6 Weirdest Gaming News Stories of 2016

Weirdest Gaming News Stories

2016 was an… Interesting year, to say the least.  Both inside the gaming industry and out, one unthinkable news story after another kept breaking.  Naturally, we’ll just stick to gaming here and take this time to look back on some of the most surreal news stories that came out in the last twelve months.  Granted, there are some major events that didn’t make this list, such as the CS:GO Lotto scandal and the controversial release of No Man’s Sky.  While those are undoubtedly important events, they aren’t exactly strange in the same way as these other tales.  That being said, these are the…

Weirdest gaming News Stories of 2016

Street Fighter V Gets Flava Flav DLC

Street Fighter V did not go over well.  Desperate to get on the stage for EVO 2016, the game was shoved out the door way too early with way too little content.  I know the lack of an arcade mode gets brought up a lot, but that’s because an arcade mode is the single most basic form of single player a fighting game can have.  If Capcom couldn’t even muster up the bare basics, that should terrify you.  Hell, we’re still waiting on it to this day.

Something the game has gotten: Costumes inspired by former Public Enemy hype-man Flava Flav.  Believe it or not, this is a picture of Ryu and Chun Li.  Drink it in.  These were released as a part of a sponsorship deal with Red Bull and my brain still hasn’t fully processed the fact that they exist.  Aside from the outfits looking hilariously out-of-character for both fighters… Really?  Flava Flav?  Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was able to get Snoop Dogg for their surreal rapper cross-promotion.  You couldn’t get someone with some relevancy post 2007?

An Anime Fan on Prom Night

Mighty No. 9 hurts my soul on every level.  I’ve been a Mega Man fan since childhood and seeing the Kickstarter for Mighty No. 9 seemed like a dream come true at the time.  Then, mid-2015 rolled around and things got very depressing very quickly.  The point where I knew things had gone off the rails was when Keiji Inafune announced not one, but two new Kickstarters for Mighty No. 9 spinoffs.  Now, let me just say that the Mega Man Legends games are two of my personal favorite video games of all time and my heart shattered when the long-awaited third entry was killed off just before it hit the finish line.  When a Kickstarter for a spiritual successor was announced, I should have been all over it.  Instead, I never put a dime towards it because I just couldn’t trust Red Ash without knowing how Mighty No. 9 turned out first.

Looks like I made the right move, because calling the new blue bomber a disappointment is an understatement.  The visuals were bad, the voice-acting was bad, the attempts at reinventing the Mega Man formula were bad, and the PC version launched with a memory-leak that caused the game to lag the longer you played it until your computer eventually crashed.  The cherry on the sundae of misery was a trailer that seemed specifically designed to mock its supporters.  Now I’m actually excited to see what happens to Mega Man next.  As bad as he’s had it in the last few years, it can’t get much worse than the not-so-Mighty No. 9.

 

Konami Vs Kojima Aftermath

The fallout between gaming auteur Hideo Kojima and his publisher Konami was perhaps the defining story of the gaming industry in 2015 and the aftermath of them parting ways still made for some of the biggest headlines of 2016.  Kojima announced the first game his new studio will be developing, Death Stranding, and has so far released two teaser trailers for it.  Both trailers were Salvador Dali-levels of crazy and apparently weren’t supposed to represent the actual games.

Meanwhile, Kojima’s former taskmaster proved to have a hard time letting things go by announcing Metal Gear Survive, a game based heavily on Metal Gear Solid V‘s engine and is an open-world zombie survival game, the single most diluted genre in the industry today.  With the year ending with gambling being legalized in Japan and Konami’s Japanese stocks being amongst the best in the industry, it looks like the company will survive without Kojima, but it’s doubtful that they’ll thrive.

Greenlight Goes Mad

Steam’s Greenlight program officially reached critical mass in 2016.  What started as a gateway for small developers to get their passion-projects into the public eye didn’t take long to be exploited by amateurs.  Last year seemed to have an unofficial contest to create the absolute worst Greenlight entry possible.

