The Monday letters page has no explanation for why Marvel games keep flopping, as another reader is curious about Bramble: The Mountain King.
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Interesting to know that the first commercial video game was in 1971, that means video games as a business, instead of just experiments in universities (I’m assuming?) are now 52 years old. We’ve obviously missed the big anniversary, but that’s pretty wild that they’ve been around for so long now, with generations of people growing up with them now.
That doesn’t seem to have done much good, although if you look at how things were 20 years or more ago there definitely is an improvement in the public perception. That goes for the games as well. There’s a lot of rose-tinted glasses from some people, but I think the general quality of games has improved immensely over the last 52 years.
I see people talking up the 90s in particular but I think the percentage of actual great games from that period, versus ones you just get nostalgic over because you had them as a kid, is pretty small.
Sure, there’s not much originality nowadays, and publishers are very risk adverse, but that was always true. Looking back, we only remember the good stuff, but I think there was much less of it than we like to imagine.
So Hogwarts Legacy has been a massive success and Star Wars games always seem to do at least decently but with Marvel… Spider-Man does amazing and everything else is a legit flop? That is not what I would’ve expected. If it was DC and only Batman was selling then, yes, that would not surprise me. Although we can’t tell whether that’s true or not because there hasn’t been a new DC game in years.
So why are Marvel games not doing well? It’s not because of the so-called superhero fatigue in cinemas because that only really started this year, and these games came out long before that. It’s not quality either because Guardians Of The Galaxy and Midnight Suns were really good, and while Avengers wasn’t great it wasn’t awful either.
If you’re waiting for my personal opinion, I really don’t have one. I’m genuinely baffled by the situation. The only thing I can think of is that licensed games have such a bad reputation that people are staying away no matter what the reception is. Except, that doesn’t explain Spider-Man. Sure he’s the most popular character but not to the point where everything else is a flop (plus, he was in Avengers and Midnight Suns, anyway). It’s a strange one.
Who dares wins
I wrote in a while ago to say I had pre-ordered Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom using a Nintendo Switch Online 2 for 1 voucher. For the other game I thought I’d give Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp a go, based on your review and for the sake of trying something new – having never played any strategy type games.
Well, I’m really enjoying it. It’s pretty tough but I’m starting to get the hang of it. It turns out I like the pace of this type of game (nearly 50 and the reflexes aren’t there anymore). I was thinking that I might try more games in the genre and Marvel’s Midnight Suns was one I liked the sound of. I only have a Switch so was disappointed to hear it had been canned.
Ironically, I think they have probably canned the wrong format. I think Switch players would probably have been more likely to give it a go to be honest. Especially those of us who don’t have Xboxes or PlayStations.
GC: We’re glad you enjoyed it. If it helps, we have grave doubts as to how well Midnight Suns would’ve run on Switch.
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Phil Spencer’s comments about Starfield being a 11/10 isn’t going to have gamers selling their PlayStation 5s; I kind of get where he is coming from. The suggestion great games wouldn’t shift the needle is silly, however.
Perhaps GC is correct, he is still playing up to regulators. But take a game like God Of War 2018, it has lifetime sales of 23 million. Sounds great, right? PlayStation 4 sold 117 million consoles. It’s very different on Nintendo consoles where the customer base is there for Nintendo’s IP alone. The new Zelda is going to sell gangbusters and will be a much higher proportion of its install base. Those are the facts.
On PlayStation and Xbox, the consistent big hitters are your FIFAs and Call Of Duty. But that should never dissuade platform holders from competing with those sales. I do think Phil Spencer is focusing upon the analytics too much, and acknowledging the casual market is a larger install base, isn’t what gamers want to hear.
GC: A 19% attach rate for God Of War is excellent. The record is Mario Kart 8 at 50%. It’s clear that much of the prestige for the PlayStation 4 and 5 comes from their critically acclaimed first party games. The individual sales of those titles is not the issue (and not something Spencer commented on), it’s whether they influence hardware buying decisions.
Your big game is in another castle
Was feeling hostile to Xbox since the whole Activision Blizzard takeover kicked off. It was just ludicrous and bad for competition, etc. Even though I have an Xbox Series X and would greatly enjoy all the Call Of Duties for free with my Game Pass subscription.
Now I feel a bit sorry for Xbox after this week. It’s been about three years since it came out. And while they earned kudos from me buying up unprofitable (seeming) indie darlings like DoubleFine, etc. into their security, even I ask ‘where’re the big games?’ a bit.
There’s a lot of solid games on Game Pass every month. But I desire a new Fable, Avowed – just like stuff that made the Xbox 360 one of my favourite consoles at the time.
