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 411mania » Games » Columns

Four Player Co-op 04.09.14: Fire TV, Square Enix, Watch_Dogs, More
Posted by Stephen Randle on 04.09.2014

Mathew Sforcina has joined the game.
Todd Vote has joined the game.
Dan Watson has joined the game.
Jeremy Thomas has joined the game.

Quizmaster Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Four Player Co-op, the game that's on a pretty good high after a weekend involving WrestleMania, Game of Thrones, the Winter Soldier, and the return of baseball. Things can't possibly get better than this. Which means they can only get much, much worse.

Start the game!

QUESTION ONE: So it turns out, all those rumours about Amazon making a gaming console were true. Well, sort of. Amazon announced Fire TV last week, which is a streaming device similar to others on the market already, designed to stream video, music, and also, apparently, video games. Several prominent titles are already confirmed for the device, including Minecraft (which puts Fire TV one up on the Oculus Rift, I guess), and most of Telltale Games' current library (Walking Dead, Wolf Among Us, the upcoming Game of Thrones title). However, Amazon has also said that despite its ability to play games, and the fact that you can buy a gaming controller for it, it should not be considered a gaming device. Does this seem like a wise marketing decision to you?

Mathew Sforcina - I despise the fact that every decision in today's world has to be based on money. Not about if a product is required, or if a program will help people, but if it'll sell or if it'll be cost effective. Love of money is said to be the root of all people, so what does that make worshipping of it? But I'm rambling slightly (for reasons that will soon become obvious). Anyway, this is the way of the future as everything tries to become like a smartphone, because a device that does one thing extremely well is now a dead end product. Everything has to do everything, you can't just have a game console, it has to be a console/streaming/tv/pizza maker or something. Hell, this is pretty much the inverse of the Xbox One, which was also sold as the thing you buy that does everything, except that one started with games, this just tosses games in on the side. And for the market, it makes sense. I mean, I've always said that Tetris is (arguably) the greatest game of all time since everyone, up to and including your mother, has played it. Minecraft is coming close to that, and the Telltale games are very simple for 'casuals' and yet also appealing to them. So yeah, I can see the logic. Don't like the logic, but I see it.

Todd Vote - Sure, why not. You don't want people getting the idea that it is for gaming only. Then people start considering it as a console, and start expecting stuff. If you leave it as a set top box capable of gaming, you take a lot of pressure off of the machine from the get go.. At least the pressure from the gaming community. At least that is my take on it. 

Dan Watson - No, that seems like a pretty terrible marketing plan. "You can play games on it but don't think of it as a device that plays games on it." So basically, we have a Kindle Fire that uses a television as the monitor. Not interested in this nonsense. 

Jeremy Thomas - They basically made a Roku with more games.  That's what this boils down to.  And I think that, for the price, that's fine.  It's basically there to compete with the Roku and other streaming devices like that, which is an okay niche to go for. Amazon doesn't need to be getting into the console game because they would get crushed.  So instead you go for the set-top box market, add in some game playing ability and use your market penetration muscle (no entendre intended there) to get the word out.  Will it be a runaway success?  No, because there are plenty of streaming devices already.  But it will be a profitable little box for the company, and one that can expand on slowly down the line.

Quizmaster - My mother never played Tetris, she thinks video games are a shameful waste of time, but that's neither here nor there. Jeremy gets 449 points for his explanation, my only follow-up is, why is everyone treating this like a big deal if there's already stuff like Roku and other streaming devices already on the market? Is the niche big enough for another entrant?

QUESTION TWO: In case you missed it, April Fool's Day was last week, and it seems like nobody embraces the concept of making stuff up like game developers. I'm sure at this point nobody remembers that Pandarens, the central race of WoW's last expansion, were actually originally one such joke, and this year, the developers of Marvel Heroes, after spending April Fool's Day "revealing" surprise new heroes that weren't actually going to be part of the game, went ahead and actually legitimately released one of them (Taskmaster...woo!) on April 2nd. With that said, are there any gaming or Internet-related April Fool's Day jokes that you remember even halfway fondly?

