Greetings NAGunibs and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. This time around an old classic gets a new lease on life with a massive update (and no, Evolve is not a classic), Overwatch gets its own update to deal with leaver trolls (but is it enough?) and an unlikely organisation dips its toe into the esports pool. Then Pokemon GO has an impact on the actual real world, EA talks about “taking risks” with Battlefield 1, Ubisoft goes foot-to-mouth with the Assassin’s Creed movie PR and an allegedly dodgy digital store cleans up their act. All of that, some videos and highlights from the week, after the jump.
TF2 gets resurrected with massive update
While the world goes batshit over Overwatch (and rightfully so, it’s great) and CS:GO holds its spot as the premium FPS e-sport, other developers have seemingly woken up to the potential of competitive shooters with microtransactions.
This week we saw Evolve announce that it is going free-to-play (something which is, honestly, very long overdue) and now Valve have snuck in a pretty enormous overhaul to the original team-based FPS king, Team Fortress 2.
People have been making comparisons between TF2 and Overwatch since Blizzard first announced their own squad shooter, and I can’t help but wonder if Valve is trying to ride the popularity wave of Overwatch by sending some love TF2’s way.
It certainly looks that way, with the big changes including a matchmaking and Competitive mode which introduces proper rankings into the game for the first time. Alongside that are three new maps, as well as four new “taunts”, which people care about, apparently. There’s also a whole lot of housekeeping with improved UI, replaced sounds and a few bug fixes.
Is it enough for you to step back in or indeed, step in for the first time? Valve’s missed the boat for me – my hands are full with Overwatch and I see no reason to switch. Now if they announce Half-Life 3, well, then we can talk.
Overwatch updates helps combat troll leavers
While we’re on the topic of Overwatch, Blizzard is cutting their teeth right now on their ranked Competitive mode, and seem to be quick to make changes in the face of negative feedback.
One such change is how the game handles leavers on the opposing team. The problem with the system as it was a day or two ago is that if a troll on the opposing team left early, the game would detect a 6v5 win and award less ranked experience.
This, of course, opens the door for salty troll to tank a loss just to spite the winning team with less experience points – pretty weak. It works this way because Overwatch uses a win-probability system to calculate how many points you get – if your team’s MMR average is well below that of the enemy, you’ll get more MMR for a win and less for a loss, and vice versa.
Blizzard community manager Lylirra explains the new change as follows: “The game will no longer recalculate each team’s probability of winning whenever one or more people leave, and instead will scale off the probability originally established at the beginning of the match (just as it would if there were no leavers).”
It’s not a bad fix, but to be honest what I’d really like to see is harsher punishment for leaving – specifically a timed ban from participating in more ranked games, with an exponential increase in the length of the ban with repeated offenses.
Leaving to troll the enemy team is, after all, only one part of the problem.
Manchester City signs an esports player
One of England’s biggest football clubs, Manchester City, has officially signed 18 year-old Kieran Brown, but don’t expect him to be slide-tackling Rooney anytime soon – unless he has a controller in his hands.
Brown will be representing Man City in FIFA tournaments, for what I assume is about 0,01% of the actual football players’ salary. Still, progress!
“This is a natural evolution for Manchester City. We’ve been very involved with our partner, EA Sports, and the FIFA franchise for some time,” City Football Marketing SVP Diego Gigliani said. “When we set out to find an esports player, we decided we wanted someone who was a fantastic, young, talent, but also with a hunger and a desire to grow. We strongly believe we have found that in Kieran. He is full of potential. Not only is he a great player, but we also believe he will engage and interact brilliantly with our fans all around the world.”
I wonder if this trend will pick up steam amongst other clubs – Man City is after all not the first club to do this; that would be the delicious-sounding West Ham.
Pokemon Go boosts Nintendo shares
I may lament that Pokemon Go is for kids and sociopaths, but a group of adults wearing Pikachu underwear have sat up and taken notice of the app’s success, with Nintendo’s shares jumping a whopping 10 percent overnight, hitting their highest level in more than two months.
