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 411mania » Games » Columns

Four Player Co-op 07.02.14: Oculus Rift, Kinect, Blizzard, More
Posted by Stephen Randle on 07.02.2014

Todd Vote has joined the game.
Robert Cooper has joined the game.
Adam Larck has joined the game.

Quizmaster Greetings, and welcome to the anachronistically named Four Player Co-op, the game of multiplayer question-and-answer, which is just as much fun as it sounds. The good news is, at the end somebody wins, and in a surprising twist, it isn't always John Cena!

Start the game!

QUESTION ONE: As you may or may not remember, Zenimax is suing the developers of the Oculus Rift, claiming that former employee John Carmack (yes, that one) developed VR technology now being used by the Rift while employed by Zenimax. This past week, Oculus has finally fired back with a legal statement that basically says what many of us have already been thinking, namely, that Zenimax is only suing them to get a slice of the two billion dollars that Facebook spent to acquire the Rift. Needless to say, it looks like a quiet settlement is out the window, and Oculus has demanded a jury trial to decide this once and for all. And so I ask you, our esteemed panel of people with no legal experience, how do you think this will all shake out in the end?

Todd Vote - Questions like these make me long for a time when we had Joe Roche on staff doing Xbox 360 news reports. He'd know how to answer this crap... He was a lawyer, if I remember correctly. Anyway, I would say it all depends on what kind of proof Zenimax has. While it does seem shady that they were only worried about their tech after news of a couple billion dollars hanging out there, I don't think the time of filing matters much as far as proving their case. 

Robert Cooper - My guess is that Zenimax will probably drop the suit, it seems that the Oculus guys are not backing down and if this is the opportunistic cash grab that a lot think this is, I think Zenimax will back off.  Now if they don't, this could get interesting, because while I don't think that they have too much of a chance, the Zenimax guys might win, kinda like Phillips won that suit against Nintendo not too long ago.

Adam Larck - I think once the trial gets going, you could still see a settlement. If the jury starts seeing any kind of similarities, Oculus would rather settle than see a huge loss happen. No matter what happens, though, both sides will face a large amount of attorney fees before it's all over.

Quizmaster - I think JP Prag was also some sort of law-talking person, but he's always been sore since I beat him for Most Positive Columnist on 411, so we probably couldn't trust his answer anyway. I'm also no slick big-city lawyer, but I just don't see any real case on Zenimax's side that extends further than "they got money and me wantee", and I don't think that holds up in real court, especially since you can be sure Oculus' high-paid attorneys will clearly be hammering that point home to the jury. Unfortunately, like our legal opinions, this question was worth nothing.

QUESTION TWO: Let me preface this by saying that Microsoft absolutely made the right decision to drop the Kinect from their XBOne bundle, allowing them to compete directly with the cheaper PS4. However, I have to question a recent statement from Phil Spencer, who said that "Consumers love the device; they love the experience. They'll buy it. They'll either buy it at launch when they buy their console, or they'll be able to buy it after the $399 console; they'll pick it up and add it on later." I know he's just putting a positive spin on things and making it seem like they're not abandoning the peripheral completely, but don't you think if people were willing to buy the Kinect in addition to the console, then they would have, you know, already been doing that when it was included with the system? I'm not saying the Kinect is dead, but there's no way it's anything more than a novelty item for a small percentage of gamers, right?

Todd Vote - I agree that Kinect is about as novelty as you can get. But I can see what Spencer is trying to say. The main thing holding me back from jumping on with the Xbox One was price. While I may not pick up a Kinect at a later date, I am definitely more apt to grab the XBOne now that it is cheaper. So while he may be reaching in thinking that EVERY XBOne owner will eventually purchase a Kinect, the idea he is trying to get across seems sound. I'm afraid I got some Bad News.... Nobody is going to want to buy a standalone Kinect for $120+. That shit just isn't happening. If you want to sell Kinect by itself, it has to be cheaper than getting the bundle. 

Robert Cooper - That's how I see it, the Kinect doesn't exactly work very well at all, and unless the thing starts working like it's supposed, I don't see the Kinect being anything more than a novelty item.  I honestly saw it as hampering the potential growth of the X-Bone if they would have kept trying to make the Kinect mandatory.  It added a ton to the price tag for the system and while it was cool that they added voice commands to everything, gaming wise, it didn't add too much as a peripheral. 

Adam Larck - I have to disagree with this question. The Kinect has always been a family feature or something to pull out at parties. Families won't jump on a $500 purchase if their Xbox 360 still works fine with a Kinect. These families also aren't the first to immediately jump to buying new consoles, either. They'll wait for prices to drop or holiday bundles to happen. Sure, it'll still just be for a small percentage of gamers, but it's still a large enough percentage to make it worthwhile for Microsoft.

Quizmaster - Robert mirrors my line of reasoning best, for 1293 points. If Microsoft had just started out by promoting Kinect as a novelty, they wouldn't be in this situation now, but, as with many things that they initially messed up with the XBOne, they tried to go too far too fast, and it forced them to backtrack at an incredible pace. At this point, it doesn't matter how good or bad of a device it is, but how many initial console sales did it cost Microsoft up to this point.

QUESTION THREE: Well, the day we've been waiting for has long arrived, the Diablo III Auction House is finally absolutely and completely dead. Hey, it only took two years and the complete collapse of the in-game economy, but it's done. Word is that the Reaper of Souls expansion and some huge patches have also helped re-build the game's status among players, but I do have a question. Between Diablo III's issues, the fact that StarCraft II doesn't seem to have made any sort of lasting impression on even die-hard fans, and the long slow decline of WoW (well, from a gigantic behemoth to a slightly smaller but still quite large behemoth, but the decline is there), are we looking at a very near future where the three tentpole franchises of Blizzard, reach the end of their useful lives? And with the complete overhaul of whatever Titan was pushing it back indefinitely, do you have faith in the future of Blizzard?

