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By Jonathan Balofsky On 11 Oct, 2017 At 03:34 PM | Categorized As PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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I am a massive fan of fighting games. This should be no secret to those who have read my previous work here. When Killer Instinct was announced and then released for Xbox One, I was excited since the series is a beloved one and fans have been clamoring for a revival for years. With the game’s recent launch on Steam, I have finally gotten the chance to play and experience the reboot for myself.

Let me start out by saying that Killer Instinct is a gorgeous game. The particle effects are second to none and every detail of the visuals is just incredible. The game is a true work of art and that is not even getting to the gameplay yet. In terms of the gameplay, Killer Instinct has one of the best tutorials of any fighting game, and a worthy rival to Guilty Gear for the claim of best fighting tutorial ever. It really shows you how to play even if you are not very good at most fighting games.

I love that Killer Instinct is easy to learn but difficult to master, as it creates a unique playing field. The gameplay is fast and intense, and with the awesome characters available, you will want to play them all. I was unsure what I would think of the new additions to the roster but Double Helix and then Iron Galaxy did a great job with the game. It just feels right. Every hit feels like it means something, and that might be due to the way the music syncs up with the gameplay.

Speaking of the music, this game has some amazing audio and more than lives up to the music of its predecessors. That in itself is a high achievement, but the game more than stands on its own, as it is some of the best music ever in a video game. You can tell so much love was put into this, both in tributes to what came before and in terms of new ideas.

Killer Instinct is a must play for everyone. The online play is awesome with little to no issues, and as the Steam version is the complete version with all content, there is a good amount of single player gameplay as well. This is the best revival of a classic fighting game that has ever been done and I fully recommend checking this out. I am eager to see what modders will do with the game, similar to games like Street Fighter V on Steam, but that is another story. The game runs well, plays well and is just all around amazing. I do not want to sound gushing but I really have no complaints about this. I do not regret the purchase of the game in any way and feel you all will not regret it either.

 

By Wade Hinkle On 4 Oct, 2017 At 05:22 AM | Categorized As News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarBackwards compatibility on a gaming console was first seen on the Atari 7800 in June 1986, allowing gamers to play titles that were released on the two year old console Atari 5200 which was not well received.

Since then there has been many debates between gamers and console hardware companies whether it is important for the latest system to host the platform. A recent study conducted by Ars Technica using a third-party API showed the backwards compatibility platform on the Xbox One was used 1.5 percent of the time on 1.65 billion minutes. (A mere +/- 412,5000 hours). Gleaning the data from the study,then why is it important to have backward compatibility platform?

According to Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft Phil Spencer it is being used as a way to preserve the games as art. In an article posted by Wired earlier this week titled “The Inside Story of the Xbox One X”, Mr. Spencer gives his opinion on the importance of backward compatibility stating “I see games as an art form. Console games can get lost when hardware generations go away. It can become more challenging to play the games of our past,” he continues “There’s something to be learned from experiencing what I played as a kid. There’s good business there for the content owners, but as players, it’s nice to be able to understand how our artform has progressed.”

Microsoft is the only company that has been consistent with backwards compatibility going back to the Xbox 360, while both Nintendo and Sony have flipped back and forth with both companies deciding the their latest platform would not be available on their latest consoles.

Let us know your thoughts on backward compatibility, Is it important to you? Do you use the platform on your current console, if not, why? Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 27 Sep, 2017 At 11:21 PM | Categorized As News, PC Games, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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Microsoft released the following

 

 

Hey, everyone!

Excited to finally announce that Killer Instinct is coming to Steam TODAY (surprise!) for $39.99! This link will take you to KI’s page on the Steam Store once it props to the servers around 9 am: http://store.steampowered.com/app/577940/Killer_Instinct/

 

We know, you’ve had a lot of questions about the Steam version, and while we ironed out the kinks the past few weeks, we remained purposefully mum on the details…until now. We’ve collected the top questions that were asked of us around the Steam version of KI, and we are going to answer them here. Without further delay, let’s jump in!

 

Q: Who is the Steam version of Killer Instinct for?

