It was a week full of big news for American gamers, perhaps moreso for them as Americans rather than gamers.
Impeachment talk aside, Mario Kart Tour launched, The Last of Us 2 got a release date, and Oculus rolled out a bunch of big VR news at its Oculus Connect conference, including a bonafide AAA VR original in Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond. There was also some news like Sony deciding to sell PlayStation hardware directly through PlayStation.com, which could turn out to be big indeed if retail partners like GameStop and Best Buy start to fall by the wayside, or if Sony has plans to move to digital distribution-exclusive devices that retailers won't be inclined to stock or promote.
And for retro enthusiasts, we also received news of not one but two lawsuits against AtGames, makers of uniformly underwhelming retro gaming products. (Although credit where it's due, AtGames was rocking the plug-and-play retro microconsole trend long before the NES Classic was a gleam in Mario's bizarrely-shaped eye.) First the lengths to which the company would go to make Ms. Pac-Man retro products resulted in Bandai Namco filing a trademark infringement suit, and then we found out that pharmacy chain Walgreens sued the company for refusing to buy back $1.6 million of unsold products despite a contract guaranteeing it would.
Even with that potpourri of interesting goings-on in the industry, almost none of that is represented in the quotes below. Some weeks this column lends itself to a nice mini-editorial with a clear theme up top. This week, not so much. Be sure to check back next week, when we'll no doubt have some profound takeaway that touches on everything we link to.
QUOTE | "If just one million users enable this feature, it would save equivalent to the average electricity use of 1,000 US homes." - Sony Interactive Entertainment president and CEO Jim Ryan talks up a low-power suspend mode on the next PlayStation as part of an industry-wide Playing for the Planet initiative with the UN Environment committee to help address climate change.
QUOTE | "The biggest question mark in all of climate policy or the whole climate system really, is how are humans going to react? Are we going to reduce emissions or are we just going to keep going? If we're just going to keep going, that's great for the streaming paradigm; it's pretty terrible for our children and grandchildren." - Climate change activist and game designer Hugo Billie says Playing for the Planet moves are a good first step, but questions why Sony, Google, Microsoft and others have made no commitments around the potentially massive impact of data center power consumption from their various cloud computing and streaming efforts.
QUOTE | "Sometimes people want to cause trouble. But more often, they don't know how to behave. If you see someone running around and screaming, you're going to run around and scream." Facebook AR/VR content marketing head Meaghan Fitzgerald explains why the Facebook Horizon VR space will be staffed with Facebook employees to model acceptable user behavior. Oh, and the staff will help market new features to users, naturally. So they're probably hoping for the same "monkey see, monkey do" effect there.
QUOTE | "Some role-playing games are like you pet a cat or kick a cat. But it's not always about that. So something happens [in Wanderlust], and the choice the player has is sometimes 'I felt sad' or 'I felt motivated'. You start thinking as a player, 'How do I feel in such a situation? What is my reaction?'" - Witcher lead story designer Artur Ganszyniec takes a very different approach to role-playing in Wanderlust: Travel Stories, the debut title from his new studio Different Tales.
QUOTE | "Right now, we are in a tough situation. We are preparing ourselves for a significant loss. To those parties that can help us and have influence over the situation–feel free to contact us." - Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments developer Frogwares says a number of its games on previous generations will be permanently unavailable because its deal with publisher Focus Home Interactive expired and the company refused to transfer the rights to the store pages to the developer.
QUOTE | 20 million - Day-one downloads for Mario Kart Tour, according to mobile market research firm Sensor Tower, far and away the most of any Nintendo mobile app to date. (Super Mario Run was second with 7 million downloads despite being only on iOS.)
QUOTE | "Despite the apparent promise of reopening, the former employees we spoke to doubt Sauropod's ability to survive. Sauropod leaders are openly selling the studio's equipment and furniture on Facebook Marketplace, and one employee told us that management acknowledged the studio was still in debt and may ultimately need to file for bankruptcy." - Rebekah Valentine's coverage of the apparent closure of Mirador developer Sauropod Studios.
QUOTE | "I'm ashamed of the emotional immaturity and anger and cruelty I brought to the table in our marriage. In the years since then I've tried -- am trying -- to use that shame to be better than I was. I know this doesn't help you, but I'm sorry." - Kingdom of Loathing designer Zack Johnson replies on Twitter to his ex-wife, UC Santa Cruz assistant professor of games and playable media A.M. Darke, after she shared a Google doc accusing him of abusive behavior during the course of their relationship.
QUOTE | "It was so early that we benefited from people having nothing else to buy." - Yacht Club Games COO James Chan talks about the success of Switch launch title Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove. To date, the Kickstarted Shovel Knight has sold more than 2.65 million copies across all platforms.
QUOTE | "The people who were sitting there working on, building, and involved in the technology thought, 'If this could grow at a reasonable pace for the next 5-10 years, we could be in a great spot.' I remember thinking there's a reasonable curve for this being a brand-new medium, a brand new sector of technology, and here's how it could look.
"Then a bunch of analysts came in and said, 'No, this is going to be a curve that is 1,000 times more aggressive than what you think it is.' And then the curve was exactly what we thought it would be—a conservative, positive growth curve of a new industry—and then the analysts went and said, 'Shit, we way overblew it! Guys, it's failed based on our massively over-predicted predictions! VR has failed our incorrect predictions therefore it has failed!'
"And like, no, your predictions were just shitty. If they were aligned with a new medium coming from nothing into existence, then we're actually at a great clip. It's been in line with exactly how I thought VR was going to take off, but there was this rush of false enthusiasm and wave of disappointment based off that that came in and then left, leaving the original curve fully intact, exactly as it should have been." - Absurd:Joy and Owlchemy Labs co-founder Alex Schwartz gets animated when asked what he thinks of the VR market's progress to date.
QUOTE | "We're definitely at the crook in the hockey stick curve of things exploding when it comes to consumers and VR." - Alex Schwartz, a little over four years ago, as he was busy promoting Owlchemy Labs.