Steam Charts: Feedback Edition

As the feedback loop of Steam successes reaches an ear-shattering scream, this week we see last year’s best sellers dominating the New Year’s first week. So I refuse to live in the past. Let’s look forward. Let’s imagine what we might want from these behemothic developers.

10. Assassin’s Creed Origins

I wish it felt likely that Ubisoft might have learned a lesson from the critical response to Assassin’s Creed as it returned from its gap year. By not releasing a major entry in 2016, they gave themselves time and space to create a game, in Origins, that reverses a perceived decline since 2013’s Black Flag. Will this mean they have the sense to not release again this year? Or will they see the money pouring in from Origins and decide their shareholders won’t cope without more assassins in 2018?

Either way, what I desperately hope to see from a new Assassin’s Creed is… well, something new. For all that Origins does well, it’s an incredibly derivative and dreary concept repeated yet again, just with added Stuff To Do on its map. I’d love to see a game that focused on its assassinations, that felt focused, directed, and intense. And set in a period of history that’s not on the Giant Checklist Of Bits Of History Everyone Already Knows.

9. Dark Souls III

We haven’t seen this name trouble the Charts in a long while, but it’s been merrily selling away in the background over the year.

We have the tiniest morsel of a hint of what might come next from From (FROM!), via this short video. So what do we want from it? Oh I can’t even pretend to know. I’ve not played a single second of any of them. I know I should, I know, I know, but goodness me, I play games all the time and there’s only so much room for games! I feel confident that with everyone else on Earth playing these, you can rest assured that they’ll survive without my eyes.

8. ARK: Survival Evolved

I’m not sure the internet’s ready for the announcing of ARK 2 just yet. Although, that’s perhaps something to prepare for – ARK was in development for three years before its final release last September. And while it’s clearly the sort of game players assume will be constantly updated, having gotten used to it over two years of early access and continued expansions, you have to imagine Studio Wildcard are ready for something else.

My prediction: robot spiders.

7. The Witcher III: Wild Hunt GOTYE

Well, we know there isn’t going to be a new Witcher any time soon. Unless you count Gwent. What we’re all really hoping for is some sign that CDPR’s other project Cyberpunk 2077 might at some point show some convincing signs of existing. But what else might we hope to hear of from the studio?

I’d love to hear word of a new idea. It’s possible that their Krakow office might be announcing a new title at some point, and it’d be brilliant to hear it has nothing to do with neither the Witcher nor Cyberpunk. CDPR has an extraordinary reputation for a developer that’s only ever released one game series, and it’d be nice to see that reputation used to support something new.

6. Divinity: Original Sin 2

Talking of which. Larian have been around much longer than CDP’s ten years, and they too have yet to release a game without “Divinity” in the title. Divine Divinity came out in 2002. (And was pretty dreadful.)

Divinity: Original Sin 2 is an extraordinary game, one of the best RPGs ever made, challenging BioWare for their various crowns. And it’s wonderful that it’s clearly been such a huge success. I rather strongly hope this means Larian will feel emboldened not to start work on part 3, but to recognise the reserves are there to realise some ambitions they’ve always had to put aside. To go for that experimental idea they’ve always wanted to pursue.

5. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Hahahahaha, imagine if Valve still made games.

4. Human: Fall Flat

Surprise! I didn’t want to spoil it for you above. Somehow, and I absolutely flat-out do not understand how, this lovely year-and-a-half-old physics puzzler has found its way into the top half of the charts.

It was half price in the sale, but then so was everything else. It had a Christmas event, but who didn’t? And yet if Steam Spy’s right, it nearly tripled its lifetime sales over the holidays. Best guess: YouTube attention over the Christmas break. Mysterious to me, but I’m very pleased! It’s a sweet, if often frustrating game, and it’s a rare pleasure to see it charting in this busiest of weeks.

3. They Are Billions

Another smaller name doing big sales, although They Are Billions appears to be the latest decent game bestowed with the Random Favour Of The Internets. It was charting before the holidays too, and this Settlers-meets-Brain-Dead management mash-up appears to be sticking around.

No one can know which early access game will be the recipient of The Favour, why one game suddenly must be owned by absolutely everyone until it’s as equally rapidly forgotten in favour of the next, but may Numantian Game make hay while this sun so ferociously shines.

2. Grand Theft Auto V

The chances of a new IP from Rockstar have come to seem about as slim as I’m not. Not least because Agent has been vapourware since 2013. Then again, they’ve not released anything new at all since 2013. Obviously they’ll be working on GTA VI, and we know the various Rockstars around the world are failing to finish Red Dead Redemption II (prediction: slips to 2019), but for goodness’ sake. They’ve got infinite money. Just imagine how much is pouring in every month from this game alone, permanently wedged in the top ten selling PC games, three years since release. They could make anything they wanted!