A: We are committed to making Killer Instinct available to as many players as possible and creating a large, strong network so there is always someone to fight–er, play against. Gamers who purchase the game through Steam now have access to play Killer Instinct and even better, they can also play against players on Xbox One and Windows 10 (and vice versa) for the first time ever.

 

Q: What’s included in the Steam version of Killer Instinct?

A: Killer Instinct on Steam includes all seasons of KI –  all 29 characters (including the newly released Eagle, plus Kilgore and Shin-Hisako remix characters), all 20 stages, all costumes, all colors, and all modes.

 

Q: I own KI on Xbox /Windows 10, is the information from Xbox cross-saved to Steam?

A: The cross-save and cross-buy features within Xbox Play Anywhere are enabled through the Xbox Live service on Xbox and Windows. However, Steam is a separate network which does not support Xbox Play Anywhere, so cross-saves accessing save game data are not supported.

 

Q: Is the game cross-buy? Does my purchased content carry-across platforms?

A: The Steam ecosystem is completely separate from the Windows Store and the Xbox Store, and therefore content does not carry across. We want to give gamers the choice of where to play – so if you love Steam and prefer to play with your Steam account, you now can.

 

Q: How can I play with my friends on Xbox/Windows?

A: Cross-Network play is limited to Exhibition, Lobby mode, and Shadow Lords MP, however, you cannot invite friends to compete in Exhibition if they are not on the same platform. The easiest workaround for this is to create a lobby, name it with specific parameters, and have players search for that lobby.

 

Q: Will my fight sticks work on Steam?

A: All XInput fight sticks work on Killer Instinct Steam version. Fight sticks that are D-Input are not currently supported by the Steam version, however, will work with the Xbox One and Windows 10 versions. Key note to this. Xbox One sticks will work with the Xbox & Windows version of KI, but not Steam.

 

Q: Are skins included in the Steam bundle?

A: Because of the development process and a bunch of other jargon that is too complex for my simple mind, Steam includes ALL* of the skins released for purchase. Yes, every Terror and Gold Skin will come with this Steam bundle.

*This does not include promotional skins from Ultimate Source figure collection.

 

Q: Does this include KI Classic 1 & 2?

A:Killer Instinct: Definitive Edition, which includes the classic versions of KI and all the behind the scenes features is still only available for Xbox One.

 

That question about the skins may be raising some eyebrows. Currently, skin packs have been a purchasable product on Xbox and Windows. The reasoning behind having them bundled into Steam is beyond my developmental comprehension, but what I do know is that we didn’t have a perfect solution for everyone. Bundling them in with Steam means that those who purchased the packs may feel slighted. Leaving the packs out of Steam meant that a subset of players wouldn’t have access to the wonderful Gold & Terror skins. Ultimately we decided on the following, and most important part of this paragraph: all Gold and Terror skin packs will be free for KI: Definitive Edition owners in the coming days.

 

If you’ve already purchased the skin packs, we very much thank you, and hope you enjoyed using them to your heart’s content. Now you can enjoy any packs that you may have missed out on without having to purchase them (if you’re a DE owner – just reiterating). There are still a few remaining skin packs, and they will be rolled out in the coming months. Gold Skins for Rash, Kilgore, Shin Hisako, and Eagle. Be on the lookout!

 

That brings us to another point. We mentioned that DE owners would also be able to download Eagle, Kilgore, and Shin Hisako for free at a later date. That date is also today! If you haven’t done so yet, hop into the Xbox or Windows Store and download the additional characters.

 

There are bound to be a ton more questions that you want answered, so drop into the forums to let us know. Thanks for playing and as always…

FIGHT ON!

Killer Instinct is an amazing game and we have a review of the Steam version in the works. Will you be checking out this version?

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By Jonathan Balofsky On 18 Aug, 2017 At 03:59 PM | Categorized As News, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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Crackdown 3 has been delayed to spring 2018.

 

Shannon Loftis, Microsoft Studios Publishing general manager, said the company is delaying the Xbox One and Windows PC game to give development teams Reagent Games, Sumo Digital and Cloudgine extra time to ensure a quality experience.

