A man’s word is his bond. Once that is broken what trust is there to be had? This may not be a particularly pressing concern for money-bags publishers like EA and Activision, who can simply buy their products some consumer mindshare – yet for little studios signed to little publishers this way of doing business is completely off the table. Little studios working on little games rely on good word of mouth to a large extent in order to raise consumer awareness about their product, or at least this is the case in instances where they are unable to sleep their way to positive coverage among the mainstream press.
Two such little games are Payday and Payday 2, both of which are bank heist themed cooperative multiplayer games, which found their way to success through attentive community support and good word of mouth. The games were developed by Swedish studio Overkill Software, a division of Starbreeze Studios, and were published by 505 Games – none of these industry players are particularly large entities with deep pockets, and so community and consumer goodwill was an absolute must. This seems to have worked a treat with the original Payday and it also worked very well for Payday 2, up to a point.
The contract between Overkill Software and 505 Games stipulated that they were to support the game until 2017. Supporting a game for three and a half years cannot be an overly cheap proposition, but this was a multiplayer-only game for which gamers paid full-price up front, and since release there has been $124 worth of paid DLC to sustain the studio. It would seem that this was not enough however, as this week Overkill irreparably… overkilled[?] their relationship with the Payday community by pumping the game full of all the worst kind of ‘gacha’ mechanics – like so much low-grade semen. This was done without any sort of warning or consultation.
Typically players would be rewarded for a successful heist with a swag of spoils designed to enhance their experience with the game. Now however, players suddenly found that many of the items that they would usually receive were replaced with locked safes containing randomised weapon skins [some of which conferred stat bonuses onto weapons]. The only way for these safes to be opened was to purchase drills, which can be had for $2.50 a pop. Making matters worse, the skins that these safes contained were not necessarily for any of the weapons that an individual owned, meaning that a player may well have to then purchase a DLC weapon pack in order for their initial purchase to be any good at all.
All this by itself is bad enough, while nothing out of the ordinary for this declining industry – however, the situation was made vastly worse by the comically vast breach of Overkill’s verbal contract with the Payday community. Before the release of the game they not only swore until blue in the face that the game would never feature microtransactions – they actually heaped scorn upon gamers for asking whether they would implement microtransactions. Just in case there was any question about just how unequivocal these pledges were, here is the game’s producer, Almir Listo, saying ahead of release that microtransactions will never be featured in the game:
“The Steam page for PAYDAY 2 has been updated based on your feedback. We’ve made it clear that PAYDAY 2 will have no micro-transactions whatsoever (shame on you if you thought otherwise!) and we’ve made it more clear that the PAYDAY loot bag is part of the Career Criminal Edition as well.”
And here is the game’s director, David Goldfarb, saying ahead of release that the game would never feature microtransactions:
“No. No. God, I hope not. Never. No.”
That was a fairly iron clad commitment that Overkill have completely reneged on. While Goldfarb has since left the studio, Listo still appears to be running things and shilling for the the newly implemented ‘gacha’ mechanics – so it is not as though the people who committed to the original strategy are not still in place.
In the wake of this fiasco the community has been in open revolt, and Payday 2 has been heavily review-bombed on any site that allows user feedback. After many days of disquiet Amir Listo eventually opened communication with the Payday community by way of a Reddit AMA, which went about as well as one might have expected. Listo did not use the opportunity to adopt a conciliatory approach in order to mend bridges, rather he seized the chance to shower his customers with brazen boasts of success, like so much unwanted bukake.
“From an economical standpoint however, completely based on statistics, we can already see that the Black Market update is working as we intended. Right now, things are looking pretty great.”
Listo then set about badmouthing the gaming sites that had reported on Overkill’s massive breach of faith with their customers, claiming that their articles were factually incorrect clickbait, and attempting to create the false narrative that all of the criticism was coming from lazy and incompetent journalist outsiders who had not played the game, and who were in fact harming the interests of the Payday 2 community:
“There’s been a lot of articles written by a lot of people claiming a lot of things about us, our intentions and the effect this has on the community as a whole and the future of PayDay 2. It’s a bit hard to take some of these people serious when you know they don’t even play the game.
I think the problem here really is people in positions of power in media and elsewhere making uninformed, clickbait articles about things that matter a lot to a lot of people, instead of doing some serious legwork to get their facts straight.”
The content of the articles does in fact matter to a lot of people, and the “clickbait” articles themselves were sourced directly from many of them – though of course this shameless weasel was not about to admit to that. The Reddit AMA went on to receive over 2,500 comments, and after all that it received precisely zero upvotes from the Reddit Payday community. Think about that – even Payday fanboys were not dumb enough to support such a blatant betrayal. The most popular thread [by an enormous margin] on r/PaydaytheHeist remains the resignation post of one of the board’s moderators, who quit in protest against what Overkill have done to the game. A studio is only as good as its word, and Overkill’s word is no good. They had best get a powerful publisher behind them for future releases, as one feels that the Payday community simply will not be there to do their marketing for them.
