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Videogames: All Valves on Deck


IlyaP
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Booted up Boltgun last night and played it for a little over an hour. It very definitely walks on the same path that Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal do; fast, frenetic, and ridiculously gory combat that constantly pushes you to keep fighting even if your health pool is just a little sliver as enemies drop small health pickups so you can kill AND heal. It's maybe not as good as Doom 2016/Eternal at doing that and occupies more of a mid ground between them and older Doom and Doom clone games. It's quite fun so far and the pixelated graphics look great.

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Needed something to distract from my horrible mental health doom spiral the past few days so I picked up Astrea: Six Sided Oracles, which is a name that guarantees it only ever gets referred to as Astrea. It's an interesting twist on the deckbuilding roguelike genre where you build a "deck" of different die rather than cards. I love the art style and I think the concepts they're working with are fun and interesting - you play with two major effects, purification and corruption, purification heals you and "damages" enemies (a cure them rather than kill them situation) and corruption damages you and heals your enemies as well as filling up and triggering an additional bar under the enemy. Corruption isn't necessarily bad to roll though, the player characters have abilities which become available as their health goes down and which can be triggered multiple times per turn of you bounce back and fourth last the trigger points for them, and there are die which can convert corruption to purification and various other mechanics which put a big emphasis on taking calculated risks.

I've barely scratched the surface so it remains to be seen if this has the staying power of Slay The Spire or Monster Train, but so far it's an interesting distraction. The main negative so far is that it feels to be a quite slow game to play through - there are far fewer combats, but each takes quite a while to play through - it could be just the learning curve but I do prefer my roguelike run length to not get too far above an hour.

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So many layoffs in the video game industry.

My brother at Blizzard Entertainment got a notification that his boss' boss wanted to meet with him and assumed it was to lay him off. Turned out his boss' boss just wanted to tell him in person that his boss had been laid off. 

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Many of the excuses seem to be companies going all in during the Covid boom, and making some bad bets on gaming trends. I think the problem really is that there isn't this huge untapped growth of gamers any more, so growth isn't ever going to hit those highs. So companies see declining growth and just lay people off to make the balance sheet look better.

CA will probably be ok in the long term if they concentrate on total war. 40K is probably their next game and there are rumours of a sort of Victorian historical title, which could be awesome.

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1 hour ago, Heartofice said:

Many of the excuses seem to be companies going all in during the Covid boom, and making some bad bets on gaming trends. I think the problem really is that there isn't this huge untapped growth of gamers any more, so growth isn't ever going to hit those highs. So companies see declining growth and just lay people off to make the balance sheet look better.

CA will probably be ok in the long term if they concentrate on total war. 40K is probably their next game and there are rumours of a sort of Victorian historical title, which could be awesome.

I think that might be a bit of it, but I also think that it represents a real issue with the economies. 

Namely, there are a lot of game companies that are making big bets on huge games that are not landing. Furthermore, the market for DLCs and consumables is going lower too. If you were betting on a game selling for $60 but making another 30-50 on transactions you're probably having major problems right now.

Because when people start skimping and saving more they'll cut those DLCs a lot sooner than the game purchases. 

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Chasing trends has always been a risky proposition in gaming.  How many companies went under trying to make the next "WoW Killer?"  Meanwhile... 20 years later, WoW is still over here killing it with subscriptions and has somehow added microtransactions.

Destiny had a rocky launch but managed to find its way and its sequel is going strong years later.  But then you tried to bring in Anthem and a couple other live service games and they flopped.

Fortnite launched as a zombie survival game with a bit of a niche battle royale mode... and look at it now.  :lol: 

Kal mentions selling a game for $60 and then counting on $30-50 more in DLC/microtransactions.  I do wonder if games could survive on just bringing their base price up to closer to $100 but with a full product?  My instinct says no based on the number of people I see wait for sales to hit.

Its just a brutal space right now.

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On 4/1/2024 at 10:43 PM, Rhom said:

Chasing trends has always been a risky proposition in gaming.  How many companies went under trying to make the next "WoW Killer?"  Meanwhile... 20 years later, WoW is still over here killing it with subscriptions and has somehow added microtransactions.

