Tag Archives: Grand Theft Auto

The Beginning Of The End For Rockstar Games?

I am, what you may call, an older gamer. I’ve been around a few years and seen my fair share of games and gaming studios over the years.

Back in 1988, I played a rather simple but pretty good arcade style shooter on the Amiga called Menace. Okay, it never blew me away but it was pretty decent none the less. The follow up, Blood Money was, and in my opinion, still is a fine shooter well worth playing today. It was around this time in 1989 when I really began to follow the team behind these 2 games. They were called DMA Design and I fast became a fan. Other top quality games followed like the impressively violent shooter, Walker. The sued by Pixar, Unirally and of course, they were the same team behind the greatest puzzle game ever made… Lemmings.

Lemmings Art

DMA Design were amazing in that late 80s – mid 90s period. But it was certain game they created in 1997 that literally changed the world of gaming forever. Grand Theft Auto. I don’t really need to go into detail over how DMA Design became Rockstar North and kickstarted the whole Rockstar Games empire… I already did that in my book, MICROBRITS, buy a copy now! But needless to say, Rockstar Games became one of the biggest and most popular gaming studios in the world and I’ve been a fan for decades, going right back to that game Menace from 88.

As a fan, as someone who has followed this company and loved their games for so long, it pains me to see what they have become in recent years. The staggering success of Grand Theft Auto V has been both a blessing and a curse for them. From my point of view, I think the cash cow that is GTA V had made the company lazy and complacent. Now before I get all the hate, hear me out. Let’s just look at their gaming output over a 5 year period…

Between 2008 – 2013:

Grand Theft Auto IV
Bully: Scholarship Edition
Midnight Club: Los Angeles
Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony
Red Dead Redemption
Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare
L.A. Noire
Max Payne 3
Grand Theft Auto V

I think you’ll agree that’s an impressive list of games and DLCs right there. In fact, I’d like to go on record as saying that the DLCs made for GTA IV and RDR are the finest pieces of DLC I have ever played and was more than happy to have paid for them, and I detest DLC in games. And that list doesn’t include ports and remasters, with the exception of Bully. And yes, they only published L.A. Noire and didn’t develop it, though some work was done by Rockstar given the troubles the developer, Team Bondi were having at the time.

Anyway, the point is that there isn’t a bad game in that list up there. Some arguably better than others sure, but an all outright bad game? Nope. Proof that even with a multi-game production run, Rockstar can do quality and quantity in equal measure. Even before those years, Rockstar continually made/published high quality games and released them frequently too.

Rockstar Titles

Now let’s look at the following 5 years…

Between 2013 – 2018:

Red Dead Redemption II

Okay so to be fair, they also re-released GTA V with a few new bells and whistles for the current generation. But just look at that drop off in production there. No impressive DLCs for GTA V (despite voice actors and Rockstar themselves claiming DLC was coming) and only 1 game?

Just very quickly want to bring up this bit of news that is still on the official Rockstar Games site

Coming in 2014
Expect big things in both Grand Theft Auto Online and Grand Theft Auto V next year including:
GTA Online Heists. We know many of you in the GTA Online community are super excited for the debut of co-operative Heists. Heists are currently in development and we are working very hard to get them as polished and as fun as they can be. Stay tuned for much more detail in the New Year.
GTAV Story Mode Updates. For those ready to jump back into the story of Grand Theft Auto V, we have big plans for substantial additions in 2014 continuing Michael, Franklin and Trevor’s action, mayhem and unexpected adventures in Southern San Andreas.

Something is not right here. Yes I know games get more advanced and take longer to develop and produce, so I guess some kind of drop off is to be expected. But just look at those 2 lists again. That’s not “some drop off”, that’s a complete lack of production.

Then look at Rockstar Games themselves. It’s not 1 studio making games, they have studios all over the world. Rockstar India, Rockstar Leeds, Rockstar Lincoln, Rockstar London, Rockstar New England, Rockstar North, Rockstar San Diego, Rockstar Toronto. That’s the list of current Rockstar game studios working today. That doesn’t include Rockstar International, their main publishing HQ or Rockstar Games HQ itself in New York.

Rockstar Games Logos

Now to be fair some of those studios listed up there are not dedicated development studios. Some work on localisations for the games, some work on ports, etc. But still, they have a lot of studios under the Rockstar Games umbrella. So with all of those resources, all of those talented staff… how do they go from 10+ games and DLCs between 2008 – 2013 to just 1 game and no DLCs between 2013 – 2018?

One such reason for the drop off in game production is the blessing and a curse that is GTA V that I previously touched upon. The fact that GTA V sold a staggering amount, the fact it went on to become the best selling piece of entertainment ever (making 1 billion dollars in it’s first three days alone), the fact that as of December 2019 GTA V has sold 120 million copies worldwide and still sells today… almost 7 years since it’s original release in 2013. The fact it continues to make a hell of a lot of money for Rockstar Games and their parent company Take-Two, both via sales and shark cards for the online portion of the game. Just the fact that 1 game has made so much money means they have rested on their laurels, it means they don’t have to make games to keep the company alive. All they have to do is keep updating GTA: Online with an overly expensive in-game new cars, a new hat every few months and idiots will continue to pay for shark cards and put money into Rockstar and Take-Two’s bank accounts as they have been for the last 7 years. Why would they spend money on expensive game production when they can just release a new update with a handful of new items and let the fans fork-out real world cash for in-game currency to buy said items making millions in profit each year from very little output?

Shark Cards

Then of course, I have to address the whole Leslie Benzies incident. I’ll not go into detail here, you can look it up for yourself, but suffice it to say that Leslie “leaving” Rockstar Games in 2016 has had an impact. For those who do not know, Leslie Benzies (for me) was the rock in Rockstar. He started out as a programmer in 1995 working on the DMA Design game Space Station Silicon Valley. In 1998, he was the one who put together the team that would create Grand Theft Auto III… to then go on to change the world of gaming from that point onward and help transform DMA Design into Rockstar North and then expand into Rockstar Games. Leslie became producer/development director/game designer for pretty much every Rockstar Games hit from that point on. He eventually became executive producer for the company. Then go read about all the troubles in developing Red Dead Redemption and how it was Leslie, as executive producer and lead designer who got the project under control and finished. For me RDR is the best game Rockstar have ever made, even it’s sequel (prequel) could not match it. My main problems with RDR II was that it was over produced and over bloated with a lot of filler… it was missing Leslie Benzies’ touch, his direction.

