We’ve all played a lot of video games this year, brought to us by a wonderful array of gaming studios. Sometimes, gamers struggle to separate the idea of ‘a studio’ from ‘the workers’. When developers complain about poor working conditions, low pay, massive crunch, or the other cavalcade of issues in gaming, gamers shout at them for being lazy devs. Shut up and dribble, except don’t dribble, get back to making games. However, when a game is good, gamers are full of praise for their favourite studios. Not really the people who work there. Just, like, the building with a logo on it. So, with that in mind, here are the best presents to get some of those gaming studios this year.
Ubisoft – A Video Game Made By Literally Any Other Studio
Ubisoft can make some good games, but every game it makes, no matter the scope or genre, is always inescapably a Ubisoft game. The studio only ever learns from itself, and by ‘learns’, I mean ‘paste the same map markers across every inch of the map because some algorithm said that was the best method of player retention’. With only a little bit of inspiration from elsewhere, maybe the games could kick on beyond algorithmic outdated 80-hour time sinks.
Xbox – A Good Exclusive
Zing! No, but like, seriously. Microsoft is on a mission to buy up every studio in existence, and it’s clear that all it wants for Christmas is a good exclusive. It hasn’t had a good once since – whisper it – Sunset Overdrive. Maybe 2023 will be its year.
Sony – Call Of Duty
Speaking of Microsoft buying up every studio, the whole affair has boiled down almost entirely to Call of Duty. Xbox, despite spending $70 billion on owning Activision Blizzard King, whose most culturally relevant property is Call of Duty, now has to convince every court in the world that Call of Duty is a stinky poopoo game that nobody wants to play. Conversely, Sony has made its name off prestige exclusive titles that have blown Xbox out of the water, and frequently has exclusivity deals for Call of Duty content. It now has to convince every court in the world that only meanies and bullies keep exclusive games. Why doesn’t Sony take Call of Duty, and Xbox gets The Last of Us, God of War, and Ghost of Tsushima. Then Sony is free of the weight of exclusives forever. A perfect white elephant.
Naughty Dog – The Abstract Concepts Of Joy And Hope
Remember when Naughty Dog made zany and outrageous adventures, bursting with life and colour, that best typified the pure, unadulterated joy that gaming could produce? It went from Crash Bandicoot, to Jak and Daxter, even into realism with the non-stop stuntfest of Uncharted. Then the Naughty Dog was so naughty it had to be put down, and the games were never the same. Now drenched in a dark blorange filter, Naughty Dog’s games are nihilistic, pessimistic gazes in despair at the failures of the human race and the price of revenge, wanting, and living. Cheer up, it’s Christmas.
Game Freak – A Magic Stopwatch
Look, I believe Game Freak can make good games. I have seen it with my own two thumbs. Pokemon Red & Blue launched a phenomenon. Pokemon HeartGold & SoulSilver is an all-time great, worthy of any foe. But recently, Game Freak has not been hitting it out of the park. It has not even been hitting the ball. Just a whiff of cedar through air, and the whomp of leather on leather as the catcher collects. The best Pokemon games in recent times have been outsourced, and whenever Game Freak has had the rock, it has run out of seconds on the shot clock before it makes a touchdown. Sports metaphors! If they could only pause time for a little while to get it right – I still believe Game Freak can rise again.
Nintendo – A Post-It Note Reminder That Black People Exist
For the devs to stick on their monitors while they’re working on games, so maybe they won’t forget next time.
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