Ask CVG Anything: Guilty pleasures, Assassin's Creed IV

Plus: The worst game purchases, is EA setting itself up for a fall?

Ask CVG Anything does exactly what it says on the tin. We ask followers on the CVG Facebook page and forums to send in their best game-related questions, and as long as they're legally sound we do our best to answer them.


If you want to see your question featured in a future edition of Ask CVG Anything, either add it as a comment at the bottom of this article or keep an eye on our Facebook page or this forum thread where we'll be regularly asking for more.

Every generation seems to have a dominant genre of games. Which genre do you think could be most dominant in the next generation? - Samildanach
Rob - Wow, great question. (Y'know, since we've started doing this Ask CVG Anything I've noticed how our community could offer really good interview questions for developers.) Well, I think that the trends are pointing towards a first-person shooter future, albeit one that's more diverse in terms of sub-genre (not just military and space stuff!). But the main trend will be what happens to all genres - most will become massive and persistent online versions of the same game (look at what Bungie's trying to do with Destiny as an example, or what Evolution is doing with Drive Club).

Tamoor - In terms of genres it's hard to predict. Maybe shooters will continue to dominate, or music games with instruments will make a comeback, who knows? One thing is for sure though, with console manufacturers beefing up connectivity, online multiplayer is going to be even more popular.

Chris - I reckon it'll probably be FPS again, for the first couple of years at least (though personally I wouldn't mind the return of Guitar Hero). They're still immensely popular and the next generation isn't going to be so revolutionary that devs will immediately try something completely different. The leap from 16-bit to polygonal consoles forced many genres into obscurity (side-scrolling platformers, vertical shooters), because devs were encouraged to show the different gaming experiences they could produce with '3D' polygonal graphics. Graphics-wise, next gen will be an evolution rather than a revolution so I don't see current trends changing all of a sudden. Call Of Duty isn't going to suddenly stop selling a dickload when it arrives on PS4 and 720.

Do you think SimCity will make developers think about DRM implementation or will they just keep doing the same horrid "screw the customer over" type thing? - Nicolas Poublon
Chris - I genuinely don't think EA made SimCity online-only to "screw the customer over". I can see the reasons they did it - they claim it's because it's a more "social" SimCity, we all know it was really to prevent piracy - but that obviously isn't much consolation to those who can't log on, or those who wanted to play it on their laptop on the way to work and can't (even when it is working) because they've got no internet access.

I do feel for them (a tiny bit) because servers always take the biggest hammering on launch day (look at what happened with Diablo III), and it doesn't make business sense to have a big enough server to handle the week one swarm since after that those servers will only have to deal with a fraction of those connections. In a week's time connecting to SimCity won't be a problem at all - I think most people's issue at the moment isn't so much the DRM itself, but the fact that it isn't working. If it had launched with no connection problems the outcry would be far smaller.

(It's also worth bearing in mind that there are reportedly no problems with the European servers, so if you see any Brits moaning about connection problems there's a good chance they don't even have the game and are just joining in with the outrage.)

Tamoor - I'm of the opinion that executives don't gather around and try to come up with the best way to screw the customer. I'm not pro-DRM, but at the same time I don't think they're out to get us all. Developers and publishers are in a tough position, games are expensive to make and pre-owned hurts and piracy is a killer - especially with PC games.

Always-on internet connections are undoubtedly a bad idea, but given time I hope that they'll be able to come up with better solutions. Either that or we'll reach a point where connection speeds and server reliability aren't an issue and stuff like always-on will be an accepted norm.

Rob - If people can stop pirating games then we can actually have a legitimate discussion about existing anti-piracy tools.

By what criteria does a game become an RPG instead of an action RPG? According to some it is carefully considering how to equip your character and party members with abilities and equipment. It should feature strategic combat. - Bambis Dad

Tamoor - This is a tough one. I immediately think of how battle encounters are designed. If it's on-the-fly, as in Castlevania (Yes, yes, I know the cool kids call that a Metroidvania game), I'm inclined to call an action RPG. If it there's a noticeable break in flow for combat, like Final Fantasy, I think RPG. The strategy element is also a good barometer.