I don’t care what anyone else says, a Leslie Benzies-less Rockstar Games is a major downturn and has had an impact on their games and the company on the whole.

Leslie and Dan

Which brings me bang up to date with the very soon departure of Dan Houser, who is set to leave Rockstar Games in March this year. Again, just a brief history on who Dan is/was. Along with his brother Sam, Dan Houser co-founded Rockstar Games. Dan has written/co-written pretty much every GTA game from GTA 2 onward as well as penning other games like Smuggler’s Run 2: Hostile Territory, Bully, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Red Dead Redemption and it’s sequel (prequel). Dan has also been executive producer on many Rockstar titles. In short, Dan is/was a major player in Rockstar Games, the company and many of it’s games wouldn’t have existed without him. Even Take-Two’s share price dropped after the announcement that Dan was leaving. So with Dan’s soon approaching exit in a few weeks on top of Leslie’s departure, 2 of the main 3 at Rockstar are no more, leaving Sam Houser as the only original (main) member left… I wonder how long before he leaves too?

Now Take-Two have very recently put out a statement saying that Rockstar Games are stronger and better then ever (one of the founders and main writers is leaving… and things are better than ever? That’s unbelievably arrogant and disrespectful ) and that Sam has no intention of leaving. But let’s be honest, Take-Two are hardly going to put out a statement that Rockstar Games are in trouble and slowly sinking, of course they’re going to put on a brave face even if whatever is going in behind the scenes is seriously hitting the fan.

Shit Fan

And that’s just the big boys at Rockstar who’ve left, what about the lower level staff, the ones in the front line doing all the work? We know several employees left with Leslie and setup a new studioHow many more have left since Leslie’s departure that we don’t know about and how many will leave when Dan finally goes? 

Yeah I know, due to GTA V that Rockstar and Take-Two have made shit-loads of money and they have more than enough to keep afloat, but money isn’t everything. Just how much of a toll, from a creativity point of view, has milking GTA: Online (and now RDR: Online) had on the staff who crave to make new games? There’s got to be a point where staff members have had enough and want to do more than update a game over and over for 7 years, the morale and drive must be low. They must want to do what they want to do… make games, be creative again like they used to be pre-GTA V. Fans have been crying out for new Rockstar games for years now. As good (but flawed) as RDR II was… it’s still only 1 game and as covered, a huge drop off in production from before. If the talented staff at Rockstar Games hadn’t spent all that time and resources at continually making updates, adding new vehicles, clothing and game modes to GTA: Online, could they instead have made amazing DLCs like before and even new games like Bully II, GTA VI and even new IPs already?

Bully II

Rockstar Games are slowly dying, maybe not profit making wise, but creativity wise, most definitely so. The downturn of the company can be traced back to the success of GTA V and the absence of Leslie Benzies. Dan leaving soon is a far bigger blow than Take-Two are willing to admit (publicly anyway). Staff must be getting bored of not making games and readying themselves to leave if they haven’t already. We’ve seen this many, many times in the past too. A small game studio makes it big to the point where they become over inflated and burst. It’s happened a lot in the past and it will happen again.

I honestly think that Rockstar Games is slowly rotting away from the inside out. I truly believe this is the beginning of the end for the company. I’m not saying you’ll wake up tomorrow with the news that Take-Two have closed Rockstar down, this will be a gradual process as the company slowly dissolves away. Everyone waiting for GTA VI or Bully II had better not hold their breath.

RDR Grave

 

 

What Should Rockstar Games Do Next?

Only one more week!

Red Dead Redemption II.jpg

Okay so I fucking love Rockstar Games – as publishers, they have released some of the most enjoyable games I have ever played and as developers they have created characters and game worlds that have left a lasting impression on me for years. After a year long delay, we will soon be getting our hands on their latest release, Red Dead Redemption II… and I can’t wait. The first Red Dead Redemption is one of my all time favorite games and the new sequel (its really a prequel) is my most anticipated game in a decade if not ever.

Rockstar Games are a big, worldwide company with many branches, different development teams that work independently of each other as well as sometimes teaming up to craft some of the most loved games ever made. They’ve had a great and record breaking life in gaming since Rockstar Games was formed 1998, formally BMG Interactive. And I’m willing to bet that they have already begun work on their next fleet of games, even if only on an early pre-production level. At least one of their several branches must be working on something now that RDR II is so imminent.

But my question is, what should Rockstar do after the release of Red Dead Redemption II?

I guess the most obvious answer to that question is Grand Theft Auto VI. After the staggering success of GTA V, of course Rockstar would want to follow up with a new game in their most successful franchise and most probably have already been working on it in some capacity. But you know what, as much as I loved GTA V (and I really did), I’d be happy if they left it for a few years more yet despite the fact the last game was originally released back in 2013.

But before I get into my suggestions and ideas, I’d like to make a quick observation.

Have you noticed the gap between Rockstar’s games is getting longer and longer? There was a point when they would release a new game every two years or so (sometimes earlier) now its more like every five years. As I said at the start of this article, I fucking love Rockstar Games but I feel they have become a little lazy/complacent in recent years. Yeah I know they deliver highly polished and (almost) perfect games… often after numerous delays and yes I know games of their magnitude take a long time to develop. But still, they have multiple development studios and yet they can only manage an average of one game every five years as of late?

Rockstar Games Logos

Let me just go back ten years to 2008. Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto IV and it’s two amazing expansions with The Lost and Damned and The Ballad of Gay Tony. They also released Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. Then there was Red Dead Redemption and it’s brilliant add-on, Undead Nightmare. They published L.A. Noire. Developed Max Payne 3 and of course the mighty GTA V in 2013. That’s nine games (including add-ons) in the space of only five years between the release of GTA IV in 2008 to GTA V in 2013. Now lets take look at 2013 to 2018… nothing until Red Dead Redemption II in seven days. From nine games in five years to only one game in the latter five years. That’s quite a production drop off eh? I can only hope they have been working on numerous games over the last five years and will release them all pretty soon.

