In the first episode of 2017, we break down all the stats of the Steam sales as found on SteamSpy. For those that don’t know SteamSpy is a website that aggregates all the stats from Steam based on ownership and they provide a rough estimate of how well games have done on Steam. It’s not perfect as Valve doesn’t provide that kind of in detail information, however, based on the number of owners over a period of time, they’re able to gauge a rough estimate.

We start the show as per usual discussing what we’ve been playing. Joesph seems to be going through the Warner Bros. game back catalogue as he’s been digging his teeth into Shadow of Mordor. It’s a great game, that was well reviewed both critically and in sales, however it was tarnished based on WB Games shady shenanigans with their undisclosed paid sponsorship on New Media. With innovations like the Nemesis System and including the Arkham Combat mechanics, it was a great game (minus the end boss battle.)

Brian’s started a new venture with Sid, with the all new Brian’s Boss Battle. A website chronicling Brian’s attempt to get through his entire Steam catalogue. As a guy who’s bought nearly 1000 games across multiple platforms, Brian spends a lot of time not playing them. After adding 30 new additions in the Steam Sales, it was time he got through each of the games in his Steam library. Throughout 2017, he’ll be playing every game in his library for at least an hour, and writing a short review on his new blog. We’re excited to see what he thinks of some classics, some favourites, the obvious bad ones and everything else in between.

Sid’s gone off the rails and decided to give Microsoft his hard earned money and play Forza Horizon 3. As someone who doesn’t care about cars or racing games in general, he’s completely hooked at how Forza Horizon 3 just makes the entire process just fun. There’s no checklist of races to win as it’s an open world where you can drive endlessly, doing races, PR stunts and/or nothing to your hearts content. Even though the Windows Store is complete trash, props have to go to the developers and Microsoft for a game that should’ve been nominated (and even won) something at the I’m Just Playin’ Game awards.

Steam Sales Numbers

Steam Sales numbers are in, courtesy of SteamSpy and it’s very interesting. The usual suspects are there, but the biggest success is that of Stardew Valley. Eric Barone has made at least $30 million from this game, which goes to show that hard work, effort and a love for what you do, it’s possible to make it. The game is fantastic all round, and being built by a sole person, makes it even more impressive.

In our final episode for the year, the boys at I’m Just Playin’ take on the subject of Nostalgia, the Nintendo Switch and what they’re looking forward to in 2017. After what can only be described as a very strange year for pop culture, take a listen to our thoughts on 2016.

Brian’s been playing a lot of Darkest Dungeon and describes his experiences in the brutal randomness in this dungeon crawler. Joseph’s been playing a lot of Mad Max, a game that never got the recognition it deserved. As a game, it’s mechanics, themes and aesthetics are solid. However, due to it releasing so close to other open world games in that year, it got pushed aside for not being more than the others. Which is a shame because overall it’s a rewarding and fun open world action game, that nails the world of Mad Max. No-one got round to asking what Sid’s been playing and he gets salty about it later on in the show.

This episode gets heated as we discuss what 2017 will bring. The most obvious contender for biggest happening of the year is the imminent release of the Nintendo Switch. With an elusive set of specifications and a promise of home console and portable hybrid systems, it’s hard to pin down what this will bring to the industry. Nintendo in recent years, since the launch of the Wii U haven’t been fairing well and have been relying on miking nostalgia and their IP’s to keep sales up.

The Nintendo Switch needs to meet a number of criteria in order to succeed beyond the fanboys. This includes battery life, launch titles and of course, cost. An overly expensive device with poor release titles and meagre battery life is not going to help Nintendo in any way and everyone’s hoping that they pull this one of the park.

The Topic of Nostalgia

We then get into the topic of Nostalgia and how that it’s a bad thing. Nostalgia is being used to milk money straight from the pockets of consumers without providing anything meaningful towards the progress of humanity, and more importantly, video games. With a constant look to the past with remakes, reboots etc. It’s very apparent that using nostalgia is a key marketing ingredient in today’s world.

From there on, it gets really heated and you should experience it for yourself to be honest.

Welcome to the I’m Just Playin’ Game Awards 2016. Hosted by Sid, Joseph and Brian in our very first summary of the year. It’s been a very interesting year for video games with some outstanding releases and some, not so much.

