The Xbox Division’s Path of Promise

The seventh generation of video game consoles was marked by grit, the breakout of online multiplayer, and standout new IP’s like Bioshock and Mass Effect. The Xbox 360 and PS3 years were also a reminder of the importance of endings in the context of growth and innovation within an industry.

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Dragon Missing in the West

Besides a lack of content, one of the most popular issues players have with recent loot games like the Destiny franchise and The Division is a lack of depth and unrewarding loop of progression. In the case of Destiny, the first game was by no means a killer in terms of complexity, and with its sequel, Bungie felt it necessary to further drive home simplicity in favor of fun.

And then came along Monster Hunter World. It showed that freedom could flourish, and that leaving players to their own devices was something to celebrate, not squash.

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The Gunplay Conundrum

master chief and cortana halo 3

To this day, I still remember my experiences with Halo 2 and Halo 3 online multiplayer due to the veracity of Bungie’s execution of gunplay, ranking systems, ease of playing with others, and some truly unforgettable maps.

It’s no surprise considering my relationship with the series, especially when hurled into the online era, bordered on addiction, both when hopelessly enthralled while playing and consumed with thoughts about the game when sitting idly.

2007 was the perfect storm as far as myself and untamed, nearly compulsory, gaming hedonism is concerned. I was 16 at the time and Xbox Live was growing into a monstrosity of a social phenomenon.

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Reshaping Destiny 2

Since its inception, the development of the Destiny franchise has been a paragon of insanity. The tumultuous timeline has been a perfect, and unfortunate, collage of reboots, half measured steps towards no destination, and the deafening sound of indifference.

As of right now, Destiny 2 is in a place where player reception is at an all time low and overall quality lost in the void. The sci-fi/fantasy FPS mashup has lost millions in active players since launch, and still, thousands feverishly voice their concerns and wishes on sites like Reddit, in hopes of a better, far less abusive game.

But we’ve been here before and, sad as it may be, we’ll be here again as the next peak and golden era of Destiny collapses in on itself.

Last Friday, Bungie finally broke their silence regarding the war torn state of Destiny 2, and laid bare what we can expect from the team over the coming year.

It’s obvious that they want to appease the playerbase and instill hope through concrete plans of action, but Bungie has a history of inflationary talk, and it’s going to take a bit more than written word to win back many at this point.

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My 3 Simple Wishes for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

animal crossing pocket camp release

Nintendo of America just announced that Animal Crossing’s mobile debut, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, is set for official release on November 22.

I saw the news break on their official Twitter and, much like thousands who have already voiced their excitement, I’m incredibly impatient to get my hands on the first new Animal Crossing title in 5 years – the last title being New Leaf on the 3DS.

It’s also a special event for me because it’s the first time I will be playing an entry in the life simulator series since the original DS title, Animal Crossing: Wild World.

The reason I skipped out on the 3DS version is simple – I’ve never owned a 3DS. I’ve been playing games almost exclusively on the PS4 and never returned to the land of Nintendo since owning a DS, for one reason or another.

Below are my 3 wishes for Pocket Camp that would make the game a joy to play, while keeping the inherent limitations of mobile in mind.

Pocket Casino Camp

My biggest wish, the one that sets the tone for all others, is that Pocket Camp not be a portal to incessant and arbitrary spending via microtransactions.

Yes, this will be a free to play title. And yes, microtransactions are a necessary evil in order to fund the game’s development and further enhance it with additional features down the line.

But it would absolutely kill me, and I’m sure many others, if the game’s enjoyment was entirely hamstrung by the amount of money a player is willing to throw at the screen.

After talking with someone on Twitter, it appears that the game is not aggressive with microtransactions at the moment. The game has been available for Australians and the APK has been floating around the internet.

A certain level of stonewalled progression is fine because it is what facilitates spending, but stifling progression to the point where it becomes essential to enjoying the game at a decent clip will be the death of the game.

And I say this from the point of view of a traditional gamer as I’m sure aggressive monetization tactics are incredibly effective at increasing revenue in the mobile games industry.

This wish can be summed up into one simple statement – let the players play.

Nintendo Charm Intact

The one thing that remains firm in my mind after all these years since playing Animal Crossing on the DS is its inherent charm.

To this day I remember the innocent world of Animal Crossing oozing its way into the heart of my brain and taking me to a place of zen.

Looking back, it was almost akin to a meditative trance achieved through mindfulness.

And it was all achieved, in my opinion, through a coalescence of atmosphere, music and sounds, and visuals.

If I can hop into Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp on November 22nd and achieve even an ounce of this, I will be golden.

