PS+ Giveth, PS+ Taketh Away

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PS+ users are finally getting the hard hitting month of games they’ve been waiting for. Throughout March of 2018, people will have access to Bloodborne (PS4), Ratchet and Clank (PS4), Legend of Kay (PS3), Might No. 9 (PS3 with PS4 crossbuy), Claire: Extended Cut (Vita and PS4 crossbuy), and Bombing Busters (Vita and PS4 crossbuy).

People have pined for amazing AAA blockbusters to enter the program on PS4 for some time, and now their wait is finally over. There’s a caveat to this announcement, though, and it’s that the Vita and PS3 will no longer be part of the free games portion of PS+ as of March 8, 2019.

There’s a variety of takes on this across the internet, and many of them are predictably hyperbolic. Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX), a respected member of the online gaming community, stated: “Sony sacrificing the PS3 and PS Vita so we can get good games on PS Plus again.” I think that’s probably part of their plan, but no, this wasn’t a move ‘for the gamers’, as Sony so often leads us to believe.

I don’t think anybody expected that the PS3 and PS Vita would get ‘free’ games forever. At some point, it’s no longer financially viable for a company to pay developers and publishers large sums of money to feature games on platforms that people have long since moved on from. We’re well past the halfway point of the PS4’s life cycle (we won’t be waiting another 5 years before the PS5 is released), and with over 70 million consoles out there (as of December of 2017), people are spending less time on last generation machines than ever before. So, why continue to support those old fossils with ‘free games’? This was going to happen sometime, and ‘now’ seems about right.

But there is another issue, here. Each platform had two free games each month, and sure, if you no longer play on the Vita or PS3, you probably don’t care about losing games on those platforms. However, many of the titles on those platforms were crossbuy, so PS4 users probably got about 4 games they could add to their digital library each month. Sony have clarified that in the Vita’s and PS3’s absence, the PS4 will still only receive two games each month. So, people are going to have access to fewer games each month.

And they’re excited about that?

Well, it certainly helps that Sony has dangled a pretty attractive carrot at the time of this announcement. “Who cares about losing the number of games you get each month?” They ask. “When you can have games like Bloodborne and Ratchet and Clank, that’s all you need!”

No wonder people are excited.

To be fair, Bloodborne is, in my opinion, the best game the PS4 has to offer. The fact that everyone with a PS+ membership can enjoy it now is great, but I’m wary about taking this as a sign of things to come. Sony have pulled bait and switch routines before. In case anyone has forgotten, Driveclub was supposed to be free to all membership holders, but that’s not exactly how things went down.

But let’s say that the PS4 will see a regular trickle of solid AAA games from here on out. Are they really spending that much more to get the likes of Bloodborne on PS+? No, it’s not like they’re paying off an independent developer so their game will debut on the platform day and date for the low cost of nothing. Bloodborne has been out for ages now, and most of the people who were interested in spending money on it already have it. So, now they can hook a bunch more people that may potentially buy the game’s DLC (as will the developer). After all is said and done, I’d wager Sony are probably going to SAVE money… at least, until the PS5 comes out.

Business is business, and that’s fine, but I think it’s important for gamers to have a realistic view of what’s really happening when a company delivers bad news from one hand while holding something shiny in the other.

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YouTube Culture Is Out Of Hand

I just wanted to take a few moments to talk about the Logan Paul thing. I know it’s old news, and because he isn’t a video game blogger, the relevancy of this discussion may seem at odds with this site. However, I think it’s important to remember that this only happened a couple of months ago – which is like, an eternity on the internet – and we shouldn’t be so quick to forget. Furthermore, this story impacted the gaming community a great deal. A lot of our favorite YouTube content creators were compelled to talk about it because Logan Paul’s actions, much like Pewdiepie’s, ultimately affect their livelihood. So gamers all over have been subjected to this story and had to think about what they’ve seen and heard.

For those who have managed to miss this story entirely, Logan Paul went to Japan and visited what’s unofficially known as ‘the suicide forest’. He and his crew came across a dead body that hung from a tree, filmed it, brought the footage home, edited it, and then tossed it up on YouTube.

