Rundown (10/27-11/02) The Road to 2020

Wherein I discuss a magical fetus coming to a Windows near you, a dark corporate alliance of perplexing origins, a potential reprise of the Reaper War, a magical journey lost to time, and the blizzard trying to withstand the heat of controversy.

This past week I announced my intentions to republish my earlier novels, an idea that I settled on about six months ago, and now that I have commited to editing over 250,000 words, and create a whopping total of 72 header images, I am honestly getting a bit nervous.  2020 will be a busy year for me, between working in a near full-time basis, studying for the CPA exam, and trying to maintain my usual schedule for Reviews, Rambles, and Randoms. I want to do all of these things, and tell myself that I can, but throughout the past month I have been struggling to get my schedule on track between work, school, and most especially school projects, also known as the actual worst thing about school.  Just give me a topic, instructions, and I’ll make your goldarn project a reality, but the moment you tell me to get ‘creative’ in a class I don’t care about, then you can go bonk yourself.

But the best part about 2020 is that I will not have to do any of those, as I am 100% done with school as of this December.  News that has me both elated and a bit startled, as I have been going to school or been schooled to a degree for as long as I can remember.  No joke, my first memory is doing math problems for my paternal grandmother back when I was 2.

Venting and rambling aside, there have been murmurs about Kojima Productions’ Death Stranding coming to PC for quite a while, and with the game mere days away from releasing as a temporary PS4 exclusive, the company announced via Twitter that the title will make its way to PC sometime during the summer of 2020.  This is grand news to me, as I lack any current Sony platforms (RIP Vita), and would like to experience Kojima’s surreal apocalyptic brain child at some point in the foreseeable future.  I mean, I doubt I will love it like I loved the first three Metal Gear Solid games, but it will certainly be an intriguing little title if the previews are even remotely representative of the final game.

Speaking of major AAA titles jumping onto new platforms, EA and Valve have announced a partnership to bring EA games to Steam for the first time since EA fragmented the PC gaming scene in 2011 with the release of their own platform, the much derided Origin.  This partnership will begin on November 15th with the launch of Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and will eventually expand to include a version of EA’s premium subscription service, EA Access.  Not to be confused with EA’s Origin Access or EA’s Origin Access Premiere… goodness are these names confusing.

This is something of an unprecedented move, as people have generally learned to accept Origin, as it is a functional launcher least based on what I experienced during my time with Mass Effect Andromeda, and Steam generally does not need games from publishers like EA to succeed, so why even pursue this kind of partnership?  Personally, I think that EA wanted to make their PC division more profitable, held some meetings, made some figures, and decided that launching on Steam would improve their overall revenue if they could cut a deal with Valve.  I mean, Valve did adopt a tiered revenue share system where their usual 70%/30% split would steadily decrease to 80%/20% after a game makes $50 million on the service, but I’m sure they could fudge the figures a bit for a ‘preferred client’ like EA.  Also, maybe Epic Games was involved in that hypothetical scenario at some point.

If it is not obvious, I am far more interested in the business justifications of this decision than the ramifications on the consumer end, as the only EA titles I was ever particularly fond of was the Mass Effect Trilogy.  So the best thing they could reasonably do, from my perspective, is to remaster the Mass Effect Trilogy with all the DLC, better textures, and controller support on PC.  And according to their latest earnings call, they are actually working on remasters of select fan favorite titles.  Which is far more assuring than wishy washy statements the publisher has made about remasters in the past.  

Mind you, I will still be pleased about any remaster offered by any publisher, as they are a great way to preserve games, which are ever the ethereal force, and have been known to fade away in an instant due to legal issues.  This always struck me as a major failing of licensing contrasts, as it is putting an expiration date on a product when it could theoretically continue existing forever, and continue making money for all parties involved. But anyways, the latest game on the chopping block this week was the tepidly received 2018 action RPG Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time, which was delisted from Steam and PSN on Halloween.  Because it is a licensed anime game, the reason why it was delisted is fairly obvious, but the fact that it was only on the market for less than two years just makes this delisting appalling in my mind, as one could have conceivably been waiting to check this game out, but now they can’t.

And Activision Blizzard just can’t seem to catch a break after bombing their public relations and goodwill over the past month, garnering an excess of vitriol and anger that all served as a prelude to Blizzard Entertainment’s annual convention, Blizzcon.  I was hyped up by various outlets and voices, namely Castle Super Beast to expect some full blown riots, assaults, and possibly terrorism, but no.  Instead there were just some protests outside the event itself, and an Activision Blizzard executive offered a vague apology, and the company announced Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV, both of which leaked well in advance of the actual event, because it’s 2019.

Reading through the press release and feature list for Overwatch 2 honestly brings to mind the evolution that many successful live services undergo over the years, as it mostly consists of a series of features and modes that build upon the foundation of the original game, but instead it is being propped as a sequel.  Said features and modes include co-op missions where players will be able to level up and customize their heroes, actual story content that probably could have been a single player mode, but is instead more co-op missions, some additions and improvements to the competitive multiplayer the game is built around, and promises of new maps, heroes, new default outfits, et cetera.  

But what exactly does this mean for players of Overwatch?  Well, players’ accumulated loot collections will be forwards compatible with Overwatch 2… and so is the multiplayer.  Yeah, apparently players of Overwatch will be able to play PvP multiplayer with players of Overwatch 2.  Which is a great way to not totally fracture the user base, and keep people in the Overwatch ecosystem, but this news, along with the iterative feature list, makes me wonder if this is all truly necessary.  Or rather, I’m left wondering if Blizzard originally wanted to turn Overwatch into a persistent platform that would last for decades to come, but Activision Blizzard axed those plans, since they wanted to put a new box on store shelves.  Also, the game will be coming out for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch, but no release window was given.

As for Diablo IV… yeah, if I didn’t know that this was an entry in a widely acclaimed series, I probably would not even be talking about this game based on the reveal gameplay trailer.  Not because any of it looked particularly bad, but due to how drab, dingy, and dark its aesthetics are. I understand that is an appeal of the series for many, but I always viewed the dungeon crawling action RPG genre as one that works better with a more vibrant aesthetic.  Anyways, despite seeming fairly far along based on the gameplay trailer, no release window was given, and it is not coming out “Blizzard soon” whatever that means.  However, it was confirmed that the title will be released for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.  

That’s all for this week!  Now if you’ll excuse me I need to read up on section 301 exclusions for my international business law class.  Because that’s how cool people spend their Sundays.

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