Something I really have not addressed in the 6 years I have been doing this (yes, really) is my stance on the physical vs. digital debate. The argument often seen here is between the permanence of physical goods versus the convenience of digital goods, with the arguments against each reflecting the alternative’s benefit. A la, physical goods can be cumbersome, and require install times and such, while digital goods are temporary licenses that could be revoked in many instances.
While I do admit that the latter is a big fear of mine, even with the presence of the equalizers of piracy and DRM cracks, I am also very, very much worried about the viability of physical media, because while a lot of old game cartridges have lasted decades, battery aside, they very well might not last another 20 years from now, and as for discs? Well, while it is not a widespread issue… yet, disc rot has affected CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Rays alike, and could very well render brand new games unplayable 30 years from now. So both physical and digital goods have something of an uncertain future, and both could very well die eventually.
So, what is to be done about this? Well, the best option that I truly have when it comes to preserving anything one cares about is to back it up through an alternative means. As in, buy both to ensure that even if the game itself physically rots, the digital copy remains, and even if the digital copy is delisted or removed from one’s account, the physical copy remains. Yes, this is a garbage solution, not unlike trying to backup important files and collections, where one either has to choose between backing their stuff up on two extra hard drive for safekeeping, or invest in a cloud storage plan. Or in other words, there is no proper solution for preserving anything you care about, and it either boils down to have someone else worry about it or backing up your backup’s backup.
Since the launch of the Switch, there has been rampant speculation about it recieving a hardware revision, because this industry is cyclical, people like cycles, and Nintendo has a habit of revising their handheld hardware a few years after it launches. A la the GameBoy Pocket, GameBoy Advance SP, the DS Lite, the DSi, and the New 3DS. Well, the Japanese Wall Street Journal done did a good journalism and reported that a new Switch model is being developed, and its release could be as early as the second half of 2019. Personally, I think it is too early in the system’s life cycle for this to be a major revision that brings it much in the way of additional power, and instead it will likely be more akin to, well, everything I listed other than the New 3DS. Which, in retrospect, I’m pretty sure only exists because the Wii U was selling poorly, so they needed a boost in hardware sales… and it improved the performance of Smash Bros.
Continuing the subject of Nintendo, the company is constantly looking into ways to distribute their classic library in frustratingly fragmented ways, likely due to poor performance in Virtual Console sales, which was largely due to the Wii U being the Wii U, releases being staggered, and the emulation being poor. From the NES classic to the Switch Online NES library, it really does make one think that Nintendo wants people to pirate their classic titles, even though they are taking action against ROM sites. Anyways, they went and patented a smartphone case that is meant to look like a mini-GameBoy, so that people can play classic 8-bit titles on their phones.
Nintendo has spoken out against porting their older titles to smartphones, but I never really saw the point in, at worst, immaterially lowering the fluctuating value of their intangible brand. Really, I see no problem with this, aside from how the case covers the majority of the screen, thus restricting the player to squint at a small pixel image to play games that should be played with the phone held horizontally, but this is likely some sort of nostalgia fueled gimmick that Nintendo plans on using towards their mobile market expansion. For those who think this could be a neat thing, that’s great, but as for me, I’ll just keep playing my GameBoy games at stupidly high resolutions on my PC. Primarily because of convenience, but also because I have really bad neck posture when using handheld electronic devices.
Anything else? Well, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey recently came out to critical acclaim and strong sales, but in a move that I cannot fawn surprise over, Ubisoft more or less crippled the base game through the implementation of their experience point system. Quite simply, the game has unsatisfactory experience point distribution as it shipped, and this was almost certainly done as a means of drawing the player to the litany of microtransactions seen in the title, most notably a $10 transaction that permanently increases the amount of experience earned for all actions. A manufactured problem that may would cite as a design flaw, because poor EXP distribution is a design flaw, no way around it, but can be remedied and removed by paying a small fee to make the game significantly better.
It is a woefully upsetting practice that seemingly addresses the concerns many expressed when microtransactions first started encroaching themselves in AAA games. Affirming them and demonstrating what could become a norm in major multiplatform AAA titles, where the ability to receive a well designed game is an additional fee that, like most forms of DLC, does not depreciate in price like the base game does. While outcry may dissuade certain publishers from continuing this practice, the AAA industry has been building towards making general QOL improvements optional purchases for years now, and if anything I am actually a bit surprised that it took any game this long to get here. I can hope that this will not become a common practice, but I prefer to keep my expectations low, so I’m expecting this sort of shit to be near mandatory come the next generation.