But they won’t. They will make GTA VI, and it’ll be jolly successful, and nothing new or magical will have come of any of it.

1. Plunkbat

I prescribe some Pool Cosby, with Lanikai:

35 Comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    See, now I’m intrigued what the screenshot for Counterstrike is from. Action Halflife perhaps?
    (not to be confused with Acton Halflife which is how I spelt it at first, and would, I suspect, be a very different game)

    • John Walker says:

      Nope, keep guessing!

      • Premium User Badge

        phuzz says:

        Ahhhhh, Counterstrike Nexon, that weird sort of cousin to CS:Go. That explains, well, a lot.

        I admit that I had to cheat and do a reverse search on the image.

      • Head Bob says:

        Is it… Counterstrike: Condition Zero?

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      I assumed it was from the original counterstrike mod, but I suppose that’s not correct then.

      I haven’t played it in ages.

    • fish99 says:

      Nah, it’s from the game about being the first female pitcher in the MLB – Count Her Strikes.

  2. MortyDice says:

    For Human: Fall Flat the reason is real simple. The game made its move towards online multiplayer. I personnaly bought six of them this Christmas season!

  3. Faldrath says:

    I used to be just like John regarding Souls games. “Nah, they’re not for me, pfft, no way in hell I’m ever going to like that”.

    Then a friend gently persuaded me to try Dark Souls properly. Good lord. There’s nothing like Souls games in all of gaming. There really isn’t.

    Yesterday, after resisting the siren’s song for a few months, I finally caved in and reinstalled DS3 for a pyromancer run. There’s nothing like Souls games.

    • draglikepull says:

      On a related note, I couldn’t really get into the Souls games because I find them too obtuse, but I’ve been pouring a lot of hours into Nioh lately, which is pretty similar mechanically but seems to be more straight-forward in terms of structure.

      • bv728 says:

        It’s kind of nitpicky, but I think Nioh is closer in overall play to Bloodbourne than Dark Souls – it rewards aggression much more strongly, has a lot more invincibility (and assumes that you’re going to use the hell out of it). It’s a pretty different gamefeel, even if it’s got a lot of similar elements.

    • Archonsod says:

      I’m not so sure I’d say there’s nothing like it; the main reason I don’t get on with it is because it sticks a little too closely to the usual JRPG formula.

  4. DodoSandvich says:

    You’re certain you don’t want a CSGO card game? Now with both card packs and regular cosmetic loot boxes!

  5. Danarchist says:

    I am at a weird spot in “they are billions” right now. After multiple wipes I decided to up the game duration to 150 days (more days is easier) and I am now sitting at day 119. Barely survived the last swarm (actually only because of a single balista tower I had actually forgotten about) and I just cant bring myself to keep going on that map because if the next horde wipes me then I lost the game on easy and my pride will pack his bags and leave me, after a dramatic subway scene.
    I never really got into the whole roguelike thing because I hate losing as part of gameplay. But for some reason this game has that carrot on a stick thing. So I am drawn back, and dread going back, simultaneously.
    My punctuation skills suck

    • Obi-Sean says:

      I was having this same issue. Eventually I was looking at playing as practice runs. “Ahhhh. Do this, not that. Next time…” I’d find myself saying that quite a bit. Eventually you’ll perfect that 150 day strategy, then you’ll essentially just need to find a way to speed it up to 120 and so on. I’m still not done with 120 easy difficulty (this my starting point, never did 150), but I made it to the final wave last night, almost survived it, and learned from mistakes. Baby steps.

    • Carra says:

      I played it this weekend at the ‘accessible’ level. Managed to beat it after a few tries. Quite a fun game, reminds me of Stronghold. Turtling is fun and this game promotes that.

      Now that I’ve beaten it once, I’ll let it alone for a while. Time for other games.

  6. NPC says:

    Hmmm, I thought Divine Divinity was an awesome game (if we squint at the final chapter), with an interactive world and abundant playstyle flexibility. Perhaps the author means Beyond Divinity, which (I hear) wasn’t very good.

    Anyway, recent entries seem like a purposeful enhancement of the good ideas already implemented in the (still wonderful) original game.

    • Carra says:

      I remember playing Divine Divinity and it was a nice Diablo clone. If you expect an action rpg, not a baldur’s gate you’re in for some fun times.

