Shovelling Sh*t. Where are the games?

I recently watched a video from Gamespot’s Danny O’Dwyer talking about how he’s wondering where all the good games are. And I kind of agreed with him on this point. Where are they?

Usually when a new generation of platform drops, the publishers are quick to push out awesome games to get our money before we spend it on some other game. The same goes for PC where Steam has become the proverbial dumping ground for games that we’re not really sure why they’re there. Almost like the Google Play store but with worse games.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves. For me the best games I’ve played on Xbox One was by far Shadow of Mordor, Halo Master Chief Collection and Sunset Overdrive. Forza is a staple that I’ll enjoy no matter what. The best game I’ve played on PlayStation was Velocity 2X. All these games would have been awesome if they were on both platforms so I’m not talking about which platform it launched on.

Instead we were set up with games like The Order, Driveclub, remasters everywhere and some of the dullest and unimaginative indie games you can’t imagine even if you tried. All of a sudden it became the norm for studios to slap a fresh coat of paint on old and arguably loved franchises and call it a day. Where are the fresh ideas people?

Then you have the community which in all due respect needs a kick in the butt. They focus on which platform is better and which runs the game at 9 frames a second faster instead of realizing they’re being flooded with crap. And they lap it up. PC gamers aren’t much different. The most popular games on PC is MOBA games and Free to Play. Goat Simulator is more popular on Twitch than most other AAA games which actually had a story.

This Youtuber (BrokenGamezHD) complains about there not being any proper multiplayer games out there. And I agree. But there might be two sides to this, there might be a lot of multiplayer games, but the community and players suck or there just aren’t any good fun multiplayer experiences. For me the best multiplayer experience are when you play with your actual friends. Halo 5 Multiplayer beta was my favourite game so far this generation. And that says a lot.

The industry is basically taking the piss and we the gamers are too pre-occupied by  insulting each other because fanboi.

Now I’m looking forward to games like The Witcher 3, Quantum Break and Halo 5. But with an industry like what we’ve seen the past couple of months, I’m kind of sceptical. Will The Witcher be a broken mess with a bad story? Will Halo rinse and repeat a dead cow? Will Quantum Break be delayed until 2016?

Uncharted 4 being delayed just took the piss out of PlayStation gamers who’ve been waiting anxiously for that one game that will blow their minds. But now I’m not so sure, a game being delayed is not a good sign. Will they rush to meet the deadline for Holiday 2016? Will they cut corners while Monolithic Sony stands over them demanding the game?

We’ll have to wait and see. But right now, this gaming industry sucks. And don’t believe the idiots who say we’ve never had so many games to play because 90% of them are utter dog shit being shoved into our Fancy Feast and we’re too stupid to realize. E3 2015 should be a good measuring stick to see what we can expect the next twelve months. Mass Effect, FallOut and Dead Space are all on my radar. But I have a nagging suspicion it will be filled to the brim with bread simulators and a game about a Octopus or tons of stupid Virtual Reality games that will set you back hundreds and leave you feeling like an idiot who fell for the hype again a la Kinect.

Yeah, that’s next generation for you. Our desperation is showing.

 

Freeloading? Why don’t games sell as well on PS4?

It’s out, games don’t sell as well on PS4 than on Xbox One. But why? Certainly there are way more consoles out there in the public than there are Xbox Ones. But month after month the games that come out on both systems get snapped up by a multiple more on Xbox. Even Xbox 360 gamers buy more games than PS4 users.

Now there are one theory. The PS4 launched to much fanfare in 2013. It sold for $100 less than the Xbox One and subsequently got snapped up by the masses. Sony also introduced free games for PS+ members and said that they will give their subscribers AAA titles like Driveclub.

Now we can speculate all we want but I believe that the majority of PS4 owners are the type of gamer that would play demos and free games more than going out to buy them mainly because of their situation. Maybe most of the buyers were parents who were bullied into buying one, but don’t want to buy games outside of birthdays and Xmas.

Xbox One gamers on the other hand have upgraded from their Xbox 360’s and subsequently continued their rabid need for games. The notion that all Xbox 360 gamers moved to PS4 is a fallacy that should be nipped in the bud, because if that happened, games would consistently sell more on that platform.

