Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Let's Talk - "OverWatch & Franchise Killers"

Blizzard's "OverWatch" is one of those games that has potential ... the potential to fail. The game was hyped up by developers, journalists, and gamers alike. Despite the hype being very alive at the moment there are still so many issues plaguing the online only experience that it poses the very valid question, "How long will that hype train last?". During the Beta, on the PC platform, OverWatch suffered from two known cheats. Those cheats being "wall hacks", and "aimbot" assists. Both of which I firmly believe are still present in the game. Wall hacks, for those of you who are unaware lets players see enemies through the walls without the use of the in-game perks that do the same thing. As far as the aimbot assist goes even Blizzard knows what it's about as one of their character creations (Widowmaker) has a voice option joking about the existence of that very thing. Aimbots, as they were are a hack geared towards keeping your crosshairs focused on any incoming enemy. It allows you acquire the target more easily thus making getting the kills all the more easily done. One thing you need to understand about 'OverWatch' is that target acquisition is all over the place without the aimbots. You basically have to dumb down the look sensitivity on both ends at less than half strength just to be able to keep from aiming wildly. That's why aimbots are a huge problem in the game. They allow for perfect play without the earned effort.

Aside from aimbots, and wall hacks I've noticed a growing trend of lagswitchers who are griefing the legit OverWatch population. You'll see what seems to be a lot of one hit kills by opposing players that are shown in the killcam as being otherwise. If it were mutual lag, and non-influential to either players' kill count/performance it wouldn't be a lagswitch, but most of the time it is a one-sided ordeal with the players who are one-shotting you getting the upper hand. Another major issue is this epidemic of DDOS attacks that seems to have situated itself on all Blizzard game servers. If players, who are playing right, can't enjoy their playthroughs for any of these reasons do you think they are going to keep playing for the long haul? Likely not. Therein lies the problem.

When a competitive online gaming experience is poorly managed, miserable for the gamer playing it, and is all that a game has to offer it eventually sees a significant decline in hype if not an all out abandonment. The latest CoD pre-order sales numbers are a reflection of this. A reflection of what can go wrong when players are fed the same crappy experiences over, and over again. Their once favorable hype turns to voiced complaints on social media, and further into a community based lack of interest. If you've tuned into the latest CoD shenanigans the trailer for their latest game got the most dislikes ever for such a gaming video. That is telling of itself. Even famous Youtubers who have backed the CoD franchise over the years are turning their backs on the gaming studios associated with said games, and the sponsors who have backed them for playing the games on streams. It is a total reversal of the hype that once was.

If a game like 'OverWatch' tries to follow the same path of "greatness" as CoD based only on hype it will not serve them as well as it did Activision, or the other CoD contributors. By that I mean gamers are catching on. Gamers in general are waking up from the stupor of the competitive hype train, and want that next big experience that actually lives up to the hype. Having been wronged as much as they were with CoD said gamers are less than tolerable with developers and publishers seeking the same crowd/cash cow these days. As such the CoD crowd seeking developers/publishers will be hard pressed to survive the fallout of any disappointment that may happen in regards to their game's launch and life cycle. Game development, and gaming journalism is under the eye of scrutiny more than it ever was. Some devs, and publishers got so comfortable with shoveling out shitware that they thought they could keep getting away with it. The tide turned on them though, and all gamers are more openly demanding better quality for their hard earned money. That's why you see so many games harshly criticized by the gaming populous. Even the once trend worthy arcade shooters are being turned away from as they are a dime a dozen now. Every developer and their mother is churning out the same damn thing disregarding the fact that gamers want that stand out unique gaming experience. Not even a different skin slapped over someone else's base idea will get most devs by the prying eyes. Yes, I'm referring to Team Fortress 2 and OverWatch.

The question that remains is how long will this hype train for OverWatch last if it remains the intolerable mess that it is? I'm betting it won't last long, myself. The way I see it Blizzard is facing insurmountable odds in the form of the ever-corrosive CoD community that they sought out. That in itself is an entirely different set of problems for industry creators. The CoD crowd, as many of us seasoned gamers have said has been the thorn in the side of gaming for quite some time. Not only is the mentality of a majority of said CoD crowd members abusive, and without moderation, but that very crowd also ruins every online gaming experience they flock to. While this group of willingly paying individuals may initially attract numbers in the form of pre-orders, and after day one sales it will also destroy franchises, series, and single experiences in the process. It's like having an epic pool party over at Hugh Hefner's Playboy mansion with all the lovely Playboy playmates attending, but at the same time inviting kids over who do nothing but take a piss in the pool as they migrate onto the property in mass numbers. Like that metaphorical pool party the online experiences such as those in "Call of Duty" become flooded with the cheating antics of non-caring individuals, and in turn run off the crowd that made the games so desirable in the first place.

The plague of CoD locusts, as I'm going to refer to it is exactly that, a plague of locusts. They come in, eat away at a game's and gaming studio's integrity while leave it a barren wasteland that is nothing short of a virtual desert. The studios who sought out said crowd are eventually shamed by the gamers who trusted in them, and left with a ruined reputation. A ruined reputation that will no longer attract anyone who was there when the shit hit the fan. At the end of the day we all know that game development is costly, and that without money after the big-bang which is pre-order day in place the studios are often times left unable to scrape by or create anything else without kickstarter funding. The fact is quick money will never be as substantial as a continuous influx of income brought in by customers who are more than willing to pay up. You can either get greedy, and lose your future as a respectable gaming studio or you can invest in the future of your franchises, and work your hardest to build upon a long lasting and lucrative empire. Sadly, gaming studios seem to be scrambling up ideas on the fly, and pitching would be projects in hopes they can snag some extra dough like a Christmas shopper going to a seasonal store sale while trying to beat off anyone who would steal their child's present from them. It's like the last breath right before death. The quiet before the storm. It's as if the industry itself knows it's on the verge of collapse, and that said industry providers are so desperate to get rich quick that they'll turn to legal scams (kickstarter) to reap those earnings.

I don't claim to know the future of gaming, but I do know if studios like Blizzard, and Activision continue down this path of greed it will not only gut the hobby we've all grown to love, but it will also leave the industry hollow. The self-detriment by the CoD seeking publishers is ruination in the making. As a gamer I beg of you do not pre-order months in advance. Do not pre-order a year in advance, and do not buy into something that is not guaranteed. We who buy into any of this are as much of a problem as those who are pitching poorly made products. We are effectively funding the destruction of the gaming industry, and the fact is those in the industry who are making the money could care less. They are not gamers like you, and I. They may love, and appreciate games, but they are on the receiving end of the deal.

I'm gonna close in saying I hope my $60+ spent on Blizzard's 'OverWatch' isn't a waste. I hope they do right by the gamer, and don't let the CoD crowd gut their hard work. I put my faith in the hype like so many others, but should I find myself burnt again I may never buy another one of their products. Show me I'm wrong Blizzard. Prove me wrong. I'd gladly welcome it.

Vote Brad 2016!

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