This hit extremely close to home for me. I often suffer with depression and my mind has certainly brought me to dark places. I know that when someone feels like non-existence is an answer, they’re at their darkest, loneliest, and most vulnerable hour. They wanted peace, and the only way they thought they could get it was by committing suicide. It’s an awful place to be in, and yet, Logan Paul thought it was appropriate to not even allow this person to find the peace they sought in death. It’s worth noting that Logan Paul blurred the man’s face in his video, but that doesn’t nullify the blatant lack of respect for this man’s most private moment. When I say ‘lack of respect’, I mean it. That’s not hyperbole. He and his friends were joking around in the body’s presence. I mean, did Mr. Paul really need to do a dab… in front of a dead body?

Oh, he blurred the guy’s face and bookended the video with a message about ‘doing this for awareness, so here’s a number to the suicide hotline’, but his attempt at sincerity falls flat because his actions didn’t back it up. There’s no mistaking that with this video, Logan Paul revealed who he was to the world: A callous ‘get those clicks no matter the cost’ worm.

And believe me, I tried to give him the benefit of doubt. When this story broke, I thought there was a chance that maybe, JUST MAYBE, the internet was freaking out for little reason. Groupthink often leads to hyperbole, turning mountains out of molehills. But no, the public outcry was well deserved.

I don’t fault Mr. Paul for wanting to film in the suicide forest. He probably likened the experience to visiting a haunted house. You know the stories, you know the legends, so going there can be frighteningly good fun. I mean, you don’t expect to go and actually FIND something, you know? Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ll grant him at least that much.

I will, however, hold his feet to the fire for continuing to film after finding the body. You could argue that maybe his nerves went screwy and he wasn’t sure how to react. I’m willing to entertain that, but what about everything that came after? He had the walk out of the woods, the ride back to his hotel, the ride to the airport, the plane ride back home, the ride back to his house, and the hours he undoubtedly spent editing to reflect on the situation. And yet, after all that time, he still decided to publish the video.

Either he was too daft to understand what he was doing, or he knew how controversial this would be but decided post it anyway (which is worse).

I’ve seen a lot of people brush this aside as, “Oh, Logan Paul just made a mistake. He’s only human.” But this wasn’t some slip of the mouth. It’s not like he forgot to pay a bill. He put someone’s dead body on YouTube. His audience are generally young people, and that’s not something they need to be subjected to. There’s no going back from that kind of a mistake.

But vlogger Boogie2988, being the kind and forgiving soul that he is, took it a step further. He said that while Logan Paul screwed up and needs to be punished in some capacity, he deserved a second chance. I can’t agree with that sentiment… like, at all. For really big screw ups, second chances have to be earned. So, Logan Paul could have taken some time off to make new content, showing he was going to take things a bit more seriously. Of course, he didn’t. He came back after a month’s hiatus, encouraging people to eat Tide Pods and used a taser on dead animals.

I don’t really have anywhere that I’d like to go with this. This piece was more to rant about the current situation with Mr. Paul than anything else. I’m really tired of certain people trying to defend him, or justify his actions in some way as if they were no big deal. It doesn’t matter if the guy had passed on and wasn’t aware of what was happening. What about the family? What about them, now that their beloved relative has been recorded and put on every corner on the internet?

This ‘oneupsmanship’ culture needs to stop.

Call of Duty’s War On Gamers

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In a recent editorial, I said that I don’t believe in boycotting games or even particular studios. I’m not a fan of microtransactions, DLC, or loot boxes, but I generally don’t think one lost sale makes a difference. Instead, we should use our voices to fight back, hoping publishers will take note and change things accordingly.

Now, less than a month after making that point, I’ve come across something so vile I’m finally drawing a line in the sand.

Loot boxes obviously set a dangerous precedent. Microtransactions and DLC inherently change the way a game is developed, but loot boxes are much more invasive ways for these companies to make money. Worse yet, they take advantage of people who are susceptible to addiction. But for me personally, they haven’t really impacted my gameplay experience because I pay them no mind. I’ll earn what I can, but I have not, and will not, spend money on loot boxes. As long as I feel like I’m enjoying a game and not a slot machine, I’m alright.

Activision, on the other hand, doesn’t want me to be ‘alright’. They want to finally be the ones to fully intrude on our gameplay, as they’ve finally jumped the shark and fully integrated loot boxes into a game. Not through a menu, but literally INSIDE a game. Which game? Call of Duty: World War II.

