Kickstarter: The New Direction Of The Video Game Industry?

Well I know I haven’t written anything in what seems like forever but I was stricken with inspiration today. I really wanted to talk about where the game industry has been and where it looks like it’s going.

For years now I’ve felt like the industry has been strangled by how much money people have made. Almost like it grew too fast over the past 20 years. In the 90’s and early 00’s it seemed as though whenever a game came out that everyone enjoyed, it was because someone had a vision to create something new, interesting and fun. At times games could make us see things in a whole new light. Then came the 7th gen consoles.(PS3 Xbox360) For a while things were still looking good.

The notion of DLC had yet to be butchered into what it has become lately. Developers like Bethesda released honest-to-goodness expansion packs, like the ones for Oblivion. Sans the minor stuff like 9 dollar horse armor. I’m speaking more of Knights Of The Nine and The Shivering Isles. The latter is still my favorite questline in any Elder Scrolls game so far. Even a game Like GTA IV had awesome expansions in the form of The Lost And Damned and The Ballad Of Gay Tony. Even if they were a little on the pricey side, they offered entirely new stories for a game we had already gotten our money’s worth out of. But with successes like these, game publishers saw and opportunity to cash in on us. What started out as an awesome idea to extend the life of a game you’ve already paid for, publishers decided to use as a way to basically rob us.

Publishers, being the financial power behind most triple-A games, have way more power than we realized. They would come in and tell a developer what parts of a game needed to be removed and sold as either DLC or as a pre-order bonus to one of the publisher’s retail partners. So instead of selling a complete product and using DLC as a means to make extra content, they decided to intentionally remove content and charge you $1.99 for things like a weapon skin or an alternate outfit. Things that used to be unlockable by either beating the game or entering a cheat code. Needless to say companies have gotten more and more shady with things like this as time has gone by.

On top of that we’ve also seen legendary game companies from the 80’s and 90’s seemingly forget how to make video games. With the massive success of games like Call Of Duty, every company has tried to jump on that band wagon and make a game that can capitalize on that success and make millions of it’s own. Well while in their attempts to make all this money they’ve alienated those of us who have been there since the beginning. Not to mention releasing some really, really horrible games.

For example, Megaman came back in a really big way with 2008’s Megaman 9. It was the first entry in the original series since Megaman 8 way back on the PS1. Not only that it was made in an 8-bit style like it’s NES predecessors. It was received with open arms and glowing reviews. It did so well that in 2010 Capcom released Megaman 10! Yet another 8-bit Megaman game for fans everywhere to enjoy. It was around this time  that Capcom announced another, brand new Megaman game titled “Megaman Universe”. They even made an elaborate stop-motion trailer depicting Megaman breaking out of the game world and into someone’s bedroom. At the same time Keiji Inafune himself would announce that he wanted to make a Megaman Legends 3. He stated though, that in order for Capcom to agree to funding the project he needed to prove there was enough interest in the title. They made a website and special forum where fans could go to show their support and even vote on things being put into the game. After a while all news on both games would go dark. Eventually Capcom came out and cancelled them both. Much to fans’ disappointment.  Shortly after this, it was announced that Inafune would indeed be leaving Capcom.

Months later Inafune would reveal that he was creating his own video game studio known as Comcept. He would then take to what was at the time a very young website known as Kickstarter. He wanted to make a brand new Megaman game. Obviously though, he didn’t own the rights to the Megaman property. So what he proposed to all of us was a “spiritual successor” to our beloved Blue Bomber. Mighty No. 9. As soon as news broke that he was attempting to raise funds for a new Megaman-style game, his kickstarter would go on to smash it’s goals. Mighty No 9 is set to release later on this year and is available for pre-order on Steam.

More recently we would see another legend of game-development leave his former employer. Koji Igarashi. The man who gave us the now iconic Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night. The game that literally created it’s own genre known lovingly as Metroid-vania. Igarashi, too has turned to kickstarter to fund his new project titled “Bloodstained”. In his kickstarted video, Koji explains that for years he’s wanted to make a sequel to Sypmphony Of The Night but his bosses always told him that not enough people want it and therefore it wouldn’t make enough money to be worth the investment. He has gotten together many former colleagues of his to work on this new game including the composer of Symphony Of The Night, Michiru Yamane. This game too has smashed it’s goals and reached over $5,000,000.

This brings us to earlier this week. As you know it is the week of E3. The week game fans the world over look forward to all year round. The time when we get to see all the awesome stuff companies are working on to take our money! Many are calling this year’s convention the greatest of all time. Honestly, I’m inclined to agree. With announcements like Square finally committing to remaking Final Fantasy VII, it’s a good time to play video games. Sony did something at their E3 press conference I never thought they would do. They came out on stage and officially launched a kickstarter for someone else. None other than  Yu Suzuki himself came on stage to officially launch his kickstarter campaign for Shenmue III. They counted down and asked everyone to go to the website and check it out. 12 hours later the game had exceeded it’s $2,000,000 goal. As of writing this it currently stands at just over $3.1 Million and still has 29 days left.

