My apologies for not being more in-depth this week. I fired my disability P.A. on Friday and I didn’t really think through the massive implications of doing that, so whilst I try and get that sorted and keep looking for a new place to live (either it’s not that easy or my standards are too high), I thought I’d tackle three things that have raised my curiosity this weekend. I couldn’t really think of enough to make long blog posts on any of them, but they should make for a decently-sized post together. – Kami
CLOUD GAMING ON THE NINTENDO SWITCH.
Resident Evil 7 is being released on the Switch in Japan; the catch is that it is a cloud-based streaming service.
On the one hand, like most – I do think that Capcom could have invested in a proper port here. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus looks great on the Switch and that’s a slightly more ambitious game. Capcom is known for making some rather bizarre decisions – and sometimes they just don’t make any logical sense at all – but I don’t think this is quite as weird or crazy as people think it is. In fact, I think that with time and some tech investment, Cloud Gaming could be a valid future for the industry. Japan has a pretty strong wifi network, so this probably does make more sense over in Japan, but it’s not really a viable choice for the UK, or Europe, or America with wide open countryside with spotty signalling. At least, it’s not viable yet.
It’s inexpensive: 2000 Yen (about £13) for six months of “rental”, which isn’t a bad idea for a game you can see everything of in a week or so. It’s good looking, because of course it is – it’s running on a cloud network, so the hardware limitations of the Switch aren’t as relevant. And hey, at least it’s coming to the Switch. It’s support.
But whilst many will shrug that this isn’t a strong show of faith for Nintendo… I’d disagree. Like Dark Souls Remastered leading with the Switch reveal, Capcom could have driven this Cloud System on PC, or consoles, or mobile. It wouldn’t have been a weird thing to see happening on any of these aforementioned devices; but no, Capcom is leading into its cloud-based streaming option on the Nintendo Switch. That’s a pretty big statement of faith; Capcom thinks this could be a workaround for more demanding or sizeable games on the Switch (it could take years before the card-based media becomes cheap enough to developers and publishers that it doesn’t matter anymore). It’s willing to put some investment into this, and right now it seems very much limited to the Switch.
Which could in future mean more apps; more streaming, more companies, and competition between them will keep prices low. Am I disappointed they didn’t go for a full-on port job? Of course I am (though I still maintain Resident Evil 0, 1, 2 Remake, 4, 5 and 6 will end up on the Switch). I’d have loved to see how that worked out with so many great scaled-down games on the system already. Resident Evil 7 would have been one of the more fascinating, even if I can’t really stand the game…
But it’s not Capcom fobbing Nintendo off. This is a pretty brassy and ballsy show of support. Capcom is trialling something that I wouldn’t have thought would be available on the Nintendo Switch for a few years – and yeah, it may not work. Of course it could go wrong. But they’re doing it now – just over a year after the release of the console, when it took Sony years to manifest PS Now! on the PlayStation 4. That’s ambitious, and you wouldn’t do that if you weren’t somewhat sure there was an audience for it.
It’s not ideal and it’s not wholly what Western fans want to see… but don’t dismiss it entirely.
VALVE – ON ANIME BOOBS AND COMPROMISED RULES
Over the weekend, Valve made a move to tighten its rules up on Steam. Notably, rules over “pornographic content” – which led to Valve sending a lot of emails out to a specific subset of the Steam Marketplace, that of Anime Dating Sims like HuniePop.
It wasn’t meant to exclusively target these games; and whatever your opinion of the genre (I’m not a fan) that it did focus squarely on the genre – which has its fans – did come off as bullying, particularly as most of these smaller developers have quite open dialogue with Valve over the whole “what is acceptable” thing. Of course, Valve backtracked and apologised and said it was not enforcing a deadline or anything (even though the emails did state a deadline for compliance).