Nintendo Has Censored Xenoblade Chronicles X
For the second consecutive week it is one’s unenviable task to inform readers that Nindendo has once again taken a pair of shears to their own content – and who could blame the family-friendly company after worthless social justice warriors have done so much damage to the climate of our industry in their war against fanservice. That being said, while Nintendo’s actions are understandable, they are certainly not actions that one would ever support through direct patronage. The censorship in question that Nintendo has inflicted upon Xenoblade Chronicles X is going to sound really familiar to Lusipurr.com readers, which is to say that once again it is a case of a teenager in a bikini being censored.
The character, Lin, is fifteen years old, and, out of likely scores of optional clothes and armours available to her, she previously had access to two fanservice bikini costumes – one black and the other silver. These costumes have now been altered so that she is wearing other larger and less shapely bikini tops underneath the tiny-tiny ones, completely decimating the underboob that was previously on offer. Moreover, the bikini bottoms have been entirely replaced by a pair of boyish looking shorts, completely ruining the effect of the outfits. It is not yet known whether other female characters have received the same treatment, or whether it is solely Lin who has been censored due to her young age. Either way it is sad that it is once again relatively harmless fanservice that has found its way onto the chopping block, and all the more so since the lack of direct relevance to the plot means that far fewer people are willing to condemn this watering down of game content – with many openly praising the move!
One was already fairly unenthused towards Xenoblade Chronicles X, on account of it adopting a Monster Hunter-esque game structure, where one has to accept missions from a central hub, and then grind through mountains of sidequest busy-work in order to access the game’s scant few story missions. This however is the straw that broke the camel’s back. One will not be purchasing this game for Christmas, and will only acquire it second-hand on the cheap. This is not being done to spite Nintendo, but rather because one does not wish to support practices that are deleterious to the industry. Nintendo should look after the interests of gamers before coddling the shrill protestations of feminists who were never going to buy the game anyway.
Microsoft: Tens of Millions of 360 Owners Are Going to Upgrade to the Xbone These Holidays
Sony had best just give up now, as the scant > fifteen million unit lead they have built up since the launch of the PS4 is about to be obliterated this holiday season by the tens of millions of Xbox 360 players who are just waiting to ‘jump in’ to the Xbone – or at least this is the fervent belief of the Xbox global marketing boss, Aaron Greenberg.
“There’s tens of millions of Xbox 360 fans that are out there that are still playing on Xbox 360 and they’re waiting for the right time and the right reason to migrate over to Xbox One. Whether they’ve been waiting for the first true next-gen Halo with Halo 5 or if they’ve been waiting for solutions like backwards compatibility, we do expect to see a pretty massive migration this holiday of those fans.”
Microsoft clearly expects to see a mass exodus from the 360 to the Bone this holiday season, but why? Do they have an ace up their sleeve? Are they planning on sending out a batch of emails to 360 users in order to inform them that it is time to upgrade?
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a holiday like what we have this year where not only is Halo 5 coming, but we have Gears of War, we have Rare Replay, we have Forza 6, we have Rise of the Tomb Raider; just kind of a non-stop lineup of AAA exclusives titles in addition to an incredible lineup of big, third-party blockbusters like Call of Duty: Black Ops III and Fallout 4 and Star Wars Battlefront. So if you’re a gamer, you’ve never really seen a holiday lineup like this before.”
Oh, it would appear that 360 owners are going to upgrade themselves to a Bone because of an utterly unprecedented holiday line-up including such fresh and new content as more Halo, more Forza, more Gears of War, and some multiplatform titles. But the fun does not stop there:
“We’re going to be the only next-gen console delivering backwards compatibility, and we’re launching that on November 12, we’ll have over 100 games that basically come free of charge. If you own these titles, whether you have the disc sitting around or digitally, they’ll automatically show up in your games library and, in many cases, more than double or triple your available games to play on Xbox One. I think it’s a huge benefit.”
Wow! Xbone owners will receive over one hundred games completely free of charge, but only if they own them already! What? One is properly impressed that Microsoft engineers were able to emulate the Xbox 360 on Xbone hardware, but Greenberg’s spruiking of this feature stretches the accomplishment to its tenuous breaking point! Anyway, we are only talking about compatibility for roughly 100 games out of a library of 952 – anyone who has ever owned a 360 will know how much of a crap shoot it is to find OG Xbox games that are compatible with 360 emulation, and this looks to be much the same situation. If Microsoft were planning to sell tens of millions of Xbones this holiday season on the strength of such meager features as limited backwards compatibility and a very familiar line-up of established franchises, then they may want to temper their expectations, or at least not hold their breath.
Anime Spotlight: Diabolik Lovers – More, Blood
Diabolik Lovers returns for a second season with with Diabolik Lovers – More, Blood. The second series continues from where the first series left off in 2013, with the heroine, Komori Yui, being courted by a house full of sadistic vampires [six to be precise], who like nothing better than to perform cruel and perverse acts on her. The first series appears to have triggered the fuck out of the precious snowflakes on My Anime List, many of whom appear to hate the series with a passion – which probably means it is pretty good. If nothing else it likely provides a non-singing, non-dancing reverse-harem alternative to this season’s Dance With Devils, a mercy one is sure.
Diabolik Lovers – More, Blood began airing on the twenty-third of September, and is scheduled to continue through to the tenth of December. There are currently four episodes available for viewing, and new episodes are simulcast on Crunchyroll on Sundays at 8:15am PDT.