Hello Naguyus and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. This week we have Gaben weighing in on VR exclusives, the latest gadget you are guaranteed to want, id Software insists Quake Champions is not a MOBA, Microsoft gets ambiguous over “Project Scorpio”, Sony talks about their new zombie title and the Steam Summer Sale date gets leaked so you know what day it plans on ruining your bank account. All that, some videos and highlights from the week, after the jump.
Gabe Newell thinks VR exclusives are bad and they should feel bad
There was a nice bit of internet scandal earlier this week when a Croteam developer working on Serious Sam VR outed Oculus as offering the team a “shitton of money” to make the game an Oculus exclusive.
Competition in the VR space is hotting up after all, and in spite of being first in the door Oculus is facing down a powerhouse in the HTC Vive and the accessibility of the soon-to-be Morpheus. Croteam turned down the offer, saying it “wasn’t right”.
Over on Reddit, a user posted an e-mail from Gaben himself regarding exclusivity on the Vive (Gabe confirmed the e-mail was written by him). I’ll quote it verbatim:
“We don’t think exclusives are a good idea for consumers or developers. There’s a separate issue which is risk. On any given project, you need to think about how much risk to take on. There are a lot of different forms of risk—financial risk, design risk, schedule risk, organizational risk, IP risk, etc… A lot of the interesting VR work is being done by new developers. That is a triple-risk whammy—a new developer creating new game mechanics on a new platform. We’re in a much better position to absorb financial risk than a new VR developer, so we are happy to offset that giving developers development funds (essentially pre-paid Steam revenue). However there are no strings attached to those funds—they can develop for the Rift or PlayStation VR or whatever the developer thinks are the right target VR systems. Our hope is that by providing that funding that developers will be less likely to take on deals that require them to be exclusive.
That’s a pretty big gamble – after all, it would be easy for devs to take Valve’s money and then get some of that sweet, sweet Oculus exclusive money. That may not be bad for future business however, and I like that Valve is doing the good-guy thing and moving the development in the VR space forward while buying themselves a little good favour in the process.
Game Boy case for your smartphone is real
Last year the Hyperkin Smart Boy was teased – as an April Fool’s Joke. It was supposedly a case that looks like the original Game Boy Color that you can slot your phone into and play Pokemon Yellow in style.
The device was however discovered at E3 this year, with an updated design and get this – completely functional. Anyone who’s ever tried a Game Boy emulator on their smartphone will know that the touchscreen controls are utterly awful. The Smart Boy gives you the classic button layout and even the ability to slot in cartridges. It’s awesome.
While the original tease was for iPhone and Android, it’s starting to look like this may be an Android exclusive – something to do with the various hurdles and limitations Apple places on people trying to do cool things with their phones.
No idea how much it’ll cost, but I hope it’s relatively inexpensive because this is cool as hell.
Quake Champions is “not a MOBA”
id Software dropped a bomb at E3 with the release of Quake Champions, which looked suspiciously like an Overwatch clone and suspiciously nothing like the Quake arena shooters of old.
Studio Director Tim Willits has come to the defense of the game, however, saying, “There have been some questions, when people saw the Quake Champions trailer, they’re like, “Oh my god, is it a MOBA?” Willits said. “No. It’s not a MOBA. It’s not a MOBA.”
“What we’re making is a competitive, arena-style, classic Quake game, with the addition of the Champions. We feel that the Champions are a natural evolution of not only Quake, but the genre. That’s why you see a lot of character-driven games, because it doesn’t change the fundamental way that you play the game, but it enhances the experience and gives you more to do.”
He shunned the Overwatch criticism, saying it did not “inspire” the game and development had started before Blizzard’s wildly popular shooter came out. Willits describes QC as a “gritty, mature, bloody, competitive, twitchy, high-speed game”, with all the “conventional gameplay” that promises to keep the old guard happy while attracting new fans.
