XBox One and PS4 – Are Exclusive Titles Still A Selling Point?

On the XBox 360 and PS3 there was the constant bombardment of exclusive titles like Gears of War, Halo and Forza versus Killzone, Resistance, Gran Turismo and for some sports gamers – MLB: The Show.  Now that the next generation of consoles have finally started to become more common in households around the world it is interesting to see that the focus has shifted away from the exclusive titles and more towards the features of the systems themselves.

MGSV
Snake isn’t limited to just Sony consoles these days. But some of his missions are exclusively on one console or the other.

Sure, there are games that XBox One and PS4 have exclusive agreements and rights for, but they aren’t exactly the same type of focus that we saw last generation.  While there are some gamers out there that will have certain games that they simply must have like the Halo or Killzone titles for each respective console… that time is changing.

One of the most obvious changes can be seen in the Metal Gear franchise.  Metal Gear has always been a Hideo Kojima/Konami production.  In saying that – it has also almost always been seen as a Sony Playstation title as well.  Now that they have announced Metal Gear Solid 5 is going to be multi-platform it seems that they are starting to realize that more console availability also means more sales overall.  This isn’t always a blessing as other content within the game will be exclusive to each console.  This is more annoying than anything as it drives many gamers to wonder why they bother spending more and more money on microtransactions.

With multi-platform releases like Call of Duty, Battlefield, Madden NFL and other titles that prefer mass marketing based on volume of sales rather than simply having an agreement with a certain company to release on a specific console.  The one caveat to this is when companies like EA and Activision make agreements (like they did with Microsoft) to release certain downloadable content (DLC) on one console before other another.  This is a practice that is rather insulting to users that buy a game like Battlefield 4 on PS3/4, XBox 360 and especially PC as well as purchasing the $50 ‘Premium’ service.  Primarily because they are being cheated out of content that is obviously available for XBox One users far earlier than anyone else that have purchased the same service for a different platform.

As we enter into a new era of gaming and an eventual move into a focus on digital content, it will be interesting to see how long exclusivity really plays a role in corporate gaming decision making.  As it stands, there are a lot of gamers that are sick of feeling cheated out of their money when it comes to ‘exclusive’ titles and other DLC not being available for whatever reason.

Creativity Isn’t Dead – Most Perceptions of Entertainment are Boring

I have been fortunate to know or be acquainted with artists, writers and even some people that work in video game production.  One thing that has never ceased to amaze me is their creativity.  There is always something new in their head.  Some sort of cool new project that is simply amazing because it is fresh and straight out of their creative mind.  The current mainstream gaming atmosphere doesn’t allow for this sort of creativity anymore.

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With games like Call of Duty and Madden being released every year it doesn’t say much for what corporate monsters think of gaming.  They don’t see it as art – they see a bottom line that must be met in sales or the studio will be closed.  As you start looking at the upcoming consoles do yourself a favor and ask why the games are getting stale.  While Madden can’t exactly change or implement something wild or crazy graphically or otherwise – it is still lacking creativity.

Another example of a great game that became over-produced quickly – Assassin’s Creed.  Really?  Is the character truly a different person?  Sure, the voice is different and the face may be structured with some new scars, etc… but this is the same damn game every time it comes out.  Attack, Counter, Attack, Kill, Run, Repeat.

There are many artists and developers out there that want to be creative in gaming and they are being held back because gamers don’t want new games or concepts.  They want a fresh veneer painted on the same crap they have been playing for 10 years.  People generally fear change and it is up to artists, musicians and writers to flip their world upside down.

I look forward to the day when I can look at video games and see them as new, fresh and risky art… right now all I see is what most people seem to want:

2/3 of a gun
Crosshairs
Poorly animated blood

The list could go on, but really if it needs to you are missing the point.

Are Shooter Games Dead?

