Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Gaming Disorder Unclearly Classified with WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially added "gaming disorder" to their diagnostic handbook. Originally announced for a change in December of 2017, now that the verbiage is out it is not as helpful as some were anticipating.

Here is how WHO classifies "gaming disorder": gaming is strongly preferred over other activities, the patient does not stop even when there are negative consequences like doing badly at work, compulsive gaming strains the patient’s life or relationships, and all this has been happening for at least a year.

As a number of health experts are pointing out, you could replace the word "gaming" with anything else and it could be considered a disorder based on this language. Gambling. Drinking. Watching football. But now it's there and we're probably going to see a rise in misdiagnosis because of it. Why is the classification and verbiage important? Medically speaking, it helps distinguish what type of help a person needs. By having a broad definition we could have individuals with anxiety, depression, ADHD, or another health concerns, improperly labeled as having a "gaming disorder."

The medical research for gaming is still thread-bare and too full of mistakes. As has been discussed on this blog multiple times, the studies for 'video game violence causing aggression' has been torn asunder for providing invalid research. Too few participants. Too much bias in producing a specific end result. Manipulating of information. Yet these studies are part of the "gaming disorder" discussion that WHO has, unfortunately, relied on.

Is it possible for someone to have a "gaming disorder"? Absolutely. I think if a person hasn't been provided with guidelines in their youth, or has a family with addictive behavior, that can become part of their norm. There are some people with an addiction to gaming; having a classification with WHO can allow those individuals to seek medical help without being dismissed by physicians. That's a good thing. The problem is the classification and text on what this disorder is, is too broad. We need a more narrow, defined context of what is a "gaming disorder." Otherwise we are not helping the people who need it the most.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

GameStop For Sale?

Is GameStop about to be sold? That's the question of the day/week/month as Reuters reports that the corporation is talking to private equity firms to buy up the business.

Right now the deal is in the early stages and a lot of unknowns are in the air. Why the buyout ? What has changed with GameStop to cause this turn of events? Is GameStop falling from "retailer grace" for everything games? What will happen to the stores, with reportedly over 7,000 worldwide (including EBGames)?

The short answer is that GameStop is doing okay. Not as great as it was during the launch of the Wii and XBox 360/PS3 timeline, but it's still turning a profit. The past few quarterly earnings reports have surpassed their goals. Yet their stock prices have been in a steady decline since 2015. In 2016, the company closed over 150 stores in the U.S (no longer present in Puerto Rico). In 2017, the number was 131 globally.

Over the years GameStop has been attempting to become a strange amalgamation. A one-stop-shop for all of your tech and geek needs without being Best Buy. The company purchased Think Geek in 2015 and has steadily added collectables and merchandise to their line-up of products. 22.8% of last quarter's earnings ($260 million USD) can be attributed to these items.

But the company has also made a lot of questionable business decisions that didn't help the brand. They purchased web-based browser game maker Kongregate and did nothing with it. They held majority stake in Jolt Online Gaming (which closed in 2012). They purchased Spawn Labs and Impulse, two tech companies that focused on cloud-based gaming services. Spawn Labs closed in 2014 and Impulse's rebranded GameStop App/PC Services went away. It also purchased over 500 AT&T mobile stores and have tried to get into the phone market (this has been an ongoing project since 2007).

GameStop has tried to diversify it's portfolio by attempting to be everything gaming and technology. The problem is that GameStop never knew how to do it well. Once they began shifting focus away from physical gaming, they got into trouble.

For example: does anyone remember that horrible digital download system on GameStop's website back in 2006-2009/2010? While GameStop was one of the earliest adopters of digital downloads, it was a constant headache. Everything was handled through a third party company who had no customer service center. There were a lot of restrictions on what PC's specs could download games (even the best Alienware systems at the time couldn't run some of the games). No MAC's, because the company didn't want to support them. The third party site was a static 1990's style page with a contact e-mail and maybe a week turn-around time. If you're lucky! And you can see how long they stuck with that vendor before acquiring a new business to manage everything in house.

The website was always good enough to work. But not Amazon quality. It was never clear about shipping and the caveats. It was never timely with pre-orders or release date information. The search system sometimes worked and sometimes didn't. The online gift cards were sometimes okay to use in stores, but not always. The website was never quite right. But it did what it needed to do to sell games, and that was enough for GameStop.

Did you know that GameStop once accepted used MP3 players for their trade-in program? They tried to make a business out of that. The problem was they limited it to only the Microsoft Zune, the lackluster product that tried to be the next Apple iPod but never understood what consumers wanted. When everyone had iPods and were ready to upgrade, you couldn't go to GameStop to get cash for them.

More recently, there was the failed PowerPass Program, which was placed on "hold" 5 days before launch. Why? Because the company's systems could not handle it. I wouldn't be surprised if they were using the same DOS program from when I worked there 10 years ago.

And then there's MovieStop, founded in 2004 that focused on new and used movies. Like their other ventures, confusion in what the company would accept as a "used" product and the pricing forced the business to sell in 2012 to a private company.

GameStop started their business focusing on buying and selling games. It was a simple an effective model. Unfortunately the company has strayed too far away from it's origins and continually attempts to capitalize on consumer trends. But they never manage to get it right. They focus on what they, the CEO and board of directors, think is cool without asking the customers what they want. GameStop Corp is still worth billions, but they are a company that's on the verge of free-falling into failure for their short-sighted efforts. The shuffling of CEO's as of late has not helped matters. The change in consumer spending habits to go online has further highlighted the unbearable in-store experience (that Circle of Life policy needs to go away). The niche hold GameStop had on the gaming retail industry is no longer there. We can get better, more cost effective service elsewhere.

It's not surprising that GameStop is looking into selling to a private firm. Not for an infusion of cash, but to overhaul the system. What GameStop needs to focus on is what they do well. Get back to the basics. Go simple. And it might take another company buying them out to realize their mistakes.

Update 6/20/18: GameStop confirmed via press release that the company was exploring options for third party sale.

Friday, June 15, 2018

E3 Games Still Excluding Women as Main Characters

Regardless of how you feel about Anita Sarkeesian, Feminist Frequency's yearly Gender Breakdown of E3 games is worth reviewing. For 2018, the numbers are not much better than last year for gender representation with women. However a new category has been placed on the wheel: gender ambiguous. Characters that are designed in a way to not be distinctly "male" or "female" in accordance with society. Their design can be interpreted by the gamer.

