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 411mania » Games » Columns

Four Player Co-op 07.16.14: Mighty No 9, Vita, Homefront, More
Posted by Stephen Randle on 07.16.2014

Mathew Sforcina has joined the game.
Todd Vote has joined the game.
Sean Garmer has joined the game.
Jeremy Thomas has joined the game.

Quizmaster Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Four Player Co-op, the game where I talk about my daily coverage of the DOTA 2 International, and then we move on to something less important. But seriously, check out my coverage, I put a non-zero amount of work into it.

Start the game!

QUESTION ONE: The creators of Kickstarter-funded game Mighty Number 9, which took in over four million dollars (the original goal was 900K), have posted another, separate crowd-funding initiative, the first goal of which is the addition of English and Japanese voice acting. The amount they're asking for? Two hundred thousand dollars. Call me crazy, but I'm pretty sure some sort of double-dipping rule applies here, don't you?

Mathew Sforcina - Well to be fair I can see both sides here. Certainly it seems a little dodgy to take in money and then ask for me, I can see how that totally appears as dishonest and unfair. But, thing is, if you crowd source and then you realise you need more money to do something, what other option do you have? If Developer X had bought the rights to this game, the team would be currently going to them and saying 'We need to up the budget projections to add voice acting' and after getting chewed out a little they'd get it. But here, they have to go back to the well and ask the great unwashed masses for more money. And it's not like they are saying 'if we don't get this the game isn't being made', it's an added feature the original budget didn't cover. The fact that 4 Million can't cover this is the real issue, and that goes far deeper into the issues with game development in today's market, but that's not exclusive to this game...

Todd Vote - It is pretty outrageous that the original goal to make the game was 900K, and that pulling in over 4 million dollars isn't enough to pay English and Japanese voice actors. Can't they just use some of the extra $3.1 million they have laying around from the initial Kickstarter (kidding, I know it went to making different versions of the game and adding content)? The real question here, if you ask me, is what language were they planning on using for the game? Swahili? Aramaic? If they need more money to add English and Japanese, what is the default? Maybe there should be some limit on separate Kickstarter's for the same project. I know if I am one of the people who helped them reach the $4M, I'm wanting to know what exactly all of that is going to.

Sean Garmer - If this was a RPG or even another type of game that was story heavy, I would agree with you completely Quizmaster. However, this is essentially a Mega Man game without the name slapped on it, so does the game really need voice acting to succeed? Not at all. It is essentially a bonus, and not something that they need to spend any of the four million to add into the game. We are not in game development and I think it would be unfair to say that we know it won't take every bit of the money given in the kickstarter to make the game. Until someone comes out and says "hey we only used 3.5 Million and we put the other million or so into development for another game" we won't really know if they did need an extra 200K to add in voice acting or not. I'd love to have voice acting in the game, but I don't think they are cheating people out of anything. In a way the developers are double dipping, but it is not double dipping in the same way that saying "hey we exhausted our initial amount, give us more please."

Jeremy Thomas - That's a little sketchy, but as long as they're up front about it (and they moderatly are from what I can tell), this isn't deceitful. I wouldn't donate extra money to it, but granted I didn't donate any money to the original Kickstarter campaign either. Is it a bit greedy? Maybe, especially considering how much over the bar they hit with the Kickstarter. But as long as they deliver on all the promises from those stretch goals AND add the English and Japanese voice acting then no one is getting robbed.

Quizmaster - Before we go any further, I recognize that even by making 4 million dollars, that's only a fraction of the cost of actually making a video game. With that said, even if it's just for little frivolities like adding voice acting to a game that doesn't particularly need them, I don't think you should go back to the crowd-funding well for a second time. I guess Sforcina is right, for 538 points, we're still getting the game regardless, it just won't get the extra stuff if they fail at this new initiative (and it seems likely that it will).

QUESTION TWO: Last time we discussed Microsoft's peculiar beliefs that Kinect is doing fine, this time we'll look at Sony's personal money sink, the Vita, which the company says there is a "healthy consumer demand" for, especially in the wake of the PS4 release, which has several cross-platform compatibility options with Sony's handheld. Although, they haven't released sales numbers for the Vita for quite a long while. So, which do you think will sell more units by the end of the year, the Vita, or the now-solo Kinect?

Mathew Sforcina - Well to be fair I can see both sides here. On one hand, the Kinect is cheaper. On the other, the Vita has games exclusive to it as well as other features. On the other hand, the Kinect is sorta required for some games, while the Vita's cross platform stuff is basically just the same as Xbox's Smartglass app which can go on anything. Vita games look wonderful and that's part of the problem. Kinect has a lot of potential and as soon as anyone can use that it'll be great, just you wait, no seriously you guys, please. Both of them have flaws and very stupid decisions made about them higher up, but in the end, I think Kinect will win solely for the fact that there will be a small, dedicated userbase that buys the Kinect in order to do weird stuff with it. Vita's just an overpriced too-powerful-for-its-own-good handheld. So Kinect will win. Just.