Now that the autumn rush for shooter games has come to a close and we are firmly in the doldrums of the gaming year there is a serious question that must be asked as we get closer to not only new consoles… but closer to the limit many gamers have for lacking creativity.

blops2

Whether you are playing Call of Duty, Halo, Battlefield or even Gears of War.  You are most likely playing a game with a 2, 3 or 4 after the primary namesake.  This is a problem on many levels and the obvious issue stems from the idea of pumping out sequels more regularly than Hollywood can push out another Saw movie.  As for the other issues signifying the agonizingly slow death of shooter games – here are a few:

  1. Fans Are Getting Bored – The entertainment industry has one primary component to making money and that is paying customers who are actually interested in what is being offered.  Call of Duty was able to grab an entire generation of gamers with new styles of playing a shooter – primarily the online component.  Halo snagged the XBox crowd with a great story and then some of the most successful multiplayer experiences ever put on a console.  They still sell in the millions when release day comes, but gamers are slowly finding their way to other titles than the popular COD series especially.  This isn’t to say that the sales are bad for COD or Halo, but the idea that a cash cow will last forever does not make a lot of business sense.
  2. Desensitized – Killing people isn’t as fun or novel as it used to be.  We have witnessed so many tragedies on TV it is becoming rather difficult to surprise anyone.  Some thought that blood in Mortal Kombat was too much ‘violence’ but now, years later – MMA is being pumped up like the Roman gladiator battles.  We have had shootings at numerous schools over the last 14 years.  Why is it that within a few weeks… and sometimes days – we are already moving on to something else?  The answer is simple – we just aren’t shocked anymore. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had a section where you shot up an airport full of civilians.  Black Ops 2 lets you butcher enemies with a machete.  We have fatalities in Mortal Kombat and execution moves in Gears of War.  Violence is old hat… it is expected and desired like someone’s morning coffee fix.
  3. Poor Parenting and Little Kids – When I reached adulthood and started paying bills I started to notice a few things had changed in terms of my view of the world.  The first was that I had become crotchety and easily annoyed by nonsense (which I think had been in my persona long before adulthood, FYI).  The second was that I couldn’t stand what I viewed to be a sudden change in parenting and discipline of children.  I will save you the ‘back in my day’ comments and leave it at this – if a game is for ages 17 and up, otherwise known as being rated M for ‘Mature’… your CHILD should not be playing it.  Not to mention, if they are on a microphone talking to other gamers around the world – you might want to listen to the language they are hearing and using outside of the game sounds and in their headset.

Will Games Change Their Digital Approach Next Generation?

Now that we are firmly into the high speed internet age and online functionality has become almost synonymous with every game on the market (including the ubiquitous ‘patching’ of games).  The issue many sports gamers are running into is that they are pouring $60+ into games that come out every year with minor improvements/changes and roster updates.  This has caused sports gamers to generally ask on occasion why developers like EA and 2K won’t simply release a cheaper update to the game every other year BLOPS2or so instead of requiring the purchase of new software every single year.

The most obvious responses are ‘…because people are buying the games in droves” and “Why would you stop milking your cash cow when it is obviously still producing results?”

The issue at hand in the coming generation of consoles is that they will be largely focused on digital content more-so than even these current consoles seem to be.  While the PlayStation Store and XBox Marketplace are doing well and provide services to subscribers/gamers it seems like only a matter of time before you will have to start buying certain content by sections rather than a full-fledged title.

Some games like Call of Duty, Battlefield and Halo could potentially be sold in three different ways.

  1. Online Multiplayer
  2. Offline Story Mode/Campaign
  3. Full Game (Online and Offline Content)

This isn’t the first time that something like this has been suggested.  You can go to virtually any rumor mill site for gaming and read about an industry analyst talking about the likelihood of a game like Call of Duty charging people to play online.   The issue that gamers should be considering is whether or not they are happy with the current state of games.  Whether or not you are paying extra for maps, add-ons or even avatar clothing you have to appreciate how smooth the transition has been between the PS2/XBox to the PS3 and 360 in terms of online interactivity and microtransactions like coins for Madden Ultimate Team.

We will soon be entering a new realm of digital content distribution.  Considering the actions of developers in the last 18 months, you shouldn’t be surprised if you will have options to buy games by piecemeal or some sort of full-game combo.

If you disagree about the outlook or attitude towards some aspects of games (such as story mode/campaign) you should ask Battlefield or Call of Duty gamers if they have played more than 45 minutes of the campaign mode.

The fact that Battlefield has a disc for campaign mode on 360 says a lot (even if it is simply due to space)… my campaign disc has been in the system for less than two hours – total.

Get ready for some big changes next gen.

Medal of Honor Warfighter – Review and Impressions

At first glance you might look at Medal of Honor: Warfighter with a cynical mindset.  Afterall, the original ‘rehash’ of the series was lacking to say the least.  What you will notice right off the bat is recoil in your weapons from the gameplay perspective.  This game is a more arcade-like game from the run and gun perspective on multiplayer rather than the Battlefield 3 perspective of objective based gameplay and XP development.

