By Neil Merrett
They’re barmy and they’re kooky, mysterious yet spooky… and as press releases go, they may just be telling us more than we would want to know about where gaming is heading before the E3 event in LA later this month.
Yes, adding loot to the untainted dynamics of fighting games, interactive porn and potentially racially insensitive product placement appear to be part of the bright future ahead of us, at least if some eye catching bits of gaming PR are anything to go by.
On the high profile end, Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment announced the sequel to its hugely successful superhero fighting game ‘Injustice’, launching a brooding, yet decidedly flashy and swanky new trailer of Batman sporting numerous upgradable – and perhaps purchasable – armours.
That ‘Injustice 2’, as it currently is called, is on the cards for a 2017 release is not surprising considering the popularity of the original game on the lucrative e-sports circuit. Yet social media was less sure what to make of the inclusion of new features that allow players to “customise and level-up their favorite DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains.”
“Injustice 2 offers the latest DC fighting game experience that expands on the previous title’s larger-than-life showdowns. Every battle defines you in a game where players personalize iconic DC characters with unique and powerful gear earned throughout the game,” said the company in a statement. “For the first time, gamers can take control of how their characters look, fight and develop across a variety of game modes.”
Speculation mounted that this may mean the addition of ‘loot’, perhaps provided as additional content that can be purchased separately from the cost of the full-game. Loot is becoming a growing earner for popular online titles.
Yet the technique has not been used so commonly with major mainstream fighting games that have thrived on letting gamers pretend they are the second coming of Bruce Lee solely through their ability to hit an elaborate combination of buttons and controls.
These skills as some might call them, are a finely balanced art, and the advantage of special features and weapons to the highest bidder might just compromise the purity of a professional gamer’s ability to win significant cash prizes through their ability to cave in heads using Batgirl.
For those particularly bothered, all eyes will be on NetherRealm Studios, which has won plaudits in the past with its ability to popularise more narrative-based mechanics alongside a healthy amount of gore and solid controls in the Mortal Kombat series.
Will customisation set a new standard of complexity for fighters, or destroy a popular series and its pedigree as an e-sport? The press release leaves us none the wiser, though it does promise us the chance to duff up the Flash with a snazzy multi-coloured Batman.
Elsewhere, Naughty America, a group of charming US-based guys and girls that produce nifty pornographic content that you may have seen but probably not paid for, will be exhibiting their wares at E3 alongside Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft and the other big boys in the gaming market.
Yet this may not be as incongruous as it sounds, with Naughty America keen to get the word out on adult VR content.
“Naughty America has been on the forefront of technological advancements from HD to 4k and now VR adoption as the first major adult studio to produce VR content,” said the group in a statement.
The company’s own chief information officer (ICO) Ian Paul, who no doubt has some eye watering ideas for where our interactive indulgences may head in the coming years, is expected to discuss topics including how technology like VR headsets and “immersive mobile content” will shape how we get our kicks and sate out kinks going forward!
Colour SquareBlind enticed.
Finally, in an unexpected, but reassuringly old school hark back to the days of Pepsi-man and a series of occasionally playable McDonald’s branded games, the makers of a cooking range known as Yogiyo Korean have announced their own shift into the crowded mobile gaming market with a “Flappy Bird style runner game”.
Whether the promise of addictive gameplay and colourful aesthetics provided by the game, titled ‘Mrs Kim’ is an accurate description remains in the eye of the beholder. Yet the concept of a traditional Korean matriarch punishing a vaguely familiar “tyrannical son” is suitably niche in its execution that is unlikely to be aped by any multinational food giants soon.
“Mrs Kim is based on the Korean idea of the Ajumma, a middle-aged mother you wouldn’t want to cross. And if my own mother is reading this, Mrs Kim is based on someone else’s mum. You wouldn’t know her, she’s from out of town,” said company co-founder Sue Youn.
Available for Iphone 4,5 and 6 as well as Android devices, gaming this day really does seem to have something for everyone, whether we want it or not. Happy E3 everyone.