The announcement of the Bioshock Infinite delay to late February of 2013 doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.
The original October 2012 release date seemed a bit risky, given the already-impressive lineup of software that is slated to ship near the same time. Assassin’s Creed III, Halo 4, Black Ops II, WiiU hardware, and other games would likely have eaten into potential sales for Bioshock Infinite. Would these other software releases have led to disappointing sales for Infinite? Possibly, but after a 2+ year hiatus for the IP, I think that Infinite would have held its own.
Let’s look at some potential causes for the delay.
1. Multiplayer addition:
Ken Levine notes in his explanation of the delay that Irrational Games had “uncovered opportunities to make Infinite into something even more extraordinary.” I firmly believe those “opportunities” are multiplayer options. Multiplayer has become fastened to almost every major game experience, and we even saw it with Bioshock 2 in 2010. Job postings from within Irrational Games for Network Programmers seem to suggest that multiplayer is going to be added or tweaked in the coming months. From a personal perspective, I’m not too excited about more multiplayer, as I’ve had more enjoyment playing these games solo. From a business perspective, though, multiplayer is an easier avenue to additional revenue per user (ARPU). I can see why the decision may have been made.
2. Something else is coming:
Analysts have been hinting that Grand Theft Auto V, which is another release under the Take Two umbrella, could hit stores in October. Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter said in a note that the Infinite delay “opens the window” for the game to see a release this year. He remarked that we could see some news about Grand Theft Auto V during the Take Two quarterly results presentation on May 22nd, or during E3. During some communication on Twitter, it also appears that Blockbuster put a preliminary date on Grand Theft Auto V of October 26th in the UK, which would likely mean October 23rd here in the US. I think that there’s a bit of coincidence here, and am starting to lean a bit towards the conclusion that we do see Grand Theft Auto V this year. If not, the hole left by Infinite‘s delay will lead to revenue projections being revised downward for the holiday quarter– perhaps considerably so.
3. It’ll be done when it’s done.
It’s entirely possible that Ken Levine and the team at Irrational Games are working beyond deadlines and more time is needed to complete the product. Perhaps there’s some extra fine-tuning needed for certain portions of the game. Maybe a few late-term additions (aside from multiplayer) were added. From what we’ve seen of the game so far, it’s a pretty huge undertaking and projects like these do take some time. While not necessarily good for Take Two’s near-term bottom line, improving on and making sure that Bioshock Infinite is the best game that it can be should pay dividends to consumers when it finally does hit stores… hopefully early next year.
With Infinite being pulled from trade shows for the immediate future, we can look to the next few weeks to see if signs of Grand Theft Auto V arise. If they do, as I suspect, then I think we’ll have our cause identified. It’s a good thing for Infinite if this bears out, however; more time to polish a long-awaited piece of software is a positive. If we hear nothing during E3 (or before), then analyst speculation– and investor fear– over the delay will worsen. In either case, I think that speculation over Infinite becoming another Duke Nukem Forever or Final Fantasy Versus XIII scenario will prove false and we will see it hit stores in 2013.
Initial reviews of Capcom’s Lost Planet 2 are beginning to surface now, and I’ve noticed a common denominator in reading them: Co-op play is good to great, while the single-player campaign leaves something to be desired. This isn’t the first Capcom game that has made co-op play a priority– Resident Evil 5 forced players to have a CPU-controlled partner as the game was really meant to be a co-op experience.
More and more games these days are trying to capitalize on the social aspects of gaming by encouraging cooperatirve and/or competitive multiplayer modes of play. I really don’t have much of a problem with this, since online gaming means that there are literally millions of potential partners or opponents out there to play with (or agaiinst). It’s more convenient than having a house full of friends over sometimes, ahd not having to play these games in a split-screen capacity is easier than squinting and asking yourself where the hell you are on the playing field.
Where I’m having a problem with the exploding multiplayer trend is that games like Resident Evil 5 and Lost Planet 2 are trying to force me to play in a certain way– with a partner or partners. Sure, you can play by yourself, but success is predicated on the AI subroutines of your computer-controlled partner… and in a solo game, I don’t like having to rely on someone else. The idea of a solo game is to play solo. This is not a difficult concept to grasp, and we’ve been playing games like that for decades. Games that have tried the forced co-op thing, like Secret of Mana, for example, can get frustrating when your computer-controlled partner(s) decide to get stuck in an obstacle and you’re forced to go either go back and try to get them to follow you or you have to plug in a second controller and move them closer yourself. Naturally, if you want to play with a friend, this problem doesn’t come up– but again, that’s not a solo experience, is it?