Warfighter’s maps seem forced and cluttered for the most part.  While the Frostbite 2 engine is a nice addition and it gives the ability to destroy cover, etc. there doesn’t seem to be a lot of longevity to a game that isn’t based on larger maps with a lot of cover to destroy.  Once again, EA is finding a way to put out a game as a stop-gap measure rather than trying to really overtake Call of Duty.

Here is a quick run-down of what you should expect if you are on the fence about buying Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

Pros –

Fast Gameplay – This game plays more like Call of Duty or even the 2010 iteration of MOH, but it is a welcome direction for people that prefer EA shooters over Call of Duty but still want faster gameplay and an overall more ‘reflex driven’ game.  The recoil of the weapons makes for a less point and shoot feel, but the small maps and close quarters along with a more assault driven attitude of game-modes makes Warfighter a faster experience overall.

Full Weapon Customization – You can pretty much build up any of your weapons to your own specifications.  New barrels, new sights, optics, etc.  The best part of being able to do these things is that they give you a feeling of ownership and creativity that actually matters.  Call of Duty has accessories for guns, sure… but for the most part they are unnecessary ‘bling’.  The only thing is that with the maps and game-types in Warfighter, is it really that vital to have all these options?  Only time will tell.

A Somewhat Intriguing Story – It isn’t often that we can say a FPS title has a story worth paying attention to.  Medal of Honor feels more like the movie ‘Act of Valor’ than some sort of half-cocked terrorist fiction.  On the other hand, maybe that is exactly what it is… *shrug*.  Warfighter grabs the gamer by the heartstrings with a story that feels very real in today’s modern terrorist obsessed culture.  However, it is also a game about terrorists being chased around the world.

I think I have played this game before.

Cons –

Feels Like A Stop-Gap COD Wanna-be – The bad part of MOH: WF is that it feels like Call of Duty without the urgency.  Call of Duty is fast paced, run and gun, twitchy and an overall ADHD experience.  Warfighter is all of those things without the twitchy control feel.  This makes for a fast paced game with sluggish handling.  I appreciate the effort to speed up the feel but this game needs to make up its mind.

Too Little, Too Late – With the likes of Halo and Call of Duty coming out in the next three weeks MOH is looking like something to buy if you have $60 to throw away.  This feels a lot like the 2010 release of Medal of Honor where it had a toe-hold for a couple weeks before Call of Duty came out and made people forget about playing a game with a lumberjack on the cover.

A Possible DLC Money Pit – One of the most annoying aspects of this current generation (and future generations) of online console gaming is downloadable content.  Sure, DLC is something that is a must for games like Medal of Honor, but in reality you are starting to see a trend of games that come out with DLC already planned to take money out of your wallet. Purchasing Warfighter brand new comes with access to a couple new maps but in reality it isn’t much of a perk if you don’t plan on being completely devoted to this game for the next year.  I don’t foresee Medal of Honor being played by many people when Battlefield 3 is already successful enough with its community and Call of Duty gamers will get their annual re-hash and pour money into DLC and ‘Elite’.

What More Do You Want From Shooter Games?

The best-selling games on consoles seem to come down to First Person Shooters every single year.

While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does drive me to wonder what else I really want from my FPS gaming experiences.  There seem to be three choices when it comes down to decision-making.

Arcade/Deathmatch Style – Call of Duty is the quintessential example of shooter games that revolve around picking up the controller and smacking other gamers in the face.  It is a fast-paced game with slight differences between weapons.  Not to mention a huge group of core gamers that are dedicated to the game they have come to love (or even sometimes, hate).

What More Do I Want?I have been hoping for years for the sniping in this game to be nerfed.  However, that is the ‘charm’ of Call of Duty games…  the weapons are subjectively rated and designed.  In many cases there isn’t much of a difference between using a magnum side-arm and a MK-14 as long as you ‘know how to handle them’.

I don’t want Call of Duty to change, primarily because I know that every time I turn it on I will be able to play it for an hour or two before I get so fed up with connectivity or quick-scoping spawn trappers that I turn it off and put in a different game.

Objective Based/Simulation – Battlefield 3 is designed with huge maps and team-play as the primary components.  While some of the interactions with vehicles is far from ‘simulation’ the weapons and handling of the game in-general present a much more ‘realistic’ feel to the game.  The recoil of the weapons makes for tough decisions to be made at times when you try to determine if you want more power or more control.  This is a primary difference between BF3 and COD games.