Anyway, back to the point.

As I was saying, the obvious game that Rockstar could announce next is GTA VI and despite my remark earlier about not being that fussed by another game in the series, if they did announce it – yeah I’d be chuffed. But I’d like to see something else from them other than more GTA, or other games as well as a new GTA anyway. Rockstar really have a rich pool in which to dive when to comes to their IPs outside of GTA. So I’d like to take a look at a few and offer some suggestions.

Bully 2

Bully

Oh how I adored the original Bully. A love letter to one of my all time favorite games growing up, Skool Daze given that distinctive Rockstar lick of paint. You played as troubled teenager Jimmy Hopkins who is forced to attended the the corrupt and seedy Bullworth Academy. A school that is as prestigious as it is scandalous. Jimmy crosses paths with all sorts of characters from geeky nerds in need of help to gangs of greasers and jocks. Mischievous and rule breaking teachers impede his mission as Jimmy uncovers a deep seeded delinquency and wrongdoing running rampant though the school.

When originally released back in 2006, Bully was nailed the cross by naysayers in the media claiming the game was a bullying simulator teaching children how to carry out bullying and the game was even accused of glorifying and trivializing school bullying. These claims were all made before Bully was even released. Of course Bully was nothing like it was being perceived in the press and it was in fact the opposite as your character stood up to the bullying and corrupt teachers trying to put and end to the immorality in the school.

Bully Fight

Anyway, I want a sequel. Bully is one of Rockstar’s best IPs not to already have a sequel. There have been rumors in the past of a new game. Back in 2009, Shawn Lee who wrote the music score for the game said he was working on Bully 2… it never happened. in 2011, Rockstar co-founder Dan Houser said they will work on Bully 2 after Max Payne 3… it never happened and then in 2013 Houser again said he has plans for Bully 2… it never happened. Even as recent as 2017 the rumors began to fly again when supposed “leaked images” of Bully 2 appeared online yet Rockstar never commented either way. Plus more recently, it has been suggested that Rockstar’s next game will be a sequel to Bully after RDR II is released. All we can do is wait and see.

Max Payne 4

Max Payne 3

Telling the story of ex-cop turned vigilante, turned bodyguard. Famed for its bullet time shootouts and action set pieces. The Max Payne franchise is fast paced (except for the slo-mo stuff) and non-stop action from start to finish. But there’s also an interesting story about the dark and twisted Max Payne himself from the first game from when his wife and new born baby daughter were brutally murdered.

Max Payne 3 Action

Max is a complex and deep character with a broken soul… who likes jumping around in slow-motion shooting people in the face. As much as I enjoyed Max Payne 3 it lacked that dark edge the previous two games had when Rockstar decided to change the presentation to a format I really didn’t like all that much with its distorted/glitched cut-scenes and all that guff. The game itself was immense fun though but if they do bring Max Payne back, I just hope they ditch the whole glitch presentation and go back to something more like the first two’s graphic novel idea. A more film noir approach. Speaking of which…

L.A. Noire 2

L.A. Noire

This game was a very mix bag title when it comes to opinions. Some people hated the game while others loved it. I always felt a lot of the hate came from groups of people expecting the game to be Grand Theft Auto in the 1940s what with it having the Rockstar name attached and all. But here’s the thing, L.A. Noire was not a Rockstar game at all. It was published by them yeah, but it wasn’t developed by Rockstar. The game was created by Team Bondi who are no longer around and closed down a few years back now.

But when Team Bondi closed, they sold the L.A. Noire IP to Rockstar who now own all rights. Rockstar then released a remaster of the game which I recently played through… and still thoroughly enjoyed it as much as my first time with the game last gen. I loved the slower pace, the clue finding and evidence collecting. The having to use the old noodle to piece everything together, check your notebook and question suspects over the various crimes. Being a detective was great fun.

L.A. Noire Badge

I hope they didn’t just buy the IP to make a remaster as I feel this game has a lot of potential. L.A. Noire was not a perfect game and I could sit here and nit-pick it even though I think its utterly brilliant. Seeing as the first game was inspired by real life crimes (namely the Black Dahlia), I’d like to see further games follow suit. As much as I loved the 1940s setting of the first game, I’d like to see them move to a 70s setting, I mean that decade was full of notable and infamous murders, Rockstar would be spoiled for choice. The Manson Family, John Wayne Gacy, The Zodiac, Son of Sam, Ted Bundy to name a few. Plus pick a city like San Francisco as its backdrop. The sequel may not make sense being called L.A. Noire 2 if the time-frame and setting is changed but you get the idea.

The Warriors 2

The Warriors.jpg

Perhaps one of Rockstar’s most overlooked games, which is a shame as its amazing. Based on the classic 70s flick about a street gang being accused of a murder they didn’t commit just trying to get back to their home turf. The film is great as was the game. It was nothing more than a scrolling beat em’ up but one made with a lot of love and attention to the source material including bringing back the original actors to reprise their rolls.

The Warriors Fight.jpg

Now I now what you are thinking, there is no The Warriors 2 film to base a game off. No there isn’t, but there wasn’t a Scarface 2 film to base a game of either, yet it exits with Scarface: The World Is Yours. I’m sure the talent at Rockstar Games could come up with a new and original story to work as a sequel. I mean the majority of the first game actually took place months before the film anyway with only the last few missions being based on the events shown in the film. So it just goes to show they can write an original story while still being inspired by the movie at the same time. Can you dig it?

More Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead Redemption Art

Goes without saying really doesn’t it? Of course I want more RDR, the first game (and I mean Redemption not Revolver) is one of my all time favourite games. The soon to be released sequel/prequel is most definitely my most anticipated game ever. I have played and finished the first game, I don’t know how many times over the last eight years but I’m sure I’m onto double figures. I just played through it again the other week as I get excited for RDR II.