Personally, I’m not convinced – yet. I’m going to need to see a little more because the trailer had someone teleporting around the map in open air which is very much NOT reminiscent of a “classic Quake game”. The defensiveness over Overwatch also leads me to believe it’s following a similar sort of gameplay model.
What does cheer me, however, is that this is going to be a PC exclusive. “We are not planning on making a console version. We want no excuses, no limitations,” Willits said. “I love our console fans, I’m not shutting the door on consoles, but for this game we want to focus on the platform that can give us the competitive esports angle that we’re striving for.”
I’m not hating on consoles either, but a classic Quake game would be completely untenable on a console controller – which means this has a shot of keeping the Quake essence intact.
Xbox gives mixed messages over “Project Scorpio”
Microsoft’s E3 was, to be honest, a bit of a shambles. When it comes to Xbox PR the company can’t seem to quite get it right, and E3 was no exception.
The company announced the Xbox One S (that apparently has no significant hardware numbers), then announced that every “Xbox exclusive” will come to PC as well and finished off the conference teasing “Project Scorpio” for 2017 which promises to be better than the Xbox One in every conceivable way.
Now it seems Phil Spencer is doing a little backtracking, after basically telling consumers that buying an Xbox One may not be the best idea right now. According to Spencer, Scorpio is a “4K console” and “if you don’t have a 4K TV, you’re not going to see the benefit”.
In a separate interview conducted later, Spencer admitted that games running on Scorpio will “look different” and “run a little better” than on the fat or slim Xbox One. This is true of existing games – Spencer uses Halo 5 as an example, which makes use of “dynamic scaling” that can utilise the extra power in Scorpio.
Still, Microsoft finds itself in an awkward spot. The Xbox One is losing the console race to the more powerful PS4, with Sony promising a bigger and better 4K-capable console in the pipeline as well. On top of that, there’s a better, more powerful Xbone coming next year. For the consumer, this all starts to make the original Xbox One seem like a far less attractive option.
Of course, since all Xbox exclusives will now be on PC as well, perhaps potential Xbox buyers should hang up their controllers and buy a mouse instead.
Sony announces new zombie title
One of the more surprising things to come out of E3 was Sony’s Days Gone, an adventure game which has a biker named Deacon St John laying waste to crowds of the walking dead.
That’s not all you have to worry about, however – according to the devs there are desperate survivors who’ll have no qualms about offing you for a can of beans. Not their exact words, but go with it.
This is all part of the game’s “living” world – “There’s a day/night cycle; being in the Pacific Northwest, there’s very extreme weather, and all of that affects the world… We’ve never seen a game set anywhere like that; there’s a ton of different regions–mountainous regions to lush forests,” developer Ron Allen said in an interview.
As for the zombies, they’re not exactly mindless – they think like a group, but also act individually. “Every one of [the creatures in the horde] is making their own decisions and going after the player, but at the same time they’re thinking as one.”
It sounds cool, but if I’m honest I’m sick to death of the zombie theme.
Steam Summer Sale gets a date – but not from Valve
Err, oops. While the Summer Sale date hasn’t been announced by Valve, PayPal took matters into their own hands with a tweet from their UK handle – proclaiming the date as 23rd June.
It hasn’t been deleted either, take that as you will. I guess PayPal already knows the truth – the internet never forgets, and screenshots are eternal.
Cat’s out of the bag now – ready your wallets, folks.
Farming Simulator 17 is almost here, are you stoked? No? Give it a chance.
Steep is a game about falling gracefully down mountains in various ways. Here’s fifteen minutes of it.
The Surge is a new sci-fi action title with a Dark Souls flavour, and yesterday we got treated to 11 minutes of it.
The Last Guardian is actually happening. Seriously. Here’s the trailer from E3.
Best of NAG
The NAG Podcast is back! Have a listen to the Fick brothers as they tackle E3.
The Call of Chtulu game got a sweet E3 trailer, check it out here.
Speaking of E3, click this text here to access all the E3 news from the week.
Finally, have a look at my column for the week, where I celebrate youth day by complaining about the youth.