Welcome to the FlipSide, where the good and the bad in video games collide. Every week, I will recap one positive news story, one negative news story, and then explain what I think about both.
It wouldn’t be fair not to mention the Nintendo Switch. Between the conference and all the news that followed into the weekend, there was a lot to take in. I will not be discussing the Switch today because Joe, Marc, and myself had a massive conversation about it on our podcast this past week. Let’s begin this week with the bad…
Sony first-party studio Guerrilla Cambridge has been closed down. Kotaku has reported that about 50 jobs were lost because of the closure. Sony decided to shut down the studio after an internal review of PlayStation’s assets and resources. Guerrilla Cambridge helped to develop some of PlayStation’s most recognizable IP like LittleBigPlanet and Killzone. They also developed MediEvil and Killzone: Mercenary. Their most recent effort was a PlayStation VR launch title named RIGS Mechanized Combat League, which may have ultimately led to their doom.
Despite being a first-party launch title, RIGS never cracked the top 10 most sold PSVR games list from Playstation Blog. In fact, VGChartz has RIGS to have sold around 170 thousand units. Guerrilla Cambridge didn’t seem to make a bad game either. These mediocre numbers come despite a decent Metacritic score. I think competition and price point were the ultimate factors that led to this games demise.
When going into the launch of PSVR, I had heard about RIGS, but not nearly as much as Job Simulator, Batman, and Rez Infinite. Between Reddit, Twitch, and YouTube it wasn’t talked about much. $400 is a hefty price point for most, so it only made sense that most people would only be able to get a couple of those VR experiences. When it comes down to it, people would rather have something like Batman than RIGS. I know I certainly would. It also didn’t help this game was priced at $50. Those other experiences I just mentioned were priced at $30 or less. There’s just more bang for your buck, and most of the more successful VR games were at this price point. It’s unfortunate to not to know how the market will receive a $50 VR game, but someone has to find these trends. That is how business works and it cost Sony. In the end, it costed 50 people their jobs at Guerrilla Cambridge. I wish everyone affect by the layoffs the very best.
This closure brings the number of first party studios with Playstation down to about 10. This situation is still a lot healthier looking than Microsoft’s situation which I mentioned last week on FlipSide, but I’m starting to raise my eyebrows at Sony’s situation. There was a time not too long ago when Sony had about 15 first-party studios pumping out games for them. The last big major proven acquisition for Sony was Sucker Punch Productions back in 2011. Ever since , there has been a handful of major studios that Sony has shut down to get to the number of 10. Most of these closures have made sense though. For example, Evolution Studios was closed down after it took a year to get Driveclub out on PS4 when it was suppose to be a launch title. Really, there has only been one studio closure that I really questioned and that was Zipper Interactive. Despite, the mediocre response to SOCOM 4, the games biggest component was it’s multiplayer and it couldn’t be played due to the PSN outage that started in April of 2011. I still blame Sony for that game not being as successful as it should have been and that would have helped Zipper in the long run.
Looking at these trends, my next concern is for Media Molecule. The project they have in development called Dreams which seems to have an identity problem. It seems to be trying to give users tools to create games, like in LittleBigPlanet, but there isn’t a game to be played like LittleBigPlanet had. I’m actually still puzzled as to what the game is or what the hell I’m supposed to do if I were to buy the game. There is probably a reason we haven’t heard from Media Molecule in a while, and I’m sure that game has a lot to do with it. If this project comes out to terrible sales, Media Molecule is next on the chopping block in my opinion.
However on the FlipSide this week…
Injustice 2 looks freaking awesome. The newest story trailer for the game was released earlier in the week and I’m excited to the point where it makes me want to go back and finish the first Injustice game. If you haven’t seen it go ahead and take a couple of minutes to watch it below.
It’s rare for me to be this excited after a story trailer. I’m usually more excited to see gameplay that looks good, but I think NetherRealm Studios has earned my trust at this point because of my love for the last two Mortal Kombat games. What truly makes me excited is that I don’t know these storylines. I’m not one to actually sit down and read comics, I usually get lore from video games or movies. I do a little side research on story arcs in comics just so I know for myself, but the Injustice storyline is brand new to me and has me intrigued. As I mentioned, I never finished the first game, but that was because I bought it on sale and wasn’t in the mood for a fighting game when I did. I look forward to getting back to it though before the release of the new one.
Not knowing what happens truly is what makes me love this trailer so much. First of all, the story shows a lot of Batman. Anytime you show me Batman, I’m going to be on board. However, I love seeing the two biggest names in the DC Universe go toe-to-toe in an epic battle. Seeing Robin and Batman go at one another is cool to see too. We all know Batman would kick ass in that matchup, but it’s still cool to see. My favorite part has to be the setup at the end though. It seems Darkseid is going to have a big role in the story. This is cool to have in the game but is a nice little synergy with the upcoming DC Universe movie slate. Overall, I’m stoked about where the story takes me and I can’t wait to experience it on May 16th.
Injustice 2 is one of a few AAA games that has a solid release date for 2017. Despite what looks to be an epic story that involves a lot of the DC Universe, I’m most excited about seeing that release date so soon. I am so sick and tired of delays in this industry. I get that they happen, but they are happening far too often. I like this new approach from developers and publishers to announce dates only a few months out from the release of the game. Bethesda did it with Fallout 4 and it looks to be that strategy is spreading to others as well.
I have one minor concern for this game and it’s what it could release around. Despite games from completely different genres being around May 16th, my main concern is Tekken 7. Now, Tekken 7 hasn’t been given a date yet and I’m sure that it will try to stay away from Injustice when it is announced. That would make the most sense for everyone. However, if they decide to go head to head, Injustice 2 could be impacted slightly. Injustice 2 would demolish Tekken 7 in sales, because of Injustice 2 being more appealing to non-hardcore fighting fans, but Tekken 7 could take away some would be sales from Injustice 2. As I said though, it is a minor concern that I don’t think will really even happen.
Injustice 2 looks to be a very solid experience but it doesn’t take away from the fact that people lost their jobs this week. It will probably be a rough transition for those who were affected by the layoffs, but I hope to see them back on their feet soon doing what they love soon enough. To end on a positive note, Former IGN editor Jeremy Dunham was laid off from Zipper Interactive when it closed down. He then went on to become Vice-President of Psyonix, who is the developer of one of my favorite games ever, Rocket League. I will be back next week with more of the good and the bad in the world of video games.