A Not-So Calm June Puts The Gamer In Tune
Each and every year, June comes with great anticipation and it’s not only because a lot of people go on holiday, but also because E3 blows us away with cool concepts and games. E3 is seen as the showcase, where we sit in awe watching with big eyes at what’s coming our way. Gamescom, on the other hand, is where we get to use our senses to play and interact with the games which previously blew us away.
Therefore, June is holidays and E3. Although, this year was a bit different. June was more work than anything else, as schools neglected to close early, where universities decided to march on a little longer. With that, June is now only good for E3 whereas July is the mid-year break you’ve been looking for.
Seeing as we’re in July at the moment, I’m sure you are all readying yourselves to buy new clothing as jeans will no longer fit after the holidays. Gaming and junk food can take its toll on you. And the funny thing about clothing, I never seem to fit into the predefined and available sizes. Where something is a 34, I’d be a 33, or where something is a 38, I’d be a 37. Anything bigger is uncomfortably big, and anything smaller is too tight.
I’m fussy that way. I am particular about the small things. Unfortunately, living in a fast-paced world it’s tough to be fussy and particular, because if you hesitate you miss out. And that’s why we try our best to keep our schedules and articles in standard form, where we may be particular and fussy about what we do. Naturally this doesn’t always happen, but the main point is: we try. We’ve learned from school that trying is enough, right? We’ll take it, for now. Feel free to bash us on our mistakes, we like to know we’re wrong when we’re wrong. On that note, Theo Lubbe, I miss you. You’ve always been the one to call out mistakes.
You might be thinking, what the hell does this have to do with anything?
It’s simple. Majority of games are mainstream at the moment, and with that developers have lost their fussiness and particularity. Instead, they’ve become suckers to publishers who are suckers for money, and that is very bad for us. We are getting the short end of the stick, as standardisation is being more and more common, like clothing sizes only incrementing in even numbers. It’s fucking frustrating.
Where games like Call of Duty are common shooters, we have developers and publishers arguing over facts and occurrences. Someone claims that they are entitled to money, whereas the other party denies this. The story makes headlines, whereby one party loses credibility or popularity. The internet is known for backing the little-guy, so with that, it’s no surprise that everyone was quite happy when West and Zampella settled the massive Activision-Call-of-Duty lawsuit out-of-court. The terms of the deal are unknown, but from Zampella and West’s perspective, it was a great move as many people now know that they were the parties behind Modern Warfare, and not Infinity Ward in its entirety. With the knowledge of two people being the key players behind a massive shooter, their future works at Electronic Arts — hinted at being called Respawn — will or could be similarly popular, merely because they were the minds behind it. Gamers are brand loyal enough to actually support this, which is both good and bad — depends which side of the argument you’re on.
The mere fact that it was settled out of court shows that the issue went on for long enough where West and Zampella garnered much more attention than needed, meaning Activision needed to shut it down and give them what they wanted. We will be looking forward to what comes of all of this. Let’s hope we’ll be able to focus on gaming more than money, even if it’s just for a year.
Shooters are standard games, they don’t often differ much. There are good ones and great ones, whereby the only difference between the titles is the following. The greater the following “the greater the game”. There’s no particularity and fussiness anymore, all the hard-work has been done and no one is planning to move forward just yet.
Unlike the shooter industry, Valve seems to be making waves with Dota 2. It’s a massively popular online game which allows players to face-off against one another. Dota 2 is currently in beta where it was recently announced that the game will indeed be free-to-play. Valve will monetise the game with, not hats, but rather chickens! And other items which could customise your game. Valve’s Dota 2 will not be a “pay to win”, but rather a “pay to look different”. That’s key in the free-to-play model, as I don’t want to have to fork out money to win, nor do I want to lose when some other person has spent countless Rands on better weaponry. Well done Valve, you understand how games should be.
With many companies planning free-to-play games, we can only hope that they take a page out of Valve’s book. Don’t let us pay to win. We’ll hate it. On that note, it’s becoming evident that the free-to-play model is gaining popularity, and that’s bad. It’s bad because we’ll soon see more standardisation with companies copying each other to make money, where only certain games who do free-to-play “right” will give us what we need. A tailor-made suit, if you will.