Why is this Gender Breakdown necessary to read? Because it highlights where the industry can and should improve to provide representation. As we know very well by now, women make up a significant portion of the gaming population. Current studies have it averaged that around 45% of gamers are female. Yes, I am keeping in mind that this is beyond AAA games. This includes mobile and browser-based games - which are video games. Regardless of what your beliefs may be. A game, is a game, is a game. Platform does not matter. And being able to play a game where my gender is represented beyond the "damsel in distress" is important to me. It allows me to connect to the game's story and characters in a meaningful way. It also makes me feel more included in the community. While straight men shouldn't be the only ones allowed to fulfill their fantasies and wishes through a video game. Women, LGBTQ, PoC - we all want that experience and we shouldn't be pushed aside when we make up a large chunk of the gaming population.

The Breakdown focused on the big showcases that people were most likely to watch: EA, XBox, Bethesda, Nintendo, Sony, SquareEnix, Ubisoft, and PC Gaming. Games where multiple trailers were shown throughout several events were counted only once. Compared to 2017's numbers, the number of female characters who headlined or were a playable option for a game increased by 1%. Woo. 8% Female. 24% Male. 50% Multi. 5% Gender Ambiguous. 13% N/A. While it's better than 2016, the results haven't changed over the years. Games are still dominated by men or with the option to play as a male character. It's not worse, but it hasn't improved. I don't think it's too much to ask for to have PoC, females, and LGBTQ included in the lineup more often. (Pssst. Developers - having variety will encourage new people to spend money and play!) While it was refreshing to see a different angle to The Last of Us 2 in how they displayed their content, that was 1 out of 118 games.

Diversity. It's a thing. (Men, keep your shirts on. Everyone else has had to project their being onto white male characters for decades. You can project yours to a female or a PoC 1 time and you'll be fine. We promise.)

2018's numbers also point out that the presenters were almost always white men. For as much as I like Bethesda, they only had 1 female presenter (who was the butt of a joke for Prey). Come on developers. We know you have other people working in your businesses. Give them a shot! They might do better than most of the people you bring out on the stage.

Finally, the Breakdown includes a segment on combat vs. non-combat gaming. E3 presentations typically focus on action-oriented games. But this year it was refreshing to see more of a shift towards puzzles, platformers, dance, and non-war games. Because gamers want more out of their purchase. We want to be challenged and developers seem to be hearing our calls to make it happen.

Remember: It's okay to enjoy video games and to be critical of them. This is how we grow as a community, as an art form, and as entertainment.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Disney Airs and Censors E3 Presentations

For some reason Disney decided it would be a good idea to play the E3 conferences on the Disney XD channel. And then they censored the crap out of it.

Through a partnership with IGN, Disney XD streamed big presentations vicariously throughout the weekend and will continue until the show ends. However Disney is Disney. And Disney XD is a kids-focused channel. Knowing full well that a lot of T to M rated games are highlighted at these presentations, why would Disney want to tempt fate?

Well they did it anyway, opting to show footage from the event and cutting to an animated title screen of "IGN Live E3 2018" whenever content was censored. A YouTube video uploaded by Richard Crosby showed an instance of this during The Last of Us 2, just after the kissing sequence. The footage cuts to the animated title right after and it could have some questionable implications.

A spokesperson from Disney XD commented that "The Disney XD policy does not allow for gratuitous violence in programming that children may be viewing." Which is fine. But according to viewers some of the cutting was "sloppy" and poorly done - some of the violent content and harsh language still aired. Not to mention they were showing cinematics of T and M rated game content on a kids channel. You can't show that and cut away to a title card without drawing attention. Kids will go online and seek out the full stream/trailers. They are smart and they have the access.

Why Disney decided to air the event is beyond my comprehension. Maybe they're trying to be the next G4? They probably showed off Gears Pop since it didn't have violence in the teaser. This did not send the right message.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

E3 2018 Presentation Overview - Would I Watch Them Again?

The big question of the week that's on every gamer's mind: Who Won E3? Lots of speculation and debate have broken out on which developer or console maker held the best event for E3 2018.

When you get to the core of it, it's a silly question. Every developer is a little different. They produce content their way. They have games that don't compete with other companies. People who are loyal to the brand are already invested in the product. The presentations are about engaging new customers while reminding current buyers that more content is on the way. And trying to compare a Nintendo presentation to EA doesn't work. What Nintendo provides to it's audience will never be the same as EA.

Instead of trying to rank the presentations on "who won" or "who was the best," I'm going to review each event, provide pros and cons, and note if I'd watch the presentation again. If the event was engaging enough to re-watch it, then I think the developers did their job. So! Here is the grand overview of every E3 2018 presentation - a link to my full write-up will be accompanied with each event:

Electronic Arts - EA started the event 3 days early (per the new tradition) and highlighted the games that they felt best represented their brand. While the hardcore gamers may not believe this, EA Sports is a huge division of their gaming empire. So of course a portion of the program was going to focus on Fifa and Madden. But we did get some helping hands from BioWare and EA Originals to pad out the event.

Pros: The event went along at a steady pace and never felt too long, or too rushed. We got a little taste of everything that EA is working on. While we knew a new Battlefield was on the way, the additional content was nice to see. The small breakouts with the smaller studios under the EA Originals umbrella was quite refreshing. For all of EA's ire and ill-will, they are trying to be better with providing a platform for indie developers that may not have been seen by the general gaming public. Even allowing BioWare in was nice. Stage set-up was direct and not over-the-top on the flash and cheese. From a format stand-point, EA did what it always did - it's a tried and true method.

Cons: Awkward host and developer interactions. Some of this is first time jitters. Other times it's developers who have no right to be on a stage introducing content, and allow their nerves to get the best of them. Dudes - Please learn from Ubisoft's mistakes and never go into the crowd to hold breaks/interviews/memes. It ends up bad. The other con is that the event was very predictable. There weren't any new surprises or unexpected news. The choice of streamers to test out the mobile Command & Conquer game were random (people I never heard of), or borderline offensive (the Madden tournament winner is not the bastion of good sportsmanship). It was a flat presentation all around that left the crowd muddled (so little applause throughout).

Would I watch again? Nope. Not even a little bit. I'll wait on the Anthem videos to slowly upload on BioWare's channel and I'm already playing Unravel 2. That's all I needed.



XBox/Microsoft - Breaking with the traditional format that so many developers stick with (play a trailer, get the dev to talk about the game for 4-5 minutes and/or show off a questionable demo), XBox decided to throw a lot of games at viewers. For 1 hour and 45 minutes. It was a lot of content to absorb and more than what most would have expected from the company trying to rebound from slow console sales.

