A Malign Reckoning
Everything old is new again! Sometimes no mater how far you think you have moved beyond a certain topic, it is always there, waiting, biding its time, until one day it comes back like a bad smell to stink up the headlines anew! This site has a bit of a history with Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,Curt Schilling, and 38 Studios. In 2010 the state of Rhode Island foolishly gave Curt Schilling’s 38 Studios a 75 million dollar blank check underwritten by tax payers in order to develop Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Kingdoms of Amalur sold 1.2 million copies in its first 90 days, but 38 Studios had required the game to sell some stupid amount of copies just to break even, and so quickly began defaulting on their loan payments and employee payroll. This story made for such compelling news back in the day because it was the most blatant example of how fiscal responsibility could be thrown out the window in the face of celebrity that any of us had ever seen. Schilling was a former pro baseball pitcher, and there seemed to be very little doubt that this fact played a substantial role in his successful bid to be underwritten by 75 million dollars of tax payer money. It also perfectly depicted the retardedly optimistic expectancy of a first time studio that they would sell significantly more copies of their game than the eventual 1.2 million copies they would accrue. Many new studios would be delighted to sell 1.2 million copies of their $60 game, and would have budgeted for somewhere less than that – yet a huge 75 million dollar injection of cash is apt to obscure and distort the normal concerns and priorities that a fledgling studio would have.
Now Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is back! This lukewarm cadaver has been reanimated in the form of Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning:
The rumours are true! Prepare for a Re-Reckoning, because Kingdoms of Amalur is coming back.
Remastered with stunning visuals and refined gameplay, it’s soon time to experience an epic RPG journey and all its DLCs like never before.
One has it on very good authority that the return of Kingdoms of Amalur is one of the signs of the impending apocalypse, and so too is the ride of the four horsemen. How coincidental then that both Amalur and Darksiders have been brought back by THQ Nordic – a publisher that is obviously a front for the Adversary. THQ Nordic was only founded in 2011, the same year that it published its first game. From there the publisher went on a blistering acquisition spree, buying up all the most cursed gaming properties to have ever fallen by the wayside, resurrecting gaming cringe with a seemingly inexhaustible chequebook. It is the Adversary’s infernal will that these games be resurrected. It is his dark will that all the governments of the world be united under the sinister banner of THQ. It is only after the Beast achieves its worldly ambitions that he can finally be vanquished forever and consigned to the pits bellow, which is precisely where these games belong!
Marvelous First Studio Features Strong Mistwalker DNA
It turns out the studios behind Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, The Last Story, and the Shadow Hearts series still exist, kind of. When Hironobu Sakaguchi broke from Square Enix and established Mistwalker, his new studio lacked the programming muscle to produce games on their own, and so they partnered with AQ Interactive in order to see the initial batch of Mistwalker titles to completion. At the time AQ Interactive had three subsidiary development houses underneath them; Artoon, Cavia, and feelplus. Artoon developed Blue Dragon, Away: Shuffle Dragon and The Last Story. Cavia was making Mistwalker’s Cry On before it was cancelled by Microsoft, and the studio is also notable for having developed Drakengard, Drakengard 2, and Nier under auteur director Yoko Taro. Finally, feelplus developed Lost Odyssey and co-developed Blue Dragon Plus, and are also notable for co-developing Star Ocean: The Last Hope and Infinite Undiscovery with Tri-Ace. feelplus is of particular interest, because the studio is pretty much a re-badging of Sacnoth/Nautilus, who developed Koudelka, Shadow Hearts, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, and Shadow Hearts: From the New World. Shadow Hearts: Covenant in particular is an amazing JRPG.
These three seperate studios were eventually absorbed into AQ Interactive, and AQ Interactive itself was later absorbed into Marvelous in 2011, where all trace of the studios seemingly disappeared. In fact from 2011 until around 2016 they essentially did cease to exist in any meaningful capacity, with members tasked on helping out with random lowkey projects. Many people, including this author, figured that the world had seen the last of these developers (at least in any coherent capacity) – but happily one has been proven wrong here. In 2016 Capcom partnered with Marvelous in order to produce the spinoff Monster Hunter Stories, a turn-based JRPG. Because of their extensive experience in developing JRPGs, the AQ Interactive alumni were tasked with getting the the band back together to serve as the development team for Monster Hunter Stories, and after the game’s release the team comprising senior members from Artoon, Cavia, and feelplus officially rebranded as Marvelous First Studio.
