Hello my name’s Matt and this is Pixel Burn, a sarcastic look at the week’s gaming news.
Starting with the rumour that surfaced late this week courtesy of YouTube gaming and tech news channel The Know, part of the Rooster Teeth network, who claimed in this video that a “high-placed anonymous industry source” told them Microsoft were in talks with Konami to buy Silent Hills as an Xbox One exclusive.
Okay, I’ll bite. It’s not like Microsoft don’t have a history of splashing out mad cash for exclusives. So tell me – how much were Microsoft allegedly willing to pay Konami for an exclusiveSilent Hills? Ten million dollars? Twenty million?
[“BILLIONS OF DOLLARS!”]
[“BILLIONS OF DOLLARS!”]
Okay, once more just so I know I heard you correctly.
[“BILLIONS OF DOLLARS!”]
Ah, what a load of bollocks.
Pro-tip to any aspiring anonymous sources out there: if you’re going to start a fake rumour about something then at least try to make the price tag believable, and not some arbitrary figure you pulled out of your arse.
“But Matt!” I hear some heartbroken, desperate Silent Hill fans among you say, “Microsoft paid $2.5 billion dollars for Minecraft! Surely a venerable gaming franchise like Silent Hill is worth just as-“
“But P.T was really good and-“
No. No, no, no and no. Minecraft is a bona-fide mass market global phenomenon with a cast-iron grip on the hearts and minds of an entire generation. Silent Hill meanwhile is three, maybe four fondly remembered games – and a bunch of forgettable mediocre ones – in a niche genre. In cold hard real world business terms the two simply do not compare. Suggesting Silent Hills is worth just as much as Minecraft is like comparing your favourite mom & pop coffee shop in your home town to Starbucks. Sure, you might really like the coffee in your local coffee shop, but nobody’s going to pay billions of dollars to buy the place.
Which is not to say we can’t have a bit of fun with this videogame fairytale. If only by tearing it to pieces like a baby thrown to a pack of wild dogs.
According to The Know’s anonymous storyteller, Microsoft are so desperate for system-selling exclusives that they hoped to close this supposed multi-billion dollar deal within three weeks, in time to unveil Silent Hills at E3 as an Xbox One exclusive. Which would certainly steal more than a few claps of Sony’s thunder, were it actually true and not a disgusting filthy lie.
One of the few vaguely believable tidbits about this rumour is the source claims Konami is very eager to sell off any of its properties that cannot easily be adapted to mobile titles or slot machines. A category that, if we lived in a kind and just universe ruled by a benevolent god, would surely include Silent Hill.
But because we actually live in a cold spiralling godless void of cosmic indifference, things like the fucking Silent Hill arcade lightgun shooter exist. Not to mention that sodding cart racer for mobiles with Pyramid Head in it: the gaming equivalent of Hannibal Lecter popping up in an episode of Hello Kitty.
Basically, if it can be slapped on a pachinko machine then Konami ain’t letting go of it anytime soon.
Now as I’ve already mentioned, Microsoft have certainly never been shy in the past of splashing out shitloads of cash for exclusives, timed or otherwise. And yes they did buy Minecraft and Mojang for $2.5 billion dollars, but that was an exception rather than the rule. They allegedly paid Epic $100 million dollars to make Gears of War – a brand-new untested franchise at the time – exclusive to the 360, and that series grossed over $1 billion dollars during its lifespan. Microsoft also reportedly slipped Rockstar $75 million dollars to ensure Grand Theft Auto IV WOULDN’T be a PlayStation 3 exclusive.
More recently they’ve paid undisclosed sums for Titanfall and Rise of the Tomb Raider to be exclusive to the Xbox One.
Those deals were in terms of millions however, certainly not billions. Konami as an entire company, including its game franchises, slot machines, health spas: everything down to its last paperclip, currently has a total estimated value of only $2.2 billion dollars. Which in hindsight makes Microsoft’s purchase of Mojang for $2.5 billion dollars all the more amusing.
What I imagine could have happened is Microsoft offered to buy Silent Hills and Konami quoted them a multi-billion dollar price, because Konami are so batshit insane they make the Emperor Caligula look well-adjusted by comparison. In fact I could even imagine the Konami board of directors trying to charge Microsoft’s representatives an extra $10 million dollars on top of that, just for daring to breathe the same air as them. What then probably happened is Microsoft politely declined, leaving Konami to carry on wanking itself raw in a pile of its own faeces.
