Archive for September, 2021

On Review Bombings…

Posted in Grumblings with tags , , on September 29, 2021 by chemiclord

There’s really no clever opening I can make here. I’m too tired to try, and I’m not sure any cold open would even work as a decent analogue.

Genshin Impact represents the best and the worst of contemporary gaming. There really isn’t anything that encapsulates what the industry has become quite like MiHoYo’s latest offering.

On one hand, we have a nigh fully explorable open world setting that is ever expanding with a dearth of content, an ever increasing cast of varied characters, ways to interact with them, content to play and experience, on a massive bevy of devices that range from high end performance PCs all the way to the smartphone in your pocket that can connect you to millions of others across the world.

On the other, we have a fully exploitable “gatcha” monetization system loaded with microtransactions and a slot machine that is just forgiving enough to keep you enticed, and just punishing enough to make it very hard not to drop more money than you probably should on it… in a setting that really hasn’t shown terribly much obvious diversity in characters and people despite now experiencing three of seven (or potentially eight) nations.

So I suppose it shouldn’t be much surprise that it also has drawn in the best and the worst of the gaming community… and right now the worst parts of both the community and the industry are on full display.

Firstly, some disclosure. I have played Genshin Impact. Usually about 20-30 minutes a day, sometimes more if there’s a big content drop. I actually pay about $15/month on it (in line with your typical MMO subscription). So, yeah, I guess I’m “invested.”

Anyway, in “gatcha” games, there tends to be an expectation as games reach their anniversary. Now, gamers tend to mistake these events as “appreciation” towards the players that have put their time and money into the game (game developers and studios do nothing to dispel this notion, and in fact encourage it). In reality, however… they are advertisements; events designed not as “appreciation” to current players, but a way to entice new players to hop on board.

It’s a trap that gamers should know by now. Game companies are not your friend. You are not in a relationship with them. They owe you nothing outside of the advertised product, and they are not going to provide more than the bare minimum they can get for the least amount of cost unless they feel compelled to do so.

So, it really shouldn’t have been a surprise that a company like MiHoYo, with a game like Genshin Impact that already is taking the world by storm, really… isn’t treating the anniversary like a particularly special event. They offered some meager rewards, pretty much on par with any other event… and hoo boy… did a special slice of the players not appreciate that.

The last couple of weeks has been a tidal wave of toxicity, though in reality the anniversary rewards are just the latest escalation from a group of swamp dwellers that have done such wonderfully well adjusted things as harass voice actors for doing their jobs, going as far as forcing them off the internet due to the rampant abuse.

MiHoYo has responded to this in the worst possible way, because of course they have. They have deleted criticism on social media, removed entire threads from their forums, and outright refused to even deign to respond to anything that suggests they could do a little bit more for the players of their game.

So, of course, the gamers had to resort to the last bastion of the unheard; rampant review bombing, which for the uninitiated is where a community spams a storefront for a game with thousands of negative reviews to try and drag down its review score and potentially scare off new players.

But, gamers couldn’t allow themselves to be outdone in the over-exaggerated response department. Oh no, so they had to take it up a notch and start review bombing games that not just had nothing do with Genshin Impact, but had nothing to do with MiHoYo.

It’s like being so furious with your Ford Explorer that you start throwing bricks at the windows of the nearby Chevy dealer. What, exactly, do you think that is supposed to accomplish?

Meanwhile, how does a company like MiHoYo not understand that trying to silence people isn’t going to work? Shutting down avenues to let people vent their frustrations isn’t going to stop them from complaining. They’re simply going to find other avenues to make their displeasure clear, and now they’re going to be angrier about it.

Never before has a gaming community deserved a game studio more. This entire debacle has been like a doctorate thesis for a clown college.

(And by the way, MiHoYo, it really wouldn’t hurt you to toss people a freakin’ free 5-star character, for crying out loud. You’ve made literally a billion dollars on this game. I think you’re good for it.)

On Nostalgia (Redux Number… Something)

Posted in Grumblings with tags , on September 26, 2021 by chemiclord

So… the intro to the Netflix adaptation of Cowboy Bebop dropped, and you could time the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth to it, because “old school fans” tend to be contradictory smooth brains who demand remade content to be simultaneously exactly how they remember it and not what they remember.

It’s a theme you see with anything that harkens back to an earlier era; like Star Wars, or Cowboy Bebop, or whatever. You have an aggressively fanatical fanbase who demands that the work take them back to when they were younger and capture the same magic that they felt when they first experienced it.

The problem is, of course, that it’s impossible. Not even the original work is going to be able to capture quite the same magic ever again, and demanding it does is an exercise in futility that will only end in disappointment (followed by rage and potentially tantrums, because we’re talking about 10-year old kids in 40-year old bodies here).

Let’s try a little math experiment here:


Let’s say (A) is a creative work. Let’s say (B) is the circumstances and environment. Let’s say (C) is the viewer, and (D) is the cumulative experience that you “feel” at the end. The “old school” fans expect -or more accurately demand– that (D) remain completely unchanged; and are extremely reluctant to allow (A) to change in any meaningful fashion as well.

I’m hoping that you can see the problem.

(B) is ever-changing, and that is almost entirely out of any given person’s control. Likewise (C) is shaped and altered inexorably by (B), no matter how much we try to resist it. It is simply impossible for (D) to even be remotely the same value within the constraints that “old school” fans are willing to allow. Your only chance for the “magic” you feel to be even remotely similar to the magic you felt back then is by allowing the created work to be different, and perhaps in significant ways, than the one you remember way back when.

The choice is pretty much binary. You either have to accept that the remade content is going to have to change, and take the risk that those changes aren’t going to hit the same sweet spots that made you feel so profoundly a long, long time ago…

… Or you pursue new created works, taking the risk… that it won’t hit the same sweet spots… that made you… feel so… profoundly a long, long… time ago…

Hunh. Gosh, it sure sounds like it’s the exact same risk, and that maybe our collective obsession towards sequels and remakes is self-defeating and that we should be more willing to embrace new stories and content rather than demand “more of the same!”

… Nah, that can’t be it. Must be something wrong with my math. I’ll work on it some more after I’m done finishing this scathing criticism about how the way the characters run in the Cowboy Bebop remake looks totally wrong and how it’s tragically ruining my appreciation of a time-tested classic.