It is a widely accepted notion that the holidays are a time of giving. It looks like gaming giant Valve will, a part from their normal winter sale, be paying out 3 million Australian dollars, though not out of the goodness of its heart. No, the owners and maintainers of the most popular PC game distribution platform, Steam, have been fined this hefty sum as the result of an Australian legal battle which finished earlier this year.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission are an independent regulatory group that attempts to advocate for consumers rights and strike down anti-competitive behavior. The ACCC filed suit against Valve for its ill defined refunds policy, and has won this battle regarding its lack of implementation between 2011 and 2014. Valve established a more open policy on refunds earlier in 2016, likely in anticipation of this ruling.
Justice James Edelman awarded this fine, the maximum amount requested, to be paid within 30 days largely in reaction to Valves lack of interest in local Australian laws and lack of co-operation, 12 times higher than the corporation suggested it should pay following the ruling. On top of that, they will be required to display a large message advising consumers of their rights in this issue on the Steam website for anyone logging in under an Australian IP address for one year.
Though the ruling seems fairly final, Valve has the option to appeal everything until 20 February 2017. It is always nice to see a consumer advocate group making strides in the names of their constituents. While I typically like Valve as a company, it is important to keep even them in check, least they become something significantly worse. Afterall, they can certainly afford it, and the new refund policy has been a step in the right direction. Something to think about while you swim through the offerings of the latest Steam sale.
So, it’s the end of the year, and we here at CGMagazine, after a long and brutal conversation, have named Final Fantasy XV as our pick for 2016’s game of the year. The voting got fairly intense near the end, and if you have not yet listened to our GOTY podcast, I strongly suggest that you do. In the end, we were left with three games and a tie for the top spot, with Final Fantasy XV, Hitman, and Overwatchconsidered favourites this year.
Despite what your parents always told you, competitive gaming has become a pretty big business. A wide variety of games can now boast championships with millions of viewers and significant cash prizes. That being said, it’s no wonder that the BAMTech, the streaming company co-owned by Major League Baseball and Disney announced a 300 million dollar deal between themselves and Riot Games for the exclusive right to stream and monetize League of Legends competitions.
It’s important to note that this deal just starts at the 300 million. Any additional monies generated by this arrangement will be shared between the companies until 2023, when this deal ends. It is assumed that any additional profits will be gained through advertisements and sponsorship deals (over seen by BAMTech), as Riot Games has been steadfast in their promise not to charge a subscription fee to watch their content. In the past, Riot has even influenced partners to stop charging fees for access to HD streams. It’s nice to see a company that cares about its fan base on the winning side of such a lucrative deal with such massive companies.
Some fans may be scared that their favourite eSport won’t be available to stream on their favourite platform thanks to the exclusivity of this whole thing. Well fear not, President and Co-Founder of Riot Games confirmed via Reddit that this did not guarantee any sort of platform exclusivity and that the worldwide availability of League of Legends, both as a game and eSport, was an important component of the game’s popularity.
There is no doubting the popularity of games like League of Legends, and this deal with BAMTech is solid proof. I can only imagine that this trend will continue in the professional gaming scene as more games become embraced by the eSports community. It’s come a long way and it isn’t stopping anytime soon.
I, like many people I know, am super jazzed about the upcoming release of Star Wars: Rogue One. Honestly, I may be more pumped for it than episode eight. I grew up with this franchise and have never really cared about the Jedi or the force or any of that nonsense. Keep your space wizards; it’s the grunts and the bounty hunters, the smugglers and the scoundrels that keep me coming back for more. Now that the old expanded universe has been redubbed “legends” and made non-canonical, fans don’t have quite the wealth of options that they used to as far as side stories, but there are still some fine choices out there.
Now, before I go any further here, I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to acknowledge that the Star Warsprequels exist—but it’s necessary, because I will be talking about two television series’ that are rooted in those events. Personally, I think that the prequels were poorly paced, poorly written, and had a habit of ignoring interesting characters and demystifying a franchise that had previously been built around magic and fantasy, but I digress. Don’t watch the prequels. Do watch the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
The Clone Wars explores the events of the conflict of the same name. The viewer follows the adventures of young Anakin Skywalker being officially accepted into the Jedi knighthood and taking on an apprentice of his own. This series fills the gap between episodes II and III, but you shouldn’t hold that against it. The Clone Wars gets off to a slow start, but it delivers it a lot of important ways. The characters are all interesting and likable, giving new life to some existing characters like Yoda and Obi-Wan while also bringing some new blood to the table. There is certainly enough action and interesting plot twists to enthrall newcomers to the franchise while providing some delightful fan service for long time fans.
