Blizzard Begins Its Public Collapse (No More Diablo)!
Activision’s week began with them in the midst of an interesting situation, but by the weekend it had morphed into something completely different. Things initially seemed amiss when Activision announced (and publicly burned) Spencer Neumann, their CFO, by announcing his firing. Neumann had been with the company for fewer than two years, so many people initially speculated that he had been fired in response to Activision’s share price being down 25% from a year ago, but Activision quickly revealed that he had been let go for breaching the terms of his contract, “for cause unrelated to the company’s financial reporting or disclosure controls and procedures.”
Following this it became immediately clear that Neumann’s firing was preemptive, as he was on the verge of quitting his post to accept the CFO position at Netflix. Activision would then go on to announce the appointment of Dennis Durkin, the previous Activision CFO, as the company’s new CFO – so Activision are now reliving past failures. So far this is all very standard corporate musical chairs, but then later in the week something happened to change that.
Just a couple of days ago the now former Blizzard CFO, Amrita Ahuja, announced that she was leaving the company for a CFO position at Square (a payment processor). This makes Ahuja the second CFO that Blizzard-Activision has lost in the span of a week, and for CFO positions which on the face of them appear to be a sideway progression. This really gets the almonds activated – why are the company’s CFOs fleeing the ship for posissions comparable to the ones they already hold?
This can only mean that Blizzard-Activision is in dire financial straights, and Diablo IV has probably been cancelled.
Beyond Good and Evil 2 Is Online Only
It has been clear for a long time that
Beyond Good & Evil 2, sorry, Beyond Good AND Evil 2 is shaping up to be a calamitous disaster, but one had no idea that things were quite this bad. Beyond Good & Evil released in 2003 as a well received child friendly adventure game, with an engaging conspiracy storyline and some light stealth elements. People have been calling for a sequel for well over a decade now, largely due to the game’s open ending, but only recently has Ubisoft moved to fill on this demand – arguably much to late to capitalise on the original game’s momentum.
When Ubisoft finally did announce Beyond Good and Evil 2 it was almost unrecognisable. Anthropomorphic animal characters and spaceships are elements that Beyond Good and Evil 2 holds in common with the first game, but this new game is absolutely dripping in progressive style super vulgar invective, going from Disney feature to shrill Twitter cat lady in a single installment. This really begs the question: why? Why do that? Who is this game being made for? Why would Ubisoft think that the fans of a cutesy animal adventure would want to see those self-same animals cussing like sailors and behaving like degenerates? Like even Beyond Good & Evil fans who like excessive cussing and degeneracy probably would not want to get their cussing and degeneracy fix from a Beyond Good & Evil sequel, as it is a bizarre tonal shift.
If this were the extent of Beyond Good and Evil 2‘s problems then it would merely be a curious mess, but this week the game became a full blown disaster. The meme of developers jumping on gaming trends a day late and a dollar short is actually a real thing, you see, and Ubisoft has done this in a big way. Beyond Good and Evil 2 was being developed as an open world adventure game, similar to the first game but on a much larger scale. The game’s creator Michel Ancel even confirmed that the game would be 100% playable offline:
It’s very important to say that you can play offline if you want. You will be able to have this feeling of living this story with characters and places, that’s the basic thing. We want to invite people to play with friends on top of that.
By the time that Ancel made this assurance it was already clear that the game’s design had been altered, but it was not yet clear by how much. In fact it would appear that somewhere along the way Ubisoft had tapped Ancel on the shoulder and told him to turn the game into a Destiny clone. It seems likely that Ancel was attempting to find a compromise to placate original fans at the point where he made the above statement, but much has changed between then and now, and this week it was revealed that the game would be always online:
Beyond Good and Evil 2 is an online, multiplayer game with a rich co-op and seamless experience. As such, the game will only be playable with an Internet connection in order to have seamless navigation, receive dynamic updates, and play with friends (which is certainly better when you’re playing as a Space Pirate!). The choice to play co-op, however, remains yours to make, so playing BGE2 solo is absolutely possible if you’re into that lone Space Pirate kinda thing…
This once again raises the question of who they are making the game for, since the gameplay is so utterly removed from the original game. It certainly is not for Destiny fans, because most have them have stopped playing Destiny already. Perhaps Ubisoft should have made Beyond Good and Evil 2 a battle royale game, but then battle royale games may have fallen out of favour by the time that the game releases. Herein lies the pitfall of chasing after gaming trends. Beyond Good and Evil 2 looks like hot garbage.
2019 Breaks Fallout
So 2019 has dawned, and with it came a belated Christmas gift of the profound breakage of Fallout 76. As soon as the new year rolled around access to the game’s nukes broke, removing yet another promised feature from the package. This issue is worse than it sounds however, as nuclear blasts are required to spawn higher level enemies and initiating the game’s endgame content. Apparently the person responsible for designing the nukes was not anticipating the year’s end. Congratulations Bethesda, people cannot even finish the game now!
Bethesda acknowledged the problem on the 2nd of this month, and one is unable to ascertain whether the problem has been remedied, though the lack of affirmation speaks volumes:
#Fallout76 Players: We’re aware of and actively investigating an issue with Nuke silo access. Thank you for your patience while we look into this issue.
If players were looking into fixing the nuke situation with a player created mod, then they may want to hold off on that. Fallout 76 players are being banned from the game for using mods. The bans are put in place to stop cheating, and that would be one thing if they were actually able to accurately detect cheaters, but Bethesda is just banning anyone who uses any kind of mod. Graphical mods: banned. Bug fixes: banned. Content mods: banned. If Bethesda cannot even tell the difference between a graphical mod and a cheat mod then why even use bans rather than temporary suspensions? Why does a Fallout game even need to ban cheaters? It is not exactly a competitive deathmatch.
At any rate Bethesda are willing to unban accounts, but only if banned players are willing to write lengthy essays on the subject of how wrong it is to cheat in video games:
This account has violated the code of conduct and terms of service by cheating. The account was detected to be running a third-party application, which provides an unfair in-game advantage, while logged into Fallout 76. If you would like to appeal this account closure, we would be willing to accept an essay on ‘Why the use of third party cheat software is detrimental to an online game community’ for our management team to review.
This is a real kick in the teeth to Bethesda fans. For a long time they have built a community around modding Bethesda games; fixing bugs, improving their graphics, adding a near infinite amount of new content.This just shows a massive lack of comprehension on the part of Bethesda about who their audience even is. A good developer would be aware of the needs and wants of the people who comprise their customerbase, and then design their games accordingly. If Bethesda wanted to ban cheaters then they should have devised a method to accurately detect them without flagging perfectly benign game modifications, but instead they half-assed it, just like every other aspect of Fallout 76.