The Tuesday Inbox wishes more indie developers made sports games, as one reader reveals the history of isometric gaming.
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I think a few other readers have touched on it but for me, the biggest question this whole Microsoft business raises is what Nintendo will do. Their own thing is the most obvious, and glib, answer but while Nintendo may seem a little backwards at times, they can’t be blind to what’s going on. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve had secrets talks with Sony, but I think the first obvious change for them is to offer their own Game Pass.
Remember, the Game Pass doesn’t require any technical know-how, it’s just how much you can stand to lose while you build up your subscription business and try to get everyone to sign up and end up making the same or more money than you did from normal sales. Now, ignoring the fact that Nintendo would do something stupid to ruin the deal, because they’re Nintendo, I know that if there’s one company in the world where I’d automatically be interested in almost anything they did it’s them.
Microsoft’s first party line-up? They didn’t buy Bethesda and Activision Blizzard because it was any good. Sony’s? It’s good, definitely, but it lacks variety and only really got good last gen. Nintendo though? They go back as far as the NES and beyond and have been knocking out classics longer than most people have been alive. I know I’d pay £10 a month, and probably quite a bit more, to play everything they’ve ever made.
Will they do that? Not immediately, would be my guess, but if Microsoft does start to dominant – and I think there’s a good chance they could – then I can see it happening. And I’ll be the first to sign up.
Out of contract
Overall, I’m not worried about acquisitions reducing game choice for consumers. In the main, the companies are being bought for the libraries of games they can bring to the platforms. After a year or so, when their contracts expire, the devs will leave and start new companies owned by themselves, and new devs will appear too.
All the time the PC is a viable free market, there will be devs making great games not tied to a platform.
Also, really the only new triple-A title I’ve played much of over the last year is Halo Infinite. Most games I’ve played have been indies on Game Pass.
PS: I have been recently playing Yooka-Laylee with my three-year-old boy. I find it such an absolute joy to play. Is there a name for this kind of platformer? Are they called N64 platformers? They should be.
GC: Well… maybe, some of them might eventually leave and set up a new studio but that involves so many imponderables, over such a long period of time, it doesn’t negate anything. Yooka-Laylee is a 3D platformer.
I have a great love for the isometric perspective in games and I got this idea to make a video showing all notable (and even lesser known) isometric games throughout gaming history, across all platforms and genres, starting with the first ones, from ’81, all the way to modern ones not even released yet.
Thought such a video would be a good thing for all passionate game historians out there. Anyway, here it is in case you share my love for isometry.
GC: Nice work. We looked for Little Big Adventure and were happy to see it included.
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Keep at it
Hi GC and everyone who reads the Inbox.
I received Returnal for Crimbo from my three girls. Since then, I’ve put 16 hours into it and died 67 times. I’ve faced Phrike three times so far and feel like It’s finally beginning to click with me. Yes, I’m still struggling on the first biome, but hopeful that progress will soon be made.
I’m no stranger to difficult games. I’ve completed all the Soulsbourne games and loved every second of them. This however is something else. Grinding is impossible and therefore it’s been slow going for me.
I’m still thoroughly enjoying it, the use of the DualSense controller is superb and I’m a big fan of previous Housemarque games. It’s not going to beat me.
GC: You can’t level grind but remember that weapon upgrades are retained through each loop, and so is the pool of unlocked items and equipment.
As a collector, I try to only buy physical games. The tangible aspect of holding the box and disc in my hands just feels right, and I love seeing my shelves brimming with game cases. I do make exceptions for games that are only available digitally.
One thing that has slightly changed this is the new Xbox Series X. While I will always buy physical copies of most games, having digital copies and using Quick Resume, so that I can bounce between five or six different games, is a literal game changer (pun absolutely intended).
And Game Pass gives me a great chance to play a game digitally for a while, which I may end up getting down the road for a bit cheaper physically to at least give the developers some financial support outside of what Microsoft is giving them.
Death’s sweet embrace
A quite frankly stunning month on Game Pass this month. Gorogoa, The Pedestrian, Mass Effect Legendary Edition, Spelunky 2, and Hitman Trilogy are games that have been high on my to-play list. I’ve played Outer Wilds already, but it’s a special game and nice to see it back on Game Pass.
The pick of the bunch for me though is Death’s Door. I played it at launch and loved it, getting 100% and having just looked at the stats spent 32 enjoyable hours with it. I’m tempted to write a Reader’s Feature about it, seeing as it’s not long released on Switch and PlayStation after a stint of Xbox console exclusivity since launch. Help spread the word, I really enjoyed a Reader’s Feature not too long ago on Chicory. I’d not heard of the game before but have added to my PlayStation wishlist.
GC: We already have one Death’s Door Reader’s Feature coming up, but by all means write your own.
Nice list of indies for 2022… nice palette cleanser after all the Microsoft and Activision news. I’m also hoping we’ll see more from some long in development titles such as sequels Hollow Knight: Silksong and Sports Story. The later, along with OlliOlli World and Cursed To Golf (and maybe Sociable Soccer) has me hoping that the top quality indie talent we have around at the moment will turn its attention to sports titles.
