So, I have been looking at some of my site’s analytics, and it turns out that a whole lot of traffic is generated by my reviews of Student Transfer and Press-Switch, as they are both super niche projects that aside from their own forums, one person’s youtube channel, and 4Chan, have little presence on the internet. While I do not really gain anything by generating views, and what I do generate is measly in the grand scheme of things, I really enjoy talking about these two games, and due to how the reception to them is positive as far as I can tell, I intend on continuing to review each new release of both titles. This also includes the latest 0.5b build, which I will have a review of this Wednesday. Anyways, I just wanted to get that out into the open. Onto video game news.
Sekai Project has positioned itself as a rising all-star of sorts since their inception back in 2013. The localization company and general game publisher has grown from a group responsible for the english translation of School Days into a force that puts out visual novels, manga, and other niche Japanese titles, including eroge. With titles coming out on a… bi-weekly basis and the company planning to make a major move to consoles in the future. However, the company announced a series of layoffs in their marketing department, with much of their office staff being let go, so they can focus on being a more nimble and leaner operation that primarily relies on off-site employees or contractors, which is already the case for most, if not all, of the company’s programmers, translators, and editors.
Now, a story like this could be looked into and viewed in a number of ways based on one’s perception of the company and their past. Sekai Project has expanded wildly over the past five years, and this could be seen as them trying to refocus their efforts and lower their costs as many of the games they put out do not generate much returns aside from occasional sales bumps and the proceeds from Kickstarters. As they are a small private company, their financial situation is unknown, but from what I understand niche localization companies typically tend to be very lean companies due to the limited gains that come with a niche audience. Office space is expensive, especially in a major city like Los Angeles, and a lot of overhead can be eliminated if all of your employees work from home. As such, I really do not see this as much of an issue… so long as the employees were informed about this in advance, and it sounds like they were not… that part is pretty shitty.
Monster Hunter World recently released on PC, where it proceeded to do stupidly well, reaching new heights for Japanese PC game launches, and eclipsing over two million sales in about a week. It also had a Chinese launch along with this, but, well, some complications emerged. You see, despite being the biggest game market around, China does not like the idea of servers for games being located in other countries and, well, the Chinese Monster Hunter World servers are located in Japan. Because of this, Chinese regulators ordered the game be removed from sale, and all copies were subsequently refunded.
Oh, but things get worse. Just after the game was pulled from sale, China froze their games approval agency amidst a government shakeup, and the entire Chinese gaming industry is paused. I really should not need to explain why this is a major problem, but it really does go to show how dependent industries can be based on regulations, as a move like this could dramatically affect the future of certain game companies, and the industry overall health if it persists for long enough. Despite being the largest gaming market in the world, China is still a country with heavy government regulations, and that has to suck for everybody invested in that side of the industry.
THQ Nordic have made it a mission statement of sorts to acquire, re-release, and preserve many easily forgotten AA games or game series, while also serving as a rising AA force in the industry after the HD generation resulted in massive casualties for most smaller studios. Anyways, this time the company, or more specifically their subsidiary Koch Media, acquired the rights to the cult classic FPS series Timesplitters along with far lesser known psychological action adventure game, Second Sight. While I cannot say that I am too interested in either of these titles, they are two IPs that Crytek has been sitting on since their acquisition and rebranding of Free Radical Design, and it’s nice to hear that they will receive an inevitable re-release of some form. Because this is THQ Nordic after all.
Remember how two weeks ago an Australian rating for Marvelous’ delinquent brawler Uppers was revealed? Well, like clockwork, Uppers was formally revealed as a PS4 and PC, and has a release window of later this year. I already said what I had to say about the game two weeks ago, so I will not repeat myself, and will simply comment that I am glad this game is being given a second chance, and hope it brings the developer and publisher success. As it looked like a nifty and very passion-driven game filled with gratuitous nonsense, such as characters powering up by getting a facefull of an underaged girl’s breasts.
Moving onto, there was a trifecta of interesting interesting bits of information that arose about Valve this past week. First off, a dedicated SteamDB user discovered that Valve seems to be working on tools that would allow Windows games to run on Linux, and is likely tied to SteamOS, the Linux-based operating system they released a few years ago and failed to gain any real traction. While Windows emulation is nothing new, this is an interesting pursuit that could help in case Windows ever goes downhill. Such as by becoming a subscription only service where people need to pay monthly to maintain features that were previously available by purchasing a product key…
Secondly, Valve has registered the domain steam.tv, in what many believe is to be some sort of Twitch competitor, which would be quite sensible given how Steam already offers the ability for users to broadcast games, yet the feature is hidden behind numerous walls and as such, is easy to ignore, so a rebranding and relaunch could be a very beneficial idea, especially if they intend on truly competing with Twitch.
Thirdly, Valve has issued a sort of follow up to when they threatened to use the ban hammer on games with juicy anime lewds in them, before issuing a statement about how everyone is allowed on the Steam store. As the company is reviewing how they will handle games with “questionable content” for the future, and as such, the submission process for future games with this “questionable content” will be delayed through a process that Valve mentions will take months. It is a very unfortunate move for certain developers, and just goes to remind me that despite having such clout, it is entirely possible that Valve as a company has no idea what they are actually doing. And based on what I have heard about how that place is run, I am inclined to believe that to be the case.