Tag Archives: Ubisoft

Playstation is Go!

Yes, the console war is off to a nice start. It is important to you (the reader) to know that for whatever reason, I am a Sony guy, hence, take no offense and if you are a dedicated Xbox person (no offense taken) then you might not like this article.

The event started last saturday when I saw this article that was massively Microsoft minded and how the new Xbox would be 30% faster, that person went on by throwing teraflops at us and making all kinds of speculated boasts, fair enough, I merely glanced at it and disregarded it to the largest extent. There will optionally be differences between the two, but the difference will be less than 50% (personal conviction) of what that person claimed. In the end, the PS5 will be a huge step up from the PS4 and a decent step up from the PS4 pro.

CCN (at https://www.ccn.com/sony-ps5-reveal-beats-xbox-series-x-without-trying/) gives us “Sony’s PS5 reveal video gets more views than the Xbox Series X trailer after being criticized for being boring and technical“, yes that was always going to be the case, in the end there are two parts, the technical superiority and the games, the first one we can see and anticipate, the second one we can hope for and in coming towards our hopes and dreams the PlayStation has been a lot more rewarding than its counterpart ever was. The one time the other one stood out was when the date was October 27, 2017 and that was the day that Ubisoft released Assassin’s Creed Origins. Even as a Sony person I have to give voice to the amazement that the Xbox One X brought at that time. Assassin’s Creed Origins blew my socks off, and as a 4K title it was overwhelming. Yet that was pretty much the only time that the Microsoft console truly shined. As the self-proclaimed most powerful processor system it was surpassed by Nintendo, which with the Switch has the least powerful processor of the three, so that is the impact of superior hardware.

As such CCN gives us “The PS5 video has 13.5 million views compared to the 10.6 million views on the Xbox Series X reveal. This suggests that Sony may not have to try very hard to make the PS5 more successful than the Xbox Series X.” My response would be, Sony listens to its gamers, Microsoft only claims to do so and then does what the bottom dollar presented tells them to do, the gamer is not a consideration (proven twice over), that is how I see it (Die hard Microsoft console fans are allowed to disagree).

For me it is a much more interesting field, even as I am considering two IP’s on the matter, I can clearly see that the advantage that Microsoft created with the Xbox 360 has gone. My personal achilles issues is that the entire matter of storage has not now, not ever been properly addressed by Microsoft since the first One was released, that is 8 years ago. In all that time it was about being online, about being able to download, all whilst we see that on a global play there is a bandwidth issue, it is to such a degree that some people see how some players (YouTube and Netflix) decided to limit the video quality so that they won’t congest the internet in Europe in this Corona beer environment. It had grown to such a degree that Brussels decided to talk to Netflix on reducing internet congestion (at https://www.politico.eu/article/brussels-in-talks-with-netflix-about-reducing-internet-congestion/) and the quote “Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton today spoke with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to discuss ways to help reduce internet congestion, a Commission official told POLITICO“, as such a case I saw coming years ago (not on the how it would happen) is seen three days ago in the article, there is congestion and in that environment Microsoft wants to be an ‘Always Online‘ player? As such the Sony solution with their secondary internal drive (SSD) might be a slightly limiting factor, but as it would (speculated) fit the 2tb and 4tb drives from Samsung, the Playstation 5 will have a great situation, and the 2tb SSD version is now $325, which is not required in the initial year (unless the games become really big) I reckon that Microsoft has a lot more to lose, superior processor or not. Even as they come again with their ‘most powerful processor‘ song, the moment the gamer chorus starts with ‘Yet where can we store our shit‘ they will fall silent very quickly, 1TB in 4K/8K gaming will do that. Sony has a similar start but you can add a drive to enhance player needs and 2tb/4tb will do that nicely. I expect that the 2tb drives at the end of the year will be $250-$300, so there is that too.

The larger issues is not merely that, Tom’s guide (at https://www.tomsguide.com/us/ps5-release-date-rumors-specs,news-26954.html) gave us “In his Road to PS5 talk, Cerny gave more details on the SSD again, with the key spec that it could load 2GB of files in 0.27 seconds. That should make for some unnoticeable loading times once game devs get to grips with the new console.” in this consider a Bethesda RPG where the load times in between locations becomes almost zero, the additional joy we get by replaying Fallout 4 and Skyrim, this evolution is one I anticipated, although not the “load 2GB of files in 0.27 seconds“, that is just the icing on the cake. The idea that Elder Scrolls: Restoration (see several other articles) becomes a technical viability opens up a lot of doors for RPG games, in this I wonder what Guerilla games could make of Horizon Zero Dawn 2. It is almost beyond belief and that is before we consider other franchises that offer us more and more. 

You see in the end it is not about Sony or their Playstation, it is about the gamer and gamemaker and it seems that Sony is facilitating to an amazing degree to those two, as I personally see it Microsoft is merely facilitating to those embracing Azure, in lesser degree to the game makers and last to the gamers, it is another setting entirely. Gamers are the first priority, Sony learned that lesson when they launched on 3 December 1994, a first try to debunk Nintendo as the king of gaming, they succeeded. So whilst we are all in folds on how much it is going to cost, consider that the Xbox360 was $699 and we all shelled out because we were going to get an awesome experience. That was proven true by Microsoft and I never regretted buying a second one when the red rings of death came to ring my front door bell (two days before Fallout New Vegas was released).

It seems to me that Microsoft forgot about what gamers need and they seem to listen to those who want gamers to take a certain direction, it is not the same. Still there are options where Sony could improve too, not the gaming side, but the connected social media side where we share what we want to share, that side is up for a tremendous amount of improvements, and when they do this considering that people are not always online (consider rural France and Germany) they might just wipe Microsoft out of existence, they don’t seem to care what happens to those gamers without excellent digital path access. As i Personally see it, it is due to a population of gamers without a global scope on the matter. 

The Sony presentation (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph8LyNIT9sg) is nice, but as CCN told us a little boring, still boring or not Google told me that it is #20 most trending videos at present, so boring is nice. Yet the presentation is also important as the OS is part of all this and the improvements in social media we will see before 2022, is lacking at present. As I personally see it both have that weakness and just like I was correct in storage, I expect that the social evolution on sharing becomes a much larger issue down the road and it seems that both are not ready for this part, even as it is not part of the console, it will be part of storage and synching (when possible), as such the console needs a pass through need that developers would have to adjust for and that is at present not a given. Even if it is easy, getting this in place BEFORE the console releases gives the makers of games a lot more to be ready for and I believe that it will impact the success of any of the consoles. 

How am I right?

This is much simpler. We have our friends and our social circles, at times we want all our friends to be aware, yet we have gaming friends and a social circle. They are not the same (for the most in Europe and America they are very different), I think that Sony did not consider this, or rejected this even as their PS3 presentation years ago gave sight of their plans. It was in that case a rejected plan that is now on their plate.

I am not talking about some marketing play, I am talking about gamers talking to their other gamers in an actual way, not pushing them messages (what happens too often). In this Google Plus had solved a few of the issues in the very beginning. Having circles solves it. Circles of connections playing the same game, playing a type of game and the individual messages that you can direct. So another game gets some of the messages and if that person is curious he or she can come look at YOUR wall where you see everything. So you basically have several walls, your wall, your shared wall, and circles and a message will be on some or (ill advised) all walls, your friends can select from your wall what they are interested in, and as you gain gaming fame they will optionally want to see more. It makes for a much easier social media, and that is the foundation of the dictionary “applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking” it is not about pushing content, but sharing content and like in any conversation, when the other party is not interested, they cut off the conversation, that part is often ignored because some players in social media need the traffic and the advertisements to go through, actual social media is about connecting and conversing (via sharing). It is a lesson that Microsoft (for the most) never learned in the last 8 years. Sony did not learn it either, but their solution was not about pushing marketing (to the degree Microsoft did) and as such we were a lot more happy, as well as the fact that we were not required to be online all the time, the system synched when we were (most often when synching achievements).

As this approach is matched with the games, we can select for games where the information goes (all to our wall) but then we can select per game where it goes (those who have the game too), when it is a genre we can also share it with those sharing that interest. So Fallout 5 is initially shared with those who have Fallout 5 and an interest in RPG, these players can then disregard (optionally temporary) Fallout 5 materials or disregard your material. That is a reality too, I have several friends and we shared Mass Effect 3 multiplayer gaming, but only that, as such my achievements in Mass Effect Andromeda was not interesting to them. In this I mentioned ‘optionally temporary‘ as a person starting in a game might not be interested in someone’s achievements who is at 90% (for means of spoilers and optional envy). This too makes for a much nicer experience in social media.

It is the side effect of any facilitating system of news events and achievements.

I believe that the PS5 will have a large base growing much faster if the social media template is set to facilitate to a much larger degree to gamers. Whether it is done or not will not affect the initial need and desire for the PS5, but I feel certain that over time it will be a much larger facilitating and desired part of any console. I also need to emphasize the win that Nintendo had on the switch with the calendar, I am amazed that none of the others see that part. You might not want to share your calendar, but an overview of achievements gained over a week is not something a gamer is not interested in, and the option to keep that calendar for years (an option the Switch does not seem to offer). I believe the option for gamers to open this part (per game) to the developer will be much more interesting to the makers too (as the gamer decides whether to inform others). It allows for an optional  deeper connection between maker and gamer. 

