Games Inbox: Is Microsoft buying Activision Blizzard a bad thing?

Is this really a good idea? (pic: Microsoft)

The Monday letters page thinks video game remakes have got out of control, as one reader starts to worry about the cost of running a console.

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Big business
We’re getting closer to the release of Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2 now and I imagine they’ll be the last ones to be published by Activision as a separate company. There are all these investigations into the buyout by Microsoft, but I can’t imagine any country saying no to the richest company in the world.

I know lots of people will think of it only as a good thing, simply because it means more games on Game Pass for them, but for me it is a very dangerous move that could unbalance the whole games industry. I don’t trust Microsoft to keep Call Of Duty multiformat after the investigations are over and I certainly don’t expect them to make any new franchises multiformat.

The worst thing for me though is how much this is encouraging other companies. We’ve already seen Embracer Group buying up tons of studios and games, even though no ordinary gamer has even heard of them, and I fear it’s only a matter of time until EA, Ubisoft, and Take-Two are claimed.

It’s either that or a merger but I don’t want to see GTA or FIFA become Xbox or PlayStation exclusives and nobody else should think that’s a good idea too. Unless they want to see only the richest companies dominate and every popular game only available on one console or the other.

Wasting time
Totally agree that they should just ditch the Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic remake. I don’t know if anyone has played the original lately but it’s huge, at least 60 hours to see most of it, and it’s filled with lots of different characters and locations that they’d never have done today because everything now is much more complicated and expensive to make.

A remake would be a super expensive project if done right and would need top developers on the case. And yet as far as I can see the plan was to do it on the cheap with a company that had no experience with that sort of thing.

I’m getting a little fed up of the recent obsession with remakes though. It takes so much money and effort and ties up teams that could be doing something new. Why are they remaking Dead Space when they could just make Dead Space 4? Everyone prefers Dead Space 2 anyway, so why not make a new game that was more like that?

I realise it’s just EA copying Resident Evil, but I don’t think they realise that the reason that game was so popular (apart from Resident Evil 2 being a much better known game) is that the remake is very different to the current first part games. There was actually a point to make it. There doesn’t seem to be with a lot of the other ones currently – and you know which one I’m talking about!

A problem shared
RE: Dirtystopout’s Reader’s Feature. I’d like to say well done to you for realising you had a bit of a problem with drink and to say keep going and keep your eye on the prize. I started gaming many years ago because of my mental health being single, keeping myself to myself, then I bought a console to play online and it helped my mind so much. I meet so many friends online that I could talk to, have a laugh with, take the mickey out of them for having a really rubbish score, and them doing the same back.

Now, after gaming giving me a bit of help with my mind and confidence, I’ve got a house, a well-paid job, and I’ve also got a girlfriend and, if I’m honest, I’m so much happier in life. So many people say that gaming is a bad thing, but I think that what they need to remember is gaming also helps in other ways.

It helps you meet new people that in life you would never have met without a console or PC. Sometimes talking down a mic to someone you have never met face-to-face is just what you need. So keep up the good work Dirtystopout, and happy gaming.

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Indefinite loan
For my work, I get a ‘good haul’.

Some of my work involves new solutions for things to go into retail stores. Prior to lockdown, new kit got sent to my office; I tested and had an agreed process for the kit to be picked up.

Post Covid, I am now working from home permanently and the kit gets sent to my house.

In the last 2.5 years I have had six mobile phones, six 10” tablets, three 22″ monitors (1 OLED!), three SFF i5/i7 computers, two raspberry Pis, various Android media boxes, and four network switches.

Due to the cost of delivery/collection to a ‘non-company site’ (my house), there is no requirement or plan to send any of it back.

GC: We think we better discontinue this thread of discussion before someone gets themselves in trouble.

Carefree daze
I don’t know about giving up video games because of the rising cost of electricity but the first time ever I’ve started to think about how much it costs to run a game. Previously I would happily leave a console on, while paused, and just switch over to watch TV or whatever or go out and come back hours later. Because I couldn’t be bothered with the thought of quitting out and having to find the place where I was last time.

I’m willing to bet that even if things do return to normal at some point in the future the companies will make sure the new norm is much higher than it used to be, so in some ways maybe this crisis could turn out to be a good thing, as we learn to be a bit more cautious about how we use our electronics.

I assume that modern consoles use a lot more energy than older ones too. That massive PlayStation 5 fan isn’t turning without a lot of juice in it.

Bizarre but fun
A quick search online and I saw No More Heroes will hit its 15th anniversary this December!

I remember the reviews praising the original’s crazy style and gameplay, but also pointing out the (intended?) jankiness of the game engine.

With the middling review scores of the third one, I didn’t get it at launch. However, yesterday, I saw it slashed to HK$50 (£5) in a department store, so couldn’t resist.