Pros: If there was an award for best stage set-up for the modern era, XBox would probably win it. Big. Bold. Lots of screens. Lots of computers. Shiny. They did good on the presentation of their stage. And provided some seamless transitions between the event stage and the video feeds with little interruptions to those watching the event online. In spite of the number of games, it was nice to see that Microsoft is trying to push to have more content on their system. Though it's not all exclusive, it does give gamers more options. It was nice to see a working version of Forza and that more content is being driven to the XBox Game Pass. We saw a first conformation that Devil May Cry is back, and we're getting some strange games like Gears Pop. Again...it was a lot of content. But, I think gamers appreciated the content and not the fluff.

Cons: It was a lot of content. I have a difficult time remembering the number of games that were dropped at this event and I'm continually going back through my notes. The problem with having so many games and little down-time between the trailers for an hour and 45 minutes (I'm not letting this go - there was no reason for the event to have been so long), is that our brains can only absorb so much information. We're going to start forgetting things that we were informed about a moment ago. That's not fair to the games being showcased, nor to the developers who have been working on the product. There needed to be more spacing between the content or a much shorter event. Nintendo and SquareEnix did a similar concept this year, but limited their events to 30 and 45 minutes respectively.

Would I watch again? Not a chance. I felt like I needed to take an Adderall after this conference.


Bethesda: With only recently dropping the news that another Fallout was in the works, a lot of eyes were on Bethesda to deliver the goods. Having been to QuakeCon, I know that their presentations can be quirky. Good, but unique. But it's also Bethesda, with a known history of being super quiet about everything they do until the last moment. So how will they handle an E3 event?

Pros: Being Bethesda, they did not do a traditional stage set-up. Instead they opted for a cat-walk like runway with stadium seating on both sides. Projectors lined the top of the stage for the audience to view content. It made for an interesting streaming experience - thank you to the camera operators for not breaking the 180 degree rule. There was much more talking here than the previous presentations, but the focus was on content. It wasn't fluff. We got more details about Fallout: 76 than I could have imagined. Very clear info about the future of Quake Champions and unexpected teasers for a new IP and The Elder Scrolls 6. It was worth-while content that was directed to the Bethesda fans. Also, Andrew W. K. Thumbs up.

Cons: Bethesda is the king of the awkward presenters. Some of those developers looked downright terrified to be on that stage. While some are fantastic, others looked like they needed to be consoled afterwards. They need to come up with a better vetting system on who should and should not present. I also found that some of the presentations were long-winded. Prey and The Elder Scrolls card games didn't need to be so long. Yes, it was nice to hear about updates, but the bantering and weird in-jokes could have been nixed.

Would I watch again? I think I could sit through the awkwardness for another go. In the end the presentation was fun. I was engaged enough to consider a second viewing.


SquareEnix: After a three year absence, SE came back with the intent to try and prove that they could continue to make a dent in the Western gaming market. Given the continual, and confusing, success of Final Fantasy XV, what does SquareEnix have in store for it's fans?

Pros: It was short and made for the home audience. Instead of wasting time and resources on creating a stage set-up to appease a few hundred people, they knew most of their fans would be watching from home. So the focus was on entertaining the people streaming the event. Which meant 30 minutes of trailers, with a few breaks from developers to provide more details about certain games, and lovely voice narration by Keith David. Good call there, SE. There was more depth provided to the new Tomb Raider title and Just Cause 4. We saw some gameplay and at least 2 new games, though no details on what they are going to be about.

Cons: It was dull. The content they highlighted were games we already knew were coming out or had been announced by Microsoft the day before. The trailers they played were the same ones shown the day before. Most of the updates listed for FF14 and Brave Exodus have been out for nearly a month. We got nothing new from this presentation. Short is fine, but if you're going to bring the goods, then why bother? And this is not about the FF7 remake. Anything else could have made this presentation better. If this is suppose to be the "future" of SE, they did not impress.

Would I watch again? No.


Ubisoft: If you had an Uncle Eddie, he is Ubisoft. This developer is full of crazy ideas that don't always come to fruition. They try so hard to do fun things, and fail at it spectacularly. They are a fun event to watch because they never seem to quite get it right.

I know that's a horrible way to look at a conference, but that's the joy of watching Ubisoft!

Pros: Ubisoft did what it did best and did not listen to the voices of gamers. Instead of opening the show with the latest Assassin's Creed game, they gave us a dancing panda. At least they followed it up with a nearly 4 minute cinematic trailer of Beyond Good and Evil 2.

Cons: The problem with Ubisoft's goofyness is that they are so predictable with their showcase. We knew before the stream began that they would talk about their banner franchises: AssCreed, Rabbids, Tom Clancy. We didn't have to bat an eyelash. And you could tell by the lack of reaction from the audience that they expected the same as well. While the opening was silly, it didn't make up for the rest of the ho-hum presentation.

Would I watch again? Nope. But thanks for giving us something with BGaE.


Sony: Sony would like to remind you that they are still very much in the game, want you to buy a PS4 even as the console nears the end of it's life cycle (already? I know!). But they took a very different approach from past years. One that will have polarizing opinions from gamers. You either liked this set-up or hated it.

Pros: The event began in the "Church of Sony" as I dubbed it. A large barn, wood walls, drop lights hanging along the beams, a simple stage, and one projector in the back. Very simple. This ended up being a replica of a room in The Last of Us 2 - which took us through a new trailer and in-depth gameplay. The idea of the presentation was to provide a "deep dive" look at 4 big titles coming to the PS4. Initially I thought "oh great, we're only talking about 4 games" but it ended up providing new announcements. The event was kept to under an hour and there was an intermission while attendees moved from the church/barn to a planetarium with super wide-screen views. The games highlighted were bold and unique. No two titles were the same and could capture someone's attention. We also got more answers and even more questions for Death Stranding. I'm all in for this.

Cons: While the concept was cool, the journey wasn't fully fleshed out. It ended up only being 2 rooms, not 4. Given the anticipation of Spiderman, I would have loved to have seen the audience in a crowded cityscape that replicated New York. Or in the mountains/vacant beach of Death Stranding. Stopping at 2 rooms gave unnecessary length to the presentation. My other big issue were the vignettes between some trailers. They were random and nonsensical. Created by Media Molecule (Little Big Planet) they purpose was unknown. It was never explained. Even they didn't know how their animations would be used (they spoke about their involvement on the post-show). Combined with the awkward pauses between trailers, it was an odd showcase.

Would I watch again? Maybe. I'm torn on this one because I think the concept of the presentation could have worked if they expanded it. Either go all in on the creativity or don't do it at all.


Nintendo: The last in the show typically goes to Nintendo. They have been tweaking their format over the past few years to shift towards an online audience (which is funny given how anti-online they have been for years until the Switch...even that is limited). Like SquareEnix, instead of creating a presentation for a few hundred people at E3, they tailored the content for the majority of people watching at home.

