Gaming Roundup – The State of That State of Play

This week, PlayStation news, poor management decisions and the latest releases!

State of Play

Sony are often accused of copying Nintendo’s ideas, and to add fuel to that fire, after last week’s Nintendo Direct, Sony have decided to do their own Direct, with blackjack and hookers. Well, not really.

And…it was mostly nothing. Just a bunch of third-party games from last year’s PS5 reveal (and one of the worst from last week’s Direct), some of which now have release dates, but most of which were just there to remind us they still exist, I guess. Final Fantasy VII Remake is getting a PS5 upgrade, and it comes with an exclusive episode starring Materia-thieving ninja Yuffie, which sucks if you played the game on PS4 (like everyone did). That was literally the only new bit of info in the whole presentation. Good job, Sony.

Actual PlayStation news this week came from an interview with Jim Ryan that was doing the rounds, containing some news of its own. The first of these bits of info was confirmation that Gran Turismo 7 would not be released in 2021, citing Covid-19 difficulties as the main reason.

Now, that may be, but this delay is something anyone who’s ever paid attention to the Gran Turismo development and release schedule could see coming. For a series whose fifth entry took five years between announcement and release, I’d be surprised if we see this earlier than 2025. Yamaguchi’s gotta get every car in existence in there, and who knows how many new models release in the next couple of years?

Meanwhile, more first-party PlayStation titles are definitely coming to PC, with Days Gone confirmed to be next, with Jim Ryan promising even more as the year goes on. Hopefully the cries for Bloodborne on PC will finally be heard now.

Naturally, the news has upset some hardcore fanboys, but unlike Microsoft’s strategy of simultaneous releases (which still benefits them because they’re hardly complaining about you running Windows 10 instead of buying an Xbox), Sony seems more interested in revitalising older titles with a new audience after its console launch. Which seems fair. And after Horizon Zero Dawn did well last summer, it’s also not that surprising.

Also, PS5 is getting its own upgraded version of PSVR, which is not particularly surprising either, but as someone who gets severe issues using VR, this news doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

The Week of Poor Management

So let’s start with my favourite punching bag – Google Stadia. As we know, Google have unceremoniously shut down every single first-party studio they set up or acquired and, it now turns out, the staff didn’t find out until it was in the press.

One of these studios, Typhoon Studios, was one of the few studios who had a game on the platform, largely because it was developed for other systems and published by 505 Games before they were acquired by Google. Journey to the Savage Planet is also the game that conveniently broke shortly after the staff were let go, and now a bug has rendered the game unplayable. And with all the staff let go, it’s a bit difficult to fix it now.

This has prompted people online to wonder if the crash was deliberate on behalf of the developers, but there is no confirmation of this either way.

I also feel sorry for PixelJunk developers Q-Games, who announced their latest game mere days after this news…as a Stadia exclusive. Obviously, this would have been the result of months of negotiation and discussion so they would have had no idea what was going to happen this week, but it’s still unfortunate timing for them.

Speaking of games losing staff, Anthem has been officially taken off life support. While the game is still technically being kept alive, the proposed major update, Anthem Next, will not be coming. Anthem Next promised to give the game a No Man’s Sky style boost, turning it from a game with barely any content to the proper exploration and shooty game it was always supposed to be.

But no more! But the good news is the team have been reassigned to the teams working on the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect titles, which are what Bioware probably should have been making instead of Anthem to begin with. And, even better, a recent report has confirmed that all plans to make these games service games too have been scrapped, and they will be single player RPGs after all. All because Anthem failed and Jedi Fallen Order was a huge success. Who knew?

Another game that’s struggling with development is Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines 2, which has been delayed yet again, from a 2021 release to a good ol’ TBA. The game is also switching to a new development team, which suggests a full reset and therefore a few more years of delays most likely. Considering the game has already suffered the loss of several original creators and some respected (and not-so respected) writers, something is not going well with development of this game.

Another report this week states that another game with perpetual delays – Dying Light 2 – is encountering some severe management issues that are causing the game to take so long. Aside from reports of sexism and homophobia, management is reportedly prone to changing their mind, and HR is run by the CEO’s wife, making it hard to address working issues. It’s a damning report, and you can read the full thing here: https://www.thegamer.com/techland-report-bleeding-talent-autocratic-management-bad-feedback/

It suggests a lot of reform needs to happen within the game industry to have all this emerge in a single week, and all of it the result of poor management.

Victorious Valheim

A few weeks ago, I included Viking survival game Valheim in the release section along with a bunch of other indie titles, as an example of one of the many small releases that week.

Turns out I’d massively underestimated that game, as the following weeks have proven it to be anything but a small release. According to Steam charts, the game has hit a high of 500,000 concurrent players, and sold 4m copies in just three weeks.

What makes this so phenomenal is that Valheim is an Early Access release made by a five-person team with limited resources, and is now one of the most played titles on Steam. That’s impressive work, that only recently has been rivalled by the likes of Among Us, a game from a three-person team that exploded last year.

After hearing all the news of poor management in the big companies, it’s genuinely pleasing to see an indie passion project such as this take off in such a major way.

Normally, this is where I would hand over to Mat for the esports, but he has informed that there is no news this week. Hopefully we’ll see him again next week! So, onto the releases!

New Releases

Couple of re-releases this week. First up, Old School Runescape, the original build of the classic MMO that’s been doing the rounds since 2013, has now gotten a Steam release. It’s been on PC all this time, but now you don’t have to go to Jagex’s website to download it. Also porting this week is Hellpoint for Switch, the sci-fi soulslike that got mixed reviews last year for other systems

In small releases (I hesitate to say this week!), Room to Grow (PC) is a puzzle game about moving cacti around. Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos (PC, Switch) is a co-op roguelite dungeon crawler. And Fights in Tight Spaces (PC Early Access) is a card battler crossed with John Wick Hex, where the turn-based battles turn into stylish movie battles…in tight spaces.

Ghosts n Goblins Resurrection (Switch) is a remake of Capcom’s arcade classic about a knight who battles the undead and whose armour is flimsy enough to fall off if he so much as touches an enemy. I’m not too sure about the remake’s visual style, which feels a bit too proto-Flash game for my liking, but reviews are saying it’s a faithful remake otherwise.

Bravely Default II (Switch) is one of the week’s big stars, the third Bravely Default game after Bravely Second back on the 3DS. Continuing Square Enix’s throwback RPG series, the one that feels more Final Fantasy than Final Fantasy at this point, Bravely Default II puts you in the shoes of four new heroes as they seek out the holders of the…Asterisks? Sure okay. It’s an old school JRPG, basically, and based on reviews, an excellent one at that.

This week’s Game of the Week is Persona 5 Strikers for PS4, Switch and PC, and is a sequel to the excellent Persona 5. And to shake things up a bit, it’s been developed by Koei Tecmo’s Warriors team, meaning this is, yes, a big old hack-n-slash, doing for Persona what Age of Calamity did for Breath of the Wild last year.

But it is, in all essence, Persona 5-2 in its story and presentation, which breaks up its hack-n-slash gameplay with a handful of the the usual life-in-Japan-simulator elements that the Persona series is known for.

It looks stylish and fun, just like the game it’s following on from, and should be a good time for Persona fans. Which includes me. Hence it being Game of the Week.

And that’s it for this week! See you next week with more!

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