Also, objectives are the primary gametypes for Battlefield games.  This is something that tends to escape the common COD player than ventures into the land of Battlefield.  They will often try to come into a game of Rush or Conquest and try to turn it into some sort of Team Deathmatch.  While this is quite useful in Conquest, it is far from useful if you are the attacking team in Rush.

What More Do I Want? –A preventative measure to keep teams from spawn camping with vehicles like helicopters.  This is a great game, but people that are new to it will find that it is unforgiving when you play Conquest mode against seasoned teams of gamers.  It is one of the biggest downfalls in game design when you make it nearly impossible for a losing team to recover.

 

Sci-Fi/Fantasy – Halo, Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series all fall into this category for the most part.  They are either based in a realm that doesn’t exist or in some sort of alternate universe.  Fallout is the only potential threat to this category, but in reality it still has ‘laser’ weapons.  Much like Fallout, Skyrim has magic and other spells that make it fantasy related.  Halo is based on other planets or regions of the universe and uses weapons that either don’t exist or close to that description.

What More Do I Want?–  This category is difficult because there isn’t a lot to base anything off of in ‘real life’.  The issue I have with Halo is recoil with weapons feeling non-existent.  In general, Halo has a feel to it that makes it seem like the gamer is playing the game with a lot less ‘motion’.  There is almost a floating sensation when playing Halo.

What’s the point?

When thinking about any of these things it leaves me thinking that any of the things I wish would happen in FPS games are subjective at best and pointless at worst.  Most of the games we choose to play revolve around what we have had time to find a love for over the years.  Chances are good that you have already pre-ordered a game this fall or at least plan on asking for one of them during the holiday season.

Take that as a sign that you really don’t have a lot more you want out of a shooter game.  Otherwise you wouldn’t pre-order something before you hear about, let alone see any real changes.

What’s Next? Madden NFL Zombie Mode…?

I bet you think I am joking… and I am to an extent – but…

So many people were clamouring for fantasy drafts and player editing in Madden 13 – and their wishes are slowly being granted.  Many people are still playing Black Ops strictly for the zombie mode and are looking forward to Black Ops 2 only for the continuation of it as well.  Now we have numerous zombie add-ons for games like ARMA 2 to go with the already growing number of actual zombie-themed games like Left 4 Dead and Dead Island.

Then it crossed my mind.

What would make a football game more accessible for non-sports gamers?

Zombies!

Consider the possibilities of instead of simply getting tackled by other players you were being chased around the field by zombies.  Maybe you could actually break ankles with a crazy juke move or use the hit stick to wreck a few zombies carrying the brain…err – ball.

I bet Donny Moore would give them all 99 OVRs in toughness and 25s in Awareness…

What are your thoughts? – Should zombies make their way into sports games?

You Can’t Teach Speed – Outsmarting Your Opponents

Whenever I talk to jaded gamers about playing games like Call of Duty, Halo or any other online shooter they usually tell me that the game is too fast.  While I agree that online First Person Shooters (FPS) are rather fast paced you also shouldn’t let this stop you from playing the games you’d like to enjoy.  As we get older we tend to lose a lot of our quick ‘twitch’ reflexes (especially in gaming).  Look at athletes or any other person that relies on their physical abilities early in their career only to have to switch to a more cerebral approach later on.

For those of you that don’t have the ‘reaction time’ for some of your favorite games, it might be time to come to terms with the fact that you are ageing.  It sounds almost comical from a gaming perspective but really there are many more tactics and strategies that can help your performance than the twitch reflexes you have lost (or never had).

Plan Your Movements

Even if you have to think about your movements in a calculated manner for each match you are probably thinking more than any of your other opponents and therefore – gaining an advantage.  It isn’t that someone with fast reflexes doesn’t think but they tend to operate in a more instinctive fashion.  The benefit you gain from planning out your attacks is that you actually work out multiple potential problems as you advance.  A prime example of this can be found in the following clip from the movie Sherlock Holmes –

Know Your Speed and Stick To It

Nothing can screw up your gaming ability more than playing out of your element.  If you have an opponent in Madden that prefers to play a no huddle offense and leave you grasping for time outs or hopeful incomplete passes you shouldn’t stoop to their level when you get the ball.  Slow the game down, take your time with every snap and adjustment (we will have a full feature on how to do all these things in Madden 13 over the next week).

Always make it your mission to play ‘your’ game.  It is vital for you to take every opportunity to make your opponent think and sometimes overthink everything they are doing.

