Good For The Culture? NieR Automata Allows For Players To Buy PSN Trophies

PSN Trophies

NieR Automata is only a few more weeks away and it seems like there is always something not game play related about it in the news. It was recently reported that players could get a trophy for upskirting the main protagonist 2B among other things. Over the past few days there have been rumblings that something else was going to go on with the trophies for the game. That something was allowing for players to buy their way to a platinum trophy. The question is will that decision be good for the culture of gaming?

How Does “Buying” Trophies Work?

Since this game is not “pay to win”, players cannot buy gold packages outside of the game and must earn it in game by playing.

nier logo
image credit: http://www.gamespot.com/videos/nier-automata-debut-gameplay-trailer/2300-6427948/

According to reports, a reddit user has uncovered that in Japan players can buy trophies using in game currency. Since this game is not “pay to win”, players cannot buy gold packages outside of the game and must earn it in game by playing. The other caveat is that players must also be on their third play through of the game before being able to buy trophies at all. The game boast having multiple endings so for many players getting to a 3rd replay is a possible option.

What Could It Mean For Gaming Culture?

Gaming Culture trophies

We know that gamers are older so trophy hunting is more a battle of time and attrition. If you check PSN profiles and see some of the “seemingly” impossible trophies that players earn one can only stand in awe. Since the inception of trophies, or achievements on Xbox, it was evident that with every platinum that these players were going above and beyond the call of duty. See what I did there?

Will the game have a trophy that let’s other players know you “brought” your way to a platinum?

My concern is that the ability to buy your way to a platinum can start a disturbing trend. Could trophy buying be something adopted by a lot of games including main stream games? Will it call into question every platinum that is earned for this game? Should the game have a trophy that let’s other players know you “brought” your way to a platinum? I checked Playstation Profiles and according to their list there is no such trophy for the game.

Go Platinum or Go Home

Trophies
Image Credit: http://www.nextgenupdate.com/forums/ps3-trophies-game-saves/730149-900-ps3-platinum-trophy-folders-free-cfw-ps3-required.html

Full disclosure, I do not go for platinum trophies. I have one on my PSN profile that I was not actively trying to get. I stumbled across it by accident when I was playing a game that most might not consider worth a platinum. If the trophy doesn’t come during a regular play through then 9/10 I’m not going to have it. That doesn’t stop me from admiring those players that put their time and effort into beating content. Some may think it is more fair for the working/tired adult but it seems to undermine the challenge.

What do you think about “buying” trophies? Do you think it’s fair if players are on subsequent play through? Are you a trophy hunter and have thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.

Twitch The Place to Stream Games And Soon To Buy?

Twitch Logo

I was reading my Twitter feed a few days ago when a streamer announced that viewers could download Banner Saga for free. Since I’m a console gamer, I had a feeling that this initiative would not apply to me but to PC gamers. I was sad to see that I wouldn’t be included in this deal but a part of me wondered how and why they were doing such a promotion. Fast forward a few days later, the news breaks that Twitch will allow for viewers to purchase games straight off the stream. This is a shocking turn of events! Let’s get into the logistics of how Twitch is now becoming a place to stream and buy games.

To Buy On Twitch Or Not To Buy On Twitch?

“Said streamer will get five percent of the sale, with the buyer netting themselves RANDOMIZED Twitch Crates which include exclusive emotes and chat badges among other things.”

Twitch Buy Button
Image Caption: http://www.pcgamer.com/twitch-to-sell-games-in-streamer-supported-initiative-this-spring/

In an article by PC Gamer the “whys” of the Twitch initiative became clear. This new program was being introduced as a way to “support” streamers trying to make their Twitch career goals come true. Sometime this spring, no concrete dates were given, a “Buy Now” button will appear below a stream allowing for viewers to purchase the game they are viewing. PC Gamer reports “Said streamer will get five percent of the sale, with the buyer netting themselves randomized Twitch Crates which include exclusive emotes and chat badges among other things.” Or in other words, player loot boxes ala Overwatch or MOBAs.

