Rundown (6/28-7/04) Busy with the Bitz

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Wherein I discuss the downfall of thuggery, a potential price hike, and a wonderful animated world.

To co-opt this Rundown’s preamble as an announcement once again, I have finished the initial 31,000 word draft of Random #010: The Island of Doctor Bitz, prepared the art assets, and just finished editing the project yesterday. However, due to its length, I have decided to release it as 6 individual chapters that will be published on July 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, and 14. Why those dates? Because I already have posts slotted for July 10 and 12 and I have a fixation on publishing only one post a daily basis. I am sorry for going against my schedule with this, but the creation of Random #010 got out of hand partway through development, as I will detail in an afterword included in the final chapter.

Now that I have taken care of that little bit of housekeeping, in last week’s Rundown, I began by lightly discussing the volume of people calling out others for their history of sexual harassment, exploitation, or grooming, and this has continued well into this week. I have not been keeping up with who is being called out for what exactly, but it is nevertheless immensely upsetting to see that sexual abuse is so common across the gaming landscape. However, it appears that it is truly at its worse in the realm of the fighting game community (FGC), a group that has a history deeply rooted in casual sexism, thuggery, and general political incorrectness. While the scene has improved its image in recent years, the mistakes of the past cannot be forgotten, no matter how long has passed and no matter how much power one has.

I bring this up because the CEO of EVO, Joey “Mr. Wizard” Cuellar, recently came under fire due to sexual abuse allegations and was removed as the company’s CEO, his role now fulfilled by Tony Cannon. In response to this, many companies whose games were set to be featured at the upcoming EVO Online 2020 event pulled their support, many prominent fighting game players declared they will not participate in the event, and the event itself was canceled in its entirety.

It is sad to see this community take such a heavy loss, but it was also a necessary one, as this type of behavior can not be tolerated. Sexual abuse can and does leave lasting psychological and physical harm to its victims, their voices deserve to be heard, and they should not feel compelled or forced to silence their voices because it would be inconvenient is the truth was publicized. I do not know where the FGC, a community I am only vicariously familiar with, will go from here, but I can only hope that its ranks are cleansed as more and more abusers are exposed. The era of thuggery has ended and going forward the FGC needs to get good at something harder and far more important than doing dope-ass combos.

Moving over to another far less controversial subject, but still controversial nevertheless, 2K Games has announced that NBA 2K21 will be launching on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on September 4th, with PS5 and Xbox Series X versions set to release this holiday season. However, in detailing these versions, 2K Games revealed that the next gen versions of this title will cost $70 at launch as opposed to the usual $60. An announcement that may be an indication that games released for these new platforms will adopt $70 as the standard price. Which, on its own, I’m actually all for.

The value of the US dollar is constantly decreasing, so prices will need to be raised eventually, development costs have increased with both team sizes and costs of living, and if one cannot afford $70 games as opposed to $60 games, then they can just wait until the games go on sale for a fraction of their launch price a few months later. Games have plenty of reasons to raise their prices, but the problem that many have with this notion is that this shift is being perpetuated by an NBA 2K title, a series notorious for its aggressive approach to monetization, being built like a free-to-play game in many respects despite being a premium full-price title.

2K Games by no means needs to do this. They make massive profits every year, and one of their biggest cash cows, next to Rockstar Games and Grand Theft Auto V, is the NBA 2K series. They could keep it at $60— hell, they could start releasing the games for $40 or even $20 if they felt like it, but they recognize an opportunity to make money. And while this price hike may be bad for PR, consumers are fickle, forgetful, and most will barely remember it in a matter of days given how fast-paced contemporary life is.

My, this week has been awfully depressing, now hasn’t it? Thankfully, I do have an uplifting story to end this week on, and it is how The World Ends With You, one of my top ten favorite games of all time, is receiving an anime adaptation, as recently announced at Anime Expo Lite. The project is being handled through a collaboration between Domerica, a small CG anime studio that is probably best known for working on opening cinematics for Atlus games, and Shin-Ei, the people who do Doraemon and Crayon Shin-Chan, and overall… I think it looks pretty promising. The teaser trailer captures the look of the characters nicely. The animation, looks rather fluid, which is surprising given how stiff most 3D animated anime productions tend to look. And it looks like it will actualize the combat in the game in a different yet faithful manner.

While I’m certain that I will prefer the game’s version of events over the anime’s rendition, I will definitely give it a watch and review sometime after it finishes airing. The series is set to debut sometime in 2021, and while part of me wants to hope that this is one part of a larger effort within Square Enix to truly revive TWEWY as an IP and lead to a full sequel, I kind of doubt it. There is no game announcement in the world that would make happier than a TWEWY 2, but after 12 years, I honestly don’t expect anything to ever come from it. I still can barely believe that we got Final Remix.

Which, by the way, is still the definitive version of the game, and ya’ll be dopes for raving about how great the 2 screen gimmick was. Dual-screen gameplay was a mistake and should be viewed with disdain accordingly. TWEWY got fixed up all nice-like, and most of your favorite DS games won’t.

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