Original Image

The Wild West is a great setting with hundreds of possible stories to be told. Other games could be connected to the already established lore and characters, or they could be all new tales. Either way, I don’t care. Just give me more RDR, only maybe get time between the release date a little less than eight years.

Agent

Agent

I’ve not forgotten about this one, not at all. See Agent was a game being worked on by Rockstar to be released as a PlayStation 3 exclusive – only that never happened. Interestingly, the game has never been officially cancelled either and Rockstar even renewed the copyright for the game in recent years. Plus Agent is still shown as an up and coming game on their official site (still listed as coming to the PS3) Is there a chance that Agent is still being worked on?

Agent Screen

Then there is the fact that images from the (unfinished) game have found their way online (see above). I hope the game is still being worked on as it sounded intriguing. Very little was known about Agent before everything went dark but what was known is that you played as a secret agent during the Cold War in the late 70s. The game would rely heavily on stealth gameplay. To be honest, it’s most probably is dead but as I said, it’s not been confirmed either way.

DMA/Rockstar Classics Collection

DMA Design

One of my favourite purchases of the last few years was the Rare Reply from 2015. A collection of thirty games from the legendary developer. So why not a similar thing covering DMA Design from before they became Rockstar and maybe even early Rockstar games too? Now I’m not sure how the rights thing will work out or if Rockstar Games even own any of the IPs for the older DMA games but I’m sure they could work something out.

Lemmings.jpg

Here are a few title suggestions they could include. The classic shooters Menace and Bloody Money. Lemmings would have to be included without question as would Lemmings 2: The Tribes. WalkerUnirally and Body Harvest would all be a dead certs. Plus of course I can’t forget GTA and GTA 2. Even get a little more modern with the likes of Red Dead Revolver and Manhunt maybe all topped off with improved graphic resolutions and all the usual gubbins. Ply the collection with game histories,  documentaries, makings of, artwork, etc. Throw in online multiplayer for games that are applicable and you’d have a corking collection.

Something New

New.jpg

Pretty much all of my suggestions have been other games in already established franchises (except Agent). Rockstar have some amazing talent working behind the scenes and I’m sure they could come up with some all new IPs.

I do love me some GTA and of course RDR. But there are times when I’d like to see something new. I’m a fan if these big, open world, sandbox type games. I really enjoy just exploring the map and playing around with the game mechanics, getting lost in all the distractions and side quests, etc. No one does open world games better than Rockstar – but how about something else from them? The Manhunt games were pretty popular… massively controversial, but popular. They weren’t open world and instead followed a more linear gameplay style. You may notice no mention of a new Manhunt game in this list. Well that’s not because I didn’t like the linear thing but more a case of I just wasn’t a big fan of the games in general.

The Long Dark

I’d like to see something more streamlined from Rockstar. I mean, The Warriors was linear and I loved it, so was Max Payne 3. The more restrictive game style just needs a better game within it and I’m positive that Rockstar are the developers to get it right. I’m a fan of hardcore survival, story driven games. Have you played The Long Dark? It’s brilliant with all it’s many variations on trying to survive the harsh weather. I’d love to see Rockstar do something like that with their production quality for example. A strong, story driven game with hundreds of possible variances.

Lets see some new IPs, new gameplay mechanics and ideas. A break from all these 50+ hour stories and huge open world maps.

Duo

Oh by the way. Did you know this time next week and Red Dead Redemption II is released?

Will Red Dead Redemption II Come To PC?

Yup its almost here only twenty two days left and you can tell I’m excited as all I’ve written the last few weeks are RDR related articles with a few more to follow before launch day. Very, very soon and after a year long delay, PlayStation and Xbox owners will be able to finally be able to play Red Dead Redemption II. But while console owners are gearing up to play what will easily be the best game of 2018, what about PC owners?

Comp

The first game (and I don’t mean Revolver) was never ported to the PC and this casts a little shadow of doubt over the chance of RDR II making its way to the platform too. But why didn’t RDR make it over to the PC? Well there is a rumor going around the interwebs that the game never game to PC because the coding was a mess and it was just too much trouble to port. Its a rumor that I can find no evidence about though. I’m pretty sure the messy code theory is just something some idiot said a while back and given the nature of the internets and people not bothering to check basic facts, it just spread like a bad game of Chinese whispers gotten out of hand.

I suppose there could be some truth in the code not being very easy to port to PC…but there is a major flaw with that idea. The game was designed and coded on PCs to begin with. So how could the coding for RDR be a mess and not work on PC when it was coded on a PC? The closest thing I can find that suggests there were problems with RDR is this article from 2016 that mentions problems with the development from 2006. But it never specifically mentions problems with the coding nor a PC version, just general issues with the game’s development overall and all games have troubles during the development cycle, so this is hardly news really. So we can’t really say that is proof the code was too messy to post to the PC. As I say, I chalk this one up to a rumor that spread over the interwebs and nothing more.

The Gang

So why no PC port? Well it has been confirmed by Rockstar Games’ Kris Roberts, who was one of the lead developers on RDR that they never even considered a PC port. This article right here confirms this. In the worlds of the man himself…

“I don’t think there was ever an intention to have a PC version of Red Dead Redemption”

– Kris Roberts

Could it really be that simple, that Rockstar just never even wanted to do a PC port of RDR to begin with? It does make more sense than the code not working for a game that was coded on PCs right? But I think there could be another factor and perhaps the most important one when it comes to running a successful company like Rockstar… money. See, in the same article, Kris Roberts also mentions how he was surprised that they did a PC version of Grand Theft Auto V and how that game was only originally going to be for consoles.

As we all now know, GTA V was a big seller. In fact its the most successful piece of entertainment in history. Not just game, but most profitable and successful anything. And its still making money five years after its initial release thanks to the online mode. But at the time, Rockstar didn’t know just how popular it was going to be so didn’t want to risk a PC port. It was only after the unbelievable sales that the idea to port the game to PC came about. This is a theory that can also be found with Grand Theft Auto IV. Again, GTA IV was originally a console only game, but it sold well and so was later ported to PC after strong sales. So how does all of this relate to the lack of a PC port of RDR?