Assuming of course such a thing even remotely happened outside the twisted brain of a liar. Because that rumoured price tag of [“BILLIONS OF DOLLARS!”] isn’t even the most ludicrous part of all this. Nope, according to The Know’s knowledgeable anonymous source whose uncle totally works at Microsoft, Silent Hills-
[“IS SAID TO BE ABOUT 80% DONE”]
My suspension of disbelief there. Crashing to the ground.
I’d wager that Silent Hills was maybe about 0.08% done. Maybe a nice round 8% if I were being generous, and stoned off my tits on exotic herbs. Because Norman Reedus himself, erstwhile star of the Silent Hill that could’ve been, said in a recent Reddit AMA that they hadn’t even shot the game’s “heavy” motion capture stuff before it got cancelled.
In their video the cast of The Know even acknowledge that they only have one source for this story. Someone who previously told them Microsoft would release a version of the Xbox One without the mandatory Kinect, which any fool with two working eyes could have seen coming from lightyears away. The final nail in this coffin of deceit comes from Xbox head honcho Phil “Magic Wardrobe” Spencer himself, who outright denied these rumours in this tweet.
“But Matt, maybe he’s just saying that so as not to spoil the surpr-“
No, stop it. You’re only deluding yourself. Silent Hills is not coming back, The Know’s anonymous source is a liar, Microsoft has vastly more sense than money and Konami are still fucking idiots. Case closed.
And if by some bizarre combination of miracles, pixie dust and unicorn magic we DO somehow end up seeing an Xbox One exclusive Silent Hills at this year’s E3, I’ll eat my fucking show notes on camera. We won’t though, so I’ll be chucking these straight in the bin once I’ve finished recording this.
The recycling bin of course.
Moving on to horror games that are actually real, and not the ramblings of an anonymous liar, Frictional Games this week released a gameplay trailer for SOMA. Unlike the crumbling Prussian castles and flesh-warped eldritch abominations of their previous game, Amnesia, SOMA is all about exploring some sort of sci-fi undersea research facility where Something Has Gone Horribly Wrong and there are robots pottering about the place.
The kind of robots you might find clanking around a darkened workshop at Boston Dynamics, albeit if they were covered in searchlights and programmed to murder intruders.
There are also some benign robots you can interact with although they seem more confused than helpful, like in the case of this particular chappy.
Nope, I’m pretty sure you’re a robot. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. At all. Whatsoever.
[IF YOU’RE READING THIS TRANSCRIPT, THE BINARY CODE ON SCREEN TRANSLATES TO “HAIL THE GLORIOUS ROBOT REVOLUTION!”]
Gameplay wise SOMA will look very familiar to anyone whose played Amnesia. No weapons, puzzles to solve galore, and lots of hiding in corners from scary things that want to wear your flesh as a tuxedo. Unlike Amnesia however the environments are much more detailed, thanks to Frictional’s spiffy new game engine, and actually appear to have some proper verticality to them.
Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately depending on your sensibilities, Frictional promise there’ll be no loading screens or other such level transition sorcery in SOMA. So if you want to escape a clanking robot monster then you can’t rely on magic doors and ladders to save your arse. As well as actual gameplay footage Frictional also confirmed a release date of September 22nd this year, when SOMA be available for PC and also for PS4 as a digital-only release.
Maybe by then I’ll have finally got round to finishing Alien: Isolation.
Elsewhere in the news The Witcher 3, the reason there wasn’t a Pixel Burn episode last week has unsurprisingly had the biggest UK launch of the year so far, racking up over six times more week one sales than the Witcher 2 did. Or “608 percent more” according to various news sites, with 65% of the total being on PS4. Worldwide the Witcher 3 has already sold over 1.5 million copies, almost overtaking the 1.7 million last recorded total global sales for The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. Not bad for an RPG based on a series of Polish fantasy novels.
So in short, and to put it mildly, The Witcher 3 has done very well indeed.
And these numbers don’t even take into account digital sales on Steam, GOG.com, the PlayStation Store und so weite, so the actual sales figures are even higher than that.
And bloody well-deserved they are too.