Thing is, if “nudity” is the problem on Steam… then that’s a big problem indeed because some of the platforms biggest games have plenty of gratuitous skin on display. Conan Exiles, for example is pretty damn extreme in the gratuitous nudity department. The Witcher series has never been shy to show all the naked wobbly bits. Grand Theft Auto has plenty of nakedness. As I recall, FarCry 3 had our protagonist opening up a segment staring at a HUGE pair of naked boobs… oh yeah, he was also in the middle of having sex with the proprietary owner of said boobs. Yup, it was a full-on sex scene with grabbing and thrusting and moaning and everything. Mind you, was more convincing than Ride to Hell: Retribution.
I mean, if Valve has a problem with “pornographic content”, then… well… there’s a lot of that in many big “triple-A” games from over the years, including Dark Souls. There was a very good reason why Valve’s email only really targeted the Anime games; because you’re not going to tell CD Projekt to tone down the sex and nudity in The Witcher 3. Not just because CD Projekt is a very highly regarded developer and publisher these days, far more than Valve is, but also because they own their own online storefront in GOG.com – CD Projekt are releasing on Steam because it’s a massive platform but the minute Steam becomes irreversibly hostile towards their content, you can be sure developers and publishers will go elsewhere.
The genie is well out of the bottle on this one, and okay. I’ve read that Valve is receiving “complaints”; but the genre is too big to get rid of now. All Valve has done this weekend is prove that they are no longer in a strong enough position to enforce their own rules (which for the record is what I would call “An Extremely Terribly Awfully Obviously Bad No-Good Thing”), whilst giving a good dozen or so smaller online storefronts valid exposure as they quickly moved in to offer a home to potentially displaced content.
Valve is choosing to fight on a hill of tits. I mean, it’s a hell of a way to go, but that’s a fight they’re really only going to lose on The Internet…
DAYS GONE – YUP. STILL LOOKS PRETTY GENERIC.
Days Gone was given a whole hour or so’s worth of gameplay last week, and we got to see a lot more of what the intent of this game is and it’s intent… is not to shake things up.
Look, I am not saying this because I’m suddenly burnt out on zombie games (I was there a long time ago), but rather because it’s been a consistent problem from the moment we got a glimpse of the game. It opened up in wooded, overgrown areas and ruined buildings and everyone’s first thought was – yup – The Last Of Us. Then we got the biker guy and we all went NOOOOOO Ride to Hell overtones (and that that’s the second Ride to Hell: Retribution reference in this post is not lost on me – Kami). The zombies look… like zombies. Zombie animals? Cute, even Resident Evil beat you to that in Outbreak File #2; you know, with zombie crocodiles and lions and hyenas and a zombie elephant? A bear? Oh noes, it’s a zombie bear! Be afraid everyone!
It’s never looked like it’s going to be some stand-out game, is what I’m saying.
And in a genre diversifying its horror theme – the reason The Last of Us holds up is because it did something more than just “lol zombies lol” – I don’t think this is nearly enough right now. Dead Rising 4 eschewed the wacky comic antics and it was “lol zombies lol” and it got savaged over it; zombies alone aren’t enough meat to hold the shambling corpse of a game together. You need something stronger, a backbone, something to hold it upright. Naughty Dog used the fungal apocalypse and terrifying-looking monsters to tell a tale of modernity and excess, of love and loss, of learning to heal and learning to regain something you thought had been lost forever. A deeply interconnected, personal and emotional tale of right, wrong and the myriad of grey in between.
What I watched of Days Gone, it’s basic morality decisions and Walking Dead-style trust issues, saying “mankind may be just as dangerous as the zombies”. And if you want to know how old that message is – it was the theme of Night of the Living Dead, George A. Romero’s seminal movie from 1968. It’s a fifty year old sentiment this year; it says nothing we haven’t seen beaten into the ground a million times over the years. Is there any wonder we’ve become so bored of the premise?
There’s obviously still time; this is alpha footage and there’s reportedly another year of development. But if this is the actual direction they’re going… I can’t help but think this may be coming the same year as The Last of Us: Part II.
And that, right now, is just such an unfair fight that even I’d call it tantamount to bullying…