We believe that awards should have meaning, and without reasoning, nominations become arbitrary. Our aim has always been to add some colour to the conversation around video games. As a diverse group of people, we’ve worked to create a podcast that offers multiple viewpoints and be an entertaining and thoughtful outlet.

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It’s Joe and Sid this week as Brian has disappeared for to Michigan. In this week’s episode we decide to pack in two very important subjects that we’ve been putting off for a long while. The effects of Early Access, and it’s effects on the industry. Followed by a pretty epic rant on Star Citizen.

The show starts, as usual, with us talking about what we’ve been playing. Joseph has been getting his head round Out Of The Park Baseball, a management simulator. It’s a complex game that bores the life out of Sid. Followed by a mini review on Nintendo’s Super Mario Run and it’s merits. Sid’s been spending most of his time editing a video on 1979 Revolution: Black Friday, and only managed to get a few gaming sessions out. Mainly playing Starbound and Astroneers. The former having come out of a long term in Early Access and the latter just entering.

Which leads on to the discussion of Early Access and it’s merits. Both Joseph and Sid know and understand the merits of Early and perhaps having a game like No Man’s Sky be in a program like that at launch would have allowed Hello Games to avoid the controversy that followed and holds to this day. However a number of exploits from developers have abused the platform to milk funding from players over the years. Which has left many to be sceptical of the platform. It’s understandable that a lot of players find that Early Access is more of a problem than it is a blessing.

What’s going on at Crytek?

Which leads on to a lengthy discussion about Crytek and the recent shenanigans they’ve been involved with. The creators of the CryTek engine have been in the news as it’s been reported that their employees have yet to be paid for the last few months. Some reports claim that it’s been two months, some say five months. The fact remains that CryTek are in serious trouble, so much so, that employees are crowdfunding to sue the company.

It’s an awful turn of events considering the position and quality of products that this company has produced over the years. Creating the FarCry and Crysis franchises as well as technicaly marvels such as Ryse: Son of Rome. However, their games as of the last four or five years have seen weak sales. In addition, their engine licensing program wasn’t competing with the likes of Unity and Unreal providing a more developer friendly program.

As one of the few games developing with the CryEngine, Star Citizen is a topic we’ve been avoiding at I’m Just Playin’. Sid and Joseph discuss what’s wrong about what Cloud Imperium have been doing with the game. The game was announced and in development since 2012 and raised over $150 million from it’s fans. After only asking for $2 million and a promised release date of 2014, it’s bewildering that nothing has come about. Part of their individual crowdfunding efforts include players paying $18,000 for ships in the game. Sid argues that the leadership at Cloud Imperium is what’s wrong. As it’s clear that they’re spending time and money with nothing to show for it. With a budget rivalling that the biggest blockbuster games like GTA5 and Destiny, how has nothing come about over the years.

Which leads Sid to discuss what he’d do if he were made CEO of EA or Activision.

Promptly following this, Joseph brings up the Guardian’s list-icle of the 25 Hardest Video Games ever and the Best Games of 2016. It doesn’t need to be said, but Sid isn’t impressed at all.

 

Joining Sid and Joseph in this episode of I’m Just Playin’ is freelance journalist Carl Anka. In this episode we discuss beautiful worlds, character creation and the worst games of all time.

Carl opens the show and telling us about his time playing the Uncharted series after picking up Uncharted 4 in the Black Friday sales. The ludonarrative dissonance of one man mowing down armies of men has been a hotly debated subject over the years in games like this. Other games mentioned include Final Fantasy XV and The Last Guardian.

In order to make himself feel better, Sid’s been gathering achievements on Steam through little puzzle games leading him to have 19 perfect games on the platform. In addition to playing more Watch_Dogs 2, he’s been playing 1979 Revolution: Black Friday. A Telltale style game set in the Iranian revolution. A game that delivers a strong and powerful message, however it’s gameplay and presentation deliver a lacklustre experience. The performances from the characters in the game are the only thing that keeps players invested in the game.

Joseph makes a return to the show and discusses the numerous games that he’s played. With the acquisition of a new bundle, he’s been playing Big Pharma amongst other indie titles.

In the news, the Chinese Government have made it clear that game publishers who sell loot boxes in games as micro transactions must declare possible contents and drop rates of items. This pro consumer move from a China has come as a surprise considering it’s pro-consumer ramifications. Carl and Joseph both argue that something like this could “kill the magic.”