“We’re very excited about Crackdown 3, and so are many fans, and so it’s a difficult call to move the release date,” Loftis said in an email interview with Polygon. “However, we want to make sure to deliver the right game, with the right quality, and at the right time. Crackdown 3 is a hugely ambitious game and we want to ensure we deliver the right experiences all the way through every part of the game, whether that’s campaign, co-op multiplayer or our competitive multiplayer mode, Wrecking Zone. Getting the balance right between the three modes is important, and we are going to take the extra development time to ensure that. Gamers can expect Crackdown 3 in Spring of 2018.”

Crackdown 3 was originally announced at E3 2014 and was, at one point, targeting a release in the second half of 2016. It’s clearly a complex project, one that has evolved since its unveiling, and Crackdown fans have learned to be patient waiting for it to come out.

“Crackdown 3 is an incredibly ambitious project that pushes the technological envelope with immersive true 4K gameplay, cloud-computing competitive multiplayer and a sprawling and futuristic open world,” Loftis said when asked about the challenges the development teams have faced over the years. “The team has been working extremely hard to deliver a great experience for fans and this extra time will help us do just that.”

The delay of Crackdown 3 is very disappointing, as there isn’t a lot else on the system that is exclusive this year. That being said, the delay could be necessary for the game to do well. A delayed game can eventually be good but a rushed game rarely is.

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No GravatarE3 week has rolled around yet again and that can mean only one thing:  It’s the perfect time to look at your backlog!

Wait, what?  But Days Gone is coming and there’s  Anthem from Bioware and Destiny 2 and Super Mario Odyssey and The Last Night looks fantastic and and and ad nauseam!  This isn’t when you want to look at old games!  Or is it?  The average gamer has more games than they have time to play these days.  On top of that, the industry has normalized the idea of preordering games up to several years in advance just to get your foot in the door when they come out, even though virtually no preordered titles get under-printed.  So with E3 just getting underway, I thought I’d take a look at all the things I still haven’t played yet…and that’s a lot.

I’ve been collecting since the mid-nineties, ever since I sold my copy of Final Fantasy III for the SNES, decided I wanted to play it again, and then couldn’t find a copy for months.  Ever since then, if I buy a game, I keep it until I play it and decide if I like it.  But in the 90s, games came out much more slowly.  By the time you’d rented the game (yes, you could rent games at a corner mini-mart or video store back then), played it to death, and moved on to something else, the next game you were waiting for still wasn’t out.  That simply isn’t the case anymore.  There are so many games out and coming out that it’s hard to even keep track of what might be interesting, let alone everything that’s been released.  And that’s why backlogs are such a problem.  There are more good games coming out than most people have time to even try, much less play through.  Most people simply buy what looks good, get sidetracked, and end up with a bunch of things they don’t even have time to open.  It’s a ridiculous consumer feedback loop that doesn’t benefit anyone but game companies and retail stores.

For example, I still have Super Nintendo games that I haven’t gotten around to playing yet.  I bought them in the nineties!  It’s a habit that becomes a compulsion; the fear of missing out on the next Suikoden II or Shantae or Panzer Dragoon Saga.  What if you don’t buy it and when you go to get it, you can’t afford it anymore?  But will you ever play it?  Do you even have the time?  Assuming you work a 40 hour work week or go to school full time, you likely have limited time for gaming.  Add a commute, a relationship, or even a child to that equation and you have even less.  You might get three to five hours of game time in a week.  The average game takes around 20 hours to complete.  That’s ten weeks to finish one game, assuming you don’t play anything else or get bored of it.  You might be able to finish five games a year at that rate.  Round it up to ten for people with summers off or extra free time.  But even at ten games a year, you aren’t remotely scratching the surface of what comes out in any given year, and that’s just looking at mainstream titles!  If you have PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold, you get four to six games free every month on top of what you purchase.  If you have Steam, GOG (Good Old Games), Origin, or uPlay, you might get another 5-10 games free a year if you pay close attention online.  That’s well over a hundred games excluding retail purchases if you use all of those services.  At an average of 20 hours each, you’re looking at roughly over 2000 hours of gameplay, and following our formula that says we have five hours a week, that backlog becomes 7.7 years of gameplay.