How will the players get the games? Not through game keys but through existing services that will be linked to the viewers Twitch account. There is already a partnership with Twitch Prime that allows for players to receive free promotional games so it will probably work through that. There are also several developers on board for this initiative like Ubisoft, Telltale Games and Double Fine. The notable absences are Riot and Valve which, if you frequent Twitch know, dominate the directory with League of Legends and Dota 2 respectively.

Better For The Streamer Or Consumer?

On the other hand, as I understand this is a business, streamers already ask for follows and subscribers so this seems like another thing to “sell” to viewers while watching.

games on TwitchSo this is where my thoughts come into the mix. On one hand, if viewers were thinking of buying the game anyway this is probably a good thing. This would be a one stop shop to get everything you want without needing to change too many tabs and help out a streamers you many like. On the other hand, streamers already ask for follows and subscribers so this seems like another thing to “sell” to viewers while watching. At times I just want to hear the streamer talk about the game or gauge their reactions not feel like I’m watching QVC. Hopefully they will be able to find a balance.

What do you guys think? Is buying your games on Twitch something you never knew you wanted? Is this a bad idea? Let us know in the comments section below.

5 Things Players Should Know About Final Fantasy Brave Exvius

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius

Square Enix has put out a number of mobile games in the last few years. Its not surprising since the mobile amd handheld market has been thriving in the region while console sales have stalled. Im not a big mobile gamer because of micro transactions and data usage but I wanted to check it out. I have played the game for a few hours and have unlocked all of the basic mechanics. Here are 5 things players should know when playing Brave Exvius.

Brave Exvius Has All The Final Fantasy Staples

BE Shiva Summon
Image Credit: http://finalfantasyexvius.com/

I feel like whenever I write about Final fantasy games that aren’t the main series that this has to be the first thing I say. The game has crystals, summons, chocobos, classes or jobs and of course fan service with our past favorite characters. There are quests, towns, dungeons and Npcs to talk to an deliver their stories. The summons have 3D animations and the characters as well as the environment are beautiful. The game reminds me of a traditional jrpg in this way which was a surprise. Anyone who is the fan of the series wont be disappointed.

The MSQ Is Designed To Be Completed In Small Bites

BE Story Scene
Image Credit: http://finalfantasyexvius.com/

It is a mobile game so the story and elements are designed to be flexible to pick up and put down on the go. The MSQ is completed in  series of battles, initially 3 or 4 plus a boss fight at the end. Each fight can be completed individually so you dont have to binge it or lose progress. There is usually a story section when u first enter a new area then there is dialogue during each fight. The areas are challenging and it wasnt until I got to the castle dungeon where I had to start grinding levels a bit to not get owned.

I have gotten to the point where players need energy to enter certain dungeons and battles. This is a way to pace the fights and disengage from the game. Or to get you to buy Lapis for more energy.

The Battle System Is Easy To Use But Hard To Master

BE Battle System
Image Credit: http://finalfantasyexvius.com/

Players are able to press their character’s icon block to perform a basic attack. To get to magic, items and summons will require players to swipe in the cardinal directions. I forgot several times to swipe before getting to magic for my mages and wasted attacks so paying attention is key. Monsters do have elemental weaknesses so remembering that can make encounters easier. Also, players are able to bring a “companion”, other players playing the game, with them. Its not level capped so if you have a high level friend it can change the tide of the encounter. There are also summons in the game that can be used when the gauge is filled.

I mentioned grinding earlier, so at times players may need to go to previously explored areas to grind in the newly accessible dungeon. It has all of the normal features like random encounters to help boost levels. This isn’t really a battle feature but to make your characters have higher levels, players can fuse lower level characters through to boost experience.

The Forge System Can Be Complicated

BE Home Screen
Image Credit: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.square_enix.android_googleplay.FFBEWW

There are treasure chests in dungeons that drop gear and items but more than likely you will be making your own stuff. Shops in town sell recipes for gear, items and abilities that players will have to forage for materials to make. Npcs also give recipes as rewards or they can be found exploring towns. The items can be made in 5 minutes but there is only one slot for each category initially. Players will need to buy more slots with the in game currency Lapis. More on that in a minute.

My main issue with this is that they don’t say where these materials drop the most frequently or even keep track of the items you find per dungeon. Players don’t need to be in a town to make items because it can be found in the home screen.