For example, there was Hyrule: Total War, a mod of Medieval II: Total War based on The Legend of Zelda series that was submitted without the approval of the people who made Total War, Legend of Zelda, or even the mod itself.  I’m kind of cheating by including this as this issue dates back to 2015, but UnitZ, a Unity asset pack designed to be a starter kit for developing zombie survival games, has been submitted to Greenlight at least 9 different times by 9 different “developers” who have made little to no changes to the original asset pack.  World of Warcraft was submitted to Greenlight by someone completely unassociated with Blizzard.  A clip of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver was submitted to Greenlight.  No, seriously, someone tried to market a clip of a late-night talkshow as a video game.

The only barrier to entry for Greenlight is a $100 fee and Valve just trusts their user-base to police the service for them.  Fortunately, much of the community has been fairly eagle-eyed and most of these attempts were shut down, but there are still plenty of cracks to slip through.  The floodgates have been opened wide enough that 40% of all games on Steam were released last year.

Everything About Pokemon Go

Oh, Pokemon Go, you could have easily filled a top 20 list of weirdness all on your own, couldn’t you?  Just the game itself was enough of a bizarre phenomenon, drawing millions of otherwise secluded people to wander the wilderness on the hunt for imaginary monsters.  That alone sounds like Nostradamus predicting the end of days and it only got weirder from there.  People found dead bodies while playing the game, thugs used the game to bait people into muggings, people abandoned their cars en masse to catch a Vaporeon, et cetera.

The folks making the game had their own share of bedlam, as well.  A big part of that was that the game didn’t have a dedicated community manager when it launched.  When major problems like the three-step glitch happened, there was nothing but radio silence in response.  As a result, the surprise hit of the year also saw a massive drop-off in players.  I doubt Nintendo was too torn up about it, though, considering they only signed on for a microscopic cut of the profits of one of the most anticipated titles of last year.  Everything that Pokemon Go touches becomes wailing insanity one way or another.  Are we sure that Niantic isn’t secretly some eldritch incantation?

Digital Homicide Sues Everyone

Digital Homicide will probably go down in history as the single worst video game developer to have ever existed.  If anyone is actually able to top them, I will partly be impressed, but mostly terrified.  Digital Homicide first garnered infamy as a shovelware developer for Steam.  Now, shovelware has been around since the Atari 2600 and Steam in particular gets A LOT of it these days, so that’s not such a big deal on its own.  What makes Digital Homicide special is that they were outright psychotic about it.

It all started when Youtuber James Stanton, better known as Jim Sterling, uploaded a first impressions video of one of DH’s earliest games, The Slaughtering Grounds, back in 2014.  The developers than released their own video titled Review the Reviewer that openly mocked Stanton for his criticism.  Animosity between the two parties continued to grow until it all came to a head in 2016 and Digital Homicide filed a lawsuit against Stanton claiming that his videos were damaging their business.  Then it got even crazier and Digital Homicide decided that they would just sue everyone.  I think they even tried to sue me around this time and that is not even a joke.  My name could very well have been on their litigious hit-list.  I honestly don’t know.

What we do know is that a lawsuit was filed against 100 Steam users for the crime of speaking ill of Digital Homicide’s precious garbage heap.  We’ll probably never know the full list of names that DH tried to take to court, but it did include such stellar monikers as Demonsword, Toon Vlux, and JDude330#HaeisBACK.  That case was ultimately dismissed after Valve pulled DH’s entire catalog from their service and left them without a source of income to fund their court case.  At the time of writing, the case against Stanton is still ongoing, but seems to be on the verge of being thrown out as well.

