Blizzard Sinks to a New Low
Oh dear… This past week has seen the release of Warcraft III Reforged, and it has quickly become quantifiably the worst video game remaster ever created. The Silent Hill HD Collection – previously regarded as the worst video game remaster ever conceived – has a Metacritic user score of 4.8. By contrast, after receiving 22,084 user reviews Warcraft III Reforged sits at a user score of 0.5 out of 10! This makes Warcraft III Reforged the game with the lowest user rating on Metacritic!
When Reforged was announced Blizzard touted new cinematic cutscenes, and a laundry list of features – all of which were subsequently used to advertise the game. It would appear that maybe the Starcraft remaster did not sell to expectation however, as somewhere along the way all these features were stripped out of Reforged. In fact Reforged is more feature poor than the original Warcraft III, which is a problem because Blizzard have now made it so that vanilla Warcraft III now runs on the Reforged infrastructure retroactively gimping the game. Then to add injury to insult, Blizzard have worded the EULA so that any map that users create is the intellectual property of Blizzard, so if any user creates an alternate game mode which becomes virally popular (the equivalent of something like PUBG), then Blizzard can just take it for themselves and sell it. Moreover, the EULA also forbids user content from having any reference to outside properties, meaning that some of the most popular Warcraft III user maps cannot be recreated in Reforged without the threat of it being deleted and one’s account (and library of Blizzard games) being banned.
And they are not the only people being banned. Some people are being banned from Blizzard’s official forums for asking about refunds, while other people are being banned from the forums for attempting to help them! Then there are leaked chats of Blizzard staff assuring Australian customers that they do not have to adhere to Australian consumer laws despite selling the game to Australians priced in Australian dollars! Fucking pathetic. They probably are not much safer in America either. Fraudulent footage has been used to advertise the game – hence the outrage when consumers discovered that the end product was nothing like what was being advertised. One is not sure whether Blizzard made any effort to delist their old adverts and replace them with new more accurate adds. If Blizzard did make an effort to correct their advertising then that might be enough to legally cover them, but it really does not sound like that is what happened. We can probably look forward to a class action lawsuit in the very near future.
Phantasy Star Online 2 Comes West
Phantasy Star Online 2 is coming to North America in the second quarter of 2020, a mere eight years too late! Phantasy Star Online 2 originally released in July of 2012 – before the PS4 and Xbox One were even on the market, and when nobody even knew what a Switch was! For Phantasy Star fans this might qualify as a monkey paw wish – but let us be honest here, nobody fucking cares at this point. Anyway, this niche Japanese RPG is launching in the West with console exclusivity for the Xbox One – a console widely know for its weaboo content!
This seems like a super fucking backwards decision, as Xbox owners could not give two shits about about Japanese RPGs, but perhaps there is something else going on here. Phantasy Star Online 2 was at one point supposed to come West, but then appeared to be cancelled a long time ago. If one had to guess then localisation plans were probably resurrected by a Microsoft desperate enough for exclusive content that they were willing to moneyhat Sega to release an eight year old game on their platform. This is what happens when your company is myopic as shit, and does not put in the groundwork necessary to get exclusive content on the platform years down the road. Sony and Nintendo have some huge exclusives releasing this year. Sucks to be Microsoft.
The Switch Surpasses the SNES
One really did not see this one coming. It seems like only months ago that the Switch had sold forty-odd million units, and had just surpassed the Xbox One by about a million units, but now it has smashed through to 52.48 million units sold, handily beating the 49.10 million lifetime sales of the SNES. SNES was huge at the time, but the games market was much smaller back then, and the Sega Genesis gave the SNES some very tough competition. By contrast the Switch is really does not have much direct competition. Regardless of whether you own a PS4, Xbox One, or a PC; the Switch makes for a perfect secondary console with a huge amount of exclusive content. As such it is selling like hot cakes!
In fact Switch sales are really accelerating nicely. In 2017 the Switch sold 14.86 million units, in 2018 the Switch sold 17.42 million units, and in 2019 the Switch sold 20.21 million units. Each year beats the previous one handsomely. This is why Nintendo will be in no hurry to release a Switch Pro model. Despite this the rumours of a Switch Pro have been getting so out of control that Nintendo had to recently address the issue:
Regarding Nintendo Switch, we believe that it is important to continue to communicate the appeal of both Nintendo Switch systems and expand the installed base. Please note that we have no plans to launch a new Nintendo Switch model during 2020.
Granted, just because Nintendo says that something is not happening does not make it so – but let us be realistic here, Nintendo have absolutely no reason to launch a new SKU while the Switch and Switch Lite are selling as well as they are. Also, even if they wanted to launch a Pro model, there really is not any scope to do so. Rumours of a Pro model likely got started because of the smaller fabrication process used to produce the Tegra X1 chip which powers the Switch Lite. This chip is small enough that it could be overclocked in order to boost performance – but not by enough of a margin for it to really be worth the effort for Nintendo to launch a Pro model. There really is not any scope for a Switch Pro until Nvidia is able to shrink the Tegra X1 fabrication process by another size – or until Switch sales fall off a cliff. If either of those things happen then we might see the Nintendo Switch Pro.