Micro transactions Are Here But Not Intrusive

“The game gives you several ways to earn lapis and summons through daily bonuses, completing the coliseum challenges and completing NPC quests”.

This could be my personal feeling about it but so far the cash grab hasn’t been that bad. I’m still at early levels so I don’t know if it increases more past the tutorial phase. The game currency is called Lapis and you can buy it to use for pretty much everything. The things you can buy are chances to summon more and rarer characters, energy, orbs for the coliseum, items etc. The game gives you several ways to earn lapis and summons through daily bonuses, completing the coliseum challenges and completing NPC quests. You can earn higher weapons through competing in the coliseum and more by using your friends in battles. This way is longer but it can be done which is what I appreciate.

In Conclusion:

So far I can recommend the game if your bored and have the data to spare. If you’re interested in trying the Brave Exvius for yourself you can find a link to the official website here. The game is available for Android and IOS devices.

Have you tried Brave Exvius? If What do you think about it? What other mobile JRPGs do you recommend? Let us know in the comments section.

Being A Freelance Video Game Journalist Sucks Yet I Love It

I love being a freelance journalist, I get to choose what I cover, from video games to animations and comics to conventions.

Recently I went to BronyCon and interviewed a few con goers, yes I enjoy the show My Little Pony, I talked to random people whether they were cosplaying or not.

That weekend was filled with me recording and interviewing people; I was even on a panel for Legends of Equestria, a fan made MMO inspired by the show. When I came home and started editing what I had recorded it dawned onto me, I have the freedom to cover events like this because I don’t have anybody telling me what is appropriate for my work, soon after I also realized that wasn’t a great thing.

While I enjoy the freedom to cover what I want it doesn’t cover the fact that I can do that because I’m not tied to a contract. A contract that would pay me to cover these things and help me travel to even more conventions, but would it be worth trading freedom and fun for a ball and chain job?

I wish I could answer that without any doubts, but the truth is, being a freelance journalist sucks.

What’s The Problem?

Getting into the field of journalism is odd, just like many professions, there are a lot of ways to get your work out there but it doesn’t mean that it’ll be seen.

It’s tough to get the attention of IGN or Kotaku and it’s just as tough as finding an audience on YouTube. Everybody wants to be entertained, that’s why journalism is pushing more video content than ever before, arguably that’s why Let’s Plays work so well.

In the realm of written work websites are looking for stories that will get people to click on the site and make comments on the story, this gives out a sense of community, when new readers see that they are lead to believe that the site is a well trusted among other gamers and this they will continue to visit.

Editors will try to find the most interesting story they can find, this is why we get the infamous click bait articles, it’s easier to get people to visit when you’re doing more than just reporting news and/or reviews. Editorials are money makers because the writer can strike up a conversation among readers, for better or worse.

I once wrote an editorial about my thoughts on Japanese games and the reasons many gamers seem to have a dislike for them; I talked about character designs and the obsession with putting clearly underage children in sexual positions and situations. One commenter ripped my article a new one and claimed I was ignorant and didn’t understand why the games were made in such a fashion, despite me explaining those things in my piece, needless to say it was the biggest article I had written hit wise. That stupid article brought in readers not because they were interested in looking at how people saw the genre in an intelligent way, they clicked to argue and give their opinions and attack anybody who disagrees with them.

I didn’t write another editorial until I joined a different website, there I wrote about how reviewing games wasn’t as great as one may have thought, that piece got a few hits, there was nothing controversial about it, nothing that would set readers apart and spark outrage. Readers complain all of the time about any site putting out click bait but they continue to read them and that is why journalists keep making them, they create hits and hits create money, so who cares about integrity when you can create your own controversy and have people visit until they become so familiar with the site they come back due to habits?

What exactly does this have to do with being a freelance journalist? Because I don’t get contracts, I only get paid depending on how many hits my article(s) bring in, this is the most common form of payment as this is the cheapest way to pay a writer. That may not sound too bad, until you find out that you’re getting paid a certain amount after reaching a certain milestone.

Some sites can’t or won’t even pay the writers, they will always go with the ‘it’ll be great exposure and experience,’ excuse. People who draw can get away with saying no and demand to be paid, there are a lot of sites where an artist can show off their skills, the same doesn’t really apply for writers.

