Loot Boxes, Neutrality and The Death of Walking Sims – End of Year Round-Up Pt. 3

Now that the indie awards have been brushed aside, let’s look at the bigger picture; specifically, the moments where gamers collectively set aside their differences and had a good ol’ stare at the wrongdoings and failures of the gaming industry, staring as they fumbled for excuses or withered away and died. It’s a bit miserable, I know, but you need to focus on the bad things once in a while in order to feel good about the future. Hopefully, lessons were learnt.


The Sinking Ship of Valve’s Integrity



Valve might have had respect and class at one point, but it’s hard to really see that former shining star between all the shit they’ve been shovelling recently. From numerous writers and members of staff leaving to the miserable attempt to jump on the MOBA card game spin-off genre, it’s been nothing but major blunders as of late.


They started off strong, announcing that a game was to be in development and that Half-Life wasn’t entirely out of the picture, but when that game turned out to be a spin-off for thinking man’s multiplayer game DOTA, fans were more than a little peeved. Add on the miserable blog post from Marc Laidlaw taking jabs at their current approach to the industry, it feels like nothing but resentful right hooks from Newell & Co.


Will they learn their lesson? Probably not, because money talks, as evident from the next big event…


Net Neutrality And The Worst Video Ever Made



Obviously, the biggest elephant in the room is the recent repeal of Net Neutrality, which everyone has been vocal about. Due to my residing in England, I didn’t raise as much of an uproar as everybody else, but it’s still a blow to the union of gamers around the world. Personally, my problem isn’t the sleazy money-grabbing tactics internet providers and Ajit Pai himself are using, but the sheer cringe-fest that was the video Ajit Pai posted recently.


In this video, dubbed a “PSA”, Ajit “You Wanna See YouTube Funnies, You Gotta Give Me Money” Pai lists several things you can still do with Net Neutrality gone, all the while taking jabs at the people who have the right to fight this utterly stupid movement against NN. From fidget spinners, to the Harlem Shake, all 90+ seconds of it will make your face cringe inside out, all the while wishing for sweet, sweet death. That’s probably his tactic actually. If this video didn’t go viral, he probably would’ve ended up parodying Chris Chan or something. *shudder*


The video is here, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Loot Boxes.



No, I’m not going to think about some sort of funny sub-title, because this subject has already been talked to death about , and I’m sick of it personally. All I’m going to say is; remember the Horse Armour DLC in Elder Scrolls: Oblivion? Do you remember the public outrage over it? No, of course you don’t, because now everyone thinks that loot boxes with just cosmetics “isn’t necessarily a bad thing”.


Personally, it makes sense for this loot box/cosmetic DLC shit to come back in a big way now. It’s been years since the Oblivion debacle, and most people who fall into the loot box trap were probably still in diapers when said Oblivion debacle happened. With those fresh faces come fresh cash, ready for scumbags like EA and Activision to slurp up. The only company slightly residing from supply drops as of late is Ubisoft, who I have to commend for the brave decision.


Ubisoft executives, I’m sure the extremely small spot of your wallets that aren’t drowning in cash are grateful.


Take-Two’s Micro-transaction Boogaloo



A relatively small moment, but one that needs to be focused on nonetheless.


Sometime in mid-2017, Take-Two Interactive crawled out of their mountain of GTA Shark Card money, and whispered something about “recurrent consumer spending”. What does it mean? Well, in layman’s terms, the economic models of their titles, Red Dead Redemption 2 for example, will take a hearty hit in favour of slurping the remains of your wallet up. It’s depressing to think of, but there’s honestly nothing you can do.


While EA and Activision can bend over backwards for their customers if the complaints are loud enough, Take-Two own a much bigger piece of the pie, as they’re behind the biggest game in the world, GTA V. Johnny down the street isn’t going to care about certain ethics in the video game industry, and he’ll say that as he steals his mom’s credit card in order to buy a bunker on GTA Online.


Imagine it. Buying premium lassos in the new Red Dead. We’re done for, really.


Failure to Launch



While 2017 has come out with some proper quality materials on a consistent basis, that hasn’t stopped a few failures from happening, and some failures that are still happening as I type this.


First, there was For Honor. While mechanically sound, it punched above its weight and after a while, the playerbase dwindled. Then, the now-infamous Mass Effect: Andromeda came out crippled, mainly thanks to EA and the Bioware Montreal’s new-found incompetence. From there, a few more blanks came out of the chamber.


Yooka-Laylee came out a disappointment, despite the fact that they got eleventy billion dollars from nostalgia goggle-wearing buffons. Star Wars: Battlefront II is now legendary in its failure, due to EA showing their incompetence once again. Destiny 2 might have appealed for the general crowd, but let’s face it, it is exactly the same as its previous boring entry.


There were others, like the utterly miserable Sonic Forces and the new Need For Speed which loaded the cringe factor to 11, on par with Ajit Pai’s video. I felt it was necessary to mention the suspects that hurt the most. Since then, it’s possible that most of these have recovered from their pathetic launches, but let’s just remember and laugh.


R.I.P. Walking Simulators



Something quite miserable happened in the middle of the year. The Chinese Room, developers of Dear Esther and Everybody’s Gone to The Rapture, have closed their doors, and the entirety of the staff (almost 10 people) has been laid off. The Chinese Room were well-known for pioneering the “Walking Simulator”, and with this news, it brings a level of uncertainty for this type of narrative freedom.


Cut off the head, and the body will squirm, and while you might put off The Chinese Room’s creations as mere pretentious claptrap, you can’t knock ’em for bringing these ideas to light. Without The Chinese Room’s influence, a lot of titles probably wouldn’t exist, or at least have the same execution that made them so profound and brilliant.


Hopefully The Chinese Room can recover from this awful bump in negativity, and return to survive and thrive.


That’s most of the more negative news coming out of 2017. There were a few more instances, but these were the more shocking developments that I watched from the sidelines and had a hearty chuckle at. From here on out, it’s surely green pastures? Of course it will, as for the final part of the End of Year Round Up, we’ll be looking at the most anticipated indie released scheduled for next year.


Bottoms up, lads!


Sam Taylor
Owner of the largest collection of indie games in the Western Hemisphere, and TimeSplitters' biggest fanboy.

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