It’s been revealed that while sitting in the in-game hub, you’ll see loot boxes drop from the sky. People will be able to see everything you do, including the rewards you’ve reaped. If you’re stubborn and don’t feel like watching people open loot boxes, the game will actually reward you for doing so. Activision must figure the opening of loot boxes on Youtube and Twitch are a thing, so why not let people do so right at the source?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, here’s another kicker: Let’s say you go to a store and manage to get a copy of this game a day or two early. Well, guess what? You won’t be able to play the game you just bought. You’ll need the day one patch in order to make it work. This makes the physical copy entirely worthless. Let’s say some years down the road you want to play the game again, right? You grab your disc, install the game, but the servers are gone; you won’t be able to download a patch, so you won’t be able to even play the single player campaign.

I’m not going to spin some massive yarn, elaborating on the information I’ve just shared with you. It speaks for itself. I’m stunned, confused, angry, sad, disappointed, and scared. I sincerely hope other publishers will refrain from implementing similar tactics in their games, but something tells me this is just the beginning.

Keep in mind that Activision have decided to go full bore with this even after the many conversations about if loot boxes should be considered gambling. Games don’t even have warning labels for this kind of thing, because there’s no government oversight yet. I don’t want there to be government in my video games, but the industry is straight up asking for it. It’s an inevitability at this point.

Here’s what it comes down to, my wonderful readers:

I am not buying Call of Duty: World War II.

You should not buy Call of Duty: World War II.

The line between games and the money machines behind them are no longer just blurred, they’ve been mashed together like different colored pieces of Play-Do.

The time to take a stand is now. This is one time we really do need to vote with our wallets, no matter how glued to this franchise one may be.

This Is Why People Revolt Against A Digital Future


More and more these days, people are ditching physical copies for digital, and it isn’t hard to see why. You can pre-load a game and play it right at midnight without having to wait in any launch lines. No more clutter on your shelves. You don’t have to worry about losing a disc, or having someone steal it from you. There’s cons, of course, such as the inability to sell or trade digital products, but there’s an even bigger reason which most people shrug off with indifference: You may not own said product for as long as you’d like.

No, really. Tell people that their purchase is only good for as long as the service provider allows, and they’ll laugh, saying, “Come on, bro. It’s 2017. It costs companies next to nothing to share this stuff on their servers. If you ever need to download your games again, it won’t be a problem.”

Nintendo Wii owners probably have something to say about that.

At the end of September, Nintendo made a statement:

 “Dear Nintendo fans,

 On January 30, 2019, we plan to close the Wii Shop Channel, which has been available on Wii systems since December 2006. We sincerely thank our loyal customers for their support. You can still ad Wii Points until March 26, 2018, and purchase content on the Wii Shop Channel until January 30, 2019. In the future, we will be closing all services related to the Wii Shop Channel, including redownloading purchased WiiWare, Virtual Console titles, and Wii Channel, as well as Wii System Transfer Tool, which transfers data from Wii to the Wii U system.

 If you have Wii Points to spend, content you want to re-download, or content you’d like to transfer from a Wii system to a Wii-U system, we recommend you do so while the services are still available.

 Thank you for supporting the Wii Shop Channel and for being such great fans of Nintendo.”

 This presents a multitude of problems.

 Nintendo may be giving people adequate notice, but that’s the only kudos they get in regards to this announcement. Problems ahoy!

 The Wii may be 11 years old at this point, but people can still access content on the Wii Shop Channel on their Wii-U. This may seem like a non-point, but the Wii had over 200 classic games that never made their way to the Wii-U shop. We’re talking Bonk’s Adventure, Bubble Bobble, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Chrono Trigger, Commando, Double Dribble, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Mega Turrican, Super Turrican, and many, many more. So if you have no interest in the retro game market or emulating old-school games, a lot of these will be disappearing.

 So, why not buy what you’d like in the next year and be done with it?

 Well, hard drives don’t last forever. Nintendo makes products which last for a long time, but if you’ve got a Wii that’s already pushing a decade, it’d be risky to buy stuff now just so it could go belly up in a couple of years. And, that’s really the bottom line here: You could have invested hundreds, or even thousands of dollars through the Wii Shop Channel, and it won’t matter. If that little storage disc inside the system breaks down, it’s all gone.

 We could just say, “Well, that’s just a very Nintendo-like thing to do. We’re not surprised. But Sony and Microsoft will never…”

 But we don’t know that for certain, do we?

 With the PS4 offering zilch in the way of backwards compatibility, I think it’d be great if they kept the PS3 servers alive indefinitely… or, at least, enough to satisfy whatever the demand is. I doubt that’ll be the case, though. One day they’ll want to reallocate those resources. Microsoft, on the other hand, are doing that whole backwards compatible thing, so they’ll probably keep the Xbox 360 economy kicking for some time. But make no mistake about it, folks. The very moment these companies realize they’re spending more money to host these servers than they’d prefer, they’re going to do something about it. I’m not saying this because ‘evil companies are evil’, but because that’s business. When the numbers don’t line up, adjustments will be made.

