UK publication MCV has written an interesting article exploring the current obsession with Metacritic and why it’s bad for the industry as a whole. The publication has spoken to a number of European video game developers who have once again reiterated that a good Metacritic score means that they can receive pay bonuses and shares for the company rise. Some believe that the scoring system is detrimental to developers and is harming innovation Here’s what some of the developers who spoke to the publication had to say.
“The problem is how parts of the games industry and audience treat Metacritic. The idea that a game isn’t worth buying, or that its developers have failed and don’t deserve bonuses if it scores under 80 or even 85 on Metacritic, is going to result in samey, bland games that are made according to what works in Metacritic’s system. It’s harming innovation in mainstream gaming.”
“I understand the desire to simplify complex matters into easy to understand patterns. But ultimately I believe review scores are a bane to the games industry.”
– Bossa Studios co-founder Imre Jele
“There are so many factors that go into reviews it doesn’t make sense. Some people use the score as a quick shorthand, but there is so much missing.”
“What matters most to us is the response of players and how social media spreads the word about good, playable games,”
– Rebellion founder Jason Kingsley
Nintendo’s former head of indies Dan Adelman believes that third party developers skip Nintendo platforms as they don’t think they can compete against the first party titles that are available. You’d think it was more likely due to the fact that Nintendo implements gimmicks in their platforms that large third developers aren’t interested in taking advantage of. Lack of sales on Nintendo platforms doesn’t seem to help either. Here’s what Adelman believes.
“It really comes down to the business case for these publishers. Nintendo consumers buy Nintendo systems primarily for the first party content. There’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy in that publishers feel that they can’t compete with Nintendo first party, so they choose not to invest in making high quality products for the platform. There are some notable exceptions to this over the years like Rayman Legends but many times third party publishers set low sales projections for their games, and then decide a development budget based on that. I can’t say outright that they’re wrong either.”
“There have been cases where companies decided to pull out the stops and make a great game for Nintendo platforms only to find that consumers weren’t interested. And it could be because consumers have been burnt by third party games on Nintendo platforms before.”
“For Nintendo to break this cycle, I think they need to invest and absorb some of the risk for third parties who try to embrace the features of Nintendo platforms and help communicate to consumers which games are on par with Nintendo first party games in terms of quality. Sony and Microsoft spend a lot of money securing exclusives – or at least exclusive features – on the top games and since Nintendo doesn’t really do that, third parties focus on the other systems. I’m not sure about Sony, but I know Microsoft also has a team of technical people that will go work with a studio for a few weeks or even months to help them make their games as good as they can be on those platforms.”
Polygon writer Steve Bowler has written an interesting article that suggests that an acquisition of Nintendo by Disney could help turn the company’s fortunes around. It should be taken into account that this is an opinion piece by Polygon, but it does raise some interesting questions. Although it’s unlikely to ever happen it makes for a good read. Be sure to check out the article, here.
“Nintendo would be Disney’s second priciest intellectual property grab to date. A fairly straightforward way to ballpark a company’s worth is to multiply their net revenue by three to four times. This puts Nintendo somewhere in the neighborhood of a $11 to $22 billion buyout based on the numbers of fiscal 2014″
“This is the lowest it would cost to buy Nintendo in seven years, since the company is in a slump and bleeding cash. If Disney were to buy the company, this is the time. Things are looking up for Nintendo in some ways, but coming off a long stretch of losses and struggling hardware sales there’s only so much big games can do to help the company. Nintendo is at a historic weak point, making the company very attractive for acquisition at a good price.”
“It would still cost a ton of money. To put the $19 billion-ish price into an easy to digest number, buying Nintendo would cost Disney more money than they paid for Pixar, Star Wars and Marvel, combined. It’s a huge purchase, unless you’re Disney.”
“Disney’s current Net Worth is hovering around the $142 billion mark, and the profit they made from the last two fiscal years would allow them to buy Nintendo with cash, if it came to that. And it wouldn’t.”
“The last time Disney made an acquisition this size was when they paid $19 billion for ABC in 1996. With inflation, that purchase would have cost about $29 billion today. Disney is no stranger to huge, ambitious acquisitions.”
“Disney — using the same game plan they used for Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars — could recoup that cost within five years. The secret is that Disney wouldn’t be investing in the video game business, they would be furthering their already near monopoly on characters.”
Far Cry 4’s creative director Alex Hutchinson believes that traditionally linear story based titles that we are all used to will eventually lose appeal with consumers. Hutchinson thinks that big open world games are the way forward giving consumers a choice about how they go about approaching the world presented to them.
“I’m really interested in emergent games and where that’s going with video sharing and Twitch. I think linear story games are really going to suffer in the modern marketplace.
“They’re already super high-quality, and we’re already seeing their audiences migrate to the big open world games. If I open my friends list and see everybody on the same mission, doing the same thing… I think that’s nowhere near as strong a sales pitch as opening your friends list and seeing 40 people doing completely different things.”