Pros: 45 minutes and they used every second of it quite well. While the focus was mostly on Smash, the balance between Reggie's segments and the games provided a good flow of content. You didn't feel overwhelmed by the gaming news, nor board by the talking. It helped maintain a modest feeling throughout the presentation.

Cons: The presentation was very predictable. Looking back at my notes, I found that nearly everything I had guessed was shown during this event. New peripheral/accessory? We're getting a GameCube controller for Smash. Pokémon repeats? Yep. Mario Party? Ding. Fortnite on Switch? Bingo. You didn't have to be a mind reader to know what Nintendo was going to focus on. They gave their fans what they wanted, and nothing more.

Would I watch again? Probably for the Smash Bros. content. A lot of details were provided and I think a second viewing is needed to absorb it all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Nintendo Direct at E3 2018 - Final Screen!

The last big presentation for E3 is Nintendo. Today's conference should be a good round-up on the weird weekend of pre-E3 events. Nintendo has already announced a new Mario Tennis, 2 Pokémon games that will tie in with Pokémon Go, and a few games on mobile and/or other consoles are making their way to the Switch. So we're probably not going to get many surprises here. It's too soon for another Legend of Zelda game to be announced - same with a larger Mario title. I think the focus on the show is going to be more of Labo and some third-party games that will see new life on the Switch. Oh and Super Smash Bros. That's listed on their site as a topic. Maybe if we're lucky we'll get another accessory? More than likely Fortnite will come to Switch, another Mario Party will be announced, and probably a review of Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee.

Nintendo Direct will be live starting at 9am EST, 11am CST, 12pm EST.

11:45am mini-review: Turns out I was mostly right! While most of the presentation focused on the new Smash Bros. we did see a new Mario Party, Fortnite releasing at 10am PST today for free, and another quick look at Pokemon Let's Go. Mario Party appears to support mobile play for the most part, allowing systems to link with each other for co-op. New levels, new mini games, and hopefully some new characters.


Some more footage from Splatoon 2 is available, a couple of anime-esque RPG games - the usual Nintendo fare. Smash Bros. was the main attraction. The newest version will contain all fighters from the previous game, upgrades to the battle system (too much dodging will eventually slow down your character's dodge movements, 1v1 battles will do more damage versus an arena full of characters), ultimate changes, and 2 new characters - Ink Girl/Boy (Splatoon) and Ripley (Metroid). The biggest news is that the game is releasing December 7 this year and a GameCube controller will be released for players to purchase, with the Smash logo.

While it was fun to watch, Nintendo is still always predictable. They keep their presentations light, fun, and with some enjoyable surprises that are not Earth-shattering. And they know how to keep their content to the point! Thanks for not dragging the presentation on for an hour!

Gamers...that's it! No more presentations! Whew. The past 4 days have been extra busy. I think we could all use a nap.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Sony E3 2018 Showcase

Up next we have Sony/PlayStation with their showcase of stuff and things! You can watch it live, and listen to the groovy tunes.

7:48pm: Tunes are still grooooovy.

7:56pm: Slightly different format for the first few posts, but here are my hopes with this showcase: 1 - That it will be only an hour long so I can do something else tonight before passing out into bed immediately after this. 2 - We'll get some exclusive games that are new titles and not another Uncharted. 3 -  Something from Square Enix that's new and not the same bad Kingdom Hearts III trailer. 4 - Please let this only be an hour long.

There is a strange animated short playing right now with 2 robots, a banana or a bean with a guitar, and someone stuck in a piano while something that sounds like Minions tries to sing...this might be weirder than Ubisoft's opening of the dancing panda.

- Now we're starting. Looks like they crowded everyone into a barn? Oh...a church? The Church of Sony? With nice microphone/sound setup. #sarcasm This feels like a 2002 presentation. How retro.

"We're going to take a deeper look at content we've talked about before." Lame.

- This is a very weird set-up and I don't know how well this will work. It's very much a "stripped down" barebones set. No fancy stage designs. A few strings of lights. A simple sound system. One giant projector on the stage. No filter between the stage and the audience. Most people are standing. A banjo player is accompanied by a very light backtrack with a flute and another string, but it's faint. Not sure if it's a song from a game or what it's for, but there's our show opener!

- Oh...okay the crazy ass barn makes sense now. It's tying in to a Naughty Dog game with a very similar look. Unfortunately with this set-up, the sounds is going to reverberate unless the feed cuts to a direct line to the audio as well as the video. So it sounds strange on the stream right now.

Looks like it's more The Last of Us Part II. Also, hi Glenn from 'The Walking Dead.' We miss you! From the cutscene we go right into gameplay. Much of this looks very familiar with the last game where sneaking is your friend. But instead of zombies, you're fighting against humans mostly. Combat seems more intuitive and making Ellie to be a superhuman. But without knowing what the gamepad layout is, we can only go off the video we were given.

- Sony is taking an intermission to move people to the next experience. It seems like they are moving people through multiple rooms that are themed to the games. That's my theory so far. In-between they have announcers/hosts to expand on what we've seen. Also, clearly, this is going to be long and we're not going to be done in an hour. 0/3 on hopes! It also looks like some additional trailers will be played during the intermissions so not all is lost - maybe we'll see something new! While Sony is not planning any big announcements or new titles, we should get some updates on some current games and projects we've known about for a while.

- Confirmed for God of War 4 will be a new game plus mode. Details will be released at a later date on the PlayStation blog.

-  Aside: I played Beat Saber at PAX. Congrats to the team for getting on the PS4 and for being recognized by PlayStation as one of their 5 new game announcements in their E3 countdown!

- Back at the presentation and in the second room! Ghosts of Tsushima. This room looks more like a planetarium with it's space and seating. A much larger projection screen. A man is playing the shakuhachi at the front with footage of a grassy field behind him. Cut to the projection screen and we see a lone warrior, possibly a samurai, during day nine of the Mongol invasion. He's overlooking a landscape and a town ravaged by the invaders. Visually, this is really beautiful. Borderline cinematic with film. And then the Samurai goes stealth! (Are gamers really into stealth these days? That's the trend I've been seeing with a lot with today's content.)

- The weird banana/bean showed up for a 5 second interlude. Unsure why. But okay Sony. You do you.

- A quick look at Control from 505 Games and Remedy. Inception meets game design. Set for a 2019 release. We can now confirm that Sony is giving us a bit more than 4 games and 4 themed rooms.

- Resident Evil! Sequence starts out with two men fighting in a super market and one ends up being a zombie, until our fateful hero steps in to save the day. The Raccoon City police logo was the first thing you could see on Leon's personage. Resident Evil 2 remake is coming out end of January in 2019! Back to Racoon City we go.