Over seven years of gameplay just in random titles from online services.  Then we add in the AAA titles that most people buy and tend to play more heavily and the average serious gamer has a backlog of up to ten times what they could realistically play at any given time.  A quick look at my collection made me nearly nauseous when I used this formula.  On Steam alone, I have 1003 games, many of which I have never even installed.  For the PS2?  128.  The DS?  101.  The PS1?  72 games.  That’s over 1300 games and doesn’t include about two-thirds of my collection.  And don’t forget about flash carts.  I have access to every single US and Japanese game for the NES, Genesis, Turbografx 16, and DS.  Thousands of titles.   My Steam library averages out to about 77 years of backlog.  Statistically, I will literally die before I can possibly play every game on my Steam account to completion.  An actual, honest-to-goodness lifetime of gaming is at my fingertips at any given moment.  And yet I still I buy games all the time, but I literally cannot play them.  I’ve talked to other gamers that have backlogs on Steam of up to 3000 games.  It’s almost a status symbol for them.

We don’t need this much media.  But as we buy more and more, faster and faster, we show developers that they don’t need to take their time or fully playtest a game for us to buy it.  Half the time, we stick it on a shelf and don’t get to it for six months.  Or a year.  Or five.  Or even ten.  The situation has degraded so much that there are even sites like www.backloggery.com that allow you to track not only your collection but your completion rate as well.  Steam does this for you automatically, and it can be rather disheartening to see right there in black and white.  I’ve been a Steam member for 12 years and I’ve only managed a 13% completion rate.  However, even that is inaccurate because that number is calculated on the achievements you’ve earned, not the games you have finished.  I wouldn’t hesitate to say that most people don’t end up finishing the games they start these days due to the nature and volume of the market, and it almost doesn’t matter that the developers haven’t properly programmed and playtested those games.

So what does all this mean?  To me, it means the market is utterly flooded; inundated with content ranging from indie games to AAA titles to the point where it’s hopelessly diluted and difficult to have a pure gaming experience.  Very few games end up being memorable and at the same time, we’ve created a sub-culture where people brag about all the items they own but never actually use them.  There are too many games and we can’t play most of them.  A lot of the most highly advertised titles end up being terrible too, due to compromises made to appeal to wider audiences.  Reviews are bought and sold like commodities and it’s very difficult to judge for yourself what might be good.  E3 is the perfect example of this, creating massive hype for titles that test well with audiences and critics, overproduced shows of products that won’t be coming out for some time, and generally driving a multi-billion dollar ad campaign that sucks dollars out of the pockets of hard-working people.  As I write this, Xbox has wrapped up their E3 presentations and already most of the bigger titles are available to preorder on Amazon, even though the release dates are as far away as next fall or later.  Money is flying into the pockets of companies as we speak for nothing more than a promise of things to come drifting on the wind.

Gamers need to stop and think about how excited they were for the items that are already sitting on their shelves when they were announced.  We can’t let that feeling of wonder end the second we get the actual product.  If we all stop to play what we already have, perhaps it will make the industry also reconsider the type of games it is releasing and the volume it is releasing them in.  Having a backlog says a lot about a person, but it also speaks volumes to the way marketing and consumer culture affect us as individuals.  That’s a message many of us need to heed more often.   So take a look at your shelf.  Make an effort to try that game you’ve always been meaning to but were never in the mood for.  You might just recapture the magic in gaming by popping in a hidden gem.  And you might find that the entertainment you’ve been scouring the net looking for is something you already had the whole time.

A Contest And An Addendum

In writing the above article and looking at my backlog, I also realized that in addition to a ridiculously large backlog, I also have a ridiculous number of games sitting about unused on my Steam account and other digital accounts.  These are extras I’ve gotten to give as friends, freebies that came with purchases, and just random extra codes I’ve acquired over the years.  I thought to myself, “What better use could I have for all these games than to give them away to people who will play them?”  And so, The Great Real Otaku Gamer Steam Backlog Contest was born!

