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. Let’s begin this week with the good!
Marvel and Square Enix have announced a partnership together. Not all the details were revealed, but the partnership is described as “a multi-year, multi-game partnership.” Along with the partnership, a new project was announced that involves the Avengers. The trailer doesn’t dive into much detail on the game, but it does show that Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal are developing the game. Square Enix also said that more details on this project and other games will be announced in 2018. It seems we are a ways off on some of these games, but Marvel might be turning a corner in making better video games for its properties.
I don’t think it’s a tough argument to make that Marvel is doing some serious damage at the box office with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, the video games that involve the Marvel licenses have been lacking. Looking back at the last few years, there have been a good amount of games that have been critically panned. The Amazing Spider-Man series has probably been the highlight of garbage. In the most recent years, a lot of what has been released has been on mobile platforms. There have been good highlights with the Lego games, but there are good Lego games with DC Comic properties as well.
DC Comics has been bullying Marvel in this industry during this era of letdown from Marvel. A lot of it consists of Batman titles from Rocksteady. The Arkham series wasn’t just good though, the entire series is fantastic including Arkham Origins developed by WB Games Montreal. Another big series with DC properties involved is Injustice. Injustice: Gods Among Us was a very well received game. The success of that game has led to a sequel that is releasing later this year, which I talked about last week. DC Comics is not perfect in this department, but their positives have far outweighed their negatives unlike Marvel games.
Square Enix isn’t my favorite publisher in the world, but there is some serious caliber in some of their studios. As I mentioned already, Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal are teaming up to work on the new Avengers game. If that partnership is anything like the Tomb Raider partnership, this game is in good hands. Also, that would mean that Crystal would have the lead and Eidos Montreal could continue developing their own games. Eidos Montreal is known for the rebooted Deus Ex series, which I adore. They could continue development on the third entry in that series or a Marvel game of their own. Another interesting possibility is a Go game of some kind like Hitman Go or Lara Croft Go from Square Enix Montreal. IO Interactive is another developer under the Square Enix umbrella that impresses me. They are responsible for the Hitman series since the first game in 2000. Those are studios I’m curious to see do something with the Marvel license, but I can’t talk about Square Enix without bringing up the possibility of a RPG game that is like Final Fantasy. It wouldn’t be the first thing I would want to see, but it would be a cool idea. There’s a lot of possibility here with Square Enix that I’m excited about seeing in 2018. Until then, my fingers are crossed that we see more Spider-Man from Insomniac Games in the near future. I’m looking at you E3.
However on the FlipSide this week…
Kotaku wrote an article earlier this week explaining how PS4 fans are taken back by the promotion of select games on the PlayStation Store. There have been many titles that could cause this spark in concern, but it is Life of Black Tiger that has triggered this issue recently. Life of Black Tiger was released on January 12, 2017 for PS4. Since its inclusion on the Drop that week, this game has caused controversy with the way it looks and plays. Kotaku includes the Jim Sterling’s Jimpressions video of this game. One line sums up his impressions of the game, “This might be the worst game I’ve ever played on a console.” As I said above, there are other titles that could have ignited this conversation and one of them was included on that same Drop that Life of Black Tiger was on.
Planet 2000 is a game that looks so bad that I almost bought it to say I played a game that bad. From the cover art to the actual gameplay it looks like a steaming pile of poop. Here is the trailer for the game. It doesn’t look as bad graphically as Life of Black Tiger but it still looks terrible. It would be one thing to have games like these come out once in a while, but these two games came out one day apart from each other. I’ve always respected Sony’s decision to allow self-publishing on their store. It allows creators and developers to more easily release the content they create. However, it is games like Life of Black Tiger and Planet 2000 that crowd and muddle what could be a great marketplace and that’s not fair to the developers that create fantastic games.
It’s unfortunate that it’s going to happen to the PlayStation Store, but we don’t have to take a guess about what the marketplace will look like. The mobile market has become this muddled marketplace filled with cash grabs and free to play junk. It’s hard to shine in that marketplace and it’s becoming less appealing. Steam is filled with crap too. The audience for the Steam marketplace isn’t as casual as the mobile marketplace, but there is still junk you have to go through to find the good stuff. The future of the PlayStation Store is right in front of us unless Sony can refine the publishing process.
This is where I plead to Sony to find the perfect balance of rigorousness and ease to get games onto their marketplace. If this means a tougher quality assurance certification process then that may have to be the case. At some point Sony has to say that a game is not up to the quality of the brand and deny it a spot on the marketplace. A good start to this change is to stop giving free promotion to these games. Stop uploading these bad trailers to the official PlayStation YouTube channel. If someone wants to view a trailer make them go to the PlayStation Store or go to another source like the developer’s website. Keep the PlayStation YouTube channel a sacred place where only things that deserve to be there are there. The digital console store is still growing and the smarter part of the audience is probably the only one diving into the PlayStation Store at the moment. However, when digital becomes the main way to get games that casual audience will be in that store and 40 year old Donna may not know better and buy some of this rubbish.
I don’t like what the PlayStation Store is becoming, but I’m aware enough to know the good from the bad. I will never be concerned for the hardcore gamer in these marketplaces. The concern is for the less informed casual audience when they get there. The dream is to remove the crap like Life of Black Tiger from the store and to have more good games. Hopefully in about two years, the Marvel and Square Enix partnership brings us some of those good games to fill out the Playstation Store along with many other talented developers. I will be back next week with more of the good and the bad in the world of video games.