Those were the weirdest gaming news stories of 2016. Got any other bizarre news stories from 2016 that we missed?  Can 2017 end up topping last year in terms of insanity?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

 

Someone Tried to Put Hyrule: Total War Through Greenlight

First and foremost, no, this game does not involve Nintendo, Sega, or Creative Assembly at all.  Hyrule: Total War is a fan-made, total-conversion mod for Medieval II: Total War based on The Legend of Zelda series.  A recent attempt to put the mod through Steam’s Greenlight program not only didn’t involve the owners of The Legend of Zelda or Total War, but it didn’t even involve the creator of the mod.  Someone going by the name WolfDampf posted the mod to Greenlight claiming to have the creator’s permission and that the mod would be available for free.  Firstly, mods are supposed to be posted to the Workshop while Greenlight is for games hoping to be released on the store page.  Second, the mod’s creator, known as UndyingNephalim, denied the claim that WolfDampf had permission from him to post the mod to Greenlight.  A DMCA takedown notice has already been filed against WolfDampf’s Greenlight entry and it has no chance of going through.

This isn’t the first time that someone has pulled a stunt like this on Greenlight.  A user called sundry foot tried the same with Cartoon Fighters, a game built off of the open-source fighting game engine MUGEN that compiles various fighters designed for the engine by various different users based on various different copyrighted characters, including characters from The Simpsons, Dragonball Z, and even The Legend of Zelda‘s Link.  It is debatable whether or not sundry foot had any involvement in developing any of the characters or the stages used in the game for MUGEN‘s engine, was not even responsible for compiling all of the content into a single game, and he certainly did not have legal rights to use any of the content for commercial release.  There have also been countless attempts to put Minecraft through Greenlight by numerous individuals with no affiliation to Mojang or Microsoft.

Valve provides no oversight of their own to their Greenlight program, making the only barrier for entry a $100 fee.  As a result, attempts of this nature by either scammers or those who simply don’t understand what Greenlight is actually for are shockingly commonplace.  Fortunately, several users have taken upon themselves to police Greenlight for these fiascoes and none of the attempts listed above gained any traction as a result.  However, there have been cases of copyright infringement slipping through Greenlight in the past.  One example is Spartans vs. Zombies Defense, which used the depiction of Leonidas from the film 300 and audio clips from the same movie without legal consent from the copyright holders.  Not only did it make it through Greenlight, it was even featured under the Popular New Releases section before Valve finally caught on and pulled the title off their service.

Many are concerned that this recent fiasco may lead Nintendo to send a cease-and-desist against the original mod.  Hyrule: Total War is already a famous fan-project and it’s likely that Nintendo has already heard about it without feeling the need to step in.  However, this incident may force Nintendo’s hand simply as a matter of protecting their intellectual property.  Some have suspected that this may have even been WolfDampf’s intention from the beginning as the project has drawn backlash from other Zelda fans in the past.  It would be a tragedy if seven years worth of dedication and passion were to all go to waste because of something that the creator had no part in or control over.

What are your thoughts on this recent Greenlight incident?  Does Valve need to take a more active role in what appears on Greenlight and has a chance of making it onto their store front?  On a lighter note, how awesome is the idea of a Legend of Zelda RTS?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Bubsy Twofur is on Steam Greenlight

Bubsy the Bobcat may very well be the single most infamous video game character in existence.  Of all the mascot characters that sprang up in the 90’s in the hopes of following the success of Mario and Sonic, Bubsy has been branded as the most decried of the bunch.  It may not be entirely warranted as there were plenty of other hastily-developed platforms from the time that were arguably worse than some of titles starring Accolade’s bemoaned furball, but the public consciousness has already deemed the wisecracking bobcat a black mark on gaming history.  Now, Tommo Inc. and Retroism have picked up the license and are trying to release the first two Bubsy games as a bundle on Steam via Greenlight.  As tempting as it would be to joke that these games are beneath Steam, let’s not get carried away here.  There have been dozens of games that have made it through Greenlight in the last few months that make Bubsy 3D look like a Game of the Year contender.

Even Retroism can’t deny that Bubsy’s bad reputation preceeds him.  Their Greenlight page is filled with depressing statements, such as describing Bubsy as “bedraggled and mumbling about being doomed to a legacy of shame and obscurity” and that “(w)ith your support, (he) may finally be able to look himself in the mirror and smile”.  Well, at least he’s doing better than Rocky Rodent is.  Bubsy Twofur will contain Bubsy in: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind and Bubsy II should it pass Greenlight.  You can check out its Greenlight page here to vote for or against it.