 So, will access to these servers be available 20 years from now?

 “Who cares about what happens in 20 years!”

 Well, I’m 35, and 20 years ago I was probably playing Super Mario 64… and I still play that game whenever I get the chance. If you’re in your teens or even your 20’s, trust me: Time sneaks up on you faster than you think it will.

 Ask yourself this: Is the convenience that a digital library brings worth an inherently shorter lifespan?

 For some, the answer may be yes. There’s a lot of people who trade up and never look back. Still, I find it hard to believe that people are fine with spending $60 for a game they won’t have access to indefinitely.

 This is something people need to talk about. It needs to become one of the big conversations online. Again, I know it’s easy to wave this off as ‘Nintendo being Nintendo’, but if they’re able to do this without much backlash, it sends a message to Sony and Microsoft that they should have no problem doing the same. If you’re vying for a digital future, do whatever you can to ensure that your library doesn’t eventually disappear!

Why Do I Keep Buying Games I Should Be Taking A Stand Against?

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I find myself having the same conversation over and over again. It’s usually a lengthy debate that spins its tires on the same worn treads, but it basically goes like this:

Friend: You bought that game?

Me: Yeah.

Friend: Why would you give them your money after they (insert random shitty business tactic here)?

Me: Because I wanted to have fun playing a game I thought I’d enjoy?

Friend: That’s fine, but you should also forfeit any and all complaining about (insert random shitty business tactic here).

Me: I can’t play a game and still have a critical opinion about its negative aspects? Is it really that black and white?

Any time this comes up, I can’t help but give a defeatist sigh.

It’s worth talking about though, because I feel it represents a lot of the dominant conversations about ‘speaking with your wallet’ online. I mean, hell, I’ve got a website dedicated to sharing the seedy underbelly of AAA game development. That means I stand atop Mount Sinai, telling the masses that these companies – Bungie, Activision, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Sony, etc. – are taking advantage of them, and that they should use the knowledge I impart to make educated decisions the next time they want to buy a game. And yet, I’ve bought games like Shadow of War, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Destiny, No Man’s Sky, and so many others.

Doesn’t that make me a hypocrite? Aren’t I sending the wrong message to these studios? The answers are obvious, so let’s ask a more open question: Why?
I love video games to pieces. I was born in 1982, so I was in on the ground floor. The Atari and its games were easily findable at yard sales, and I got to experience the glory of the Nintendo Entertainment System shortly after it had launched. As a young child, it was easy to build a massive library of games. A large chunk of my collection was acquired through yard sales. The handful of games I couldn’t afford otherwise, I was able to rent through Blockbuster Video. So, I grew up with the ability to play pretty much anything I wanted… which was pretty much everything.

This hobby turned into a passion. When I wasn’t playing games, I was talking about them, reading about them (oh hai, Gamepro!), or watching TV shows inspired by them. Over the years, I’ve developed a great wealth of knowledge, even about the stuff I didn’t own or didn’t particularly care for. Once the internet came to be, I finally had an outlet where I could discuss games and the industry they hail from with likeminded people.

Point 1 – The Community

Growing up, I was clearly spoiled. But more importantly, gaming, for me, has evolved into more than just sitting down and playing the games.

I like to be part of the conversation.

Game launches are a special time. It’s when months, if not years of analytical hype – for better or for worse – comes crashing down. In this respect, it doesn’t really matter how good or bad a game is, because people are going to break it all down with their praise, criticisms, and everything in between. It’s during this release window fervor that the gaming community feels most alive, and I genuinely love being a part of it.

Of course, upon entering these discussions, I realize the pools I’m wading through are far from pure. For example, certain fans have a tendency to praise most anything their beloved studio churns out, or people bash games they’ve never played because the hate train’s pulled into the station. It’s hard to stay away from these reactionary responses, but I also appreciate these opportunities to educate people.