Compare Pic

Look, I love RDR, you love RDR, a lot of people love RDR. But there is one very simple fact and that is RDR  is not as popular as GTA which is Rockstar’s flagship franchise. Again GTA IV was only ported to PC after the impressive sales on console, same with GTA V. RDR only shifted a little over 14 million units, now selling 14 million is lot, of course it is. But compared to GTA IV‘s 25 million sales from before RDR was released? Well its just not good enough.

So I think its a combination of the fact that Rockstar never really considered a RDR PC port and the fact that the game under-performed (compared to the previous sales of GTA IV that is.) that Rockstar just didn’t see the point in a PC version. You have to bear in mind that a later port means pouring money back into development, optimizing,  advertising, packaging, distribution and the like, all of which costs some serious coin. But if the sales are not good enough, then why risk it? In short, if RDR had been as popular as GTA IV and sold as many copies, then it most probably would’ve been ported to the PC. So the next time someone says that there was no PC port of RDR because the code was a mess, just call them an idiot seeing as the game was coded on a PC. Its really nothing more than a popularity/money issue.

Original Image

So to answer the question of, will Red Dead Redemption II come To PC? I guess that depends on the sales. I’m sure Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two have sales targets in mind and if RDR II meets and even beats those targets then they’ll want to make more money from their product and a PC version would be on the cards. So if you want to see RDR II on PC, you’d better get your fingers crossed that it sells… a lot. But with the RDR name just not as popular as GTA, there’s a good chance that won’t happen.

Are Micro-Transactions And DLC, Killing Gaming?

There has been a bit of a gaming backlash recently in regards to games being released and then offering things like micro-transactions and DLC. So much so that there has even been a petition started to regulate micro-transactions specifically to have them fall under the same laws as gambling.

Now, there is a difference between micro-transactions and DLC content. But here in this article, I’m going to try to explain why I feel both are a bad thing for gaming and why they need to be stopped. In regards to micro-transactions, there have been two big offenders recently that have hit the gaming headlines for all the wrong reasons. MiddleearthShadow of War and Star Wars: Battlefront II. So much so that when EA tried to defend micro-transactions in Star Wars: Battlefront II recently via Reddit, it became the most despised post EVER with over 680,000 down-votes so far and still counting.

Micro-Transactions

South Park MT

First things, first. Micro-transactions are gambling as you have no idea what you will get in these loot boxes that you have to pay real money for. You could get an amazing 5 star, super rare item/character that is well worth the money you pay… or you could get something much less impressive. If you are paying real world cash for an item that you have no idea what you will receive – that is a gamble, it is gambling. Also, have you noticed how opening a loot box in a game is never a simple affair? They are always accompanied by sound effects, animations, flashing lights, etc – you know the same kind of things slot machines offer to entice people to play? But its not just the fact that these thing are a form of gambling that is the problem – its also the fact that they can give players an item/character that could provide them an edge over other players. Now if someone unlocks new abilities and upgrades through playing the game fairly, through their own skills then fine, I have no problem with that at all. But if you can just spend cash to get ‘better’ at a game giving you and advantage over others – then that’s a problem and by definition that is ‘pay to win’ in a big budget, high priced game.

I am strongly against micro-transactions in fully priced games. I mean, you go out and spend around £50 ($60) for a AAA, big budget game or even more for special editions… and then they try to entice you to buy ‘loot boxes’ within said game to unlock items in the game you have already paid for. AAA, big budget games should never have micro-transactions. These companies already make millions up on millions in profit from the sales – so micro-transactions are insulting to us gamers. Now there is a very different corner of the gaming world that rely on micro-transactions. Those ‘free to play’ games you can download and play without spending a penny. These games need micro-transaction because their games are ‘free’ – I get that. But big budget games? No, not at all. ‘Loot boxes’ within major game releases should never be a part of the game… ever. And its not just a matter of spending real world money to gain items within a game – its also a fact that doing so means missing out on gameplay of the game itself.

Shadow or War MT

In MiddleearthShadow of War  – you can pay to unlock orcs. But capturing orcs is a major point of the gameplay – its also one of the better aspects of the game too. It kind of like buying the new Forza game but then paying to have the races completed for you. Why would you do that? These things are a cancer of gaming and the fact that the recent fallout from Star Wars: Battlefront II is making gaming headlines – I hope this is the turning point, the era where gamers just get so sick of micro-transactions in gaming that future publishers/developers take serious notes and realise we do not want them.

One of the major reasons why Star Wars: Battlefront II is getting the bad press is due to the unlocking of characters. The aforementioned Reddit began with this:

 Seriously? I paid 80$ to have Vader locked?

This is a joke. I’ll be contacting EA support for a refund… I can’t even playing fucking Darth Vader?!?!? Disgusting. This age of “micro-transactions” has gone WAY too far. Leave it to EA though to stretch the boundaries.

Yeah, you can understand the upset right, paying $80 for a game only to have one of the most iconic characters of the franchise locked away?

Vader Battlefront II

Now, the way you unlock characters in the game is via micro-transactions to gain in-game currency to then buy locked characters… or you can grind away playing the game over and over to gain in-game currency without spending any more cash. It sounds ‘fair’ right? Well not if you just handed over $80 for a single game. Plus there is also the fact that it had been worked out that you’d need to grind away playing Star Wars: Battlefront II for 40 hours just to unlock ONE character. You want both Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Battlefront II? That’ll be 80 hours of your life thanks. Some games don’t even have a 40 hour gameplay campaign… so how does having to play for 40 hours for ONE character make any sense?

Now to be fair, EA have recently lowered the amount of in-game currency required to unlock the characters, so no need to play for 40 hours any more right? Well no – because along with reducing the cost of the characters, they have also reduced the amount of in-game cash you earn by 75%. They publicly announced the reduction of the cost of the characters to make themselves look like they have been listening to the negative feedback – but kept the drop in game currency quiet, creating an illusion. They’ve given with one hand and taken away with the other.

I like unlockables in game though, I like getting rewarded for the hard work I put into the game. Getting a new level, character or something else that adds to the gameplay is fantastic. But there is a way to handle them and a way not to. EA’s approach in regards to locking characters in Star Wars: Battlefront II is both a great idea – but also poison to the game itself. Why are they not learning for the past?