I’m better off than most in that I’m a full-time dad of a nine month old and only really play my comfort game Skyrim for 15 minutes or so when my daughter sleeps on me; but I would be more annoyed if I wasn’t a dad and had more gaming time, for sure.
They made good acquisitions over the last few years but nothing ever seems ready to launch, and even heavily delayed games like Redfall came in hot. I do hope all those new Unreal Engine tools, like Nanite, etc. help developers eventually, as game development just seems crazy now. Every big game feels like it takes a decade and half a billion to make! I hope it sorts itself out before the next console comes out.
Big job on
I would just like to add my voice to the reader who wrote in about Bramble: The Mountain King. It certainly is the type of game I would like to play and I would very much appreciate your input on this game.
It is £24.99 on Xbox right now but I have been stung before with a couple of games, after paying for them, they have arrived on Game Pass. So £24.99 is steep for a game that might land on Game Pass in the future.
I know this is always the case in those situations, and you take your chances, but this does look like the sort of game I would like but the sort of game that ends up on Game Pass.
I know you are busy reviewing you-know-what, and if it’s as good as it looks I can’t blame you for wanting to double test how good it actually is, just to make sure.
I really would appreciate your input on the aforementioned game though, as your opinion means a lot when I’m considering buying a game at that price.
Anyway, enjoy playing you-know-what, I’m sure you are and hopefully I can look forward to a review from you great guys of Bramble: The Mountain King.
GC: The problem is how incredibly big you-know-what is. We’ll see, but any review takes a long time to do properly and we’ve got to be certain that enough people are interested in reading about it.
The irony of Lego 2K Drive having a better battle pass system is not just the fact that it’s a kids’ game you wouldn’t expect to have one in the first place but that this is 2K we’re talking about, whose NBA games are the absolute worst for microtransactions.
The lesson I take away from this is that very few publishers are rotten to the core and even the ‘good’ ones like Nintendo can do a lot of annoying stuff. EA, I’d say, can be surprisingly decent sometimes, in terms of making an effort with interesting game, but other times it seems like it’s a competition to get as many anti-consumer features as possible into the one game. People and companies are complicated.
I’ve been thinking – a dangerous pastime, I know – and it’s about a type of game I am not really interested in: the annual release. So, sports titles (which includes wrestling) and Call Of Duty, oddly. Now, sometimes, a wrestling game might look interesting to me, but then I realise that it would probably involve giving Vince McMahon my money.
But I digress. My thought was why is there still annual physical releases for these sorts of things in the digital age? To which I then answered: money. It must just make a ton more money. But again, wait – is that the profitable route? Especially for sports titles, but even with more sizable content like a campaign or new modes, it’s just a matter of some DLC, isn’t it?
Why rebuild the house every single year? Okay, I’m sure some assets must be reused, they would just run out of time otherwise, but it’s still more sensible to build upon the foundations already laid… no? That would mean more time to make it and no manufacturing costs.
Now, even though the High Street retail chains have become much weaker nowadays, I understand that you can’t shut them out completely. In which case you could have special promotions or expensive tat editions while still either significantly reducing or even eliminating production costs.
Obviously, it’s about money somehow. Maybe they have manufacturing partners that they can’t cut out of the deal? Then again, it feels strange that EA and Activision would be beholden to them.
Is there some blindingly simple factor I haven’t accounted for or are video games publishers guilty of old-fashioned thinking here?
GC: It’s because they’re the most mass market and casual friendly titles on the market, and so more likely to be bought physically than other titles. Suggesting FIFA is rebuilt new each year is a very generous assumption. However, Call Of Duty games typically get three years in development, not one (although the last couple of years have not been typical).
I would be totally okay with a modern day spiritual sequel to Star Wars: Empire At War. That and a turn-based game as well? Star Wars strategy games are going to be eating well, it seems. A surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one.
Stumbled across a genius little physics puzzle game last night called Q Remastered. It’s on Switch and was released on Steam a few days ago. Both versions are currently on sale: Switch £3.14 and Steam £5.24.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Kyrt, who asks what’s your favourite video game music track?
Rather than an entire soundtrack what individual piece of music is your favourite from a video game? How much is your enjoyment due to the music’s inherent quality and how much because of how it’s used in the game? Did you enjoy it from the first moment or did it take a while to grow on you?
If you don’t know its name, or it’s not just the theme tune, try to describe where it comes in the game. If you do know the name, does that mean you’ve bought the soundtrack or listened to it outside of the game?
E-mail your comments to: [email protected]
The small print
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