This allows for two elements the first being a direct gauge where the maker can inform (once) the gamer on season passes and DLC options. The second is that we can be aware of updates required on games we have, not blindly updating a game we haven’t touched for weeks (Microsoft actually has a much better system in play here than Sony does).

As we see that the PlayStation is Go! (Thunderbird pun) we see that no matter how great any system is, there will always be space for improvements. Sony however seems to have been listening to its gamers for the longest of times, lets see what the PS5 brings and what the second wave brings. This time around there are benefits and disadvantages for Sony. The last time around the Nintendo Switch was not a factor, this time it is and no matter how strong any system is, gaming is about joy and that is a lesson Nintendo has taken to heart every single time, they did this long before the Nintendo 64 (at $699 in those days) became a reality.

Even as the PS5 players will adjust to “We believe that the overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 titles will be playable on PS5“, we see that the ‘truth’ of the matter is that the largest Sony base will initially be interested in less than 200 of them, especially if they upgrade from the PS4 and never had a PS4pro. 4K will be the larger reason for that. As such even the makers will benefit from the setting where someone did not buy it initially, their title was good on what was and optionally now will be a great added title (especially with patches in place). 

It is still early days, for the most, I am merely anticipating what is and what we will get, not what might optionally be missing. In that regard the Playstation family has never disappointed us (apart from the day one games on PS4) and it is still 9 months away, as such I believe that there will be a lot more information coming our way soon enough, most of that is most likely around the time this year’s virtual E3 hits us.

 

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Gaming towards isolation?

We have so much to look forward to, especially now as Sony has revealed much on their PS5 (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2020/mar/19/playstation-5-specifications-revealed-but-design-is-still-a-mystery), the first thing I checked for was storage, and there we see “the PS5’s 825GB model is promising faster throughput, with 5.5GB/s as opposed to 2.4GB/s on Microsoft’s machine. PS5 will also offer an expansion slot so that users are able to plug in a secondary SSD“, and it also gives us the Microsoft part “the Xbox Series X will include a larger capacity drive at 1tb“, as such I wonder if the Xbox will allow an additional internal drive? They still have not learned anything, the 1TB drive was not sufficient on the oldest Xbox One and with two generations the storage requirements merely increased with 4K, but the Microsoft executives have the idea that their consumers will accept what THEY consider wisdom, well as I personally see it, they do not.

And I get it, 1TB is enough to start with, but at the end of the first year we need more. Now, let’s be clear, I do not know if that internal drive can be upgraded like the others, We did not have that information on the PS4 until the first week of the PS4, so the Sony situation might actually be better, but even then, in this situation a secondary internal drive might fit the bill. And optionally we can select the Samsung 860 QVO 2TB 2.5″ SATA III SSD for $325, which gives us the additional 2tb that gets us a comfortable 3tb in total. The nice part here is that we do not need to do it on day one and for a while enjoy the PS5 as is. Don’t get me wrong I never regretted the 2TB drive in week one, but there is a benefit to this setup, and Microsoft in 8 years has not learned this lesson (or refused to learn it). 

There is an additional win, this time for Microsoft: “Microsoft has confirmed the machine will be able to play games from each previous generation of the machine, while Sony is only currently talking about backwards compatibility with PS4 titles“, it’s a fair win, yet at present I cannot remember when I even considered playing a PS3 game in the last 36 months, all whilst the games I love will be playable on the PS5 (Skyrim, Last of Us, God of War, Elite Dangerous), and now that I will be able to replay them in 4K mode, I will get a secondary WOW feeling from games I have had for years. 

As such we are in for a little larger christmas list this year around, as the PS5 (I reckon the Microsoft contraption as well) will get the best from a 4K 120Hz TV, as well as some of the 8K TV[‘s (for the rich bastards among you folks), we get to have the nicest digital christmas for a while. In my perception (at present) the Sony X8000G 65″ 4K UHD is a great buy at $1300, and even then I realise that it is not as cheap as some models in the same size offer, in that field players like LG and HiSense offer models for less than $1000. They all have 4HDMI ports, so that is not the achilles heel to worry about, I reckon that there are automated features in Sony I kinda love, when I switch on my Sony Bluray player, the TV also goes on, when I switch on my PS4, the TV reacts as well, all things other brands do not seem to have and that is fine, they are minor points that do not take away from the joy of a TV. I reckon that the one thing we all will need to enjoy the console a lot more this time around is a soundbar, there are plenty of solutions and even as there optionally might be benefit to having the same brand as the TV, there is not one person that can convince me that there is an actual contender to whatever Bang and Olufsen or Bose can bring, I heard the B&O solution this week and it almost literally blew my socks off (I found them 30 minutes later). That would be one hell of a way to hear what the Sony PlayStation 5’s Tempest 3D Audio engine brings to the table. Now, I get it, you can get that part later, or get it when there is a sale going on, yet I reckon that you want it the first time you hear that distinction, because it will be a much larger distinction. Lets face it, you were getting a TV, it has its ups and the sound no matter how great it is with Blu Rays, will not compare what a 3D audio engine brings to the table. Will you essentially need it on day one? Absolutely not, it is actually better to get it later, the WOW factor is pretty awesome, but once you have it, you won’t enjoy sound without it, no matter if it is a bluray or a game, the soundbar brings a lot to the table.

Yet in all this I am aware that we do not all have the coins to get it on day one and in that regard it is now the time to start looking for that 4K TV, or at least saving up for it (a decent 8K TV starts at $9,000), and you need not go for the larger brands, one option was a nameless brand giving a 50″ 4K TV for $450, consider the $79 for additional warranty (an extra 3 years) and you are set for 3-4 years. Then we get the target of our desires (the PS5) and here we see that they are still not giving us a price, but I reckon that $550 gets you there, as such you see a $1100 need by the end of the year. The additional $800 (soundbar and additional drive) is set to a later date giving you a year’s respite and you will end up having upgraded your gaming experience to almost the  highest end. 

In the end we can get all geeky with “CPU: x86-64-AMD Ryzen Zen 2, eight cores, variable frequency, up to 3.5 GHz GPU: AMD Radeon RDNA 2-based graphics engine, variable frequency, up to 2.23 GHz (10.3 Tflops)“, yet in the end, we gamers want to see our socks blow off when we restart Diablo III, God of War IV, Skyrim and a few other titles and wonder how we were ever happy playing it on a standard day one version of the PS4, that too is the adaptation towards new technology. And all that before you see the impact of a PS5 game. We can argue and speculate all we want, but until there is a launch trailer and official release date, I am discarding all the rumours. CD Projekt Red already gave the goods that Cyberpunk 2077 will be a PS4 title, not a PS5 release, it will optionally look better on the PS5, but it will not be designed specific for it as such, the same tale applies to the microsoft version. It is an important distinction as we will see that the best experience on either console will be CD Projekt Red with both Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk 2077, a distinction that sets them apart and ahead of all the other AAA developers. If getting a new console is about the best gameplay you could experience, it needs to include a CD Projekt Red (Witcher 3 or Cyberpunk 2077) game. I am not discounting the joy that Skyrim or Fallout 4 brought, I will want to replay them in 4K mode, but the distinction that the best feelings in gaming will be available on day one if you have any of these games is just a little too awesome for anyone’s good.

In all this we see that others are in their own world of hurt (no need to kick a developer when they are down). If there is one speculation that cannot be ignored, then it is the coming of a Harry Potter RPG to the PS5. An important distinction here is that in all the text none of them are making any ‘exclusive’ noise, as such I reckon that both the Microsoft and the Sony console will get this title, even as all the references only include the PS5 mention, the absence of ‘exclusive’ gives the larger rise that it will be on both platforms.

So whilst we wonder what will be coming to either console, the fact that most of us have the greatest games already on the PS4 and some will be getting the Last of Us part 2 (presently on 29 May 2020), we see an abundance of new WOW feelings as we replay the games we already had (for those who had no PS4 pro). 

For that too is a side of gaming we forget. The idea that we played Skyrim, but did we see it? Try it in 4K and see if you can play the game without finding your lower jaw on the floor, I dare you! The same can be said for Fallout 4. In that same trend, if Witcher 3 blows us away in 4K mode, what will Cyberpunk 2077 do? The boys (girls also) at CD Projekt Red were very distinct in the fact that they want to surpass Witcher 3, as such, whatever more time they need, I will not be offended. I merely hope that William Gibson (writer of Neuromancer) will be there at the launch to see the world he wrote about becomes as close to reality via a console, as he wrote it in 1984, the technology did not exist to blow him away, Sony needed a little longer for that, now that the time is here, I wonder what his thoughts will be on what the in his mind created world became in the hands of CD Projekt Red. 

Even as we are isolating ourselves in gaming, the setting is not that far away, if this Coronavirus (not the beer) is here to stay, alone time with the console will set us free. Lets face it, in this day and age, we see an absurd amount of reflection on something that we cannot avoid. 

