:

If you like general gaming industry banter, this guy often makes some pretty good points.

Since I know some of you didn’t bother to watch (I know, 7 minutes seems like a long time on the internet), the general point of his message is that the XB1 and PS4 are woefully antiquated for their generation. His main argument is that they aren’t at all prepared for 4K picture quality as “4K is here.” I’m a little hesitant to agree with that particular assessment as nothing else is ready for 4K either, aside from PC towers for which the average person would need a loan. BluRays aren’t in 4K, TV isn’t in 4K, YouTube and Netflix certainly aren’t either, so I’m not jumping on the 4K bandwagon just yet. I give it at least another 2-4 years before we really start seeing those kinds of resolutions from general media sources.

However, I completely agree with his overall sentiment.

consolespower

I know, graphs of GFLOPS get the ladies wet.

Remember the difference between SNES and N64? Or even the difference between N64 and Gamecube? Hell, the difference between PS2 and PS3. It was always easy to be blown away by the new generation because it was always mind blowing how much better the graphics were. The first time I saw a PS4 demo at my local game shop, my first reaction was “meh.” While I was never a big playstation fan myself, I couldn’t deny the difference in graphics between the PS2 and PS3 was impressive. Yet, I’ve been playing games on my tower that look better than games on the PS4 since before it even came out. Not only that, but they have to keep showing us side-by-side comparisons of 360/XB1 and PS3/PS4 versions of the same games just to convince us of how much different they look.

sonextgen

Well I'm convinced.

Yet, that’s still not really the point I’m trying to make here. I could go on and on about how underpowered the technology is, and talk about bytes and hertz and screen resolutions, and blah blah blah… but this is a tired argument and frankly, the biggest reason why people hate the PC gamer community. It’s also not the main reason why I am avoiding the “next-gen” consoles.

Where am I going with this?

Games.

The new consoles have no games. It’s been a year, and neither one has any exclusive games worth upgrading for. All of the most anticipated titles are cross-platform (i.e. Destiny, Titanfall, etc), and no-brainer re-releases like The Last of Us HD should have been a launch title rather than an after-thought.

noplansforlastofus

"No plans" apparently means, "We didn't realize how much money it would make."

Meanwhile, the Wii U, having been the wet blanket of the console industry until two months ago is now dominating the XBONE in sales. Mario 3D World is also an impressive release, as is nearly every Nintendo first-party title. Throw in the hot items for 3DS such as Link Between Worlds, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Pokemon X/Y, etc, and suddenly Nintendo doesn’t look like such a chump. While they have the weakest hardware technology, they have the best list of exclusive games. You don’t need a PS4 to play the latest Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed.

globalhardware

 

"But Nintendo is for babies!" - Super serious adults trying to justify $400 on a Netflix machine.

All the while, the PC market is flooding with incredible indie titles foregoing the idea that you need a big franchise and a big publisher to make a good game that makes good money. Analysts suggest the PC market is already overtaking the console market.

Now, I’m not crying doom and gloom for the console market. I don’t think the PS4 and XBONE are going to die, and I don’t think the PC market is going to make a huge surge and suddenly become the main box in everyone’s living room. What I’m saying is that Sony and Microsoft seriously need to rethink their product strategy. The PS2 was the highest selling console ever because it also had the most diversity in games, and particularly exclusive games. The big companies aren’t infallible due to their legacy in the market.

All you have to remember is that Sonic now lives in Nintendo’s eStore.

/gameon

hdminintendo

 

$50 saved.

Game Review – Mario Kart 8

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Game review – Mario Kart 8
Platform – Wii U (exclusive)
Developer – Nintendo

Rating – 9.5/10

theonewhokarts

Vengeance, thy name is Luigi.

Mario Kart is one of those legacy franchises that has become ubiquitous with the Nintendo brand, and I am no stranger to its siren call. I’ve played every single one since the original nearly 25 years ago on the SNES, and own nearly all of them as well. I’m also very good. And by good, I mean comes-in-first-online-consistantly good. In Mario Kart 7, I beat all circuits on all difficulties with a 3 star rating on the first play through. I have to warn people I play with, because I’m just going to win nearly ever time. It’s not a brag, it’s simply that Mario Kart is my game. I know the tracks, I know the tricks, and if I had the opportunity to play the game professionally, I would.

So when I tell you that Mario Kart 8 is the culmination of everything I could possibly expect from such a title, you will fully understand my sentiment.

marioupdown

Kart took a cue from Galaxy and it paid off.

How can such an old series simply continue to shine in the way only Nintendo seems to be able to pull off? Well, it starts by paying attention to what the fans like. It has the most customizability of any Kart game in the franchise, and that really gives you the most sense of individuality of any of them so far. You can even upload your own Mii. It allows you to cater to your own style of racing in a way that lets you feel the road as you like, but without overwhelming you with options which have you tweaking for hours. It’s a well balanced system that leaves nothing feeling particularly over or underpowered.

