Rundown (9/15-9/21) Spoil Age

In this age where people are encouraged to constantly do things live, to stream, react, and offer spicy hot takes to the current going-ons lest they be forgotten and falter into designed irrelevance, spoilers have become an interesting topic.  Some think that all major spoilers should be prefaced as spoilers. Others think that an arbitrary amount of time needs to pass before something may be openly spoiled. While a groundswell of people just stopped caring about the prospect of being surprised by works and think it’s perfectly a-okay to spoil anything, citing that there was this or that study done and it showed that one’s enjoyment of a work was not necessarily impacted by spoilers.

However, precisely because so much weight is placed on reactions, it has placed greater emphasis on how one is first exposed to any given work.  By spoiling something, you are effectively robbing people of a potential experience. You are altering how they first experience a work, and they may resent you for that, believing that because something of value was taken from them, what they are experiencing is a lesser facsimile.  And while averages may dictate that one’s thoughts on a work are indifferent regardless of spoilers, those really are just averages, and there are fringe cases where open spoilers could turn a 9/10 experience for someone into, say, a 6/10.  

But at the same time, complaining about spoilers and those who put them out is… pretty foolish.  Some people like knowing things as quickly as possible, they like voicing their thoughts as their first impressions are being developed, and even with blocked terms and hashtags, you really cannot definitively escape the growing mass that is spoiler culture.  I mean, unless you stop engaging with the internet, but that’s just unreasonable.

Also, Ash won the Alolan League finals in the Pokemon anime.  Which is one of the limpest spoilers conceivable, as this event followed the announcement of the next season, which implied that it will be a retooling of the series that, among other things, would likely drop Ash as the protagonist.  Meaning this would be the end of his story, and what better way to end it by finally letting him win a Pokemon League tournament.  Also, a lot of people who watched the series at one point in their life do not watch it now, and are probably happy to hear about some meaningful development happening in what is ultimately a very cyclical series.

Bickering aside, and shifting to proper gaming news, Square Enix announced that the original Dragon Quest trilogy would be brought to the Switch some time ago in order to coincide with the release of Dragon Quest XI S.  But only recently was it revealed that, unlike with the PS4 and 3DS releases of the collection back in 2017, this release will be global, yay for that.  Now, these games have been remade a number of times, but the mobile ports are generally considered the best of the bunch, as they feature high quality sprites work based off of the SNES version of Dragon Quest III, a rather sharp looking late 16-bit era title.  Unfortunately, Square Enix aren’t doing what they normally would and putting out a direct mobile port.  Instead they are replacing the character and monster sprites with illustrations that blend in with the pixelated environments about as well as one could expect.  This is very upsetting, as I really would love to go through much of this series and garner a better appreciation of it, but Square Enix seem resolute on making this difficult.

Bandai Namco also seems resolute on making it difficult for people to consume and enjoy the Super Robot Wars series as the Steam store page for Super Robot Wars V recently went up, and you cannot even view the page and acknowledge the game’s existence unless you have a Japanese or Southeast Asian account.  Meaning that my theorizing from July about how this PC release could be a truly global one was… completely and utterly wrong.  I honestly didn’t even know that you could openly block games depending on the user’s region like that via Steam, but that’s what Bandai Namco is doing.  Considering how the license agreements for these titles work, I can’t even really get mad at their decision, and instead I am more impressed that such a level of digital region locking exists.  

While I could easily jump from here to the bizarre priorities that are seen in Steam as a platform, I instead want to follow up on last week’s story about Nicalis.  In short, the publisher suddenly delisted the console versions of Ittle Dew 2, a Zelda-esque title originally released in 2016.  A move that came as a surprise to everybody, including the CEO of Ludosity, the game’s developer, Joel Nystrom.  Nystrom woke up on September 20th to find all console versions of the game delisted by Nicalis.  A move that was preceded by a request from Nystrom to transfer the publishing rights of the game back to Ludosity, which went unanswered for several weeks until, in lieu of litigating the rights, Nicalis just removed the game from Playstation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch storefronts.  A move that sacks Ludosity with re-publishing the game, because that’s a good way to practice business. Throwing your former partners under the bus in a needlessly aggressive manner.  

Speaking of needless aggression, there has been a lot of pondering and theorizing about the quantity of money Epic Games has been paying to secure exclusive titles on their half-baked storefront.  Some developers have offered some indication as to how much money these deals are worth, such as the people behind Samurai Shodown, Untitled Goose Game, and Ooblets, but now there is a solid figure to look at!  A figure revealed through a financial report from Digital Bros., who owns 505 Games, the publisher of latest game from Remedy Entertainment, Control.  In short, Control was given 9.49 million Euros in exchange for a one year exclusivity deal over the PC version of this game.  For further context, Control was reported given a budget between 20 and 30 million Euros, meaning that Epic paid at least third of the game’s cumulative budget just so they could have one more title to prop up their storefront and make people become invested in it.

There are a lot of things that I could point out to criticize Epic.  Such as how their strategy is ultimately designed around usurping Steam as the de facto PC gaming storefront, how their store has been woefully mismanaged for no intuitive reason, and propagating needless platform exclusivity in a move that… just lacks much class.  At the same time though, I have to admire the gall and abrasive tendencies that one needs to slap down $10 million just to get a title for a single year.  

Just trying to imagine how much cash this private company must be funneling into developers via these deals and the weekly free games they offer is mind boggling, and considering that all this money is going back to assorted developers and publishers, it’s hard for me to be truly mad at them.  That and, well, they are still giving away free games on a weekly basis, so they are technically giving people things for the price of installing a bare bones yet functional launcher.  

…What’s the word count?  About 1,200? Yeah, that’s good enough for this week.  See you next time, when I talk about mobile games for the third week in a row!  After that I promise I’ll stop. This was just a cute little idea that kind of blew itself out of proportions.

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