It’s possibly a little misplaced, however, as Nintendo doesn’t really have all that much to do with Pokemon Go, a game that is developed and owned by Niantic and The Pokemon Company – although Nintendo does have a stake in both.,
So then, how many cartoon animals have you collected so far?
EA says Battlefield 1 was “a risk”
In an interview this week, EA’s global publishing chief Laura Miele says the decision to back to the past (rather than into the future) with Battlefield 1 wasn’t an easy one to make.
“We took a risk on this. We zigged when the market was zagging in shooters,” she said. “It was something that, at the moment that we put out the press release, to get the fan response that we did, was incredibly gratifying and it was pretty thrilling to see how the market received the game in that way.
“When you think about the major pillars of a Battlefield game–big, large, epic scale battles, massive vehicles, super diverse gaming tactics–the WW1 backdrop was actually a perfect place for us to map those pillars to that setting. [EA CEO Andrew Wilson], I think, was quoted on our earnings call to say that WW1 started with people on horses and ended with people on tanks. The technology evolution of WW1 was fascinating…”
I’ve been listening to a podcast called Hardcore History, which has a totally excellent series on World War 1 I recommend. Anyways, having listened to 20 hours of it I feel qualified to correct Ms Miele here – the war didn’t end with people on tanks. People were in the tanks. If they were on the tanks that would just be stupid.
I’m kind of baffled that EA considered this a “big risk” – for me it was delivering what people have been asking for for the past two years. Once again I’m left feeling like publishers can be very, very out of touch with the community.
Ubisoft calls the new Assassin’s Creed movie “a marketing thing”
Speaking of publishers being out of touch, Ubisoft came out this week and said they don’t really expect the AC movie to make a lot money, and calling it “a lot more of a marketing thing” to promote the video game franchise. Sigh.
I know what they mean – I think. I’m assuming that they’re saying the goal of the movie isn’t to generate a lot of profit on its own, but to be a neat tie-in to the game that drives more people towards the franchise.
But what comes out of their big stupid PR mouths is: “Yeah, we really don’t give a shit about this movie. It’s probably really bad. It’s just a giant advertisement and not much more than that.”
Publishers have a reputation for being absolutely awful at PR, but Ubisoft seems to have wrested the crown from Bobby Kotick with their insistence on saying crap like this with zero self-awareness whatsoever.
After the disappointment of Warcraft, my faith in video game movies is at an all-time low. Here’s hoping Assassin’s Creed can change that. Or not, whatever. I hate everything.
G2A goes legit
G2A has long been criticised as a “grey market” reseller of game keys, with the site’s haters frequently accusing the online store of selling keys bought with stolen credit cards, fake keys and generally acquiring keys through some kind of shady practice or another.
In an effort to clean up their image and their business, G2A is rolling out identity authentication requirements for their sellers, with plans to follow this up with address, PayPal and credit card authentications as well.
I’ve bought from plenty of sites like G2A before and never really had a problem, but hey if this gets people to stop calling me a filthy criminal I’m all for it.
GTA Online is going full Trackmania with their next update, which adds stunt racing to the game that already does everything. Check out this trailer:
This Is The Police is a game about a cop that’s facing retirement and may want to do some not-so-legal things to set up his golden years. It releases on Steam and GOG at the end of this month and I must say, it looks cool.
Last week we saw someone finish Dark Souls 3 without getting hit, someone has now managed to do the same in Fallout 4. Impressive.
Battlefield 1 looks sexier everytime I see more of it, and there’s plenty of it on show – here’s 90 minutes of the closed alpha.
Best of NAG
Tarryn reviewed one of the multitude of Hearthstone clones to flood the market in the last year, this one a cyberpunk themed affair called System Crash. She liked it, but did she like it as much as Overwatch? Find out here.
Then Dane takes another Asus notebook with a confusing name through it’s paces.
Since this is a news roundup, what better place to put the antithesis of a news roundup – my sporadic News I Don’t Care About column.
The GTX 1080 is the new hotness, and one of our resident hardware gurus Neo Sibeko has a look at what all the fuss is about.