But Why Tho? – Bloodstained Edition
TDT has not had much negative to say about Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night thus far. Even when the game’s release suffered multiple delays last year we understood, because the game’s initial release date seemed quite optimistic from the outset. Even when the team dropped support for the PS Vita we understood – after all it seemed a little untenable to support the platform if Sony themselves were no longer willing to support it. Last week we reported on the fact that Limited Run Games had to put ten game releases on hold because Sony were unwilling to produce enough game cards to meet demand, so it seems like a physical Vita release just would not have been possible. This week however it would seem that Koji Igarashi may have finally spent through his considerable supply of consumer good will.
This week backers of Ritual of the Night received an update, which communicated two things. The first was actually some good news: The game is now feature complete, and the team is busy trying to iron out several game breaking bugs, and generally just adding polish. The second piece of news communicated was an announcement that at this late date the Mac and Linux versions of the game were being cancelled, which was a bit perplexing. Like, since the team is already producing a PC version, then surely it is not that difficult to use that as a base for Mac and Linux versions. One is sure that it is not as simple as just pulling a switch, but it seems like it would be much easier to port the game between various home computer platforms than it would be to port the game between the PC, PS4, and Switch!
“In this update, we have a very important announcement to make. Bloodstained will no longer be supported on Mac and Linux. We have made this tough decision due to challenges of supporting middleware and online feature support and making sure we deliver on the rest of the scope for the game. We will be offering backers who planned to play the game on Mac and Linux the option to change the platform of their order. If you would like to change your platform, please send an email with your new platform request from the email address associated with your Kickstarter pledge. We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience and we hope for your understanding.”
They had best do better than simply offering these backers another version of the game, as full refunds are in order. The situation hardly seems fair, given that Igarashi was courting Linux and Mac users long before the Switch port was even a thing. It also raises questions about the status of the game. Saying that the game is now feature complete is all well and good, but what are consumers supposed to think when long promised versions of the game are being cancelled at the eleventh hour? It bodes poorly.
The Blizzard Decline Is In Full Swing
Blizzard redefined draconian conduct policing when they previously adopted a policy of banning the accounts of Overwatch players for their off-site conduct. Now it would seem that is not quite restrictive enough, as Blizzard does not fully trust the moderation provided by the soft-core pornography streaming site known as Twitch. The odious moderation of Twitch was already bad enough, but Blizzard obviously feels that they can go them one better by forcing streamers participating in Overwatch Contenders to link their Battle.net account to their Twitch account so that company AIs can scan their content for wrongthink and very quickly ban them before anyone’s feelings have a chance to get hurt. Viewers will also have to connect their Twitch accounts to a Battle.net account in order to comment during streams. What a bright and optimistic timeline we are currently living through!
“We’re always testing out new ways to improve the viewer experience for the Overwatch Path to Pro ecosystem. As part of this, Contenders is trialing a new chat moderation program that requires users who wish to participate in Twitch chat to link their Blizzard Battle.net and Twitch accounts.
The program will be trialed during 2018 Season 3 quarterfinals matches across all regions, from Dec. 28, 2018, through Jan. 12, 2019. The Path to Pro team then will evaluate the program’s overall effect on creating a more positive viewing experience.”
Well, it is certain to create a more pozzed viewing experience! What this is attempting to moderate is probably less so the behaviour of streamers while playing the game, and more so the behaviour that they allow their commenters to get away with. Twitch already has fairly tight control over this, but it would seem that their standards do not measure up to the lofty requirements set by Blizzard [nor indeed the Chinese government!]. Blizzard is simply helping streamers to help themselves become 100% more ‘harmonious’!
“while it’s true that Overwatch Contenders viewership is low, one of the big problems with toxicity on Twitch is that people are anonymous, which has been linked to bad behavior. People aren’t afraid of consequences of their behavior if no one knows who they are. Linking a Blizzard Battle.net account to Twitch does a bit to reduce that anonymity and encourage viewers to behave in chat, in theory. There are ways to get around it, of course, but that requires creating another account. (Blizzard Battle.net accounts are free, but the individual games cost money. Game purchases aren’t required to link accounts.)”
Yes, the big problem with Twitch is that users are not suitably afraid when sitting down to view a game of Overwatch! If only they were more afraid then they would be much better behaved! Is Overwatch even a product at this point, or is it Blizzard’s entire moderation philosophy?
Former Twitch community manager Jared Rea certainly believes that this is the right way forward.
“Blizzard could potentially ban folks from bnet and take away their libraries for participating in toxic Twitch chats and I’m all for it.
There needs to be real-world consequences for spewing hate online. Taking away their toys is a great place to start.”
(This sick freak actually dresses his dog up in pajamas.)
Surely orchestrating a reign of terror is the best possible way for Blizzard to endear themselves to the gaming public! I mean how is banning gamers from their entire library of Blizzard software not setting themselves up for the brightest possible future? Blizzard is certainly not looking at all shakey…
Blizzard Layoffs: Good Work If You Can Get It!
… In a completely unrelated story it has been this week revealed that Blizzard has paid over a hundred employees a year’s worth in wages to leave the company. Presumably these employees do not work in Blizzard’s offsite moderation division. Nor are they likely to belong to the company’s mobile phone division. In all honesty the bulk of these redundancies likely occurred in Blizzard’s HD gaming division, and were probably from the Diablo IV team – but who was even waiting for that?
Imitanis was waiting for that. But he should not have been waiting for that seeing as it has been apparent for over a year that Blizzard Entertainment is a hollowed out husk, and is completely dead in spirit, with the body soon to follow.
The disgraceful Western gaming market is currently in the grips of a second gaming crash, this time not brought about by a crash in consumer confidence (though that is not in a particularly healthy state), but rather the lack of investor confidence in a bear market that is disproportionately punishing tech stocks. Many publishers and developers have seen their share value decrease by between 20% and 50%, and Blizzard Activision is no exception to this. The long and the short of this is that studios that allowed themselves to become bloated during the good times are very quickly hitting a wall where finances are concerned – and next to Telltale, Blizzard is the most visible studio to be facing this monetary crunch (though there is still time for Bioware to join them).
Apparently Blizzard got the call from Activision head office that they had to urgently downsize their operation, and they have been running around like headless chickens attempting to do just that for the last few months. Allegedly Blizzard has offered on five different occasions over the last couple of months to pay employees to leave the company, with the payout growing each time until it was roughly equal to a year’s salary.
“It was too good to pass up. This is voluntary, do not get me wrong. But when you see a pile a cash in front of you, over and over again, you start to lose hope and cannot see a great situation ahead.”
No, you cannot see a great situation ahead. In that kind of situation you can only see blight and misfortune ahead of you. In that situation many employees would begin to question whether the company will even be around in a year. And maybe it will not. Maybe in a year the bloated Blizzard division will be completely shuttered by Activision. Blizzard is living on borrowed time.