So if you’ve managed to stick with me this far you’re probably wondering why I’ve hit you with all this information. What’s the point I’m trying to make? The point is simple. It’s become overwhelmingly clear what we, the fans want to play. I do not believe we are all stuck in the past and want to keep playing our SNES systems. I think we all love new franchises.  There’s nothing like that feeling of playing a game you’ve never played before with no expectations of a previous title. The feeling of experiencing everything about a game for the very first time. I don’t think anyone wants to give that up. But at the same time we don’t wanna see the games and characters that we loved so much, the ones the built the gaming industy, get left by the wayside. We also don’t want to see them butchered the way Sonic has been in recent years. We want them to continue to be around and in new and awesome ways. The question is, why haven’t these giant publishers realized this?

Well, unless you work at Capcom or Konami you probably will never truly know the answer. One can, however, speculate. The reasoning you hear most often is that the sheer amount of money it takes to run these giant corporations from day-to-day is simply staggering. So in order for a company to agree to drop millions on a project. They need to know with some certainty that they will do more than break even on it’s return. This makes perfect sense. Especially when you take into consideration the recent rumblings at Konami concerning legend and Metal Gear creator, Hideo Kojima. After officially signing on to work on the newest Silent Hill title, Kojima evidently had a falling out with one of the big shots at Konami. Kojima’s name was removed from all material regarding Metal Gear Solid 5. They also announced that Silent Hills would be cancelled. On top of all of that Konami said they would be largely shifting focus from console videogames to mobile games and other things exclusive to the Japanese market such as Pachinko machines.

With this information it can be assumed that Konami is making these moves in order to enter safer markets with more guaranteed returns. That makes total sense. For Konami. What about the fact the Capcom has essentially buried Megaman for no reason. Or how about the fact that Sega has been sitting on Shenmue for years and has done nothing with it. Could it be that the suits in charge of these massive corporations have just lost touch? Or maybe they simply no longer care what people want.  Either way it seems clear to me where the industry is going. Kickstarter and the like are the way of the future. If Publisher’s don’t want to let these people make the games they want to make. It’s obvious that we, the fans, are ready and willing to help get the games made that we want to play. So why leave it up to some suit has no idea what we want? There’s only one thing I’ve been wondering. Why not start a Kickstarter and attempt to purchase the rights to whatever franchise you’re trying to resurrect. I mean these companies obviously aren’t using them. Why not cash in? Maybe if we’re lucky enough some of the original members of Team Silent could even get back together for Kickstarter. Yeah, I know, it’s not gonna happen. But I can dream can’t I?

For more information on Mighty No 9 click here

For more information on Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night click here

For more information on Shenmue III click here

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Grand Theft Auto V: A financial and critical powerhouse, but also monumental failure?

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Okay, so before we get started here I’d just like to preface this entire post by saying up until today I have defended Rockstar and how it has approached the GTA V and GTA Online launch. Also buried in this cluster fuck of a game is something worth admiring.

Let’s start with the facts. Grand Theft Auto V released a few weeks ago to perfect reviews from nearly everyone with a pulse. With good reason too. It’s a solid entry into the long running franchise which most of us have grown accustomed to receiving quality entertainment from. I can’t honestly say a GTA game has ever let me down before. Well maybe certain aspects of GTA IV. But that’s a discussion for another day. Anyway it made a billion dollars within it’s first few days on the market. That makes it the highest selling video game on release of all time. According to Guinness at the time of writing this post, the game currently holds 7 world records. So knowing all this you’d think Rockstar would have done a stellar job programming the game and releasing a working online component. You’d be wrong.

Let’s be honest here, online games have a little history at this point of being dead on arrival. Most notable we could use Diablo III and Sim City as great examples of this. Both these titles were hugely anticipated and with good reason. They are also part of long running series that have rather large fan bases. Both games have single player components but are inaccessible without being connected to the internet 24/7. This was were the problems lie. Everyone installed and tried to run these games basically at the same exact time. Since you needed to be connected to the servers to even get past the main menu, everyone was logging in at the same exact moment. So what happened then? The servers couldn’t handle the stress. Both games were completely useless for around their first week in existence. So if you purchased these games for a full 60$ you were left out in the cold. I’m not saying the developers foresaw this being that large of a problem, but you have to imagine when you’re designing a system that requires an internet connection all the time, everyone is going to be on it all the time. These surely aren’t the only examples but they are the most relevant.

