The Tuesday letters page asks why publishers keep making live service games, as one reader is impressed by Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes.
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The thing I don’t get about all the Xbox rumours is why some games are going multiformat but others aren’t? What difference is Hi-Fi Rush and Sea Of Thieves on PlayStation 5 going to make to anything? Absolutely nothing. It’s not going to make Xbox any substantial amount of money, so why do it? To make people think the Xbox has loads of similar games, so they should get an Xbox console instead? Five minutes of googling is going to tell anyone that’s not the case.
Going multiformat only makes sense as a major change in policy if you do it for major games, not small fry. And if it is just small stuff like Hi-Fi Rush then why this whole uproar and having to wait two weeks for an explanation from Microsoft? It’s got to be more than that.
I would’ve thought Starfield was the absolute minimum you’d have to start with to make a difference. It’s not like it’s some holy grail – it’s a disappointing game that didn’t get anything like the acclaim Microsoft thought. Even Halo and Gears 6 aren’t exactly turning PlayStation owners green with envy.
The Indiana Jones game would be a better choice, since we don’t know how good or bad it is yet, but this whole business has got to start making sense soon. If the announcement this week doesn’t include Starfield, at least, and is just old or low-profile games then this whole thing is going to seem even more stupid then it already is.
I’m optimistic about Switch 2. I’m sure it’ll be at least a bit more powerful and probably not just the same thing with better graphics. Rumours say Microsoft is planning a clone for 2026 but by that point Nintendo will have released the Switch 2 and it’ll be something else again.
I wouldn’t even consider myself a massive Nintendo fan but watching them just trucking along while Sony and Microsoft do their best to make their fanbases hate them is pretty amusing. When Nintendo mess up it’s because they were swinging for the fences and just misjudged the market but with the other two… who knows what they’re playing at, at the moment.
I think it will work out in Nintendo’s favour though. If they reveal the Switch 2 and it looks good I think more than normal will be happy to give them a shot and happily distance themselves from the idiocy of Xbox and PlayStation.
While there are lots of why that 2K could improve on EA Sports FC with a rival, why is it I think the only things they’re interested in is microtransactions? If you know NBA 2K you’ll know how out of control they are with them, enough to make EA seem reasonable, so I don’t see anyone jumping ship in order to be ripped off even more.
Come to think of it, the football situation is kind of like the Xbox and PlayStation, where the Xbox is too similar to PlayStation that there’s just no incentive to switch sides, given you’re already in deep with Sony. It’s the same thing with EA Sports FC. It’d be easier to make a better football game but if all you’re going to get it is the same thing but, at best, slightly better what’s the point in changing?
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Kingdom of Hyrule
For anyone’s that interested, the first trailer for Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes has just come out. What’s that got to do with games, you might ask? Well, it’s the new film from the director that’s going to be doing the Zelda movie. His biggest budget one since the Maze Runner films.
I can’t say I’m much of a fan of the franchise, but it seems a decent trailer: well shot and some impressive CGI. To me it seems relatively encouraging and shows that he’s competent on a technical level. The setting is also not entirely un-Zelda like, with lots of natural landscapes and primitive societies.
There’s a lot that can go wrong with the film but if your first thought was that getting the guy behind Maze Runner sounded a bad idea then this shows he might be a decent pick.
Playing the lottery
A point made in your Banishers: Ghosts Of New Eden review, that I don’t think I’ve seen expressed like that before, made me think: 95% of live service games disappear without a trace, often within just months. I’m sure that percentage is just a guess but it certainly feels like that, with only two or three really famous ones and a slightly bigger range of also-rans.
So these publishers trying to chase the trend – Sony and Ubisoft most obviously – are just rolling the dice each time, while knowing the chances of winning are stacked against them. When EA are being more sensible you know something’s wrong. They got Apex Legends and then didn’t really push their luck again.
I think someone at Sony realised all this and that’s what all the long silence is about, but what a miscalculation. As others have said, the bosses at both Xbox and PlayStation don’t seem to have a clue.
10 years later
Add me to the list of people that think Phil Spencer’s position is now untenable. Something makes me think he won’t go but everything that’s happening now is a direct result of his plans failing. I don’t say that his plans were foolish, and I’m personally surprised that Game Pass didn’t work out, but they are still his plans.
The emphasis on Xbox Series S didn’t pan out, the Xbox Series X’s supposedly superior power has never been demonstrated, Game Pass hasn’t taken off, and $70+ billion later not a single classic video game has been created during his 10 years on the job.
The only thing he’s done that has actually been an unqualified success is backwards compatibility, and that’s it. If Microsoft is going to making a Switch clone for 2026 I don’t know what it’s even aiming for, except to make sure that Nintendo never let Game Pass on its consoles.
But maybe that isn’t the plan anymore, who knows. I mean, we should know. Microsoft should have told us before this whole circus got anywhere near this far, but I’d chalk that up to another Phil Spencer failure.
So I sent an email about the problem I was having with Alan Wake 2 yesterday. I couldn’t fire any of my weapons! So just to clarify, there was no glitch at all.
Somehow I had unbound the fire button on my controller! So I was literally walking round with no fire button assigned to my controller. As a gamer of 20+ years I shall now hang my head in shame.
GC: We secretly suspected you were using a pirated copy, that had purposefully disabled firing… so, we’re glad that wasn’t the case!
For several reasons I think Nintendo has little choice but to build the most powerful hybrid console they can for the price point of £350 to £400.
Nintendo don’t have to match PlayStation and Xbox for power, but they do need to keep pace and offer a console that stacks up reasonably well against the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and inline with customer expectations for investing in a new gen.
I imagine, as well, they would like to be in technological touching distance that some bigger third party current gen games could be ported to Switch 2 like The Witcher 3 on Switch. Baldur’s Gate 3 as a Switch 2 launch title would be a good look.
As it happens, I think where mobile tech is at the moment, and going by the Steam Deck, it will be about as powerful as a PlayStation 4 with modern architecture and upscaling tech, helping it to outshine that console.
But even if Nintendo didn’t make Switch 2 any more powerful than the current model, I don’t think they would be anymore protected from high triple-A costs where customer expectations for a mainline first party game demand system leading graphics and a big, meaty game.
Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom took six years even though it used many assets from Breath Of The Wild. Nintendo do have many successful, cheaper to produce games, though, so really only have to pony up for the big mainline games.
Personally, I hope they do build a powerful console, as I’m salivating at the thought of what those talented peps at Nintendo could do with it. Take over the world, probably.
GC: Every Nintendo console has shown at least a modest increase in power, so somewhere around the specs of the PlayStation 4 seems a reasonable minimum expectation.
Nice review of Ultros. Never heard of it before but I think will do me nicely in the wait for Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth.
Maybe Microsoft could sell its Xbox business to Nintendo? It would be the ultimate irony after that email from Phil Spencer saying that Nintendo’s future was on Xbox. That aged like old milk.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Grackle, who asks what difficultly level do you usually play video games on?
Most, but not all, games have a difficulty setting but which do you usually start with? The default or lower or higher? What level of skill do you generally consider yourself to have with games and does your chosen difficultly usually suit you or do you often have to change it while playing?
Do games do enough to account for people of different skill levels and what features do you wish were included as standard? Have you ever found that the difficultly levels of a game don’t go low, or high, enough for your tastes?
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