It’s well known even though the PS3 and Xbox One were on equal terms last gen based on sales, games sold more on 360. Destiny, a game Microsoft wasn’t even allowed to advertise mainly because of the exclusive deals for PS4, sold more on Xbox One than on PS4.

I’ve seen this several times, gamers on PS4 constantly hammer on about the free games on PS+. They demand AAA games and have a complete disregard for how much it costs to manage servers and/or the viability of allowing 15 Million users download a AAA game which costs at retail $40.

On Xbox we have several free games and demos. And with EA Access you can get AAA games at a monthly fee of $4. But the games with gold offerings have been mostly mediocre. But that’s fine. We should see AAA games by the end of the year, because of price decreases and sales starting to waver in light of new games.

But so far it’s clear, Xbox gamers buy more games regardless of how many consoles out there. Based on Sony’s numbers, there are about 8 million free loaders out there who might buy one game a year and then bitch about not getting free games on PS+.

Don’t fuck this up! My most anticipated games for 2015

2014 wasn’t that exciting when it comes to games. We saw games that didn’t really push the envelope when it comes to gameplay and story. But we have high hopes for the 2015/2016 timeframe. Here are my list for the top most anticipated games for 2015/16 that will make me seriously pissed off if they’re shit.

Halo 5: Guardians

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Halo is one of my favourite games that I only got into thanks to The Master Chief collection. Plagued by problems I only stuck to the Single player campaigns. However, Halo is an epic saga that will continue with Halo 5. Promised to really push the envelope when it comes to graphics thanks to the Cloud and Direct X 12, this game is going to blow the roof off of this mother*****.

We’ve already got a taste of the Multiplayer, and boy was it good. Even if the graphics was a bit meh, but it was a beta build so lets be realistic here.

Coming to Xbox One exclusively in Holiday 2015.

Age of Empires 4

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It’s been fucking ages since Microsoft released a follow up to Age of Empires 3 and it’s time. People are still Twitching Age of Empires 2 for god sake. Microsoft did hire people for a release of a ‘favourite’ RTS game and although it can mean they’re rebooting Age of Mythology, I’m really holding my thumbs they show us something at E3 2015. If they don’t I’ll be pissed.

DirectX 12 should make this even more interesting. And don’t for the love of god insult us with one of your free to play bullshit like on mobile. That shit sucks.

Expected Holiday 2015 on PC.

Fallout 4

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Now I’ve never played a Fallout game in my life. Yet everytime one comes out it becomes my favourite, mainly because the game is so fucking awesome it’s worth just looking at. People have been practically doing a rain dance speculation on the return of this amazing franchise and things have really gotten hot since Bethesda announced they will have their own little E3 keynote. Now if that doesn’t scream Fallout, you can shoot yourself.

Even if I never play it, I’ll sure as hell watch it for hours on Twitch.

Expected Holiday 2015 for Xbox One, PS4 and PC

Quantum Break

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Now I thought Alan Wake was a cool game. And sure the graphics and atmosphere was epic. But just think, controlling time while shooting shit? I mean how epic can a game get? Remedy, If you fuck this up and it gets a 6/10 on Metacritic I’ll fucking hate you.

Expected September on Xbox One exclusively.

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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Now Witcher have never really been on my radar. It’s true that when the first one was released it piqued my interest for 3 seconds because the box art was amazing. But I never played it. Now when those epic trailers for Witcher 3 was revealed and gameplay was shown, my open world dinges was tickled. I in all fairness hate open world games like Skyrim and GTA because I’ll waste copious amounts of time wandering down paths and never really get into the story. But I really want to get into the Witcher story, because man does it look amazing.

Expected May on Xbox One, PS4 and PC

Forza Motorsport 6

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This game is like the obvious choice when it comes to racers. Anyone who says anything to the contrary should have their head examined or should take pills for looking like Sarah Jessica Parker. Forza 5 was relatively meh when it came to content mainly because it was a launch title and time probably was on short supply. But with DirectX 12, the cloud and Microsoft and Turn 10 getting their shit together we should see a racing game that will make real life look like Minecraft.