So knowing this and knowing that the potential for failure was high, I assumed going into GTA V that GTAO would be largely ineffective at launch. But then a few weeks before GTA V’s release, it was announced that Rockstar would be delaying GTAO two weeks after the launch of GTA V. Upon hearing this I thought “Okay, firstly it gives us all time to play and enjoy the story mode which they undoubtedly poured their blood, sweat and tears into. Secondly the extra time the have to prepare GTAO should likely avoid all the problems now associated with online games.” I’ve never been proven more wrong in my life. Grand Theft  Auto Online came out and promptly crashed and burned. Then reubilt itself, took off and crashed and burned again.

The update enabling GTA Online released exactly two weeks after the game’s launch. Needless to say about 1% of customers were able to access the servers. Those who were able to get on were reporting barely being able to play anyway. The problem was that Rockstar thought it a good idea to create a tutorial mission where it required you to be matched with other random people for a street race. Everyone trying to be matched at once obviously created overload. After about a day of this going on, Rockstar finally spoke on their official support forums, saying that they were aware of all the issues and were working to fix them as soon as possible. Never failing to remind us that they “warned” us saying, online launches always pose problems.

So a day later their first patch was released. This allowed most customers to get online and finally get to experience GTA Online. Though a little stripped down because many features are still disabled. However, even after releasing the patch and getting the servers up, people WERE still reporting their characters being deleted and losing all their progress. Personally I have only noticed that the money I’ve been depositing in the bank(which is supposed to be safe) has been disappearing relentlessly. After the patch though I was able to play pretty seamlessly. I wish I could say the same for others. Now while most people were getting red in the face over not being able to get online, I wasn’t AS mad. While I was extremely agitated that part of a 60$ product I purchased was not functional. I forgave the developers to an extent. Because I do understand that we live in the real world and shit happens. The only thing anyone can guarantee in this world is that we will all die one day. Problems arise, we have to learn to deal with it.

Fast forward to last night where I was playing GTA V’s story mode. A most excellent narrative about how twisted and perverted this great country of ours can be. I encountered an unusual glitch to say the least. There is a bug which causes certain missions to appear in the wrong order toward end game. So now I(and a few other people on the Rockstar messageboards) am in a position where all my missions have disappeared and my progress has come to a screeching halt, preventing me from completing the game. My frustration at this comes from the fact that up to this point I have sunk a total of 18 hours into this game. Which is for absolutely nothing now. I am a man of my word however. I’m not turning into a raging fanboy who will start sending death threats to the developers.(No really that happened to Treyarch about call of duty).

I do, however, feel that I have a right as a consumer and a customer, to complain to the people to whom I’ve given my hard earned money. I’ve payed 60$ on a product that is largely broken. We as gamers tend to have this problem where we just accept when a game developer hands us an inferior product and charges us top dollar. We need to realize that just like any paid product or service, once we pay our money we are owed a product that ACTUALLY works. It’s assumed that when I pay for a video game that when I play it, it will function. If it doesn’t and I am dissatisfied, it is the developers duty, to fix it and make it right. Don’t get me wrong though, I don’t believe I have the right to storm their support website and spam their message boards with posts of whining like a little bitch either. We need to present our arguments in fair, well thought out arguments. Not the way most people just type in all caps and rage that Rockstar are evil and deserve to die for their sins.

We just need to learn how to do things the proper way. But it doesn’t help that Rockstar doesn’t seem to be replying to alot of open tickets on their website either. So consider this a public service announcement. Yes, Rockstar is wrong and is handling this situation entirely wrong. They’ve sold us a product that fails to deliver what it is advertised to deliver. They now have an obligation to make it right. If the game never works again and all these glitches are never sorted out there is only one way to make sure they learn from their mistakes. Not from taking to message boards and screaming about how you’re going to kill them all and they deserve any rotten fate to befall them. No. The only way to teach them a lesson is to hit them where it hurts. Remember what they’ve done to all of us,. Their customers. The people who handed them all those world records they’re so proud of. The people who gave them our hard earned money. Next time they’re ready to release a game, stand up and say “No”. “I refuse to give you anymore money for your inferior products.” “You’ve treated your fan base terribly enough. I refuse to be taken in by you a second time” The Game won’t sell and they’ll be out of business. I cannot stress how important it is to realize just how much power your wallet has in the marketplace. We don’t have to stand for being treated this way. Bitching and moaning is not the way to get it done. We have to use our heads here and do things right. It’s the only way to get the corporate fat cats to hear our message.

So for now just assume Rockstar will eventually get around to righting these wrongs. Until then, I won’t lose any sleep.

 

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Soul Calibur II HD Announced!!

