I’ve come to terms with paid multiplayer to some extent. Withholding multiplayer behind a paywall is arguably worth the effect it has: reducing annoying casual/kid players you meet online and increasing server quality, in theory. It can pressure gamers into coming back and playing more often because they know that they’re subscribed to the service, too, which means a more active player base. But the other features are lackluster to begin with. Old NES games with hacked in multiplayer components, online save storage, and unspecified discounts. If they included SNES games in that list it would be a different story. No virtual console? No universal purchase library? No voice chat (except through your smartphone)? These are not easy to overlook.
But now, with the bizarre decision to disable online save storage for Dark Souls and Pokemon Let’s Go, Nintendo has officially dropped the ball. Their explanation makes no sense, claiming that it can theoretically be abused. Regarding the non-exclusive titles being affected, look at this quote from the Game Informer article:
It is worth noting that all of these games support cloud saves on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live.
While Pokémon Let’s Go can be explained away as The Pokémon Company’s often overbearing paranoia and a desire to drive business to the cloud-based Pokémon Bank subscription service, the other included examples do not make much sense.
A couple of assholes are going to exploit your online save functionality (if you don’t structure it in a way that prevents this) so now everybody has to suffer? Online saves are 100% about increasing the value of your Switch purchase by making it a little less painful to replace one if it breaks, and having your whole library’s progress backed up is essential, especially for something as in-depth and time consuming as Pokemon or Dark Souls.
Few games have caught my attention the way that Octopath Traveler did when it was announced. Coming from any other studio, for any other system, it may have been different. But a Square Enix RPG exclusively for the Nintendo Switch sounds to me like the Promised Land I was hoping we would see. The best case scenario for the Switch is exactly this: a blurring of console and handheld, where scale and scope don’t matter nearly as much as variety and purpose. From the moment you see it, Octopath Traveler assures you that the Switch will uphold Nintendo’s tradition of supporting colorful, unique, mid-sized games (mostly from Japan) that would be lost in the shuffle if they were released on a regular console. Yes you can have Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for the Switch in all of its 3D glory, but you can also have a text-menu-sprite-turn-and-grind JRPG that feels like the 1990’s again. These kinds of games don’t need to break the mold. They need to satisfy an appetite that very few people are catering to.
Despite putting up my E3 2018 podcast just two days ago, I decided that I wanted to do another one to talk about the Steam Link App, my next-gen industry analysis article, and the hilarious ways that VR is trying to create a killer app. As you’ll hear when you listen to it, I go further into the reason why I predicted that the next generation of consoles were going to use streaming game services as their big selling point. However, I could never have predicted that this morning — right as I was preparing to upload the episode and publish this article — news broke that PlayStation Now is gearing up for a major rehaul.
Last week I sat down with my brother and tried to calculate — through sheer analysis — what Microsoft would do at this E3.
I didn’t post any of it online, so I can’t claim any victory points for it, but after a few hours of discussing the state of the industry, along with Xbox’s past, present, and possible futures, I concluded that Microsoft was going to announce a new generation of Xbox consoles and push streaming as their next big move. Today Phil Spencer confirmed that Xbox is going to push a streaming service, and new hardware. Turns out my prediction was 100% correct.
Based on the survey feedback after the demo release, Square Enix (and/or Acquire?) has been making adjustments to a lot of things. Interface, visibility, and my own favorite change, the ability to walk or run by simply tilting the joystick, with a “sprint” option available that increases your chances of getting into fights!
This game is really looking great still, and I very much respect Square Enix for being humble enough to put out a demo, listen to feedback, and allow the fans of this genre to push them in the right direction. Yes, you could argue that it shows lack of vision or leadership, but think about it: if you don’t have vision and leadership, why pretend that you do? This is why some series get a creator who ruins tons of stuff in the hopes of becoming a great director. They obviously had good ideas from the start, but listening to fans won’t hurt.