Petchulant: From the News Desk… #1

Yeah, so, I didn’t get to play anything this week.  My family ended up getting a puppy, instead, but this is not the place to talk about that; that sort of thing is more fit for a personal blog – which I’m never going to get, just to spite my friends.  Consequently, though, looking after the thing has meant that I haven’t been able to play any videogames this week (save for a marathon Burnout 3 session) nor be able to keep my finger on the pulse of gaming enough to sit here and write about or analyse a big issue or development.  However, my ‘job’ (I use the air quotes because I don’t get paid for this crap) involves me writing one column about videogames every Friday, so I need to crank out something.

Ergo: allow me to introduce to you a recurring feature wherein, instead of me at least trying to writing about stuff in an intelligent and thought-provoking manner, I spend a column making snide observations about the week’s big gaming news stories like the appallingly amateur comedian I kind of am, when you think about it.  A full-column-length “In Actually Important News, This Week”, basically.  Again, this won’t be a regular occurrence, because I don’t want to get into the habit of rocking up late on a Friday night, bashing out two and a half pages of snark and calling it a column, but it will appear whenever a week has left me incapable of writing anything relevant, such as this one.  So, without further delay; onwards, Aoshima!

Activision have, at an investor conference call, blamed Call of Duty: Ghosts’ relatively low pre-orders (in that they’re lower than Black Ops 2’s at the same time last year) on next-gen hesitation, stating that “[their] quantitative consumer research indicates that hesitation amongst past club pre-orders is primarily due to not knowing which platform they will be playing on, which is natural at this time in the console transition”.  I understand.  Having been given the choice to play it on my PS3, Xbox 360, PC, PS4, Xbox One, WiiU and microwave oven, I’ve put in my Call of Duty Ghosts pre-order on absolutely none of them.  It’s because I’m totally unsure of what console I’m going to experience my Call of Duty: Ghosts on and not at all because I’m sick to death of Call of Duty and just want it to go away for a few years.  It’s nothing at all to do with consumer fatigue and everything to do with consumer panic over next-gen.  Absolutely, sure, why not.

OK, hands up. How many of you are actually going to frequently use all of those features on the Xbox One? Be honest. No judgement, here.

Microsoft have revealed that the Xbox One will come with an HDMI cable – you’d be surprised at just how few anything comes with one, these days – the mandatory Kinect sensor, a controller and a headset in the box you buy the console with.  Essentially, you’ve got everything you need to get started packaged in!  Except for the Internet connection for that one-time online sync-up.  And an interesting launch line-up.  And a survival guide to the dangerous wasteland that is Xbox Live.

Sticking with the Xbox One, it has also been revealed that the ability to record gameplay footage and then upload it to the Internet for your friends to not give a sh*t about is restricted to Xbox Live Gold account members only.  You know, just in case you were still not fully convinced that there isn’t a part of the online gaming experience that Microsoft aren’t prepared to nickel-and-dime for all that it’s worth.  It was also revealed that the OneGuide feature, which outlines what’s on the TV services and what’s trending Microsoft-wise, is also limited to Gold subscribers, but seeing as we are a GAMING website and not a TELEVISION WATCHING website nobody gives a sh*t.

Nintendo have stated, yet again, that no, they are not going to make a Mario or a Zelda or a Metroid or anything else that’s theirs on a non-Nintendo console so stop asking them.  In fact, games journalism industry, can we please stop assuming that they ever will?  Every time that a Nintendo console starts ‘underperforming’ you take that as your cue to claim that ‘Nintendo are finished!’ and that ‘they’re now looking into developing instalments in their classic franchises for competing consoles.’  A) Nintendo may be struggling right now, but they’ll be fine.  They survived the Virtual Boy, they can survive anything.  Let Nintendo be Nintendo and Nintendo will keep on Nintendo-ing.  B) Have you people forgotten the last time that Nintendo franchises ended up on non-Nintendo consoles?  Again?

Ubisoft have insisted that the Assassin’s Creed story does actually have a logical end point and that, no, they are not making this up as they go along.  Of course, they haven’t said when that ending is but, rest assured, that’ll likely be when the money train finally comes to a screeching halt.

Have I sufficiently mentioned that I’m super hype for Saints Row IV yet? Because I am super hype for Saints Row IV.