Point 2 – Challenging Widely Accepted Perception

While I use reviews as a rough indicator, I never take them at face value. So, if a game receives universal praise or is shunned entirely, I’m compelled to check it out for myself. We all know that hype and hate trains exist, right? If I had listened to everyone back in 2014, I would have believed Shadow of Mordor was an amazing game… but it wasn’t (not bad, but average). Not for me. On the flip side of the coin, everyone berated The Order: 1886 for being short and too cinematic for its own good, and while it was flawed, it didn’t deserve the hatred that had been dredged from the bowels of the internet (at least, not in my opinion). So yes, I’m always curious to get hands-on with a divisive title so I can see what all the fuss is about.

Point 3 – But at the End of the Day…

This is where the more ‘human’ side of me begins to come out.

I can talk about bad business practices all day, but after all is said and done, I relent because I just want to have fun. With all the bickering over microtransactions and crappy DLC models, it’s easy to forget that video games are still pretty fun to play. Shadow of War may siren to other studios that, ‘hey, you can throw loot boxes into single player games now’, but I still want to play that experience. Same goes for Battlefront II, because I loved the last one and enjoyed the recent beta.

Hypocrite, I know.

But that’s also because I remember that video games were never perfect. People look back on the history of video games with rose colored glasses, saying, “There were never any microtransactions or DLC back in my day!” But if there were ways companies could suck money out of your wallet, they were doing it. Classic arcade games were cool, but you died every 15 seconds because they were designed to vacuum quarters out of your pocket. Gimmicky accessories were released in quick succession, and many of them didn’t work as advertised (as cool as the Power Glove looked, it was a real piece of crap). Nintendo introduced an add-on for the N64 in Japan (which was very short lived and a retro gaming collector’s dream to obtain). Corners were often cut during game development, and at times proved detrimental. And despite what many are lead to believe, games could often cost a bit more than $60.

Get my point?

Things have ALWAYS been shady. If I wanted to draw a strict line in the sand between their bullshit and my money, I wouldn’t have enjoyed a game in the last 30 years.

So for me, fun factor is what I value most. It’s only when crappy business decisions impact my fun in a big way that I begin to have serious problems.

How Does Supporting Games With Bad Business Models Make Me Feel?

Although ‘fun’ is my bottom line, that doesn’t mean I’m turning a blind eye to the practices that have infiltrated the gaming world. I’m well aware of the ‘slippery slope’ and how I’ve contributed to it. I’ll say that I rarely buy season passes, or even cosmetic items for that matter… but deep down inside, I know that’s not the best justification. When I buy even the base product, I’m telling studios I support what they’re doing, not to mention a potential customer for their DLC and microtransactions. Yes, that makes me feel dirty, and yes, I am, at times, disappointed in myself. I don’t like being part of the problem.

So why do I keep riding this merry go round? Well, because these are the choices I’m left with:

I can take a stand and never buy any of these exploitive games, but then I’d be sad I was missing out on the fun.

Or, I can continue to have fun playing the games that come out, but try and spread awareness about the things I see happening in the industry.

Obviously, I’ve chosen the latter.

I don’t believe that boycotting games or even particular studios is the answer. Because even though I haven’t bought the game, plenty of other people will. My sale won’t be missed. Casual gamers don’t care to delve into the stuff happening behind the scenes, so they’re going to buy whatever they like anyway.

And I can’t fault them for that. We pay to eat the sausage, not to see it being made, you know?
So, I’m going to keep eating that sausage, pretending that it’s primo meat and not just a bunch of leftover shit being ground into an intestinal shell. But if I notice something’s not right with it, I’m going to raise hell about it. I mean, what am I supposed to do, not eat sausage anymore? That’s effin’ lunacy.

It Doesn’t Matter If Pewdiepie Didn’t Mean It

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Pewdiepie is in trouble for expressing racist sentiment. Again.

In the first half of 2017, Felix “Pewdiepie” Kjellberg came under fire for paying a couple of men to hold a banner which said “Death to all Jews.” He claims he did this to prove just how crazy the world is, as there’s a website – which I won’t mention here because, well, fuck them – where you can pay people $5 to do pretty much anything. Why that ‘thing’ had to be something so hateful and discriminating, I don’t know. He just as easily could have asked someone on this website to smack themselves in the dick with a hammer, but nope, he went straight for Nazi rhetoric. Anyway, as a result of this – as well as other racially or religious sensitive things that appeared on his channel before – Pewdiepie lost a deal with Disney’s Maker Studios, which canceled plans for TV, apps, and merchandise to be produced under his brand. Youtube also canceled the production of Scare Pewdiepie Season 2 (for Youtube Red), and his channel was also removed from Google Preferred.