Next come the maps. I’m always hesitant to suggest that any developer is capable of reinventing their own formula, and while I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that Nintendo has indeed done so, I cannot deny that the tracks are truly spectacular. All of the new circuits are gorgeous eye-candy, and extremely fun to boot. Even the classic tracks and circuits have received varying face-lifts (some are almost exactly the same, while others have taken some significant liberties that don’t seem much like their original predecessors at all), but in ways that only improve them. I was trying not to be overly impressed due to my long-term bias towards the franchise, but I simply couldn’t help myself. Every track has that vibrant charm only Nintendo can execute with such precise consistency.

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Think you're good at Kart 64's Rainbow Road? Think again.

There’s nothing much revolutionary coming from items and powerups, but there are a few new ones that really stick out. There’s a boomerang and it is a lot of fun to fling around. There’s a “Super Horn” which creates a large area of effect shockwave around you capable of knocking out just about everything including that pesky Blue shell. But the new stand out item for me is the Piranha Plant, which both boosts you ahead faster, while also chomping on anything that gets in your way, including projectiles and other players. There’s also an 8 now, to replace the former Lucky 7, which has a similar effect.

The one thing particularly apparent about this game, however, is the challenge it presents in 150cc mode and online play. I was taken aback by the difficulty level, even with my experience, and that’s not a bad thing. You have to fight to get into first, and there’s no guarantee you will hold on, because the other racers are most certainly relentless in their pursuit.

mario-kart-8-150cc-difficulty

I'm not saying 150cc is hard... I'm saying it's like trying to open a can of beans with a rusty spoon held between your butt-cheeks.

It’s fast, it’s difficult, and you will love every minute of it. But don’t take my word for it… Recent figures are showing over 1000% increase of Wii U sales since the release of Mario Kart 8, pushing it past the Xbox One and catching up to the PS4. This merely proves Nintendo’s commitment to first-party content, and this game is no anomaly in that department.

If you like Mario Kart games, get it. If you like racing games, get it. If you like Nintendo games, get it. If you like games with a real sense of challenge and replayability, get it. Hell, there’s almost no reason not to get it if you consider yourself a gamer, whether casual or hardcore, young or old. You will not be disappointed.

/gameon

P.S. Luigi will haunt your dreams.

Obligatory first post.

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allthememes

Because memes.

Well here I am, another gamer putting up a blog in the hopes of creating some sort of existence in the digital world. Fun, right?

I do, perhaps think of myself as more than a gamer on occasion. I work in the game industry as well as play. I have a pretty banging PC tower (obligatory hashtag, #pcmasterrace), but I don’t entirely hate console peasants. I still own nearly every Nintendo console ever made… but maybe I’m not a purist because I don’t have a Virtual Boy. I guess I’m just not that nostalgic when it comes to failed experiments.

IMG_1818

 Yeah... no.

So why am I writing this blog when there is already a sea full of blogs and “legitimate” game review sites? Well, for one thing, I’m pretty tired of a lot of the publications out there. When I see IGN give some wretched, old franchise regurgitation from one of the big 3 publishers (don’t worry, we’ll get to them later) a 90 on metacritic, while the user score sits somewhere around 2.0, it makes me want to stab myself in the eyes with a fire-poker burning with the heat of a thousand suns.

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Fair warning... Activision is high on my shit list.

Also, don’t get even get me started on how grossly overrated these so-called “next generation” consoles are (nevertheless, I will eventually get started). We’re getting close to a year since release and there are still no titles worth the price of entry. Suddenly, everyone’s faith in Nintendo is returning because they give a shit about making quality titles even with their vastly older franchises with more brand power than the Pope.

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Remember when the blue hedgehog was Mario's biggest competitor? Now, he lives in his eStore.

I will also likely preach about the church of Valve and their rather exemplary contribution to the industry. I guess it helps when your CEO/Founder is the biggest stereotype basement gamer nerd I can possibly imagine — and I honestly mean that in the best possible way. He’s clearly a guy who gives many of the fucks you might expect from such a character. He cares about his company name, and he cares about the industry as a whole. Not to mention his most popular and lucrative title is not only free to play, but has professional gaming tournaments with $10 million prize pools. While I’m not personally a big fan of DOTA 2, it’s hard not to get carried away in the grandeur of it all. Much respect to the Gabe.

Key-Arena

“It’s not a sport. " - John Skipper, President of ESPN

So, I’m a little passionate. This is the internet. Please try not to take it too seriously. You can call this a place to vent, a place to show off, and a place to pretend like maybe I know about things and even influence other people in some minute way. Maybe provide an example for how people should appreciate developers who actually care about making good games over high profits, or share with my fellow gamers in the love of this grand institution of artwork and skilled programming. Or… perhaps just say, “fuck it,” and post memes because they cater to the lowest common denominator of primate decision making and therefore incite the fastest consumer response!

Either way, it’ll probably be fun for at least one person. Me.

/gameon

fuckit

P.S. I hate you if you don't love this movie.