This Week’s Topics:
- The impending TSF Fiesta Party
- NetEase’s continued international expansion
- Cygames’ continued international expansion
- The unionization saga continues
- A linguistic rant
- Saying NO MORE to Nintendo
- The great liquidation of the closet
Rundown Preamble Ramble:
TSF Review Plans & Scheduled Hopes
Due to various and miscellaneous flavored reasons, I have entered a TSF visual novel marathon here on Natalie.TF! I just returned to Student Transfer scenarios with reviews of Valentine’s Lie and Detachment. Mice Tea version 1.0 just dropped on April 28th and is my main objective at the moment. I’m going to try to get more Student Transfer scenario reviews out when I’m done with it. But then I’m going to go back to re:Dreamer for review number four on June 3rd, because memes.
That’s six reviews in six weeks, and while I might be able to squeeze in another one, it is finally time for me to become an Enrolled Agent— meaning someone who can represent people before the IRS. To do this, I gotta go back to school— meaning take online review classes— and take monthly tests in downtown Chicago for the next three months.
Only once I’m done with all of that shit, then I can hopefully go back to a semi-regular schedule. One with Student Transfer scenario reviews almost every month, and a TSF Series every other month. …But I will also need to finish up the Dragalia Lost V3 Re;Works project, which I decided is going to launch on November 29th, 2023 and—
Actually, screw it. TENTATIVE AND PRELIMINARY schedule time, bay-bee!
- May 2023 – Mice Tea Version 1.0 Review
- May 2023 – Student Transfer Scenario Reviews
- 5/18/2023 – Psycho Shatter 1985: Black Vice Re;Birth – The Day After
- 6/03/2023 – re;Dreamer Review #4
- 6/23/2023 – TSF Series #005-3: Ghost Milky in… White Terror
- June 2023 – Palladium Version 0.0.4 Review
- July 2023 – Student Transfer Scenario Review(s)
- July 2023 – Little Noah: Scion of Paradise Review
- August 2023 – Student Transfer Scenario Review(s)
- September 2023 – Student Transfer Scenario Review(s)
- 9/27/2023 – TSF Series #017: Cassandra – The Cuddly Demon Queen of Radia
- October 2023 – Student Transfer Scenario Review
- 11/18/2023 – TSF Series #018: Daemon;Head
- 11/29/2023 – Dragalia Lost V3 Re;Works
- 12/20/2023 – TSF Series #019: Suicide to Success
- 12/27/2023 – Natalie Rambles About 2023
Also, another Student Transfer scenario review is dropping tomorrow. It’s a tiny one, because I played the scenario, made the flowchart, wrote the review, and scheduled the review in about 6 hours.
NetEase Expands With Ease
(NetEase Opens A New Studio in Barcelona and Seattle)
I don’t have any proper acquisitions to report on this week— and I don’t have much to say about the UK blocking the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard merger. However, I do have something semi-related involving NetEase. While they have made some acquisitions, they have been far bigger fans of launching new studios in different markets. And they have launched LOTS of studios. Sakura Studio, Nagoshi Studio, and Studio Flare in Tokyo, GPTRACK50 in Osaka, Jackalope Games in Austin, and Jar of Sparks in Seattle. And that was just in the past 3 years. However, they are not stopping now!
Instead, they are creating a new studio with offices in both Seattle and… Barcelona? Or in other words, in the northwestern US and in Spain, two locations a trim 9 hours apart. Which means some people are going to need to work some utterly wack hours for these offices to collaborate effectively. This new developer, Anchor Point Studios, is slated to be working on action adventure games for console and PC, which could realistically mean anything.
While I usually hate acquisitions, I really cannot be as miffed about foreign investments like this. NetEase is creating jobs and giving people the opportunity to make games for a living. They are not taking away something and are ultimately investing resources to create more games. As such, I cannot really justify getting mad at them for the act of creating this studio. And while part of me wants to say they will shovel out live services… I don’t know if that will be the case.
They bought Grasshopper Manufacture and Quantic Dream, and I doubt they would be dumb enough to ruin those studios by making them pivot to genres that do not fit their expertise. And while I’m sure they would love to have another Diablo Immortal under their belt… why would they have an American studio do something they can do in China for less money?
Cygames Expands Beyond The Cyber
(Cygames Established Cygames America and Cygames Europe)
Speaking of Asian companies establishing offices on the west coast and in western Europe, let’s talk about Cygames! Cygames is a developer who will forever hold a place in my heart due to their work on Dragalia Lost, so I pretty much need to keep tabs on them. And just this past week, they announced new international offices. Cygames America, based in Los Angeles, and Cygames Europe, based in London.