GoldenEye

GoldenEye on the N64 is a perfect example of just how to reward players. Aside for being one of the best and most influential FPS on consoles ever –  it was also one of the most rewarding games ever created in terms of unlockables. From its extensive and hugely fun ‘cheats’ menu that added extra gameplay value with its ‘big head’ and ‘paintball’ modes to the extra hidden levels and characters you got for completing the game on various difficulty settings. Then to top the whole thing off, complete the game on its most hardest setting, and you unlocked a difficulty customisation mode where you could tailor the game in numerous ways. GoldenEye was the game that kept on giving and you didn’t have to pay extra for any of this, you didn’t have to grind away for 40 hours to unlock one character. So why could developers get it right two decades ago in 1997, but miss the point of unlockables today? Yes giving us players things to unlock is awesome – but you need to get the balance right and including micro-transactions along with stupidly long unlocking methods is a dark path that no one wants to venture down.

DLC

Food DLC

Okay, so this one is a little more tricky to handle than micro-transactions because while I can see zero point in micro-transactions for AAA games – I do understand DLC… but I still feel that its not needed in gaming.

Look, I’m an old timey gamer. I go back to the Atari 2600 days and I’ve been a gamer ever since. I’ve seen this industry grow, die, grow again. I’ve been massively impressed with just how games have evolved over the years – from the simplicity of Pong to the complexity of the games we have today. Cinematic stories to be engrossed in, engaging characters, in-depth gameplay. Its been a crazy roller-coaster ride and one I still enjoy. But when I was a young gamer growing up, we didn’t have DLC – you brought a full game and you got a full game, crazy I know. Anyone remember Combat on the Atari 2600? 27 games in one… okay so they were all variations of the same theme, but we did get 27 ‘different’ games back then built into one game. That would be sold as DLC now.

DLC is something I both enjoy and loathe at the same time, that’s because the quality of DLC varies so damn much its hard to paint it all with the same brush. I can give examples of both amazing DLC along side some absolute trash DLC… sometimes within the very same game.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is a great pick here. From the awesome DLC that was Shivering Isles which offered an in-depth piece of story expansion which featured an all new main quest along with numerous side-quests to complete. Then the same game offered the now infamous Horse Armor. DLC is and always has been very uneven and sadly for every great piece of DLC – there’s dozens of crap ones. Some companies put little to zero effort into their DLCs just because they know the game will be massively popular regardless. By ways of an example: I got the season pass for Batman: Arkham Knight for free and even though I didn’t pay for it – I still felt I was robbed due to how lacklustre the whole package was. A handful of small gameplay expansions that last around 6-8 minutes each and the cosmetics of different costume skins – I almost forgot the shitty Riddler races that no one liked in the main game anyway. It was a beyond terrible DLC package and the only reason the developers Rocksteady shat it out was because they knew it would sell given the popularity of the Batman: Arkham franchise.

Assassin's Creed II.jpg

There there are other bad examples of DLC where developers purposely withhold content for the sole reason to get players to fork out more cash to play it. I recall when I first played Assassin’s Creed II and loving the hell out of it, enjoying the engrossing story along the way… but then there were two parts of the game where it missed out on the plot. Two chunks of the game and the story just missing. It was later revealed that these missing parts would be relased as DLCs. The first being Battle of Forlì and the second was Bonfire of the Vanities. Two big pieces of the plot just removed that you had to pay for later to find out what happened. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is another game guilty of exactly the same thing. The plot is ticking along nicely, then you get to a specific point and there’s a gap in the story… and of course this was released later as a piece of DLC via The Missing Link. They even had the balls to rub it in your face that something was missing with the title of the DLC itself. How about Mortal Kombat X? Made a big deal that you can play as one of the original characters – Goro… but you then find out that to play as Goro, you have to pay extra for the privilege and even more so, it turns out that Goro was already on the disc you’ve paid for but just locked away by the developers to squeeze out more cash from you. Things like this, extra characters, costumes and similar are the bane of the DLC world. Remember playing games and unlocking characters/levels/costumes or having to quickly insert a code via the joy-pad to unlock secrets? Now, you have to pay extra to get stuff like this.

How DLC Started.jpg

Try to imagine if they did this with other forms of media. So you’ve just gone out and brought the latest Blu-ray of a film you’ve been looking forward to watching. You get it home and thrust the disc into your player, sit back in your favourite comfy chair and relax as you watch your film… only about half way through you notice there is a big chunk of the film missing or a character blocked behind a big black box – and then a message pops up on screen asking for for credit card details to ‘unlock’ the missing scenes or characters. We just wouldn’t put up with this shit in films or books, etc… so why do we do so with games?

Now the reason I wrote this article to begin with was due to a conversation I was having on a gaming forum where the subject of DLC was brought up. Without boring you with the details, basically someone said that DLC is (and I quote) “a requirement in gaming” because game companies “don’t make much money from the sale of the games alone”. They also said that “game prices have remained pretty much the same for the last 20 odd years” or so while “game development costs have continued to grow and grow”. Now, that all sounds pretty fair right? If games have remained the same cost for over two decades while development costs have increased – that says a lot about why DLC exists… except its not that black & white is it?

GoldenEye cart

You see 20 odd years ago we were (mainly) playing games on cartridges as digital media was still in its infancy. Just going back to GoldenEye for a second, it would have set you back around $60-$70 back in 1997. A new game now will damage your wallet for around the same today… but it’ll most probably be on a Blu-ray disc and not a cartridge because cartridge games are more expensive to manufacture and that expense had to be passed onto the consumer. Notice how Nintendo Switch games are more expensive than the same game on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One? Because the SD cards Nintendo use are more expensive to produce.

