The Wednesday letters page reacts to the disappointing news about this year’s E3, as one reader laments the launch of Sports Story.
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Cracking the code
Can’t say I’m too upset about the news with E3. I loved it in its heyday but better for it to be put out of its misery now than to drag on for years longer. To me, by far the most interesting thing about the report is that the reason Nintendo isn’t taking part is because they have nothing much to show. This, once again, reinforces the idea that Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom is the last major Switch game (a concept I read in a Reader’s Feature here, before seeing it anywhere else).
Logically, it also suggests that the Switch 2 is going to be released in 2024 and I’d assume sooner rather than later if they don’t want to go almost two years without any major new games. That in turn also makes the suggestion that a next gen version of Tears Of The Kingdom will be a launch game for the new console that much more believable.
Dare I say it, but maybe we finally have correctly predicted what Nintendo is doing? It had to happen one day, right? Just by the law of averages. I’d rather not go with any major gap in new releases but if Tears Of The Kingdom is up to the standard we all expect I’m okay with this, as long as the rest of the Switch 2 launch line-up is just as good. At this point though, I would be surprised if the new console wasn’t out by May next year.
I’d completely forgotten that Microsoft said it had a 10-year plan for Halo Infinite. It didn’t even last 10 months without becoming an absolute embarrassment. Once again we get stories of bad management and 343 Industries being an absolute shower. Maybe it’s a case of lions led by donkeys but at this point, and after so many other failures, I think we have to concede that everyone involved has messed up to some degree or another.
That’s got to include Phil Spencer too. As another reader said, he’s management, the problem is management… why isn’t he doing anything about all this? He’s been in charge for almost a decade now and the Xbox’s fortunes have barely improved at all, while their number of games released has steadily decreased.
At one point do the fingers start pointing at him and what kind of person would Microsoft try to replace him with? Or does Microsoft even realize there’s a problem? They never seem to, so either they’re really good at hiding the problems or they think that getting ahead in the games industry is something that takes 30 years of effort, unlike Sony who, you know… did it instantly on their first go.
I can’t tell you how uninterested I am in a Halo battle royale. I don’t know if I’m alone but as an old school Halo fan I certainly know plenty of people who feel the same way. I’m also a Star Wars fan and all of this is starting to feel very familiar.
First everything connected with Halo was top of its class, then the prequels came, then more spin-offs, then the sequels, and suddenly you were looking for needles in a haystack when it comes to quality. Halo Infinite was kind of The Force Awakens of Halo games: far from perfect but could be considered good depending on how they follow it up. And we all know how that turned out for both franchises…
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Told you so
So, once again, something any game could have told you has been proven right and a games publisher is made to look clueless. Not in the slightest bit surprised that Sony’s plans for PlayStation VR2 have had to be cut back. Even without the pandemic and the war and everything, I still don’t know where they got the idea that 2 million people were going to buy one at launch.
And while all the recent stuff isn’t their fault they still made the decision to make this one of the first things they did for the PlayStation 5. That’s crazy. There’s absolutely nothing that has happened with PlayStation VR or the wider gaming world to make that seem like it would be a good idea and lo and behold it wasn’t. In this instance Xbox has proven by far the wiser by just staying out of the whole thing until someone can prove there’s real demand for it.
I don’t see how that isn’t Uncharted 5 in the Sony ad. At the very least they want you to think it is, so I don’t know what else they could be playing at. Personally though I would have been happy if the franchise had died with Naughty Dog’s interest in it.
I don’t really seem where it goes, conceptually, from here and by having a female protagonist it’s just going to increase the comparisons with Tomb Raider. So are they going to make it seem as un-Tomb Raider-y as possible or are they going to lean into it and try and steal Lara’s lunch?
Neither seems very interesting. It would’ve been better if they’d created a whole new franchise for Nate’s daughter, after she decided to take a completely different route in life. Maybe she became a lawyer or a doctor or environmentalist or something.
Audentis fortuna iuvat
I noticed you haven’t reviewed Sports Story, since it was released just before Christmas. I assume this is partly the bad timing (a stealth release that very much backfired) and partly the lack of quality of the finished product? It’s a shame it seems to have turned out so badly, as Golf Story is one of my favorite indie games ever. Mismanagement seems to have been the problem as this barbed easter egg implies.
I can’t help but think the first mistake was making an indie sequel at all. No matter how good the original, indie sequels rarely fare well. I used to think it was just me that failed to get excited by follow-ups to even the best titles, but sales suggest most people agree.
One of the big attractions of indie games is innovation and that is much harder to achieve in a sequel. Sidebar Games would have been better following the stellar example of Lucas Pope or Subset Games and using their success to launch something brand new. Both Return Of The Obra Dinn and Into The Breach felt like great leaps forward into something new rather than a botched sidestep that led to a stumble.
Fortune favors the bold!
GC: A game launching on December 23 is a huge red flag. Once we saw all the negative comments about bugs, we saw no point in covering it unless there’s a substantial fix.
Take a bath
Considering how much money they like to waste I am very surprised that Microsoft would increase the price of their consoles, especially the Xbox Series S. It’s value for money is the best thing about this current generation, if you ask me, and keeping it low would be a much better use of $69 billion than buying Activision (not that it would take a fraction of that to keep prices the same).
I know it’s not taken effect here yet but it seems like a matter of time and then Microsoft’s job is just going to be that much more difficult.
It’s dead, Jim Ryan
So, E3 is dead. I’m sure they’ll keep trying for a few years but if they can’t get even a single console manufacturer involved on the big comeback year they haven’t got a chance after. Especially since Activision Blizzard will be part of Microsoft by then, so that’s them automatically out as well.
A lot of people don’t seem to care about this, but I think it’s a crying shame that will make the games industry a worse place. It’s not about it being a fun spectacle, which it was, but the fact that it allowed such access to upcoming games, in terms of previews and interviews from a wide range of sources.
Notice how when a big game comes out nowadays, say God Of War Ragnarök, we know virtually nothing about it beforehand and never hear from the developers? We get a couple of puff pieces from big American websites and that’s it. These games might as well drop from the sky, fully formed for all we ever get to learn about how and why they were made.
Bad practices like NFTs and live service games are going unquestioned, just argued about on sites like this where all we’re doing is preaching to converts. It’s a bad state of affairs and I don’t see them ever going back to anything close to how it used to be. It’ll just be soulless livestreams from now on, with anonymous voiceovers or developers awkwardly reading off an auto-prompt, saying exactly what the publisher wants them to say.
I somehow missed that it was Final Fantasy 7’s 25th anniversary last year, and now it’s 26 years old? All I can say is I wish I still was.
I’m kind of shocked that Dead Space did so much worse than The Callisto Protocol. I guess that’s the end of that franchise, again.
This week’s Hot Topic
This weekend’s Inbox will announce the results of the 2022 Reader’s Top 20 of the Year. As usual, you’ve got all week to get in your votes, before we tally them all up for the final reveal.
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What did you think of 2022 in general and how do you think it compares to other recent years in gaming? Also, which publishers and consoles do you feel had the best 12 months?
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