This Week in Games
DualSense... tingling!

by Heidi Kemps,

Hi folks. Let me talk a bit upfront about something important to me. As you've probably heard, a state of emergency was declared for several Japanese prefectures earlier this week. While stopping short of the stay-at-home orders going in in several US states and European countries right now, the government has asked a lot of businesses to close for public safety's sake, including arcades.

Japanese arcades have been suffering a lot in the past decade-and-a-half: revenues and foot traffic are down, and hundreds of locations have permanently closed as the country's gaming habits have shifted to mobile platforms. Add a serious pandemic into these already adverse conditions, and it's a recipe for financial ruin. The big, flashy arcades – Taito Stations, Sega Worlds, and Round 1s – will likely weather this due to having the backing of big companies behind them. It's the independently operated arcades – who usually cater to specific gaming communities – that are really going to be left hurting, and they're reaching out for help from dedicated players and fans online.

Some arcades are doing drives on crowdfunding or Patreon-like services that are, unfortunately, difficult to use overseas. Others, however, can be supported through subscriptions on NicoNico Douga or through services like StreamLabs. If you've ever watched a cool arcade game stream from Japan, now's the time to try and look up the arcade that put on via Twitch, Twitter, or Nico Nico and show your appreciation. Yes, I know it's not easy -- especially since most information is in Japanese -- but believe me, they definitely appreciate any support you can give.

THE PLAYSTATION 5 CONTROLLER IS REVEALED TO THE WORLD

Sony's slow rollout of PlayStation 5 details continues, getting gaming fans worked up as more and more information is drip-fed to us to maintain consistent hype levels. While we still haven't seen the system's case design, we do have something that hints at the overall aesthetic Sony is going for. Yes, it's time to meet the PS5's official controller, the DualSense!

It's shiny! It's two-toned! It has built-in microphones, advanced haptic feedback (or, in layman's terms, “rumble”), and adaptive trigger resistance for additional realism! It still has that touch panel section in the center nobody really likes! It replaces the Share button with a Create button, which seems generally the same function-wise but has a more flowery, “empowering” buzzword attached to it! DUALSENSE!!!

Okay, I'm being a smidge sarcastic here, but overall, I don't find anything terribly surprising about this controller. It's basically an evolution of the DualShocks we've become used to over the years with a slightly adjusted form factor and a handful of tech improvements that don't change how we'll play too much. I do like the shape of the controller a lot, but ughhh, why can't Sony make a decent D-Pad for a change? Hard, clear plastic with segmented directions makes my thumb weep.

This image concerns me a little, too – the action buttons seem set fairly deep into the controller, which likely means they don't have a lot of give to them. When you're doing fevered, rapid button presses in action games, you really do want buttons that can sink a ways in before they stop, for the sake of your thumbs. I dunno, I just feel like this controller was designed for shooty-games primarily, with everything else a bit of an afterthought.

Oh well. Despite my misgivings about it, one thing's for sure: it's a far cry from that awful, awful PS3 controller prototype. Remember this thing?

There was this great flash animation ages ago featuring this controller in various funny photoshops to the tune of a sped-up Bananaphone that I remember quite vividly. Alas, I'm sure that's one of those bits of Internet ephemera that is now permanently lost.

THINGS ARE GETTING UNSURPRISINGLY (BUT DISAPPOINTINGLY) DELAYED

It's pretty easy to shift to remote-working from home when you're involved in game development. Yes, you still have to likely deal with horrific crunch and your job being in jeopardy because some executive decided your million-selling game still wasn't profitable enough, but, uh… at least when a pandemic comes, you can still adapt? Yeah, I'm hoping this whole COVID-19 thing will result in some changes to the game development pipeline, but I'm not terribly optimistic…

Unfortunately, there's more to getting a game out to the public than just submitting a gold master and waiting for the checks to roll in. You have quality and certification checks from the console manufacturers, local ratings board submissions, manufacturing of discs and game cards, getting all those packages where they need to go – all processes that have been hampered by what's happening on a global scale, with many submissions backlogged, retail stores closed, and logistics services dealing with tremendous parcel volumes.

Late last week, Naughty Dog posted a notice that The Last of Us Part II was almost done, but was being delayed due to “logistics issues,” as in “we want to make sure this is a global simultaneous release so some obnoxious dinguses online aren't going to spoil everything for those whose Amazon preorder is held up.”

Of course, this begs the question “why not just do a digital-only release for now?” Well, besides the fact that hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of TLoUS preorders are already tied up with brick-and-mortar retailers, shifting a major release like this to digital is a surefire way to piss off the big box retailers who push your hardware, which is not something you want to do when you're gearing up to launch a new console later in the year. This isn't the only Sony-published game getting an indefinite delay – Iron Man VR has been hit as well – but it's certainly the most prolific, and it likely won't be the only one of 2020's AAA games to be hit.

Meanwhile, across the Pacific, an entirely different roadblock to getting games published has emerged.

CERO, for those unaware, is the Japanese game ratings board, equivalent to North America's ESRB or Europe's PEGI. Console manufacturers don't allow games a release in Japan without a CERO rating, so for the next month or so everyone who wants to submit a game for approval is out of luck. Ratings are usually done a few months before release, so this is likely to affect games due out in summer-fall of this year. While rather unlikely, this could have an effect on North American and EU game release dates, as simultaneous worldwide launches for tentpole titles are increasingly common. Let's hope for the best.

SURPRISE SURPRISE, E3 IS DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING THIS YEAR

When E3 announced that it was canceling its 2020 event, the organizers floated around the idea of doing some sort of digital event in its place to appease millions of disappointed gamers eager for scripted gameplay demos and celebrity cameos. After (likely) coming to the realization that putting on a digital E3 showcase would prove to exhibitors how much less expensive and more beneficial moving to a streaming-focused event would be, they quickly put the kibosh on that idea. Don't forget to secure your booth for E3 2021, though, they've (supposedly) already got dates!

Oh, but they're going to “be working with exhibitors to promote and showcase individual company announcements,” which probably means retweeting a press conference or Nintendo Direct on Twitter. I sincerely doubt they want to do anything to help smaller developers and publishers set up announcement streams. Have I mentioned that the E3 organization is a big sloppy mess that exists for the benefit of nobody yet? Because I just want to make that very clear – they're more interested in making sure there's a lavish event next year than doing anything for the benefit of publishers or consumers this year. It makes me upset, and you should be too.

Anyhow, look forward to E3 2021, assuming all of the exhibitors don't leave in disgust!

Jeez, I'm extra snarky this week. I think all of this staying at home is starting to get to me. Well, at least my gaming's going well -- P5 Royal is almost done, and my island in Animal Crossing is coming together nicely. Personally, I don't have plans to play FF7 Remake right away, but I'm sure plenty of you are eagerly counting down the hours until the game drops on PSN tonight. Are you worried about any more big games getting delayed, or are you comfortable playing through your current backlog for a while? Join us in the forums to talk about all the news and new releases, but know that unmarked FF7R spoilers will be deleted on sight, so don't try to be a jerk. See you all again next week!


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