Rundown (7/11-7/17) “There’s A Problem With My Microsoft”

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Wherein I discuss the woes of an IT girl, a potentially lost Judgment, super fighting robots for the entire world, another big tech company penetrating gamindustri, and the ‘real’ Switch Pro.

One of the reasons why I’m glad that I no longer work in an office with a deluge of other people is the fact that I no longer need to be the go-to IT person. On one hand, serving that role forces me to learn more about troubleshooting and earns me good brownie points with my co-workers, as I fix problems and make their lives easier. On the other hand, it was incredibly upsetting to see just how ignorant so many people were when it comes to computer use. Computers are an essential part of modern daily living, but so many of my former co-workers have no idea how to even describe the issues they are facing and expect me to fix the issue right away based on that information.

The phrase, “there’s a problem with my Microsoft” is something I assume is ingrained in every IT person’s mind. I understand why some 60-something-year-old person would say that, especially if they did not learn how to sorta use a computer at age 40, but I’ve come to learn that this is not an age issue. This is a mentality issue. Some people are so intellectually lazy that they do not want to learn how to fix things, they just want to bumble through life and never improve themselves. And that, THAT is what pisses me off. 

I’ll admit that I am a trash goblin who does not learn or research as much as she should, but at least I am receptive and try to solve the problems I encounter in my life and career. If you use something every day for work, you should at least be willing to learn more about it. 

Oh, but the worst, the actual worst, are people who have this mentality, who are intellectually lazy, but actively don’t care about their workspaces. People who fill their work computers with damaging extensions, use an obscure browser because they were doing some crap they shouldn’t have been, letting their computers fill up with adware, kicking their desktops, ramming them into a crevice, and letting their wires bunch up and twist into this dust-riddled mess. Those sorts of people also always have the worst mousepads and the stickiest keyboards too.

I do not understand how somebody can not care about their workspace that much. If you do not care about your workspace, that means you do not care about your job. And I don’t care if the pay sucks and so does the work. It’s your job, and if you want things to get better, either do better or be better! 

I would be willing to help these people, as video games taught me that helping people is “the shit,” but I will not waste my time talking to a brick. Not even a brick wall, just a brick.

When Sega brought their 2018 Yakuza spin-off, Judgment, to additional platforms earlier this year, I remarked on how… odd the choice of systems were. The former PS4 exclusive was released for PS5, Xbox Series, and Google Stadia, but there was strangely no PC release, despite the immense success the Yakuza series has had on the platform. I assumed that it was just delayed due to the massive blitz of Yakuza PC releases that happened around the same time, as Yakuza 3, 4, 5, 6, and Like a Dragon, all came out within 6 months.

However, based on a report by Nikkan Taishu, which was later corroborated by Kotaku, the lack of a PC release has to do with the talent agency for Takuya Kimura, the actor for Judgment’s protagonist. Kimura’s talent agency, Johnny’s, is a very harsh agency that wants an ironclad grip on what their actors do and how their image is distributed across different mediums. They are one of many old-fashioned and super-controlling Japanese companies, and they do not want Judgment to come to PC. Why? I’m not really sure, but it has something to do with how they do not want their talent’s likeness to be distributed to a computer via the internet, or something of the sort. 

This is incredibly foolish, but they are a stubborn and crappy company, so they are likely never going to budge, which is both bad news for PC game players and also fans of Judgment in general. As, based on this Nikkan Taishu report, this disagreement might bring a premature end to the Judgment series.

Over the years, Sega has recognized how well their titles can sell on the PC platform, or more specifically, on Steam. Steam is a major revenue source for them, and if they cannot release a title on Steam, then that cuts down that title’s lifetime sales projections. If a title has poor sales projections, it is difficult for any company to greenlight the project, especially when the same developers could be working on a title with greater sales potential.

It sucks to hear this news, and to learn that I probably won’t ever play Judgment or its upcoming sequel. But this is what happens when you enter into a business agreement with a company like Johnny’s. You wind up getting screwed over because their executives have their heads so far up their own asses that they don’t know what decade it is. You might want to excuse this behavior by saying that this sort of thing is common in the Japanese showbiz and music industry. And I say that just because a poor practice is normalized does not mean it should be accepted or seen as reasonable. 

While news of Judgment’s dubious future is upsetting, it also goes to show just how much the Japanese games industry has committed to the PC platform, and how many publishers rely on Steam as a pillar of revenue. And I don’t think that there is any announcement that better represents this than news that the latest entry in the Super Robot Wars series, Super Robot Wars 30, will make its way to Steam

Now, this is not too remarkable, as 2018’s Super Robot Wars X and 2017’s Super Robot Wars V are both available on the platform, complete with full English localizations. However, neither of these titles were available outside of Asia due to various licensing reasons, but that is all changing with Super Robot Wars 30, which is being released worldwide via Steam on October 27, 2021.