Todd Vote - So we are going to discuss Sony's money sink... By opening and closing the question with Microsoft related words? Interesting approach. The answer is super easy... Vita will sell more. We know absolutely nothing about the solo Kinect. Last I read, they weren't even announcing a price point yet. So with just over 5 months left in the year, and considering a solo version of Kinect isn't even on the market yet for the XBOne, obviously the Vita is going to sell better. Vita will probably also sell better than The Last Guardian does through the rest of the year, too. Can't really answer this question until the standalone Kinect is available, Magic 8-Ball says to ask again later.

Sean Garmer - I'm gonna go ahead and say Vita hands down. Vita has games that come out for it, you can use it as a portable device for PS4 games, it will be able to play Playstation NOW titles, and it has the PS1 classics and all that as well. The kinect is great, if you like having a hands free device in your living room, but very few developers other than Harmonix, have really shown that they are truly interested in making games for the Kinect. When people buy a Vita, people wind up loving their Vita, it has almost I think like a 3 or 4 attach rate. This means most people that own a Vita have bought that many games for it. How many people go around wanting to buy anything for the Kinect? I think that answers your question.

Jeremy Thomas - I know I'm the guy who defends the Kinect--which is ironic considering I am generally opposed to extraneous peripherals and think most of them are too gimmicky. (The difference is that I think the Kinect is pretty well-integrated, particularly on the Xbox One.) But yes, the Vita will definitely sell more units. The simple fact of it is that it functions not just as a peripheral for the PS4, but as its own system. No one's going to buy a Kinect without having the main console it is intended for, while people will do so for the Vita. I don't think that the two can be compared in an apples-to-apples way, but if you do the sales edge will go to the thing that can function independently from it's console.

Quizmaster - Todd, it's called a segue, okay? Anyway, I am actually surprised and pleased that we didn't get a unanimous decision, because frankly, both the Kinect and the Vita deserve to fail for different reasons, since they were both poorly planned, poorly designed, and poorly marketed peripherals that didn't really need to exist. By the way, Microsoft has announced that the PC Kinect will cost $200, but that one is more of a dev kit than a game peripheral. Jeremy and Sean split 1754 points, because I agree, Vita's likely to come out ahead, even if Sony might never release the numbers.

QUESTION THREE: There are reports that the game director of Crytek's upcoming Homefront: The Revolution game has resigned from the company. This comes on the heels of another 30 people who have left the same project since it began development in 2011, and rumours that the company may be headed towards bankruptcy. Which would probably be ironic, since they purchased the rights to Homefront from the THQ bankruptcy auction in the first place. Is this game worth being part of putting two separate developers under? Do any of you even want another Homefront game?

Mathew Sforcina - Well to be fair I can see both sides here. A game under development that may well lead to two different developers going under is not a good look, and given that it's a fairly generic FPS series that is most famous for doing a last second switch of villain so as to not offend a country with a very high piracy rate and instead get blacklisted by one of the most solid gaming countries on the planet, it does look like it's a kiss of death. But then to blame THQ going under on Homefront is a bit like saying the problem with the Titanic was that the carpets got damp. And consider Irrational Games, a developer that produced the best game of 2013 (*awaits telling off from Gamemaster and/or comment section*) and two of the most iconic games of the modern era as well, could go under, we're back to the problem of the system as a whole, rather than any of the specific players. But then, never played Homefront myself, so maybe it really does suck that bad...

Todd Vote - I don't even remember the last Homefront game... Didn't that have James Franco and Jason Statham in it? Oh, they are unrelated? Okay, I do vaguely remember the first Homefront game, it was the alternate reality timeline that had like a Red Dawn thing going on or something right? I remember playing with the demo for a few minutes and not really seeing anything special about it. So no, I guess I don't care either way about a new Homefront game... I hardly think this one property is the reason for THQ going under, or the reason Crytek is having trouble now. Though, perhaps they should have reconsidered buying the property if they were having financial problems.

Sean Garmer - If it truly is very near completion, then why not just go ahead and finish it? There may be people that buy the game or even rent it because of all the controversy and stuff that has been happening at Crytek. At this point, I almost want to buy the game just to help all those people that worked on it and had to quit. I personally didn't care for Homefront until this happened, now I'm paying attention to every story that comes out about Crytek because of this sad situation.

Jeremy Thomas - I didn't have a huge love for Homefront anyway, so no I'm not that interested in a new entry. That being said, if these companies were going to go under it didn't need any help from Homeland to do so. THQ's problems were far and above that of one game and Crytek has other issues as well. Frankly, if they're willing to develop a game to the point of their company's demise, they probably should go into bankruptcy in some sort of corporate Darwinism. No skin off my ass; I won't complain if we don't get another entry in the Ryse: Son of Rome series.

Quizmaster - Todd gets 2935 points for referencing a movie that nobody ever saw. Which is odd, given that it does indeed star Statham and Franco. I'm not saying Homefront is going to be responsible for both THQ and Crytek going under, but would you pick up the title at Crytek's bankruptcy sale, knowing what happened to the last two companies to own it?