The episodes are mostly standalone, with one long narrative thread throughout each of the six seasons. The series typically walks a very fine line, being approachable to new fans while still hinting at much larger things. The greatest compliment that I can give to this series is that it succeeds in places where the prequels failed. It returns some mystery to the universe, especially to the Jedi order, and takes a deeper look at some characters that didn’t have enough screen time. If you think Darth Maul went out too quickly or if you know who Sy Snootles is and want more background on her, then you might be pleasantly surprised by this little gem.
Now, I know the story of noted Tusken Raider murderer Anakin Skywalker is well worn at this point. I can certainly see how watching a character whose ending you already know could be frustrating, and you might want something a little closer to the upcoming Rogue One in timeline. Well, it doesn’t get much closer than the latest ongoing animated series Star Wars Rebels. Well, A New Hope is probably a bit closer, but that’s beside the point.
Star Wars Rebels sees a rag-tag crew doing what they and Jyn Erso do best: rebel. Picking up after Episode III, the Galactic Empire is tightening its grasp on the galaxy spreading the will of Darth Sidious. We’re into the third season and the series has already garnered some nominations and awards for writing and animation. If you would rather have a diverse cast and higher action, it looks like Rebels is going to be a better option for you than The Clone Wars. It tells a story set in a universe where the bad guys have already won, and that’s a setting I personally love. Despite this, it manages to remain fun and optimistic in the face of that adversity. All in all, it’s shaping up quite nicely and worth a look.
The Star Wars bug is going around, and it looks like it’s going to be a regular seasonal illness. If you haven’t already been indoctrinated, there’s some fine ways to jump into the franchise. If you’ve been there before, then those same things are also worth a look. After all, we’ll have a whole year for crazy theories and wild speculation before the next entry, and you definitely need to have your research done before then. I certainly will.
Fans of muscle bound dudes in funky hats have something to look forward to for their home console. Following a strong PC release, Victor Vran is making his way onto Playstation 4 and Xbox One. It is unclear at this time just when the alitteratively named monster hunter will be plying his trade in the frightening world of Sony and Microsoft, but he will be receiving both digital and retail releases.
For those unfamiliar with the title, Victor Vran is an isometric action role-playing game and survivor of Steam Early Access, that fancies itself more action than RPG. Victor Vran is the child of independent Bulgarian director Haemimont Games, who’s credits are largely strategy focused games, like Tropico. It is nice to see a smaller development team being rewarded for branching out with such an action focused title, even with an expansion in development.
“Our original vision was to shake up the RPG genre by delivering the first all action role playing game, and the response from press and fans alike has been incredible,” said Haemimon Games CEO Gabriel Dobrev in a press release.
Console ports of popular PC titles aren’t always the best. That’s why I’m happy to see the developers taking this transition seriously. They are promising to build the whole thing from the ground up with a proprietary engine running at a solid 60 frames per second, and includes local two player co-op and online four player co-op. Furthermore, Haemimont seems committed to continued support after release with daily and weekly maps.
This is a pretty tall order and the target date for all these exciting exploits is sometime in early 2017. On top of all that, PC owners should see further announcements relatively soon, which I am guessing involves the Motorhead expansion. If all of this goes as planned then 2017 should be off to a pretty strong start.
The rotting decrepit corpse that is Dead Rising 4 has shambled to full release, and the reception has been mixed. I know one guy who really didn’t like it. If you’ve already played through the game and found the ending to be a little abrupt, there’s a very good reason for that. It seems that the game left a very big part of its ending behind, but don’t worry; it’s for sale.
Nier Automata has been turning heads with its elegant combat and stellar visuals. With the year developer Square Enix has been having, it’s no surprise the amount of hype behind this release. Luckily for fans we finally have some information about this upcoming release, and it’s pretty good news.
The above trailer was released during the Playstation Experience 2016 event and not only does it showcase the intense action and superb visuals already expected from Nier Automata, but also gives us a western release date. One March 7th 2017 you can expect to fire this bad boy up, but that isn’t the whole story.
If you’re itching for to get a taste of robotic rending action then you won’t need to wait for too much longer. No firm date is set, but a consumer demo is promised to be hitting PSN soon. It’s a small comfort without an actual release date, but hopefully it will hold people over until the March release. Now, the only question is what edition you should put your money into.
That’s right, on top of the shiny new trailer, the demo announcement, and the release date, we also got word of two special editions. First up is the Day One Edition includes exclusive skins for your ingame pod, which is useful both in and out of battle, and retails for $59.99.