Sadly, it seems there won’t be any more sequels, though this isn’t surprising, when you see the low sales of the series.

When the games industry is awash with a sea of identikit sequels, it’ll be a shame if the future has a dwindling number of bizarre but fun games.
ttfp saylow (gamertag)
Now playing – No More Heroes 3, Power Wash Simulator

Perfect timing
So are we taking bets on whether Sonic Frontiers is going to be a complete disaster or just a mild disappointment? I mean, I’d say you could also go with ‘good’, but does anyone believe that at this point?

Sega are so lucky that the movies are a hit as I really don’t think the franchise would’ve survived much longer. One or two more flop games, that are deserved flops because they’re bad games, and I think Sonic would’ve bene joining Bubsy Bobcat in the retirement home for aged gaming mascots.

Instant gratification
It’s the best time ever for video games, It’s November 2001 and I am eagerly awaiting the release of Metal Gear Solid 2 on the PlayStation 2. I have written the release date on a calendar and saved up all my pocket money to be able to afford it. I knew I wanted it ever since watching the trailer and playing the subsequent demo on a free DVD that came included with a magazine. There were a lot of other good games being released but I only had eyes for Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece. This was going to be the game to end all games.

Suffice to say, while the game did receive some decent reviews it was largely seen as a disappointment due to the fact you only played the first half an hour as the last game’s protagonist. The main game you actually played as a brand new character, one Kojima had cleverly managed to hide during production. It was a classic bait and switch move, one that is rarely seen today as was evident with the leaks of the recent The Last Of Us Part 2. Regardless, I still loved the game for what it was, a game well ahead of its time packed full of cinematic cut scenes and twists and turns.

I played nothing else for months. Mainly because I was 12 years old and had just saved all my money to buy this game. To play another I would have to save up for months again. That’s the point, when do we see that now? The landscape of media has changed and we are now fully in the age of digital content being streamed and downloaded. For one monthly fee you can download hundreds of games at the touch of a button. No need to save up the money no need to wait months on end.

With Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft forever changed the landscape of the gaming industry and introduced the Netflix model to games with massive applauses. People are able to download a library of games straight to their consoles, with great value for money. The main draw being there are hundreds of games that in ordinary circumstances gamers would have either looked past or not been able to afford. Being a PlayStation fan since the days of PS1 I was over the moon when Sony finally decided to follow suit with the new PS Plus premium subscription.

Since being introduced I have already downloaded and completed around 20 titles. Being a Trophy hunter it is a dream come true, as it has enabled me to play some of the older titles I has missed for one reason or another. Also, some of the older titles’ online communities have had a rebirth due to the game now being widely available to the masses again. Not to mention the brilliant indie titles that I’d neither never heard of or would not have considered if I had to buy them on their own.

If you were to add up the cost of the games on the library to buy individually you would be looking at thousands of pounds. From being a gamer from the early 00s, gamers now don’t realise how good they have it. Yes, there are teething problems, yes PS Plus Premium isn’t getting enough titles added. Yes, games are eventually removed over time. But today’s gamers have a massive opportunity to play some great games and try lots that they may have missed or overlooked in the comfort of their own homes.

The service will only get better with time. Netflix wasn’t the mammoth of the service it is now when it first launched. More game companies will have to accept this is the way the industry will go and release day one titles on PS Plus. We have already seen a few do that, with Shadow Warrior 3 and Stray. All in all, the future of gaming looks good. The days of circling a date on the calendar and saving up money to afford a game look well and truly to be over.

Inbox also-rans
Do you know if the Mega Drive Mini 2 will have built-in memory? I seem to remember the first one didn’t. Or have I got it all wrong?

GC: The original had 512MB of Flash memory, to store the games, so we assume the new one will be similar. As you’d imagine, fans immediately started to mod it to allow other games to be added.

Just been playing Wave Race 64 and I can confirm it’s still as much fun as always. Those waves… obviously the graphics don’t look as good as they once did but the physics just feels so good!

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Grackle, who asks what’s your favourite open world game?

Open world games have been popular for decades, but they’re not really a genre themselves and can encompass everything from role-players to racing games. So which is your favourite and why? How intrinsic is the open world design to your enjoyment and how much time did you spend exploring it instead of playing the main game?

What do you think of the current state of open world games and how would you like to see them evolve over the next generation, in terms of technology and design?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

You can also leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter.

MORE : Weekend Hot Topic: Your favourite console war

MORE : Games Inbox: The end of zombies in video games, Knights Of The Old Republic reboot, and Stray oddity

MORE : Games Inbox: Metal Gear Solid 6 without Hideo Kojima, Wave Race 64 in Mario Kart 9, and Fallout TV

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