OK, I get it, what had an initial mortality rate of 3.2% is now 4.1% as such our survival rate goes allegedly down, yet the amount of people is still well over 95%, so we should not worry, or if we do get a PS5 at the end of the year and celebrate our life in another way. 

Gamers have enjoyed this style of life for decades, are we crying? Nope!

How do we game towards isolation? In fact we do not, when Facebook started groups and gaming groups got involved, we saw an uncanny amount of new connections, this is likely to repeat itself when the PS5 (and Microsoft contraption) comes out. I even speculated on an upgraded version of console dependent social media (on the consoles), yet even as the previous versions were already in that mindset, the makers (both Sony and Microsoft) took too limited a view on it and as such both lost out. It is clear that we want to shout our achievements out at times, we also want to share a lot more, but the station at which both offer that is mindlessly limited to a larger degree. Both systems forgot to think things through and even as Microsoft is ahead of that game, both still think on how THEY can profit visibility, the thought of how the gamer benefits is seen that as they can approach the gamer, the gamer wins, which is the wrong attitude to have. In this they merely had to look towards Google Plus and learn from what was there, they did not. 

I believe that the next gen consoles will have a much larger stage as they embrace ‘true’ social media (not brand and profit driven media), as such we see that both systems have a much larger field to enjoy. I am not stating that any profit driven option is out of bounds, but to have 50% of your homescreen limiting itself to advertisements (Xbox issue) is just stupid, the home screen is where you start your game and see 50% removed for usage is just silly (on more than one level). Yes, the new platforms could ring in a few stages that embrace connections, will they? I honestly do not know and even as the PS3 had the advantage, the PS5 can recreate that advantage and see a much larger boost, in the opposition Microsoft might decide to wake up and do something about it all, will they? 

I do not know, but the lost connections and the stage where it could optionally lead to better revenue is just silly. Yes, I am all for non-profit-driven-players, yet I am not saying that to some degree it should not exist. 

For example, we have social media and we have the PS3 situation of PS Home. Consider that you have your one environment, for example it comes with the next Ubisoft Assassin’s Creed game, for example the Montefiori villa. You get to have one location for yourself (the villa) you can set the main game you are playing and how far you got. in some of them, you get to have a note board where people leave links to their mail and messages, screenshots and you decide who gets to leave those (Google Plus feature). As you chose the location that provider will have a place to advertise new things (and they alone). You get to walk around your place looking at the news and at the interactions you decide on, the previous version never had that. Will it be the Montefiori Villa, a Watchdogs location, the Batcave, a last of us house, or a house in Skyrim, and there is still the community wall where you get a better sense of what is placed there and you can decide. All elements that make for a much larger stage, a stage largely ignored at present, or at times too overwhelming. It requires filtering for some and almost none are there and both players have this issue. And to be honest, I would have thought they would have done a much better job of it (ever since the PS3), both players had the wrong hat on and in the end it makes the wall a ‘whatever!’ experience. 

I believe that the PS5 (and Microsoft equivalent) have a new stage in 2021-2022, as 5G is playing a much larger stage, there will be a larger stage for people to feel comfy in, it applies to gaming as well. Even as we are all in it for the game, the stage where we are comparing and reading about other gamers will become a lot more distinct. Perhaps it is the one field where the Google Stadia could rule in the end. 

I believe that it shows a much larger community that is out there. Some gamers do not want to talk to all their friends, they do not want to read about all the others, but he or she might want to look at something specific and it will differ per game, neither Microsoft or Sony considered that for almost three generations. None of them gave the right focal point on filtering, they merely dumped it all on the player, who ignored it in a hurry.

Forbes gave us 4 days ago “Stadia has been struggling to make waves and capture the interest of harder core players who were willing to pay for Founder’s Editions or the paid tier. But now with everyone stuck indoors, it seems like the right time to introduce the free tier” (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/paultassi/2020/03/16/coronavirus-quarantine-seems-like-the-right-time-for-google-stadia-to-release-its-free-tier/#e60fd00b168f), I believe that the issue goes beyond that. Yes the article reads easier when we see ‘the free tier‘, yet the truth is that this is the stage of cash strapped people, the gamer has another need, to see what they want to see and that is not addressed, by none of the providers, they merely dump a shitload of items and issues, with no filtering, or at most limited filtering.

Even as we are all gamers, we all have distinct needs or interests. I am interested in some of my friends on how far they get, one of them is a Witcher virtuoso, so seeing where he gets at is interesting, some games have nothing to contribute to me and some gamers are seemingly in it to get achievements. i cannot directly see which gamer is in it to enjoy Skyrim and who is in it to run through Skyrim. Filtering of users, friends and game specific items became apparent and it has been that way since the PS3/Xbox360, yet the makers did not really catch up, not in almost 15 years, how peculiar. There is always the option that they did not think it worthy of their attention, but that choice is dwindling down in light of what 5G offer and what the hardware can currently deal with.

It is a stage where we force our bodies into isolation, yet the mind is globally available and that is how it has been with gamers almost 30 years (M.U.L.E.) that is one of the first games that had enough multiplayer sides for people to take a much larger interest and the CBM64 (with an actual 300 bit modem option, no less) took that to another level (in those days). 

We (the people at Sony) seemingly forgot to take that into account and even as the world premiere on the PS3 implied it, it never really came to the degree we all desired, yet this time around, the isolation phase in the Coronavirus might give them pause to think on what gamers need and desire and adjust the system accordingly. The fact that most is software arranged implies that the systems will not be impeded and it could all be finished and better adjusted to when the console launches. I believe that whomever adjusts to that has a much larger audience to cater to when that part is realised. We might (to some degree) be in denial of that, yet I believe that the lockdown and self imposed isolation out there will push these issues to the surface and I believe that it will happen just in time. I reckon that the 2020 Olympics will add to that flavour of realisation as well. No matter whether the Olympics will be delayed for up to a year, or that Wimbledon will push that part to the upper reaches, it is a field where we see growth of a different nature, 5G already has the ability to set things in faster mode, but gamers have not been so lucky and we need to consider this, in the past where it was all PS2, the world consisted of 150,000,000 gamers, now that number has grown to well over 500% and now, as we see that 1,000,000,000 people want to reach out, now we see that the proper addressing on how they can reach out will matter, even as Facebook ignored it for far too long to cater towards advertisers, we see that consoles have a much larger game to play here. 

I merely hope that Sony (and others) take notice when it can still impact them in a positive way, the next two years will show where it ends. Will it end well? I cannot say at present.

 

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WYSIWYG?

What you see is what you get, that has been around since the old PC XT (or AT) tried its hands on desktop publishing. The phrase continued and spread in other paths, and we all accepted the term. Yet the term evolved and the fakeness of the term used later was ignored. As such the evolved WYSIWHY has come to be: What You See Is What Hyped You.

We see it in all matters of events. How the media gives rise to ‘Fed cuts rates by half a percentage point to combat coronavirus slowdown‘ (source:CNBC), even as there were less than 300 cases in a nation with 325,000,000 people, no such consideration was ever given with Swine flu or HIV. It was merely an administration what wanted to avoid the use of ‘recession’, now we see ‘Recession fears grow as Wall Street investors brace for a wild week for stocks‘ (source: Washington Post), even as we accept “after coronavirus fears caused the biggest weekly decline for U.S. stocks since the financial crisis“, the idea that a case of the flu, with a present 109,975 cases is just insane and most people are just buying the cake shovelled towards us. Consider that China has 73% of the cases and 19.3% of the cases are spread over Italy, South Korea and Iran. So how can these 4 nations impact the world economy to THAT extent? Lets not forget that the global fatality is still around 3.4%, all whilst the cases in Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Singapore, Austria, and Canada are without fatalities (at present), as such the overreaction is large and WYSIWHY is as I personally see it the stage.

Yet this is not about that, even as the beer virus (Corona) is staged to you in ‘E3 2020 is on a knife-edge right now – and it could end the gaming show for good‘ by Techradar (at https://www.techradar.com/news/e3-2020-is-on-a-knife-edge-right-now-and-it-could-end-the-gaming-show-for-good), there are a few important parts here and it is time to call the spades that they are not diamonds (or hearts for that matter). 

As I personally see it, there is a larger rift between Sony and Microsoft and it is coming to blows soon enough. Sony wants to be slightly cheaper than the Microsoft product, all whilst the Microsoft presentations are hiding the simple fact that they DO NOT want to reveal the storage space on their contraption. Look at all the presentations over the last year, it is all about hype creation, all whilst storage is a massive part of a console, no matter how you play, you need storage and for almost a year Microsoft steered away from it in any way they could and for them the E3 is coming too soon to feel comfortable. More importantly, in 2013 they had this ‘always online‘ part and it nearly destroyed the Xbox as a product, now they are afraid to come out and play as the kids would say, they are all into hype creation, whilst essential issues like price and storage are averted. I give them a pass on price this early, not on storage, because if the systems is this ready, the storage is known, even if there are multiple options. 