This is a move reflective of Cygames’ recent switch to a more international business model, which they began pushing about a year ago. When they launched an English Twitter account, had a presence at Anime Expo 2022, and released Little Noah: Scion of Paradise. A game that… (edits list at the top of this post) I’ll review this summer!
To me, this means that Cygames plans on handling their international localizations in-house going forward, and that actually inspired a lot of confidence. Cygames previously had to rely on external publishers like Nintendo, Crunchyroll, and Kakao Games to bring their titles over. But most of the time, it is far better to manage an internal localization team, or at least have a foreign branch handle all the related logistics. Otherwise, projects can run into publisher contract issues, delayed launches, and be delisted while the original version is still being developed. Like with Princess Connect, whose English release just experienced its EOS a few hours before this post’s publication.
I’m sure this means a lot of things in the long term, but in the short term, I can see Cygames handling the American and European publishing duties for three games. Granblue Fantasy: Relink, Granblue Fantasy Versus: Rising, and possibly an English release of Uma Musume Pretty Derby. Also known as Cygames’ cash cow that just recently crossed two billion dollars in lifetime revenue.
…Now is the part where I want to theorize how this could lead to a Dragalia Lost revival of some sorts, but I’d rather not hope for anything at this point. It seems insane to let a game with that much content and development just sit on a server for the rest of time, but I know not to expect anything. Especially from a Japanese company…
The Unionization Wave Continues!
(Sega of America Establishes Union)
Something that I have been a very vocal supporter of is the growing wave of unionization across the AAA games industry. It has not been as fast as I would like, but that would require unionization to spread like wildfire. Still, I’ll recognize a W whenever I can, and Sega of America sure got one. 144 workers at Sega’s Irvine, California office have launched the Allied Employees Guild Improving SEGA— or AEGIS, and unlike other previous unionization efforts, this affects basically every department at the studio.
Now, this does not mean that the unionization process is finalized, as things could always go poorly. Like they did with Proletariat, the Activision Blizzard subsidiary. But the fact that this project is being launched is wonderful news and, so long as Sega of Japan decides to not be a bunch of jerks, then SOA could become the largest games union in the country.
For Validity to Exist, Invalidity Must Also Exist
(Natalie Complains About Moral Subjectivity)
There are myriad phrases and sayings that simply do not click with my abnormal mind, but the one that particularly mystifies me at the moment is the saying that someone, or something, ‘is valid’. Now, I understand the purpose behind this saying, to tell people everything is okay, that they aren’t bad for liking something or doing something a certain way. It is to convey acceptance. I’m fine with the purpose of this phrase, and my problems lay solely with the word ‘valid.’
Valid traditionally meant something that is reasonable, logical, and, in a sense, objective. But now it is being used to refer to something that the speaker thinks should be socially accepted, which is something that is deeply subjective. It is using an objective sounding word to push a subjective opinion.
This bugs me, as I find keeping track of definitions to be hard enough, and when you add new definitions to existing words, you risk causing confusion among those who are not hip to the hottest lingo. However, my bigger problem with the phrase “X is valid” is the fact that if something is valid, that implies that other things are not valid. That they are invalid. That some traits, personalities, or behaviors are acceptable, and others not, while implying that there is some way to objectively measure these things when… there really isn’t.
This is something that comes to mind whenever I think about morality but… there is no objective way to determine if something is good or bad. That comes down to a difference of opinion about how society should be run, structured, and maintained. Opinions like this vary from person to person, nation to nation, and have shifted wildly across the decades. Yet, people want there to be a way to objectively measure this, and they have wanted it for… ever, I guess?.
This is something that is obvious to me even with my limited understanding of human history, but it is something that so many people do not seem to get or willfully refuse to accept. What is seen as good or acceptable is based on the opinions held by a group of people. If there was some objective, universal, standard everybody could agree to, then the trajectory of human history would have been so different that it would be almost incomparable to our world.
Nothing subjective can be ‘valid.’ Good and evil are ultimately a matter of opinion. And while I understand the purpose of this phrase, it does not actually mean anything greater than ‘I think your behavior, trait, or opinion should be socially acceptable.’ Again, I appreciate the sentiment of this phrase, but… I’m the one who should be saying words without knowing what they actually mean.
Nintendo Hates Nintendo, So I Hate Them
(Nintendo Destroyed A Prolific Fan Site)
I originally was going to do a story about how Nintendo financially murdered a lower-end employee of a Switch hacking group, but I cut that bit because it was too bitter. I quickly morphed the topic to how corporations basically have the right to kill people… so long as they are killed in the ‘correct way.’ Which in turn means that a corporation’s attempt to financially murder someone is not a big deal. Especially next to all the people enslaved by corporations around the world. And yes, I’m calling it slavery. Because even if you give your workers a pittance that just barely keeps them alive, it’s still slavery.