When playing a game like Call of Duty there are often only two types of players in a team deathmatch setting:  Campers and Rushers.  Campers hate to be forced out of their favorite spots and rushers hate having to stop and slow down to kill a well placed camper.  It is really the ultimate conundrum when it comes to gaming and it can provide you with the ability to create a third type of COD player… a hybrid of camper and rusher.  We will call it a Cramper.

One of the videos I posted back in April shows you the best of both worlds –

Need Some Help Developing Your Gaming Identity or Game Speed?

NoobTubeTV recently started offering Game Training sessions for your convenience just a few weeks ago.  For many people out there the gaming world can be a rather unnerving place if you are new to the online realm especially.  We offer a professional, courteous, patient and friendly atmosphere where you can develop your skills and find your desired level of gaming.  For more information on our Game Training sessions, please visit the NTTV Game Training page.

Is Halo 4 The Dark Horse of FPS Games This Year?

Surprisingly, Halo 4 has managed to sneak up on many gamers this year.  It could be a case of the series being over-produced and pushed to its creative limit.  It could also be a situation where people have pretty much had their fill with Halo and the expected gameplay that has become synonymous with the Halo series.

Master Chief is poised to lay the smack down with some black ops of his own… Call of Duty is probably going to respond with nazi zombies… from space.

With 343 (the studio behind some of Halo: Reach’s multiplayer content) pushing out the latest title you should know to expect similar gameplay.  Outside of that, you will have a lot of new possibilities that make Halo fresh.

This iteration of Halo allows you to pick your weapon load-out much like Call of Duty or Battlefield, however there are other tweaks that make it a more unique game than than the typical – Hey, lets go shoot the other team and rank up so we can prestige and call people noobs type of experience you see on Call of Duty quite often.

Halo 4 is also going to also allow you to sprint and play the game in a faster fashion than other Halo titles previously.  It seems that playing a faster paced game is more important to the growing base of gamers than playing a more cerebral game that is slightly longer.  This said, you can probably recall many Team Slayer matches that actually lasted until the final minute and they weren’t  even close enough to call them good matches – they were just slow.  That should hopefully change for the better with these new additions.

War Games is the new addition to multi-player that will essentially put gamers onto a ship – the UNSC Infinity that will allow gamers to experience a new type and form of multiplayer that features smoother gameplay and better lighting.  Not to mention the new concept of teamwork and playing through endless scenarios with new ways to earn power-ups and develop your Halo 4 experience.  Stay tuned to NoobTubeTV for more Halo 4 updates and other news as we enter the busiest part of the gaming year!  Don’t be afraid to pre-order Halo 4 either – we are providing a link below so you can join the experience on November 6!

Are You Not Entertained? – Actually… No. – The Downward Spiral of Annual Game Releases

If sports and first person shooter (FPS) Video Games were a ‘Nation’ and I were the President of Sports and FPS Video Games, I would have to say that the State of our Union is weak.

This isn’t coming from the stand-point of the gaming companies like Electronic Arts or Activision (judging by their weakening stocks I would say that they feel the same), but from the aspect of gamers.  There are numerous games that have grabbed our attention and held onto it for a few years such as the Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Mass Effect and some others that you might be able to throw out there in the comments section below.  However, sports games and some shooter titles are constantly being thrown at us every year during the summer or fall.

What is becoming more evident as we get closer to the end of this generation of consoles (XBox 360, PS3 and Wii) is that sports and shooter games are really coasting along for the last few quarters before they jump into a new fray of next-gen console development (aka – more of your money).

We have recently focused on games like Madden NFL and NCAA Football sense they are the primary Summer Releases for EA Sports.  The next game that will get our full attention is Black Ops 2.  Call of Duty is a game that is technically released every two years if you want to dive into the fact that it is split between development teams (Infinity Ward and Treyarch).  However, the series itself is pretty much the same concept with a few nuances that make each game slightly different.

These games feel disposable at this point.  We aren’t in a time period of creative thoughts in entertainment in general.  Movies are the same way with sequels and remakes that really aren’t too dissimilar from what annual sports games and FPS games like Call of Duty are doing.  The publishers of these games like to sell you on trailers and big budget marketing rather than actually take the time to be creative and take a chance with something new.

If in 2013 there would be an announcement that Madden and Call of Duty would not be released in order to drive creativity and innovation in each series, would you applaud this decision or take it upon yourself to scream in ALL CAPS that it is the worst thing that ever happened to gaming?

NoobTubeTV would applaud this decision but what is your take?