So that is one reason why game prices have not increased much (or at all) over the last 20 years… because they are cheaper to make now… unless you own a Switch. And if you don’t like that reasoning, then the games industry as a whole has exploded in the last 20 years too. Where once selling a couple of million units was considered a success – today, that would be seen on as a flop as more people now buy games than ever before and this too has helped keep the cost of games down because more are being sold. Then just to finish this point, my retort to companies don’t make much money from games – I’ll just go back to Star Wars: Battlefront II‘s publisher EA for a second. Their net worth as of 2017 is 1.210 billion dollars with 7.718 billion in total assets and an operating income of 1.224 billion dollars… yeah I can see they are struggling to make money. I bet their CEO struggles to put food on he table right?

I also used another line of defence to demonstrate my opinion that DLC is not needed in gaming via the use of a certain gaming company. One that is both guilty of offering micro-transactions and DLC but also made a hugely successful game with zero paid for DLC at all. A company that is both a prime example of why we don’t need DLC in gaming but also gave us some of the best DLC ever.

Rockstar logo

Rockstar are one of my all time favourite game developers/publishers. It has been recently announced that the eagerly awaited Red Dead Redemption II will feature micro-transactions. Bad Rockstar… except this was not their decision as it came from higher up with their parent company Take-Two. The mighty Grand Theft Auto V also featured micro-transactions via their Shark Cards for the multiplayer aspect of the game… again a decision from Take-Two not Rockstar themselves. I’ve already said my bit on micro-transactions and I hope they die a fast and painful death soon and with all the bad press they are getting right now – maybe Take-Two will reverse their micro-transactions decision with RDR II?

To get back to the point of DLC, Rockstar have given us three pieces of simply awesome DLC from their games. Grand Theft Auto IV‘s The Lost and DamnedThe Ballad of Gay Tony DLCs were fantastic. Giving fans a continuation of the main story along with new gameplay features and mechanics. They were pretty big too adding dozens of hours of gameplay value. Then there was Red Dead Redemption‘s Undead Nightmare – which similarly to the GTA IV DLCs gave players a whole new story with new gameplay features and mechanics along with hours and hours of gameplay. These DLC were well worth the money.

Now let’s take a look the biggest game Rockstar has developed so far and the biggest selling game of all time – Grand Theft Auto V.

GTA V.jpg

More than 800 million dollars in worldwide revenue, equating to approximately 11.21 million units sold in less than 24 hours of being released. Sales totalling $2,079,480,000 by March 2015 and around 52 million copies sold since its release in 2013… again these figures were accurate as of March 2015. The game is still selling now (hence why it still holds a decent price) and how much paid for DLC does GTA V have? None, yet it’s online portion has continually been updated with FREE content for several years now… FREE content. Some of that FREE content even carries over to the single player game… for FREE.

Yeah you can bring up Shark Cards if you wish and I’ll rebuttal with this…
They are not a necessity, anyone can play GTA: Online without spending anything and still get all the FREE DLC in both multi and single player. Also, GTA: Online didn’t exist when GTA V was first released and making 800 million dollars in the first 24 hours alone. So you can’t blame Shark Cards for that – it made its money on the game it was at the time. GTA V has been the  most profitable game made so far and not a single piece of paid for DLC either… but loads of FREE DLCs and updates adding more content.

So please get out of here with all that ‘games are too expensive to produce and they don’t make profit’ when GTA V broke sales records in 24 hours, made more profit than any other game so far, gets continually updated with FREE content and features no paid for DLC. So if the most expensive game so far to be produced can bring in that kind of money in 24 hours alone with no paid for DLC or micro-transactions… then why can’t other games? Some people are still screaming for some story based DLC for GTA V – but here is the main point… it doesn’t ‘need’ it. Its a game that is 100% complete upon release (not including the online aspect), just how games used to be. Buy a game and get a full game.

No More DLC

DLC is most definitely not a requirement of gaming and if developers put all of the games out there from the get go like GTA V being 100% complete from day one, maybe they could see better sales minus the micro-transactions, DLC and other withheld content. You know, just what gaming used to be like. What a great future of gaming that could be… just like the past.

What I Don’t Want From Red Dead Redemption 2

There’s going to be a new Red Dead Redemption 2 announcement very soon (in only a few hours in fact).

Red Dead Redepmtion 2 Teaser

Yes, Rockstar have been doing what they do best by teasing us fans when they Tweeted the above image and nothing else. But what is coming in a few hours? A new trailer? Gameplay footage? Online mode reveal? A confirmed release date?… another delay?

We can do nothing but wait…

Its been almost a year since Rockstar released the first teaser trailer in October of 2016 when they also teased a fall 2017 release date and if things had worked out – we most probably would all be playing Red Dead Redemption 2 right now. Of course the game was delayed until 2018 (as some predicted months ago), so no Red Dead Redemption 2 for us.

In the almost 12 month wait between that first trailer, Rockstar have remained very tight lipped and with the exception of a few images – they’ve shown us nothing. But this has not stopped fans from predicting what the new game will be about. A full on and direct sequel is what the title suggests, but given the fact the last game ends just as the wild west era was dying out – a sequel seems doubtful… possible but doubtful.

Others think it’ll be a prequel filling in the backstory of John Marston and his involvement with Dutch van der Linde’s gang that served as the backbone of the plot for Red Dead Redemption. Some have even suggested that’ll it could be both a sequel and a prequel featuring John’s son Jack Marston. With the player being both Jack in the ‘present’ telling the story of his father in the past via stories he was told growing up. But no matter what theory you look into – there’s one central factor that seems to be a fan favourite and that is that John Marston will be in Red Dead Redemption 2.

John Marston

Now, I love me some John Marston. In fact I would say he’s probably one of my all time favourite game characters ever. He’s charismatic, humble, caring as well as being a total bad-ass. The ending to Red Dead Redemption is still one of the most emotional and hard hitting game endings I’ve experienced and I miss playing as John as much as the next fan. But do you know what? I don’t want John in Red Dead Redemption 2.

Well let me rephrase that. I don’t want John as a main playable character. If Red Dead Redemption 2 is going to be a prequel – then I’d rather that Rockstar come up with all new characters and story. As much as I adore John Marston, I feel I’d rather play as a new character or characters – given Grand Theft Auto V’s multiple character mechanic, I’m sure we’ll see that return here too. But also like the Grand Theft Auto franchise, I always enjoy how they create all new characters for each game.