Free-to-play sounds good for the consumer, but if implemented incorrectly, from the consumer perspective, it can ruin gaming and be a nasty nightmare.
As I mentioned above, June is the month of E3. This year’s event was interesting, with a few changes to the keynotes and some cool games being revealed. Over at eGamer, we watched with big eyes as certain titles were pretty spectacular, well at least we hope that they are.
To avoid further discussion, as we’ve already reported on this numerous times, the great titles from E3 2012 include: Watch Dogs, The Last of Us, BEYOND: Two Souls, and Far Cry 3. Well, these are the mainstream likes anyway.
Watch Dogs was pretty fantastic because it was new, and it was a secret. The Last of Us looked great because it was as if you’re playing an action cinematic, whereas BEYOND: Two Souls was interesting merely because it’s from Quantic Dream. In fact, Quantic Dream is a growing name in innovation, and let’s hope that BEYOND: Two Souls can change dramatically from Heavy Rain so that the games do feel fresh and different. Far Cry 3 looked stunning, with rich colours and visuals. There’s no doubt that it’s a top contender for best of the fest, but I feel that it might lack a bit in originality. It does look great though, and I’ll give it credit for that.
I’m personally excited for other games too, like Splinter Cell: Blacklist and Forza Horizon. I’m a sucker for Splinter Cell games, although the history has been somewhat up-and-down. I’m not too worried about what they do with the title, because it isn’t intended to be a number-one, best in the world, but rather something fun for the fans and newcomers. And there’s limited doubt that standardisation will destroy what we know about the title, almost like what happened with Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. It will be overly easy, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Forza Horizon is another story. I’m a sucker for racing games, so this goes without saying. Yes, poke at the Forza 4 review all you want.
Despite very little on Hitman: Absolution, I cannot wait to kill people again. I’m actually quite glad that there was a bit of coverage during the E3 period, as this might have made the days of the event feel a bit dull. Hitman, like the others, is a great game and let’s hope that it isn’t butchered by simplicity for newcomers. Newcomers need to learn that life isn’t easy, and there will be a learning curve, but once you’ve overcome that, gaming will blow you away like nothing before. In fact, it will probably make gaming more enjoyable.
Another game which didn’t really make a massive appearance was Dishonored, the steam-punk — I forget the rest — title. Dishonored will be fun, as it will mix a whole lot of games into one, and there’s the hipster bow and arrow, which seems to be making its return to gaming. It was unfortunate that we didn’t see too much about the game, but there’s always Gamescom, right?
Two announce dates to be excited about, which were revealed in June, include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Guild Wars 2. Two games which are outrageously different to one another, and I know that most of you will only be excited about the latter. I’m excited about both, and I’ll tell you why: Counter-Strike is like the bread and butter of shooters, it’s almost the hipster of the genre, purely because before all the games had team deathmatch, and other team rounds, Counter-Strike was king. The previously Half-Life powered shooter wasn’t standardised, instead, it was different and kept to its own roots. From this game onwards, other titles started to standardise what was being done. Global Offensive is said to be a game which incorporates the goodness of 1.6 with the physics of Source, and from there we could have something interesting. From the beta, it is a fun and fast paced team shooter. And I like that, because it involved strategy from the get go — as you’ll learn to budget how to buy guns and when to buy guns. It’s a little more complex than just run and shoot, which is Call of Duty.
Guild Wars 2 on the other hand is the giant MMO which allows you to do whatever you like. The game will be truly fantastic and will better the previous title in every single way. What can one say about the game? It’s tough to touch on each aspect, you should rather go read about under-water battles and massive team fights. Yip, I really like team games.
On the technology side of things, June was an interesting month too. Apple revealed their retina-display MacBook Pro, which is probably as clear as real eye-sight. If not pretty darn close. This too is a major technological advancement, and say what you want about Apple products, they look, feel and handle pretty darn well. It is priced quite outrageously, but it is so worth it — and it is easy to justify any purchase. Ask Alessandro, as he once disagreed with me wholeheartedly. Emphasis on once.
Microsoft then took it upon themselves to re-enter the tablet market. I say re-enter because you do know that Apple wasn’t the first company to release a tablet, right? Microsoft released a tablet years ago, in fact it was so long ago that they used to put Microsoft tablets in cars in Pimp My Ride, from MTV. That, and they used Microsoft tablets on the CSI TV series. Apple just revolutionised how it was done, and what was being done.