QUESTION FOUR: And Amazon is in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission over little things like not taking enough steps to prevent children from making in-app purchases without parental consent, or having adequate refund policies related to the same problem. The last company the FTC went after for the same issue, a little operation called Apple, decided to pay out over $30 million in refunds rather than fight the FTC in court, but Amazon is apparently going to take their chances. And now it's time to play a game I like to call, pick a winner between the multinational corporation or the government organization. The first person to say "no matter who wins, we lose", gets struck sharply with a blunt object.

Mathew Sforcina - Well to be fair I can see both sides here. I mean, the interplay of multi-national companies and governmental agencies is something that, while it does impact us lowly consumers on a regular basis, we have about as much control over that as we do over the magnetic poles switching at some point in the next few thousand years. And while I do think Amazon's system is not acceptable, I think a lot that goes on in the world is unacceptable. I suspect that Amazon will lose this one or at least will end up paying up something, but then I suspected the US Supreme Court wouldn't say businesses could have a religious stance but here we are...

Todd Vote - No matter who wins, we lose. Bring it, Quiz-Man! In all seriousness, Amazon may be wise to follow Apple's path here and just pay. I mean if you go to court over something like this, I think you lose. Then, not only are you stuck paying out all that money anyways, but you also have to pay what I can only assume is a shit-load of legal fees on top of it. Can't they put some sort of "kids mode" button on tablets that the parents can click to prevent something like this from happening?

Sean Garmer - Somehow, even though Amazon would have a case by saying "if you let your children play with your phone or tablet and you keep your credit card information stored, that's on you." The Federal Trade Commission would win out because it would say that more could be done or whatever. It is just what happens, the government has to protect parents from being dumb. I have a 3 year old, who knows how to play with a phone. I purposely do not keep any of my card information stored on my phone to protect myself, but also so that if she starts playing with an app like amazon, or ebay, or whatever, she doesn't buy something by accident. It can be easy to see that they are playing and then go on doing something else and not think about it. So, just remove the possibilities and be done with it. It really is not that hard honestly. The few extra seconds it will take to log into paypal or to input your credit card info into Amazon will be worth it in the long run.

Jeremy Thomas - Amazon is a little full of themselves here, aren't they? Sorry, but I've got a Kindle Fire HDX and I know just how easy it is to do in-app purchases. I've never made an accidental one, but it's so very easy to buy shit off of the Kindle that I've paid for books I probably wouldn't have otherwise done, and I'm a thirty-seven year-old. Amazon needs better protection from kids and while I've always had good customer service when I've had to contact them on most things, their refund policies on digital purchases is shit. They're gonna get their asses handed to them on this one.

Quizmaster - All right, that's it.

Any more smart asses want to try me?

BONUS QUESTION: Okay, so Sony will be releasing a limited edition PS4 in Japan only decorated with scenes from the movie Frozen. You may either talk about why this is the only PS4 anyone should ever want to own, or discuss why it is that you are dead inside and can never feel joy because you can't appreciate how awesome Frozen is.

Mathew Sforcina - Well to be fair I can see both sides here. I totally understand that Frozen is very popular and I appreciate how it and Maleficent and Disney's 21st century divisions appear to be working hard on taking on the 20th century Disney output and pointing out all the flaws and telling a new generation how wrong they are. But on the other hand, I haven't seen Frozen (the only children that are any close to my family or friends circles are not yet one) and I have no intention on ever getting a PS4 unless it's free or they announce that Fallout 4 is exclusive to it. A bunch of snowflakes won't convince me otherwise. Although if Japan gets a Fire Pro game maybe...

Todd Vote - Funny.. Just watched the movie for the first time with my nephew Sunday night.. Once I came to the realization that the movie is not about Olaf the snowman, as the commercials lead me to believe, it settled into a great movie. The best part about the film is being asked to pause it so the kid can use the bathroom, then hearing "Let it Go" blasting out under the bathroom door. He was letting it go, so I suppose it was fitting. Anyways, Frozen PS4... I'm sure this will get a US release at some point, right? Does anything completely awesome like this ever stay exclusive to a region?

Sean Garmer - My daughter LOVES Frozen, she has Frozen shoes, she has a Frozen poster, she has a stuffed Olaf plushie, and of course I've had to watch the Frozen Blu-Ray I don't know how many times. I love Frozen too and it is one of the best Disney movies of all-time. It has some of the catchiest songs Disney has made in a while, probably since Lion King, and the setting is awesome, the story is great, and most of all you have to love the characters. I would totally buy a Frozen PS4, but I'd worry that my daughter, who I have taught well not to touch daddy's electronics, would be all over my PS4 pressing buttons.

Jeremy Thomas - Anyone who doesn't get the awesomeness of Frozen is someone I can't reason with, so instead I'll just leave this here for us to enjoy.



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