Chris - If I find myself having fun playing it then it's probably an action RPG. If I'm bored out of my mind grinding over and over again then it's probably an RPG. Come at me, RPG bros.

What's your opinion on EA? Are they setting themselves up for a huge fall the way they're going? - flash501

Rob - Hard to know where to begin. I do feel sorry for EA. It broke away from a horrid history of shit games and terrible business and dev practices but then became obsessed with looking bigger than Activision, and then became obsessed with changing its entire business model as fast as possible (losing hundreds of millions of dollars in the process), and today is obsessed with how it's perceived by small-minded internet trolls. I just can't remember the last time I saw it as a games company.

Chris - I have a love/hate relationship with EA. Its freemium games take things to absurd levels - the Skull-Train roller coaster in the "free" Theme Park for iPad costs the equivalent of about £50(!) and it currently costs well over £100 to buy all the items in The Simpsons: Tapped Out - but then most of its console games are of exceptional quality. I feel similar to Rob, in that EA used to have a reputation for rubbish games then managed to get past that - and for a while, it was actually doing everything right. But now it's taking its foot off the accelerator again.

To me, FIFA is the perfect metaphor for EA as a whole. For years people hammered FIFA and praised Pro Evo as the ultimate football game. EA Sports put in the hard work and eventually transformed FIFA into a game that is now miles better than Pro Evo (in my opinion, of course). But now, as much as I love FIFA 13, I look at it and I still see problems that have existed for years now.

The league still messes up when I play an SPL season with Celtic, leaving me on 88 points for the last seven games even though I win another six times. Career mode still has freezes. The commentary still says ridiculous things at times (such as claiming I'm fighting for relegation when I'm ten points clear at the top). These are things that have been happening since FIFA 11 and despite constant complaints from gamers are still there. Once you get to the top you need to keep working hard to make sure you stay there, and my concern is that there are examples of sloppy work starting to show.

Tamoor - My biggest problem with EA is that the everything I personally like and have an interest in is buried under a pile of social, mobile and free-to-play games. There's so many of them, every other day a new one pops up, so I'm hearing about them constantly, meanwhile there's not a peep bigger games console/PC games I like. Either that or I'm hearing bad things about their latest release. It's sad, they can produce some kick-ass games. I genuinely do hope they bounce back.

What has been your worst game purchase - one where you bought the game, hurried home and whacked it in your machine, played a few hours and thought "bang goes £40"? - richomack360
Chris - Sadly, they've mostly been wrestling games. WWF European Rampage Tour on the Amiga was atrocious, WCW Mayhem was iffy, ECW Hardcore Revolution used Acclaim's horrible WWF Attitude engine, and TNA iMPACT! on 360 was complete knob.

Tamoor - Who Wants To Be A Millionaire for PS2. I honestly don't know why I got it, I think I just wanted to by something...anything...and that was the first thing I saw. I was bad with money as a child. Played it once, my mum loved the shit out of it though.

Chris - It's because of Tarrant. The older ladies love Tarrant. He teases the camera. Mind you, Edmonds has regained that crown now.

Would you like to see the return of the CVG magazine? - gmcb007

Chris - We're busy enough as it is, mate. ;-)

Tamoor - No. I don't think it'd last in the current day and age. I'd rather our lasting memories of it were that it was an amazing mag we all cherished, instead of that mag that tried to make a comeback but failed. Maybe a digital version, I guess.

What game would you consider to be your guilty pleasure? - gmcb007

Rob - Family Feud! It's actually an amazing game to play before you go out for the night.

Tamoor - Game? Cards Against Humanity.So offensive, but so hilarious. Video game? Flash game called Nanaca Crash. I've been playing it for years.

Chris - Most of what I play at home could probably be considered guilty pleasures! Spent about 50 hours on Two Worlds, for example. Um... I suppose WWE 13 is my guilty pleasure, because it's still considered odd for a 29-year-old man to like a wrestling game, especially when he uses it to make himself as a wrestler, make an arena covered in Scottish and Irish flags and then make a pay-per-view called Celtic Conflict where he and Seamus take on all the other wrestlers. Um... I've said too much.