- From the creators of Rick and Morty, here's a game. Trover Saves the Universe. This is why we didn't get another season.

- Kingdom Hearts III again, but at least it's not the damn Frozen trailer. Sora, Donald, and Goofy are harassing Jack Sparrow from Pirates 3. So not only do you get to use a Gummi ship again, you can play on a pirate ship. This is officially way more ridiculous than previous games. I could give a pass on Tron, but when you start throwing in more live action movies, it gets silly. It's very clear that these SE/animated Disney characters do not belong in the same universe as Pirates of the Caribbean.

Also, the trailer stopped with the sound effects about 1 minute in. WHY? The sound mixing was atrocious. :( Oh, and there will be a limited edition PS4 with a collection of the 5 billion games affiliated with KH.

- Kojima time with Death Stranding and the Reedus fetus! We still don't know what this game is about. But we are getting some glimpses. Norma Reedus' character has the ability to see an invisible monster. He carries a lot of tactical gear and you're going to do quite a bit of exploring. We're seeing another character for the first time that isn't del Torro. Reedus character can somehow be reborn if he's caught by the invisible enemies. That might be where the fetus comes into play. Kojima, keeping it real...crazy.

- Quick teaser for Noah 2 that tells us nothing. More of the random animations.

- Onto Spiderman which continues to be one of the few superhero games that does well in spite of the flaws.Given the success of 'The Avengers' it's likely that this game will feature more humor and one-liners that are similar to Peter Parker's movie counterpart.

- Okay and....that's it? I think? That was weird and such an impromptu ending.

During the intermission I could have sworn that they said they were going to focus on deep dives of 4 games and it seemed like they were going to have 4 rooms with 4 stylish settings to take people into the games. That didn't happen. It was 2 rooms and that felt like a waste of time. They should have kept everyone in one space and not paused the event.

They also showed some other stuff - more than 4 games. We saw something different for Kingdom Hearts III, a confirm on Resident Evil 2 remakes release date, and Ghosts of Tsushima which I don't know what this is but I want to take photos of everything in this game.

It was an odd presentation. It had some weird transitions with the animations. But at least it was short and not a lot of fluff. It was content driven and provided us more weirdness of Death Stranding. Anything Kojima is an instant win.

But we're not done! Tomorrow it's Nintendo and the official opening of E3.

Ubisoft E3 2018 Conference

Ubisoft. Oh Ubisoft. You are so strange. Your E3 presentations are bizarre and unfocused. Sometimes they are downright offensive to all sense of sanity and taste.

Keep being you, Ubisoft.

The presentation began with Just Dance 2019 and a dancing panda. That's really all you need to know.

The big takeaways are a very shiny cinematic of Beyond Good and Evil II with a quick appearance of Jade. They also showed off some pre-alpha gameplay. The game can be played solo or in co-op, allowing the gamer to fly around in ships, on a jetpack, or walk up and smack enemies in the faces. The content they showed was very limited so we can't wait to see more. They have partnering with Joseph Gordon-Levitt with his project "Hit Record" to work in the game. Using collaborative efforts of Hit Record, you can contribute music to the game!

Of course there's Tom Clancy talk, The Division 2 after the XBox presentation dropped gameplay, more Mario Rabbids, and Black Horn, another pirate game. Pirates are cool right now.

Starlink is mashing up with StarFox to provide a weird collab. Because Ubisoft does that now. And of course AssCreed, this time in ancient Greece.

That's about it. Ubisoft is ho-hum on it's predictability with sometimes notable shiny moments. You know what you're going to get out of their event without having to bat an eyelash. Would like to see more BGAE though. Just saying!

SquareEnix E3 2018 Presentation

SquareEnix panel is live now at E3. Unfortunately I won't be able to blog this as it's occurring. I'm at work but I will be updating this post later this evening with the full rundown!

Right now I'm seeing a quick edit of the Patch 4.3 trailer for Final Fantasy XIV. Little old now but, hey. If you're not in FF14 it's shiny.

But wait...they threw down a Palico in the game. And, what's this? A Monster Hunter tie-in? What are you up to this time Yoshi P?

TLDR: No mention of Final Fantasy 7 or the anticipated Marvel: The Avengers. The brief pieces I was able to see were trailers that have already been shown at the XBox conference. It's content we knew was coming or was already out there: Just Cause 4, another Tomb Raider game, Kingdom Hearts III. Once again SquareEnix can't seem to make up it's mind on how to approach these events.

4:32pm: Okay! Recap time! SquareEnix's presentation: their return after a 3 year break was about as lackluster as EA's. With most of the narration performed by Keith David (Chaos from the Dissida series, or Goliath from Gargoyles if you're a 90's kid), the event was a speedy 30 minutes long and full of trailers with the occasional "dev chat" in between.

As mentioned previously, the content that Square chose to focus on has already been revealed either with announcements made earlier this year, or showcasing the same trailers from the XBox presentation. They started with Tomb Raider, which again looks like it'll be a nice raiding romp. Some game play was provided along with a crafting system. This appears to be more of a stealth game.

Immediately it jumps to Final Fantasy XIV latest patch: Under the Moonlight. With a Monster Hunter tie-in that has no details yet. Followed by 2 of the developers talking about Captain Spirit and how he fits into the Life is Strange universe. Than it's Dragon Quest XI. The Japanese version has been out for a while now, so there is nothing here we haven't already seen. There's a game called The Quiet Man which might be okay? Appears to be an action-oriented game? The problem is most of these are teasers and provide very little content to determine what's going on.

After that, Platinum Games teams up with SE again for Babylon's Fall. No details provided on what kind of game it is. We see a man slay another in really cool armor. That's it. This is followed by NiER: Automata the complete edition for the XBox One. And then Octopath Traveler, an RPG for the Switch that looks like Tactics but with a Harvest Moon face.

Several minutes are dedicated to Just Cause 4, with the team talking about how they wanted to make the environment even more destructive. Because that's exactly what the game needed: more violence.

Kingdom Hearts III was a disappointment in this presentation as it was the same trailer as yesterday. Even worse, the sound editing appears to have been completely intended. Maybe it was to focus on Utada's song playing over the dialogue? However, you couldn't help but focus on the questionable voice acting when there are no sound effects to accompany the game.

And with that, the presentation came to an end! 30 minutes of trailers with nothing new brought to the table. No FF7. No The Avengers. The same stuff we have already seen.

Square...what were you thinking? If you're trying to sell your status as a big name in the west, you failed. At the end of the presentation, the company prompts viewers to watch throughout the week as they make more announcements. Hopefully they are better than this event.