That isn’t to say the Witcher 3’s launch was entirely smooth sailing however. Its launch was beset by bugs across all platforms, like certain questlines not working properly, NPCs failing to stick to their scripts and the game crashing on the inventory screen. Xbox One owners in particular had to deal with the game randomly deciding to stop autosaving, discovering upon dying that they lost literally hours of progress. while some PS4 owners weren’t even able to start the game at all. There are also funny little non-game breaking glitches like these, which might put something of a dent in your immersion but are otherwise generally harmless. Assuming that is you manage to avoid a nightmarish bedroom scenario like this one, so terrifyingly surreal it could just put you off sex for life.
Unless that kind of thing floats your boat of course, in which case more power to you. So long as you don’t do it in the streets and frighten the horses.
CD Projekt Red were quick to respond with a patch that fixed some issues although it also added one massive new one: PS4 owners reported that the game had stopped giving them experience points for completing quests, which is a pretty big deal in a level-based RPG. CD Projekt Red say they are working on a patch to fix it right now, although PS4 owners will still have to wait for it to go through Sony’s patch certification process first. So if you’re a PS4 Witcher 3 player and you’re affected by this bug, my advice would be to wait for the patch.
CD Projekt Red have also publicly committed themselves to supporting Witcher 3 for the next two years with the forthcoming DLC, bug fixes and no doubt some sort of free Enhanced Edition later down the line, before moving on to Cyberpunk 2077.
Even with its current bugs however I personally had an amazing time with The Witcher 3 and still wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. So much so in fact that it’s currently my game of the year. And superior to Dragon Age: Inquisition in almost every way. But that’s a topic for another video.
And finally the first reviews and gameplay footage for gaming press whipping boy Hatred have begunto circulate, in advance of the game’s official release on Steam on June 1st. As a result videogames have now entirely ceased to exist as a meaningful artistic medium, and we’ve all been murdered by an epidemic of Neo-Nazi child spree killers. Which is why this episode of Pixel Burn is coming to you from Amenti, the Ancient Egyptian kingdom of the dead.
Except none of that last stuff has actually happened of course. It turns out Hatred is just an average twin-stick shooter at best and not the doom of western civilisation, as sites like Polygon desperately tried to make us all believe.
Remember all the wailing, gnashing of teeth, tearing of shirts and wringing of hands in the press when this game was first revealed to an innocent, unsuspecting gaming public? The articles calling it “vile” and “The Neo-Nazi hate crime of videogames”? The pretentious chin-stroking moralising? Boy have they sure changed their fucking tune. Now it’s “gaming’s most contrived controversy” and a “tempest in a teapot!”
Or to put it more plainly, outlets that stirred up a storm of controversy around the game are now complaining about all the controversy around the game. How fucking noble of them.
As for the game itself, well. It’s visual style is certainly striking and it has some admittedly very impressive destruction physics, but there’s really nothing much else to write home about. Even the criticised execution scenes are really rather tame compared to, say, the fatalities in Mortal Kombat for example.
Except under new rules implemented by Twitch TV this week, you are forbidden to stream yourself playing Hatred whereas streaming Mortal Kombat is A-OK. Hatred was added to a list of games alongside HuniePop, Second Life, Manhunt 2 Uncut and others that are prohibited from being streamed on Twitch.
So this isn’t allowed on Twitch.
[NOT-ALL-THAT-SHOCKING HATRED EXECUTION SCENE]
But this is totally fine.
[GRUESOME MORTAL KOMBAT FATALITY]
This is deemed unacceptable for reasons of “gratuitous violence.”
[UNIMPRESSIVE HATRED EXECUTION SCENE]
Whereas this is deemed perfectly acceptable for a safe, welcoming, inclusive community platform.
[THE NOTORIOUS “NO RUSSIAN” SCENE FROM MODERN WARFARE 2]
The prosecution rests, m’lud.
If you want to play Hatred then by all means buy it on June 1st. If you don’t want to play it, don’t. End of non-story.
As for me I’m going to go and watch the film “Violent Shit” which, as we all know, is the reason movies stopped existing back in 1989.
That’s all for this episode of Pixel Burn. If you liked it then please let me know by clicking the button down below, and let your friends, family and Captain Planet know as well. At the very least I hope you found it tolerable. Until next week, as always, you can go now.