Grab bag of thoughts for you in this week’s column.
FELLOW COLUMNIST TYLER MORSE IS RIGHT, OUTRAGE (SOMETIMES) WORKS
Don’t tell him I said this, but the guy nails it sometimes, and ArenaNet’s recent 180° regarding the upcoming Guild Wars 2 expansion is a case in point.
So, E3 happens, the PC gaming keynote happens, ArenaNet spills the details about Guild Halls and announces that pre-orders are open for Heart of Thorns. $50 USD for the base game plus the expansion, $75 for that package plus a character slot and a bunch of cosmetic extras, $100 for the $75 package plus a boatload of in-game currency. And, critically, no option to buy just the expansion if you already own the base game.
(Also, following the pre-order announcement, GW2’s FAQ is very very quietly edited — where it once said you needed the base game to play the expansion, it later said the expansion would include the base game. Hmm. Coughbaitandswitchcough?)
People were not happy. $50 for an expansion was fine, but not including a free character slot when there was a new class to try meant that the real cost was either $60 — $50 for HoT and $10 for a new character slot — or $50, and I hope you like making Sophie’s Choice and deleting one of your characters. And the business with the FAQ really rubbed people the wrong way.
Outrage flowed like lava.
Within a week or so, ArenaNet had a new announcement to make — “veteran” accounts, ones that existed prior to January 23rd of this year, will receive a free character slot when Heart of Thorns launches. Newer accounts would be able to refund part or all of their purchase. Players who had already pre-ordered at $75 and up would get two bonus character slots — the pre-order bonus, and the free slot that will be coming for all accounts.
Outrage cooled, also like lava. And Tyler Morse, dastardly clever fellow that he is, is proven right once again.
CANADA CELEBRATES ITS 148th BIRTHDAY TOMORROW
And still nobody has made the blockbuster AAA Total-War-meets-Assassin’s-Creed-meets-Fallout‘s-faction-mechanics game about the North West Rebellion I’ve been clamoring for since I started writing this sentence.
Seriously, though, that would be incredible. Ride alongside Gabriel Dumont and a crack team of Métis guerrillas as they harass Canadian forces all along the rail lines. Or, fight off those same guerrillas if you’ve made different choices earlier in the game. Take out objectives at the Battle of Fish Creek. Navigate complex faction mechanics in Ottawa, Montréal, and Batoche. Struggle with Louis Riel as he tries to rally the soldiers of the Saskatchewan Provisional Government while dealing with visions from God.
Seriously. Somebody make this happen. I’ll track down some pemmican for you.
GOODBYE, SCROLLS, IT WAS FUN
Mojang’s back to being the Minecraft guys. The writing was on the wall following the Microsoft purchase, but ceasing development essentially confirms it.
For those who don’t know, Scrolls was an underrated digital CCG from Mojang where you spawned units in a hex grid of five “lanes” and had to defend objectives at the back of your lane from enemy units. It had a lot of clever ideas regarding strategic placement and area control, but received almost no marketing help from Mojang (why would Mojang market things? They didn’t need to market Minecraft), and was soon trampled by Blizzard’s unbeatable combination of a phenomenal IP, phenomenal polish, and a friendlier card acquisition system at launch.
I once spent eight straight hours with a buddy at a LAN grinding gold in Scrolls and flinging dudes at each other. Good times. Brief times, but good times.
BETHESDA HEDGES BETS, LAUNCHES MOBILE FALLOUT WITH REGULAR FALLOUT BECAUSE REASONS
Fallout Shelter launched in the iOS App Store immediately following its announcement at E3 — which happened in conjunction with plenty of official details being handed out regarding Fallout 4, its big brother.
Bethesda VP of PR and Marketing Pete Hines is quoted over at GamesIndustry.biz as follows:
“If we tried to do this last year without announcing what Bethesda Game Studios was doing [Fallout 4 for consoles and PC] and said, ‘Oh we’re doing a game and it’s on mobile and it’s called Fallout Shelter,’ we’d probably get lynched, right? There would be pitchforks at the gate. ‘That’s not the Fallout we asked for, you bastards!’ But doing it this way, they’re like, ‘I’m getting what I want and oh, by the way, while I wait here’s this other free thing that’s fun to play.’ So part of it is just how do we not get ourselves killed and make it a success? This felt like the better version of that.”
That’s pretty accurate, actually. I’m not going to take issue with that.
What strikes me is the decision to go into mobile at all. They don’t need to, frankly. They could make an Elder Scrolls title every three years and print money the way their games print crazy YouTube videos.
But. That is not their path. Along with Hearthstone-alike The Elder Scrolls: Legends, Fallout Shelter represents a deliberate move away from Bethesda’s core audience and into… lines at the supermarket? Shades of Konami? Hopefully not, but still. We’ll be watching this, of course.
Any bets on a TES: Legends tournament at a future BaseLAN?
Jesse Mackenzie is the Managing Editor for aybonline.com. He often writes while listening to the gentle hum of Star Trek engine cores. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and his opinions are his own.