At the very least, the SquareEnix store is offering up to 80% off select titles until 6/18. That's something.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Bethesda E3 2018 Overview

Incoming Bethesda panel! You can watch it on Twitch.

Here's the recap:

- Starting the conference with a "here are the people of Behesda" to showcase that yes, developers ARE real people. Crazy!

- Pete Hines is happy that his team won the Stanley Cup.

- Rage 2 is first up, with a friendly jab at WalMart Canada for accidentally listing the product early. And look! Andrew W. K. is up to give us a musical interlude. This is already funny and way more entertaining then the last 2 presentations. Hope the audience enjoys Bethesda's randomness.

Awkwardness ensues after the song. Rage 2 was produced by Avalanche Studios with Bethesda helping back it. The second game takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, of course. Mutants have taken over and it's your job as Walker, the last Ranger, to fight back. Missions litter the open landscape with various enemies. Loads of weapons and vehicles will aid your quest.The game is boasting a seamless open world and semi-destructible environments. Think 'Mad Max' with the environment and Mercenaries 2 game play.

- The Elder Scrolls: Legends - the Bethesda card game. I tried this out at PAX and it was okay. The game is expanding beyond PC to be on all major consoles. And the promo is focusing on how addictive the game is. Interesting choice...

- The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset. This latest chapter was released last week, so if you're already playing the game you know what's going on. The MMO is surprisingly doing well with 11 million registered users, with a 1 million growth from the past year (note: it's registered, not active users). Some of the other games are peeking in here and there to add more depth to the world. It's a trailer for Summerset if you're not in the game now, well, there you go.


- Doom Eternal. I think this is the sequel to the new Doom. The game will be demoed at Quakecon. That's it! Details, done! Next!

- Quake Champions. The latest in the franchise has had a shaky start. People can trial it for the free-to-play version today. Some new characters and weapons have been added with an update to maps. Having seen this demoed at Quakecon last year I'm a bit skeptical on where this will go. But hoping for the best. Quake was one of my earliest arena games.

- Prey fans, you are getting a free update tonight. It includes story mode and survival mode. There will also be DLC in the future. Also, best use of 80's music ever for a trailer. Later this summer another mode will be introduced as a 5v5 Prop Hunt.

- Wolfeinstein Youngblood will push the story forward, telling the tale of BJ's twin daughters in  1980's France. A co-op game! Coming in 2019. That's all for now. Interested to see where this goes. Wolfeinstein Cyberpilot also announced as a new VR game where you can take over a Nazi cybersuit to, and I'm quoting  Pete Hines here, "f over Nazi's on every platform possible."

- Right now we're being trolled about Skyrim/Elder Scrolls by using an Alexa Amazon assistant.

- Okay. NOW it's Fallout: 76. Reiterating the content from XBox presentation's earlier today - this is a prequel to all previous Fallout games set in West Virginia. You're the first set of survivors that come out of the vault directly after the nuclear fallout. So far it's the same trailer shown.

Alright! We've got some starting game footage. It's reclamation day. You and the team have been underground for 25 years waiting for this day. The footage right now is showing you walking through to the opening of the vault and the open landscape. This leads to an open mountain landscape that doesn't look too bad from the fallout...at first. You'll be sent to 6 areas to handle quests the Overseer provides you and the others. There are some new creatures and baddies to face.

Fallout: 76 is entirely online. Obviously there are loads of questions about this.

Your progression goes with you. The open world is meant to be inhabited by the players. We'll be able to shape the world how we want. Some of your fellow Survivors will be helpful and friendly. some will not. All while dodging the mutants of the wasteland! You can still play solo or play with a team. Standard content from past games are there such as crafting, building your own homestead/shelter with friends. Oh, and there are nuke sites on the map that you can interact with...yeah. Yeah. There will be so much chaos.

There will be a beta, but more importantly a collector's edition? Somehow that's more important. Anyway, you get a glow in the dark map of the new region. Some figurines to place on said map. And a helmet! No details on the beta, but it's best to look to the Fallout site to sign up.

Fallout:76 for a November 14th release. This. Year.

- Other Fallout news. Shelter will be available on PS4 and Switch - still free! Shelter is a fun game so I'd recommend downloading it. They are coming out tonight.

- Another new mobile game - The Elder Scrolls Blades. A first person RPG. It looks surprisingly well for a mobile game. Tap and swipe to move and attack. You can use abilities and spells while you dungeon crawl. There is also arena mode, where you can battle with other players. The primary mode is "town" where you can run through a story and upgrade the city. You can even visit your friend's towns. Their dream is to allow for the game to be played on multiple devices and allow all users to interact with each other. It will be free and you can register tonight for pre-order.

- Bethesda is wrapping up their panel with the "future" with a new IP. Starfield. Something space related. We got a space station opening up as the sun sets behind a planet...and black out!

- But oh wait. There's more! Here comes another The Elder Scrolls. Not Skyrim #5928. Number 6. Teaser trailer and a standing ovation by the crowd.

And with that, we are done! While it was a lot more talking than the other presentations, there was content that helped flesh out the game details. Which was very much appreciated. So far Bethesda is winning on the presentations, even with the awkward presenters.

XBox/Microsoft E3 2018 Presentation

Day -2, but really we need to stop counting because E3 no longer has a start date. So today's it's XBox/Microsoft and Bethesda. Here we go!

- Halo Infinite. Hey look. Another Halo game. And more of I don't care I gave up after game 3 because the series is done as far as I'm concerned. Moving on!

- Phil Spencer talks about what the presentation is going to be like, and it'll be a mix of new stuff and some notable companies. So far we've seen a trailer for Ori, a lovely visual cacophony, and now zombie samurai Sekiro, that looks vaguely like Onimusha.

- Bethesda is already on the stage with Todd Howard the game director. And a screen of Fallout logos in the background. Fallout 4 will be on XBox Game Pass starting today. Fallout 76 more content dropped - this is a prequel to all of the other games. You're the first to emerge from the shelters after the bombings. Taking place in West Virginia. Bethesda promises the game will be 4 times larger than 4 (heh).

- Aside, the "Pre-Order Now!" ads at the bottom of the screen are very distracting. Thanks XBox.

- Moving on to a game set in the Life is Strange universe about a young boy and his ability to tell crazy stories. Captain Spirit. A free download on June 26. Um...okay. This doesn't seem like a game but more of a visual novel. But sure. Okay. Let's roll with it.

-What even is this presentation anymore? I'm so confused on the randomness of the games, the content being shown...what?

- Okay. Trying to get my head back on to focus. Looks like a Terry Crews got his game in Crackdown 3. I don't know if it's actually him, but it sure looks like him as the main character!