The more exciting edition, however, is the Black Box Edition. Coming to $189.99, this edition is a beast. It will not only include a copy of the game but also a hardcover 64 page art book, and exclusive steelbook case with art by Akihiko Yoshida (Who worked on both Final Fantasy XV and Bravely Default Flying Fairy), a soundtrack with 13 live recordings from noth Nier and Nier Automata composed by Keiichi Okaba, and all the contents of the Day One Edition all wrapped up in a steel black collector’s edition box. The Black Box Edition is limited and will only be available through the Square Enix Online Store.
This morning was Sony’s third annual Playstation Experience and it was positively packed with with trailers and announcements. I’ll skip the pleasantries and move on to the good stuff, for brevity’s sake.
First off, it looks like we’ll be getting a sequel to 2013’s apocalyptic smash hit The Last of Us.
It’s been a few years since we’ve seen Joel and Ellie, but it looks like they’ve been up to some bloody business and doing whatever they can to survive in this somber trailer. The details are limited and cryptic, but it certainly paints a picture of an action packed revenge tale in the same dangerous world we have come to know from the first game.
Next we have the next entry from arcade pioneer Eugene Jarvis.
Nex Machina looks to be fast paced top down shooters in the style of Levy’s previous works. The trailer balances colourful environments with some concerning voyeuristic robots, making me curious if this will be the same sort of bullet fest like SmashTV or Resogun, or something a bit more indepth. Nah, I’m kidding, looks like more bright bullets and little story.
For fans of Studio Ghibli and adorable RPGs, Ni No Kuni is getting a sequel as well.
Ni No Kuni II Revenant Kingdom will see the fox-eared Evan as he and his cohorts as they clash with mad rulers and science gone amok in their efforts to create a new kingdom. It looks very very pretty.
Fans of ship combat will be getting some something nice with Dreadnought.
Dreadnought will be a free-to-play spaceship shooter game with co-operative elements from Grey Box, Six Foot, and YAEGER. It boasts 50 ships, 5 classes and stunning visuals.
Finally, Sony is getting back to it’s roots and reviving an old mascot.
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a remake of the original Crash trilogy, brought to the new generation of consoles.
Crash isn’t the only game getting the remaster treatment. Expect remasters of Parappa the Rappa, Patapon, LocoRoco, and even the original Yakuza in the upcoming Yakuza Kiwami.
Other announcements include The Wipeout Omega Collection, bringing elements of previous Wipeout games to the PS4, the long awaited Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, and a holiday themed event in Destiny titled The Dawning running from December 13th through January 3rd, exclusive to players with the Rise of Iron content.
After the massive, though short lived, success of Pokemon Go! and the positive reaction to Pokemon Sun and Moon, it’s been a pretty good year for fans of pocket monsters. It was no big surprise that Hollywood saw all of this and began work on another film to add to the already expansive mythos to this popular franchise. However, rather than challenging the firmly established animated movies, fans will be given a live action interpretation of Great Detective Pikachu, under the supervision of the newly named director Rob Letterman.
To say that Bryan Fuller has a cult following is a bit of an understatement. The man has been the heart and soul of some pretty unique shows that never really seemed to attract a mainstream audience. Bryan Fuller recently stepped down from his position as the showrunner for CBS’ upcoming Star Trek series, titled Star Trek Discovery, citing a desire to focus on his other projects. Those projects, mind you, are the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for Starz and the reboot of Amazing Stories for NBC. I am completely onboard for both of those.
To be fair, Discovery seemed a little odd for Bryan Fuller. Yes, his earliest credits list Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (The best Star Trek), but that was a while ago and a lot has happened since then—Wonderfalls, for instance. Wonderfalls was a quirky little show that followed a hapless clerk from a souvenir store in Niagara Falls who ends up being tasked with helping people through various cryptic inanimate objects. Eventually, viewers are led to believe that her mission appears to be a part of some sort of divine plan, and the show got cancelled.
Bryan Fuller would then go on to create Dead Like Me, another story centering on a directionless girl being tasked with a with a big job against her wishes (ushering dead souls into the afterlife) as part of some grand design. That one would get 28 episodes before the lords of television would decide that its time was up. Then came Pushing Daisies, a show about a quirky pie-maker that has powers over life and death that he uses to reunite with his love but otherwise brings him a great deal of grief. That one managed 22 whole episodes before getting the boot.