While there are wonderful sites for writers, like Inkspired, they’re more for writers to discover and inspire other writers. Many sites that are looking for workers will claim that once they get bigger they will be able to pay, but don’t expect any back pay for your past work, and sites get away with it because they know it’s difficult for an amateur to get anywhere without having any published work.

Covering Down

Being freelance is great for jumping around and experiencing different sites, the more places you have published work the better, just don’t expect to make enough to buy more than just cups of ramen noodles for a few weeks, or months, so how can I afford to travel around and cover events? I can’t really, in order to cover special events I have a day job and that job keeps me from leaving too far due to travel expenses.

I have gained enough exposure that from time to time I’ll get an email invitation to an event. I got a press pass to New York Comic Con in 2013, I had a chance to go to E3 in 2014 and 2015 but couldn’t make it, there were multiple events around New York and even a few outside of the U.S., but I couldn’t afford the expenses nor could I get the time off. A contract with a publisher could have covered at least the plane tickets or hotel room, which ever is cheaper.

I know nothing is owed to me, I buy my tickets to travel and hotel rooms, and I enjoy every last bit of it. Because I have to pay for everything out of my own pockets helps keep excited about what I want to do, in a way it keeps me humble. It all comes back to the freedom, the ability to chose what I want because it interest me and I want to share it with others.

It’s my choice to join sites that may not pay me much for my work, if at all, I recognize the risks I take by doing this. Going with sites that won’t pay I was able to get my start as a video game journalist, with published work I began to move from writing about video game news to traveling to conventions and covering them, it only took three in a half to four years!

Over the years I have reviewed dozens of games and I have reached the point where I don’t want to play every game that comes to me in an email. I know that sounds blasphemies to many gamers but it’s true, it’s exciting at first, being trusted to give an unbiased thoughtful review of a game is a real treat. Sadly after a while you’re forced to review games you wouldn’t have purchased yourself, but you must still give an honest review and put your personal thoughts aside (If that makes any sense).

What About The Good?

As I mentioned before, I have gained some decent exposure, I was given my own panel at The Boston Festival of Indie Games in 2014. The turnout wasn’t big but it was more than I thought it would be, it was great seeing people that were legitimately interested in what I had to say. Even as I write this article there is another small video game convention talking to me about holding a panel for this very subject.

I’ve had people stop and talk to me about video game journalism, including Gamer Gate, I was able to meet and speak with great people who love video games and the industry. From indie game developers that are starting up with their first game to bigger indie developers like Harmonix, even big publishers like Atlus and Sega.

I wouldn’t have been able to experience the joy and frustration of gaming journalism if it wasn’t for my decision to bite the bullet and work for exposure and not money. This isn’t an editorial to discourage new writers, this piece is to give a small personal glimpse at what to expect when you start off as a freelance journalist.

How Can Readers Help Freelance Journalists?

Patreon and Kickstarter are not ideal for a majority of journalists, very few can do this and find success. Jim Sterling is one of those very few, this is because he has shown the ability and professionalism to do his job efficiently, and because of this his viewers are willing to support him. For others the best way to show support isn’t a monthly crowd fund, instead simply sharing their work with social media can do wonders.

Social media is a journalist’s best friend, when you share one of their articles it shows the editors that people are responding to the author, this could help justify paying the creator. A lot of freelance video game journalists rely on N4G (News For Gamers), it’s one of the few sites aimed at spreading news for small gaming sites. Personally I am not a fan of the site, as are many surprisingly enough, but I still use it because I see it as a necessary evil and it can be a useful tool to attract more readers.

If the author has a YouTube channel give it a look, more views can help give the creator some extra money without you needing to reach into your own pockets. Yes, I know many people use Ad Blocker and they find it justifiable because nobody likes watching ads, but many creators use skippable ads and many websites use those ads to pay their staff.

If you’re interested in becoming a freelance video game journalist I hope my ramble was enough to help you prepare for what’s out there. This isn’t my first editorial on the subject of being a journalist and it won’t be my last.

Being a freelance video game journalist sucks, yet I love it and I wouldn’t trade it in for all of the E.T cartridges in the world. Now then, where’s my contract The Escapist?