- Nier: Automata is getting a full release on XBox. The crowd hasn't really clapped in the last 3 trailers.

- Current trailer has a very weird knocking noise in the background that doesn't sound intentional so it's becoming distracting. Again, still trying to focus! Metrro: Exodus: Okay. horror survival game that has a very "end of the world" feel to it with strange monsters. Detailed environments.

- Phil Spencer is in the audience. Oh no. Phil don't. Please don't. We all know this is a bad idea.

- Kingdom Hearts on XBox. Some actual gameplay footage with the 'Frozen' universe. Yep. Frozen. Because gamers. Love. Frozen. But it's not all bad! They did show some of Wreck It Ralph's universe, Tangled, and the Gummi ships are back! However, there is definitely something wrong with the trailer. There are no sound effects. Only dialogue. You can't hear any of the battle sounds. No key chain clinks. No movement or fabric rustles. XBox why? Fix this. :(

- Two updates are on the way for Sea of Thieves. New stories and expansions.

- At least XBox is throwing one trailer after another with very few interruptions in between. Up next is another look at Battlefield V and the story of the female character you can play in the game. Very brief. Maybe 5-8 seconds longer than the content we saw yesterday for her story.

- First trailer for the newest Forza Horizon 4. Taking place in Brittan with dynamic seasons (they dropped leaves into the audience to showcase autumn) in a shared open world. A live demo is taking place. A 60 fps mode will be available. Quick chat features allow you to group up with people you meet in the game. Pushing that game pass hard, Forza will be available on October 10 for PC, XBox One, and Game Pass.

- Microsoft has a new studio 'The Initiative' and the company has purchased 'Undead Labs' as well as 'Playground Games.' 'Ninja Theory' has been bought out. Lastly 'Compulsion Games' is part of the Microsoft family. Aka, Microsoft is boasting their assets and trying to expand their reach on game development.

- A few more repeats: We Happy Few, Tales of Vesperia Complete Edition, The Division 2: games we knew were coming out later this year or have been previously announced. The Division 2 takes place in DC after a virus outbreak that takes out most of the city. Appears to be more of a team-based online game versus solo content. The interface seems light for what the game is showing - the current demo is running off the game engine. The squad is picking up items, searching the area, fighting other human enemies with people chatting as if they were actually playing (but they're not, this is pre-recorded).

- Another push on XBox Game Pass. Awkward presenter aside, FastStart, a type of AI, will launch with some games to help learn how people play in order to help push games to consoles faster. Halo: Combat Evolved will be on the list later this year. Starting today The Division, Fallout 4, Elder Scrolls Online can be played on Game Pass. The audience is not impressed.

-Tomb Raider impracticality is back again with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. It looks like it's much more crazy raiding antics, which is nice to see Lara getting back to her roots. More action more platforming.

- Something called Ession Might be Session. The first icon looks strange. Throwback to Tony Hawk?

- Okay. There are a lot of games XBox is throwing at us. It's nice. However, because it's so much there are some issues: 1 - it's difficult to keep up with all the content so you can't absorb what's going on. 2: in the rush to put so much out on the stage, we're not getting enough of a taste of each game to allow us to be invested. We need a breather.

- Black Dessert, an MMO of...something. Yep. There's too much now. My brain is not able to keep up.

- Capcom throwing down a very different looking Devil May Cry. 80's action movie throwback based on the design, one liners, and over the top cinematics. #5 has a different hero with a cameo from Dante. This looks like silly fun, and sometimes that's all a game needs to be. Even if you're not into DMC, be grateful for the break in the presentation!

- Cuphead DLC with a new playable character, more bosses, new levels coming in 2019.

- Tunic. Fox Link. That's all I see. Fox Link. Link, but a Fox. With a green tabbard, sword, shield, and breaking pots for rubies. Lovely design as a call out to the early RPG's top-down interface.

-Bandai Namco has a new production on the way mashing up some of the anime most of us Westerners grew up on: Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto. Into a fighting game. Because of course it'd be a fighting game. When you get down to it, Bandai produces a lot of fighting anime. Jump Force, set for a 2019 release.

- Another post-apocalyptic game. Dying Light 2. It looks like how you play the game and the choices you make - do you steal or do you help - will shape the "world" of the game. From the developer: a realistic parkour system, fluid controls/actions, and genuine consequences of your actions. Mirror's Edge with BioWare. Got it.

- Oh gawd. Battletoads confirmed. I might have to call it quits. Battletoads has destroyed my sanity thanks to GameStop.

- Just Cause 4 which looks suspiciously similar to the last game. So expect the same insanity, world-busting moves.

- Gears Pop. Yeah...Gears of War...in POP form...Hey! Here's a great idea! Let's take a Mature game that's super gory and not safe for kids, and make it kid friendly. This studio has gone tone deaf. Oh, and Gears Tactics, a PC version of Gears but like Halo's tactic game. And Gears 5, because everything must have 5 games! If you're a fan of the series you're already sold. Enjoy!

- Phil briefly mentions Microsoft AI, cloud streaming, and that the team is working on the next console cycle before everything is interrupted by Projekt Red. Your friendly Witcher developer is giving us a look at Cyberpunk 2077. This game looks crazy amazing and I have no idea what it's about, but I want it.

Thankfully, THAT IS IT! That was an hour and 45 minutes and I'm exhausted. While seeing all the content is nice, the lack of breaks and being able to digest it all has made it difficult to enjoy the presentation. At least it was better than EA. Soon we'll have Bethesda on the stage and maybe we'll see some more of Fallout 76.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

EA's E3 Presentation 2018

Today is the early, early start of E3. The expo that use to take place Tuesday-Thursday is now nearly a week long spectacle for developers to show off their content, before all of the info is leaked.

EA is up first and they are live streaming their event now. I will be periodically updating this post with the announcements from EA Play. Due to the nature of E3 clashing with work schedules, I won't be able to do this for all the presentations. But I will do what I can!

- Everything started off with Battlefield V with really nothing new that we weren't already told about when the trailer released. Tanks can crunch through objects. You can move around heavy artillery to reorganize your battle plan. Characters can be customized. And there's a battle royale mode. And yep. That's it.

- Fifa 19 along with the  18 world tournament came up next. While we in the U.S. don't appreciate futbal as much as the rest of the world, this is a big title for EA. What they showed off was really no different than past years. It's Fifa that looks better. So...boring presentation is boring so far. Woo!

- Updates to Origin including a new subscription service that allows you to play the latest EA titles without having to buy the games outright. This will include the upcoming Battlefield V, Madden (back on PC in over a decade), Fifa, and Anthem. One membership. Loads of games. Not a bad option if you're on a budget and you can test games freely.