For those of you that are interested and want to put in a minimal amount of effort, I’m going to give away my extra Steam codes!  But the rules for winning are something a bit different.  The winners for this contest will be the entrants with the smallest uncompleted backlogs!  After all, in this day and age with everyone oversaturating themselves with media, maybe the person who actually finishes what they start deserves a reward!  So please take a moment and head on over to The Great Real Otaku Gamer Steam Backlog Contest right here on Real Otaku Gamer and drop an entry my way!  You might just win a new game to play…and it might even be good!

By Jonathan Balofsky On 27 Jun, 2017 At 09:39 AM | Categorized As News, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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July’s Xbox Games With Gold have been revealed.

Xbox One will receive Grow Up and Rubow, while Xbox 360 Will receive Lego Pirates of the Caribbean and Kane & Lynch 2.

This is an interesting collection of games for July and it might not be for everyone.

Will you be getting any of these?

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 15 Jun, 2017 At 01:42 PM | Categorized As News, PC Games, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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The following was sent out

 

 

 

Battlerite is coming to console! On Wednesday June 14, Microsoft together with Stunlock Studios revealed that the popular arena brawler, Battlerite, will be released on both Xbox One and Windows 10 in 2018. Battlerite will be available on Xbox Play Anywhere which will allow players to play on both platforms at no additional cost.

Battlerite takes inspiration from games like WoW Arena, Overwatch and League Of Legends while offering its own unique mix of top-down action and intense team fights. Join forces with up to two other friends and fight together to defeat the enemy team. Engage in adrenaline-fueled PvP battles that will enthrall your competitive side.

“We’re super excited to release our first console title on Xbox One! Battlerite will usher a new era of arena brawlers for the competitive console fans, offering an amazing multiplayer experience. We’ll be unveiling more in the coming months, so keep an eye out for more news.” says Rickard Frisegård, CEO at Stunlock Studios.

This is petty cool news, and the game definitely looks interesting.  This is a good get for Microsoft as the game definitely has something unique to it.

Source: PR Email

By Sebastian Marco On 13 Jun, 2017 At 03:22 PM | Categorized As Featured, News, ROG News, Uncategorized, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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Xbox had a great showing at there press conference. Coming right out of the game showing the history and gaming resultions over the course of the Xbox lifeline leading up to the highest achieved so far 4k resolution. Following a great 3d animated short showcasing some of the big features of the new, now titled Xbox One X, including the reveal of it’s launch date, and new specs. All of which include immense power with the Xbox One X. Going down the specs list some of which including 12gb of GDDR5 ram,  a cpu core that clocks in at around 2.3GHz, and high speed memory bandwidth, not to mention the new and improved cooling system.

One of the things that caught my attention was there was very little talking, besides the short and breif game presentations. Even Phil Spencer himself, spent most of his time talking about the new Xbox One X which was revealed at the price of $499. Which isn’t necessarily terrible, but with a most consumers not yet owning a 4k resolution TV it will interesting to see how the console will sell at it’s release date, November 7th of this year. Even while admits the numerous indie titles, most of which are still in development. At least one I myself(and most) were excited about, was the final release date of Cuphead, a sidescrolling shoot them up with the look and feel of a 1950s old timey cartoon.

While this isn’t the first press conference xbox has had without Halo,Gears of war, and other notable first party titles. They did reveal new software, like Forza with the new inclusion of the very first official real life car and brand, Porsche. One thing that drew me in was the new gameplay demo of Sea of Theives which we got a brief look at last years press conference. To round out the exclusives, Microsoft had a very welcomed reveal of Crackdown 3,with the help of mega buff super star Terry Crews. Another notable announcement was that the Xbox One systems would be backwards compatible with original Xbox games as the crowed erupted, while I wasn’t personally excited for the “Crimsion Skies” game they were showing I was pumped at the prospect of playing other fun original Xbox games.

The Xbox One X will be available on November 7th at the price of $499.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 28 May, 2017 At 11:45 PM | Categorized As News, News, PlayStation, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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NetherRealm Studios and WB Games have released a new trailer for Injustice 2. This time it is to show off the DLC character Red Hood.