A trio of Saints Row stories now, because Saints Row IV is exactly 14 days away and I am HYPE – and also super, super jealous of Big Boss Man Mat Paget for having already gotten to play it.  First off, SRIV is now finally coming to Australia but, to make it past the Australian censor board, they had to cut something.  Namely, a loyalty mission where you, with Shaundi, have to smoke some alien drugs in order to gain superpowers.  That, ladies and gentlemen, was the one thing holding this game back from a rating: a mission where you fake smoke fake drugs.  Clearly, then, the censors were asleep when Saints Row 2 was released, wherein you could fake smoke real drugs any time you wanted.

Next up, Saints Row IV associate producer Kate Nelson criticised a THQ mandate back in Saints Row 2 where they made porn star Tera Patrick a special producer because… it was a unique selling point?  Yeah, it was a dumb move then and it’s still a dumb move today, especially when Saints Row the Third managed to use ex-porn star Sasha Grey in a way that was worked into and improved the game (voicing the DeWynter sisters and doing a damn good job at it) instead of just a cheap “YEAH!  WE’RE CRRRAAAAAYYYYYYYYZAYYYYY!!!  F*CK GTA!  VEEEEEEEDEOOOO GAAAAAAYYMMMESSS!!!” marketing gimmick.  Maybe if THQ hadn’t blown their money on stupid stuff like that, they’d still be in business?

Finally on the Saints Row front, one last collector’s edition of the upcoming Saints Row IV was announced today.  Entitled “The Super Dangerous Wad Wad Edition”, this pack doesn’t contain your usual bullsh*t mini-statues and half-finished art-books, oh no!  Instead, you get a full-size replica of the Dubstep Gun, a full day of spy training, a trip to space, plastic surgery, a Lamborghini Gallardo, a year’s membership to the E25 Super Car Club, a shopping spree with a personal shopper, seven nights for two at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington, 7 nights stay in the Top Royal Suite at the Burj-al-Arab with flights for two, a hostage rescue experience, AND a Toyota Prius.  All for the low, low, low price of $1,000,000!  That… that… that is just perfect.  Hold on, I need to go and take out a loan…

Neither company, however, was able to give a satisfying reason as to why you would want to play a video game version of a board game.

Ubisoft and Hasbro have signed a deal to allow the former to make home console versions of some of the latter’s most famous properties such as Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble (in the US and Canada), Risk, Battleship and Cranium.  Yeah, sure, whatever.  Hey, Ubi, wake me up when you finally make that RPG version of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, OK?

It has been revealed that The Last of Us has actually been censored for Europe.  Not openly, mind, but the ability to dismember your opponents or explode their heads with a shotgun finisher in the multiplayer was removed before release in Europe.  It is theorised that this was to comply with Germany’s notoriously strict ratings board, USK.  Now, whilst I can’t object based on first-hand experience (I’m still yet to play The Last of Us’ multiplayer), I do object on principle.  Why should the rest of us Europeans have to suffer due to Germany’s overzealous censorship laws regarding violence?  Especially when you consider just how violent The Last of Us is anyway, why would bringing over the dismemberment and exploding heads to the multiplayer push the game over the edge?  “OK, you can blow off people’s heads as often as you want in single-player and it’s alright.  But if you try that sh*t online, oh boy, there will be hell to pay!”

Finally, this week, ex-id Software creative director Matt Hooper has joined fellow ex-id Software member John Carmack over at the Oculus Rift team.  I don’t really have anything to add, here.  The Oculus Rift will, however, be at the Eurogamer Expo in late-September and, since I’ll be attending said Expo, I’ll try the thing out there.  Find out what it is, why everyone’s losing their minds over it, retroactively know if this is a ‘BIG DEAL’ or not.  Still, Doom 4 looks in pretty good shape right about now.  /sarcasm.

Well, that was fun!  Hopefully, if this column continues to be a regular thing, I’ll get to write a few more instalments of this when I have a week where my brain craps itself and dies.  Thanks for trying something different, everyone!  Normal service shall be resumed next week!

In Actually Important News, This Week: My family got a puppy.  I named him Mac and…  Hey!  Where are you all going?  Come back!

Callie Petch is sharp like an edge of a samurai sword.

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