News: 343 Fails to Connect with Gamers

It's not like gamers are hurting for choice these days - 343 best lift its game!
Microsoft’s cloud won’t stop raining!

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Is Still a Big Fat Disappointment

What good is Halo if not for the multiplayer? Halo: The Master Chief Collection was released in November of 2014 in a hopelessly broken state. In today’s industry games releasing in a substantially unfinished state is nothing particularly out of the ordinary, what with major releases in the Battlefield and Assassin’s Creed franchises seeing release as abject dreck, but The Master Chief Collection is a particularly humiliating instance of this. As a game that is essentially only played for its multiplayer component, The Master Chief Collection is not only being existentially negated at its most elemental level through connection errors, but it is also a bloody great humiliation for Microsoft. This was to be the multiplayer showcase for the Xbox One, whereby Microsoft would make the argument that the superior power of the PS4 does not matter when multiplayer on the Xbox One is this good. Instead the multiplayer still does not even work after six months at retail – so much for the power of the cloud!

The abject humiliation of 343 Studios and Microsoft took another turn last week when 343 had to cancel the first Cup in the second season of the official Halo Championship Series – making the game something of a joke in esport circles. The Cup was intended to take place between the 25th and 26th of April.Players managed to struggle their way through Saturday’s competition, only to have to abandon play on Sunday as connectivity issues became increasingly worse. Things got so bad that HCS Live Tweets tweeted that players were becoming increasingly agitated:

Yep, a lot of protests going on in this Open cup. Either connection issues to blame, or something else.

The official Halo Twitter account then clarified the situation:

We’re aware of and investigating party joinability issues. As a result, we’ll be canceling HCS Cup #1, and apologize for the inconvenience.

It is one thing to completely waste the player’s initial $60 purchase of a game, but it is quite another to waste their time so absolutely. The Master Chief Collection is fast becoming a joke [in poor taste] to the competitive shooter community, as the game is fast losing its relevance within the competitive sphere of gaming. 343 will want to fix these issues before the release of Halo 5, as the series is fast expending the goodwill of gamers.

... But Nintendo seems to have clawed their way back from the precipice.
A downward spiral Wii won’t soon forget…

Nintendo Posts First Profit in Years

This week Nintendo has posted its bottom line for the end of the financial year, and they are back in the black with the success of Amiibos largely to thank, one suspects. The Wii U is still desperately clinging to life, unable to crack an instalbase of 10 million, yet it would seem that this figure is nonetheless sufficient to spur the sales of Amiibo, which will likely soon surpass the sales of the Wii U itself.

Nintendo has shipped 10.5 Amiibos worldwide, shipping 6,930,000 to America alone. The 3DS family also appears to be doing well, having sold a cumulative 52 million units across all versions – a fact that is hard to reconcile with the system’s moribund release schedule. Mario Kart 8 and Smash Bros. have also performed extremely well given the Wii U’s paltry sales figures, selling 5.11 million copies and 3.65 million copies respectively. Finally, it would seem likely that Nintendo will have two very lucrative years ahead of them, as they have committed themselves to releasing no fewer than five smartphone games between now and March of 2017.

Adopting the episodic model for all projects would be a shame.
More of this pls!

Capcom Profitable Despite Sharp Decline in Net Sales

It would appear that this is the season for fiscal year reporting, and so Capcom has followed suit hot on the heels of Nintendo. It would also seem that Capcom has meddled with the bad alchemy, as their net income has swelled even as their net sales dropped precipitously. Net sales fell from 102,200 million Yen in 2014 to 64,277 million Yen in 2015, even as Capcom’s net income grew from 3,444 million Yen in 2014 to 6,616 million Yen in 2015. Operating income and ordinary income remained more or less unchanged. Capcom is crediting a 16.5% improvement in profitability to efficient development infrastructure.

Capcom cites Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Monster Hunter 4G [because of course!] as being the year’s stand-out performers. Resident Evil Revelations 2 has sold 1.1 million copies, putting it in line with the sales of Resident Evil HD, though the latter likely yielded more profit since it was a HD port. It will be interesting to see whether the relative success of these games will be able to influence the numbered franchise, though it is likely too late for the games to have a great deal of influence over Resident Evil 7, as that title is likely deep into production. Perhaps that is for the best though, as Capcom appears to regard the episodic structure of Revelations 2 as their proudest achievement, and one could easily envisage a scenario wherein they mandated that all their games be episodic going forward:

‘Resident Evil Revelations 2’ which is sold in an ingenious manner (separate digital download sales of each episode followed by package sales) has also made a strong start to be a million seller.

Another area of profit that Capcom has identified is the ‘digital download sales of repeat titles’:

Additionally, a steady increase in the sales volume of digital download sales of repeat titles contributed to profits due to their high profitability.

The jargon used here is initially near indecipherable, yet after consideration Capcom appears to be talking about the growing profitability of their older Playstation Classics and Virtual Console titles, which would make sense considering that Capcom has been very active in pushing to have their older games released across these services.

One final interesting tidbit was revealed in Capcom’s financial reporting, which is that Capcom expects to release Street Fighter V within the current fiscal year, so before March 31st of 2016. Initial showings of Street Fighter V looked quite basic, so it is very interesting to see that it will release sooner rather than later in the new year.

6 comments

  1. It’s baffling to me how pretty much every major review publication gave MCC an eight or over, with the exception of GameSpot. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo:_The_Master_Chief_Collection#Reception)

    Even the Metacritic user score is over an eight. Are reviewers and gamers ever going to start holding devs accountable for releasing broken games? Why is everyone so content with throwing loads of money at unfinished projects?

  2. @Bek: because they don’t know any better. To a lot of people, this is just how it is, only because they haven’t given it a lot of thought. Once the immediate gratification of the purchase has been met, then the consumer will defend their decision out of some misguided fear of ever admitting to having been fooled, swindled, or simply had their ignorance taken advantage of. Doing so is akin to them saying “I am not smart enough to make good choices,” which takes some brutal self-honesty.

    That is the only way I can think of to explain it.

  3. @Java: That’s no excuse for the reviewers to praise a game that is in such bad shape though. There should also be some blame placed on the retailers as well, because they laud these games as wonderful and fun just to make a buck. Whilst at GameStop, I could not tell you the amount of times someone put MCC back after I told them that the multiplayer was broken. But the company would rather me praise the good parts and ignore the problems just to push copies out of the door.

  4. @Bek: True, but Cynical Java has actually come to expect such things and doubts they will ever change because trying to get the consumer collective to simply be more aware about what they’re buying amid a quagmire of misinformation is a daunting task. Caveat Emptor reigns supreme, and always has, really, even going beyond video games. We can demand honesty in journalism all we want, but without the willingness to scrutinize and stand together as a market, there is no system of checks and balances in place. Perhaps one day this will change, but my gut tells me it’s only going to get worse before it starts getting better.

    I pray that I am very wrong.

  5. @Bek: “That’s no excuse for the reviewers to praise a game that is in such bad shape though.”

    But how will they get free review copies if they are mean to devs!?!?!? :o :o :o

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