Turn 10, look at me….don’t fuck this up.

Expected Holiday on Xbox One exclusively

Mass Effect 4

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Now I have a love hate relationship with Mass Effect. Sure I own every single game on PC and I bought them on Xbox 360. I played the first instalment and got further on PC because the controls system on 360 was so complicated I wanted to kill myself. Yes I still haven’t finished the first one because seriously, this game drags fucking on. But for all its faults, I still want to finish this game. I really hope they build a remastered version of the first 3 in a nice collection so I can do the Halo binge playing and get my shit together and see what the fuss is about.

The remastered version is expected Holiday 2015 on Xbox One and PS4

More at E3?

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Well obviously they’ll blow our minds at E3. We might see games like the next Assassins Creed, Indies and shit and maybe something really awesome. But so far the only games worth our attention is listed above.

What about Sony exclusives? Well so far there is Uncharted, but so far it looks dull. Hopefully they’ll show the game at E3 2015 they teased at E3 2014 instead of a PS3 game in full HD.

Other than that, I do hope they show something interesting. But right now the games above have my full attention and money.

 

Hush little princess, don’t you cry. What The Order 1886 showed us.

When the review embargo lifted for The Order 1886, people looked on in shock when review after review flooded in saying the game was outright boring. Even I was surprised to see so many gaming websites agree for once. This game have been on so many people’s radar since its reveal back in 2014. So why did so many people feel let down by this game?

Regardless of the few that scream racism (whot), the writing was on the wall from the start. For months after the reveal, people who played the demo and had a look at it at certain trade shows (including me) complained that it was linear, too restricting, boring and so forth. But in this industry, the hype was built up to unreachable highs even though they had evidence hitting them in the face of the contrary.

This is the problem with the gaming community as a whole. We treat games like little princesses that should be coddled because everyone is special. We don’t want to take developers to task for creating arguably shit games. It started with Dead Rising, and the latest was The Order 1886. We have people literally defending an unreleased title and then scream ignorance when they’re proven wrong and want to altogether censor review scores (see Eurogamer) because it hurts their feelings seeing some exclusive getting a 5/10.

Reviews are important (since I was a kid) because they give you a pretty good overview for when you want to buy a game. Of course you can disregard this and buy it anyway. For one, Ryse was universally disliked but I still bought it when my local gamestore offered it at a third of the price when I picked up the console. It was generally a good game although repetitive. Would I have bought the game full price? Absolutely not.

Games unfortunately are subjective material. You may like Panty Raiders but the rest of the world might question your sanity. You may give The Order 1886 a 95% score, but the rest of the world will wonder if you completely lost your mind.

We as gamers need to stop treating games like little princesses. It happened with Watch Dogs, Driveclub, The Order 1886, Little Big Planet 3 and Ryse. These are universally slated games by reviewers but the user base defended these developers and their shit games because ‘we need to protect our exclusives and pretend they’re worth a shit’. Nobody gives a shit whether or not its an exclusive or not. The exclusive games a platform has makes it worth a purchase. Defending bullshit makes your community look delusional.

Call it out when you see it. Stop trying to see things that are not there. And stop trying to silence people because they don’t agree with your delusional view on the world. You are bound to be disappointed and make a fool out of yourself by screaming ‘Racism’.

If we don’t, then we’ll have a world where game developers find it fair to say the ‘human eye can’t see past 5 hours’ and bury games in DLC. And why should a game be a game? When we can make it a movie with a few quick time events.

This is the future if we don’t stop treating our games like little princesses. Beat the shit out of devs and studios if they fuck you over with hype and lies.

Call of Cthulhu. The Dark Corners at Sony

It’s no mystery that Sony is currently in dire straits. The company, expected to reveal their latest financials and forward earnings estimates in March, is set to reveal how they’ve been doing for the last year.

One can safely predict that it will not be pretty. Sony expects to make an headline loss of nearly $2 Billion for the year, and this is mainly due to their mobile division (which is responsible for gems like the Xperia smartphones and tablets) and the failing TV division which I believe they are looking into selling off.