History aside, the Microsoft Surface is a device which is meant to bridge the gap between laptop and tablet. Which I find interesting and somewhat pointless, because if I wanted a laptop I’d use a laptop. A tablet fill the gap nicely as I would like to lie on the couch and browse the web, as I do. In fact, I catch up most of my eGamer reading with my iPad, as reading on a PC is sometimes too tiresome. For work, I don’t see why I would want to use a tablet? I’d much rather use a laptop which is far more capable of handling the processes I need. I love to multitask and do about four different things at once, so a tablet doesn’t seem too suitable.
I get that Microsoft wants to try and innovate, somehow, but I don’t feel that this is the best way. Perhaps they are using this as a showcase as to what Windows 8 can do, and offering another solution to linking your Xbox, PC and tablet up. Oh, and that’s something Apple already offers, barred the Xbox part — for good reason.
The Microsoft Surface is an interesting concept, but tablet and laptop are different. One is made for reading and more casual use whereas the other is made for work. Microsoft is almost asking us to mix work with pleasure, and do you know what happens when you mix work with pleasure? Someone’s wife is going to be very upset, where the secretary gets a new car.
While it’s truly possible that my thoughts are wrong, I’d like to hear what you think. Also, the sales figures should be interesting. And, technology aside, Windows 8 does look quite cool with a lot of functionality — I am excited about that.
The last tablet I’d like to mention is the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Something which I am very indifferent about, and not entirely convinced about. My thoughts aside, Apple has secured an interdict to bar Samsung from selling the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the United States. That’s quite a big deal, as they stand to make a lot of money if they limit the market by eliminating competitors. It shows you, one doesn’t need to make the better product but rather just annihilate the competitor and what they offer by barring sales of the device.
Another great technology which is in-and-out of reveal is the Nintendo Wii U. I say in-and-out as we know about a few of the details, but lack real specifics.
Specifics aside though, what was once seen as a clunky technology, the Wii U has actually changed perspectives. Alessandro recently had the chance to attend a hands-on with the device, where he reported back that it’s a lot better than it looks. It has a super lightweight and flexible controller. The Wii U will have great functionality with the predecessor, and a lot of games which will attend to the needs of the younger market. Nintendo doesn’t care about you and I, too much, they want the entry-level market. They want the families who are contemplating gamers, and this might be the way.
Not to mention, Japanese brand loyalty is amazing, therefore it will sell enough to make money back.
From an eGamer perspective, June was an interesting month. We’ve introduced a new offering aimed at indie fans, and it’s called “This Week In Indie”. Written exclusively by Adam, the articles published every Friday aim to cover what happened in the respective week in the respective market. It’s a great way to keep track of what is happening with indie titles and developers. Alongside that offering, Adam has decided to specialise his column into an indie-only offering, which should once again cater to the fans. We are serious about indie games and as time progresses, we are aiming to offer more and more content on this.
We had a little WTF moment this month as well. I decided to do a little bit of trolling regarding Justin Bieber and why he’d be the ultimate gamer. If you took it too seriously, shame on you.
As usual, our podcast steamed forward. We’re making it more known that we are looking for your questions and comments, which we will talk about during the session. You can ask us almost anything.
On the topic of staff, we have one writer who returned to offer overly-long columns and opinions. Yeah, Imran is back to write about things we don’t really understand. He used to write Machina’s Machinations, however it’s now called Imrage. In other words, he’ll be permanently upset.
I’d then like to welcome Ebrahim who is going to write a more technology-related offering. Both Imran and Ebrahim will hold the Wednesday slot, where they will alternate week-over-week.
We are busy in a restructure, where new ideas are currently being discussed. Our site will undergo a few changes, both structurally and visually. We might even hire one or two more staff members, where we are already discussing possible positions with them.
If you have any ideas on what you want us to offer, or what we can offer, please — leave a comment. We’ll be sure to read what you have to say. eGamer is as much you as it is us. We’re trying to avoid the aforementioned standardisation of gaming, so, help us out if you like.
Want to know more about eGamer and what happens month to month? Read the previous entries.