Rundown (9/22-9/28) The Pursuit of Pure Financial Sense

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Wherein I discuss subscription services, the futility of humanity, protecting the life cycle, and rumored space-time adventures.

I fully encourage anybody with any degree of income to begin listing, organizing, and analyzing what it is they spend their money on, balancing their personal finances, and setting personal limits on what they spend between restaurants, travel, clothing, and more broadly, entertainment.  With the current economic climate being what it is, there is an incentive for people to begin viewing entertainment based on its monetary value and the quantity of entertainment it provides. Such a sentiment has been prevalent across gaming since… basically its inception, where longer games were seen as more valuable as they offer more hours of play per dollar of investment.  With such a set up, it would make the most sense for player to scour through free to play games and never spend a dime, but for those who want to actually be done with a game and not simply indulge in live services, they can always pursue a subscription service.

These are becoming increasingly hyped as the be all end all and future of gaming, just like mobile, motion controls, and VR, and it is something that I am fully supportive of, but personally… I cannot help but feel conflicted about the idea of becoming highly invested in one of these.  Financially, yes, it makes more sense to invest in a service that offers you seemingly endless entertainment indefinitely. You avoid any real buyer’s remorse from individual titles, keep your entertainment costs consistent and predictable, and probably are exposed to a more diverse selection of things than you would otherwise buy.  There are a lot of pros to subscription services, and I would highly recommend them to those with limited income who maybe cannot afford to buy games regularly, yet have loads of free time to play loads of games. Like children NEETs, retired people who are into games, and… actually, that’s a pretty big demographic.  

However, there is a certain majesty and glory to having an expansive list of one’s possessions, a physical or digital compilation of one’s invested resources, all of which are just a few moments away from playing (download speeds not withstanding).  Having a collection feels… nice. Having a shelf of things you enjoy and are invested in is very appealing. It is not very practical, and odds are that if someone has an assortment of, say, 500 games, they aren’t going to become very invested in them, revisit them regularly, or even play them for more than a few hours, if at all.  

But value is ultimately relative, despite what business-based mathematics tell you, and to some having a collection of games, a dedicated game room, and value of the joy and satisfaction they experience from seeing it regularly can exceed the value of the thousands upon thousands of dollars they initially spent on it.  That may sound foolish and like bad financial sense, but if everybody expressed good financial sense, entire industries would cease to exist, and the global economy would enter the Awesome Depression. Which is like the Great Depression, but more extreme. Extremely bad that is!

Funny thing is that I actually wrote this introductory piece before the first story of this week broke, as Google suddenly announced their alternative to the recently released, and pleasantly received Apple Arcade, the Google Play Pass.  For a reasonable $5 monthly fee, baring introductory discounts, the pass will provide Android users with access to a wide array of titles, and… that’s pretty much all we know.  This was likely something toyed at within Google after murmurs about Apple Arcade first started popping up, and with the service seemingly doing quite well, they likely want their platform to remain relevant in the conversation, but aren’t quite ready to launch things just yet.  Again, it’s another service, another option, and that’s all well and good… but the note about how this $5 monthly fee will be stretched out to developers is more than a bit concerning.

In short, developers are compensated based on total play time, meaning that if you are a small studio that makes a brilliant yet brief game, then you’re likely not going to get much of anything.  But if you make an elongated and grindy experience, then congrats, you will get paid something substantial. This is something that has stirred unrest amongst many developers, as curated in an article recently put out by IGN.  While I do believe there is indeed a good balance with all these options and varied platforms, the fragmented monetization methods can be harmful to independent developers who either need to try and fight it out on multiple storefronts and secure multiple revenue streams in order to break even.  Which is already a challenge with the cluttered nature of every digital gaming storefront and the quantity of time, money, and attention invested into live services. I think talks about a crash, as pointed out in the aforementioned article, are hyperbolic, but I do firmly believe that the games industry is going to be a considerably different place in 5 years or so.  I mean, the same could be said about any stretch of 5 years in the games industry, but I digress.

Shifting away from all this hubub about games as a service to something a bit more palatable, Sony recently held their third State of Play event, and I’m still not a big fan of the aesthetics or theatrics of this event.  This latest iteration felt like watching video content from gaming sites about 6-7 years ago with the presentation style and delivery that is led by a voice actress who sounds like she has no clue what she’s talking about.  Also, despite being a longer showcase, the actual content of the event was a bit light at points, focusing on the Playstation plus games for October, a Death Stranding branded PS4 Pro, and a Call of Duty trailer.  It all lacked any real surprises, even leaked pseudo-surprises, and only featuring two titles I want to discuss in detail.

Humanity is a stark and unnerving title that depicts ceaseless waves of faceless people as they march infinitely towards whatever their objective is, from ascending stairs, travelling through a maze, being shoved off and squished by platforms perpetually, or the most human thing of all, war!  I recall seeing gifs of this game a few months back, and found it to be an appealing visual concept, as I am all about things where human beings are reduced into vessels with numbers attached meant to function as tools. However, the official press release stated that gameplay details will not be unveiled until 2020, when the title will be released by way of Enhance games and Tha ltd. for PS4 and possibly other platforms.

While The Last of Us Part II continues to look like a dark hued look into the evils inherent to humanity that permeate when globalized society crumbles, and those who survive are left to pick up the pieces in a hostile world that will probably never return to its former glory.  With the story seemingly focusing on the last reasonable hope for humanity risking her life by going after an influential militia who wronged her by killing her lover, and will likely end tragically for all parties involved. At least that’s my guess considering the sour notes that comprised the first game.  Anyways, the title is finally coming out on February 21st, 2020, a solid 3 years after it was first unveiled back at the Playstation Experience in 2016.  Goodness do AAA games take a long time to make.

But you know what takes comparatively less time to make?  Faithful remakes of older games! I bring this up because Forever Entertainment, the publisher behind the Panzer Dragoon remakes, Forever Entertainment recently made a very limp announcement regarding a pair of remakes of House of the Dead 1 and 2.  Two lightgun shooters that were the staple or arcades for a while, and home to some of the most deliciously awful English dubs in existence.  However, the games were only brought to consoles that supported lightfun peripherals, so it’s well worth asking how remakes like this will work, and what systems they will be developed for.  Because while I could see these titles working fairly well with the Switch, I cannot really imagine these games playing very well with a traditional controller. Oh, and the first game is apparently due out sometime in 2020, so hopefully we’ll have a clearer idea of how the hell this remake will work sometime soon.

Oh, but that is not the only remake there is buzz about, as there is currently a fair bit of buzz about a remake of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl.  In short the person behind the website Pokeshopper did some digging into future Pokemon merchandise and found that an unprecedented amount of attention was being levied towards Gen 4 Pokemon.  That in and of itself does not sound overly convincing to me, but it seems quite probably considering the release history of Pokemon these past few years.  I personally would be quite happy with a remake of these games as, despite not being a big fan of Diamond and Pearl, I recently went through Platinum, and thought it to be a grand old time… in dire need of some quality of life improvements, and some general refinement.  Some of which should be added in a full remake, but because it is Game Freak, I have been conditioned to not get my hopes up. 

That’s it for this week, but before parting ways, you could probably tell that I started mixing up the preview text for Rundowns.  It is a decision I’ve been deliberating for a while, but finally decided to implement to make the content on my site seem a bit more uniform, and so that I don’t have posts with paragraph long previews next to ones that are just a single sentence, phrase, or a couple of sentences if I am feeling a bit frisky.  

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