Gaming and movies have shared a long-distance relationship for a while now, and their parallel wayward decision making process shows that fully.
The vast majority of decisions made in entertainment, no matter how many numbers or focus groups say otherwise, are glorified guesses. Estimated and measured perhaps, but only with other similar projects in often vastly different situations. This is just a side-effect of the uncertain waters that are the whims of the audience, and none of these companies making big decisions should be lampooned too thoroughly for their shots into the relative dark. Even so, there are certain questions that have been asked of late that lead to certain answers that seem to completely miss the potential mark of Kilimanjaro-esque payoffs and beginnings.
So, if you will, imagine yourself as a nosey ghost able to phase in and out of rooms, and you just so happen to find yourself around for these five questions below, phasing through at just the proper time to interject some reason. Allow me, as a sort of ghost pied-piper, tell you how well these answers could’ve turned out were they made correctly.
Also, spoiler warnings for Captain America: Civil War immediately below!
Marvel on Captain America: Civil War – Q: “Should we kill off (Insert name here)?”
This one seemed like such a slam-dunk beforehand. Captain America: Civil War, amidst glowing reviews and nearly everyone exploding with excitement, stepped wide left of the entire point it was trying to make early on: there are consequences to unchecked power. Setting Captain America and Iron Man on their early tracks required someone with unchecked power feeling guilty over unforeseen consequences, and yet, the movie switches to a revenge-for-all theme by the end. Nothing happens between to make this shift seem viable.
Even the small consequences are nearly fixed up by the end with Rhodes being up and about and Cap telling Tony, “Call me, bro.” A death – of Captain America if we’re being specific – would’ve brought some legitimate impact to their plight beyond just this Tony-law, hickory-switch-rap on the knuckles to Captain America. This is a theme with Marvel, this stopping short of taking a aforementioned plunge, and for a company hitting a lot of popular chords, it seems to be forgetting how to create lasting memories and emotions beyond a chuckle or two.
Nintendo on E3 – Q: “Should E3 be ALL the Zelda?”
This one is, for obvious reasons, still TBA as far as the outcome, but the writing on the social wall is looking downright cynical. There seems to be nary a defender for this major publisher – holder of licenses that built empires single-handedly – bringing only one playable property to the biggest gaming show in the world. Even with the quarterly Nintendo Directs diminishing the company’s focus on E3, there will still be millions of people focused on this singular event.
The solution here would seem to be changing the word “all” to “most of.” The Legend of Zelda is one of those empire-erecting properties and deserves that kind of spotlight, but Nintendo isn’t a one-game studio. It’s not even a one-studio entity; this is a 99 percent video game company that was valued at 22 billion dollars last year. Surely there’s room for other games on the show floor to, if nothing else, gather excitement for the cold, cold, winter months.
Square Enix on Hitman – Q: “Wouldn’t Hitman be better as an episodic game?”
The Hitman series has never seemed to be as popular as Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell, but there was still a certain style and level of quality that drew people into the suit and tie. I reviewed the first episode and found it lacking in story and quality, almost as though the game was incomplete and decidedly chopped into five sections thereafter. Gameplay was as entertaining and calculated as in Absolution, but the other pieces just weren’t there.
Since the second episode dropped about a month ago, the silence has been deafening. Many outlets didn’t even bother reviewing it, opting instead for impressions to fit with the incomplete theme. As Capcom too has recently found out, gamers want complete experiences. The original Walking Dead games weren’t rushed out to make a quick buck; Telltale are the current rulers of the episodically engaged audience, not for clear hatchet slashes but for story hooks. Hitman has repeatable gameplay patterns without any story hook, which combine into an active deterrent for episodic releases.
Activision on Call of Duty – Q: “Would Infinite Warfare sell without the remaster of Modern Warfare?”
For nearly a decade, Call of Duty titles have sold to the tune of a billion dollar franchise that leads yearly sales charts like clockwork. Activision’s decision, then, to pair the primordial Modern Warfare’s remaster with the incoming Infinite Warfare seems a little perplexing. Compounding that confusion is the official word that the Call of Duty 4 remaster is exclusive to the Infinite Warfare special edition – starting at $80.
Much has been made about the original reveal trailer receiving an historical amount of dislike on Youtube, but these games have long ago left behind the traditional gaming crowd. Ironically, those most likely to tune into the reveal events and expend the clicking energy through Youtube are not the main consumer base anymore. Call of Duty has become a pseudo-holiday now celebrated by millions of people every year, and does so while relying on buzz words and advertising outside of the medium moreso than the stuff this and other news sites would cover.
As a result, Activision’s chaining of these two games together just feels undeservedly desperate and actively cramps the atomic bomb of money they would earn from Call of Duty 4’s re-release. Infinite Warfare is probably going to sell gangbusters too, especially is this pre-launch attention is any indicator.
Valve/HTC/Facebook on VR – “Should we stop moving long enough to appease our pre-order crowd?”
Virtual reality—the supposed next big boom in gaming—has left many wondering this:
The self-sabotage of all three entities above has stunted the medium’s growth tremendously, ironically as they were all attempting to do the opposite. Pre-order holders have been told to wait their turn as Oculus Rift and Vive units are shipped to retail, effectively playing keep-away from the forest to service the trees. Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey has said that these units going to Best Buy haven’t come out of the pre-order stash and that this is the fulfillment of a prior engagement, but it’s another problem that seems to have come out of nowhere for those most excited about new technology.
That’s not even the extent of the issues as genuine technical hiccups continue to plague every early adopter with a headset, including some bass-ackwards DRM issues. Facebook, HTC, and Valve all seem to be tripping over themselves to get out into the mainstream with VR business cards a-plenty but are leaving a huge line of guaranteed money on hold, telling them to fight it out at retail if the wait seems too long. With so many worthwhile experiences supposedly on the way for every major VR gaming device, all of the above companies can afford to build upon the base literally throwing themselves into the early fire. The best advertisement out there is people excitedly talking about the quality of your product, and that’s tough to do without the darn thing.
Have you found any other recent decision in gaming questionable?