There’s no denying that online (and local) multiplayer has been a big focus and has almost become a necessary addition to today’s games. Uncharted and Bioshock, two wildly successful solo games, added multiplayer modes to their respective sequels. The multiplayer modes never interfered with the quality of the solo campaigns, however. Uncharted 2 and Bioshock 2 both still delivered excellent single-player adventures, and the multiplayer modes complemented and added replay value to each. The Call of Duty / Modern Warfare games are other examples of this; each game contains at least a decent solo campaign as well as excellent multiplayer functionality.The point here is that you can play all of these how you want to: solo, cooperatively, or competitively. There’s nothing forced about these experiences.
No matter how good Resident Evil 5 was, or how good Lost Planet 2 may or may not ultimately be, I refuse to buy them. I won’t play them. Capcom has completely removed me from the equation by literally forcing me to play a certain way. These are two cases of an industry that is trying to tell me, the consumer, how I want to play games. It doesn’t matter if I prefer solo games, because co-op play is the wave of the future. Evolve or die… that sort of thing. What the industry is forgetting, at least in the case of this one relic of a video game player, is that I still ultimately make the decision of whether to buy their games or not. I’m the one that contributes to their bottom line. What I think should matter for something… and I have a suspicion that I am not alone with this line of thinking.
Don’t tell me how to play. Don’t tell me that I want 3D gaming, or that I want to waggle around like a moron and work up a sweat while I’m trying to relax. Don’t tell me that traditional play controls and solo gaming are things of the past and are no longer what people want. I know what I want, and it’s none of these things. I refuse to evolve to the point of spending my limited disposable income on these trends of the future, because there’s no reason or precedent for it.
The video game industry has not only stopped listening to its consumer base, but it simply doesn’t care anymore. The industry thinks for us. They think that we’re all hopelessly hooked on their products and that we’ll buy whatever they throw out there in front of us, because video games are super-popular now. They now tell us what we want to play and should be playing. It’s all about them and no longer about us, despite the fact that we’re the ones paying for the privilege to play their games. Hell, we don’t even buy games anymore. We buy licenses. We don’t need instruction manuals, because nobody reads them. We should understand that used games are an indirect form of piracy. We should realize that DLC is for our benefit, rather than merely a secondary source of revenue and a way to charge even more money for already-overpriced games. We know that, even though we’re buying hardware that’s got a higher error rate than in any other console generation in history, we’re just going to buy replacements.
The list just keeps growing, much like how game prices keep creeping up. Having opinions like these likely makes me sound like an old relic, like that Atari VCS in your parents’ basement. I sound negative, and I don’t really like that. I do enjoy video games now as much as I did over 30 years ago. I guess I’m just angry that we’ve gone from a time when the gaming industry seemed eager to attract new gamers to the current time where the industry just assumes that we’re going to accept and like all of these changes that they assume are necessary. Why not build on the foundations that have already been in place instead of completely changing things?
Evolve or die, indeed. Perhaps, as a video game player, I am at a crossroads. I can’t help but to wonder if I’m not alone here.
This entry is not about the movie, despite the fact that it boasts two solid actors and an intriguing storyline. Instead, I’m talking about solo gaming– as in playing by yourself.
It seems to have been decided by publishers and developers alike that gamers today don’t play games alone. What fun is that? With the omnipresence of online play, it’s easy to find someone to play with (or against) and make the game more fun. We’re seeing multiplayer modes being added to sequels of games that were incredible for solo gamers. This year alone, we’ve already seen Resident Evil 5 force you to play with someone else as a teammate– even if that teammate is rather stupidly controlled by the AI. We’ve seen announcements that sequels to Uncharted and Bioshock are both getting multiplayer modes of some sort. Adding to the trend, EA has been sending feelers out to see how multiplayer should be implemented in the upcoming sequel to Dead Space.
Can someone please tell me why this console generation seems content to shove multiplayer down everyone’s throats? Seriously.
Bioshock was an incredible single-player experience. Exploring Rapture and experiencing the twists and turns in the plot alone suited the game perfectly. There was no need to add a deathmatch mode pitting Big Daddies against Splicers. Uncharted was what an Indiana Jones video game should have been, and the experience was just fine playing solely as Nathan Drake. Dead Space was all about tension as you, as Isaac, faced the alien threat alone. Even the Resident Evil games– before RE5– were widely accepted as single-player adventures.