You think he would have learned his lesson… but nope, he’s doubled down on his stupidity. Well, maybe tripled, because he also did a Hitler-esque video after all this.

But more recently while streaming, Pewdiepie was caught saying:

Pewdiepie: “What a fucking n****r! Jeez, oh my God, what the fuck. Sorry, but, what the fuck. What a fucking asshole. I don’t mean that in a bad (unintelligible and laughing a little). Why would he do that? Legit, why would he do that? Fuck sake.”

Immediately after those words escaped his mouth, he knew what he had done. His words that followed made that clear. But too bad, so sad, the damage has been done. Pewdiepie, already seen by many as anti-Semitic and racist, said the worst thing possible.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Pewdiepie is neither of those things. He very well may be a nice guy that just happened to use a racial slur while venting… which is still dumb. Very, very dumb. A lot of people say stupid things not because they’re evil, but because they lack a brain-to-mouth filter. I get that. And because I’m not one of those people that care about political correctness just for the sake of appeasing people, I don’t even care what he says or does in his personal life. If he wants to spout off the n-word from the comfort of his computer chair, then fine. That’s his prerogative. However, I’m also free to think and say whatever I want, so I also reserve the right to call Pewdiepie an epic piece of shit for doing so. I do think that you can joke about ANYTHING – some people in this life seriously need to lighten up – but Pewdiepie wasn’t making a joke. He let a racial slur slip out of his mouth because he was upset. At a video game. Who does that?

A lot of people have tried to justify this by saying, “Well, it wasn’t contextually insulting. He just said it because he was mad.” So, what are those people trying to say? That saying the n-word is cool just because you’re caught off guard and pissed off by something? That’s news to me! So I guess any time I stub my toe, hit my funny-bone, hit my head, my son spits up on me, or my foot falls asleep, I should let the n-word fly?

Here’s what it all boils down to: If Pewdiepie let this slip during a live stream, especially considering the history of racial insensitivity behind him, then that means he says this regularly, or at least regularly enough. It’s something he likely says when he’s playing away from prying eyes… which is shitty. I’ve never once uttered the phrase ‘check your privilege’, because it’s become synonymous with ‘white people can’t have an opinion’… but Pewdiepie is the kind of person that saying is meant for. Or at least ONE of the kinds of people it’s meant for. The n-word isn’t some ‘say it because you’re angry’ sort of thing. Most people I know use ‘shit’ or ‘fuck’. If you’re associating anger with the n-word… well, problems, son. Problems.

Youtubers generally use alternate personas for their channels. What you see on-screen is meant to entertain you, and doesn’t necessarily represent the person behind the gamer/entertainer tag. That’s all well and good, but if you’re not professional enough an entertainer to separate those two distinct personalities (one for home, one for work), then it becomes an issue… especially if you’re an idiot like this guy.

Now Pewdiepie is, predictably, being punished by others on the development side of things.

Sean Vanaman of Campo Santo games has stated they’ll be filing DMCA takedown notices for all of Pewdiepie’s Firewatch content, as well as any future Campo Santo games. His Tweet storm is as follows:

“There is a bit of leeway you have to have with the internet when u wake up every day and make video games. There’s also a breaking point. I am sick of this child getting more and more chances to make money off of what we make. He’s worse than a closeted racist: he’s a propagator of despicable garbage that does real damage to the culture around this industry. I’d urge other developers & will be reaching out to folks much larger than us to cut him off from the content that has made him a millionaire. Furthermore, we’re complicit: I’m sure we’ve made money off of the 5.7M views that video has and that’s something for us to think about. Lastly: I love streamers. I watch them daily and we sent out over 3000 keys to professional and amateur streamers of FW.”

This introduces another wrinkle though, and one that’s not actually problematic for Pewdiepie, but Campo Santo themselves. In the ‘about’ section on firewatchgame.com, there’s some intriguing information:

Can I stream this game? Can I make money off of those streams?

Yes. We love that people stream and share their experiences in the game. You are free to monetize your videos as well. It doesn’t hurt to let us know on Twitter when you’re live. We might show up in your chat!

But when questioned about the legality of using DMCA takedowns because of a racial slur used by a streamer, Sean had this to say:

“All streaming is infringement but devs and pubs allow it because it makes us money too.”