- And awkward interacting with the crowd moments. Did you all not learn from Aisha Tyler to avoid this?

But we have a new Star Wars game: Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order. Takes place during the "dark times" when the Jedi's are being hunted between Episode III-IV. No images. No gameplay. Only talk.\

- Star Wars: Battlefront II. The presenter started out with an honest "we didn't get it right at launch." Some more content will be added to multiplayer, a new map, new cosmetics, a better team-up system, including 'Solo' characters, and large-scale sandbox battles. They will be bringing The Clone Wars to us this year with the planet Geonosis (yea), General Grevious, Obi Wan, Count Dooku, and Anakin Skywalker.

- The adorable string puppet from Unravel makes a return with a sequel with two characters. You can play it solo or in co-op. Unravel Two is both "friendlier and more challenging." We're getting our first live gameplay for the day. 29 minutes in! You can pick up the second controller at any time to join. The visual styling of the first game are still there. More puzzles, platforming, and action. And...you can play it today!

-EA Originals is expanding their program to support independent developers, showcasing the success of A Way Out. Now it's on to Jo-Mei, a studio in Berlin. Their game Sea of Solitude is a story about loneliness. With very little applause from the audience, but it is quite a concept. A journey about being lonely...

- More sports, because EA. NBA Live 19 and Madden. Again. EA. Sports. They do it well. And now they're talking to the winner of the Madden 18 tournament, who is not exactly the best person. He is known for being a poor sport, doesn't like to lose, and does not support his competitors. Good job EA at highlighting the right people for your show! #sarcasm

- A new mobile game from Redwood Studios. And no one in the audience cares. The lack of clapping is borderline hysterical. As for the game itself, it's a straight forward tap-tap-tap mechanic. Tap to make your soldiers. Tap to move them. Tap to defend. Tap! Obviously this is a Command & Conquer game based on the studio. Rivals is an RTS with the pre-alpha available today on Android.

(Opinion: If this is any indication of how the rest of the presentations will go, this will be a boring E3.)

- Presentation is closing out with Anthem. This is the first time that EA has pushed a Bioware product to the main stage so let's see how this goes! Already a +1 for Muse music. And they're doing a Q&A session with some of the developers along with Casey Hudson. The game is trying to capture a single player and multi player experience. Your home is the last of a city-state on this world that you have to protect. When you're in this city, you have your single player content. When you're out in the world, it's a shared experience where you can choose to be involved with other players. Everyone will see the same world at the same time - weather, geography, etc.

The 4 suits are called Javelins with different abilities. As always with Bioware, there will be suit customization. No loot boxes. No pay to play. There will be some purchasable items for cosmetics, but you'll know what you're paying for. And hey look at that. We have gameplay! Well...pre-rendered not live gameplay. But gameplay! Really jumpy gameplay. Trying to get a feel for this game is a bit rough. The concept sounds good, but the footage right now feels very rough with the editing.

It also sounds like SAM makes a return from Andromeda, which I'm completely okay with. Or it's Jarvis. One of the two.

- The crowd's general excitement is low. I think they're tired of the dullness as much as we all are! But that's it for the presentation. The stream will continue with the Fifa tournament.

Underwhelming is the final verdict. Please XBox and Bethesda do something better tomorrow.

Friday, June 08, 2018

Steam Will No Longer Remove Games From Store

Prepare yourselves readers. I'm not posting a Weekly Link Round Up.

Gasp!

What is my crazy reasoning behind this? First, Valve has some big news that I think is worthy of discussing in a much larger frame than keeping it bundled in the Weekly Link Round Up. Second, most of the funny gaming news out right now has to deal with E3 and predictions. We did that last week. Let's not sully the good name of the Weekly Link Round Up.


On Wednesday, longtime senior engineer Erik Johnson posted to the Steam community that Valve will be updating it's Steam Direct policy. In a post titled 'Who Gets To Be On The Steam Store?', Valve is doing something we didn't expect: the policy will be that all games will be allowed on the store. Valve will not remove games without community feedback.

"[w]e ended up going back to one of the principles in the forefront of our minds when we started Steam, and more recently as we worked on Steam Direct to open up the Store to many more developers: Valve shouldn't be the ones deciding this. If you're a player, we shouldn't be choosing for you what content you can or can't buy. If you're a developer, we shouldn't be choosing what content you're allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable."

There will be exceptions, of course. If Valve deems the content of a game illegal or a method of trolling, it will not be allowed. Active Shooter, for example, wouldn't have been approved for the platform. However Johnson does not elaborate on what content is illegal or trolling. We, the developers and gamers, have to fill in those gaps.

The response to this change has been polarizing. Comments from the community on the post seem to be leaning more towards the positive. Why should it be left up to Valve to moderate what games players can choose from? In the end, our wallets decide what we like and don't like. But some critics have pointed out that this is a way for Valve to absolve ownership of any wrongdoing and put the blame back on the gamers. Valve has made a decision to not take sides.

The debate on the type of content made available on Steam has been ongoing for years. Games that would sit on a WalMart shelf would not fly under Steam's old policy for one reason or another. With the more recent controversies on the games that were approved, Valve needed to step in and come to a clear consensus on how their platform should be moderated. In this case, they are choosing to let gamers act as the moderators - a very Wikipedia-like mindset.

Pros and Cons. On the one hand, this type of gamer moderation would allow more independent products to flourish. Because we are deciding what content should be allowed on the platform, we have more say in which developers get highlighted - which games are showcased - which games are going to represent our community. Steam has a rich history of supporting independents. Gamers have embraced this and I think having an open system for games that are no longer locked behind Valve's rules will really allow both the developers and gamers to flourish.

On the other, we have a few bad people in our community who will quickly abuse these new rules. Harassment, racism, sexism. In a platform that now allows everything, we will see games that support inappropriate actions. Leaf Corcoran, creator of indie game storefront Itch.io, has already called out Valve for their "everything and anything" policy. While the number of good gamers vastly outweigh the bad ones, they exist. They will want to cause chaos. They are going to shake up the system by promoting games with harmful content. According to the new policy Valve won't step in until the damage is done. Gamers will need to police themselves. Given the popularity and growth of gaming, it's too big of a task for the good gamers. We need Valve to act as a moderator.

As a business, you have to think about your customers. There's an expected fiduciary duty to ensure customer's safety while promoting the values of the company. Valve needs to make it clear that hate, racism, sexism, etc. is not allowed. Until they do that, Steam is going to be a messy, messy place from here on out. I support the Valve's concept. There are a number of games that should be on their store but are not approved for silly reasons. But the execution leaves much to be desired.