Are you willing to give Bubsy a second chance?  Has his unless stream of cat puns left you too jaded to ever forgive him?  Does anyone actually remember Rocky Rodent (I don’t, I had to look him up)?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Hatred Should Not Have Been Rated Based On Its Trailer

Hatred

If you spend much time on Youtube, you’re probably familiar with Honest Trailers – a series that creates trailers that actually tell the truth about the movie or game they’re advertising, often with hilarious results. The movie series is on the Screen Junkies channel and the game series is on Smosh Games. The trailers have called 5 Nights At Freddy’s 2 “the pre-sequel that thinks being more complicated equals being more scary,” Skyrim “the game that makes you forget to eat, sleep, and make friends because you’re too busy eating, sleeping, and making friends,” and The Last Of Us a game “so bleak, it makes Killzone look like Kingdom Hearts.”

Not to mention calling Thor a movie “that’s just kinda… ehh…I guess they did the best they could adapting a comic book about a bratty space god.” It’s doubtful that’s the sentiment Marvel’s real trailer for Thor conveyed. The point of all this is that if there’s anything we can learn from the Honest Trailers series, it’s that real trailers aren’t always truthful about the game or movie they’re advertising. That’s where Hatred comes in. The game itself looks horrible, but then that’s a separate discussion. Hatred was recently slapped with an Adults-Only (AO) rating by the ESRB, the ratings authority for the US and Canada. The rating will mean the game will struggle to sell, with major retailers such as Walmart and Target refusing to stock such games. It also rules out a console version of the game with Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony all refusing to release AO titles on their consoles. The AO rating is so harsh that Hatred is only the second game in history to carry it (it would have been the third, with Thrill Kill set to be rated AO before its release was cancelled after EA bought the developer).

The strange thing about all of this is that Hatred isn’t even finished yet. The game itself does not yet exist, and yet it somehow already has a rating. That’s because the ESRB based its rating for Hatred on the game’s trailer, which seems frankly bizarre. Trailers are advertisements, and if you’ve ever looked at the picture of a McDonalds cheeseburger on the billboard and compared it to the messy slop served to you by the bored teenager behind the counter, you’ll know advertisements don’t exist for the purpose of honestly portraying a product. They exist to make people buy it.

Hatred has already courted plenty of public attention after its bumpy experience in Steam Greenlight. Valve removed the game from Greenlight based on its description. If you don’t already know, in the game the player assumes the role of a homicidal maniac bent on wiping out “human worms.” A few days later Gabe Newell himself allowed it back onto Greenlight, but by then the game’s removal had already caused quite a stir. The game was quickly Greenlit after that and now has its own page on the Steam store, though it cannot be preordered yet. So when it was time to make a trailer, with the game already basking in some notoriety due to its violent nature, what would the developers see as the logical way to sell the game? Of course, they would capitalize on that notoriety and create a trailer that focused on the game’s most violent aspects. But does that necessarily reflect the entire game? I would argue not.

Even if Hatred does turn out to be every bit as gruesome as the trailer suggests (and it likely will), the ESRB can’t possibly know that until they have an actual copy of the game in their hands. PEGI, the European ratings authority, has taken a more sensible approach by staying quiet about Hatred until they are able to look at the game itself. In an interview with PCGamesN, Dirk Bosmans from PEGI said about the trailer, “Destructive Creations were aiming for shock and indignation and it was a marketing ploy that worked well.” He’s not wrong – the trailer has caused a new stir that’s working well at keeping Hatred in the press.

All indications about Hatred point to the game being just as violent as the trailer suggests – violence is, after all, the core goal of the game. Even so, the ESRB has been hasty. It’s a terrible idea to assign a rating to anything based on what is essentially an ad. The board should always wait to have a copy of the game in their hands before they judge it, even a game like Hatred.