Project Babby Has Been Thrown out with the Bilge Water
After a seven year gestation, during which time it became over-ripe and began rotting in the womb,
Project Nadir Project Natal has this week been pronounced dead, and its cadaver donated to science! Who could have seen this coming? A motion sensing device which demanded a maximal expenditure of effort on the part of the player in order to perform an input that could be accomplished with the push of a button has this week been consigned to the trash heap. That is to say that Microsoft has confirmed that they have ceased all production of Kinect units in spite of the fact that the next console generation looks to be two or more years away.
But let us not dwell on the sad demise of Kinect, but rather cherish the fond moments that it has gifted to us over its seven year run on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. Who could forget the way that Peter Molyneux basically pulled the plug on his career at Microsoft over a Pedophile grooming simulator named Milo? Or who could forget the way that Don Mattrick basically pulled the plug on his career at Microsoft over his insistence that Kinect functionality had to be integrated into every facet of the Xbox One? And who could forget the way that Xbox basically pulled the plug on any chance of eighth generation dominance by pricing their system at $100 more expensive than the PS4 in order to pay for Kinect? Back in 2010 we viewed Kinect as an irksome threat to the industry, but really it was the gift that kept on giving. No single product or policy has done more to expose the vulnerabilities of all the worst characters at Microsoft than the humble Kinect. Take a bow Kinect, you have earned it!
For weeks now word on the street has maintained that the sales for Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite have not been that hot. The first piece of bad news came with the game’s Japanese sales, as Media Create reported that Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite sold just 8,000 copies in its domestic market, meanwhile Pokken Tournament DX released a few days later and sold 53,395 units. Pokken is a re-release of an old fighting game released to a system with a very limited installbase; it should not be out-selling the hot, new Capcom fighter!
Capcom’s woes were then further compounded by the release of Sony’s digital PSN sales for the month of September. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite barely made the top-20, placing 19th on the list. To an extent this is made to sound a little worse than it actually is, as placing a game on sale can often result in older titles receiving a substantial number of additional purchases. For instance Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite charted below Bloodborne and The Last of Us Remastered which are often discounted, and goodness knows how many of the other titles were also on sale. That being said, trying to write off the game’s poor performance as simply being the result of digital discounts is a bit of a stretch – especially when one considers that Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite has only managed to sell 36,812 copies on Steam according to Steam Spy.
Now just this week the NPD rankings have come in, which have a chart that ranks games based on how many dollars they have earned, along with the typical charts which rank them based on the number of units sold. In dollar terms Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite was ranked sixth in September, coming in behind Destiny 2, a bunch of sports games, and August’s release of Mario & Rabbids: Kingdom Battle. Not too surprising, but at the same time not at all impressive; the very next game on the list is 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V. In terms of the number of units sold there are no surprises on PS4 – Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite is ranked fifth behind Destiny 2 and some sport games. The Xbox One chart is a bit more illuminating however, as Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite placed eighth, behind both 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V and 2015’s Rainbow Six Siege!
Capcom predicted that Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite would sell two million copies, but it will be lucky to crack 500k units sold without some deep sales and a bunch of time passing. Capcom’s own ailing Street Fighter V has still yet to crack two million in sales, so Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite never had a chance. Is it really such a surprise that the game is flopping? Fighting games came out of the arcade scene where titles primarily differentiated themselves with unique art styles and flashy graphics. Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite does not have flashy graphics though, the game looks rather drab, and substantially worse than the original Marvel vs. Capcom which released on Saturn and Playstation back in the 90s. Moreover, Marvel certainly did not do the game any favours by preventing Capcom from using any of the X-Men characters, which have been series staples since before Marvel vs. Capcom was even a thing. Before there was Marvel vs. Capcom there was X-Men vs. Street Fighter, and ever since the X-Men characers have been series favourites – especially Wolverine. By all accounts the gameplay of Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite is extremely competent, so it is not as though we are talking about a bad game here – but given the drab presentation and the conspicuous absence of fan favourite characters, is it really any surprise that the game has flown beneath the notice of the mass market?
Shin Megami Tensei V Revealed
This week the Nintendo Switch Shin Megami Tensei project was revealed to be Shin Megami Tensei V. This will likely come as little surprise to anybody who owned a 3DS, as Shin Megami Tensei IV seemed to work out pretty well on a portable platform, so it stands to reason that Atlus would look to repeat that situation – insofar as anyone could credibly claim the Switch to be a portable platform.
Shin Megami Tensei V is being developed using Unreal Engine 4, and it certainly looks a tangible step above its 3DS prequel [in the limited footage currently available]. Kazuyuki Yamai, the director of Shin Megami Tensei IV, is returning to direct Shin Megami Tensei V. Apparently Atlus chose upon Switch as the target platform for the game because the team wanted to have the game portable, so as to allow users to grind when on the go or in bed at night. The unintended implication of this is that Atlus chose the PS3 and PS4 as Persona 5‘s platforms because the team did not want to allow their users to grind when on the go or in bed at night. Probably better to say that the Switch was chosen because Nintendo is a good partner and the home of Shin Megami Tensei IV [along with Apocalypse and Strange Journey] was on a Nintendo handheld, so it made a lot of sense to continue with this tradition.
Finally, Atlus wants Shin Megami Tensei V to reflect the character of our times. As such they intend to include weighty social themes such as terrorism, unemployment, retirement, and nuclear weapons. This is no great surprise given the heavy use of contemporary political and social issues found in Persona 5. Hopefully Atlus continues to explore such issues in more nuance than here in the West.