Microsoft desperately needs WYSIWHY and the people in gaming have had enough of that stage. The Techradar article mentions Microsoft once, a player that distinct in the E3 history, to see it only once, implies (for me at least) that this is about avoidance. Sony has had a great run and it has the benefit of a huge PS population, it is ahead by a lot. To be honest, if the PS5 is $100 more expensive than the Microsoft version, I will still go for the Sony option, as I personally see and feel it, there was too much treason by Microsoft towards me, too much harassment towards online and too much bricks on the road for the offline players (not to mention all the advertisements on my XBox One home page), intentional limitations is as much of an harassment than anything else and Microsoft is out of options with me.

There are a few options, especially as the E3 trade show is a moneymaker, merely delaying it would already be a clear alternative, no the talk is ‘cancellation’ and it does not sit well with me (so far ESA has clearly denied any cancellation of the E3). Yes, even as the corona cases are blatantly out of proportions (the shouting that is), we see no foul in delaying the E3 event, cooler heads prevail and I see that the E3 might have to be delayed, yet for how much, that is the question, also, as the E3 is getting closer to the end of the year, the PS5 and the Microsoft alternative could actually be presented to players, as such I see that there is a lot more going on. Nintendo has a hard time ahead, but the Switch is so switched on that it will stay standing in the upcoming Sony vs Microsoft battle, but Microsoft does not want that, you see with the Nintendo Switch surpassing Microsoft on lifetime sales the stage is not pretty for Microsoft, they were willing to grudgingly be in second place, but to get to a trade show where the weakest processor sells better then the most powerful one, especially as pricing is seemingly not the issue is too unsettling for Microsoft, until they can hype some kind of a win over the other two, they want to avoid the E3 completely, yet the E3 is more than these three, the game makers (Bethesda, Ubisoft, Square Enix, Sega and others) are also a factor, they are the people also enticing the audience and even as we see good things, we see that Ubisoft is in terrible danger. First we get “The Division 2 is still having a few issues, despite the release of a new update. The issue appears to be affecting Xbox One owners, who are unable to login because their characters are locked.” (source: the Express), then there were a load of issues with Breakpoint, Digital Trends gave us yesterday “Ubisoft will try to save Ghost Recon Breakpoint with huge overhaul, new modes” this is on what some would call ‘an old system’, and it seems that they are nowhere near ready to go to the new systems, whatever presentation they bring with get nitpicked by thousands and Ubisoft might not ready for that as I personally see it because they could not properly test games (as the released evidence shows or muzzle their marketing department until it was safe for them to create hypes).

Bethesda’s largest issue was Fallout 76, and that is fair. They gave us two days ago “Just Because It Didn’t Go Well Doesn’t Mean It Was Wrong to Try Something Different“. OK I support that part, trying something new could break the bank, it did with the Nintendo Switch, and there is no shame in trying and failing (Nintendo WiiU anyone?) This is how gaming goes. When you are on the edge of what is possible, doing the same will not get you anywhere, I personally was not up for Fallout 76 (I prefer my games single player), as such Pete Hines is correct and beyond that, until they have something that is really ready on PS5/XBox, they might prefer to remain quiet, I get that. The E3 is too big and it is possible that some makers don’t have anything ready at that point and that is fine, but the fact that no one has anything, that becomes too weird.

If I can design a gaming idea in 8 hours, so can those who are better at it then me, that is merely a simple truth to behold and the cancellation of the E3 does not make sense. Yes it makes sense for Microsoft (for all the expected reasons) and it makes sense for Ubisoft (for all their unfortunate events), yet there is more than these two and there is so much to behold in gaming land that it is sad to see so much depend on the PS5/XBox to falter (whilst some are hiding behind a bottle of Corona).

As Techradar finishes with “given the melting pot of illness, behind-the-scenes disagreements, and online distribution channels threatening its survival. And the status of E3 2020 could be decided any day now. We’ll keep you informed either way” we see that nothing is set in tone, but the flexibility to avoid issues are in play, we get part of that. 

So let’s look at the elements

  1. Illness. Not an issue, the delay could optionally avoid that and give rise to solving another part.
  2. Behind-the-scenes disagreements. OK, we accept that, but that has always been the case, in this stage we see that Microsoft and Ubisoft are in a massive negative swing, so do these two players have THAT much swing on the E3?
  3. Online distribution channels. Not an issue educating and buying a muzzle for your marketing department solves that. What is hyped is an issue, but only to the hyper, online distribution channels have been a larger issue for much longer and the NDA tends to solve several issues, in addition, barring those who break the NDA is also a solution, the fact that they can never get nfo ever again also makes them unemployable, so people tend to take these parts serious. It also implies that the smaller fry gets left out which is not a bad thing, there are plenty of larger players that have (to the best of my knowledge adhered to the NDA states, as such just the muzzling of their marketing department remains, hiring the right people tends to solve that.
  4. New: E3 2020 Creative Directors Resign, OK that is an optional event, there is a larger issue in play and it is not merely the running aways by Creative Directors. There is not enough information to judge the actions of iam8bit, and the actions by Geoff Keighley give rise to a lot more and this has nothing to do with any fear of any case of the flu. 

As we look at the stage of the E3, the amount of questions rising within me is increasing almost exponentially, no matter how certain paths go, anywho has ever planned for an event will tell you that largest contributors walking out past the 90% point is not merely rare, it should be grounds for a large open debate towards what is really going on, in that same trend we see the walking off by Geoff Keighley and the face he presented towards gaming at so many events should also be the foundation of questions.

What you see is not what we are getting and the media is actually part of the problem here, and it is seen in other ways too, as CCN gave us on February 15th (at https://www.ccn.com/this-company-wants-to-save-e3-2020-and-its-inviting-keanu-reeves-for-the-ride/) ‘This Company Wants to Save E3 2020, and It’s Inviting Keanu Reeves for the Ride‘, we can optionally argue that this is the coolest invitation that Keanu Reeves ever got for St. Valentine, the truth is that he is more than a crowd pleaser, as actor, as the actor for the John Wick stories, as the man playing Silverhand in CD Projekt Red ‘Cyberpunk 2077‘ it is one of the better thoughts, yet Limited Run Games (the company behind this action) is largely unknown and so far the media is ignoring all this and I see no refusal or denial from the agent of K. Reeves (as far as I was able to look into this). As CCN (in their article) gives a lot more, we see the stage that makes no sense, The E3 is a lot larger than the mere product makers, there are the entertainers, the software makers and there are multiple event carriers in place, the math doesn’t add up on my side and the media gives too little attention to this (the news media, not the gaming media).

When a global event like E3 is on such a stage, how can the news media remain silent to such a degree? Lets not forget that the event is 3 months away, optionally 5-6, as such there is a much larger stage in play, can you all see that? For the most I steered clear of the  Electronic Software Association (ESA), I am not stating that they are not a factor, but I have no idea what factor they are and what their agenda is in all this, even as we see statements like ‘ESA says E3 2020 still going ahead as planned‘, we cannot say what the finite standing is, they will have to take the Coronavirus as a factor, because there are costs for moving an event like this and as such there is a financial path to consider, I am not denying that in some cases. 

The math doesn’t add up and the stage is too large, whatever is plaguing E3 has a much larger issue that is not reported on and it seems to me (paranoia comfortably setting in) that this might be a case of the media having to deal with people who are either shareholders, stakeholders, or advertisers. Yet this is merely my take on the stage.

Is it true?

Well that remains to be seen, until the end of last month Xbox, Nintendo, Ubisoft and Bethesda were all confirmed (more were), so I have to remain skeptical at the whole ‘cancellation’ hype, yet there are rumours in the weeds that the cancellation drive is growing and two players cancelling at this point implies that the cancellation drive is not non-existent. There are optionally more issues in the field, one is ‘Top Rainbow Six Siege creators call for Ubisoft to prevent harassment and ‘stream sniping’‘ (source: Windows Central) which is nothing against Ubisoft as a company or a product maker, but it is fallout that they have to deal with, as such I also accept “Ubisoft has made strides in tackling cheating and toxicity, top content creators voice concerns over tools to protect broadcasters“, we can argue that there needs to be ample protection against cheaters, yet against bullies it becomes a different matter, what can you allow for to keep the game as open as it is without restraining valid gamers beyond valid measures, it is an optional headache that Ubisoft doesn’t need and more clearly does not deserve. In addition to all this, there are several software houses pulling titles from the NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW service. This will also lead to all kinds of questions, as such we see that this E3 has an enormous amount of questions and this will be the first E3 lacking all kinds of answers, we can expect a whole range of spin answers, but actual answers? I fear the worst at present.

At present there is no cancellation of the E3, yet I believe that if this does happen during the week, whatever factor is given to the Coronavirus will be off by at least 50%, it is in my humble opinion too much about certain people needing it not to happen because of very different factors, the Coronavirus was seemingly no more than a happy coincidence.

