Steam Charts: battle royale battle royale

We have a GIFbot in the RPS staff chatroom. GIFbot is a treacherous and unreliable creature, often offering wildly irrelevant or breathtakingly banal results when we type ‘/gif whateverphrase’ and then cope with whatever it randomly pulls from whatever reprobate corner of the internet it’s plugged into it. However, often enough its results are so irrelevant as to be perfection itself. And so we shall keep it around for an eternity, and reach for it in our darkest hours.

For instance, in the absence of a better conceit for the latest Steam Charts. For these, once again, are the ten games with the most accumulated sales on Steam over the past week. Take it away, GIFbot.

(To clarify, I typed ‘/gif gamename’ into the bot for each of these, and this is what I got).

10. Ultimate Epic Battle Simulator

Sort of Total War ultralite, paired with a playground ‘what if?’ conceit. Send wildly imbalanced armies – 5000 zombies vs 6 marines, for instance – off to tear strips off each other, see who wins and hopefully have a giggle in the process. This is less ‘why didn’t anyone think of this before?’ and ‘how long before there are a couple of dozen imitators?’

9. Halo Wars: Definitive Edition

Sadly recent, decent sequel Halo Wars 2 has been to sent die as a Windows 10 Store exclusive, but Steamers get a pity release in the form of this mildly remastered version of the first, hitherto Xbox-only game. Hopefully its success means that Microsoft will grudgingly release the Creative Assembly-developed sequel on Steam (and ideally GOG and everywhere else too) before too long. If it doesn’t, GIFbot salves every wound:

8. Subnautica

Pip’s beloved underwater sightseeing/building title swoops back into the top ten thanks to a now-concluded $10 sale. Tragically, GIFbot had no results for ‘subnautica’ so I had to go with ‘sub nautica’ instead.

7. Grand Theft Auto V

GIFbot, I thought you were better than that.

6. NieR: Automata

As I revealed last week, I fired this up during the lone hour I had free from looking after my three-year-old over Easter, but some forty minutes in I had still not been allowed to save my progress. Then I died, of course. And it took me right back to the start, requiring me to play through tutorial, unskippable cutscenes and everything all over again. Bye-bye NieR, as far as I’m concerned. Many people have urged me to continue, saying that after the first section is concluded saving becomes freely available, but I’m afraid that, given the enormous glut of great games there are to play right now, I’m not going to make even the slightest concession to one that doesn’t respect my time.

Games as a whole need to develop greater empathy for their ever-ageing audience (hello!), and the complexity of accommodating big huge titles into hectic lives means there’s little room for auteur nonsense like denying saves until a certain threshold has been reached. I’m sure it’s great (and I dug what I did play), but so are very many other games that don’t pull that kind of prickery.

5. Arma 3

Yer $20 sale did this.

4. Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III

Best GIF? Best GIF.

I have this on my hard drive right now. Fraser’s already run a broadly positive review for us, but me, I’ll be sticking mostly to singleplayer, so will be wittering about the campaign in a post near you soon.

3. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Pretty much.

2. H1Z1: King of the Kill

I said last week that this and the number one were on a collision course, and both KOTK’s rise to #2 and GIFbot’s response totally backs me up on that.

1. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

It’s war.

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36 Comments

  1. Da5e says:

    I like that these chart articles are gradually going a bit Howard Beale.

  2. aircool says:

    The Heresy gif has always made me chuckle.

  3. MiniMatt says:

    “Games as a whole need to develop greater empathy for their ever-ageing audience”

    Purely as an interesting question rather than criticism but – do they? Why?

    I’m reminded that every time Radio 1 switch their brekky DJ the existing listeners throw their hands up, say “this one’s rubbish!” and forget that part of the plan is to shed the oldies. If their target age group is 16-30 then they can’t mature with the audience, rather they must actively dump the oldies.