 

Jason Todd once served as Batman’s second protégé “Robin” before being brutally murdered by The Joker. Years later, the powerful healing waters of the Lazarus Pit brought Jason Todd back to life. However the power of the pit comes at a cost, and a change takes hold in Jason. He now uses mantle of the Red Hood to wage a lethal war on crime.

 

 

 

We will have a review of Injustice 2 up very soon, so please look for that.

By Nate VanLindt On 28 May, 2017 At 04:24 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Opinion, PC Games, PlayStation, ROG News, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

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13,925.  693, no platinum trophies.  5,906 XP – Level 29.  These numbers are meaningless out of context.  The fact is, they’re pretty much meaningless in context as well.  Chances are, you already know what I’m talking about if you’re reading this, but for the few that don’t, the above numbers are gamer scores and achievement statistics.  Specifically my personal gamer statistics.  I had to look them up because I had absolutely no idea what they were and I didn’t really care.  They are from Xbox Live, Playstation Network, and Steam respectively if you’re wondering.  That’s the point, however.   Why have people become obsessed with their personal statistics?

Gamerscores and stats started almost at the same time as gaming with the advent of the high score.  The very first high score was in Sea Wolf, way back in 1976.  Most games of the early gaming era featured scoring systems of one kind or another, whether it be the number of points scored in a Pong game or the points from the number of alien ships shot down in Galaga.  High scores stuck around until the mid to late 80s, when the NES reigned supreme and longer, more complex games at home became the standard.  Even then, many games still had score tabulation functions, whether they were the game scores in R.B.I. Baseball or a run n’ gun like Contra by Konami.   In other words, high scores have always been kicking around, but as gaming advanced, high scores slowly disappeared and became less meaningful, excluding a handful of genres like SHMUPS (SHoot eM UPS such as R-Type, Gradius, and Raiden for those who aren’t familiar with the term). 

But then, something odd happened in 2005.  Microsoft introduced achievements on the Xbox 360.  All of the sudden, every time you completed a specific set task in a game, you got a digital attaboy.  A little notification would pop up on screen and tell you you’d completed a task that you didn’t even know you were working towards and it added to what Microsoft calls your “gamerscore”.  Suddenly people were trying to have the best gamerscore, competing with their friends, doing things they’d never bother to do in a game before and spending lots of extra time in a game to do it.  Companies noticed this.  Nearly every game had achievements in short order.  In 2007, Valve added their version of gamerscores, badges, to Steam.  The next year, Sony added Trophies to the PlayStation Network as well.  Suddenly, everyone had a scoring system to track how much better (or worse) you were than everyone else you knew.  People bought into it.  Companies offered rewards for the highest gamerscore and Microsoft even gave away a lifetime membership to Xbox Live Gold in 2013 to the player with the highest gamerscore.  The entire concept had entered the collective consciousness of gamers and they have accepted it as a standard.

Should we be paying attention to our gamerscore and our trophy list, however?  Perhaps we should not.  In 2006, Gears of War was released for the Xbox 360.  It was one of the first games I played that had achievements.  I’d seen the achievement notifications pop up before, but I generally just tolerated them.   As I played Gears of War, I reached the end of a section and defeated the Berserker the first time, earning the trophy “My Love For You Is Like A Truck”, a reference to a fairly obscure song called Berserker by a band called Love Among Freaks.  Unfortunately, the trophy notification popped up prominently onscreen in the middle of a cinema sequence, blocking me from seeing the cinema fully and destroying my immersion in the game instantly.  On top of that, I couldn’t go back and see the cinema again without replaying that entire section of the game.  From that moment on, I was dead set against gamerscore in all its iterations.

