games / Columns

411 Games Fact or Fiction 08.15.13: Xbox One, Dota 2, PS Vita, More

August 15, 2013 | Posted by Daniel Anderson

Hello everyone and welcome to this week’s edition of Fact or Fiction. As always, I am Daniel Anderson, and I hope everyone has had a good week. This week we have gotten to see some more Microsoft backtracking, and the release of Ducktales Remastered. I can’t wait to play the game in the 360. Yes, I only have an Xbox and have to wait to play the game. Anyway, this week we have 411’s Mark Salmela going up against Stephen Randle. Let’s see what they have to say, shall we?

1.) You are not surprised that the new Xbox is coming with a chat headset.

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Mark Salmela Fiction: Microsoft finally woke up after being pimp slapped for the better part of 6 months against Sony in the next-gen console race, and now things are getting interesting. With Microsoft’s policy reversals on the Xbox One, it’s no surprise that Microsoft is trying to match the PS4 feature-for-feature as much as possible. If the PS4 didn’t come with a headset you better believe Microsoft wouldn’t have changed their mind. Hell, at this point we’re only one step away from Xbox One having a $399.99 bundle that doesn’t have Kinect at all. Kinect isn’t mandatory anymore, so why not go the full mile and sell me a Kinect-free bundle? It’s the only way I’d consider getting an Xbox One at launch, since the only Xbox-exclusive launch title that interests me is a fighting game which sure as hell won’t use Kinect, so let me buy Kinect later if I decide I really want one.

Stephen RandleFact: As I’ve said before, it doesn’t even have to be a good one, because God knows Sony’s included headset is a cheap piece of plastic, but since Sony is including one, Microsoft had to include one, especially because that extra hundred dollars really needs to start providing extra value now that Kinect is no longer a requirement for the console. But that’s a whole ‘nother issue.

Score: 0 for 1 – I had a feeling this would be coming and it doesn’t come as a surprise to me.

2.) You have watched at least one Dota 2 International streamed match.

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Mark Salmela Fiction: I don’t see the appeal in Dota. I’ll freely admit I watched a decent amount of Evo 2013, since they present the tournament well and it seems like a fun event with the best fighting game players in the world, but I don’t care about Dota in the slightest. You know what I would watch? A Half-Life 3 stream. It doesn’t even need to be a tournament. Eh, you guys know what I’m trying to say at this point. Just make HL3 already Valve and stop screwing around with Dota.

Stephen RandleFact: I watched…a lot of the International. If it was on and I wasn’t at work, I watched it, including the prelims. Consequently, I didn’t see a lot of the eventual winners, Alliance, because their matches were early and ended quickly, but I did see a whole lot of DOTA. I enjoyed it, though the casters weren’t always incredibly helpful with describing the action (not that I blame them, it’s hard to follow), and the players themselves generally gave bad interviews (again, no blame, most of them barely speak English). I’m not any good at DOTA and not likely to get better, but I could appreciate and enjoy watching really, really well-played video games.

Score: 0 for 2 – I was surprised at how much I enjoyed watching well played Dota 2. Normally I am not that interested in watching video game tournements, but The International caught my interest and made me want to play Dota 2 (which I have played some in bot battles).

3.) It is a big deal that you have to have Xbox Live Gold to record and post a game video.

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Mark SalmelaFiction: Who cares? The only people I can see who’d really be into recording and posting game video is the hardest of the hardcore players, and those are the type of people who are already Xbox Live gold subscribers, and will continue to be gold subscribers when the Xbox One launches. I’ve yet to meet or hear from a single person who’s actually excited about recording/sharing gameplay videos. Yes, I know those people are out there, and yes, I know Let’s Play videos get way more views on Youtube then they have any right to. But you can’t convince me there’s any marginal demand for recording/sharing your gameplay videos. It’s a nice feature that’ll be enjoyed by a niche audience, and that niche audience already has Xbox Live gold.

Stephen RandleFact: As always, going back to the fact that Sony doesn’t require it and Microsoft does, which has been the whole argument for weeks and weeks now. I’m sure Microsoft has reasons for why they’re doing what they’re doing, but they’ve continually stepped all over their message, meaning that even if things they’d planned were actually good and beneficial for the future of console gaming, nobody wanted to hear them because the message was presented so poorly. Meanwhile, Sony kept popping up and saying “Oh, you don’t like what Microsoft said? Well, we were never going to do what they did”, and thus, they have all the momentum and good PR headed into launch, while Microsoft continues to look like arrogant, out-of-touch, and even worse, wishy-washy when they keep reversing what they said in desperate attempts not to look like horrible monsters.

Score: 0 for 3 – I have a hard time seeing someone saying, “If I can’t post video of me playing games online without paying for Xbox Live, then I am not getting an Xbox One.” This is just going to be a fanboy argument that won’t mean much in the long run.

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4.) You like the idea of Dead Island: Epidemic, a MOBA zombie game.

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Stephen RandleFact: I like the concept of the game, but given that the Dead Island series hasn’t exactly been anything special, I’m lukewarm on Epidemic. If it works and is innovative, I think a humans vs zombies MOBA could be a lot of fun. However, I’d prefer to see the same game from different developers, because the most innovative thing to come out of Dead Island so far has been marketing gimmicks that horribly backfire.

