This Week in Games
by Heidi Kemps,
What's up, y'all? I heard Apex Legends got taken down for a day by angry Titanfall fans. Being mad about your game's support being de-prioritized in favor of something more popular is one thing, but throwing a big temper-tantrum and ruining the holiday weekend for developers and hundreds of thousands of players? Extremely not cool. I hope the guys who pulled this stunt get some lawyers knocking at their door.
Anyhow, I just finished watching Sony's State of Play. Sure was a lot of Deathloop, huh? Nothing brand new got announced there, but we did get a couple trailers for some games the ANN audience is hotly anticipating. First up, Demon Slayer: The Hinokami Chronicles, CyberConnect2's new arena fighter based on the absurdly popular anime series:
Also, Lost Judgment, which looks better and better the more I see of it:
Finally, more Death Stranding Director's Cut:
Well, those were nice to see. But Sony's State of Play in general has felt rather underwhelming when you compare it to the likes of Nintendo Direct. There was that one time they dropped a new FFVII Remake trailer when that game had been silent for years, and since then it's been kind of… unexciting? Mostly footage of stuff we already know is coming, and not much in the way of announcements or teasers for things that have been kept under wraps. Compare that to Nintendo, who brings a boxful of microphones to drop with every Direct they do, and it feels like Sony hasn't quite gotten the hang of this streaming event thing yet.
Well, speaking of Nintendo, we were all left wondering why they didn't announce the Switch Pro around E3 time. This week, we learned why. It turns out the Switch Pro isn't what we all had hoped.
SWITCH OLED? MORE LIKE SWITCH OLETDOWN, AM I RIGHT?
After literal years of rumor and speculation, Nintendo has finally announced the upgraded Switch model: the Switch OLED! Oh my goodness, look at the bright, beautiful, ever-so-slightly-bigger screen!
So, this is the rumored Switch Pro, right? Tell us about the other upgrades, Nintendo!
Erm… 4K mode when docked? No? Faster processor or GPU? None of that either? Oh, 64GB of storage! Wait, I thought we were getting 128GB? No extra RAM either? Then what is improved about this thing? Oh, the dock has an inbuilt LAN port. And the kickstand is better. That's… great. So how much is it?
$350? And you're not lowering the price of the other Switch models?
Man, the disappointment when the news of the Switch OLED hit earlier this week was omnipresent. We'd been hearing rumors and leaks and getting spec from all of these very credible sources… and the only rumored element that's in the actual product is the big OLED screen. Lots of folks, myself included, were fully prepared to drop some cash on an upgraded Switch model, but with the only significant improvement being a better screen for handheld mode, many are opting to pass. Hell, I pretty much play exclusively in handheld mode and this definitely isn't enough to pry my wallet open again.
Of course, after realizing that the Switch Pro was more Switch Premium, Nintendo fans were momentarily upset. Then they realized that they weren't obligated to buy the Switch OLED and that there are still tons of fantastic games coming to the Switch, so it didn't really matter. Ha ha, just kidding! They sent lots of vitriolic messages to Nintendo social media and spammed the people who reported on the rumors, because that's social media, baby!
Here's the thing, though: those insider reports and specs that were reported on may have been correct. Nintendo may well have been proceeding with a more powerful Switch Pro model in the works. Hell, they still might be! But for whatever reason, Nintendo decided not to go through with it right now, or something prevented them from doing it.
This sort of thing happens all the time in business: seemingly sure things that get rumored and leaked are suddenly axed due to any number of reasons. And it definitely happens a lot in the game industry! (And the anime industry as well, for that matter!) I'll tell you all an anecdote about my own experience with this: Years ago, I heard about a planned remaster/localization of a game in a well-loved series with an installment with a Very Conspiciously missing Western release. This news came from a very official source, too. In the end, it never materialized, and I have absolutely no idea what happened, nor will I probably ever know.
So yes, sometimes plans are made and almost ready to go, but something prevents it from happening at the last minute. This is why game companies keep things under wraps: so that when this sort of thing happens, people won't be disappointed. What you don't know won't make you rage on Twitter when it doesn't happen.
Still, if the leaks were valid and Nintendo was planning a more substantially improved Switch model, what would have made them change their mind? Well, there are two big variables right now: the ongoing global situation with COVID (Tokyo just declared a State of Emergency, again) and the chip shortage that's made supplies of the PS5 and the Xbox Series systems so difficult to obtain. It's not a particularly great time to be launching a substantially redesigned piece of electronic gaming equipment. And with the regular Switch hardware still selling so well, why fix what doesn't seem to be broken?
Like I said above, the existence of the Switch OLED doesn't mean a more powerful Switch model is forever off the cards, but if one happens it probably won't emerge until next year at the earliest. I think that by 2023 something along the lines of a Switch Pro will be sorely needed, since we're seeing some games come out that are really struggling: Disgaea 6 apparently has some performance issues, and Ys IX Monstrum Nox… hoo boy.
Here's the result of no Switch pro pic.twitter.com/dtsvn2yOyS— Giuseppe Andrea Vecchio (@giuseppevecchio) July 7, 2021
KING OF FIGHTERS XV FINALLY GETS A PUBLISHER AND PLATFORMS
How long have we been seeing trailers for King of Fighters XV without even knowing what platforms it was going to release on? It seems like an eternity… even though it hasn't really been all that long. That's the pandemic time-distortion effect in action! But at long last, we now know the consoles where we will be battling with our rosters of SNK all-stars. Drumroll please!
It's… all of the platforms you probably expected! TA-DA!
Koch Media & SNK Corporation, the Japanese video game developer & publisher, announced their partnership for the release of The King of Fighters XV, the upcoming addition to the fighting game franchise. It will be launching on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Steam & Epic Game Store. pic.twitter.com/4qDR2JYTKa— Official Koch Media (@KochMedia_HQ) July 6, 2021
PS4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam and Epic Game Store. Sounds about right! No exclusivity that would leave a global fanbase upset, which is a good thing. Also, a new publisher: Koch Media! They're a German company that has no relationship to America's notorious Koch Brothers, so no, you're not funding any American dark-money politics by buying from them. (As for buying from SNK in general, well, that new owner's still a problem…)
But if we're talking about notoriety, you might recognize one of Koch Media's publishing labels, Deep Silver. If you know them, you probably had some sort of unpleasant reaction reading that, like an anime fan on prom night.
Yes, Deep Silver is responsible for that atrocious Mighty No 9 promotional campaign, and they didn't make a lot of friends with their handling of Shenmue 3 either (though it's hard to say who exactly in the chain of producers and publishers greenlit the controversial Epic Game Store deal for that one). It might not be Deep Silver doing the publishing and PR for KoFXV – Koch has several other labels they release games with – but it does have some fans concerned. (I would have liked for Atlus to handle publishing again, but that might be difficult with them being an arm of Sega now.)
Anyhow, enough bad memories, let's look at the newest character trailer:
Vanessa's in, so of course Ramon's gotta come along. He directly appeals to one of KoF's biggest player bases in Latin America. Half the reactions I saw to his reveal on social media were in Spanish, so I guess he's gone over well with his audience!
Well! Not all that much news this week, but still plenty to talk about. Oh yes, Summer Games Done Quick is still happening, too, so go check them out (and donate, if you can)! And watch this speedrun of Geoguessr, it's amazing. Any thoughts about the fallout from the Switch OLED announcement? Take ‘em to the forums, conveniently linked below! Next week we'll have a fresh batch of news and commentary as usual. See you then!
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