Do you feel the consumers' rights for gamers are not respected as much as they should be? For example, Bethesda never received any fines for releasing a broken Skyrim on PS3. - gmcb007

Rob - On the other hand, one of the biggest game studios in the world decided to change the end of one of this generation's biggest trilogies based on fan feedback. I think gamers are pretty well protected, in general.

Chris - Who would have fined them? Look, I can understand the frustration when you fork out a lot of money for a game that doesn't happen to live up to your expectations, but that's been the case since day one. Yes, Skyrim was borked on PS3, but the SNES version of Mortal Kombat was missing blood, the SNES version of Mickey Mania was missing levels that were in the Mega Drive version, and the Master System version of Star Wars was weaker than the NES version. In multiformat games there's sometimes a good version and a bad version - that's the nature of the beast. Skyrim is buggy but it isn't "broken" - you can still play it.

Tamoor - I must admit I'm not sure what the protocol is in respect to fines and such, but I will say that I think it's a shame that Bethesda didn't more openly address the issues with Skyrim on PS3, particularly because it has a history of releasing shoddy games on the console. Its engine is notorious for performing badly on the PS3; they should have done something about it much sooner.

A lot of the issues people have with games can be quickly fixed with updates and patches (obviously, a shit engine less so), but the issue devs run into is having to jump through certification hoops for platform holders. I hope this becomes a little easier in the next-generation, that'd help quite a bit I reckon.

What do you think that will be the future of Nintendo now that the Wii U's sales have not been as good as expected, and that this is expected to be the last generation of consoles? I wonder because their business is centralized on consoles. - miticochiva
Rob - Well, last week I said the scale of the Wii U's problem was so vast that I wouldn't blame Nintendo if they actually cut their losses and started over. But maybe I was being a bit premature - perhaps I should wait for the system's first year of content to get a better picture of things.

The truth is, in the long-term I'm not sure Nintendo will ever be able to compete for the same audience as the PlayStations and Xboxes - those two are in a massive and commercially very tight battle for market share. Nintendo hasn't really been engaged with that audience for more than ten years, so I think it's more reliant on casual gamers, but I'm not sure those people still exist.

Tamoor - History has taught me never to count Nintendo out. I hope the Wii U is a huge success for them. I'm an optimist, and I freaking love Nintendo.

Chris - Ah, don't get me started. It's so boring seeing people queuing up to give Nintendo a kicking. A lot of people are still sore that Nintendo seemingly brought casual gaming into the mix, and are determined to see it fail, it's pretty daft. The Wii's instant popularity was a freak occurrence, and now people are ready to jump down Nintendo's throat every time it doesn't instantly hit the ground running with each new system.

Take a look at the 3DS launch and you'll see that its first year was similar to what the Wii U is experiencing now - a relatively small game library, relatively low sales and a cost some consider too expensive. Now look at it - two years later, 30 million systems sold. Gamers are an extremely impatient bunch these days, and it's easy to forget the Wii U is barely three months old. Calling it a failure now is like telling a five-year-old he's shit because he'll probably not pass his GCSEs when he's 15.

All I'm saying is give it time - I know there are a lot of sad people out there who want to see this massive, popular game publisher crumble to the ground just because they didn't care much for Wii Music, but Nintendo has shown time and time again that it knows how to change course and make a struggling system successful.

With the announcement of Assassins Creed 4 do you think the series is becoming stale or will number 4 be great? Number 2 is still my favourite and after that they just seemed to release games because they knew they would make money like Call Of Duty does. - Christopher Hughes

Chris - It would be silly to judge how good a game's going to be based solely on a brief trailer that barely scratches the surface of what the game has to offer. So I'm going to say it'll get 83%.

Tamoor - I'm excited. Brotherhood is my favourite and AC3 was very disappointing, but I think it has a lot of potential. Andy pretty much nails it here: Black Flag can plunder Assassin's Creed 3's spoils, and we'll all be richer.