Topics in gaming news debated by GameCola writers and industry professionals.
In this edition of “Versus Mode” we have:
DANIEL CASTRO VS. ZACH RICH
Daniel Castro is a current GameCola staff writer who writes the monthly column “Don’t Be That Guy,” where he lampoons the worst gamers and behaviors from the online gaming community. This is Daniel’s first appearance in “Versus Mode.”
Zach Rich is a current GameCola staff member and former superhero by night who writes videogame reviews and sometimes appears on The GameCola Podcast. This is Zach’s fifth appearance in “Versus Mode,” having written previously with Paul Franzen, Nathaniel Hoover, Sprite Monkey, and in NewbieMania I.
1. Which company “won” E3 this year?
Daniel Castro: Microsoft totally won the “Oh, my God! Why the hell am I watching all this nonsense; next year I’ll just wait for the after-E3 memes to show up!” Award for giving us an unholy amount of dance, Kinect games, and stuff we’ve never asked to be shoveled into our consoles.
But in all fairness, all three companies won my respect by showing us once again that we no longer need these shows anymore.
Sony’s Wonderbook didn’t exactly prove to be a real page-turner at E3 this year.
Zach Rich: If you were to ask me that right before the conferences started happening that week, I was putting all of my chips on the table that Nintendo was going to wow and amaze us with a non-stop showcase of absolutely fantastic Wii U titles that would make the upcoming console a day-one buy for me. Hell, they had a pre-show conference discussing the tech specs of the system, so I was almost certain all we were going to hear about was brilliant game, after brilliant game. When Miyamoto came bouncing onto the stage, with a grin on his face and a stuffed Pikmin doll in his breast pocket, and demoed Pikmin 3 for the first time, I thought it could only get worse from here, if they were starting off with Pikmin 3 of all things. Sadly, I was right.
With the exception of a new NSMB, the rest of the titles showcased for the Wii U were…underwhelming. I don’t understand why they had to dedicate so much time to demoing a game I played last October that appears to have no new features besides a very armored Batman. Who the hell is going to want to play Mass Effect 3 on the Wii U, anyways? Ubisoft seems to have their act together with the console, and actually looks to have some pretty solid titles coming up (Rayman Legends made my heart skip a beat). Nintendoland looks fun, but I can’t see myself shelling out $60 for it. If Nintendo is toting this game as the Wii Sports of the console, I hope they have the common sense to use it as the pack-in title, because this console is seriously going to need a good one. If anything, it was the 3DS announcements that made me more excited than anything. Finally seeing Paper Mario: Sticker Star in action was one of the high points of their show, and finally confirming a U.S. launch of Fire Emblem: Awakening was long overdue. Nintendo didn’t have a horrible show, but they have not sold me on the Wii U, and that puts them in trouble.
Microsoft, meanwhile, loved to talk about sports, and loved to talk about guns. And a show about sports and guns is not going to fly with me. Tomb Raider was the only point in their show where I had to pick up my jaw from the floor, and even then, it’s a multi-platform title. New Twisted Pixel title? Yay. New Halo? Looks fun. Ending your show with Black Ops II of all things? Piss poor. The entire Smart Glass function is a novelty that no one is going to use, and PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT SPORTS. I understand that the business model of the Xbox 360 makes it a multimedia platform rather than a simple gaming device, but without good games, there’s no Xbox, and Microsoft continues to lose sight of that.
Then, there was Sony. I just bought a PS3 two months ago, and grabbed a subscription to PS Plus, just for a few freebies every now and then. The Last of Us, All-Stars Battle Royalle, and Beyond: Two Souls look absolutely stunning. $260 worth of games every month for $50 a year sounds amazing. Sony is treating their consumer base right, and is providing the games to back it up. Sony won E3.
2. Kickstarter is getting out of control.
Daniel: I think we haven’t seen the end of this. When Activision or EA come to Kickstarter with their own “please give me more money” posts, that’s when people are going to start taking their money elsewhere. That said, if the long history of Call of Duty and Madden have shown us anything, it’s that ANYTHING can keep going, as long as money is on the table.
