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JWeinCom said:

Your response to MZuzek doesn't really address what I said. It just continues to assert that GOTY is somehow relevant to the point of creative freedom. And apparently, also to artistic achievements. These are assertions that need some sort of demonstration.

And if we're saying TLOU2 is risky because female led games don't win overall GOTY too often, then that really makes no sense. Assuming that being female lead lowers your chances of being overall GOTY, then all Sony risked was not getting the overall GOTY. In that case, was Animal Crossing a huge gamble? I mean, how many past GOTY nominees have been village building sims with an animal cast? How about Mario Odyssey? How many overall GOTY winners feature a chubby italian plumber? Or are platformers? Looking solely at past GOTY winners is a really bad way to determine risk (again, unless you're speaking of the risk of not being overall goty).

As for Returnal...

1. You are assuming this is the reason, but there are many other potential reasons. I would say the biggest reason is because there is much more incentive for a smaller dev to make rougelike games, as they allow you to create games that can be played for a long time while minimizing the the amount of resources you need to create. At any rate, this genre has become well established. Taking something that is already fairly popular and boosting its budget is not what I would classify as highly risky, nor is making a difficult game, as there is a decent market for those as well.

2. Yes... but new IPs aren't all that uncommon. 

3. And that's not all that uncommon either. Metroid, Control, Tomb Raider, TLOU2, Resident Evil (around half the time), Mirror's Edge, etc. Less common than male lead games, but still not something that unusual. I would say virtually every major developer has some female lead games.

4. I don't know the story that well, but the core concept doesn't seem too far out there. Hades, Death Loop, and even now in movies like Boss Level. Kind of becoming a thing.

5. Ehhh... selling a game at standard price is now considered risk taking? Nintendo's selling 1-2 Switch, a five year old mini game collection with virtually no actual assets, at 50 bucks. Those daredevils. 

Basically, it comes down to, this is an AAA game (maybe) in a genre that is more popular among smaller devs, and it has a female lead... which really doesn't scream "RISK! BRAVERY! CREATIVE FREEDOM!" to me. Since you singled out Nintendo, I'm not sure why something like Octopath Traveller (new IP, unique narrative structure, sprite based classical JRPG being sold for full price), Codename S.T.E.A.M. (new IP steampunk SRPG featuring steampunk versions of classic literature characters and aliens being sold at full price, for the 3DS at least), ARMS (new IP, motion controlled 3D fighting game with bizarre deformed characters), Ring Fit (New IP that is controlled with a Pilates ring), LABO (games played using DIY cardboard controllers), Splatoon (new IP, new spin on team based shooters with tons of new game modes), or so on wouldn't count. If having a female lead is enough to qualify, what about Bayonetta 2 and 3? If anything, a female led sequel to a game that sold around a million copies across 2 consoles is WAAAAAAY more risky than a female lead sequel to a game that sold 17 million copies (17 times more risky to be precise, assuming budgets are equal). Or Bayonetta 1 for that matter.

It kind of feels like we're working backwards starting with games you intrinsically feel are risky and then creating a set of unintuitive rules to justify that (i.e. looking at GOTY winners which I still have no idea why we should do).  So, again, how are you determining which games are risky and brave and which aren't? Is there any objective criteria we can use? Why does GOTY matter if we're talking about risk? Cause otherwise, all anyone can say on this matter is...

I'm not a man, bruh.

In my response to Mnementh, I addressed the good point you make about the risks involved in marketing more casual and just plain clever and quirky games in the console business today like Arms and Splatoon and gimmicks like Labo that are fair enough. No need to get all hysterical on me. I'm not an unreasonable person and you should know that by now.

But on Returnal though, we're going to disagree.

1) The genre is an established niche in the indie market. It is not so much within the cultural mainstream of gaming. I mean I don't run across all kinds of roguelikes on store shelves, I don't know about you. I typically have to download them.

2) New IPs are rule in the indie market. They are definitely the exception in the AAA landscape, NOT the rule, and that's even more true for games that sell large numbers of copies and manage to turn a profit.

3) It's uncommon enough that there are like five times as many games released in a given year that use male-only lead characters. Pointing to a handful of exceptions that didn't sell half as well doesn't exactly make much of a case. Seriously, Horizon Zero Dawn and the 2013 Tomb Raider remake are the best-selling female-led games of all time and they've sold like 11 or 12 million copies. This is the basis your argument here stands on. You don't have one, in other words.

4) To counter my point, you highlight a smaller, indie game of different thematic material, a game that hasn't been released yet, and a movie I've never heard of before. *shrugs* I think you're just going out of your way to be disagreeable rather than even trying to make an honest argument because you don't have one. There's no one video that can explain Returnal's entire story because it's a little bit subjective, but here is what most of the internet (including me) feels is the single best Returnal story explainer out there.

5) $70 is the price tag that was charged, and it was a stupid decision to make, particularly given all the other risks the game already takes. It was also just the wrong decision.

Okay, it's past midnight here and I didn't get three hours of sleep last night. I'm headed to bed.