Monday, May 13, 2024

Can Prime Video, “Fallout,” help Bethesda rebound?





By Willie Jefferson Jr.

THE HOUSTON GAMER


THE STARS HAVE BEEN ALIGNING for Bethesda Softworks as of recently. The trademark video game franchise has gotten a huge boost from the wildly popular Amazon Prime Video series, “Fallout.”  The software publisher recently released a next-gen patch for the game, “Fallout 4,” which ushers in a tremendous boom for Sony PlayStation 5 owners, as well as Xbox Series owners, too.

And let’s not overlook the overnight price increases of used copies of their nine-year-old video game.


Several gamers (and nongamers) are mesmerized by the alt version of 1950s Earth and want you to explore the ruins of Terra in the first-person shooter. Retail copies of the game on PlayStation 4 have tripled and could climb higher. Xbox One versions have doubled in price.


With the overwhelming success of the streaming series first season, you better believe a sequel is likely green-lit for production. And with the next-gen patch for current-gen consoles, as well as steady climbing prices for used copies of the game, the real question on gamers minds is: What’s next, Bethesda?



















Ever since Bethesda Softworks was acquired by Microsoft, some of their newest releases have had lackluster launches, and have resulted in studio closures at Arcane Studios Austin, and a few others.


“Redfall,” a vampire shooter from Arcane Studios (of the “Dishonored” fame) definitely did fall right out of the gate. Highly anticipated “Starfield” failed to meet initial expectations but has rebounded. Rhythm puzzler “Hi-Fi Rush” was a surprise and something Bethesda wasn’t used to releasing but did an amazing job on.


Unless there’s another surprise video game or IPO lurking like those super-sized roaches in “Fallout 4,” the next big title *should* be “Indiana Jones and the Great Circle,” releasing later this year or in 2025.














However, with renewed interest in “Fallout,” Bethesda could be considering a full 4K remaster or release for old and new fans. It would be an easy cash grab for MS and Bethesda, and an even bigger chance to unload tons of swag from the game on display in “Fallout” streaming services. (Who wants to bless me with a bobblehead Vault Boy? Black, Negro, please 🙌🏾🙏🏾)


Plus, there’s “Fallout 5” somewhere on the horizon, too. By that time, will the masses still have “Fallout” fever, or want to look to the skies, maybe at a “Starfield?”


Here’s hoping. 


Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Is the VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY in a FLAT SPIN? Part 3: CONSUMERS





In PART 3 of the series, “Is the video game industry in a flat spin?,”  Willie Jefferson DISCUSSES how the CONSUMERS failed to ROAST the industry’s QUESTIONABLE practices.


BY WILLIE JEFFERSON JR.

THE HOUSTON GAMER

 

Since the DAWN of time, we the consumers have held the power of the purse. Without coins, companies shutter. Without revenue, industries fold.

Yet, the video game industry consistently shovels out video games, bloated with micro transactions and unpolished products, yet will charge $70.


The OG hip hop producer, Timbaland, said on the track, “Beep, Beep,” 

“All I have to do is talk on this track; you’d still go out and buy it.”


Some brands - especially Sony - can release anything and expect consumers to buy it. And like clockwork, here come the consumers.


Here are a handful of consumer practices that have enabled the video game industry to focus on profit and shareholders, not consumers.


  1. Consumers will buy/pay arms and legs for a new console, Day 1. Or to buy consoles just to flip them.
  2. Consumers have the money to make companies listen, but refuse to. Boycott a game, accessories and lackluster consoles, companies will listen. But, we want things now.
  3. We are gladly flocking away from physical media but pay full price for a digital file and can be downloaded millions of times.
  4. Refused to demand companies start allowing third-party competitors make cheaper alternatives (hard drives, controllers)
  5. Brand loyalty. You prefer a brand over another. Yet, consumers will gladly pay for a buy trash because it has a company logo. When we stand up, companies will listen.
  6. Buy new console - and all new software. We need companies to allow us to play older gen games instead of having to rebuy games, or have to keep older consoles around.






Friday, March 22, 2024

Is the VIDEO GANE INDUSTRY in a FLAT SIN? Part 2 - THE MEDIAON YOUTUBE:

Is the VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY in a FLAT SPIN? Part 2 - THE MEDIA









The writing has been on the wall that the world of video games was headed for trouble. Lackluster releases, low sales figures and studio closures, layoffs and shakeups were present, but oft overlooked by media types. Here’s why.

By WILLIE JEFFERSON, JR., THE HOUSTON GAMER

Gamers knew it. The video game industry knew it. Even Wall Street knew it. And yes, the media knew trouble was looming on the horizon for video games. Yet, most journalists ignored, glossed over and even, turned a blind eye to what was really going on.

As studios close, layoff staff and cancel games, many saw the signs, but seem to be caught off guard.










Here are a few reasons the media failed to report the steady decline of the video game industry.

