[Disclaimer: The Friday Night Rant is just that, a rant. It contains extemporaneous remarks which are not to be confused with this site’s journalism or editorial opinions. The rant is meant to be an entertaining take on industry matters and may be divisive in nature.]
A hot topic from Sony’s original Playstation 4 reveal conference was the nature of the new Capcom title tentatively called Deep Down.
What is it? Will it relate to Dragon’s Dogma? Is it exclusive? What’s that social stuff at the end of the demonstration about? I was just as interested as everyone else.
The newest information regarding the title is that it will be some kind of MMO, that’s Massively Multiplayer Online game for those of you who are such hardcore single players you don’t even know the acronym. Of course, instantaneously my intense interest based on the trailer went from ten to zero. I’m just not at all interested in this MMO stuff, and since I’m ranting I might as well tell you why I don’t think it’s a good idea in general. At least not for the health of single player gaming.
“Well David, if you don’t like MMOs don’t play them,” people will say. First of all, I won’t -thank you very much. Second of all, that’s not the point of this rant. The point is, like all focus on multiplayer, these things are bound to gum up the works of everything else surrounding them. That is not good for the rest of us out here, unimpressed by multiplayer in general, on whose behalf I sometimes write.
In order to better illustrate my thoughts on this matter I’d like to tell you a little story or two. A few years ago the state of Rhode Island approved a $75 million loan to former professional baseball player Curt Shilling’s 38 Studios. 38 Studios started development on two projects. Both were fairly spendy but only one made it to fruition. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was a pretty solid title if you remember, it didn’t sell as well as it needed to but the roughly 1.6+ million copies that did sell aren’t too shabby for a new IP. I suspect that Project Copernicus, the other game and MMO, is what sucked up most of the money. MMOs are notoriously expensive to make, and also notoriously resource-consuming. The end result was the end of 38 Studios and enough lawsuits from Rhode Island against Shilling to have him selling his notorious bloody sock from Game 2 of the 2004 World Series. And oh yeah, we aren’t sitting around talking about the upcoming Kingdoms of Amalur 2.
This is cozy right? How about another story? There’s this little company called Square-Enix who has had a few problems this entire generation. There was the hotly anticipated Final Fantasy XIII, which went way over budget and way under fan expectations. Shortly after was supposed to come Final Fantasy Versus XIII. When the MMO Final Fantasy XIV was announced we were all pretty surprised, it seemed like a lot to take on.
It most certainly was. The original PC release was a disaster to say the least. They had to pull their fees just to avoid losing people. Since then Square-Enix pulled resources from everywhere they could both on the staff and money fronts to get the MMO up and running. Final Fantasy Versus XIII got pushed so far down the list of priorities most were certain it was vaporware. Then came the DLC-plagued, storyless abomination known as Final Fantasy XIII-2, clearly a cash-in measure.
We all hoped it was over, but a new cash-in came up: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. Now, finally after the squeezing appears to be coming to an end Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is on the way. People tell me it’s actually a damn good game that even feels like Final Fantasy. Yeah, well, good for them but what happened to the epic single player games called Final Fantasy that felt like Final Fantasy? Now Versus just got slotted into the sacred numbered series and finally pushed over the edge into the next generation. Maybe I can’t lay all of the horrible decisions at Square-Enix on their MMO troubles but I bet I can lay a damn sight more than most are willing to admit there. Got knows I’ve seen enough headlines about Square-Enix’s woes concerning that FFXIV.
I see this kind of stuff all over the place. Bungie’s Destiny has likely kept Activision from investing their Call of Duty profits in anything else, which explains why the Prototype IP was ended and Deadpool never got a decent budget. Sure you can play Destiny as a single player game and they don’t want to call it an MMO but the amount of resources that are going into it put it in the same category in my opinion.
I get it, everyone wants to strike it rich with the next World of Warcraft, but it isn’t all rosy. Did you know Capcom’s profits just dropped 37%? If Deep Down isn’t a smash success that will probably spell trouble all across their franchises. So you know what to blame when Devil May Cry never returns and the next Street Fighter is free to play with every extra character and background costing $5 each.