What was probably Bryan Fuller’s most commercially successful show was Hannibal. While not a creation of the good Mr. Fuller, the story of Hannibal Lecter’s early days leading up to Silence of the Lambs dominated television through its first season. Hannibal seems like an outlier when compared to the rest of this litany of quirk. Now, we do get Will Graham, the series lead, and fans of what is lovingly referred to as the Fullerverse grew attached to his dog loving ways.
The similarities in his work are pretty apparent. First and foremost, these shows all employ some striking visual design. Pushing Daisies does an incredible job juxtaposing dark and bright colours, echoing the themes of the show to great effect. Even Hannibal, a much more serious affair, presents us with an amazingly artistic spectacle made of blood and bone nearly every episode, inviting the viewer to revel in the gore in the same way as the titular serial killer. This marriage of visual metaphor coupling with theme is, to me, what makes a Bryan Fuller show.
Now, you may have noticed a bit of a recurring idea with all of his creations; the reliance on similar characters is all over his body of work. There are so many proto-hipsters and manic pixie dream girls littering the Fullerverse that it sometimes feels like a liberal arts campus. Furthermore, they always seem to be struggling against fate or a divine plan, gifted with powers that always produce angst and grief. The formula breeds over-wrought philosophy in its more serious moments and irreverent humour in the lighter ones.
Honestly, when I look up at this list of shows, I can’t think of anything less Star Trek like. Gene Roddenberry’s legacy is about as hard science fiction as you are likely to find. Sure, Q and Picard were buds, and would fit nicely in with everything else, but such a capricious space god seems awful cynical by comparison.
All that aside, one has to wonder why all these shows end up cancelled, getting two seasons at best. I think the answer is pretty obvious. While these characters are pretty endearing, despite their nature, they can come off as a bit one note after a season. Their special snowflake status tends to make character development pretty slow and the stories rely on over-wrought philosophy discourse to move the greater plots along at all. Hannibal, in particular, had at least one episode that centered on two characters talking about their nature over dinner. Its great in moderation, but in the age of hour-long television, it can be a bit much.
Furthermore, Bryan Fuller tempts fate by presenting pseudo-religious material to a mainstream audience. Some people are going to love that, and did. Most people, however, are going to immediately find something less subversive. Look, I love Quantum Leap, but a character working directly for any deity might rub people the wrong way.
All this in mind, I think that American Gods is going to be fantastic. Bryan Fuller’s love of religious figures will compliment Gaiman’s work well, and being a Starz production guarantees that it won’t be dealing with your average audience, who might get scared off by the themes and spectacle already present in the source material. Also, having a clear end already in mind will keep the story grounded. If everything goes well, we might even get Anansi Boys out of the deal as well.
If you’re looking to get into game development or trying to refine your already sick dev skills, then Montreal, Quebec looks like it will be the place to be come November 13th, 14th, and 15th . That’s the home of this year’s Montreal International Game Summit, or MIGS16 if you want to sound cool. MIGS and TECHNOCompétences are coming together for the second time to provide networking and business opportunities as well as some interesting sounding master classes geared toward industry professionals.
These classes will cover a whole host of interesting topics ranging from the world building in The Witcher 3 lead by Krzysztof Lipka, sound designer and sound team coordinator from CD PROJEKT RED, to a class on special effects in film and videogames as it relates to Houdini, being taught by Slim Ghariani the FX supervisor at FuseFX. If neither of those sound particularly interesting, there are plenty of others to pick from; I just happen to like The Witcher and explosions.
Apart from the classes, MIGS16 promises to be a great place to network, with plenty of conferences and speakers (panels featuring the Art Direction of We Happy Few sound promising). As well, there will be an exclusive mentoring session about pitching ideas to prospective clients.
“Sustaining this sector’s incredible growth requires high-level talents,” said a Rémi Villeneuve, CHRP, training initiative manager at TECHNOCompétences. “With this partnership. TECHNOCompétences aims to accelerate the development of advanced skills of professionals in the gaming industry.”
The whole thing sounds like a winner to me. There are a total of 18 different master classes being offered, all going on through the 14th and 15th, and representation from loads of big budget developers and publishers. Recruitment and professional development seems to be the name of the game here. So come out, learn you a thing and find yourself a fancy new job at MIGS16.
Hollywood has had a notable addiction to sequels lately, and it seems that there is no structure more coveted than that of the trilogy. Despite not really needing a third film, studio executives seem fixed in their desire for three films that don’t really do anything exciting or different movie to movie. Hopefully, J.J. Abrams’ 3rd film in the series that began with Cloverfield, titled God Particle, will be more interesting.