Destiny had a rocky launch but managed to find its way and its sequel is going strong years later.  But then you tried to bring in Anthem and a couple other live service games and they flopped.

Fortnite launched as a zombie survival game with a bit of a niche battle royale mode... and look at it now.  :lol: 

Kal mentions selling a game for $60 and then counting on $30-50 more in DLC/microtransactions.  I do wonder if games could survive on just bringing their base price up to closer to $100 but with a full product?  My instinct says no based on the number of people I see wait for sales to hit.

Its just a brutal space right now.

No. The feeling I see overwhelmingly amongst a lot of friends and younger people at work is that games are far too expensive given the current economic situation, people will only pay full price for something really special and will generally wait until games become cheaper before getting them (and, like me, bemoan the fact that Steam sales are now hideously anaemic).

I think it did not help at all here in the UK that the going rate for PC games was £29.99 all the way from 1989 to about 2013, so the sudden leap to £49.99-£59.99 feels both massive and unfair (basically doubling in under a decade), despite the argument it was needed and far behind the curve. Console game pricing was at least smoother in its rise, although it's still a lot.

Another big problem, colloquially at least, seems to be young people sticking with the same few games for years on end rather than exploring a variety of titles. My friends' kids (10 and 13) have been playing just Minecraft and Fortnite for years on end. Very occasionally they'd try something else if it was free, but they'd bounce back pretty quickly. I just about managed to convince them to play Grounded (via the co-op appeal) but they weren't interested in the likes of Subnautica, despite it being in a similar wheelhouse. And they have next to zero interest in single-player games. They did express interest in BG3 because of the co-op but my friend obviously suggested they hold fire on that ideas for a few more years.

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7 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Another big problem, colloquially at least, seems to be young people sticking with the same few games for years on end rather than exploring a variety of titles. My friends' kids (10 and 13) have been playing just Minecraft and Fortnite for years on end. Very occasionally they'd try something else if it was free, but they'd bounce back pretty quickly. I just about managed to convince them to play Grounded (via the co-op appeal) but they weren't interested in the likes of Subnautica, despite it being in a similar wheelhouse. And they have next to zero interest in single-player games. They did express interest in BG3 because of the co-op but my friend obviously suggested they hold fire on that ideas for a few more years.

Sounds about right. All my friends who're in their 20s mostly play Minecraft, Fortnite, Warframe, Dota, or Apex Legends. It's rare among them to get them to touch anything single player, with the only recent exception being Cyberpunk 2077, which they explored due to word of mouth having been very good. Only a few of them have played the games that are my personal crack - Pillars of Eternity 1/2, Baldur's Gate 1-3, Pentiment, Solasta, CP77, etc. 

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38 minutes ago, Ser Rodrigo Belmonte II said:

Soo… live service games have won and are the future of gaming ?  :/ 

Not according to Larian, Tactical Adventures, Owlcat Games, inXile, CDPR or Obsidian. :P

It's also an age/changing tastes thing, you know? From the ages of 14-21, my diet was heavily Quake/Quake II, Asheron's Call, EverQuest, Half-Life, Blood, Duke Nukem 3D, Daikatana, Team Fortress, and a few others - so a lot of my gaming was *very* online-centric and social-focused. 

But as I moved around (including to a country with, uh, "spectacular" internet), and people got hitched, had kids, moved around, went to university, had demanding full-time jobs, it became much harder and much less interesting to play those kinds of games. And I get a lot of joy out of rich, complex, deep cRPGs (I've spent hundreds of hours in the Dragon Age games, just as an example). 

So think about it less about one all-encompassing genre or style dominating, and more like a pie chart, where there are different markets and (ugh - incoming Marketing Wank Terminology Alert!) different groups and customers that fit within different market segments. (I need a shower now.)

It's just catering to different desires, interests, for different playstyles, etc. And given what we've seen at GDC this year with its growing kvetching towards monetisation, and the increase in popularity of indie games like Balatro, Hades, Dave the Diver, Gloomwood, El Paso Elsewhere, etc., there's always going to be and will be a space for single-player games.

