This week was a quiet one in the world of videogames, but there’s always something to talk about. In this week’s roundup we dig into the Overwatch League Grand Finals, Steam’s newest update, and the odd specter of orphaned games that still get updates. Here we go!
The Overwatch League Grand Finals are Heading to New York—and They’re Bringing DJ Khaled
For the past year, Blizzard has been involved in a grand experiment: the Overwatch League, an attempt to bring centralized order to their corner of the esports scene in a regional league based off of the mainstream wisdom for IRL sports. It’s worked pretty well so far. Pretty much everyone even tangentially interested in gaming is talking about it, and the first finals are on their way, headed to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with TV broadcasts on ESPN and Disney XD and digital broadcasts on Twitch and a small family of other sites.
The finals will be held this weekend, with the Philadelphia Fusion taking on the London Spitfire, and will, like any good high-profile sporting event, enjoy a vestigial high-profile musical guest: DJ Khaled. Inoffensive, goofy, cares a lot about winning; he’s a solid choice all around.
Steam Is Getting Into the Social Game, But Discord Almost Certainly Has It Beat
This week, everyone’s least favorite major videogame client, Valve’s Steam, rolled out a big new update, featuring overhauled social features. The new friends list, which looks weirdly like an AOL Instant Messenger buddy list from 15 years ago, is the center of it, supposedly letting you socialize easier, find people to play games with, voice chat, and all that other nice stuff.
The social element of gaming is the white whale of every digital distribution platform right now, for good reason: Discord, a program entirely built around providing a video and text chat platform for videogame players, is immensely popular, and is one of the most well-liked social platforms around in an era where social media is finally starting to be held responsible for its mistakes. Valve chasing that user base isn’t surprising, but it’s going to take a lot more than functional instant messaging to make Steam feel like a friendly place to hang out.
Metal Gear Solid 5 Is Still Getting Updates, Which Is Fascinating
Metal Gear Solid 5 was always a game in an untenable position. It was the swan song of its creator, Hideo Kojima, and his team at Konami, after it came out right around the game’s release that working conditions at the Japanese developer were increasingly brutal, and that Kojima would be leaving the company after his work on the title was complete. It was also immensely popular, with a fairly robust online mode that garnered a devoted userbase.
Which brings us to 2018, two years later, when, improbably, Konami is still quietly rolling out updates to its otherwise orphaned game. The player base is small, but it’s there, and once last year, and once this year, Konami has rolled out an update that makes a new character playable in the multiplayer: Ocelot last year, and Quiet this year.
This is fascinating. What makes a company that’s largely removed itself from games continue to support a largely abandoned game? An old multiplayer game like this is like a rusty playground in a corner of a neighborhood where people don’t go much anymore. Kids still play on it, sometimes, but it’s forgotten. What makes someone come and polish it? It’s just interesting, is all.
Recommendation of the Week: Mega Man X Legacy Collection
Mega Man X was the more sophisticated older brother to the side-scrolling Mega Man games of yore. Challenging, clever, and with a legitimately pretty dark (and, of course, melodramatic) storyline, the X series has gone down as one of the most beloved in gaming history. I have to confess that, personally, I have not spent nearly as much time with it as I want to. I’m also very, very bad at these games. But my time to practice—and yours—is coming right about now: the Mega Man X Legacy Collection 1 and 2 is out for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch, collectively gathering every game in the series, from its wildly beloved Super Nintendo days to its more … questionable PlayStation 2 ventures. It’s a great chance to enjoy some gaming history, and to fall into spike pits over and over again. What’s not to love?
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