In other news, Arizona Sunshine, a VR Zombie shooter came under fire due to it’s gating of content. Rather than the traditional DLC model, the developers chose to partner with Intel and allow only users with a 5th, 6th or 7th Generation Core i7 CPU to play. It’s never advertised that limitations are imposed within the game, it sets a precedent that worse practices are possible.

As the main topic of discussion, Carl, Joseph and Sid discuss the POC problems that come from character customisation. People of Colour seem to have a hard time in creating a custom character with the limited choices in games. Carl explains the technical problems involved including the lighting, texture mapping and more that always favour lighter skin tones. One of the key issues include hair styles and why there only ever five natural hairstyles for POC’s and 30+ flowing hair styles for white characters.

To conclude the episode we go through the Guardian’s list of Worst Games Ever Made. Hilarity ensues.

Follow Carl Anka on Twitter

 

As 2016 draws to a close, Sid and Brian sit down to discuss a number of things. This includes the 2.5 hour advert called The Game Awards as well as the Top 10 Fails of 2016. We apologise in advance for any controversy.

We open the show with Brian discussing a rogue-like game called Curious Expeditions. A game where players must accrue fame and glory as they explore a procedural world in the 19th Century. On the other hand, Sid’s been playing the PC port of Watch_Dogs 2, a game following the events of the previous game. With a new cast and the meme-lord writings of Ubisoft, it turns out to be a fun and well-optimised game. Although it isn’t without criticism. It’s control scheme feels awkward, along with some of the driving mechanics. This, combined with the pseudo-terrorist feel that game gives you when supplying you with weapons, feels off. It’s highly recommended that you play Watch_Dogs 2 and play it in a ghost/non-lethal route.

The main crux of this week’s episode comes down to the Game Awards. Which turned out to be a two hour advertisement. Following successful years of the show, this year turned out to be one of the worst with CG trailers and sponsorships thrown all over the place. In the premier categories, a number of upsets include Overwatch winning more awards then it deserved, in our opinions. We’re all fans of Overwatch on the show, however it winning both Best Game, Best Studio/Game Direction and Multiplayer Game doesn’t sit right considering the competition.

Notable exclusions include ABZU not being nominated for Best Soundtrack and Stardew Valley losing out to Inside in Best Independent Game.

One of the biggest moments from the show include Ryan Green’s emotional speech after being handed the award for Games for Impact. After being handed the award by a smiling MatPat and Justine Ezarik (very awkward considering the context), Ryan gave a very heart-wrenching speech about the games development and his son. That Dragon, Cancer tells an autobiographical tale of Ryan’s son, Joel, and his fight with Cancer. The game sparked some controversy, however few have felt open to discuss openly about a game that profits from the the death of a son. It’s a tough subject to cover.

And in conclusion, Sid summarises 2016 in a glorious clickbait list. The biggest failures of gaming in 2016 including No Man’s Sky, CSGO Lotto, Battleborn and a surprise Number One.

 

In the thirteenth episode, we discuss Valve’s community driven Steam Awards. No Man’s Sky’s have announced their Foundation Update and Ubisoft’s new approach to extended content.

Sid, Joseph and Brian sit down to discuss their nominations for Valve’s Steam Awards. Unlike most awards, Valve have opted to allow the community to decide on the winners in unconventional categories. Awards for “Best Use of a Farm Animal” and “Just Five More Minutes” have allowed any game to be nominated. We go through each of the categories and discuss our individual selections for the awards. Consequently, their choices spark up some surprises as we learn more about each other.

In a slow week of news, No Man’s Sky developers, Hello Games, have finally resurfaced after over 9 weeks of little to no communication with their customers. With the 1.1 release, titled the Foundation Update, comes the addition of new games modes, Base Building, new materials, freighters and farming. As a result, controvery has started as previous issues including interface problems, combat, and multiplayer features have yet to be addressed. It appears that they’ve been working on features without delivering the original game that was promised. With some new features looking promising, there’s a lot of cynicism. However Joe is adamant on supporting Hello Games and hopes they deliver a game that Hello Games can be proud of.

Other side topics include how Geralt of Rivia sounds like the most bored man in the entire world and how Ubisoft seem to be doing their best to become a better consumer-friendly company.

 

After what seems like a very long week, Sid and Brian are back again, and in this episode they’re discussing the nominations for Geoff Keighley’s Game Awards 2016.