Yesterday as a shock to everyone, Sony announced that they sold off Sony Online Entertainment, the game studio responsible for games such as the highly successful Everquest and the currently hotly anticipated H1Z1 games. The studio now dubbed Daybreak Studios will port all their existing franchises over to Xbox One.

But what does this say about what is happening over at Sony. Clearly they’re scrambling to raise cash to ensure that their earnings don’t cause a major sell-off in the stock market. I wouldn’t be surprised if more first party studios got the axe, or that more PlayStation specific projects were stopped. The CEO of Sony already made his disdain for first party AAA exclusives known when he said they were hellishly expensive and that he would rather focus on indie games. Will this spell the end for AAA exclusives from Sony as their financial future tumbles down the hill of their imposing ego?

So what can Sony do to get back on the horse? Well they’ve already done a few things that makes sense. PlayStation Now left the PS4 and will be running on Samsung TV’s making Sony hardware pointless, Music and Video Unlimited will be rebranded Xbox style to PlayStation Music and Video. The Vita is getting the axe. And they pulled the Xperia Z4.

But this alone won’t make any difference. In my opinion they should spin off or sell their loss making mobile division. Spin off or sell their TV division. Stop supporting first party development studios, let them do their own thing. Focus on PlayStation and its services and ride their imaging technologies (currently used in iPhones) and kill off that awfully misguided Walkman.

Doing this will help them raise much needed cash, remove the dead weight from their bottom line and helps them focus on one product and service. Sony needs focus as they just seem to be a headless chicken running around trying to make all their balls fall into line. It won’t happen, Samsung is struggling in the Android market, what makes anyone think that Sony with a bottom line that will make anyone eyes water can succeed?

The problem is that Sony firmly believes that they’re the Apple of Android, and in some ways they are. But when you can just go and buy an Apple iPhone instead of a Xperia for the same price, why would you buy a Xperia?

Sony, get your s**t together. Stop trying to do everything, and mobile is not the answer.

Microsoft is killing off Xbox?

With the launch of Windows 10, Phil Spencer went onstage and revealed that they will be bringing Xbox One features and Fable Legends to PC. The world abruptly burst into flames when they also stated that PC will get cross platform games from Xbox like Forza and others where it makes sense.

Microsoft has had several attempts in the past to try and lure PC gamers to the Xbox world and to chip away at the dominance that Steam holds over PC. This is normal as Microsoft is the biggest platform for PC. But with Games for Windows being such a huge failure, how would they do this?

Simple, get gamers excited for new franchises and games coming to PC by offering them games usually only available on console. Fable was the first carrot Microsoft is dangling in front of PC gamers and soon they’ll push harder by offering games such as Tomb Raider and maybe even Sunset Overdrive to them (after some timed exclusive stuff ends). Hopefully they have more than cross play and a few games up their sleeves. Xbox on PC should become a unified experience where you can buy games as well. But that remains to be seen.

But what about that box everyone and their mother pretends to hate because it’s popular? Is Microsoft shunning their massive Xbox fanbase? Will Xbox dwindle and fall by the wayside as Microsoft start pushing PC gaming to the next level?

Don’t be ridiculous.

The Xbox brand is as central to Microsoft as Windows is. Xbox is a gateway to their services and brings in billions for Microsoft annually. It is by far their most popular product, and Satya reiterated that they will remain committed to the platform. Will the platform change? Of course. Will it become more cloud based, of course. Will we see a dramatic shift away from TV based hardware in 2 years? No.

XBox and PlayStation will continue to evolve (see PS Now and XBox Cloud Compute) that will improve gaming and entertainment. You will always need a box that connects to the internet and the Xbox One 2 or whatever they call it in the future might just be an internet connected device that will link you to Microsoft services. And the same goes for the PlayStation.

PC gaming is going the same way. Gone will be the days where you’ll have to upgrade your graphics card at $500 a year to stay current. You’ll be able to utilize the cloud to supplement your power for games. The future is bright for consoles and PC gaming and Microsoft is just moving towards that future. We might even see PS Now on the Xbox as a service. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility.

Will PC gaming die when Microsoft allows you to stream PC games to Xbox? No.

