If Radical Heights is not a success, it’s the fault of Epic Games, according to Cliff Bleszinski. The head of Boss Key Studios recently tweeted out an accusation that Epic Games (creator of Fortnite and the Unreal engine, among other things) is trying to poach some of his staff, which comes a few months after the co-founder of Boss Key Studios left to join Epic on a heretofore unannounced project. He went on to state that there are still more things to be done in the battle royale genre, but they may remain unseen based on this employee poaching.
Epic has remained mum on the accusations of poaching employees, so it’s hard to be sure whether it’s actually happening or not. One might also want to look at the game’s numbers and its overall playerbase figures following its surprise reveal and early access launch and take that into account as part of this narrative, as well.
It’s important to note that Radical Heights has only just been sent out into the wild, and its surprise launch was less “highly anticipated” and more “utterly unexpected.” Comparisons after a day in the wild are going to be hard to make. Nevertheless, after a day in release, the title has managed to pass the all-time player high for Boss Key’s LawBreakers… barely. It’s within 1000 players of that game’s all-time player high, a number that you may recall was pretty weak for a title published by a major company and with lots of marketing behind it.
The game’s Steam page currently lists its reviews as “mixed,” with many players bemoaning its obviously early development state causing numerous bugs and performance issues. It’s apparently not even developed enough to allow playing as a female character, which seems like a pretty basic option to leave out of a release. That doesn’t mean that the game’s going to be unable to pull itself together and continue turning up in popularity, but looking at the day one numbers, this is something less than a good sign.
We had really thought that after the never-updated website finally shut down last year we would be done talking about Phantasy Star Online 2, which at this point is Sega’s never-ending routine of dangling a steak in front of American fans before punching them in the throat. But, see, the game is coming out for the Switch! That matters because there are no region locks on that particular console, so you could easily import it and play it on your American console!
And, of course, you could then be baffled because you presumably don’t speak enough Japanese to muddle through any of the game’s menus or interfaces or dialogue prompts. But the game would run, and it would even never need patches due to running entirely on the cloud. Which is kind of cool, and the sort of things that fans have been hoping for since the title was first announced, released, and then ran for years in Japan. Still, if you want to get your hopes up again, we can’t stop you.
Remember Activision’s rather skeezy matchmaking patent from last year? That one was pretty straightforward in how it worked, if unpleasant: You buy something from the cash shop, and the game then makes an effort to match you up in a place where that cash shop purchase was a super great idea. Turns out that Electronic Arts has a similar but distinct patent filed from 2016, and it should get your hackles up just as much as its predecessor.
This one, at least, is not going to validate your every cash shop purchase directly; instead, it’s a matchmaking system dubbed Engagement Optimized Matchmaking that links you up based on play style, sportsmanship, skill, and willingness to spend money. The bright side you could point to is that it’s less explicitly about reinforcing cash shop purchases; the down side is that it’s still a matching system based on keeping you playing rather than providing a fair match, and at this point EA does not exactly have the goodwill of players. You can watch a whole video breaking it down piece by piece below.
Also worth noting is that the patent was filed in 2016, but it has not yet been approved. So it doesn’t appear to be live in the wild yet, but it’s on track to be.
So, what did you do with your life today? Did you sit down and think, “You know, I could use some suspect logic to decipher the exact length of my World of Warcraft character’s Gas-Powered Stick?” If so, it might be time to get a new hobby or two. We hear that gardening is nice. Also, you’re already too late, as Leggerless already did exactly that.
Yes, if you want to know the size of the average Tauren’s Fine Poking Stick or the vital statistics of your Dwarf’s Pocket Void Portal, you can look that up on a chart. And, if you’re so inclined, you can then argue with people over the scale of your personal Pocket Friend by pointing to outliers based on the same math. Needless to say, the post is probably not safe for work due to subject matter (thankfully, not due to illustrations). Not that you should be thinking about your character’s Pouch of Wonder while at work anyhow, we imagine.
Again, there are other hobbies out there. Some people rebuild cars. It’s quite functional.
