games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Worst News Stories of 2016

January 3, 2017 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. Apologies for last week as my computer took a header before I could write the column so here we are with it this week. 2016 was a turbulent time for game news, with plenty of stories both good and bad coming out. Here we focus on the bad before we focus on the good. Most of these stories are about singular games, but not all of them. With that said, let’s begin:

#8: Ubisoft Struggles

This is a story that started happening in 2016 but really 2017 (or possibly even later) is when it will truly come into its own. The story here is that little by little Vivendi has been trying to acquire Ubisoft from the Guillemot family. Why they are doing this is kind of a mystery to me, while Vivendi has dabbled in games before, owning at one part Blizzard, Sierra, and Fox Interactive, Vivendi itself was never a huge success, and World of Warcraft was barely even their game when it launched. However, Ubisoft has been flagging for the past few years, with annualized sequels and some games (The Crew, Toy Soldiers, the “Mania” series) being mis-fires, or not living up to their potential. I’d like to see Ubisoft succeed as they are probably the third or fourth biggest third party company around, but time will tell if they will remain independent or not.

#7: Nintendo Fan Games

I can understand Nintendo shutting down Pokemon games, at least to an extent. Pokemon is still one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises and they regularly pump out Pokemon games at a decent clip. I don’t forgive them though for shutting down AM2R, which was a fan-made remake of Metroid 2 from the Gameboy. I don’t understand it because honestly, Nintendo doesn’t give a good goddamn about the Metroid franchise, at least with Freedom Force is any indication. Arguably, fan-made games could be considered free advertising since they let people enjoy a company’s franchise, when that company isn’t interested in exploiting the franchise. It would be nice if Nintendo could stop being so corporate for once, but that seems an impossibility.

#6: Bethesda Press Policy

This is on here because it actually affects me and the other game writers on the site here. Bethesda’s policy for providing press review (early) copies of games was changed this year and now they either won’t provide copies at all, or will only provide them the day of release. Their half-baked rationale is that they want press to “experience the game the same way as the public does”. That’s a fine policy except for the part where they provide early copies to popular Youtubers to get free, biased coverage of their games, in an effort to fool the public into thinking their games are good. Guess what, Doom was great, and Skyrim Remastered was a mess. There you go, policy done.

#5: Pulmer Luckey Crash ‘n Burn

Every year that is at least one big name in the games world that crashes hard, from Peter Molyneux to Denis Dyack. In 2016 the person that rose highest and then fell furthest was Pulmer Luckey. Unlike other people who talk about Luckey, I can, without question, say his politics are abhorrent. He supported that mutant Oompa Loompa getting into the White House, either directly or indirectly, should cause people to seriously question if they want an Oculus Rift and what Facebook’s policies are, especially given that Peter Thiel is on the board of directors. But since it was reported about Luckey’s “meme magic” and “shitposting is powerful”, nary a word has been said about him since. Good riddance I say, hopefully that Hobbit can go back to the Shire after which Samwise can beat him down.

#4: Mighty No. 9

…Wow, what a disaster. You could argue, going in, that Mighty No. 9 wasn’t going to meet expectations, given how much it raised and what they were promising, but ye gods, they barely even hit the mark of “playable game” in some cases. This game didn’t even reach the lowest points of the worst Mega Man games (MM7, or MMX7), with bad gameplay all around. When they have to apologize for the game with a “Well, this is the amount of money we had to work with”, then maybe you shouldn’t have tried to implement nonsense like “Online Battle Race Mode!!”, or a Boss Rush Mode. They should have focused on getting the core of the game at least up to snuff from the technical demo they released with the Kickstarter, but they didn’t even do that.

#3: No Man’s Sky Reception

Really there are two parts to the story. The first is that “Yes”, No Man’s Sky probably didn’t deliver on everything it had set out to do, or which they claimed was going to be in the game. It’s a sad thing but games rarely live up to insane hype and with how public Sony was pushing the game, it was bound to cause issues. The other side of the story is the insane way “fans” (re: psychos) responded to the game, bitching about missing features, hunting down the developers online, and starting countdowns for when they (the developers) last talked to the community. Had the community been rational the lines of communication would likely be open, but peruse the Reddit for No Man’s Sky sometime, and you can understand why the hell they instituted a black out.

#2: Disney Infinity Closed

This one affected me on a somewhat personal level. I was friends with some of the development guys who were making Infinity and they were suddenly out of work. Aside from that though, it was a shock all around considering Disney’s gargantuan success and being one of the biggest companies in the world. Also, the Infinity series had been getting stronger year by year, and to just have them throw in the towel, not only on Infinity but seemingly on all console-based games (internally) was surprising. Frankly I anticipated Activision to “pack it in” when it comes to Skylanders first, but they keep trucking along with it. I guess if you want a pop-culture filled toy-based game you have to go with Lego Dimensions.

#1: Street Fighter V

What an unmitigated disaster this has become. When Street Fighter 5 was announced most people were thrilled by it. Street Fighter 4 had been extremely well supported, but the constant updates made it a costly venture. To have Capcom essentially burn all the good will from Street Fighter 4, a genre they not only basically created with Street Fighter 2, but brought back the dead with SF4, and piss it all away on SF5 and the pro circuit is madness. Capcom only catered to the EVO crowd and gave some big middle fingers to casual fans of the franchise. It’d be like building a car for the public but only 1% of them could actually drive it well. At launch, the game had only three modes: versus, survival and their paltry “story” mode, which was a series of one round matches a chimp could mash his way through. Over time they slowly added in things any regular fighting game would have, like a story (arcade) mode, or a “versus CPU” option, but it’s too little too late. One hopes they’ve learned their lesson with Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite but I doubt it.

For comments, list which news stories you thought were bad in 2016.

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Top 8 Best News Stories of 2016

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison