Issue #137
July 25, 2013
Balancing Backlogs
Front Page

We've finally reached the summer slump. With a series of so-so new video game releases on the horizon, now is the perfect time for gamers to make a visible dent in their assumedly large backlogs. A blessing in disguise, of sorts.

I often scratch my head when I look at my backlog. Internally, I tend to postulate over how it could have grown to such an obtrusive and bloated size in the first place. That is, before my mental math skills estimate the amount of money I must have dropped and I begin to cry. Why is it that we're so prone to expanding our collections or replaying games we've played and enjoyed in the past instead of pushing through those titles we've made internal promises to complete? Can we not pass over a good video game deal? Do we have to download every free PSN Plus title? Are we all just ADD-riddled and terrible with money?

I'm currently in the process of playing Persona 3: FES for the first time. I've never played a Persona game before now, and I'm still not sure that I'm playing it correctly. However, I did make a promise to myself, roughly five years ago, to play this game and am only now getting around to it. It's fun and I like it, but I'm also hopeful that I'll be able to move on to another game in my backlog soon.

If I could ask you readers some questions this week, they would be:

  • How big are your backlogs?

  • Which backlog titles do you want to beat next?

  • How long have those games been in your backlogs?

A particular RPG has recently been causing discourse between those who have played it, those who have reviewed it, and those who planned on buying it. Time and Eternity has become one of the more polarizing releases in recent memory, with some reviewers praising its ambition and others, such as our own Sam Marchello, praising how extremely well constructed the game is (as a torture device). Some reviewers enjoyed their time with the game while another felt as though the experience was an eternity, but the bigger story is actually the reader reactions.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I've recently had conversations with reviewers from eight different and well-respected news outlets, who assigned Time and Eternity scores ranging from "excellent" to "abysmal," about extremely negative reader reactions to their experiences with the game. When I say "extremely negative," I mean that some commenters were taking personal shots at the reviewers for either liking the game too much or not liking it enough. This strange commenter-commentee dynamic is fairly commonplace on the internet, but what was more interesting to me was the common thread: commenters made a point of stating that reviewers failed their job because reviews are supposed to be "critical, unbiased, and impartial."

We need to dwell on this statement for a second. The concept that reviews are intended to be objective is a little dangerous, in that it makes little sense. If games are only valued upon objective ideals, why exactly are there hundreds of websites providing reviews for the same game? One review that clearly describes the characters, setting, visuals, gameplay, and sound should be enough, right? Wrong. Hundreds of websites provide reviews for the same game because hundreds of people want to speak their mind, and the variances between those reviewers really can't be understated.

Would Conan O'Brien review a game the same way you would?

Nothing is objectively bad or objectively good, and you're dreaming in technicolour of you think otherwise. We each have different experiences with different games because we naturally have different sensibilities. Maybe the people who enjoyed Time and Eternity the most did so because they also very much enjoy anime, female protagonists, and Yuzo Koshiro's musical compositions. Maybe that actually has nothing to do with it. I can't say exactly what elements made reviewers enjoy or detest the experience, but I can say that the reviews they produced don't implicitly colour how I'll experience the game.

When Deadly Premonition was first released, it was panned by a number of reviewers as a "poorly crafted and functionally broken budget horror title." One news site felt so negatively about the title's quality that it assigned a score of 2/10. I purchased the $30 title from a pawn shop on a whim, and have cherished it ever since. To me, the experience was more enjoyable because I liked the game's Twin Peaks inspired setting, Resident Evil 4 control style, sim-like eating/sleeping system, and survival horror elements. If I were to review Deadly Premonition, I would confidently assign a score of 9/10 right before making out with the game's case.

That's why there are a multitude of reviews floating around the internet for each new release; each of us can have a different experience with the same game. Video game reviews are all subjective — and rightfully so. If you're the type of commenter who expects the person who has already invested a ton of time and energy into fully playing and reviewing a game to completely disregard their personal experience with a title and only present what you consider to be "objective elements," I humbly request that you either respect the opinions of others enough to hold your tongue or remove yourself from the conversation.

With the recent release of Shin Megami Tensei IV and assumed impending announcement of Persona 5, fans have been on an Atlus high while also greatly worrying about the future. Index Corporation recently filed for government-managed rehabilitation, which is the Japanese equivalent of what we Westerners like to call "bankruptcy." The company owes 24.5 billion yen, and chief executive officer and president Yoshimi Ogawa Ochiai and board chairman Masami Ochiai have both expressed interest in resigning. Index also recently came under heat by Japan's Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commissioner for improper accounting via fake transactions, which is something we Westerners like to call "fraud." All of this has had many RPGamers on pins and needles, but good news might be on the near horizon.

The bankrupt parent company of Persona-developer Atlus is said to be planning an auction for a buyer some time next week. According to a Bloomberg report, which cites two people with knowledge of the proceedings, Index is looking for roughly 15 billion yen in the sale and is hoping to finalize an agreement by September 2013. Providing things go smoothly, Atlus (and a number of Index's other operations) may find a new home, more funding, and even a bit of freedom from their current means of doing business.

It should be noted that the type of corporate reorganization that Index is currently going through doesn't actually affect any current or future productions of its subsidiaries. Even with the word "bankruptcy" hovering over Atlus' head, it isn't as though the development house would have been putting anything on hold during this process. Please stop worrying, folks.

Source: Bloomberg

Gamers of all shapes, sizes, and orientations can now look forward to the first video game conference designed with a focus on the LGBT community. GaymerX, the inaugural con set to take place August 3 and 4 in San Francisco, CA, will be open to everyone and is being supported by EA, Xbox, Straight But Not Narrow, dot 429, The Trevor Project, and GLAAD.

The event (formerly known as GaymerCon) is the work of Matt Conn and Kayce Brown, and was funded by a Kickstarter campaign that saw 1,531 backers contribute $91,388. "Just like most gamers, queer geeks and gaymers want that same sense of community and belonging. Therefore we intend to create a space where all gamers and queer geeks can come together in a welcoming and safe space," said the founders in their original Kickstarter pitch.

GaymerX will be hosting a number of dorky panels, cosplayers, and various events. It's promised to be an event full of fun and silliness for anyone who wishes to attend, including its detractors. The Westboro Baptist Church has naturally promised to protest the convention, but its founders remain undeterred. Tickets will be $45 or $60 at the door. VIP tickets include T-shirts, grab bags and access to a red carpet party for $135. You can check out the con's official site for further details, tickets, and media.

Source: Mashable

Last Friday, general manager of Eidos Montreal since 2007, Stephane D'Astous, resigned from his post. This was not followed by the same "exploring new and exciting opportunities" rhetoric that we've seen in several other high-profile resignations as of late. Unlike those public shamings, D'Astous was not asked to leave his post.

"Since last year's financial shortcoming performance of Square Enix Europe, we have had growing and divergent opinions on what needed to be done to correct the situation," D'Astous told GamesIndustry. "The lack of leadership, lack of courage and the lack of communication were so evident, that I wasn't able to conduct my job correctly. I realised that our differences were irreconcilable, and that the best decision was unfortunately to part ways."

This is certainly a huge loss for a studio who has already lost a number of highly talented individuals key to the development of the next entry in the Thief series. While it's not clear just how often D'Astous was butting heads with Square Enix Japan, it has been made clear that Eidos Montreal's productions have shifted to ports as well as more tablet and mobile offerings. It's impossible to predict what kind of effect this departure will have on a new Thief title, as staffing changes of this magnitude often have a cascade effect. Hopefully, this will be the last bit of bad news the studio sees for a while.

Source: GamesIndustry

This is a newer section of RPGamer's Currents where we take a hard look at some video game industry rumors and attempt to assess how plausible they are. Nothing in this section has been officially confirmed, but who knows which rumors will float to the surface as fact in the future?

  • PlayStation 4 Mid-November Release
    We know that the Xbox One console is being released on November 27, but is now claiming that the PlayStation 4 will be lauching a little bit before then — Novemeber 13, 2013. Likelihood? No clue. It would make sense that Sony make its new console available just in time for the holiday season, but has never indicated where they got this release date.

  • Gran Turismo Movie
    Itís been reported that Sony will be teaming up with 50 Shades of Grey producers to put together a flick based on their flagship racing franchise. Likelihood? High. This series has always been an expensive one to produce. If there is a way to monetize it, I'm sure Sony will take it.

That's it for this issue of Currents. You'll see another issue again in a couple weeks, but stay tuned to RPGamer for all the latest RPG news, reviews, previews, and interviews.

Your dork from the Great North,

Trent Seely

Stalk me on Twitter: @InstaTrent

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