Don’t be too proud of the barrier to entry you’ve constructed; the ability to make in-game unlocks incredibly expensive is insignificant next to the power of angry consumers. An update after the latest furor over Star Wars: Battlefront II’s hero unlock prices sees the prices for these characters slashed by 75%, bringing Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader down to 15,000 credits, while Palpatine, Leia, and Chewbacca will run 10,000 credits and Iden will cost only 5,000 credits.
What EA doesn’t note in its blog post is that it also reduced reward payouts commensurately.
We’re sure the cost is one that’s still meant to provide a sense of pride and accomplishment, somehow. Whether or not this mollifies players who were rather justifiably miffed about the whole thing remains to be seen; what is already quite obvious is that this is not something that the target audience is taking lightly, so the next move is on Electronic Arts – and that move appears to be an AMA?
Here at Massively Overpowered, we generally try to avoid cursing, but there really are no two ways to put the Cliff Bleszinski quote from his latest interview on LawBreakers’ post-launch struggles. Let’s provide the whole thing, for context:
[The gaming press is] just looking for clicks, man. They’re just looking for ad revenue. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, and they’re welcome to print whatever they want – but as far as I’m concerned, they can fuck off. We’re going to keep making our game for our fans.
Bleszinski stresses that the game’s struggle is simply to get its concurrent user counts high enough to make matchmaking reliably and enjoyable, with repeated statements that the studio is focused on building the community over time and engaging with them. He also claims that any perception problems are a result of people being overly negative, citing the game’s high number of positive reviews on Steam.
Hey, gang, this is absolutely wonderful. Activision has filed and been granted a patent for software designed to push you into buying cash shop crappies through the most insidious means possible. The breakdown is fairly straightforward: Once you buy something, the game’s matchmaking software will push you to a match where that something would be very effective or where another player’s purchases would influence your purchases, thus creating positive feedback and inspiring you to buy more! Isn’t that grand?
For those keeping track at home, this is starting to cross the line from gambling over to extortion, which is not a pleasant road to be walking. If you thought microtransactions amounted to a cash shop wholly separate from gameplay and you never had to worry about it influencing anything else, you were wrong.
Activision’s official statement is that this was simply a patent filed for exploratory software and it has not been implemented in any games. Said statement does not include phrases like “will not,” of course, so draw your own conclusions about when and whether it will show up. You can also draw your own conclusions about how shady it is, but the answer is pretty decidedly “super shady.”
Sending someone a message containing the phrase “eat a bag of dicks” may feel good to type, but it raises a number of logistical questions about how that would even happen. So we should celebrate the fact that an anonymous EVE Online
player didn’t stop with just the letter; he sent the company a package containing two bags of gummy candies in the shape of a phallus, a package of glitter, a bag of confetti also in the shape of dicks, and a letter inviting the developers to eat aforementioned bags of dicks
Of course, all that attention to detail was made wholly irrelevant due to the laws regarding international shipments to Iceland; a customs invoice was required and not included, so as a result the gag was discovered by postal employees and did not actually reach the CCP Games headquarters. Let this be a lesson to people willing to spend a great deal of money on a particularly immature prank: before you artfully arrange decor in the shape of genitals because you don’t like something about a video game, make sure your shipment will actually get to its destination.
All right. The Oculus/ZeniMax lawsuit ended, ZeniMax was awarded $500 million in Oculus money by the courts, and while the plaintiffs got less than what they had initially asked for, they did get the satisfaction of winning. That’s enough, right? We’re done with this story?
Oh, not even close. No, John Carmack, CTO of Oculus, yesterday made a public statement on Facebook claiming that everything ZeniMax argued in court was a series of lies designed to obfuscate the fact that he had never done anything wrong at all. You can read the whole response on his Facebook page, which does little to change the outcome of a trial that has already concluded and is now being waged purely in the court of public opinion.
ZeniMax issued a brief statement in response, which may be summarized in brief as, “We won, you lost, STFU noob.” As Oculus plans to appeal the ruling, the battle over public opinion is relevant, but the fact remains that both sides are still sniping at one another in a somewhat passive-aggressive fashion. Break out the popcorn; this ride isn’t over yet.