One of the reasons why I am apprehensive towards the very idea of upgrading beyond my current 1080p monitor is that I play a large number of games with set resolutions that generally look like crap when scaled upwards due their quantity of 2D art assets. While 3D games are generally safe from this thanks to the magic of polygons and anti-aliasing, and sprite-based games can look great when displayed at 3 times their original resolution, games that rely heavily on 2D art assets are not so lucky, and it makes me worry about their future. I know there are programs like Waifu2x that can quadruple the size of artwork with minimal quality loss and ReShade can do great things for 3D titles, but I have yet to see anything that allows for, say, Muv-Luv to be boosted up to 1080p as you play it, which would be bonkers and make me utterly ecstatic.
Following a series of contrived and needlessly staggered announcements, Persona 5 Royal was properly revealed as an enhanced re-release of Persona 5 with new scenes, locations, music, better graphics, a third semester, and a new party member who people are comparing to Marie in a negative way, which is odd to me because Marie was one of my favorite Social Links in Persona 4 Golden, because she was such a weirdo. Some are inevitably upset at the lack of a female protagonist, or FeMC, but I was never under the impression that such a thing would actually happen, and instead my biggest upset is how this title was only announced for PS4, where it will release in Japan on October 31st, before coming to the west sometime in 2020.
Oh, but that was not the only Persona related announcement, as Atlus also announced Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikes, a musou game from Omega Force that’s coming to the PS4 and Switch in the unspecified future. Only a snippet of gameplay was shown, displaying the usual cathartic button bashing hacking and slashing that the musou sub-genre is known for, along with a new character, only really proving that this title exists and captures the look of the original title quite well all things considered. Yeah, it kinda stinks that this is the Persona game coming to the Switch, and not Royal, but Atlus is a company adept at disappointing their audience… at least according to JRPG zealots.
Moving onto the second string of stories I have for this week, while I do like to cheekily exclaim how China is the heart of the gaming industry due to the fact that, well, they are the biggest market for games in the entire world, due in no small part to their population, it is important to realize that they are still a nation with some… immense limitations imposed on its citizens and what type of work they may create. I mean, the entire industry frozen for about 9 months last year, and their desire for control over all works within their nation had led to preposterous censorship that only reminded people that the Chinese president hates being compared to Winnie The Pooh, and Monster Hunter World was delisted after selling a million copies in China…
Anyways, the story in question is that China will now ban games that contain mahjong, poker, corpses, skeletons, blood of any color, and content that paints an imperialistic party in a negative light, including the sub-genre of imperial harem scheming. This just goes to show you that despite being the heart of the global game industry, China is still run by puritanical numbnuts who honestly believe that censoring media of themes they disagree with is a good way to go about things in the 21st century.
Speaking of tangentially Chinese related questionable activity, it was recently reported that Epic Games has been, in trying to maintain the popularity and money making power of Fortnite, heavily pressuring its employees to work up to 100 hours per week, and normalizing the idea of a 70 hour work week. Epic currently propagates a culture where everything needs to be done immediately, those who object to his culture are fired, and contractors, or rather bodies, are brought in as needed, yet are immensely disposable, and do less overtime, because Epic would need to actually compensate them, and you don’t need to do that with salaried employees, who you can just give bonuses to at the end of the year, which incentivises them to stay for longer, because dessert is only for ‘team players’!
While efforts have been made to lessen the crunch since Fortnite became the biggest game on Earth, such as external studios, increased staff, and better project planning, the problem still persists, has led to many employees burning out or just up and leaving. Other employees, particularly younger ones, think this type of behavior is normal and will volunteer to work longer hours to be promoted and get more bonuses. All of which highlight just how much the future of Live Services could negatively impact workplace culture, especially if these practices are taken to countries with looser regulations. Oh, and Netherrealm Studios also encourages a similar culture of crunch, because of course they do.
Hearing all of these stories about terrible working conditions and crunch from within the western game industry has gotten me thinking about how publishers can take things to the next level, and I cannot help but identify the fact that employees ever leave the company’s designated property as a problem. Have workers live in company dormitories, eat at the company cafeteria, and be partially paid in company stock to incentivise them to work harder, while requiring them to obtain a designated pass in order to leave company property. This would increase the level of focus and dedication of the workers and cause them to believe that the most important thing in the world is the company they work for.
Hell, that really is not too much of a stretch for some California tech companies. Basically, programmers, engineers, and so forth live in areas like San Francisco, are picked up by company buses with wifi so they may work on the bus while drinking company provided coffee, work at headquarters for a while, before returning on the bus, and then possibly working from home. Also they can put their laundry in the bus and a lesser will do it for them. They just need to ditch the whole idea of treating these workers well, which could be taken care of with some mergers, consolidations, and acquisitions. For corporations benefit most when a monopoly is in place, and it frees the consumers of the burden of choice, and if corporations benefit, then shareholders everybody benefits!
Okay, I’m going to stick a fork in it before I start rambling about more problematic topics, since I think I did more than enough of that this past week. So until next time, see ya!
Header image is from Muv-Luv Alternative, which I hope to review soon, but I underestimated its length… by a factor of 30 hours. Oops.