Mathew Sforcina - I despise April Fools. The jokes tend to either be stupid (Chocolate Coated Peas? Seriously?) or disruptive (share prices have taken losses over these things). I dislike practical jokes/ribs to begin with, so April Fools just has no interest in me. I suppose the Sheng Long thing is the classic "Joke impacting the series" thing, but honestly, I don't like them, never have, probably never will.

Todd Vote - I remember one I played on the readers here, back a few years ago. Had to have been shortly after the release of MGS 4. The joke was something to the effect that Kojima was taking MGS and making it a Microsoft exclusive. I went through the archives trying to find the damn thing... Crap, have I really been writing here for 5 years? Anyways, that was back before the powers that be put the kabosh on April Fools jokes on this site. It was harmless, and fun. I fooled a couple of people, while others saw right through it. April Fool's jokes can be fun.. here. Of course there are no comments anymore, they have long since been replaced by the Discus system. But you can at least read the "report"

Dan Watson - The only one I remember is that WoW one and laughing at how the WoW community was pissed at this thought. Then they release it and people actually bought into it. Sad.

Jeremy Thomas - Ah man, there have been a ton of great gaming April Fool's day jokes.  Where to start...there was the Legend of Zelda movie that IGN did and ThinkGeek's fantastic April Fool's Day products (some of which have become actual products).  My favorite have always been the Blizzard ones though.  The Pandaren was one of their worst ones actually; great ones include the Bard, a Guitar Hero-playing class that would come with a guitar peripheral and the "groove" resource system; Crabby, the Microsoft "Clippy"-style WoW helper; and World of Warcraft: Molten Core, which was a console version of WoW where you ran Molten Core but in Atari 2600 graphics.  Good times.

Quizmaster - You know what? Sforcina gets 1382 points, because now I can't get the idea of chocolate-coated peas out of my head. How would those taste? I want to know, but I fear what the answer will be!

QUESTION THREE: Well, apparently Square Enix is claiming to have learned its lesson, as they have announced that in the wake of Bravely Default, a JRPG for the 3DS that hearkens back to the classical "old-school" style of the genre that has been fairly successful for the company, they will be refocusing their development strategy back into "niche" products (specifically, JRPGs, heavy on the "J"), instead of attempting to develop for "mass appeal". They cited disappointing titles like Hitman: Absolution as having lost focus in favour of trying to appeal to too many demographics. Hey, if this means a return to the halcyon days of good Final Fantasy games, I'm all for it, but what's your take on this new business plan?

Mathew Sforcina - I despise JRPGs as a rule. I mean, I've always not liked them, but after reading the Japanese review of Mass Effect ("Too many choices and no indication which is the right one." ... Assuming that wasn't an April Fool's joke...) I could identify why, beyond a "Fallout/KOTOR good, Final Fantasy bad" level. JRPGs are just not my cup of tea, I prefer variety and openness. But that said, this is wonderful news, as one thing I despise more than JRPGs is the homogenisation of culture. Every game trying to 'appeal to a wider audience' or 'get Call of Duty numbers' rubs me the wrong way. Not every movie tries to be the Avengers. Not every book is Harry Potter. Why does every game want to be Call of Duty? Specialise, explore other markets, take risks. So this is wonderful news and I fully support it. Even though I won't be touching any of the games, probably.

Todd Vote - I still don't get how they are citing games like Hitman: Absolution as failures... The game got generally favorable reviews, and sold 3.5 million copies. What exactly makes that a failure? If Square-Enix wants to go back to a style of game that made them famous, more power to them. Maybe its just me, but you can't really blame a game for not living up to what are apparently ungodly high expectations. Didn't they also think that Tomb Raider, and Deus Ex both underperformed?

Dan Watson - his is a great idea. Square was one of the best JRPG creators and went away into this new style of game that sucks. Bring back Final Fantasy 10 type games.

Jeremy Thomas - When they make a good Final Fantasy again, I'll give them a little faith.  Also: Hitman Absolution wasn't a bad game and Tomb Raider was exceptional.  The problem isn't their focus; their problem is that they don't market worth a shit for the United States and instead use the profits of their non-Final Fantasy products as a slush fund to support Final Fantasy XIII-457 or whatever.  But I agree with the QuizMaster; if this means we'll actually be getting GOOD Final Fantasy games then sign me up.  I don't think that'll be the case, but what the fuck, I can be hopeful for this one.