      • mmandthetat says:

        I hate to be THAT guy but Divine Divinity is definitely not a Diablo clone. Other than being an isometric action RPG they have very little in common.

        And it’s a pretty great game in its own janky old way- not sure what he’s on about. My guess is he couldn’t get past that intro dungeon. It’s not a game that eases you in.

        • MrEvilGuy says:

          I signed in to complain about Walker’s insult to Divine Divinity but am happy others have already done so.

  7. ninjapirate says:

    Thank you for introducing me to Pool Cosby, John!

  8. Tiberius_Tigris says:

    I think your conclusions on ACO are Half-Baked and Half-Assed, almost like you either didn’t play the game or didn’t pay attention to the story. And again I feel the same with your opinions of Divine Divinity, and probably the whole Divine series.
    I think you’re just one of those Contrarian writers, always looking for the most surface level thing you percieve to be dreary or derivative to complain about on some of these games.

    • Edgewise says:

      Go get em, Tiberius! You right: there’s absolutely no reason to politely disagree. It’s far better to just accuse the other party of bad faith! But you omitted the part about his mother.

    • mmandthetat says:

      Yeah, he’s obviously just antagonizing the legions of Divine Divinity fans on account of the sheer worldwide popularity of that inescapable staple of the gaming world.

      I like DD a lot but come on; it’s a little odd to say dissing it is just contrarian.

    • John Walker says:

      I like that I got a capital C at least.

      No, I shared my opinions. You disagreed with them. I suspect you disagreed because you’re such a contrarian.

      Yes, I lower-c you.

  9. Zenicetus says:

    The best thing Ubi could do with the AC series is take another gap year before the next major title, and release a good expansion for Origins during the gap. Either more adventures for Bayek, or shift over to his wife’s adventures as a female lead. Maybe a side trip to Rome for her.

    It’s curious that John thinks Origins is “bits of history everybody knows,” because there’s a lot in that game (ignoring the more cartoon elements) that I didn’t know before, about this period and location.

    • Blastaz says:

      Except given that they make three games at once, the next two games have both already taken a gap year – and earlier in the production process, so, presumably, to better effect.

      Origins was meant to spend three years in the oven and instead spent four, so will the next game even if released Q4 2018…

      The history in Origins was pretty block buster, JC and Cleo and all. But I imagine that most people had no idea about Hellenic Egypt at all. Equally precious AC games have dived into such well known periods as the seven years war and the Ottoman Empire.

      • Zenicetus says:

        Yeah, I had sketchy knowledge about Hellenic Egypt. I think the best part of the game was pointing out how during this period, what we think of as “ancient” Egyptians were already living among dusty archaeological artifacts. The time from Cleopatra to the early pharaohs as long as the time from Cleopatra to us, etc.

        Anyway, I just noticed Ubi announced an Origins expansion, raising the cap from 40 to 45 and a new area opened up with a Roman theme. So they’re going to milk this a while longer.

  10. Vasily R says:

    I think They Are Billions has done so well due to YouTubers as well. Seems like everyone on Youtube is playing it, and they’re getting tons of views.

  11. mmandthetat says:

    Y’all, Divine Divinity is a really good quirky open world action RPG and when it goes on sale you can get it for less than a dollar. Don’t heed John on that one if you dig on exploratory isometric clickers of old.

  12. MacPoedel says:

    Well yes Larian has made a lot of Divinity games and most international coverage of the studio has been regarding those games, but a quick look on their Wikipedia page shows there have been a few other games. In Belgium the educational games (KetnetKick 1-2) were quite well known, made in association with the Belgian (flemish) broadcaster’s kids channel, but they weren’t marketed internationally.

    And also, while Dragon Commander is a Divinity game, the title doesn’t mention any Divine entities (except for Dragons maybe). I also might get some flak from this from a more hardcore Divinity fan (I haven’t actually finished any Divinity game, in most of them I’ve dropped off at some point for various reasons), but a lot of the Divinity games are barely related, there are some recurring characters but I don’t think there’s this big extended universe connecting all the games. I feel like Divinity Original Sin 1-2 is almost as much related to Divine Divinity 1-2 as Dragon Age is to Neverwinter Nights.

    I think Larian just keeps on using the Divinity brand to capture some of the previous games’ fanbase, but after the Original Sin games I feel the studio’s name is enough to warrant attention.

  13. Odelta says:

    Interestingly, I just picked up a second copy of Human Fall Flat myself, but over on my Switch

  14. LX357 says:

    I’m… confused. Why is there a screenshot from 2006s The Godfather under the GTAV entry?