 

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Value and validation

We all see both, we need to be valued and our work, our thoughts and our point of view needs to be validated. It is for almost every person the same, the value and validation drives him and her alike. As a blogger I have to do with rants and bad mouthing, but that is what comes with the terrain, with my IP it is different, like a writer I need validation, but I cannot get it without putting my IP in the public domain and that is a really bad idea any given day of the week, so how will I get value and validation if there is no feedback? Well in my case there are a few items that work. First there is the validation on what I write. I wrote in September 2019 ‘It’s been that long‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2019/09/28/its-been-that-long/). I had written about the issues before in ‘Gaming ‘after silence’ or ‘pre noise’?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/05/14/gaming-after-silence-or-pre-noise/). there I wrote May 2016 “This is just my view on it and I expect to be proven correct before the end of 2018, possibly even sooner” and as I see it System Shock (delayed, 2020), Moonshades (a Dungeon Master style game) have proven me correct, basically I feel validated beyond the value of Ubisoft at present (nothing wrong with my ego). Dungeon Keeper and a few others were already out (or openly in production), so that does not count. These are a few of the little things showing that I was right all along. This does not prove that my IP is da bomb, but if I am right in my way of thinking in one way, I will also be right in the speculative reasoning, and as my path is still not showing in 5G, I feel more and more happy.

In all this, my mind needs to create, it needs to be creative and I wonder when we see ‘3 Reasons 2020 Will Be a Make-Or-Break Year for Netflix‘, whether this is merely a ploy to bounce the stock or something else. Yes, the Nasdaq article gives us “Will Netflix finally win the Best Picture Oscar?” as the second reason, making the article bogus (to some extent), some of the best movies in the history of film never got awarded best picture and that did not hinder them, did it? The Independent (UK Newspaper) shows us Citizen Kane, Vertigo, the Graduate, 2001 (a computer going nuts), Taxi Driver (Robert de Niro with a decent haircut), Apocalypse now (Martin Sheen as a teenager), Blade Runner, Pulp fiction and the list goes on, the paper gives us 23 movies (a lot with De Niro) all worthy to rub shoulders with the Irishman, none of them Oscar winners, does it matter? What matters is not the billions spent ($15 billion last year on materials alone), the matter at hand is if Netflix keeps on making quality stuff, even if it is less, quality is quality. In that light I thought

Wouldn’t it be nice

Let’s take a look at Rendezvous with Rama, the atmosphere of the book gives us a handle, yet what if we turn this around, what if a group of people wake up on a space station with a diameter of around 250 meters, it is a way station, between us and the Sombrero galaxy, all indications are that the people wake up at 1/3rd between us and the Sombrero galaxy, in the middle of nowhere. At what point will we consider that we are merely rats in a maze? Even as every piece of equipment works, even as most of it is beyond most technology firms, what is the test? Is it the one we are given? Will we abide? What happens when two more teams arrive? What happens when we start taking initiative? 

As the situation presses and another platform is found, we see that there is division in the groups, one group (from the three arriving teams) decide to use it only to find themselves on a station more than twice the size, yet now only 1/3rd away from the Sombrero galaxy. As we consider the hardware available and working that it can get us to another galaxy, how much more advanced were the makers and what do they want? With one or two twists, one involving a priest going nuts (a wink at war of the worlds) we are left with questions, because we now know enough to know that there is no way that we are alone in this universe, yet the people here have no clue what we are missing to go travelling and yes the cold fusion we claim to have does not cut it (not without two elements and Celestrium) the last part is essential as its existence answers a few question, including how to find others.

When we take the science apart and see that we are often too clueless to consider leaving us alone with that equipment. Would you leave a box of matches in YOUR house with your 2 year old? The considerations I had on a Sunday evening would become the foundation of an optional mini series, with my additional mind on games, TV series and IP, I see that there is nothing wrong with my imagination! Now Google and Huawei need to wake up for the circuit to be completed (almost literally so).

In all this, we can feed our need for science and our need for fear, fear makes its own conclusions and it has no reservations taking the upper hand, just like it tends to take over giving doubt in a stage of our ability to value and validate ourselves, and it all matters! Did you think that I am so much brighter and better than some others? (Well I am to some degree), the issue that we see nowadays with the US playing tantrum child all over the field is showing a larger lack of imagination. The movie industry sees the imagination of a man like Stan Lee take over, but it was his imagination that spoke to millions of people all over the world, a lot of them having seen at least a dozen of his comic books, and Marvel cashed in, in a world where we see a lack of imagination we see the people of Stan Lee comics making a killing, imagination gets to do that. In that same view I see the Irishman, an amazing piece of work and if that is the quality that Netflix brings, then best movie Oscar or not, Netflix is likely to be around if those holding their credit is standing strong too. for that is the game too, if the credit holder is not a visionary, if that person is a short term bullet point oriented Excel user, you tend to be royally screwed (pardon my French).

And in this I am not alone, Forbes (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2019/08/20/all-the-reasons-why-netflix-is-doomed/#59953e37465e) gave us last year “Content Spending Not Adding Enough Subscribers“, an optional issue to some degree, yet we seem to overlook that there are 170 million subscribers, with 100 million outside of the US, in all this we tend to forget that France has a dismal internet (outside of Paris and Defense au Lille), and they are not alone. there is still the need to see Netflix, in many nations and as more people see the pull to new series (like the Witcher), Netflix will survive, by the way, in all this we see the lack of visibility on HOW MANY watched The Witcher, none of the cable services EVER had that much viewers. A small item easily overlooked and as Netflix moves through time, we will see more players and some will switch, but Netflix remains a name not to be forgotten, no matter who shows the Marvel movies.

And as I see the writer of Forbes give us “As I wrote about in “Loss of Licensed Content Is an Underrated Crisis for Netflix”, Netflix doesn’t appear to have a plan in place to replace these beloved shows when they depart the service in 2020 and 2021” and there it relies on the Office and Friends, a TV series that was big in 1994 and the ten years running. Yes it was fun and it is highly regarded, yet so it Star Trek, so is Altered Carbon, so is Bojack Horseman and that list can continue for some time. I believe that it is the new material that will pull in the subscribers, not old series (although a case can be made for the West Wing and Babylon 5). And what we like is out in the open, with 4 billions ooptional watchers, what we like is spread between Aaron’s Way and Zorro, there is a need for almost all and over time they all will be watched (at some point). If there is one flaw in the Netflix formula, then it is the abundance of choices, we are like children in the candy store having to make a choice, yet whenever we make one, we see another lolly overwhelmingly tasteful. It is great for the creative inspiration, but you tend to miss out on perseverance or a lack of sleep, whichever comes first and ask around you, whomever saw the Witcher, how many watchers turned into overnight bingers? Now consider that Netflix releases one show a month, how much sleep did you forego?

At times validation takes its own currency as payment and it tends to be the currency you did not see coming, and it is not a currency that holds water at the check out of the supermarket. We all tend to forget that a little, as well as the small thought that creativity starts in someone’s mind, not as a bullet point on a document. This is important, especially as I agree (and oppose) with ‘Ubisoft: A Number Of Risks Make The Company Non-Investable At This Point‘. Those who know me, have seen that I have spoken out against Ubisoft on a number of occasions, yet the issue is that this (source: Seeking Alpha) article is all set to the investors and there we have another matter. Yes games are reasonably high risk, yet there is a reason that places like CD Projekt Red are successful, they went the extra mile. Ubisoft needs to adjust course. I cannot completely disagree with “We don’t think that Ubisoft is worth investing in right now and believe that the market offers greater opportunities with less risk“, they do have a point, yet this investment report is set around the overall, not the specific. As we see “While shares are slowly rebounding from the bottom” we see a reason to consider Ubisoft, even as we have to agree with “poor decision making in the past and a ruthlessly competitive environment are making Ubisoft non-investable at this point“, we forget that the engine is set around creativity. It is watching two channels at the same time, and Ubisoft did this to themselves. There is the creative channel that is showing delay upon delay as they need to get it right and there is the hype creating business channel that needs to get muzzled, the stage is wrong, the PS5 and Xbox releases at the end of the year require their best foot forward, if Ubisoft is able to release a game in the quality settings of AC Origin, they are saved, if they do it AC Unity style, they are buggered and their marketing department is not helping, there are almost literally hundreds of shouts from all kinds of publishers on delays and other news that does not make the coffee, creation is equally about muzzling that part. All while one source is giving us the image of WatchDogs Legion: “The release of Ubisoft’s new animal-themed action-adventure game“. It was 4 days ago, why is Ubisoft marketing not all over that? I should be less concerned, Ubisoft did this largely to itself, yet the creative minds like Jason VendenBerghe were lost in this marketing shuffle. An amazing game that should have made his desk at Ubisoft a permanent one, was shown in Netflix as we are shown what the creative minds go through when they are bounced of other creative minds and off the walls, we see the need of validation and how it was missing at Ubisoft, at least that is how I saw it. There will always be a large part that is not on any camera, but what some see as validation is not always picked up as such and the need for clear communication tends to go in every direction, you merely need to look at several surveys and how people perceive brands to get that part of the picture, as such a driven creative mind with a single focus tends to go in any direction, except the direction it had to go in and the lack of validation tends to be a larger concern. As for value? that remains to be seen and that remains open, yet I do believe that if there is validation, the value of oneself tends to go up, that has been the case since before Brutus was slapped on the shoulder for treating Caesar to a dagger on 15 March 44 BC. He was validated, but his value remained that of a traitor (hence he comitted suicide). In all this we rely on one, knowing all too well that the second does not give validation to the first, or it does, yet it will not give value to both and that is where the internal person and the realist tend to sway, how to assess value? We have been on the false brink of stockmasters for too long and our  assessment of what is value is in the wind, time will tell how we go about it, because that is something we cannot do on the fly or in an instant.