Mark SalmelaFiction: Can we please get over the whole zombie craze? Man, when this industry finds a hot commodity, they sure run it into the ground as quick as possible, don’t they? First platformers were all the rage. Then came World War 2 shooters. Then came the music games and plastic instruments. Then everyone had to have a modern warfare shooter. Now everyone needs zombies! If there’s one thing I hate about the video game industry, its how everyone is so quick to jump on the bandwagon for whatever the flavor of the month happens to be. Hollywood is occasionally guilty of this (coughVampirescough), but nowhere near the extent of the video game industry. So no, I don’t like the idea of another zombie game. I’ll just sit around and wait for the next big video game craze, the open-world shooter!

Score: 0 for 4 – This could be fun if done right, but I am not sure if it will be done right or not by Deep Silver.

5.) The Dragon’s Crown controversy (of women being overly sexualized) has its roots in the cultural differences between the US and Japan.

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Stephen RandleFiction: I don’t really think that it does, I think people are using a meaningless comparison to attempt to pass the Dragon’s Crown controversy off as “lol Japanese portrayals of women”. Yes, there are cultural differences between the US and Japan, including concepts relating to gender. But Japan does not have the market cornered on exploitative, over-sexualized portrayals of women by any means. While the art of Dragon’s Crown is definitely unique, it’s hardly the first game to present absurd portrayals of attractive women, either in Japan or the US. Hell, going back to Dead Island, they tried to give away a bikini-clad, gore-covered woman’s torso as a pre-order bonus, and Deep Silver is a European-based company. I’m just saying, don’t pretend Japan is any different than the US in this respect just because Dragon’s Crown is the newest game under the microscope.

Mark SalmelaFact: There’s no hiding it. Dragon’s Crown is a very Japanese game that was developed with the Japanese audience in mind. I love Dragon’s Crown with a passion, it’s the rare modern-day beat-em-up that we never see anymore, but there’s no doubt it is trying to appeal to the Eastern audience. Personally I think the controversy works in the games favor. These companies aren’t stupid. They were fully aware some people would get upset at how “disproportionate” the women in this game are, but they were also fully aware that controversy creates dinero. The more people talk about Dragon’s Crown, the more the game will sell. I’m sure Atlus was aware of this controversy, and they love it and all the additional sales it brings.

Score: 0 for 5 – There is a different level of what is allowable in Japan then there is in the west. I think part of this controversy can be attributed to that.

6.) A price drop to $199.99 would greatly help Vita sales.

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Stephen RandleFact: Obviously it will help, but I think the price cut combined with actually releasing the PS4 so people can see how the two interact would be a big help as well. If Sony’s telling the truth and you’ll be able to play PS4 games on your Vita, that’s a huge deal which will probably boost sales, especially when combined with a new lower price. If, instead, the compatibility has ridiculous limitations, pretty much nothing will be able to save Sony’s handheld.

Mark SalmelaFiction: While I’m sure there’d be a small-term boost in sales due to a price drop, the fact still remains that there’s hardly any games coming to the Vita, and software sells hardware. Nintendo will back me up on that one. The Vita has one final chance to save itself before it’s a lost cause, and that’s the PS4. If Sony can successfully market the Vita as an extension of the PS4 and continue to push cross-play and cross-save with the Vita, I can see the Vita picking up steam. Will it ever be as successful as the 3DS? No. Will it be as successful as the PSP was? No. Could it be a critically acclaimed platform with great games that’s financially successful for Sony? Yes, it’s definitely still possible.

Score: 0 for 6 – Reducing the price .

Bonus Question: Give me some games that you think would work in a televised or live streamed tournament and why.

Stephen Randle I think, thanks to the inclusion of tablet-compatible “observer/commander” gameplay roles in upcoming next-gen games like The District and Battlefield 4, which allow you to fly around the game from a separate perspective (as opposed to being locked into one player’s viewpoint) and see the whole thing unfold, squad-based combat games could definitely work. Fighting games are an obvious choice, as well, because the action is obvious and limited to a single screen, plus anyone with any gaming interest can recognize most of the characters involved. And yes, I think DOTA works well in that environment because games at that level are usually a decent length with something happening most of the time, and once you get used to it, you can mostly follow what’s going on. Really, anything with two teams of multiple players would work, as long as you can see most of what is going on.

Mark Salmela Funny you ask this question, because I’m actually in the midst of putting together the Target Terror World Championship Invitational in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We’re going to do a 24 hour live-stream from the best dive bars in Minneapolis, the way Target Terror was meant to be played. Whether it’s 3 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon we’re going to live-stream the best Target Terror players in the world competing for high scores and most civilians killed in a single playthrough. The Target Terror WCI is a prejudice-free environment where everyone is innocent until proven guilty, including the pre-teen Asian girls in dumpsters and the old lady just trying to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. If you can’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt you’re innocent in the 2 – 3 frames of animation you have before my crosshairs light up your face, you’re guilty! “Sorry Granny, I believe ya, but my Tommy Gun don’t!”.

That wraps up this week’s edition of Fact or Fiction. Mark and Stephen went 0 for 6, not agreeing one time. I hope everyone has a good week, and until next week, happy gaming.


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