The (Proverbial) Endgame
From what I’ve experienced, the phenomenon that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe has taken the world by storm. As “Avengers: Endgame” is set to release and the world waits for the epic conclusion to a 22 movie saga, I’ve realized than an excellent thing to be doing rather than twiddling my thumbs and waiting would be to play some video games. This week was a bad one for Netherrealm Studios, creators of “Mortal Kombat 11.” I touched briefly on some issues with microtransactions before the game had actually released, but now that the game has officially launched, previous concerns have been brought to light, and “Mortal Kombat” has now come under fire for what some see as “lengthy grind walls”. Audiences are upset that they are unable to properly customize their characters to their likings with a great deal of options are locked behind near-impossible challenges. Furthermore, PCgamer has released an article involving former developers at Netherrealm speaking out against severe crunch that they experienced while working on the “Mortal Kombat” series. The only few bits of positive news seems to be that “Super Smash Bros Ultimate” has been crowned the best selling fighting game ever, and that is unfortunately it, so let’s get into it.
“Super Smash Bros” is a game that nearly every household owns, and at a party there’s always a couple of people sitting in front of the TV getting a couple rounds of “Smash” in. Nintendo has reported it’s best year since 2009, and “Smash Bros Ultimate” is a significant portion of that success. The game has now beaten “Mortal Kombat X” to become the best selling fighting game of all time at nearly 14 million copies. It’s great to hear that Nintendo is doing so well, as nearly everyone is a fan of the Japanese game company that has given us characters like Mario, Link, and Zelda. Since we’re only in April, I suspect that Nintendo is just warming up for a year for the record books.
Over the past few months, many developers have come forward with stories about horrific work-conditions. Epic Games (“Fortnite”), Rockstar Studios (“Red Dead Redemption 2”), and now Netherrealm Studios have all come forward to talk about what happens when employees are forced to “crunch”. Former employees at Netherrealm studios have explained that for several titles, from “Mortal Kombat X” to “Injustice 2,” they were forced to work 90-100 hour work weeks, and sometimes paid only 12 dollars an hour. Some employees filed complaints, but they fell on deaf ears. PCgamer has reached out to Netherrealm and their parent company Warner Brothers, but had received no response. I’m glad that all this news is coming to light, as I hope that it motivates these gaming companies to start taking more care of their employees. While the gaming community can certainly be a ravenous bunch, it shouldn’t come at the cost of employees mental and physical health.
Adding to “MK11’s” gripes, the game has come under fire for a multitude of issues, ranging from the game requiring players to be permanently online, the intense difficulty of some towers, and the frustration of being unable to customize their characters. This negative attention has led to some misleading information, causing audiences to believe that they needed thousands of dollars in order to obtain all customization options. Regardless, the complaints have merit. The towers are difficult to the point of sheer frustration, and there have been a myriad of bugs that have plagued the PC and Switch versions that haven’t been as publicized as these issues. My advice for the developers is to simply communicate to their audience, and explain intentions with transparency. Of course, this may be easier said than done, and as a massive “Mortal Kombat” fan, I hope that netherrealm is able to bring it back and deliver a fighting game that the fans deserve.
That is about it. Game releases have slowed down a bit as we’re not in the midst of a holiday or a season where game releases are plentiful, so we have to wait for a couple months before another massive game comes out. Until then, avoid “Endgame” spoilers, and if you have watched it, don’t spoil it for anybody else.
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