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Don’t Be Too Optimistic For Google Stadia

Last month, as more information unveiled for the upcoming service via the first Stadia Connect live stream, opinions on its implementation became even more polarized.

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One of the more oddly surprising announcements during this year’s Game Developer’s Conference a few months ago, was none other than Google Stadia. The tech giant’s first significant foray into the gaming realm that promises the best of what a cloud-based gaming platform could do.

However, last month, as more information for the upcoming service unveiled via the first Stadia Connect live stream, opinions on its implementation became even more polarized. A simple YouTube search on Stadia alone will currently yield varying results, depending on how the reviewer perceive the concept of the technology.

Specifically, the announcement on the bandwidth requirements and subscription plans made the service a lot less appealing to those who were already skeptical about it since March.

As announced, connection speeds would have to be at least 10 Mbps to play at 720p resolution, which goes upwards to 20 Mbps and 35 Mbps for 1080p and 4k gaming sessions respectively. Perfectly doable for a regular gaming streamer, or if you have ISPs that provide such speeds reliably. However, not so much for the rest of the world’s gamers.

Most games today with up-to-date graphics are usually played at 1080p resolution. This means that if you want to get the same experience via Google Stadia, you need to have way more than “just” 20 Mbps to account for other devices connected to your local network. Otherwise, you risk losing the precious 60 fps experience that the subscription confidently advertises.

The second issue, aside from the gap between the advertised and the actual practical bandwidth requirement of the service, is the continuous data being streamed as you play. While Google insists otherwise, the risk of consistently reaching your internet data cap quickly than normal while gaming via Stadia is still a real possibility. The issue gets compounded even further if more individual subscribers are connected to the same network.

As for Stadia’s subscription pricing, $10 per month sounds like a relatively good offer. But when it was explained that the majority of its available games will still have to be purchased separately, the deal begins to fall apart.

Keep in mind that games played on Stadia will be saved onto some cloud-based server, away from any hardware that would traditionally let you own the copy of the purchased game.

This essentially makes it inferior at the moment to PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold. With these services, not only do you get to play certain games for free like Stadia, but you also get lots other deals and promos, as well as getting to own the game via data saved onto your physical console. You know, just in case the internet somehow becomes unavailable during your planned gaming sessions.

Which brings us to the last, and possibly the most important concern for Google Stadia: its existence as an online-only service.

Typically, if a game is not an MMO, or is not focused on multiplayer, such online-only availability, will usually never be met with a unanimous positive opinion. This is perhaps best exemplified by the fiasco introduced by Hitman and Hitman 2‘s online-only saves and content. Even as the game was universally praised, it was also in equal parts hated, due to how unnecessary its always-online DRM was perceived compared to its offline playability.

Even potentially riskier is that your data, your game saves, and thus all your progress is also inaccessible locally. Though to be fair, even with Google’s recent major service hiccup, this one would perhaps be of our least concern. At least, if we consider Google’s track record on other data management services thus far.

All in all, this boils down to the issue of Google Stadia being implemented within a system that is not yet ready for it. Countries like Japan, for instance, have already shown that cloud-based gaming is not as bad as it sounds, given a more robust internet infrastructure. Internet speeds will also continue to improve further around the world, even as 5G gets more and more delayed, so the issue of latency will get less and less critical.

Furthermore, supporters of Stadia still maintains the optimism that it could become a literal game changer due to the concept’s presentation of efficiency and convenience. After all, being able to switch platforms on the fly with just one game and one service is — as an idea at least — everything that we time-compromised adult gamers will ever hope to experience.

That being said, a major shift in our current data infrastructure would be heavily required before we start to view its concept — as well as other similar ideas in the future — as something ultimately positive.

Christian is a passionate geek who loves to let everyone know the latest in science and technology. He is also a gamer at heart and is often looking for a balanced compromise that could allow him to present both sides of his interests appreciably.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Xenophase

    July 10, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    Who could possibly be optimistic for this parasitic garbage?

  2. Troy

    July 8, 2019 at 5:06 pm

    This will be Totally out of Some Peoples League… MINE included.

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Gaming

Resident Evil 5 And 6 Invades Nintendo Switch This Fall

A perfect release date for the classic survival horror high-octane action franchise.

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The official Twitter account for Resident Evil gave an update with a message that unveiled the official release date of the previously announced Resident Evil 5 and 6 for the Nintendo Switch.

