Sunday Analysis #1

Timestamps:

0:00 Intro

0:46 Halo: Master Chief Collection to Steam

4:27 Epic Games Store

7:28 Valve on off-topic review bombs

9:03 Misc./outro

Transcript:

How’s it going everybody, Adrian Simple here from The Gaming Observer, and we’re going to be trying something a little bit different today. Instead of the SVS, I think I’d just like to recap some of the news from the past week, go a little more in-depth on some of them, and probably even give some you of my personal opinion, which I try to avoid in the daily updates. I have provided timestamps for everything I will talk about today on the screen, and I hope you enjoy this trial of a new format. Let’s get into it shall we?

Halo: Master Chief Collection to Steam

So definitely the biggest news of this past week is the Halo: Master Chief Collection coming to Steam. You know, when we’re looking back at the Microsoft expansion 10 years from now, I feel like this is going to be the moment that everyone points to. Their most famous franchise being ported to an open platform, ridding themselves of exclusivity, that’s certainly a milestone to pay attention to. This PC port is getting help from a couple of studios, which isn’t out of character for them. Ruffian Studios just finished up helping with the multiplayer of Crackdown 3, and the last game they fully released was Fragmental in December of 2017. That being said, Ruffian did help with the original release of the Master Chief Collection, so they must’ve established a good relationship there. A company called Splash Damage is also helping out – they’re the ones who made Brink, but ever since haven’t done much in the way of their own games. They did the multiplayer for Batman: Arkham Origins and Gears of War 4, so they’ve got some experience doing PC multiplayer, so again its not too surprising to see them working on this considering the former connection on Gears.

I think that really the most interesting piece of news here is that the game is coming to Steam. T hey could have very easily just put this on the Microsoft Store and earn enough money to make it valuable. I mean the amount of people that are going to buy this is astronomical, why not make it exclusive to your store to get more attention to it? Heck, it could even drive Game Pass sales, because the MCC is on there, and people would see the other games that could be available to them for just $10/month. They don’t need Steam for visibility, they don’t need it for their features, and they’re taking a 30%ish revenue cut to put it there. At this point, the only thing I can really think of is that they are trying to be consumer-friendly, but the cynic in me feels like that’s not reflective of a major corporation, who is typically money-first.

And speaking of money let’s look at how they’re doing the pricing here. On PC, they’re offering the games individually as DLC packs. What this tells me is that the MCC is going to be the hub for all the Halo games, especially now that they’re adding Reach. I suppose it is possible that it’ll simply be the hub for Bungie Halo games, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they’re hoping to make Halo a platform of its own, packaging it all into one unit and adding to it as time goes on. So anyway, back to the DLC packs, I’m almost certain that they’re going to offer a full package price for all the games, instead of having to buy them individually. At the same time, it makes the Game Pass all the more attractive. Even I am looking at it for the opportunity to play the individual games at a cheaper price, the game pass would convincing. So then, for the people who have already bought the MCC on Xbox, the Reach campaign is going to be a free update, but multiplayer and firefight is going to be paid DLC. I think this is totally fine, it makes the people who just wanted to campaign happy, and people who are really going to invest time in the multiplayer will be willing to pay for it, or, again, go to the Game Pass. The truth is Microsoft has got to pay good money to rebuild the multiplayer on these games, we talked about using external developers before, so it makes sense they want to recoup the cost on those specific fronts.

I think the only other thing we have to touch on here is the absolutely atrocious release of the game initially, 5 years ago. I mean, it was pretty much unplayable for a lot of people. Now, they’ve steadily been working on it ever since, it’s been pretty clear that this is a long-term project for them, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if we see issues again for a PC launch. Don’t get me wrong they’ve got a much more solid base for it than they used to, but it’s always a problem we run into with big PC releases.

So anyway, that’s everything we know about Halo on PC right now. I’m really excited for this, I actually wanted to return to Halo at some point but I haven’t used my Xbox for gaming in a very long time. Now, I’ve got so many games in my backlog right now, am I realistically going to play Halo any time soon? No. But it’s nice to have the option there, especially if I’m going to play co-op with someone.

Epic Games Store

I would say that the other sort of big story to come out of the last week is just everything going on with the Epic Games Store. I mean, I know I talk about it a lot, and it’s probably going to be something new every week, but what can I say there’s some pretty important things happening here.

There’s been this huge debacle on Reddit all about data gathering and the kind of information that Epic has access to and what they are doing with it. It’s been pretty ridiculous, people are going into the source code and finding randoms bits of information that seem suspicious, and are then freaking out about it. This has prompted both Epic and Steam to respond to the allegations, and while it certainly seems like there are areas for Epic to improve, the witch hunt has been so unwarranted. I gotta say that I really wish I was programmer of some kind so that I could actually disprove it myself, but there were at least some professionals on there that were shooting it down. I’m really interested watching this, because for years people have been talking about wanting a competitor for Steam, and now that there is one, they’re being picked apart. I mean, those two groups are probably different people, but the loudest opinions have certainly changed since Epic came around.