Animal Crossing has always been the video game equivalent of kicking back after a long day of work with cold, tasty beer, and I’m truly on the edge on my seat to see if this mobile game will have the same sort of experience.

There’s just nothing like chopping trees, fishing, decorating, and hanging out with cute animal neighbors while enveloped in Animal Crossing’s unique sort of charm.

Content for (Real Time) Days

My last wish for Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is simply the inclusion of a healthy amount of content.

I know this is a mobile game and that I shouldn’t ever expect the amount of content to match a main release – I just want a realistic amount of emulation.

Luckily, the Nintendo Direct for this game has already quelled my fears for this wish as, surprisingly, this looks to be an actual video game as opposed to a glorified meter filler.

It truly does look to offer an Animal Crossing lite experience which makes the upcoming official release all the more exciting.

But it doesn’t stop at the initial release.

I’d like to see this release handled competently in the long term, with regular updates and events.

I have a feeling that this could very well happen but the way that Pokemon GO was handled forces me to temper my expectations.

Releasing regular content updates would be in Nintendo’s best interests to move the franchise forward and create mindshare growth, namely due to the fact that Animal Crossing Switch is bound to release in either 2018 or 2019.

And what better way to bolster the launch of the next mainline release than to entice prospective players with a quality mobile game?

The amount of mobile users is absolutely staggering compared to that of video game consoles. In May of this year it was announced that there are over 2 billion monthly active Android users.

My wishes, overall, are very tempered. And this is mainly because I understand that there are going to be sacrifices made when transitioning an existing IP to mobile phones.

But if Nintendo can manage to emulate even a slice of the series’ core, I truly do believe that Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will be one of the best mobile games on the market.

Respawn Acquisition – The Road Ahead

Yesterday it was announced that Respawn Entertainment, the developer behind the mech laden Titanfall franchise, will be acquired by EA for as much as $455 million.

It’s not an entire shock to the senses as Titanfall 2 reportedly did not meet sales expectations. While critically praised by large media outlets such as IGN and Gamespot, Titanfall 2 was heavily marked down in price just a few short months after release.

And so the Titanfall franchise with soon join the likes of EA owned FPS behemoths like Battlefield and Battlefront. This triple threat is certainly great for the publishing giant but what will it mean for Respawn exactly?

Permadeath Mode

The biggest and most pertinent issue of this buy out is the potential for Respawn to be eviscerated at a later date. Vince Zampella, CEO of Respawn Entertainment, posted a letter to the public yesterday stating that the future is bright and that there are swaths of future potential at the hands of newfound resources.

But this is hardly reassuring as at least 12 studios have been run into the ground and subsequently shut down by EA some time after acquisition. Kotaku has a handy list of 11 studios shut down and with the recent news of Visceral Games that’s another added to the pile of studios sullied and squandered in the name of EA’s overall market trajectory.

Studios shut down by Electronic Arts include:

  • Visceral Games
  • Maxis
  • Pandemic
  • Phenomic
  • Westwood
  • Black Box Games
  • PlayFish
  • NuFX
  • Mythic
  • Origin
  • Bullfrog
  • Dreamworks Interactive

It’s no surprise that the internet has taken to a bit of a freak out concerning the acquisition. The potential for yet another close is certainly there and it isn’t as though it hasn’t happened in the past. Electronic Arts has been around this block at least a dozen times.

And the alternative to this grim path isn’t much brighter. EA as a studio generates massive amounts of money via microtransactions. Yes, Titanfall 2 already featured a fair amount of these.

But the implementation of said microtransactions were generally fair, unobtrusive, and were not predatory. In essence, it was in total defiance of the loot box craze while still delivering regular free content updates such as maps and modes.

I cannot be so sure that Titanfall 3 will continue this same trend. If you’ve been keeping tabs on Battlefront 2 then you know that it not only features loot boxes, but loot boxes that actually influence the game.

This is Star Wars we’re talking about. It isn’t as though this is a franchise that needs bolstering when it comes to revenue. And yet, it is now included with veracity in the second installment.

So what will become of Titanfall 3 within the context of microtransaction implementation? The second installment is already known to have under performed.

And with the death grip soon to take effect, what’s to stop EA from nudging Respawn’s mechanics and systems in such a way that allows for maximum revenue per user.

Would this be inevitable without yesterday’s acquisition? Perhaps. It’s just that now there is absolutely no doubt that EA will do what it can to influence future productions to meet projections.

There is always the possibility of a middle ground or maybe even bright and ever lasting sunny days. It’s just hard to meet this alignment when past and present paint a much more sinister picture.