It’s Wednesday, the best day of the week if you’re a gaming news fan! Despite my inability to find any time to beat Night in the Woods (it’s been a busy couple of weeks), I’m still consuming all the news and regurgitating it in a helpful digest form just for you, like a supportive mama bird. With that nasty image out of the way, let’s get to the news, shall we?
Mass Effect Andromeda Marred By Poor Early Reception
We make no secret of the fact that most of us are BioWare fans here at WWAC, but even our faves get side-eye from time to time. Mass Effect: Andromeda’s release has been tarnished by some early responses, including wonky animations and robotic-looking faces, which won’t be fixed at launch.
i dont think ill ever get tired of trashing the new Mass Effect pic.twitter.com/jwXxdaRCtU
— Nathan Ranney (@RatCasket) March 16, 2017
Personally, I’m not all that bothered by weird animations–BioWare games appeal to me for story and character reasons, not their (lack of) photorealism. But that’s not the only issue plaguing the release. As Tanya DePass points out in her Medium piece, BioWare has once again failed to include realistic natural hair styles. It’s an ongoing problem in games with even the most robust character creators, and it’s not a lack of resources, as DePass explains, but rather a lack of interest.
Likewise, Andromeda‘s introduction of a transgender side character is a step backward for the developer. Though Dragon Age and Mass Effect are largely written by two separate teams, it’s disappointing to see BioWare take such a drastic misstep (a misstep right off a cliff, some would say). They can, and should, and must, do better.
The Ups, Downs, Lefts, and Rights of the Console Wars
I haven’t gotten my hands on a Switch yet, but not because of the shortage–I just haven’t had time. Thankfully, for those of you that are waiting for the Switch to reappear in a store near you, Nintendo has good news. They’ll be doubling their production starting April 1, giving far more people a shot at playing Breath of the Wild on their newest console.
Despite the high demand for the Nintendo Switch in 2017, console sales actually shrunk by 2.5 percent in 2016. Sony led the pack with a 57 percent market share, though price drops and slower sales meant a decrease overall. With the release of the PlayStation Pro, the Xbox Scorpio, and the newly launched Switch this year, there’s a strong chance 2017 will help the industry recover from last year’s slip in profits.
LGBTQ+ Characters Aren’t the Only Gamble in eSports
We’re living in a post-Tracer world, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have room for progress in LGBTQ+ representation, especially in AAA titles. But writers, developers, and publishers still seem to have trouble incorporating these characters into their stories when the focus isn’t romance. As League of Legends design director Greg Street told Polygon, “both League and Overwatch are global games. There are countries whose laws around things that we consider pretty normal at this point in the U.S. are not the same way.”
Street said that LoL may explore their characters’ orientations in material outside of the core game, as Overwatch did with Tracer. Why it’s so difficult to implement, as if LGBTQ+ characters are somehow more difficult to write than characters we assume are straight, remains one of the world’s great mysteries. Here’s a hint: if you’re really worried about it, let your marginalized writers handle it. And if you don’t have any, hire some! Todd Harper breaks down why this “it’s not the right time” argument stinks over at Chaotic Blue.
In other eSports news, despite unregulated gambling being illegal in most places, it’s still prominent. It’s a complicated world of betting with skins or bitcoin to skirt the rules against it or at least eliminate some of the risks. As Maddy Myers discusses in this piece, match-fixing is a growing problem in eSports thanks to comparatively small prize pools and wages versus the profit to be made on gambling. It’s a great read, particularly if you’re interested in the ways this new sport is developing.
Gaming News Tidbits
Dungeons & Dragons has finally developed a method to stop players from forgetting their character sheets–a digital management system for character information, rules, and a whole host of other information.
Sorry, Sonic fans. It looks like you’ll be waiting another few months before you get to go fast in Sonic Mania. The long-awaited title has been delayed until summer 2017. Hopefully, the delay will mean a better game in the long run.
The ongoing saga of gamer YouTube drama continues, as Game Grumps co-founder and JonTron creator Jon Jafari revealed his extremist views about immigration and a whole host of other topics. He’s lost a fair few subscribers as a result, and even long-time fans are questioning whether they want to keep consuming his content in light of his views.
Telltale CEO Kevin Bruner stepped down this week. Bruner cited the company’s enormous growth as a positive, and said that he would “pass the reins to someone that can better drive Telltale to the next level and realize all the potential that is here.” That someone is co-founder Dan Connors, who will take up the CEO role in Bruner’s stead.
That’s it for this week! Have a good one, and think fondly of me as I drown in work with no time to play video games.
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Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.