GTA V Characters

There are often references and ties to previous games (within each new Grand Theft Auto generation) and characters from one game can often appear in another. This is something I’d like to see with Red Dead Redemption 2 – a whole new set of main characters to play as but maybe have them cross paths with Dutch’s gang and John. Intertwine the stories and let us peak into the window of John’s previous life before Red Dead Redemption, sure have that story going on the background -but give us a totally new set of main characters to play as in the main story.

Yeah I love me some John Marston but I also think his history should remain just that – history. Keep it under wraps and leave us fans to make up our own mythology of John. Oh yeah, one more thing… a lot less wild flower picking too.

RDR giff

Just have to wait for the big reveal now…

GTA V: Judgement Day

Who doesn’t love Grand Theft Auto V? And who doesn’t love the James Cameron flick – Terminator 2: Judgement Day?… well me. But that is not the point, because a fan of both with a hell of a lot of time on their hands had melded the two. Using a heavily modded version of Grand Theft Auto V to recreate Terminator 2. Okay, so its not the entire film which runs at a a little over 2 hours. This fan made GTA film is just over an hour long. But it does hit all the major scenes.

Using audio taken directly from the movie to tell a more condensed take on the film. This GTA version is pretty damn impressive and even recreates the opening credits and every memorable scene from the movie right up to the ending.

Full credit goes to Kramer’s Media for this impressive feat. You can watch GTA V – T2 right here…

Grand Theft Auto: Part IV

Here is the final part of my retrospective of the GTA franchise where I offer my own personal views on the main games in the series and share hopes for the franchise in the future.

GTA logo

GTA as a whole has been one amazing and thrilling journey, from playing the original back in 1997 to getting lost (in a good way) in GTA V today. Seeing the evolution of this series has been as rewarding as it has been exciting.

From humble beginnings in the original GTA with it’s simplistic gameplay to today’s efforts and their much deeper and involved stories, characters and style. GTA has had plenty of ups and downs over the years.

Lets start at the beginning…

GTA: Back in 1997 when I first played the original GTA, it was a gaming experience that left a lasting impression on me. The game was very unique for the time with allowing us gamers to be a bad guy. But there was also that open world aspect giving us freedom to do whatever we wanted within the game world. It was not the first open world game…but it was one of the best and most detailed.
I still think GTA has some great gameplay even today and should rightfully be remembered as the game that started a worldwide popular franchise.

GTA 2: This was pretty much more of the same, but with a few bells & whistles. The gameplay remained pretty much untouched as did the (now dated) graphics. GTA 2 never really impressed me as much as GTA did, but I still found it a great game overall.

GTA III: Probably the game that most people will remember playing. When GTA dropped the 2D sprite based graphics and went 3D for the first time, people began sit up and take notice. Not my personal favourite game in the franchise, but it is the one that made the gaming world take notice and set in place the future of open world games from that point on.

GTA: Vice City: Still to this day this my own personal favourite of the franchise so far. It just seemed to have nailed everything. From it’s awesome 80’s soundtrack, timeframe and attitude. To it’s glorious sun kissed city that was a stark antithesis to that of GTA III’s grittier Liberty City. The characters felt like they were right out of a cheesy 80’s TV show. The plot was a simple “rise to the top” inspired by Scarface. GTA: Vice City got it all right out of the box.

GTA: San Andreas: Often cited as the big “fan favourite”, but for me…not the best. This is where Rockstar seemed to have lost their way and just decided to go for a “bigger is best” attitude. While I did enjoy this game, for me it never felt like a true GTA game and more like someone trying to copy Rockstar’s style. I thought the map was too big and often lifeless and the writing was just flat. It was an ambitious idea, but I think the technology just was not there to make GTA: San Andreas the game it deserved to be.

GTA: IV: I recall the backlash from fans when they found out that not only would there be only 1 city after GTA: San Andreas had 3, but also the fact it was going to be Liberty City…again. Even I felt a little “cheated”, not by the 1 city thing as that did not bother me. But more by the fact the game was to be set in Liberty City…again. However, my worries soon disappeared when I played the game. GTA: IV was a work of genius and just what the franchise needed after the overblown GTA: San Andreas. GTA: IV was not only a palate cleanser, but it also grew in terms of writing with a more grounded style after the OTT GTA: San Andreas. Just like GTA III before it, GTA: IV showed the franchise evolve and grow.

GTA: V: There really is not much I can say that has not already been said about GTA: V. If GTA: Vice City is my favorite of the franchise so far, GTA: V is really not too far behind. With it’s immersive and detailed world GTA: V brought the very best gaming environment I have experienced so far. It’s characters were well written, acted and even believable. GTA: V seemed to have merged to more “grounded” elements of GTA: IV with the more fun aspects of GTA: San Andreas and made them work to perfection.

But what is left for the franchise?
After 15 years and 15 games in the series (including spin offs and DLCs), I still think there are plenty of scenarios and characters to explore. GTA always has been such a diverse franchise that Rockstar could delve into.
But I hope they keep to the more “grounded” reality of GTA: IV and GTA: V, and I would really like to see them play around with different timeframes as they used with GTA: Vice City and GTA: San Andreas. I think my biggest complaint about the latest generation of GTA is that they have played it safe and stuck to the modern era. Why not got back to the 80’s again? Maybe even a 60’s set Vegas inspired GTA, or even a 1930’s/40’s classic gangster Chicago concept. The possibilities are endless.
Another notion I enjoyed was the multi character angle from GTA: V and hope to see this return and expanded on in future titles. Or even include and advancing timeline where you play over years within the narrative of the game and see characters and the environment age and alter.

I hope the GTA franchise continues for many years to come, as long as Rockstar keep churning out quality titles as they have done for the last 15 years…I’ll keep on playing.
I simply can not wait to see what the next generation of GTA will bring, but if GTA: V is anything to go by then we are in for a thrilling and interesting 4th generation of GTA.

Thank you for reading my retrospective of the GTA franchise, I know it’s been a long read but I hope you enjoyed it.
Please feel free to send me comments/feedback and hope you’ll join me in my next retrospective soon.

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