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58 minutes ago, IlyaP said:

Not according to Larian, Tactical Adventures, Owlcat Games, inXile, CDPR or Obsidian. :P

It's also an age/changing tastes thing, you know? From the ages of 14-21, my diet was heavily Quake/Quake II, Asheron's Call, EverQuest, Half-Life, Blood, Duke Nukem 3D, Daikatana, Team Fortress, and a few others - so a lot of my gaming was *very* online-centric and social-focused. 

But as I moved around (including to a country with, uh, "spectacular" internet), and people got hitched, had kids, moved around, went to university, had demanding full-time jobs, it became much harder and much less interesting to play those kinds of games. And I get a lot of joy out of rich, complex, deep cRPGs (I've spent hundreds of hours in the Dragon Age games, just as an example). 

So think about it less about one all-encompassing genre or style dominating, and more like a pie chart, where there are different markets and (ugh - incoming Marketing Wank Terminology Alert!) different groups and customers that fit within different market segments. (I need a shower now.)

It's just catering to different desires, interests, for different playstyles, etc. And given what we've seen at GDC this year with its growing kvetching towards monetisation, and the increase in popularity of indie games like Balatro, Hades, Dave the Diver, Gloomwood, El Paso Elsewhere, etc., there's always going to be and will be a space for single-player games.

The weirdest thing is a single player game made WB the most money last year (HP Legacy) yet their gaming head  announced they’re pivoting the company towards live service, strongly hinting the sequel might be live service, after all those games flopped hard for them last year.  How do these guys think ?!


https://insider-gaming.com/warner-bros-live-service/

https://www.ign.com/articles/wb-games-says-it-plans-to-double-down-on-live-service-despite-suicide-squad-failing-to-meet-expectations

https://www.forbes.com/sites/paultassi/2024/03/06/wb-thinks-hogwarts-legacy-2-should-be-a-live-service/?sh=1fa5e76426b2

 

Edited by Ser Rodrigo Belmonte II
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My kids have been playing Terraria for something like 15 years now. They go to other games here and there, but they go back to things like that all the time. 

3 hours ago, Ser Rodrigo Belmonte II said:

Soo… live service games have won and are the future of gaming ?  :/ 

I mean, yes? That's been the case for several years now. Gamers playing live services far outnumber single player gamers, and the revenue from online games in various ways vastly outnumbers the single player gaming. I mean, the future of gaming is on phones. :p

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5 hours ago, IlyaP said:

and people got hitched, had kids, moved around, went to university, had demanding full-time jobs, it became much harder and much less interesting to play those kinds of games.

Too true. I'm a single player person now even in multiplayer games. Even if I can still play the game, its a lot less interesting without the community.

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6 hours ago, IlyaP said:

So think about it less about one all-encompassing genre or style dominating, and more like a pie chart, where there are different markets and (ugh - incoming Marketing Wank Terminology Alert!) different groups and customers that fit within different market segments. (I need a shower now.)

Yeah definitely. Although I probably never was into action games or multiplayer games massively, I certainly never have time for them now. The idea I could go tell the wife and kids I need to go spend 3 hours doing a raid with a bunch of rando's on WoW is laughable. Whereas I know some of my friends without kids will stay up till 3 in the morning playing Helldivers 2 or something. 

 

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1 hour ago, Heartofice said:

Whereas I know some of my friends without kids will stay up till 3 in the morning playing Helldivers 2 or something. 

Or Baldur's Gate III when the wife's away camping with friends for the week. 

*shifts awkwardly in seat*

 

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1 hour ago, Proudfeet said:

Too true. I'm a single player person now even in multiplayer games. Even if I can still play the game, its a lot less interesting without the community.

This is what led to me ultimately leaving the Asheron's Call community - a lot of us were in high school together, and ended up going off to college, university, etc., and just...didn't have the time or the interest in it anymore as new interests caught our attention - like going to concerts and dating and university assignments and whatnot. 

And persistent/online/mud games really are at their best when you've got friends with whom you can play. Doing it solo can be fun, but the fun that can be had is pretty finite.

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