We’ve seen this trend creeping up on us for some time now. Look at the inclusion of multiplayer modes in the Castlevania games for the DS, for example. Castlevania games were never geared towards the multiplayer experience. It was about a single protagonist (a Belmont or otherwise) who made his (or her) way through a journey and an inevitable climax with Dracula. Sure, the story settings and circumstances changed from game to game, but there was never a need to include a second player to work together to conquer the castle– or to compete to see who gets a shot at The Count. I grant that multiplayer functionality has only come into play during the Boss Rush modes, but I just don’t understand why it’s there at all. You want competition? Get the best time through Boss Rush and submit it to a leaderboard. Don’t taint the experience with another player.
Details about the multiplayer functionalities for Uncharted 2 and Bioshock 2 are still unknown, but I sincerely hope that the inclusion of multiplayer modes in these games has not taken away from the resources, time, and space needed to craft even better solo experiences than in both original games. If I have to get someone else to play as Nathan’s new love interest or Sully in Uncharted 2 in order to advance the story– or worse, if I have to let the computer control the other character, leading to frustration akin to Resident Evil 5– then I’m going to be angry beyond belief. If 2K Marin decides that the next trip to Rapture is full-blown co-op between you as a Big Daddy and someone else controlling a Little Sister in Bioshock 2, then I’m not buying it.
Mutliplayer functionality alone does not sell more copies of a game; instead, it’s a combination of factors, ranging from marketing to playability to aesthetics. Unfortunately, this new focus on multiplayer is another misstep in a comedy of errors that will forever be linked to this console generation. High prices for hardware and software, fleecing of consumers by withholding content to sell later via a paid download, rampant hardware issues with the Xbox 360, Nintendo’s apparent rebuke of its core audience, Sony’s decision to sell the PS3 at an exorbitant amount just to make Blu-Ray dominant over HD-DVD, and more can all be linked to this current generation of gaming… and despite some great games, this generation really has been one giant step backwards for the industry and its relationship with its consumer base.
Wow, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it? I’ve been busy with “real life” stuff and with the recent crush of releases that I was somehow able to scrounge up the money for. These releases have run the gamut from awesome (Bioshock) to sprawling (Fallout 3) to frustrating (Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia)… and I haven’t even mentioned Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour yet.
Let’s start with Bioshock. It’s worth noting that I’m not really the biggest fan of first-person games, but, after playing the demo, I was intrigued by the game’s storyline and artistic style. Since I don’t have a 360 at this point, I missed out on Bioshock when it first came out… but, now that I’m playing it, I can tell you that it’s one of the best first-person games that I’ve played. The story twists and turns, and the characters are creepy. I love the idea of mixing gunplay and melee attacks with special plasmid attacks, and the gradual difficulty curve makes it possible to enjoy the game without novices like myself getting frustrated. I’m nearing the end of the adventure, and I’m geniunely excited for the sequel. I am a bit upset with the fact that I’m going to have to pay $10 (plus tax) for downloadable content that was originally supposed to be on the disc, though. DLC is fast becoming a real gripe for me in today’s console gaming marketplace.
Next up is Fallout 3. I took a chance on this thanks to early impressions that I’d read from some trusted sources, and it’s certainly been an experience from what I’ve had time to play so far. The only prior Fallout experience that I’d had before popping this into my PlayStation 3 was with Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel for the PlayStation 2, an action RPG that was similar to Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance in many ways. That kind of comparision can also apply for Oblivion and Fallout 3. I can say, though, that Fallout 3 takes place in a vast world; it’s impressive seeing just how much ground this game covers. There’s also a concentration on gunplay here, which is different from the melee and magic attacks in Oblivion. Leveling up is slower-paced than I would like, but the game’s atmosphere and over-the-top kill cameras keep me coming back. I haven’t even scratched the surface in this game yet, but it’s good to know that there’s a lot of game time here to keep me occupied as winter approaches.
Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia is a brutal wake-up call for Castlevania fans who have been lulled into believing that the series had gone soft in terms of difficulty. In fact, I would argue that the game has actually swung too far in the opposite direction. One of the early bosses in the game is more challenging than all of the bosses in each of the first two DS Castlevania games combined, as each hit that the boss scores on you does 8-10 times more damage than your hits on it. This can be overcome by collecting and arming the proper glyphs, but it’s a trial-and-error situation. It seriously took me about 20 tries to get past this one boss, but the difficulty doesn’t let up from there. It’s unfortunate that the game is so difficult, because there’s actually a good game to be played here with some of the best aesthetics in a Castlevania game that we’ve seen and heard since Symphony of the Night. I also like the game’s system of taking you to different locales, instead of just navigating a giant castle. While there is castle exploration much later in the game, the new areas are pretty cool on their own. The one thing that Order of Ecclesia has done for me is to re-ignite my Castlevania love; I’m back to spending a bit of time on the previous DS and GBA Castlevania efforts and I’m still in awe of the music in Portrait of Ruin. I’ll be coming back to Order of Ecclesia in due time, though, and I’m sure to be beaten up some more.