 

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Feel free to disagree

I stumbled upon an article bashing Ubisoft this morning, it was an article that got published by CCN on January 18th (at https://www.ccn.com/ubisoft-finally-realises-how-bad-most-of-their-games-are/), yet as I was reading it, there was also this nagging feeling that I did not agree and I felt, especially after all the bashing (which was fun mind you) to partially disagree with this article. 

Even as today is all about ‘Ubisoft has acquired a majority stake in Kolibri Games‘, the people behind all the idle click games, we need to see that there are two sides in all this and even as bashing Ubisoft is high entertainment, it should be done for the right reasons.

It starts with the headline ‘Ubisoft Finally Realises How Bad (Most Of) Their Games Are‘, they aren’t that bad, even some of the franchises that are hit with all kinds of issues, I see that their basic problem is the lack of proper testing, in addition to that, I fear that marketing within Ubisoft is too powerful forcing release of software before it is ready (like the day one patches that are 7GB or larger), it is at times a time management issue and as we see that CD Projekt Red is stating that Cyberpunk 2077 is delayed, the gamers do not mind (they are a little upset) that is because they know that the final product of CD Projekt Red delivers, they always have. 

Then we get 

  • Ubisoft’s most recent games have suffered from some pretty bad reception.
  • Their editorial team is getting a much-needed shakeup to help fix the lack of variety in their line-up.

The first is very true, bugs glitches and a total iterative way of playing has that effect on people (Ubisoft buying Kolibri) implies that iterative gameplay will continue for some time. Then we get the second part ‘the lack of variety‘, I cannot agree to that, we can see that there is a repetition within a franchise, yet For Honor, Assassins Creed, Far Cry, Watchdogs and the Division are different. If it is about lack of variety because the Division, Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six are shooting games, then we need to see that this is what buying consumers wants.

When we look at Assassin’s Creed and that in the past there was too much ‘Prince of Persia’ chase sequences than I would to some degree agree and other games have this crossover to some degree. Yet I feel that ‘lack of variety‘ is a bit of a stretch.

This is easiest seen in Far Cry, when Primal came, it was a larger surprise, and yes we know that it was based to some degree on the Far Cry 4 map, but I did not have an issue with that part (and the game is different enough to not notice it to the degree that some claim. The game (as many others) is largely repetitive and preventing that is a big issue, yet in Far Cry Primal getting a bird fly over going ‘Squeek Squeek Squaaa’ and then attacking almost every 5 minutes gets to be tiring real fast (Far Cry 4 had that down the road as well). Such an event was also the case in Far Cry 4. Then there is the collection part, I like to get an almost complete set of achievements, having to empty loot boxes in Assassin’s Creed Syndicate is nice in the beginning when you have nothing, but consider, if this is the Victoria age, would you really find a £50-£500 in almost every chest out and abounds? You gotta be kidding me, I think that there are around 25 per region and there are 13 districts? (I forgot how many there are) but it amounts to running to 300+ chests for the achievement. And lets not forget that this game was an improvement to AC Unity and the Guardian still gave it only 2/5. That is the behemoth that Ubisoft fights, that and to some extent massively shody testing (see Breakpoint for that).

Then we get: “The fact that 100 Parisians basically controlled their entire output for years in the first place seems like a poor move“, I completely disagree with that, Ubisoft has had great achievements (AC2, AC Brotherhood, Far Cry 3, AC Origins, For Honor, Ghost Recon, and Splinter Cell Blacklist), for the most decent games, if only that pesky part ‘testing’ was properly done and a testing division that can override the word of Ubisoft Marketing that would be nice too.

Then we get “Ubisoft games are pretty rubbish these days. You might think that a blanket statement like that needs qualifying. Honestly, their games are all so similar that it barely feels like I’m talking about multiple games. Over the past decade, they’ve managed to homogenize their entire catalog into the same murky paste” in the first they are not rubbish, but they are at times too much below average. then we get the one statement that is true as I see it “they’ve managed to homogenize their entire catalog into the same murky paste“, I believe it comes from a feeling that they imbued during one of their E3 events ‘This game will please everyone!‘, I believe that this expressed feeling is their greatest flaw. If you create a game that pleases all, you end up with a game that pleases no one. I believe that to be true. I can see the brilliance of For Honor, but I personally dislike multiplayer games and their single game campaign was lousy. So it is not a game for me, do I care? No, they had other franchises, and I did recognise the brilliance that For Honor delivered. They also reinvigorated the AC franchise with Origins (and then screwed it up with Odyssey, for me that is), yet Origins is a piece of brilliance and the differences to the previous AC line makes you want to play the game. also the first game in 4K was overwhelming too.

This is a stage we recognise and to see other games become the ‘same murky paste’ is to some degree true when we see Far Cry, Ghost Recon and the Division as one (they are not) but they have too much of each other and that gives a consideration to a larger degree (especially when you have all these franchises). a Franchise needs to distinguish itself from all others, not hand out to each other. That is perhaps the larger flaw at Ubisoft, iteration never goes anywhere, it merely holds you in place. 

Personally I agree with “While we’re at it maybe follow Sony’s lead and do a game without any online elements either“, although for the most many games allow for that, you do not need to play AC online (unless you want 100% achievements), in Black Flag I never needed the online element, but for the blue chests it was essential, I had mixed feelings but not one of pure negativity. However, having strangers jump into my game of Watchdogs 2 and screwing up my stealth part by shooting all the cops in the neighbourhood is something I could have done without.

I am not certain whether shaking their editorial team fixes things, As I stated, it is the testing that is a larger problem and even as we accept that the editorial team will come up with the story and adjusts the programmers perception, the issue of repetition needs to be adjusted as well, I believe that too many fans have complained about those parts in the past, as such I hope Ubisoft listens. We see Watchdogs:Legion and what we got to see is a huge step in another direction, yet that is optionally not a bad thing, I merely hope that it gets properly tested and in the second part, I hope that Marketing does not push it before it is ready, a hype on a flawed game is a lot worse then an early hype on a delayed game for all the right reasons. CD Project RED showed us that part.

If Ubisoft does go under, it is by embracing the flaws they had and not taking a larger effort in fixing things, when we consider that the AC III, AC Black Flag, AC Unity, and AC Syndicate have certain issues that repeated over the games (like the AI, the control glitches you face and the repetitiveness) all whilst there was no real fix until AC Origin, we see a much larger failing and I have always stated that it was on the desk of Yves Guillemot (that is why he gets the big bucks).

And AC is only one of a few franchises that had issues. And for a gamer I have the weirdest mindset, when I see a 60% game that could have been an easy 80%+ game by fixing the issues I feel sad, because if I saw it, the bigger wigs at Ubisoft saw it too and they did not speak out when they could. It was a sad state of affairs!

So as such, Ubisoft might be in a predicament, yet I had some issues with the CCN article and I just could not resist taking it into a corner and bashing it a little.

 

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The thought counts

I am still in some level of debate on this, Alex Hearn published an article last August (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2019/aug/20/from-cyberpunk-2077-to-the-outer-worlds-are-role-playing-games-getting-too-predictable) and I happened to re-read the story this morning. The main hitter was ‘are role-playing games getting too predictable?‘ I believe it is a valid train of thought to have, yet in this situation is it the game, or the gamer that bears the guilt? As we see the first paragraph we are confronted with: “Not only is it directed by Fallout creators Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky, it shares a lot of DNA with Obsidian’s Fallout: New Vegas – a spin-off with a reputation as the best in the series“, you see there are two trains of thought, the first (not the most embraced one) is that the game was designed by a ‘one pump chump‘, you see a one trick pony is too harsh here. The second is the one I embrace, it is set on two principles.

  1. Relation
  2. Online cheat guides

The relation factor is how you relate to it all, It is easy in the Elder Scrolls, or Fallout, these are plain drives concepts and for the longest time, we go along with it. Even as we are offered options, Fallout 3 and Fallout 4 still try to guide you, yet the reality is that you can go wherever you want ignoring the first stage altogether. The Elder Scrolls 4 (Oblivion) gave you a clear option after you get out of the sewers, The Elder scrolls 5 (Skyrim) did so a lot less, but left the door open to explore. In that beginning we get the option to grow and either you start staging the story, or the game leaves you a little in the dark. In a lot of cases you are a little in the dark, this is seen in Witcher 3, you can go in any direction, yet if you avoid all the missions in the first stage, your character tends to be too feeble to get around, and you die a lot. Until you grow skills you tend to be on your own, now we can see that the first village is an introduction (like the sewers of Oblivion), and yes after that you can explore and decide the way you want and that makes Witcher 3 an amazing game. In that same setting we see Horizon Zero Dawn, it is storydriven, but you can explore your heart out, merely consider that too far away, without proper upgrades your life does not tend to make it for a long time. Still, the origin story that Guerilla Games released is as awesome as any RPG that was EVER released.