The unfortunate target this week was Julian Gollop, whose just trying to release a game, and probably a really good one at that. He’s the original designer of XCOM, and he’s releasing Phoenix Point in September which is in the same genre. Everyone is going ballistic on him, because they promised a Steam and GoG key to the people who funded the game on Fig, which is a kickstarter for indie devs. Well, then they struck a deal with Epic to become exclusive, and Steam won’t let them give away keys for their game without also making it available for sale on the platform. So they’re offering Epic keys to their backers, with the option of a refund if they don’t want that. As far as I’m concerned, this is all the developer needs to do. It sucks if you are the consumer and don’t want to install Epic, sure, but the fact is you won’t have lost money if you ask for a refund, and all that you’re giving away is the opportunity to play a game. Not the end of the world, in my opinion. So anyway, I feel pretty bad for Gollop, he has a solid track record with XCOM and Chaos Reborn. And while he probably isn’t taking a major financial hit, and most people will not care that Epic is the new platform, getting insults from internet strangers is never easy.

That being said, Epic also released a Trello roadmap the other day. It’s pretty interesting, actually, to see where they are at with their plans. They have immediate plans for their store page front end, and cloud saves, which I think is honestly the biggest missing feature at this point, besides maybe some currency things. Something I found interesting is that in their long term, which is over 6 months from now, they’ve put the shopping cart feature. I guess that between now and 6 months from now, they don’t expect people to be buying multiple games at once, which is pretty indicative of how they see it growing. All it really is right now is a collection of curated games that you scroll through and choose what you will find interesting. It’s almost like a museum, where you’ve got these big visuals of the most important things. It’s definitely dichotomy to Steam in that sense. So adding the shopping cart 6 months from now means that they probably don’t expect to have so many games that people are going to want to purchase multiple at once. This might even be true for things like bundles and mass sales.

Valve Review Bombing

Okay let’s move on here. The next thing I’d like to take a look a little more in-depth at is Valve removing off-topic review bombs from the overall review score of the game. So essentially what they’re doing is if a game gets bombed with reviews because something outside of the game has happened, it’s not going to change the score from positive to negative. They’ll just let the reviews exist, but the integrity of the game itself is maintained by the already established reviews. They explain the process pretty in-depth on their blog post, saying that when their tools detect that a review bomb may have occurred, they’ll have someone manually look at it and determine whether or not taking action is warranted. Then every review within a certain timeframe will be excluded, and will be made clear to the viewer. They’re letting people opt out of this as well.

I think this is a really astute action to make. Truthfully, the amount of people that actually care about whether or not Metro Exodus is on Epic is really minimal. So it certainly shouldn’t be affecting something like Metro 2033, because you don’t want to lose a sale from the average player that sees a negative review score.

The first thing that they address in the Q&A portion of their blog post is that DRM and EULA changes will be considered off-topic. Again, with their reasoning being that the general Steam player doesn’t really care about that sort of thing, and the people who do are probably going to be digging deeper into the games before purchasing anyway. The other downside they addressed is that if you post a legitimate review within the timeline of a disqualified review bomb, it won’t be counted to the overall score. I don’t see this as a major problem, and if anything its just a sacrifice that can be made for the greater good. So overall, quite happy with the decision, because even though people could probably see through it, it helps the average customer who doesn’t necessarily pay attention to those things.

Outro
That’s pretty much it for the major things, there’s a lot of other fun stuff that happened this past week but I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it. I think covering absolutely everything will be reserved for when I have a co-host I can bounce off of, I’m sure you can only stand my voice for so long. The eventual goal would be like 30-60 minutes of analysis, and when that happens I’m going to call the show Gaming Observer Radio, so for now I think I’ll call this segment Sunday Analysis or something. That being said, I really liked this version of the show and I think I might try it again next week if I get the chance. These past few months have been pretty consistent and I haven’t tried to innovate in any way, so if you like the format of today’s show it’d be nice if you could let me know if you want to hear it again, or if I should go back to more of a variety show. I would like to incorporate elements of something like this regardless of what happens, because I feel like one of the pitfalls I get into is that I report on the news and then forget about it. So being able to go back and analyze will maybe help my memory for the future, which as it stands is already pretty bad unfortunately. All that being said, I’ve been feeling like the updates have been stronger than they’ve ever been this past month or so. I’m really working hard to make them be as well formatted as I can, and I’m excited to see how that progresses. So anyway, hopefully the more I try stuff the better I will get so that when I’m eventually doing this full time I’ll be able to back up the things I preach. Other than that, my social media game will be improving soon, I’ve got new graphics coming before the end of the month, and ideally I’ll be motivated to plan out my posts from there.

If you enjoyed what you heard today and would like to help me make this my full time job, there’s a couple of things you could do. For one, tell a friend or online communities about me. Word of mouth is always the most important factor in growth of a brand. Second, you can follow me on the various social medias, whether that’s subscribing here on YouTube, or @gaming_observer on Twitter, or visiting the website thegamingobserver.com. And finally, if you’d like to make a financial contribution, you can head over to Patreon.com/TheGamingObserver. Of course I am not expecting anything from you, but I will happily provide you with extra benefits for a 1, 3, 10, or $25 contribution. And seriously, nobody has yet contributed at the $1 tier, which I’m quite surprised about, but I will always have that option there so don’t feel like you have to rush into it. Either way, I want to thank you very much for tuning in, this journey has sincerely meant so much to me. And until next time….happy gaming everyone.

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