In a surprise move, Joseph has returned from his damnation to join us for a three hour episode of shenanigans. In what was planned by Sid as a method to create some interesting discussion and heat between Brian and Joseph, let’s just say it backfired. It turns out, two very different co-hosts may end up having some similarities.

The Game Awards 2016’s nominations feature a lot of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. One of the biggest releases of the year. Both Brian and Joseph feel that the game doesn’t deserve this many commendations. However, Sid does his best to explain that the Jury that are both nominating and deciding on this year’s winner are more likely to pick something like Uncharted as it’s the biggest system seller and the most overall appeasing game across anything released in 2016.

Other notable nominations include Overwatch, Blizzard’s newest game and IP aswell as Doom, Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2.

The most interesting categorys in this year’s selection seem to be the Action, Action/Adventure, Strategy and Independant Game categories. All with strong contenders that make it hard to choose and/or decide what the final outcome will be.

In other news, Collector’s Editions of Mass Effect Andromeda no longer include an actual copy of the game. Naturally Brian and Joseph aren’t too happy at the proposition.

In conclusion, we hope you enjoy this double stuffed episode of I’m Just Playin’ and welcome back Joseph to the team.

 

Welcome back to the I’m Just Playin’ podcast and in this episode, Sid and Brian discuss everything from the e-sports entering the olympics and what games would take place to what’s up with season passes.

Following some news that perhaps the 2024 Olympics may or may not host E-Sports at the games, we discuss the notion of what games could take place. Brian opens up the idea that there’d need to be at least three categories. One shooter, one MOBA and perhaps a strategy game. Due to the terrorism connotations with games such as Counter-Strike and Rainbow Six Seige, the only real contender remaining happens to be Overwatch. With a diverse cast of characters and almost universal appeal, it’s a strong contender for being the E-Sport of choice at the 2024 games.

In the MOBA category, Brian’s suggestion is Heroes of the Storm, which Sid highly disagrees with. With games like DOTA2 and League of Legends already having superior numbers and player skill, it’s highly unlikely that Blizzard would have a second platform in the running. Finally the discussion comes to strategy games and how they’d work. Sid throws a spanner in the works and brings out Fighting Games. The Street Fighter series has a long written history and as an already spectator friendly game, this could be the strongest contender of all the games to be an e-sport at the games.

In other news, season passes never really deliver on a second season. With every game acting as a Firefly of it’s own game, Sid discusses how it’d be significantly more profitable for developers and publishers to release less games but with added content that they can charge premiums for. With the ongoing success of the Hitman 2016 reboot, and possibly one of the first AAA games to get a second season, why aren’t more publishers pushing this method? We’ve seen plenty of uproar with content being cut from games and sold as seperate DLC’s and expansions, however Sid presents the argument that charging players for more content over a longer period of time could be more fruitful. This would also allow developers longer periods of time to develop better games that would be true upgrades to a game rather than incremental yearly releases.

In the 10th episode of I’m Just Playin’, Brian and Sid sit down to discuss the games they’ve played and a few shenanigans in the world of gaming including a speculated hostile takeover of CD Projekt Red.

The developer/publisher/overall good guys from Poland, are seen as the last bastion of developers in the world. Their business model and games are world renowned as some of the best. Their policy on DLC and DRM puts all their competitors to shame. With the news that a shareholders meeting discussing the buying back of their own shares, rumour has it that CDPR may be facing a hostile takeover. Speculation on whether it’s Disney, Tencent or EA are rampant. Which has gaming communities sitting on the edge of their seats. Sid believes this is all just speculation and that CDPR are simply trying to strengthen their company and take the Valve route by making sure that they have complete ownership of their games and platforms.

Brian’s been playing a lot of Cities: Skylines lately and they both discuss their opinions on the game and it’s merits. Sid points out that the expansion packs being released appear to be just glorified mods.

After what feels like an eternity Blizzard have finally revealed Sombra. After months of an overly long ARG across the internet, Sombra was revealed at Blizzcon 2016. The reveal came with a new film featuring Widowmaker and Reaper as they try to kill the leader of Volskya Industries. Sid and Brian discuss their dissappointment in Overwatch following a somewhat dull follow up to one of the year’s biggest releases. With only 2 new characters, one map and two events, Overwatch hasn’t been catering to players as much as what seems to be intended.

In conclusion, Sid goes out of his way to trigger Brian in a series of choices that upsets him.