While I have no true interest in the game, I still consider this to be yet another major milestone in Japanese developers recognizing the power of PC gaming as a platform, and the value of releasing their games worldwide. I have gone on so many tangents about how I want Japanese game developers to value the platform. But now we are at the point where even the most obscure series are being brought over, and have the potential to grow and find a whole new audience. I have little to say other than… it’s nice. 

Next on the list, we have a Bloomberg report that Netflix is planning to expand into the world of video games. The first question, that of why, is fairly obvious. Netflix sees that gaming is a hundred billion dollar industry and they think it would be a good investment to preserve their longevity and relevance as other streaming services are cropping up like weeds. 

They hired some people with a gaming background who might know what they are doing. Are currently recruiting for their gaming division while planning to recruit even more in the coming months. And even though they are not planning on launching gaming as a separate service, they will probably use it to justify a price increase, because that’s how these things go. 

Overall, I am not a fan of big tech companies cramming their way into the gaming space, especially after Google Stadia failed to catch on. Plus, this would also be yet another video game streaming service and… I just do not think streaming services on their own are that attractive. If you like video games, you probably have a console or computer, so you can just play games on your local hardware. I get that hardware is expensive, but so are subscription services, and at least you get something tangible, reliable, and resealable with hardware.

It is also worth noting that the Nintendo Switch kind of throws a wrench in the whole streaming games argument. While the library of games is different, the Nintendo Switch basically offers every benefit of game streaming, but as a piece of (mostly) reliable hardware with a portable form factor. It is easy to bring with you. Offers ‘console-quality’ experiences, whatever that means. And has a robust library of titles that should appeal to just about every breed of game-liker.

However, the Switch has also inspired something of a resurgence in the idea of handheld PC gaming, which has been around for a while. Nvidia really tried to push it with their Shield Portable, but since 2017 or so, loads of companies have been making their own Switch-like gaming PCs. I never heard much about them beyond their product unveils, but people apparently like or want to like these systems enough that Valve is throwing their hat into the ring.

The Steam Deck is pretty much what you would get if you mashed the Steam Controller with the Nintendo Switch. It is a slim handheld PC running on Valve’s Linux-based SteamOS with a built-in controller featuring the usual face buttons and sticks, two trackpads, and four backside paddles for good measure. 

As a piece of hardware, I must say that it looks rather nice. It has a 7-inch touch screen, a 16:10 aspect ratio, 16GB of DDR5 RAM, a relatively beefy CPU and GPU, a gyroscope, and comes with a USB-C dock with HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet, and 3 USB slots. Also, if you lose, or don’t like, this little dock, you can just use any USB-C dock, which I think is pretty neat.

I could definitely see somebody using this to enjoy low fidelity or years-old Linux-compatible PC games while lounging around their house or in transit, although I am a bit iffy about the ergonomics of this thing. It looks like a system designed for people with American-man-hands. I can confirm this by looking at some of the embedded promo videos, where people with smaller hands (women) are clearly struggling to fit the bulky thing in their hands, to the point where it would probably lead to some strain after a few hours of play.

Still, I’m sure people will get good use out of the thing, I like seeing PC gaming expand like this, the hardware is reasonably priced as well. The base model of the Steam Deck costs $400, but it only comes with 64GB eMMC of internal storage, which is a type of flash memory, and typically not very fast, so it would likely lead to long load times. The next model costs $530 and comes with a 256GB NVMe SSD, which is basically the best, fastest, and most expensive type of storage you can get in a modern computer. And the super-premium-big kid model costs $650 for a 512GB NVMe SSD and an anti-glare etched glass screen.

The $530 model is probably the best investment for any game-liker, and as a piece of hardware, I actually think this would be a rather good investment. Not only as a game system but as a computer in general. I am not a big supporter of Linux (I’ve barely used the OS and don’t have a good reason to switch from Windows), but for your casual computer user, you can do pretty much everything you would want to do on a computer via Linux, as most end-user level software nowadays is web-based. 

Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, everything Google does, and most non-gaming-related entertainment you get on a computer is obtained via a web browser. Hell, this is part of the reason so many school kids use Chromebooks. Because they can do everything they need to do for school using web apps.

You can definitely use a Linux computer even if you are not a tech-savvy individual, and getting something like a Steam Deck might be good enough to substitute a new computer for some people. The biggest barrier would be actually getting one, as reservations have already been locked, and the product will not start shipping until December. 

While I am not in the market for the Steam Deck (I’m waiting for GPUs to become available again so I can build a new desktop), I think it is a nifty bit of tech, and I look forward to how the first impressions fair when customers finally have the device in their hand. Mostly because I really like the idea of dockable mini-PCs like this, and think devices like this could have a lot of applications going forward.

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