  1. The media is way too close to video game companies. Publishers, parent companies often dole out a ton of swag, game-inspired freebies and all-expense paid trips to some pretty epic locales prior to a game’s release. I’ve been in magnificent hotel suites in the heart of NYC, The Ciry (San Francisco) multiple times. Limo rides - the driver holds a sign with your name on it at the airport - and chauffeurs you to your plush accommodations. Journalists are treated to some amazing perks. The attendant can influence journalists from being truthful, but compelled to give comments and games great scores for sub-par video games.
  2. Troubling signs known, but not reported. We become friends, on a first-name basis with devs, our PR handlers, and even top executives. Trust me, top-tier journalists have access to scoops, even personal calls/texts most media types don’t. Due to their relationships, some do not want to say anything negative, out of fear of losing games/consoles/accessories.
  3. Relying too much on AI. AI is quick, and can reduce a staff to a skeleton crew. But, it lacks heart and passion. It’s dry and makes reporters lazy. While it may take a staff weeks, if not months to properly research and do a story, AI aggregates numerous stories that may or may not be true.
  4. Reviewers/influencers are posing as journalists. Journalists abide by ethical standards. They attended J-School and understand how to construct stories. They understand libel and know how to research and not take a tweet or hearsay without proper research. Influencers, content creators don’t adhere to the code of ethics to always report the truth. We journalists aren’t fishing for views and clicks; we are compelled to inform accurate, truthful and factual information, whether good or bad.
  5. Honesty. Be truthful, and exercise care. You receive a code for a terrible, broken game. You know it’s trash. Instead of posting a review, reach out to the PR representative for clarity. Being truthful is what increases your credibility. Once, a ci-worker was designing her news page and read through a story about a stabbing at a bar. She soon realized the suspect accused of the stabbing was her dad! She had amazing design skills, but was not a journalist. She literally held the news story hostage for a couple hours, until my slot editor made a copy of the story, slapped it on the page and published it. We journalists are not called to be on a company or games’ team. We have to tell the truth about the industry, good, bad or ugly. 














The media failed that standard. If a controller looks cool but tends to suffer stick drift, tell your PR representative, but tell the truth. If the game will need a Day 1 patch, report it. Holding back news that can impact consumers’ purchases is costly to their wallets, and the media’s credibility.


Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Is the VIDEO GAME INDUSTRY in a FLAT SPIN. Part 1: THE GAMING INDUSTRY

Several factors, including studio closures, layoffs and underperforming AAA games, have contributed to the industry’s missteps



By WILLIE JEFFERSON,

HOUSTON GAMER


WE’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE, folks. Gamers have had their share of rides on the video game hype train, numerous video game studio acquisitions and Day 1 patches for AAA games. It’s par the course for young gamers, who grew up with microtransactions, multiplayer matches and broken games at release.


However, the video game industry woes feel different this time.

The latest series of troubles are very similar to the epic video game crash of 1983.


Yes, you’d think an event so tragic for video games would give everyone connected to the industry pause. Those near-fatal mistakes should be feared and never repeated.






















Yet, here we are. Again.


These are a few contributing factors that have caused the industry’s series of setbacks



















  1. Mergers / acquisitions: The negative effect of mergers is that it reduces competition and will lead to continued job losses. The high price of acquisitions will most definitely lead to further layoffs.

  2. What’s trending?! The industry chased trends and fell flat. The Nintendo Wii motion controls were chased by Sony’s PS Move, Microsoft had the Kinect. Nintendo’s Gameboy had several portable imitators including Atari’s Lynx, Sega’s Game Gear and Nomad, Sony’s PSP and the PS Vita. Instead of learning from their wounds, Sony recently released the PlayStation Portal, a portable controller attached to a small LED screen. The device requires the Internet, but can’t use cellular data. It can’t access WiFi and hotspots, because it doesn’t have a browser.
  3. Industry lacked vision: The industry  earned billions with their games, micro transactions and digital content, but did not invest back into new IPs and games that were struggling in development. They should have used their profits on adding more staff to polish titles before release, and help teams in need of support.
  4. Poor quality-control issues: Half-baked games at release, Day 1 patches on certain games. Years ago, before the evolution of the Internet, titles were released ready to go. Devs and publishers knew they had to have their games ready to go, no matter what. Now? Many games, even AAA titles that are glorified betas, are sold at full sticker prices.
  5. Live-service mirage: Video games devs, publishers are leaning too heavily on live-service games. Not every studio, developer and publisher can be Rockstar Games or Epic Games. The industry shouldn’t  follow trends. If the industry wants to have live-service games, hire/assign a small team focused on developing and maintaining that game(s).
  6. The customer is ALWAYS RIGHT: The video game industry has been inconsistent on giving fans what they want. Fans beg for epic sequels, only to get truckloads of "shovelware". Sadly, it’s not for consumers, but to meet stakeholders' expectations and market-watchers projections. Great games take time. Even then, it’s a gamble. It is possible to crank out great games on low budgets - Ghost of Tsushima for the Sony PlayStation 4 and 5 - and make catalogs diverse. Give gamers a reason to stay in your console’s ecosystem, game franchises.