Zach: It’s a delicate balance. Double Fine’s adventure title wouldn’t have been able to get off the ground if it wasn’t for Kickstarter, and I’m willing to bet there’s several other projects that were in the same boat. I think the article’s argument for a possible increase of apathy in the development cycle due to a lack of urgency to make money is a fine point, but I also believe that no one wants to make a bad videogame. If the Kickstarter bubble is going to burst, it will be because of a section of pledgers who are not satisfied with the final product, in situations where it’s impossible to appease everyone. Supporting the funding of a game’s development puts the consumer directly in the process of the game’s development, and if the product is not up to the consumer’s exceptions, the backer feels cheated, and that’s where the backfire on Kickstarter opens up; that’s where the bubble bursts. I think it is a matter of time before this situation comes about, but we won’t see it until these games, currently funded and in-development, are finished and released to the backers.
3. Wreck-It Ralph is going to be awesome.
Daniel: No doubt in my mind. I mean, when I heard about it last year, it seemed really interesting. “Toy Story with videogames?” I would totally buy that. I thought it was going to have characters reminiscent of videogame icons (like Ralph and that carpenter guy), but witnessing Zangief, Bowser and Bison sharing the same scene?! Oh, shit!
Zach: Uh. Yeah. Yes, it is. Zangeif has a speaking part in a Disney movie. That’s on the list of sentences I never expected to type in my lifetime. Right up there with “Holy Roman Emperor Patton Oswalt declared a ban on all pictures of cats on the Internet after Kitty Sex Scandel,” and “I love you, too.”
4. Steam sales cheapen the overall value of IPs.
Daniel: No, and I don’t really get it. Why do they want to sell their games at the same overpriced tag when there are progressively less people willing to buy them? And why do they want to sell their downloadable games at the same price as the physical ones? I won’t dismiss the value of a game; I know there’s a lot of effort put into every one of them (well, maybe not all of them), but games are meant to be played, and sales are a way for more people to actually try something different every now and then. Companies thinking otherwise are only opening the piracy door wide open.
Zach: Selling old games for cheap like Steam does only helps IPs in the long run. Imagine there’s someone on the planet who hasn’t played BioShock yet. (I know. It’s hard. I’ll wait.) There’s a Steam sale, and it’s right there for you for $6. Purchased. Played. Loved. The guy wants more, and he wants it now, and look! BioShock Infinite is mere months away! Right there, we have a pre-order. Games are expensive in this day and age. If I can game for cheap, and maybe find a buried treasure to love, it will help influence my decision when a new installment of that series comes my way. I wouldn’t be remotely interested in Beyond Good and Evil 2 if the original’s HD remake was on my Xbox for $10. Now, I’m sitting on the yard with the rest of the fans, throwing French food at Ubisoft’s door and demanding more picture-taking, staff-wielding, pig-loving joy.
5. Basketball-controlled games are the way of the future.
Daniel: Yes! I mean, no! Wait… Can you repeat the question?
OK, wow… Is the basketball even included with the game? Well, no—I don’t think THIS is the future of videogames, but I also think that this isn’t the end of it; there are a whole lot of peripherals coming on the horizon, and many angry parents stumbling over their kids’ plastic crap around the house.
But on the other side, this isn’t the weirdest thing a videogames has ever made us do.
Zach: You stop that. You stop that right now.
To hear more from this month’s “Versus Mode” contributors, check out Daniel Castro’s GameCola archive here, and Zach Rich’s here.
Do you own or write for a videogame website or blog? Are you involved in the videogame industry? Do you…at least work at GameStop, or something? Well then, you’re just what we’re looking for! E-mail Editor-in-Chief Paul Franzen for details about participating in “Versus Mode.”
I’ve been wondering where Versus Mode went. Glad to see it back.