However, Nintendo is long overdue for a rant here on Natalie.TF, so I’m going to do just that.
Over the past few months, Nintendo has been disgustingly aggressive about ‘protecting their IP.’ Removing fan-made covers from SteamGrid. Hunting down leakers who shared snippets from an artbook. Harassing the creators of a multiplayer mod for a 6-year-old game they already made over a billion dollars off of. Trying to take down a video discussing a Zelda game that never got greenlit. Nintendo really has not been garnering any favor with the broader gaming community, and now, they’ve gone one step too far.
Forest of Illusion was a treasure trove of information about Nintendo. Home to a glutton of information about unreleased content or early versions of games, and many of the most interesting Nintendo leaks in the past few years. But, suddenly, it shut down, and while its findings were preserved on Archive.org, this represents a major loss not only for Nintendo history, but gaming preservation as a whole.
Now, it might seem that this was all done due to more pragmatic reasons, such as not having the time to continue updating the site… but that’s not how these things work. You don’t shut down a site without a moment’s notice unless the existence of the site is threatened, and per some Discord messages shared by Time Extension, that’s what happened. The details are kept under wraps— because of course they are. But from these messages, it is clear to me that Nintendo approached this fansite, threatened them, and forced them to shut down, or else they would face legal action.
What Nintendo is doing here is predatory, anti-preservation, harmful to the community they fostered over the years, and is a needless destruction of art. It is a brash and unsightly defense of their copyrights. Some lawyers might say this is necessary, but it really isn’t. This was not threatening or hurting Nintendo in any way, and it never would.
Their behavior has been shitty for decades, and it has not been getting better. They do not care about their most devout and loyal supporters. They shipped faulty products and refused to fix them. They still don’t let people back up save files locally— a standard console feature since 1994. They adopted artificially limited releases just to boost profits during a pandemic. They went from being a pioneer in official emulation and preservation to adopting the abhorrent ‘subscription-only’ monetization model. And they made it impossible to purchase hundreds of games, most of which were only available for 5 to 10 years.
All of this has me so pissed, so immensely frustrated, that I really want to swear off their games and products. I will continue to pay $17 a year for Pokémon Home, which is offered by The Pokémon Company, not Nintendo, but for everything else… yeah, no, I’m done. I’m not buying any more games from Nintendo unless they undergo a dramatic change in their policies and behavior, and if I do want to play a game developed my Nintendo employees, I will just do so via emulation. The company does not respect itself, and it uses its excess capital to pursue destructive legal battles like this. As such, I will not give it any more money. Plain and simple.
Once I can transfer my Pokémon Violet Pokédex to Pokémon Home, my Switch is going into my closet. And as for all of my other Nintendo crap— my various systems and almost a hundred games— I’m sick of holding onto them.
Natalie is Going to Sell Her Old Video Games
(And Natalie.TF Readers Could Get a 15% Discount)
I have a bunch of old games and stuff sitting in my closet and there really is no need to keep them lying around, so screw it. I’m going to try to sell most of my game collection. It will take me a while to create a full list of everything I own, but I have 135 physical games spanning various consoles, and a bunch of digital games that should still be installed. As for consoles, I have a Nintendo 64, Xbox 360, PS Vita, PlayStation TV, Black GBA, NES themed GBA SP, an original blue Nintendo DS, and a launch turquoise 3DS with a busted analog stick. It still works, but the rubber nub literally melted.
My plan is to sell all of this as part of one huge lot, as I do not want to be bothered with all the work required to sell things piecemeal. I will need to do some research on current prices, as the market has gotten crazy and titles like Solatorobo: Red the Hunter are going for over $300. But I am currently thinking somewhere in the realm of $3,000. Something less than half of what I could get by selling these games and consoles individually.
I also do not plan on shipping anything, as that would cost hundreds of dollars, so this offer is only available to people in the Chicagoland area. In fact, if you are a Natalie.TF reader, and want to come on down to Skokie, I’ll sell you this collection with a 15% discount.
…Yes, this is a real offer. I would genuinely LOVE to sell these games to a reader, and I will be willing to make certain modifications if need be. Such as if you don’t care about a certain console.
BONUS: SECRET NATALIE LORE
The term “fiesta party” is a reference to The Comedy Button that has been lodged in my head for a good decade. Which itself is a reference to an old, likely defunct, porn site called Cum Fiesta, where female characters would go to locations because they were told someone was having a ‘fiesta party.’
Anyway, that’s all for today.