Yacht Club Games, the revered developer behind the acclaimed Shovel Knight, has revealed in a recent interview that the Wii U has a very high game attach rate. The developer conceded that despite the small install base on the console, the system has a very high game attach rate, so it might surpass the sales you’d see on another system.
“Figure out what makes sense for your game. Maybe you think the Wii U install base is small, but in actuality, it has a very high game attach rate, so it might surpass the sales you’d see on another system. Getting the game running on the 3DS might be quite a challenge, but compared to the iOS market, it may be a lot easier to make your game stand out from the competition. It could be possible your game fits more with what a Nintendo fan would buy. Development for any system is expensive and difficult, so do the research to make sure the platform you choose really makes sense for your game!”
Thanks, Kallum S
US gaming publication GameSpot recently went hands on with the upcoming Hyrule Warriors for Wii U. However, according to writer Tom Mc Shea, the fusion between Dynasty Warriors and The Legend of Zelda doesn’t quite comes together. Mc Shea concludes by saying that those who are eager for a new Zelda and think Hyrule Warriors will fill that role will ultimately come away disappointed.
“As someone who adores The Legend of Zelda, there just isn’t much here for me to latch on to. Yes, I’m as weak as anyone to the aesthetic charms of the franchise, but that’s the only part of Zelda that has made the transition. The rest is pure Dynasty Warriors. I thought the game was fun enough, and was impressed by how I could kill so many enemies with so little effort. But I need more than window dressing to make me care about a game. For those who are in my position, eager for a new Zelda and hopeful Hyrule Warriors will fill that role, keep your expectations very low. None of the inherent appeal of Zelda is present here, so you need to care an awful lot about the characters and music to remain interested. If you already enjoy the Warriors series, Hyrule Warriors won’t spoil what draws you to it. At least from what I’ve seen, It sadly doesn’t reach an interesting balance that could have expanded the audience to include those who love The Legend of Zelda, too.”
Online gaming publication VGS tried out Sonic Boom at this year’s E3 event and didn’t entirely come away enamoured. In fact, the writer claims that Sonic Boom is the worse Sonic game that he has ever played and he has played Sonic 06 and Shadow the Hedgehog. One of the writers biggest gripes with Sonic Boom is the game’s pacing which he claims is slow. Like, Werehog stages slow. You can read his opinions about the latest Sonic title for Wii U and 3DS, below.
“Let me be clear by saying that I’ve played nearly every single Sonic game. Yes, even the bad ones. As a Sonic fan from the early 90’s it’s hard to pass up any of his games. And even though people claim his 3D adventures sucked I actually enjoyed many of them especially SA, SA2, and Generations. Up until now though it’s been well known that Sonic 06 and Shadow the Hedgehog are the worst things to ever happen to the Sonic universe (Spinball for me). Well, after my time spent with the Sonic Boom E3 demo, I walked away frightened and shaken feeling that this could very well be the worst Sonic game made to date.”
“My E3 demo allowed me to explore a few of the game’s different themed levels. There was platforming, running, and a boss battle—each showing the unique aspects of Sonic Boom. The first platforming stage paired me up with Knuckles and it was sort of a brawler type stage. Straight from the get-go I felt something was incredibly off. The timing and precision when attacking enemies felt very clunky and some of my attacks barely registered. This also applied to many of the segments that involved jumping. Then came the lasso. Oh, god. Every time your character needs to pull something they would use this energy lasso, which in concept sounds interesting but ends up feeling dull in practice. It’s basically a web shot mechanic we see in Spiderman games except it’s highly broken and requires a lot of effort to get something simple accomplished. For example, when trying to move the box I had trouble trying to get the lasso to register properly and even when it did it required me to keep pressing down on the A button and move in a certain direction. The one before me (who was playing Sonic Boom at the Nintendo booth) gave up entirely because the lasso didn’t work half the time. I only did it because I wanted to see what was at the end of the demo. Turns out it was a mini-boss which can only be defeated using the lasso by throwing enemies at it. The only problem with was the throwing distance felt off. At times the enemies I threw landed close to where they were supposed to causing more frustration.”
“This leads to my next biggest problem with my Sonic Boom impression, the pacing. This game is slow. Like, Werehog stages slow, maybe even slower considering the lasso takes forever to get something done. I understand that this is an adventure take on the Sonic universe and I honestly don’t mind that at all. But between the long fights, and moving objects around, it just felt kinda boring. There were diversions that broke up the action. For instance I used the Wii U’s gamepad screen to scan the level for items and then dig them out using Knuckles.”
“Sonic Boom needs a lot of work. When I completed my demo I asked one of the reps at BigRedDot if these levels were final and to my horror he acknowledged it with a firm yes. I’m worried what will become of Sonic Boom and if it does turn out to be the next Sonic 06, then that’s a shame because there were some elements I enjoyed. I liked how the characters finally have personality, I enjoyed swapping characters on the fly, and the adventure elements really brought back the Sonic Adventure feel (which is something I haven’t felt in a long time). I want Sonic Boom to succeed but judging by my E3 impressions I fear it will be destined to fail.”