So, here’s the thing: We have Destiny. You’ve probably heard of it, so have has your cousin’s roommate that once played NHL ’94 – it’s kind of a popular game. As of tomorrow, we’ll have The Division. It’s unlikely your cousin’s roommate, who ignored the far inferior NHL ’95, will hear about The Division. The marketing budget isn’t there, and you can’t add something like “From the makers of Halo” before it, so it won’t have any history/legacy to pull from. 

How do games go mainstream? What IS mainstream these days? The top 10 best sellers list for 2015 and 2014 have the same familiar faces: 2 Call of Dutys, a FIFA, and NBA 2K and a Madden. What does it take to break the stranglehold these franchises hold on the mainstream public and the top of the charts? 

Friday, 5:00 pm – Albert

There are a lot of mixed reviews with The Division. It has my curiosity but I will explore that game after some patches and game play kinks have all been worked out. I am feeling more and more that I have the patience to wait and grab it next time — perhaps when I have a better computer?

I am playing Stardew Valley. It was weird. I saw the game, thought it was neat and added it to my Wish List. The next day I saw a friend buy it and play it for 6 hours in which I thought that was enough for me to purchase it straight out full price. It is an interesting game. People compare it to Nintendo games, notably, Harvest Moon. I’ve never played that game but I still find it quite a fun game. It’s very open-ended and there is something therapeutic about just creating a farm: watering, planting, cutting trees, stones, etc. There are fighting elements in mines, social aspects (apparently you can date and get married), and you can forage objects, fish, and craft… all with a fun cartoon-y wrapper. Get that on the wishlist if that didn’t pique your interest and get it on sale. But for now… I have to water these strawberries because THEY BE PAYING LIKE 300 GOLD BITCHES.

Wednesday, 12:52 pm – Gavin

I’m anxiously waiting for some reviews of The Division.  I’ve long-held that I quite enjoy the Ubisoft product – their production values are exceptional and I find that the final game produced is slick and substantial in (mostly) the right ways.  Not having any particular heritage doesn’t bother me (and no, “Tom Clancy’s” doesn’t count).  I haven’t played a good solid RPG in quite some time (Deus Ex notwithstanding, as that was a replay back in 2015), and I’ve been hankering for one.  The Division and The Witcher 3 are both standing out to me as the type of game I’d like to play, though I do need to solve the mystery of “well how am I actually going to play it, since my laptop is garbage?”.  I have a gift card for Best Buy burning a hole in my pocket, so perhaps the next console sale will see one in my house.

It’s so difficult for new IP to break down the walls of the mainstream gaming world.  The best sellers are ALWAYS existing IP.  Very rarely do new franchises or new IP see excellent sales – not even the brilliant The Last Of Us got in as high as it should have.  Unfortunately, risks aren’t often rewarded – games do well in the gaming crowd, but rarely do they achieve popularity according to the layman.  Gone Home was very successful in 2013, but it’s got nothing on the established history of Call of Duty, Super Mario Brothers, etc.

This weekend was quite the gaming weekend for me.  I fired off another playthrough of Axiom Verge, which I’m about ready to say was actually my GOTY 2015.  The flaws are still there, but they’re dampened and muted.  I’m willing to look past them, especially now that I’m a bit more comfortable with the controls, the flow, and the layout.  I can easily see myself replaying this on a regular basis.

I also ticked off chapter 1 of the King’s Quest reboot.  It’s absolutely gorgeous and fluid, and the voice acting is on point.  You now cannot get stuck at any of the puzzles, deaths are dealt with quickly and humourously, and the dialogue is quite funny.  There’s still a bit of trial-and-error in some places, and failing at a puzzle may force you to watch an unnecessary cutscene, but as a first entry into a series with significant nostalgia factor, it’s very strong.  It took me quite a while though – I spent about 5 or 6 hours on it!  For an episodic game, that’s huge.  Now, I was definitely wandering around a lot, and a few puzzles took me longer than I’d like to admit, but nonetheless, even at half the length, it’s still on the more substantial end.

I capped it off with a bit of Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.  Already played, but just wanted to get a sense for them again.  Short take: PT is good but not as good as Chaos Theory, and Prime 2 isn’t as good as Prime 1.  Both of the games are still very worth playing though.

Monday, 12:48 pm – Ricky

I’m going to give The Division a try, but I’m not sure I can sell my friends on the idea of an $80 PC game. I’m also not sure how much single player content the game will actually have. Does that matter to the mainstream gaming public? I’d imagine it matters less than it used to – all of the top sellers I listed have some sort of multiplayer mode, and the top seller of them all – Call of Duty – is known mostly for it’s multiplayer offering.