    Similarly I’m not sure games, as a whole, need to particularly make concessions for those of us (hello!) who’d rather listen to a good Radio 4 play but can bust out a bit of Dad dancing when the kids play a tune we recognise.

    The game playing demographic has gotten older, but only due to expansion – 90s gamers are still playing today, and a whole new generation has added. The games available to suit those tastes have similarly expanded. There are games for everyone, and not all games need cater for everyone.

    All that said, faced with 40 minutes lost progress & unskippable cutscenes – not sure anyone deserves that regardless of age.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I’m talking about sensible user experience elements like the latter, not the game design as a whole. It’s not something that’s being done at the expense of oldens like me for the benefit of our Radio 1 listener equivalents. It’s just being an ass for no reason.

      • MiniMatt says:

        Oh definitely in the example you give that’s just grumble worthy regardless of age

        • Malarious says:

          Or just… play on easy? Ignoring the fact that the “progress” you’ve imagined yourself losing is a mental construct (the real progress is the skill and proficiency you build along the way — you don’t see people complaining about losing progress in Super Mario when they miss a jump and have to restart) the game provides a spectrum of difficulty levels for a reason.

          • alh_p says:

            Come now, he’s talking about an RPG, not super nightmare plumbing simulator.

            The skill curve for most games is not that which you find in a twitchy platformer or even FPS. What’s more, if the game experience is rather more about a narrative than, er, the order in which you push buttons, there’s less pleasure in repeating the same scene.

          • thebigJ_A says:

            @alh
            Have you seen any footage of this game? Like, any at all?
            It’s a spectacle fighter at least as much as a jrpg. The “order you press the buttons” is very much a primary concern
            Unless you don’t want it to be, or have arthritis and cant let it be, in which case the game bends over backwards to allow you to experience the story
            you put it on easy, and then can select “auto” modules that each handle a bit of the controls for you. Whichever bits you like and however many of them. I cannot remember a game that was so thoughtful about our time.

          • desolation0 says:

            So because of the save system being temporarily locked out, someone who can’t enjoy the game as much on easy because of the reduced challenge has to put it on easy to make it through. They didn’t make that decision because the challenge was too great but because it was the only workaround for a design decision that would cost them time, which is precious to them. Changing the difficulty is about accommodating skill. Saving the game is about accommodating time. That a workaround exists does not mean there is no problem.

      • Archonsod says:

        I think you got it the wrong way around. Clearly it’s the developer who are the oldies. Or at least I can’t think of any other reason someone would think missing key functionality first introduced in the 80s would be a good idea.
        At least they didn’t demand you inserted coins to continue.

    • mavrik says:

      Because older people have a lot of spending money they can use to fund (and effectively subsidise) games for younger people who usually don’t have that much money. This way you can get richer, better games of more genres benefitting everyone.

      If we learned anything from the sad state of mobile phone gaming it’s that you can’t have great games if you’re only prepared to pay peanuts for them.

    • Premium User Badge

      subdog says:

      Yeah I don’t really agree with Alec’s sentiment. Catering to a core user group as they age is what comic books did, and now they’re virtually untouched by younger generations while their core gets smaller and smaller.

      Every kid I know plays the hell out of chintzy iPad garbage, while “AAA” is increasingly becoming the sole domain of the 30-somethings. That doesn’t bode well for the future of our hobby.

      It’s one thing to want games to be respectful of your time, but it’s another to maybe recognize you’re no longer the target demographic, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

      • alh_p says:

        Surely this isn’t and doesn’t have to be an either or choice? AAA targeting might mean only some benefit from the greatest (waste of?) resources, but that’s usually the flabby mass market and isn’t there already a diversity of offerings? E.g. there are quick action-oriented games and slow intellectual games. Games that require repetition and those that don’t.

        I think all Alec is saying is that when you have less time, you have less patience for that time to be less fun because the dev has made a bad decision which undermines your fun/time ratio. Having less time makes these crappy save decisions all the more glaring.