That initial announcement was made during this year’s E3 when Capcom briefly presented a bunch of different updates concerning the franchise. The short 35-second trailer gave a montage on how the two games are to be visually rendered on the console, with tantalizing teasers on how the Nintendo Switch is set to optimize its co-op play modes.

Details on how exactly the two games would be ported on the Nintendo Switch was understandably quite scant. Even after a month later, there are still no specifics other than the short montage. How it will be released (either as download or as hardware) was not specified either, although it is very unlikely that it will have a ROM cartridge release, at least for North American players.

Perhaps the biggest, and probably obvious catch to this announcement is that unlike Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5 and 6 are fairly centered on co-op mechanics. Both single-player story modes of the two titles require the player to interact with a partner AI or be able to find another player to control either character.

Thus the Nintendo Switch could perhaps be the best game console for both titles, as evidently presented by its E3 2019 teaser trailer.

In Resident Evil 5, this started with Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar. The implementation of the partner AI here was not as perfect. But as it was the first time for the game to implement such a feature, it was quite understandable. Even if getting Wesker to catch live rockets can get quite annoying.

This was vastly improved in Resident Evil 6 when the game not only introduces one pair of characters, but three whole pairs of different characters meant to survive and go through stages of the entire story. Several more commands became available, and its core co-op mechanics became much more integral to the story’s progression compared to Resident Evil 5.

In addition, the AI itself was so much more useful and “competent” in terms of regular combat compared to either Chris or Sheva.

The teaser trailer already showed a split-screen co-op mode, when the Switch is docked, and when it is on Portable Mode. While using Joy-Cons to control either character is already a given default. It is quite questionable how playable it could be when the console’s 6.2-inch screen is split further into two for each player.

Because unlike games such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, where screen estate is evenly split for a two-player mode, the trailer shows the traditional quarter-screen split for the two Resident Evil games. This already pushes it into 4-player Mario Kart territory, which, as we all frustratingly know, definitely needs a lot of squinting if you’re going to do it on Portable Mode.

Even worse if you plan to do it on Lite.

A dual-screen mode would have been perfect for such co-op play, if not for the current technical limitations of the Nintendo Switch. Perhaps sometime in the near future, if Nintendo finally relents and opens such Wii U-esque feature for its users.

Then again, you still have the option to go for classic two-player co-op mode on a bigger screen in Docked Mode.

Both Resident Evil 5 and 6 will be available at the Nintendo eShop with an online retail price tag of $30. In North America however, a more bundled version, featuring Resident Evil 4, 5 and 6 will instead be available as a single product for $60. The release date is officially set on October 29th as per yesterday’s announcement, which makes the purchase just in time for this year’s Halloween.

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‘Detective Pikachu’ Now the Highest Grossing Video Game Movie Of All Time

On just its first few months at the box office.

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Latest numbers have indicated that the recently released movie Detective Pikachu has grossed almost $436 million since its grand worldwide premiere last May 10, 2019. This achievement makes the movie the current record holder for the highest-grossing video game movie of all time.

According to Box Office Mojo, the values were crunched from tallying both its domestic and foreign ticket sales over two months. In the United States alone, it already almost broke even with its $150 million budget by grossing $143 million. Overseas, it managed to add even more at around $286 million during the same time, bringing it around the current total mentioned earlier.

Apart from the United States, Japan, and China, Detective Pikachu also managed to achieve high ticket sales on relatively lesser populated countries such as Argentina ($1.6 million), New Zealand ($1.6 million), Norway ($1.9 million), and Vietnam ($1.5 million). During the opening weekend alone, most of these countries even grossed at almost half the amount of the currently tallied total each respective region.

In the United States, the movie premiered to $20.7 million earnings on the very first day, eventually grossing to $54 million during the next several days. This was just second to highly anticipated Avengers: Endgame, which premiered only a month prior.

The previous contender for the highest-grossing video game film of all time was Warcraft. Premiered in 2016, it earned a total of $47 million in the United States, and $386 million at the international box office, with a total of $433 million worldwide. This is despite having mixed to generally negative reviews from most of its critics.

It is also notable mention that the stated $433 million is the current total since it was premiered three years ago, whereas Detective Pikachu already surpassed it by around $3 million more on its second month.

Detective Pikachu tells the story of former Pokémon trainer Tim Goodman, played by Justice Smith, and the unusually gruff, but very chatty Detective Pikachu, voiced by Ryan Reynolds. Together, they attempt to complete the puzzle surrounding the mysterious circumstances of the apparent death of Tim’s father.