ImageIf you like fighting games, and you’re anything like me, chances are back in the summer of 2003 you were probably enjoying what many consider to be the highlight of the Soul Calibur series: Soul Calibur II. My personal favorite 3D fighting game of all time. It was the first fighting game my 13-year old self had ever mastered. To this day I still like to go back once in a while and give it a whirl.

The thing that most attracted me to the game at first, was the fact that each platform had a unique character. Playstation had Heihachi from Tekken, Xbox had Spawn, and (my platform of choice) The Gamecube had the one and only Link from The Legend Of Zelda. I remember throwing away countless hours collecting everyone’s weapons. The single player mode was probably the most robust in a fighting game I’ve ever seen. It’s a shame they haven’t re-used it. I loved everything about Soul Calibur V except the rather bland single player mode.

Anyway at an event held during San Diego Comic Con BandaiNamco games showed a trailer for Soul Calibur II HD! You can check it out here: http://youtu.be/LNVxs3CD7JM. The trailer goes on to confirm that the game will now feature an online mode. Something that is all but required with fighting games in the modern era. Also shown was Heihachi from Tekken. The game will be available on the XBLA and PSN. So I am left to wonder whether or not Spawn will be making a return. Sadly for me the game is not scheduled to release for Wii U, which means my dreams of picking up that Master Sword one more time are dashed. For now at least. 

Either way I am ridiculously excited to re-visit one of my all time favorite fighting games, and spend my entire weekend gathering weapons. Look for Soul Calibur II HD this Fall. No price point has been set yet, but I would put it at around 15$ if I were a betting man. I hope  you guys are as excited as I am!

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Steam Summer Sale 2013

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The Steam Summer Sale is FINALY on! Get titles such as The Walking Dead, Call Of Duty Black Ops II and Super Meat Boy for LUDICROUSLY low prices. There are new sales every day between now and July 22nd. If you even remotely enjoy PC gaming then you need to get there and check it out. So go out and buy some cheap-ass games!

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DLC Quickie: The Walking Dead 400 Days.

A brief review of the even more brief Walking Dead 400 Days. Find out if the short time is worth it right here!

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Shadow Of The Eternals Dev Arrested?!

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About a month and a half ago I posted a blog about a game studio known as Precursor Games. They are determined to finally make a successor to 2002’s sleeper hit, Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem. I admit, since the loss of my computer, I was unable to keep up really well with the progress of the project as they were using Kickstarter to fund the game. Well according to their website things went splendidly. All we know as of now is that “changes are coming” What this means is entirely up for debate. We are here today, however, to speak of something not so good.

One of the developers on the game,Kenneth McCulloch, was arrested on charges of Child Pornography. McCulloch has since been terminated from Precursor Games. Police reportedly seized a “significant” amount of evidence. Now, while this is terribly sickening, and if it turns out to be true the man should rot in a cell for the rest of eternity, it also arises one other problem. The future of Shadow Of The Eternals. Precursor hasn’t updated their website in a few weeks. This is what worries me.

Because this one guy, had to commit a vile act and tarnish the name of the company he worked for, will that ruin the game itself? I understand there are more pressing matters at hand. Such as, the well being of the children which have been affected by this person. But I just can’t help but fear that this is indeed spelling the end for something I had so much hope for.

Either way, I’ll be here to let you know how it turns out. Let’s hope it’s all good news from here on out.

Source Article: http://www.gamespot.com/news/shadow-of-the-eternals-dev-arrested-on-child-porn-charges-6410893

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A Brief Word From Enzo.

To anyone who may have been following this blog since it’s inception,(which is not that long ago I realize) I thank you very much. I am aware that I basically phased out of existence for no reason. Well, actually there was a very good reason. The charging port on my laptop was pulled loose. The repair person I brought it to would proceed to put me through an unimaginable hell to get it fixed. I only recently got it back, So I’d also like to take this opportunity, to warn anyone who may be within the five boroughs of NYC.

If you ever happen to run into some computer problem that you cannot fix yourself, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, do not go to Computer Depot. It is located in The Bronx on Westchester Avenue. They are quite possible the most incompetent repair people I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with. A simple repair that should have taken a week at most, wound up dragging out to over a month. Not to mention the computer was returned to me with scratches all over the place that were not there before. Also when I brought it home I realized that the front of the laptop was not even re-assembled all the way. So please for your own sake don’t waste your time and money with these people.

Anyway, I got a little off track with that rant. What I really wanted to say was that I’m back and I’m not going anywhere. It’s a shame that I missed all the E3 happenings and while I could go ahead and report upon them, it wouldn’t be the same considering all my thoughts wouldn’t be fresh. I think it best that we just continue on from this point with current events.

Anyway, thanks so much for sticking with The Gameshelf, and keep it here for game reviews, news, and the most honest opinions on the internet,

–Enzo

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