It is in that stage we need to see a game like the Outer Worlds, there is a larger stage of introduction and it tends to make the gamer fumble a bit, that is the foundation of RPG, you have to feel your way into any RPG game. Yes, New Vegas was amazing and the stage is still among the very best, but there we get it, when we start exploring, we need to realise that the enemies a little further ahead can make short work of you really fast if the beginning is absent of exploring. Still, New Vegas did one thing better than all others, you have a good and a bad you and some cases can only begotten when you decide on the bad you. It gets to be even better as the third option (Caesar’s Legion) comes into play. It was an RPG founded on replayability, making it one of the very best.

The second stage is another matter, those who rely on online hint/cheat guides. They all go the same direction and it is clear that there are thousands of them (all claiming to have done the path without help), as such the foundation of ‘are role-playing games getting too predictable?‘ becomes slightly less reliable. And for the most, the story is partially that simple and partially not so simple. That part is revealed in Horizon Zero Dawn, the story is so overwhelming that it pushes you from stage to stage, it really was one hell of a trip. The cut movies over the entire game add up to almost 6 hours, almost 6 hours of story and information and some parts are not that small, the story truly is everything and it pushes the player in a direction and not on a path, Guerilla games really outdid most designers. In opposition we see Fallout 3, which had moment, not a story that pushes you and it pushes you more towards places. The article then gives you the Cyberpunk 2077 line with “But the fundamental skeleton the games are built on is so constricting that, given an hour to show off everything they could be, both developers independently converged on a near-identical script“, I personally am not convinced that this is so, in the first there was a quote “open world feature to their upcoming RPG. Players are given the freedom to explore the fictional Night City, take on the side quests that they want to, and be a part of the world that CD Projekt Red has developed“, in the second there is the option to be a Netrunner (hacker), techie (a badgetteer) or Solo (Assassin and direct action). The class you select will influence to some degree the way you play, or the way you play will push you into a class. It changes the way you overcome missions and locations and this changes the game (not the main story). As such did the game become too predictable? 

Well that is still out in the open, yet predictability is often depending on lack of choice, CD Projekt Red (Witcher series, Cyberpunk 2077) has never had that, and overall neither did Bethesda (Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout). Yet it is the way WE play that gives the impression of lack of choice. In the Verge we are given “Obsidian Entertainment’s new role-playing shooter The Outer Worlds, I met a man miserably playing a corporate mascot, his head semi-permanently enclosed in a large, ghoulish moon mask. I spoke to him for several turns, hoping there was something I could do to help. But if there was a way to improve his life, he never suggested it, and I never found it“, as such I never met the man (or played the game) but if we consider that we can help, ignore or optionally kill him, is that a lack of the game, or a lack of the player? You see that is the foundation of RPG, the gamer decides and that is where I oppose Alex Hearn’s statement (not his point of view) ‘are role-playing games getting too predictable?

I believe that the statement is a little out in the open. The makers of New Vegas had an amazing setting (especially after Fallout 3), from one mission you decide whether you go to ‘The House Always Wins 1‘, ‘Render Unto Caesar‘, or ‘Wild Card: Change in Management‘, Obsidian created a phase where we are confronted with a level of brilliance and definitely an opposition of predictability. But Alex is not entirely incorrect, we might agree that there is a good and a bad choice (each with their options) but not much more. the Fable series tend to have them too, as did Mass Effect, but the last one is less RPG set. Yet how many genuinely found the 4th option in Mass Effect 3? I see all the people nod ‘yes’ but in the end, they learned of that options like me, in a YouTube video. Only a few actually found them by their own choices, it tends  to oppose ‘too predictable’. And then we get to a beautiful line in The Verge: “by the end of the game, you’re still one of the most important people in the world“, it shows the largest flaw in RPG, the truth of the matter is that you never mattered, that truth is often pushed out of the RPG, you are merely flock people, you either suck up to the needy as a newcomer, or you decide on what someone larger and more powerful needed and you are the fixer, you are almost never yourself, the person you want to become, the RPG left that out of the equation as it is close to impossible to program too and it does not make an RPG ‘Too Predictable’, it merely makes an RPG ‘less unpredictable’ those two are not the same, not by a long shot.

However, the words of Alex Hearn are still in me and we see that view emphasized in Forbes (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2019/10/23/the-outer-worlds-review-roundup-heres-what-critics-are-saying-about-obsidians-new-space-rpg/#2350c4927d34) where we see: “The Outer Worlds, we were promised the kind of RPG we know and love. And that’s exactly what we’re getting, a familiar experience in a new setting” it is the stage of ‘the kind of RPG we know and love‘, and ‘a familiar experience‘, which basically gives Alex the power of his words, an RPG might be many things, but when it is a new title, those two are the foundation of predictability, the question becomes, if that is what the gamer wants and searches, is it the game maker adjusting its view on commerce that is wrong? Is predictability a dangerous part? I believe it is, but is it any less an RPG? That part was not in debate, yet from my side, when I play a different RPG, I need a different stance. Put Elder Scrolls against Witcher and you get that, in either direction, put Elder Scrolls next to fallout and we see it less. Even as the story and the graphics change, we are not the in the stage of countering predictability, we are in a stage of gaming in a different hall, yet doing the same dance and that is where RPG’s tend to fall short (a little) and that is why I loved Horizon Zero Dawn. Even in my own design, as I drew up Elder Scrolls: Restoration and Watchdogs: Refuge, I continued on the franchise as they already had it, new elements, yes, but the setting remained in part the same, so as such am I enabling repetition and as such predictability? I believe that if we move away from “by the end of the game, you’re still one of the most important people in the world“, we can start that the premise, and predictability (to a certain extent) goes out the window. 

He also gives us “every now and again, a game comes along which shows that innovation can happen without putting people off and revives a genre in the process“, yes that is the part I can agree and align with, there were parts in Skyrim that went beyond Oblivion and id just that. Yet what is also a consideration is that both opened the field by allowing everything to be done and it took the replayability away to some extent, as such in Elder Scrolls: Restoration I went back (allegedly) to Morrowind (which I never played) and left a barricade in place, as such not all classes could be done at the same time, a student of one could not join another path. In addition, the end of the mission often would result in the loss of location and a transfer to other places. One cannot be in University all the time, you are replaced as you are merely a student in one. that path lowers predictability to certain levels, even more so as I set the stage where choices were abundant, but limits choices later on. Without going towards a Red wings match in a Blackhawks Jersey (which tends to get you killed). Yet these settings give a much larger joy towards replayability.

RPGs forgot about the stage of limitation. As we are set in a game, we want to do it all, we ourselves become predictable, not the game (although the game did allow for it).

In Watch Dogs: Refuge I decided to set gender and language as barriers, the stage of pushing for time to drink and eat (in Watch Dogs one and two) I merely did weeks of actions on one fruit drink, so how is it I survived? An RPG should take that into account and make food and sleep an essential. You could try to get through a week on red bull without sleep, but you end to look like the zombies in university (in the 3 weeks before final exam). We took options away as debilitating factors, yet when you consider that Okinawa is a cuisine haven (as is most of Japan) making that a factor as overlooked. I reintroduced the option with an optional achievement or two, considering that one should never go for the stressful places loaded on Cheesecake, you get the idea that a lack of food and sleep can be a debilitating factor, we merely programmed that part away, but is an RPG not about the stage of a whole day, not merely the part you crave for (battle and mayhem)?

So why Japan? Well most gamers of Watch Dogs are non-Japanese, so pushing you into a place where you cannot read or comprehend anything sets you in a much larger stage, when we  get everything in english, we see what we need to, yet what happens when language becomes an actual hurdle? We forget that, did we not? for those who are still in the dark, try watching Passion of the Christ without subtitles. When Aramaic and Latin are your only companions, you either get smart (real fast) or you tend to forfeit your life. Italians (Romans) were really not to be too discriminating to people who did not speak their language (they were all considered slaves).

To set the stage where we counter the RPG in ways we forgot, I still wonder if that is because of the hand holding that the RPG maker is willing to make, or the side where we are just too shabby a player of RPG. I am not certain where it goes, but there are plenty of indicators that both are factors, as such we might consider that RPG games are too predictable, yet I remain in a stage where the makers became too enabling. 

It is merely a point of view and whether it is gaming limitation or predictability, it is a setting that are two faces of the same coin. I am still unwilling to say that Alex Hearn right, but he makes a fair point, even though he seemingly forgets that part of the predictability is the gamer him or her self. 