      • Premium User Badge

        MajorLag says:

        “Every kid I know plays the hell out of chintzy iPad garbage, while “AAA” is increasingly becoming the sole domain of the 30-somethings. That doesn’t bode well for the future of our hobby.”

        That probably has a lot more to do with the cost of AAA games in comparison to chintzy iPad garbage. In my day we got around that by renting games and only having a single console for 15 years.

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        Having some kind of checkpoint (or just allowing arbitrary saves) in the first hour of a game isn’t exactly pandering to oldsters. Young people don’t always get multi-hour uninterrupted play sessions either.

        Surely that’s another reason that kids are playing more tablet games, because when your mum walks in and tells you to go to bed RIGHT NOW, you want a game that will save your progress right now.

    • Premium User Badge

      syllopsium says:

      why? Because it sells more games and can make everyone more happy

      Some genres such as MMO time sinks and twitch games might be limited to the younger crowd and those who don’t have a lot of non gaming hobbies, but other genres can make changes without diluting the experience for everyone else.

      Plenty of twenty somethings enjoy Fallout etc so I’m not sure I buy the death of AAA games.

      When VVVVVV was released it removed the constant replay from start irritation of platform games of yore, kept the hardest parts optional, and included extra challenge modes for the hardcore. RPGs no longer require plotting on graph paper and making copious notes. Some of them can even be finished without including 60 hours of pointless trash mobs.

  4. Shiloh says:

    Hooray for Arma and hooray for the Mets gif, notwithstanding the boo-ooo-ooo for a pretty shit start to the new season :-(

  5. .backslash says:

    And for a completely useless bit of trivia from gothy teenage me, the H1Z1 gif is quoting ‘Kind of the World’ by Porcelain and the Tramps, a project that never actually released anything(under that name anyway). All surviving copies of their music are demo tracks ripped from their long defunct MySpace page, being passed on through torrents and chatrooms.

  6. Jeremy says:

    I feel like not getting back into Automata is a big mistake. It’s such a great game, and there is so much to recommend, including an actual reason to replay the game multiple times. I’m using a controller, and I know that I can hold down B to skip cutscenes. That + autoheal seems like it should get you through the opening area pretty quickly, but maybe I’m misremembering whether you’re allowed to skip during the intro?

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorLag says:

      No, I’m with Alec on this. Not allowing me to save and forcing me to replay something that long over and over again at the beginning of the fucking game is disrespecting my time. This isn’t like The Witness challenge room, which was optional endgame content.

      And frankly the whole “replaying it multiple times” thing just comes off as a chore to me.

      I get that a lot of people think it’s great, so it might be worth checking out, but I live in the age of Let’s Plays, which I can just leave on while I do something else and not have to worry about restarting every 40 minutes. Bad news for the developer though: they won’t be getting any money from me.

      • Jeremy says:

        I haven’t replayed even one minute in this game, and I’m approaching the 30 hour mark. The intro is an oversight, but it’s a 20 minute mistake in a 40 – 60 hour game, not a “restart every 40 minutes” kind of issue. Obviously people can make their own choices, but it seems like a really bad choice considering the quality of the game.

      • thebigJ_A says:

        It’s truly nothing at all like you are describing

        The prologue is an introductory level that’s a half hour long. You can adjust the difficulty on the fly up to and including the point where it literally plays the game for you till you’re ready to take the wheel again.

        As for “playing it multiple times”… those are chapters in this game. You get to the end of one arc and start a new one that moves the story forward. It’s not playing through the same game multiple times, at all.

        Maybe give it a try now that you realize your (totally understandable) mistake.

  7. frightlever says:

    “This is less ‘why didn’t anyone think of this before?’ and ‘how long before there are a couple of dozen imitators?’”

