A Very General Overview
Congratulations! You’ve survived another unbelievable week in the world of gaming.
With Horizon Zero Dawn, Breath of the Wild, and Nier Automata, March has felt like an overwhelmingly positive time for the games industry, but the last few days have seen that good sentiment tanked by outcry over the upcoming launch of Mass Effect Andromeda.
If you’ve somehow missed it here’s the brief: Mass Effect Andromeda, a new stand alone addition to the Mass Effect series, launches later this week in the US and European markets. Review copies are already out there, along with roughly ten hours of game that’s been made available for subscribers to EA Access. However, the discussion around the game has become almost exclusively centred on the quality of the character animation, both facial and full-body. It’s now easy to go online and find footage of goofy walks, derpy faces, and unnervingly twitchy eyeballs. The backlash against the studio Bioware has been quick and severe, with many gamers outraged that a AAA game can have such poor quality work, a situation exacerbated when some of the developers came out and said there were no plans to improve the animation with a launch day patch, and being vague about them ever being corrected saying: “that ship has sailed”.
Unfortunately for some it wasn’t enough to direct their anger at Bioware as a company and they needed to find an individual. Of course the person they picked was a woman, an animator and former cosplayer, and of course vitriol and death threats followed shortly after. This has prompted Bioware to issue a general statement decrying threats against their employees and promising to support the staff affected.
Watching a lot of this unfold was particularly interesting for me. I’m fairly vocal about being a gamer but increasingly quiet about my once-life as an animation student. Seeing a lot of assumption and misinformation bouncing around I wanted to step in and try and clear up a few things – very generally as I was not involved in this particular project – but hopefully try and give a better understanding of how some of these things work and where they can go wrong.
NB: For now when I say “Europe” I am still including the UK in that group, largely because it’s shorter and easier but also because writing this note took more thought than has currently been put into the plan for leaving, so I can’t begin to guess what’s going to happen. Aussies you’re also included because Europe means PAL and PAL is what currently runs on Australian region-locked consoles. Sorry.
Earlier today an announcement was made that Atlus – bought by Sega of America earlier this year – has now also formed a partnership with publisher Deep Silver, who will be handling all European Atlus game releases henceforth.
For the last few years, Atlus’s European offerings have been released through NIS America, through their sub-section NISA Europe. In case the name Atlus doesn’t immediately bring anything to mind, they’re the developers behind the increasingly popular Persona and Shin Megami Tensei series, the Etrian Odyssey games, and newer properties such as Stella Glow. If you have a taste for Japanese RPGs then there’s probably at least one Atlus game in your collection. They are currently building up towards one of the most highly anticipated releases in their history – Persona 5 – which made it all the more concerning when word broke that Atlus and NIS America were ending their contract together to publish games in Europe.
Yes, I have noticed that we’re a good couple of weeks into June now and most people did their MCM write-ups a while ago, but I’ve been turning my thoughts on this year’s convention over in my head and trying to decide if I should write anything at all. If you want to know what stands were there, see some excellent cosplay, this is not the place. We need to talk about MCM Comic Con – honestly.
I went to MCM for the first time when I was sixteen – a good eleven years ago. Back then manga was limited to what you could find in Waterstones or Borders, and anime to overly expensive dvds with only two to three episodes. MCM was like Narnia, a magical land of everything I could have ever wanted – and no judgement.
Eleven years on and the show has become a Behemoth. While still in the same location each year has seen it spread out more and more, taking up additional wings of the Excel Centre as it now includes a wide variety of different interest groups. The number of visitors is incredible, with tickets often selling out completely for the most popular days.
But the actual show is a mess.