It seems remarkable to me that generally so few big sports titles are developed these days, thanks to spiralling budgets and manpower. Great games like Virtua Tennis, Top Spin, SSX or FIFA Street will likely never be heard from again, same with Tony Hawk after it’s reboot/remake didn’t sell gangbusters to pay for it’s Unreal Engine 4K60 development.
For smaller indie studios the sports genre seems fertile ground to producing long tail games in the vein of Dead Cells, with a steady stream of DLC to keep people playing. I’d chuck a few quid at the Golf/Sports Story team for extra courses and mini-games…
Something like Everybody’s Tennis was a great title for the PSP and essentially an indie title by today’s standard. I just can’t believe there isn’t a market there for a smaller indie studio to turn out something along those lines for modern machines. Fingers crossed OlliOlli World will prove the idea has legs, it’s certainly the first release of the year that has my eye.
PS: I think any idea Pokémon Legends: Arceus will be the reboot the franchise needs should be parked to one side. If this was the revolution everyone was waiting for it surely wouldn’t be sneaking out at the end of January, barely a few months after the last game?
GC: It’s a good point but the main problem nowadays is how important official licences have become. Nothing other than indie and Nintendo games would dare to launch without them.
Last gen only
Horizon Forbidden West launches very soon and I notice that the PlayStation 4 version costs £59.99 and the PlayStation 5 version costs £69.99.
Would I be right in understanding you get a free upgrade if you purchase the PlayStation 4 version? If so then what does the extra tenner get you for buying natively on PlayStation 5?
GC: Egg on your face. But seriously, don’t buy the native PlayStation 5. Thanks to Sony’s bungled upgrade policy, or rather the lack of one, the native PlayStation 5 version is now completely pointless.
Finally, we have three consoles – Switch, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S – that are different and all contain some form of unique selling points but yet most seem to want them to be the same. Why should PlayStation 5 have a Game Pass? It’s a great feature but unless Xbox becomes the lead in the market, Sony do not need to panic just yet to get one. PS Now is in existence but is not as popular but is seemingly going to have an overhaul. If Sony are worried that the market’s changing then they may have to act swiftly. I’ve not followed sales reports in-depth to see the trends on sales and subscription rates.
I think what Sony should do is offer a vast catalogue of PlayStation games from their legacy on a digital front. I think it would be a mistake if Sony offered their first party games on day one, unless it’s profitable doing it in that way. Can it be proven that a Sony Game Pass would have a high subscription rate to justify using that model over asking their customers to pay £70? I think new game releases on day one on subscription will definitely have more people playing each Sony first party game, as you see when people try out games more when they are on PlayStation Plus, because they don’t have the risk of purchase.
Why do people care whether Sony has a Game Pass? Is it because they worry that Microsoft will take over as the number one console seller with Xbox? Even so, us as gamers can only care about the games. If Game Pass is so essential to people, then it would make sense to purchase the console that provides that feature.
If PlayStation owners are worried that Xbox will take over as number one because of Game Pass then I can understand why they want Sony to copy. I own just a PlayStation 5 and I understand that game development is a high cost and I am willing to pay the £70 if I really want the game day one.
If developers can be profitable with Game Pass then that will be the future. Should Nintendo also do a Game Pass? The best thing people can do is just get all the consoles eventually and not just to expect to get everything immediately on day one. With all the acquisitions of studios and looking at the exclusive games on PlayStation, Nintendo, and Xbox it’s worth getting all three consoles.
But should us fans care about which console is the number one seller?
Big Time Booker
GC: People want a Game Pass equivalent on PlayStation because it would be better value for money than paying £70 for a single game. We’re not sure why you’re looking for a different reason.
I don’t want to steal Inbox legend Andrew J’s thunder but just to let avid readers know Knack 2 is on sale on the PS Store for £10.49. I know it’s a big, big favourite with many Underbox contributors, so now is your chance to snap up a classic everyone.
GC: Knack 2 is a big favourite with… anyone?!
Aren’t we supposed to be getting a new Evil Dead game in February? Like, next month? Seems awfully quiet on Saber Interactive/Boss Team Games’ end. Has GameCentral heard any news on an imminent delay/release?
GC: As far as we know it hasn’t been delayed again, but you’re right – the lack of info at this stage is not encouraging.
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Cranston, who asks would you still be interested in gaming if Sony and Nintendo were no longer involved?
The news that Microsoft is buying Activision Blizzard has changed everything, with many fearing that equally large companies like Google, Facebook, and Netflix will swoop in to buy the remaining third party publishers. If that happened, how would it affect your interest in gaming?
Do you worry about the increasing consolidation of gaming, where only a few number of giant companies own everything, or do you think it won’t change anything fundamental? What do you see as the most optimistic, and pessimistic, outcomes for the future of the games industry?
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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.
You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.
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