The end of the year at most gaming sites means “Best Of” awards, and, as we're sure you've seen, we at GameRevolution are no exception. From Best Indie to Best Action, from games, platforms, publishers, and everything in between, the team has been giving well-deserved proverbial pats on backs for the best of the best in a darn good year for gaming.
Now that's all well and good, but if you'll notice, today is December 23, and it's time to focus on the other end of the spectrum. That's right, limber up and get out the old aluminum pole, it's Festivus, the holiday for the rest of us!
For those who have never participated in a Festivus, or those who know not what it is, or those who have never watched Seinfeld, I say welcome, new comers. The tradition of Festivus begins with the Airing of Grievances. I got a lot of problems with this year in gaming! And now you're gonna hear about it!
I don't want to be unfair to start; I know that sometimes games require extra time to be the complete experience we expect. But maybe a little more discretion in declaring release dates might be justified, because this “every game gets pushed back” crap is getting old. Honestly, release dates slated for April I pretty much expect to show up in July, and it's getting silly. Do it if you must, studios, but do it as a last resort, not a cushion.
Bugs in Triple-A Titles
But if you are going to delay a title, at least make sure the game works! The tandem trend with delays is rushed releases coupled with day one patches, or worse yet, paid DLC with the patch attached. I'm going to single out Assassin's Creed Unity here but it certainly isn't the only guilty party this year. The Ubisoft Montreal title was originally slated to see a worldwide release on October 28, but was pushed back until November 11 in North America. Senior producer Vincent Pontbriand said that though “we were near the target… [we] still needed a bit more time to hone some of the details to make sure Assassin’s Creed Unity is exceptional.”
That's fine, but what happened was an exceptional homage to Mars Attacks! Delaying a game can be justified; in turn, gamers ramp their expectations up, especially in technical and graphic aspects. Missing the mark never helps anyone, but doing so after one (or god forbid, two) delays wrecks a title.
Seriously, this “game” (and I'll put that in quotes) has very little redeeming value from what I can see. As a mass murderer, the player's goal is to slay as many innocent people as possible. And yet, when Gabe Newell pulled Hatred off of Steam, people came to the defense of the title under “freedom of speech” claims. The game was restored to Steam Greenlight, but whether or not you support the removal or not, you'd be hard pressed to give me one good reason to play the game. It's vile, disturbing, and it reinforces a erroneously perpetuated stereotype that gamers are unhinged and angry against society.
Kim Kardashian: Hollywood
Speaking of games that are barely games, I got an issue with Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. One could make the argument that this game also has very little redeeming value, and they may have a legitimate point. My issue, however, is that this freemium game from Glu Mobile has pulled in, since its late June launch of this year (that's about six months), $43.3 million.
Let me reiterate: a game based on the vapid, socialite reality-show life of Kim Kardashian brought its publisher fourty-three million frickin' dollars.
Mobile gaming: milking us dry one cell phone at a time.
Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric
One game that wishes it could get anywhere near $43 million is my personal choice for Most Crap Game of the Year, Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric. Oddly enough, I played the preview at E3, and said in my recap (and yes, I'm slamming myself here) that I “walked away thinking that maybe, just maybe, we finally might have a winner on our hands.”
Boy, was I snookered.
I'm all for trying different looks with the characters, like Knuckles' bad impression of Brock Lesnar or Sonic's Nathan Drake-inspired kercheif, but I'm not all for weak plot, poor gameplay, button-mashing attack configuration that makes Wiimote-shaking look advanced, and a notoriously slow frame rate in a video game starring the fastest hedgehog in the world.
Also, there's never a good reason for Amy Rose. Ever.
DLC seems to be making a lot of appearances on this Airing of Grievances, but paygates are especially heinous. Studios can be excused, and even praised, when a good piece of DLC comes out, such as The Last of Us: Left Behind or The Walking Dead: 400 Days.
It's not so commendable was when players find areas that weren't supposed to be found at all, such as the big Bungie follow-up to Halo, Destiny. Bungie claims they put it on-disc to lower download requirements, but it certainly doesn't hurt their wallets to make players pay for content they already technically own. That's like double-dipping your chip. It's like putting your whole hand in the gamer's wallet.
It hurts. Even thinking about console wars gives me a headache. Okay, here's where we stand on the eighth-generation dance: everyone's in. Microsoft reversed the backwards policies of “always-on,” Kinect-required, and product sharing, so the Xbox One ranks right up there with PlayStation 4. And minds are changing about the Wii U thanks to great titles like Mario Kart 8, Bayonetta 2, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.
To summarize: Xbox One is great. PlayStation 4 is great. Wii U is great. Knock it off. The only people who like hearing about Console Wars are platform executives.
And fanboys. Holy crap. They're worse than execs, and have less to gain from it. Now let's be clear, there's a definitive difference between passionate fans (such as our awesome readers) and fanboys. Passionate fans stand by their brand, title, or fandom, sing its praises boldly and loudly, and whether people agree or disagree makes no difference to them. Fanboys – and fangirls – however, stand by their brand, title, or fandom, but feel the need to take other competitors and their fans down, and God forbid you disagree with them. Not everyone has to agree, but the need to attack and diminish others at a personal level speaks to an immaturity that matches a two-year-old arguing over cookies.
Gaming has been in a maturation process the past few years, and many of the nominees in our “Best of” articles reflect this. There's really no room for these petulant little brats anymore.
Why is he still talking? He's referred to gamers as a “whiny group” and would cause “their beloved games to take even longer between episodes.” He's told Mark Zuckerberg he should shown Wall Street “appropriate respect” when Facebook was getting ready for their initial public offering, backing it up by saying many of his investor buddies “feel the same way I do.” And now he's declaring the death of the console.
Occasionally he's right, especially when it comes to financial figures, since he works for a friggin' security firm. But most of the time, he's simply an insulting blowhard. (I wonder if Michael Pachter's biggest fanboy is that guy who's always hanging around in his mirror.)
But the most annoying thing – and annoying is one of the biggest understatements of the year – about gaming in 2014 has to be #GamerGate. The industry and the fans have had #GamerGate thrown at them more times than they care, so everyone knows my grievance with the aggro-gamers behind the “movement.” Any reason that would deny gamers (or anyone, really) of any type the chance for equal representation stinks. It's deplorable and offensive to say the least, and it's taken away a lot of the good progression the image of the gamer has made in the most recent years. The only scandal really is the fact we spent so much time entertaining these ninnies as long as we had to.
Now that we have concluded our traditional Airing of Grievances, as Festivus rolls on, we come to the Feats of Strength. Until you pin me, Anthony Severino, Festivus is not over!