This, of course, has created a huge can of worms. The first thing some people have said in response is, WTFU, which stands for, ‘where’s the fair use’? This is something Youtubers have clung to each time a developer has issued a takedown for one of their videos. Word quickly spreads among the Youtuber community, and they band together in order to save their collective asses. “We can do what we want because fair use” isn’t exactly true, though. It’s more of a gray area. Criticism is specifically protected under fair use, but Let’s Plays are basically the wild west of content. Some lawyers, per some of John “Totalbiscuit” Bain’s tweets, believe developers can do whatever they want with Let’s Play videos:

Totalbiscuit: “Spoke to an actual lawyer. Opinion was Campo Santo is 100% within legal rights, DMCA applies, LPs (Let’s Plays) are not fair use. Website (referencing the ‘we like streamers’ bit on Firewatchgame.com) non-binding. So those arguments are basically out the window, leaving “should they shouldn’t they” which is up to them really. What a mess.”

But the interpretation of law seems to vary attorney by attorney, and judge by judge. So while the attorney Totalbiscuit was in touch with says LP’s aren’t protected by fair use, Leonard French, a respected legal interpreter on Youtube, believes this would be DMCA abuse. His argument is that, yes, posting the ‘ok to stream’ message on the Firewatch website grants Youtubers permission, and that they had more than enough time to request Pewdiepie’s video get taken down if they had a problem with it… except they didn’t. Until now. After Pewdiepie said something racist. On a video that had nothing to do with Firewatch. The argument is basically, ‘The video was legal, for years, until they didn’t like something Pewdiepie said on his own stream of a different game?’ And not only does Campo Santo likely not have any room for legal action at this point – especially since Pewdiepie undoubtedly received one of those keys direct from the developer – but if anyone had the right to issue copyright claims, it’s Pewdiepie, as he could target anyone using his gameplay footage without some form of criticism to accompany it (as criticism is expressly permitted under fair use).

See how sticky this whole thing gets?

But it gets worse. If you’re a fan of Youtube, regardless if you’re a viewer or content creator, things have been getting hairy.

Jim Sterling has pointed out that, at this point, Pewdiepie is a liability for the entire industry of gamers and Youtubers, and he’s absolutely correct.

Pewdiepie’s flub from earlier in the year is one of the many reasons why advertisers began to pull away from Youtube. Their ads could pop up during any video, regardless of the content it contained… but that creates a huge marketing problem. Advertisers are spending good money to shill their products, and they want to have the ability to decide what content their ads are appearing in. After all, that’s how it works on television. But Youtube never did much to appease the advertisers, so they started withdrawing their money after the Pewdiepie incident.

In an attempt to bring the advertisers back, Youtube finally made some changes, by way of allowing bots to flag inappropriate content. This impacted a lot of the major Youtubers we know and love, as much of their content was flagged for one reason or another. It was awful for anyone who relied solely on the money from Youtube ad views, although some planned ahead and have Patreons up for support. Still, it’s horrifying to think that all this content was being threatened to have monetization removed, merely because some bot heard one ‘fuck’ too many. This is something that should be done by a dedicated staff, not some bargain bin AI. Context should matter, and a bot can’t distinguish between an acceptable piece of content or something that’s truly objectionable. As a result, content creators suffer as a whole. This hands off approach is, frankly, disgusting. It’s the most despicable form of censorship I’ve seen.

Well, maybe censorship is the wrong word. Youtube still allows you to post your content… you just won’t be paid for it. And they, as a company, have every right to make that call. To be fair, Youtubers should understand that they’re not as ‘free enterprise’ as they believe. They’re relying on a hosting platform for a living. Unless they get a website and pay for their own traffic, they’re at the whim of whatever Youtube decides to do.

Anyway, Pewdiepie should have been smart enough to know that couldn’t play the system forever. He’s always used controversy as a way to gain subscribers, but he never took into consideration how his actions would affect everyone. He’s not the only Youtuber saying nasty or insensitive things – in fact, he’s quite tame compared to countless others – but whether he likes it or not, Pewdiepie shoulders more responsibility for his actions than others. With over 50 million subscribers, he represents Youtube, content creators, and gamers. People who don’t even game or watch Youtube all that often know who this guy is, so there was an especially heavy burden on him to remain professional at all times. But unfortunately, he didn’t, and now everyone else is paying the price.

That’s the worst part, honestly. Because of Pewdiepie’s decision to use shock value as a way to gain subscribers, content creators are sitting at the edge of their seats and biting their nails, wondering if DMCA takedowns will be abused more than ever and upheld by law. Even if Pewdiepie wins, it’s not exactly a positive for content creators, and Google/Youtube are most certainly looking at ways to better monitor and/or restrict content.