 

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Changing the headline

It started (for me) around 6 hours ago when Emma Boyle at Techradar gave us ‘Ubisoft is aiming to create more unique games with an editorial shake up‘, which sounds nice, yet the initial problem for Ubisoft will be to make proper games, an initial essential requirement. As I see it, Ubioft lost their edge and now they are using PR and marketing to make it into ‘Ubisoft is aiming to create more unique games with an editorial shake up‘ (at https://www.techradar.com/au/news/ubisoft-is-aiming-to-create-more-unique-games-with-an-editorial-shake-up), proper games are made not merely by innovative designers and thinkers, but it requires a team of methological thinkers to properly test the game, they need a few wild cards to make sure that ‘stupid choices’ are optionally caught. We are now all about the results of The Division 2 and Ghost Recon Breakpoint, yet the fuming disasters of Assassins Creed Unity are still not forgotten. All whilst Far Cry 4 was more of the same (not a flaw and not the worst idea), yet the short sighted impact of Ubisoft needs to be seen where the bungle of a title is best prevented, at the very top (Yves Guillemot). I have had my issues with Yves Guillemot, yet he does have a proper business instinct and that is something that Ubisoft needs as well. The eyes are now all on Watchdogs: Legion which is approaching release and the idea, concept and work on it is pretty amazing. It takes Watchdogs in another dimension, one that we have not seen before (as far as I know) and it could make way for an entirely new Cyberpunk line. Yet the story is merely one part, it is the release and the initial feel that matters and to be honest, with previous blunders, I would feel more relaxed if they delay it to fix things BEFOREHAND, than give us some lame excuse afterwards, because that is marketing for you, get the money first. 

Consider the fact that I was able to initially ‘design’ a new Watch Dogs 3 (playing in Okinawa) in less than 8 hours, setting the initial stage for close to 50-100 hours of gameplay and with the setting of optionally 4 storylines, all set in hypermodern (slightly futuristic) Japan. Each of the storylines was different and a separate play through of the city with other approach options. Taking lessons from past successes and failures to give the people a new experience. And I got there by ignoring the storyline and setting a free roam stage where you could fall into choices. 

Yet Polygon gives on the 17th (at https://www.polygon.com/2020/1/17/21071083/ubisoft-editorial-team-changes-paris-serge-hascoet-yves-guillemot) ‘With all its games looking the same, Ubisoft shakes up its editorial team‘, there we see the words of CEO Yves Guillemot “blamed on a lack of differentiation in consumers’ minds“, it is actually simpler than that, when you try to build game that pleases all, you end up with a product that pleases none, as I see it, it is really that simple. And as I personally see it, the quote: “Ubisoft chief creative officer Serge Hascoet will remain in charge of Ubisoft’s editorial group, but that he will be given more subordinates and they will be given more autonomy, so that he is able lead from a broader perspective rather than directing individual projects himself” sounds nice, but will it work out that way? It is merely internal marketing of another kind (I am not laying blame on Serge Hascoet). Ubisoft is in a difficult place and this preemptive setting is merely good for the stage if Watch Dogs: Legion misses out too much, if this goes sideways (which I will not initially expect), the value of Ubisoft will diminish 30%-60%, which would scare the shareholders to no degree.

That this is all marketing (to some point) is seen with: “Guillemot said Breakpoint had “been strongly rejected by a significant portion of the community” and that it “did not come in with enough differentiation factors, which prevented the game’s intrinsic qualities from standing out.”“, how about the fact that it was littered with bugs? There is a reason why people are happy to wait 12-20 weeks and pick up the game for 75% less, bugs are a main reason. The lack of quality has driven the massive day one release buy to a soft interesting week 5 or later buy. You can only remain with a setting of special editions with optional additions when you do something about the quality, and that had remained absent. As such I hope that the Watch Dogs: Legion delay is also so that it can be properly tested. I also oppose to some degree the statement “the company needed to leave more time between the launches of its live service games so that they aren’t cannibalizing one another’s interest and audience“, yet too many games at the same time is an issue, but it is not merely about Ubisoft, the game designers ALL want to capture the audience, even as they all know that the consumer in this day and age can only afford one new game, the stage is still set to getting them all. So as we then get into comparing Breakpoint against Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, we saw how Activision kicked the hell and nearly all life out of Breakpoint, that danger would have been a lot less if it had been properly tested. Activision also took a stand, as we take notice of “Modern Warfare’s single-player campaign focuses on realism and feature tactically-based moral choices whereupon the player is evaluated and assigned a score at the end of each level” (source: GamesRadar). Making of forcing a choice is not debilitating, bad testing is, that simple truth hit Breakpoint at least twice over, and as such if became the failure it is (as I personally see it). In all this, the power of better testing will enable ALL games from Ubisoft and making sure that the release date is not what marketing it makes out to be, but when development states that it is ready is a second part in all this. They forget that in the end it is the gamer who wants it and as CD Projekt Red has proven twice over, it comes when it is ready, and as I see it their 93% rating proves them right, which opposes 57% from Breakpoint and it sets a different precedent, it makes the gamers wonder if Ubisoft is still a AAA developer, a question they never really asked before, as I see it Watch Dogs: Legion will push that question to a larger degree in a much larger population making the 60% loss more and more direct, in this I am trying to remain an optimist, the losses could be larger.

The clear message becomes, that Ubisoft better get it right with Watchdogs, if that fails several franchises could be up for grabs for very little, because that is also the curse of shareholders, they will sell, as long as they break even in the deal and for now, that is not the case.

I for one would be a little sad, Ubisoft is a French company, to see a non American (or Japanese) company be this successful was an interesting side, it opened others to the idea that good games did not need come from either two countries (CD Projekt Red also proved that) in all, France has too much on the anvil and they could win and remain or lose a lot, it is not a great place to be, but the two elements I gave out could limit losses to some degree and there is no fault or damage to shift a release date, that is just junk others thrown into the mix. 

And it is not over for Ubisoft, as we see how top title after top title is making an impact on Nintendo Switch, there is a lot from Ubisoft that does have a massive following and they could again. Consider FarCry III on Switch, and even as some are already on Switch, they were not the greatest Assassins Creed games (I still do not regard Assassins Creed IV an AC game). More important, as we see Witcher III on Nintendo, where is AC Origins? It was a masterpiece, could that not be transferred? It is easy to look at transfers, but it is also the cheapest way to repair a software house (and it optionally gives low cost and high yield revenue). In addition the setting where a games might take up to 100 hours, yet the main story take no more than 20 hours, making it an unbalanced equation. Set that against a speed run on Witcher 3, which is not my favourite game mode by the way, taking a player no less than 25 hours. As such we should take notice that there is an optional shortfal in some Ubisoft games (not in AC Origins, or AC Odyssey though), as such there is a lot more that Ubisoft can do, especially in Watch Dogs: Legion and as I personally see it, they better do that BEFORE the game is released, not as some lame DLC excuse (free or not). All this is coming to roost at Ubisoft even before that new Microsoft contraption and the Sony PS5 are released. It shows just how much Ubisoft needs to get fixed and not in a marketing way. They actually remained in the game longer than I anticipated, but as far as I (and others) can tell, they are running out of options, so whether we see an obituary of Ubisoft in the coming year, or a revitalisation is up to the big chair, the quality of games is not something they can short change the gamer on again, they have done that too often (as I personally see it) and the entire “but we fixed it” will not hold water, not this time, there are too many competitors at present.

Their first-person shooter is up against Activision (80%), their RPGs are up against Guerrilla Games  (90%) and CD Projekt Red (92%), and several other games are up against Santa Monica Studio (94%). It goes on and Ubisoft needs to see that they are not alone and that others are winning the gamer share that Ubisoft once had, it is the direct result of sub-standard delivery on quality all that whilst we see that there is no other group that is so into gossip like gamers, mistakes like this become the setting of failure within hours of day one sales and there is a larger group no longer running out on day one, they are largely becoming week 2 buyers (at best)  when it comes to Ubisoft games, as I personally see it, when a gamer gets to spend their cash once on a new game twice a year, that new game better be really good. 

That is the setting that Ubisoft faces and marketing will not save them this time. As to what the new headline should be, I leave that up to the reviewers who took over from me, I looked at games for 13 years, I gave a view of games to two generations and even as I still love games, it had become time (in 2000) for others to take over, yet I never stopped looking at games with a critical eye (yet enjoying them became my number one priority). No matter what story you see published, Guillemot must be realising that his time is over, I will admit that even as For Honor was never my cup of tea, it was unique and amazing as a title, even as it was a multiplayer title, Ubisoft outdid themselves that time around. I recognise that there are plenty of games that are not my cuppa tea, yet that does not stop me from admiring excellence, for Honor delivered, and they are not alone. 

As I stated, changing the headline would give us the real issue and I think the headline should be ‘If we had only given more time to testing out product‘, it might end up being a lousy obituary, but the truth tends to be that, lousy and hard hitting. In the end, we will need to wait until later (after Q2) 2020 to see where Ubisoft is going and what the optional gamer will buy from that point onwards. Yet this is all happening whilst some of the others are solely focussed on getting their one games out. So no matter how we personally see it, Ubisoft is in a vice and they basically put themselves there, considering that AC Origins was a 2017 release. When you get articles on ‘Here are the best (worst) <insert title> bugs‘, you have an actual problem and with 2 years of bugged titles, something should have been done a long time ago, especially as I personally see it that this issue has been around since 2012 to an increasing degree (I will abstain from the ‘to a larger degree’) expression. I understand that NO GAME is absent of bugs, Ubisoft merely has too many of them and for the most they are all over the web and YouTube, so it is not merely my view, as per illustration have a look at the funny parts (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykcA3yKPolY), it is merely the tip of the iceberg and we all know what happened to the Titanic when they wanted their drinks on the rocks.

 

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