Quizmaster - Todd and Jeremy split 2135 points with their shared worry that focusing more on JRPG's might leave things like the Tomb Raider franchise out in the cold, even though it was good enough that we gave it our Game of the Year Award. Like I said, and have said thousands of times, I'd give anything for Final Fantasy games to actually be Final Fantasy games again.

QUESTION FOUR: And while Watch_Dogs may finally be on its way to release in May, there will apparently not be any sort of demo made available before release. You know, in case you wanted to take a quick look at the game because you were worried about how delaying it for six months might have affected the product we haven't heard much about since October. Too bad for you, I guess. The developers say they won't put out a demo because it would take focus and resources away from the game itself, but for a game that has developed troubling word of mouth since it was delayed, wouldn't a demo be a good idea?

Mathew Sforcina - I despise both badgering of people for no good reason and for not leaving well enough alone. But, while I think it's OK and fine for Watch Dogs to not put out a demo, that doesn't mean that the question about why can't be asked. I'm sorry, too much work? Seriously? If the game is on track, then you should be able to just cut a bit out and stick it out there, surely? OK, hire someone for a week to sort it out, but right now with 'footage' seemingly going backwards you need all the positive press you can. This screams "ourgamesucksourgamesucks...". I'm not saying it does, but claiming it's too much work won't wear with guys who don't have to do said work. So while I don't mind them doing it, it's not a good sign. Probably.

Todd Vote - Anything they could do to get the good word of mouth back, at this point, they should do. I can't recall a time in recent memory that a delay has caused consumers to flip on a game like this one. I'm not saying it is unwarranted, because the game suddenly looks like it is being marketed as a GTA type game, and anything that made it unique to us in the first place, seems like an afterthought. 

Dan Watson - Yeah this is all sorts of red flags. Imagine if NBA Live 2010 hadn't had a demo, some sorry fools would've paid $60 for garbage. I like seeing some sort of demo come out. 

Jeremy Thomas - Doesn't bother me none.  I have been excited for this one and a demo never really entices me one way or the other, unless there's something glaringly irritating about it.  Demos are always pre-release and subject to changes, which happen so they don't usually sway me in either direction.  That being said, this is just me.  I know most people do care about demos, and as such I think it would have been a good idea for Ubisoft to release a little preview of the game.  However, I don't think it's going to drastically hurt the game's profit margin; it will do fine either way.

Quizmaster - I'm sure EA would have been happier had people been willing to pay $60 for garbage, Dan, otherwise they wouldn't have had to totally scrap the franchise for three years. Of course, the comeback game was a piece of crap too, so maybe they finally just went "Screw it, let's see who will buy this".

BONUS QUESTION: Well, Sunday was a big deal for a lot of people, between WrestleMania XXX and the season four premiere of Game of Thrones. Was there even anything else on that night? Who would bother programming against those? Anyway, did you partake of either offering this weekend?

Mathew Sforcina - I despise questions that imply the person being asked lives in America. I will not be watching either, despite GOT being available a couple hours later (because I'm only just near the end of Book 2) nor Wrestlemania (despite a very kind offer from a friend who managed to fool WWE Network LIVES IN AMERICA AND IS LEGALLY USING HIS WWE NETWORK APP IN A LEGAL FASHION, IN AMERICA to watch it with him, because I shall be working. But hey, I'm looking for to the IWC exploding with delight or horror if Bryan or DAVE walk out as champ once I finish work. (Orton ain't winning and HHH would cause mass strokes...)

Todd Vote - Still reeling from Mania... I can't believe they went through with that... I believe it was Sean S. Lealos who said on Facebook, "The streak ends, and it doesn't mean anything". It'll be interesting to see where they go with it on Raw tonight. 

Dan Watson - I watched Wrestlemania and was in shock seeing Taker lose. Other than that, I wasn't really moved at all by the show. The Bryan story arc was very predictable and the Cena match did nothing for me. 

Jeremy Thomas - I watched and loved both.  And while I apologize for being presumptuous QuizMaster, I think we all know who the winner of this week's 4PC is:




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