Even before the movie was released, Detective Pikachu has already received a lot of buzz from many different media outlets. The reception was generally positive from a wide variety of audiences, with similar positive reactions from the critics themselves. One of the most praised things about the film is how Pokémon, which are visually designed straight for 2D cartoon-like settings, were able to seamlessly integrate themselves into the real world with just minor tweaks in their overall design.

Ryan Reynold’s performance as the eponymous Detective Pikachu was also highly lauded, as it provided the necessary distinction to an otherwise already generic type of Pokémon within its lore and universe.

Lastly, the movie adaptation was also able to convey an interesting story that stays true to its own franchise. This is as opposed to many, many other failed video game movies that, instead of being treated as directly related titles, were presented with heavy priority on promotion or advertising.

Take note that the term “video game movie” typically refers to derivative, often live-action, adaptations of video game titles that are not meant to be directly canon to the original franchise. For example, the Assassin’s Creed (2016), or the all-time favorite classic Mortal Kombat (1995). This does NOT include extended titles that either developed or continued with the original game.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, for example, is NOT what you typically refer to a “video game movie,” even though technically it is a film directly related to a video game.

So, what does the massive success of Detective Pikachu tells us about the future of video games in the film? As mentioned, movies adapted from game titles have traditionally been panned or reviewed negatively, due to either missing the important core elements of that franchise, or just plain ignoring what the original game really is.

It is hoped that this film should be taken as a good example. A specimen that future video game film executives and producers can look at, in order for them to finally prioritize what a franchise’s long-time dedicated fans would really appreciate.

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Gaming

Young Gamer Spends Almost $4,000 In ‘Hidden Artifacts’ Microtransaction

Apparently on just one single game.

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A BBC report that discussed recent occurrences of overspending in games detailed one particular incident of a mother’s son. This young gamer, as recounted, had spent more than £3,160 (about $4,000) in one game alone, far more than what is ordinarily conceivable for such an entertainment medium.

The game in question was the mobile game Hidden Artifacts. This title is a fairly popular game developed by Blastworks, that is built on the mechanics of tapping sections of an area shown on-screen for clues and information, that would lead you to the next objective.

Hidden Artifacts has a standard microtransaction system that is integrated directly on game (story) progress. This design may or may not ultimately be one of the factors, but the very existence of the system itself did affect the son of Susie Breare, who ended up spending the amount mentioned above, presumably trying to bypass the game’s restrictions, as he casually tried to progress continuously.

His son was reported to be a 22-year old young adult. However, Mrs. Breare explains that he has several different psychological and physiological issues. Among these were cerebral palsy, autism, and several learning disabilities. According to her, he had the cognitive capabilities of a seven-year-old.

She claimed that due to his inability to interact with people regularly, he is far more glued to his iPad and PlayStation for entertainment and education. Hence, his seemingly unnatural obsession for the mobile game app.

The reported amount was said to have been cumulatively spent starting February until March this year, in a span of about a month. The grand sum was claimed to have been equivalent to his son’s entire savings up to that point in his life.

While Apple’s iTunes was entirely receptive to her plight, she managed to “hit a brick wall” when the developer of the game itself is yet to give any form of response to her numerous calls and messages. It is unknown at the moment if the amount spent will ever be refunded.

The issue of microtransactions and questionable additional purchases in games has been one of the most contentious topics in gaming as of late. It spans many issues and problems from various situations, from unsupervised obsessive game spending by children, to whether loot boxes can be considered as a form of gambling.

The problem of compulsive game spending has now escalated to significant heights, that authorities are now trying to crack the case. Many companies such as EA, are currently under fire from legal accusations related to these issues, with their current business practices now generally viewed as unfavorable, even ridiculed to a significant degree by the internet community.

The BBC report itself cited many more cases of people spending too much on certain games. The central themes of these incidences being that gamers with little to no authority (children, people with mental disabilities, etc.) having direct access to financial sources, game transaction systems being too deceptive to let users know how much they are actually spending, or exploiting the very compulsive nature of some people to continue gambling on loot box-type in-game purchases.

As of now, regulations on such practices are currently being considered. However, there is still no definitive action done to mitigate the adverse effects that are happening right now. Even more egregious, is that the very same overspending issues commonly seen in continuous game purchases today are summarily prevented in actual gambling by specific laws.

For the moment, the general hope is to get at least more people to be acutely aware of the issue. In the current absence of regulations for these business practices, being vigilant about how you spend in-game, or how you provide access to pay, will be essential to prevent being the next game overspending victim.

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