Good luck to all of the content creators out there…

 

Destiny 2 – The Grind (Pay To Win Sucks)


There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Destiny 2 and its inclusion of ‘pay to win’ microtransactions, as well as how the way shaders are sold and used have changed for the worst.
For those unfamiliar with what’s going on, shaders allow you to re-color your gear. In the original game, shaders were applied to all of your armor, and you could switch freely between them. In Destiny 2, however, shaders are now single-use consumables. No matter how you look at it, this isn’t good news. This franchise encourages you to continually upgrade your armor. This happens quite often as you level up, so the shader you just applied could be wasted on something you’ll barely get a chance to use. Want to re-color your next piece of armor? Better get grinding.

Or pull out your wallet.

That’s the largest problem with this whole ‘single-use’ thing in regards to shaders. If you don’t want to grind for them, you can spend real world money in order to obtain them. As a result, it’s reasonable to assume that the very reason this system ever changed in the first place, is so Bungie and Activision could make more money to sell you cosmetic nonsense.

Their response?

“Shaders are earned through gameplay: leveling, chests, engrams, vendors.” “We expect you’ll be flush w shaders as you continue to play. When you reach Level 20, shaders will drop more often: vendor rewards, destination play, and endgame activities.

“Shaders are now an ongoing reward for playing. Customization will inspire gameplay. Each planet has unique armor and shader rewards. With D2, we want statements like, ‘I want to run the Raid, Trials, or go back to Titan to get more of its Shader’ to be possible.”

So, basically, they’re reiterating what they’ve been saying since the first game: They want everything you collect in these games to have a story behind them, to be memorable. Single-use shaders are a way to keep you playing so you have more great tales to tell.

Anyone with two brain cells to rub together isn’t buying this excuse. This change has been implemented for financial reasons, pure and simple. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, you know? But that’s a motto rarely spoken in the business world. Instead, they ask, “How can we make more money out of this?”

You might say, “I don’t care. As long as it’s only cosmetic stuff. They’re entirely optional and don’t affect the game.”

Except they do. They really, really do.

I will take a 5-8 hour game as opposed to something that offers 30, but with 15 hours dedicated to grinding. The latter is done so much these days, ‘grinding’ has become synonymous with ‘content’… but why? Why do developers always bloat their games like this? It’s because they’re trying to strike a balance. They want to make a game’s mechanics fun enough to keep you playing, but the actual content juuuuust boring enough to incentivize you to spend money on stupid shit… like shaders. 

And that’s not OK. Leave that ‘grind or pay’ mechanic to crappy mobile games and leave it out of $60 AAA products. Maybe it’s just me, but quality trumps quantity every day of the week. There’s something to be said about games that don’t overstay their welcome. Namely, they won’t unnecessarily drag your gameplay out just to make a little money.

Bright engrams are also an issue, and specifically what’s introduced the whole ‘pay to win’ argument. Bright engrams are essentially loot boxes, and these include mods for armor and weapons. These mods give you additional abilities, such as an increased recharge rate of things you need to perform in combat, faster mobility, quick reloads, better weapon handling, and more. These can all be earned in game, but players also have the option of purchasing bright engrams… meaning they don’t have to earn these abilities, but can buy them instead.

Apologists insist that charging for bright engrams is OK because they don’t have to be bought with real-world money… that you can just earn them in game. That’s missing the point, though. In order to obtain everything you need, it could potentially take you hundreds of in-game hours. Even if it didn’t, someone is paying for a gameplay advantage that you’re still chugging along on to earn. That is the very definition of ‘pay to win’… spending money to get access to stuff sooner so you have an advantage over people.

What’s terrible about all this is that the gaming community can’t even agree whether this practice is OK or not. Some are justifying it, some are condemning it. Either way this game is going to make Activision and Bungie a lot of money, though, and as long as this continues to happen, studios will continue to take advantage of us. 

Not to mention lie to us. 

Bungie had made it pretty clear that there would never be pay to win items in Destiny. Does that just flit out the window now because this is the sequel? And why do gamers constantly rationalize this nonsense?

I am not entirely opposed to trying Destiny 2 for myself, so I can remain educated on how far the game has progressed since the original launched… but I am a massochist, so I don’t advise it. I also have too many games to play so I don’t foresee it happening. News like ‘pay to win’ is probably the largest ‘Destiny’ repellant I could have come across.