The studios’ next project saw them partner with Namco Bandai to assume development duties on God Eater 3, but they really did not distinguish themselves until the release of their original IP Daemon X Machina. Now the studio has two action RPGs in concurrent development, with the possibility that one of them will be officially announced before the end of the year. So there you have it, three prominent studios which seemed long-defunct actually still do exist, at least insofar as any studio so far removed from its heyday can be said to exist. That does not necessarily mean that the future games which come out of Marvelous First Studio will be amazing, but it will nevertheless be very interesting to see what the future holds for these storied developers.
Australia’s ACCC Has Had a Big Week
This week the ACCC, Australia’s consumer protection watchdog, announced that EB Games Australia (Gamestop) will be happy to issue refunds to any consumer who bought Fallout 76 between November 14, 2018 and October 31, 2019 after they designated the game a “major failure”. The ACCC already ruled several months ago that consumers were owed a refund, after Zenimax refused to provide people with online refunds, but EB Games argued that this only applied to online sales of the game, and generally carried on misrepresenting consumer rights under the law. Now they have no choice but to pay up. It is funny how even across oceans and with a completely different name GameStop is still GameStop, and this misleading of customers in order to rip them off by violating their consumer rights is just the most GameStop thing ever. Customers wanting a refund must email customer.supportAUS@ebgames.com before August 1st to request their refund.
The ACCC was concerned that certain statements made by representatives engaged by or on behalf of EB Games in response to complaints by customers that the Fallout 76 game they had purchased from EB Games was faulty were likely to have conveyed false or misleading representations to the effect that: Australian consumers had no entitlement to any refunds from EB Games for Fallout 76 games when downloadable content (DLC) or ‘one use codes’ were redeemed or used; Australian consumers had no entitlement to any refunds from EB Games for Fallout 76 games outside of the EB Games’ ‘7 day satisfaction guarantee’; Australian consumers had no entitlement to refunds when the developers or publishers of the Fallout 76 game were providing patches; and/or EB Games had modified or restricted statutory consumer guarantees/warranties in relation to Fallout 76 games purchased by Australian consumers.
EB Games acknowledges that its conduct is likely to have misled certain Australian consumers about their rights under the ACL in connection with the statutory consumer guarantees and is likely to have contravened sections 18 and 29(1)(m) of the ACL.
It was not just Bethesda, Zenimax, and EB Games that the ACCC had in their sights, as they also found time to wreck Sony’s shit. Sony has this week been fined 3.5 million dollars for misleading consumers as to their consumer rights. Sony variously told customers that they were not eligible for a refund if they had already downloaded the game, they could not issue a refund unless the consumer first gained approval from the game’s publisher, consumers are not eligible for a refund after fourteen days of the game’s purchase, and that refunds can only be given in the form of store credit. None of this is true, and in one instance it seems farcically malicious. Putting your customers through the wringer by denying refunds unless they personally contact the game’s publisher and get put through the run-around there is just kooky. The ACCC seems to have come to the same conclusion:
What Sony told these consumers was false and does not reflect the consumer guarantee rights afforded to Australian consumers under the Australian Consumer Law. Consumers can obtain a repair, replacement or refund directly for products with a major fault from sellers and cannot simply be sent to a product developer. Refunds under the consumer guarantees must also be given in cash or money transfer if the consumer originally paid in one of those ways, unless the consumer chooses to receive store credit. Consumers who buy digital products online have exactly the same rights as they would if they made the purchase at a physical store.
Between October 2017 and November 2017, SIENE (through its call centre agents), in trade or commerce … engaged in conduct that was misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive, and made false or misleading representations to each concerning the existence, exclusion or effect of any right or remedy they may have had, by representing that, even if a game had a major failure or some other failure to comply with a guarantee that could not be, or had not been, remedied, SIENE was not required to refund the users more than 14 days after purchase or if the game had been downloaded, when in fact there is no such limit on consumers’ rights to obtain redress from suppliers of goods under ss. 259 and 263 of the [Australian Consumer Law], in contravention of ss.1 8 and 29(1)(m) of the [Australian Consumer Law].
It is a shame that the fine could not have been bigger. 3.5 million dollars is a pittance where giant corporate entities like Sony are concerned, so this only amounts to a slap of the wrist. That being said, it is nevertheless very nice to have consumer law that actually tries to stick up for Australian consumers, and Sony will no doubt face a sterner rebuke if they fail to correct their shitty conduct.