    I’m sure I’ve already seen a few of these. A quick search turned up Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, which I think I saw on Youtube months ago. There’s probably a score of them on itch.io

    Totally agree that mainstream games should be more respectful of a person’s time. These days someone in their thirties or forties playing games is as mainstream as a teenager playing games, they just have less time for it.

    Has anyone actually asked the Nier devs why there aren’t checkpoints in the tutorial?

    • Ignorant Texan says:

      With all due respect, why should they? We aren’t talking about losing hours of progress, as the introduction/tutorial is 20-40 minutes long. And, before you ask, it took me 6 attempts to finish the opening bit. Did I find that frustrating? A little. However, I pretty much learned 2B’s move sets during my initial failed attempts. There are other thing to learn, as well, but I’ll not mention those, as they could be considered (admittedly) minor spoilers.

      • Slazia says:

        “, why should they?”

        Steam offers no-questions-asked money-back. It would save them money if they had more respect for their players’ time. Even as a teenager, I would have raged at having no checkpoints. Game design and user experience has come a long way in the last twenty years. Ignore it at your peril!

        • Ignorant Texan says:

          20-40 minutes shows a lack of respect for a player’s time? Yet people with spend hours, if not days, learning a boss battle. I can only speak for myself, but at least I knew why I died during my unsuccessful attempts, unlike innumerable games with “cheap” deaths.

          Would people feel the same if there was a segment after you were allowed to save, where, if you fail, you have to redo the same thing over? Oh, wait, I seem to remember damn near most games do that. *cough*GTA*cough*

          I’m not criticizing people who find that unacceptable, but, for me, I find any claims that it means the game is broken’

          EDIT: Added snark

          • fish99 says:

            GTA was always criticised for having to repeat long driving sections though, and it’s something they fixed in GTAV.

          • Premium User Badge

            MajorLag says:

            “20-40 minutes shows a lack of respect for a player’s time? ”

            In the motherfucking tutorial? Yes. Late game boss? Ok, is it just too hard for me and I’ve gotten all I can out of it? is it worth putting more time into it to git gud? It’s late game so I’ll know the answer to that question. If I have to replay the same fucking tutorial a bunch of times the answer is clearly going to be no.

          • thebigJ_A says:

            It’s not a tutorial, really.
            It’s a very short first level with narrative, before the game opens up. This is like complaining the first cave in spelunky doesnt have a save anywhere function.

            The save system is a part of the story, as are all the other game systems. As are the mechanics that it tells you about, whereby the game can control for you any and all things from weapon switching to attacking itself. it will actively carry you through the ‘tutorial’ if you don’t want to play it.

        • fuggles says:

          That fucking driver tutorial….

          • Premium User Badge

            Jiblet says:

            Oh god. Flashbacks.
            I’d forgotten about that fucking garage. You are a terrible person.

  8. Premium User Badge

    AutonomyLost says:

    I admit that I’ll be contributing, this evening, to Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds’ spot in next week’s Steam Charts. If it sucks, oh well, but if I enjoy it then I believe I have a group of people to play it with regularly, which could be cool.

    In between Zelda binges, of course. So good.

  9. Chillicothe says:

    A rare example of a long-time PC player reacting to no at-will saving like a console player instead of as a PC player would.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Martell says:

    Still no Nier in Steam SEA. Always the Japanese developers who does this. Wonder what the rationale behind this is.

  11. thebigJ_A says:

    I get that the game is different than most, as was the first Nier, but it does explain the thing that makes his rage-quit over not being able to save-scum thru a short prologue so bemusing and strange:

    If you wish to, you put it on easy, and then can select “auto chip” modules that each handle a bit of the controls for you. Whichever bits you like and however many of them. You can go as far as letting the game nearly play itself to get you thru the tough bits and continue on the story. Completely contradictory to the above mini-rant, I cannot think of a game in recent memory that was so thoughtful about our time.

    You can switch it off modularly, whenever you like, if you’re feeling more confident or your arthritis subsides or whatever. (that last bit is meant with all sincerity)

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