So before you declare something dead because one exclusive happens to go to PC (which seems to be the popular thing to do these days) think of the future and what that holds.

Will there be exclusive games in the future? Sure, service specific exclusives.

DirectX 12. Something we all should be excited about.

The console war is heating up with fans on both sides getting increasingly frustrated that the other platform refuses to die. We all know that will never happen. Recently Microsoft hosted the Windows 10 consumer event and showed several cool new features that will be coming this fall. Windows 10 will be launching on PC, Tablet, Phone and Xbox to some extent.

One of the most heated topics that is being discussed to death by both sides of the fence is the Direct X 12 update. Pundits have called it something of a misnomer, to outright calling it a gimmick that will do nothing for PC gaming or the Xbox. Other developers have publicly stated (outside of the NDA agreements) that what they’ve seen and experienced it completely revolutionary. Phil Spencer famously misquoted by some said that the Xbox One will see some benefit but the hardware will not change.

Let’s take all of this into perspective. Whether or not you’re a fan of the ‘other’ console brand be it Nintendo or Sony, or you’re a PC hardcore gaming enthusiast you should be happy that the evolution of programming API’s and tools are accelerating. I find it personally bizarre how people will publicly condemn anyone who feels excited about this.

DirectX 12 will improve efficiency for CPU bound games and will improve access to the GPU by allowing more than one core to communicate with the CPU/GPU. Previously only one core managed to communicate at a time and DirectX 11 was quite power hungry based on Intel’s presentation? I myself prefer that power consumption be brought down in all consoles. As per example, one can take a very graphically intensive game on the PS4 and you will hear the console fans spinning profusely to cool the system down and I hope they find a way to improve the cooling system or any API improvements Sony brings to the PS4 will be severely hampered by the lack of proper cooling in the system.

Microsoft on the other hand have taken a beating over the design of the Xbox because they took cooling to the extreme and built a larger cooling system in making the device bigger. I’m not pretending that they could have made a better design other than the minimalist box design they have now, but choosing to ensure the device stays cool at all times is of upmost importance. Taking AC Unity on the Xbox One and leaving it running for hours while thousands of NPC’s are running around the device does not sound any louder than what it does while in the menu for example.

DirectX 12 will improve upon the power consumption and access to the multi-core system for developers will improve. Will it impact games dramatically? No, I don’t think we will see graphics that outshines a PC with about $4000 worth of components in there. Phil famously said there will be no dramatic change, and I agree. Will games look better, of course? Will lighting and framerates improve? Of course they will. But to pretend that there will be no change because Phil said ‘no dramatic change’ is an oxymoron.

PC gaming however will have a smaller benefit than that of the Xbox. Why? Because historically developers have not optimized games to run as good on the lowest common denominator as on the best. Game performance and graphics have always been up to the player. Do you want better graphics at a lower framerate? Or do you want a higher framerate with lower resolution? These are the options open to gamers on PC and DirectX 12 will not change that. Yes the PC will use less power, but the onus lies with the player to decide what type of experience they want out of their PC. With console devices the experience and optimization lies solely with the developer and they need to ensure that the game runs at optimal capacity. Unless you’re Konami.

At the Windows 10 event Phil Spencer showed a FutureMark benchmark tool running both DirectX12 and DirectX11 on screen with complexity increasing. DirectX12 showed massive improvements in framerates while the difficulty kept increasing over time. That is what DirectX does, it allows the system to efficiently improve framerates while doing double the work (50%). Of course it depends on your hardware. A Core i7 will be able to do more than an APU. This is on CPU bound games and it clearly proves that DirectX12 is not a pipe dream. Xbox One users will see improvement on the complexity of games and framerates depending on how well the game was optimized for the Xbox.

GPU bound games is the next chapter for gaming and we will see more on that in the future at GDC this year. Both PS4 and Xbox One will benefit dramatically from the shift away from CPU bound to GPU bound games and both console platforms should be excited for this shift. Nobody will be left behind in this race and we should expect Sony to reveal (or not) their answer to the future of gaming. Hopefully they will ensure that the console does not sound like a plane taking off while doing it.