A reader is depressed by the information from Microsoft and the success of Palworld and worries what the developments of 2024 imply for the longer term.
What a begin to the 12 months this has been, and I don’t imply that in a optimistic method. As I write this, I’m studying about Microsoft’s choice to lay off 1,900 people for what amounts to s***s and giggles. Microsoft is worth $3 trillion and could afford to pay all these people a $1 million a year for a thousand years (do the maths) and still have plenty of money in the bank. They’ve done it because they can and because it makes them look good to investors, to earn more money that they’re not going to share with the people that earn it for them.
Not that there’s anything unusual about Microsoft, just their scale, with over 5,000 people laid off this year so far, for no good reason. Are game sales going down? No. Are any of these companies, like Epic Games, Riot Games, or Sony, in financial difficulty? No. So why are they doing it? Because their profits aren’t growing quite as fast they’d like. And why are they doing it all at the same time? Because everyone else is – so you don’t want to feel like you’re missing out on a good idea.
I’m not being funny, these are the facts of what is going on. Insomniac Games makes the only decent new game Sony has had out in the last two years and what happens to them? Job cuts. Microsoft buys Blizzard and boss Phil Spencer takes a snapshot with a huge crowd where he’s smiling like he’s just won the lottery… what happens next? Blizzard get more job cuts than any other part of Xbox.
We all remember that time the Wii U flopped and Nintendo’s board of directors all took a pay cut, but these Western publishers sure don’t. They probably joke about the very idea in the executive toilet, like that scene out of RoboCop.
On top of this, we’ve had Sony doing absolutely nothing, as usual, with rumours that the next State of Play will be yet another non-event. The release schedules are barren of any interesting new games (can’t wait for the 6/10 Suicide Squad reviews!) and the whole of gaming just seems to be in a miserable, depressing mess.
And then along came Palworld.
I don’t know what’s worse, that it’s a disgustingly cynical patchwork of other people’s games and character designs or that it’s one of the biggest runaway hits in years, despite being a paid-for game. If it was free then fine, I guess I could understand, but people are paying real money for this and arguing that it’s a good game.
I’m not trying to tell people what they should and shouldn’t like but if you like Palworld how bad does something have to be before you don’t like it? The combat is bad, the dungeons are terrible, the crafting and the base-building is a grind fest.
Considering how much people complain about Pokémon, Palworld is also filled with bugs and glitches and it has virtually no story. Many think developer Pocketpair created the creature designs with AI but the whole thing feels like that, with all the backdrops and landscapes taken from Zelda: Breath Of The Wild.
It’s the video game equivalent of an AI image where it looks like a real person at first and then you realise it’s got six fingers on each hand and the legs are going the wrong way. It’s just a hideous parody of a video game. It should be held up as proof of what can go wrong when AI and people with no talent are given a budget but instead it’s rewarded a million times over with endless sales.
I dread to think what that is going to mean for the future of gaming and frankly it has me depressed. Depressed that so many people don’t care about the quality of a game, just whether they’re playing the one that’s fashionable at the moment and is generating the most memes.
It’s all so awful. I’m hopeful the Switch 2 will be something positive but until then I think I’m going to take up bird watching or something. At least when that hobby s***s on you, it’s not on purpose.
By reader Hostman
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