Todd Vote - Blizzard is going to be just fine. They have become one of those names that a gamer hears and tends to trust what they are doing. There are few names in this industry that have that sort of attention grabbing power. Blizzard, Valve, Kojima, Mario... Those are a few on the very short list of names that will always get a gamers attention. For that reason, unless the next game they release turns out to be absolute crap, they will be just fine. 

Robert Cooper - I do!  Mainly because while their games aren't as big as the ones that came before them, they are still good games that are probably still bringing in money.  They did a good job with fixing all of the issues on Diablo III, though the fact that there were issues in the first place really hurt all of the momentum of the game and turned a lot of people off.  I will admit that I never touched StarCraft II, mainly because I never did beat the first StarCraft, but the reviews were good, and a third expansion is on the way, so I wouldn't count that game as out yet.  WoW is not as big as it was, but it is still a really big game that I could see floating Blizzard for a while.  Though I think they would be in better shape if they had finished StarCraft: Ghost.

Adam Larck - Whenever Blizzard puts something new out, it still sells huge, so I have complete faith in Blizzard's future. All this tells me is that it's time for a new IP from Blizzard, and Project Titan, whatever it is, will be it. That's why they're making sure to polish it the best they can before showing it to wow people and show what their next step in gaming will be.

Quizmaster - Listen, I still love Blizzard, even if I was horribly disappointed with Diablo III. But I am concerned that they're still leaning on the same three franchises. Even Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm are just "all-star" compilations of their properties. Titan may have been a new IP, but at this point, who knows when we'll ever see that. Adam has faith in it, though, so I guess we'll give him 2964 points.

QUESTION FOUR: Apparently UbiSoft courted some controversy around Assassin's Creed Unity over the lack of a playable female character option in the multiplayer parts of the game. Initially, a developer said that the work involved in doing so would have doubled their workload, but that was almost immediately shot down by someone else involved in the game who said it could have been implemented fairly easily. Finally, UbiSoft came out and issued a statement saying that the focus of Unity is intended to be the main character, and so, when you play multiplayer, everyone is actually playing the same person, who happens to be male. Oh, and by the way, previous editions of Assassin's Creed have featured main characters from both genders, as well as a variety of different ethnic backgrounds. I might have been paraphrasing that last part. I'm not saying striving for equality is a bad thing, but was this a time where it got a little blown out of proportion?

Todd Vote - I understand equality as well. To be perfectly honest, I don't really give a shit on what race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, or whether or not my protagonist is handicapped. What I care about is whether or not there is an engaging experience backing up said character. Don't get me wrong, it is good that there are groups out there keeping an eye out for this sort of thing, but in the grand scheme of things, how important is it whether your death-ray toting bad ass is wearing a sports bra or a jock strap? To me personally, the only time it should be mucho important is when the story calls for it. You wouldn't want to play as a pasty white albino, if the plot dictates a character of Native American descent... 

That being said, it is in the developers best interest to offer these sorts of changes to the main characters. Some people relate to different types of characters better than they would others. By diversifying lead characters, you are only opening your game up to be appreciated by a larger base of people. More eyes on your product = more money in your pocket. Why not diversify? It serves three purposes, it gets the watchdog groups off your back about it, it opens your games up to a larger variety of people, and lastly, it gives your company a chance to make more money. Just do it already. 

Robert Cooper - I can see why people are going apeshit about this, because having multiple genders and races in games is kind of a common thing in today's modern times. It is a shame that they don't have these features with the multiplayer, but maybe with all of the pressure from the public, they'll add in some diversity to the multiplayer, and then everyone could be happy.

Adam Larck - I think it did get blown out of proportion here. I'm not saying they couldn't have put one in, because adding one new character model to use wouldn't have been a huge hindrance on resources I think. However, it's not like Ubisoft is not including women just to be spiteful. Ubisoft is just trying to polish what they have right now, and new characters will probably be added in future entries in the series, like they've done in the past.

Quizmaster - Adam reflects my views best, for 4825 points. Listen, I'm not saying we don't all need to work harder on diversity and equality in gaming, because we do and it's going to be a constant struggle to do so. But Assassin's Creed games have always been about one main character, and like I said, past characters have included someone from the Middle East, a woman, a freed slave, and a Native American. Also, a pirate, but that's just an awesome job rather than an ethnic quality. Anyway, UbiSoft is only guilty of letting their people go out without appropriate PR training, and if we can forgive Microsoft for that, I think they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

BONUS QUESTION: Anybody pick anything interesting up during the Steam Summer Sale?

Todd Vote - Nope.

Robert Cooper - I DID! I actually was really annoyed at the fact that none of the games that I really wanted were on sale at low enough prices to make me want them, but I did manage to pick up about 10 games for a bit more than $20.  I've already started playing the bullet hell masterpiece Ikaruga, and it is kicking the shit out of me.  I picked up games like the first two Witcher games, Civilization 3, Tropico 3, and Far Cry 2 that I think will last me quite a while.  I also picked up some really cheap games like Divine Divinity, Super Hexagon (which is really addictive). Startopia, and One Way Heroics that I'm sure will hold me over should I ever get so bored as to play them!  While I do wish that I could have gotten some of my wish list games for cheap when they were on sale, I did manage to get a good haul and I can't wait for the Christmas sale to pick up some more!

Adam Larck - Well, I have been messing around with Goat Sim that I've picked up. Also finally got Papers, Please, which really is a great and easy to understand game for those that haven't tried, although it is a bit dark in it's plot and what you have to do with your family.



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