In case you didn’t know, you can actually turn off achievement notifications on both Microsoft and Sony consoles.  On the Xbox One, it’s under Settings,  All Settings, Preferences, Notifications.   For the PS4, the option is under Settings, Notifications.  I did this as soon as the option became available on each network (as far as I know, it still isn’t available on Steam unfortunately) and I never looked back.  As a gamer for over 30 years, I ask you to consider it this way.  Games are designed to have fun.  They’re a form of escapist entertainment.   We generally play games to try and either finish them or get a high score.  But with achievements, we play through tedious grinding activities just to get an ephemeral payout of gamerscore so we can brag to friends and strangers.  That’s not only weird, it borders on pointless.  Take Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End for example.  I played Uncharted 4 right after it came out.  I blew through the game in my spare time (about a week).  The pacing is fantastic, the story moves just the right amount at a go, none of the gameplay holds you up too badly, but you still feel challenged.  It’s one of the most well-crafted games I’ve played in years in terms of pacing and structure.  I finished the game, had a blast, and came away fully satisfied with my experience.  I can’t speak highly enough of the game (keeping in mind that to enjoy it fully you must play the entire series in order).   Now, take a look at my personal trophies on the PS4 for Uncharted 4.

That’s right.  I got a measly 14 bronze trophies playing through a game that I raved about as one of the best games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.  A game that I just stated I was ‘fully satisfied’ with.  There are sixty-eight trophies in this game.  Sixty-eight!  Essentially, I didn’t ‘play the game’ according to the current thinking in gaming.  How could I possibly call myself a gamer?  Obviously, I don’t take gaming seriously enough, right?  Wrong.  Gaming is for fun, and I had fun playing Uncharted 4.  A lot of fun actually.  I don’t want to waste my limited free time finding 109 treasures that have no bearing on the story in my well-paced story-based game.  I am not interested in spending hours hanging from ropes to get the trophy for making 20 headshots while hanging from a rope.  And I certainly don’t want to buy an apple just to let the lemur steal it in chapter 11.  Because that’s not fun.  It’s tedious make-work in a game I’m playing for entertainment.  And achievements, trophies, and badges get much more ridiculous than that, up to and including repeating a specific activity or action thousands of times just to get that pop-up payoff.   Let’s call it what it really is, a Pavlovian response pattern that reinforces obsessive-compulsive tendencies in a mostly antisocial social sub-group.   In short, they are a prize with no value.

And yet there is a large and vocal demographic online that openly mocks anyone who dismisses the value of achievements.  Gamers often minimize the impact of these psychological tools, resorting to simplistic responses such as ‘if you don’t like them, just ignore them’, or ‘only people that suck at gaming hate trophies’.  Who is missing the point here?  Obviously, games are designed for both types of gamers now, the trophy hunters and the purists.  There’s no arguing that.  But are game designers themselves compromising their vision to provide a game that appeals to a wider audience due to the frothing demand for achievements?  It seems like they are.  Adding online content, online trophies, and various other extras to games that don’t really need them seem like pandering.  Some games force you to go online to get some of the achievements, necessitating play against others as well as paying for premium network access in the form of Xbox Live or Playstation Plus.  And gamers are falling for it.  In a recent discussion with a colleague, he informed me that he was replaying a game after finishing it so that he could “platinum” it because he loved the game so much.  When I asked him about the achievements though, he related that many of them were tedious and difficult to achieve.  After this discussion, I asked him about his game backlog and he admitted that he has games that he hasn’t even opened yet.  In other words, achievements are artificially inflating the average gameplay and dissuading gamers from moving on to the next title, regardless of the next game’s quality, even after they’ve finished a game and have stopped enjoying it.

It seems to me like this is an issue that gamers should actually take seriously.  Not because it matters whether you play for score, but because game developers take it seriously and they design games based on the trends of the market and the input they receive online.  The best games, the ones that everyone raves about for years or even decades, are the ones that provide an uncompromised creative vision.  These games are at the top of everyone’s list for a reason.  They were designed to enjoy, not to appeal to every single person, and that makes them rise above.  Too few of those games exist these days, and fewer are released every year.  Maybe if we focus a little less on finding every flag or using every weapon for a thousand headshots or revealing every single tenth of a percentage point of every single map and a little more on just immersing ourselves in the fun a game can provide, we’ll all get a bit more enjoyment out of gaming.   Try turning off your notifications for a game or two and see if you have more fun.  If you don’t know you’re missing out…maybe you aren’t.

 

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