Finally, we come to the two big music games: Rock Band 2 and Guitar Hero World Tour. Initially, I was more excited for Guitar Hero World Tour, because I had bought the band set and because of the promised new feature sets in the game. Rock Band 2 seemed to be more of the same, with a few tweaks thrown in. Now that I’ve spent time with both games, though, the roles have reversed. I’m enjoying Rock Band 2 more than Guitar Hero World Tour. Rock Band 2 has some neat additions, such as updated online challenges and events that can shape your tour experience. The fact that you can export most of your songs from Rock Band also helps, as it creates a formidable library of songs to perform. The one major Rock Band 2 gripe that I have is that, when playing the Online Tour mode, the game will stop and reset if your online connection is lost… even if you’re playing solo. There’s nothing worse than being on the last song of a 7-song set and seeing the game reset. Grrrrr. Surprisingly, Rock Band 2 also has Trophy support, which was unexpected.
Then we come to Guitar Hero World Tour. The best thing about the game is that the new guitar is awesome. It’s the only one I use now, no matter which music game I’m playing. I also tend to prefer some of the charts of the songs in World Tour versus the same tracks in Rock Band 2. The problems, for me, come by way of a poor drum set and some personally unacceptable song choices. I seriously haven’t even used the drum set because I’ve read the horror stories online about it… and, since the drum set doesn’t work for the PS3 version of Rock Band 2, it’s a waste of space. There also seems to be a heavier concentration of classic rock and the introduction of Spanish guitar music that really doesn’t tickle my fancy. I do like the new set progressions, as opposed to playing a song at a time… and the Tool set is awesome. Still… I just haven’t found that “zone” in Guitar Hero World Tour that I’ve found in past music games. Also… the lack of Trophy support here is puzzling since Rock Band 2 came out first and has support. What’s the deal?
So… whew. I’m all caught up now. On the side, I recently played through Mortal Kombat Annihilation‘s Konquest Mode. I’m admittedly not a very good MK player, but I managed to finally beat Blaze (who’s cheap, but not Kinpachi cheap) and wrap up the story, which was mildly interesting. I’m still missing 10 Kollectibles, though… so I guess I have to play through it again to find what I missed. Maybe some other time.
That’s it from here, for now. Going to see Zack and Miri tonight, so there won’t be a whole lot of gaming going on until either very late tonight or in-between tons of laundry tomorrow.
Hoo boy, the next 10 days or so are gonna be good.
Just as I was starting to get into Rock Revolution (much to my surprise), I’m now playing Rock Band 2 (with Trophy support!)… and Guitar Hero World Tour arrives in less than a week. I’ve only spent about 90 minutes with Rock Band 2, so I don’t have much to write on it yet… but I did the Rock Band music export and I’m impressed with how much music there is already– with more to be unlocked shortly. I don’t know how I’m going to split my time with both games, but I’m sure that I’ll find a way.
I have two more games coming this week that I’m excited about.
The first is Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia for the Nintendo DS. I am a Castlevania fan, and still play the older games when time allows. To celebrate the upcoming release, I’m playing through two of the GBA games (Harmony of Dissonance and Aria of Sorrow) and the two previous DS titles (Dawn of Sorrow and Portrait of Ruin). I also have the two PS2 Castlevania titles here, but I don’t know when I’ll get around to those… plus I have Castlevania: Symphony of the Night via PSN (and the original on my PSone).
If that’s not enough, Bioshock will be available for sale this week, too… and I put money down on it today. I’m not great at first-person games, but after spending some time with the demo, I was hooked on it and was determined to own it. I love the atmosphere and gameplay possibilities… nothing like a little lightning in the water to fry some baddies. Cool ideas here.
In-between all of this gaming this week, I need to get some writing done, too. *sigh*
Lastly, my PS2 game collection has quietly increased to near 100 titles. I picked up a few more over the course of the weekend, including the three most recent Tony Hawk titles (minus Downhill Jam, which doesn’t count… I wanna see how bad Project 8 and Proving Ground are on the PS2, plus I own all of the other Hawk games dating back to THPS3) and a few other goodies. I need to post my collection… maybe I’ll set up an IGN account and share it here when it’s done.
That’s what’s going on… I have my last karaoke show of the week tonight, then I’m off until Wednesday. In the meantime, feel free to add me to your PSN Friends List if you have any of the music games. My PSN ID is GameGuyPete.