Opinion: Social Media’s Power to Save TV and Film

Social media has its fair share of issues. We have to deal with fake news, trolls, cyberbullying, and a plethora of other issues. However, there is a light within all of the darkness within social media. Just this year we have seen some positives out of it. One of its powers is to help our favorite TV shows and movies. Without it then we may not have some excellent shows or films. These excellent pieces of entertainment could have never seen the light of day or been canceled to never see the light of day again. Until the fans have an uproar on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other sites to get the attention of studios to revive the project.

A prime example would be Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Last week Fox announced the show’s cancelation. Fans took to their social media accounts to express their outrage towards Fox. In a surprising manner, this caught NBC’s attention which soon after the cancelation made an announcement about the show’s revival. The question about whether this was the plan all along or not is up for debate. Time must be taken to get everyone’s contracts in order and to make a deal between the two network giants. None-the-less, fans will be getting a new season of the cop sitcom.

Before a phone call or letter would have to be utilized to get a show like Brooklyn Nine-Nine back on the air. Even then, with or without social media, nobody is guaranteed to get the show back just because you want it to. Voicing an opinion may not do anything, but with minimal effort to potentially get a result, then you have nothing to lose at all.

I am not saying that writing letters is less powerful, but this is about the easy access and instant reply that social media can get out of people, especially a studio that canned your favorite show. Back in the 80s, Designing Woman was canceled by CBS after tanking views during the first season. People loved the show and wrote in to call out CBS for setting the show up to fail and that people really did love Designing Woman. The show’s prime time slot was switched over which gave speculation as to why the views dropped. After 50,000 people wrote to express how upset they were about the show being canceled, CBS revived it. The show then went on to go for seven seasons after its revival.

With resources like Twitter or Facebook, there is no need to wait a few days to weeks to see if a letter reaches someone. The phone is still available, but you may not get the response you want. If thousands of people take to Twitter to spam the mentions of a network’s account then those people will eventually get noticed.

Films are in the same boat in many ways. Studios want to make money, and if a project seems like it cannot make a big splash at the box office, then what is the point? Look at the success of Deadpool to show that if something seems like it would fail, might not be true. Ryan Reynolds was fighting for roughly ten years to get the project started, and Fox never wanted to believe in him.

The story of Deadpool has a lot of elements to why Fox was against the project. Superhero movies were secured for a PG-13 rating to let kids and adults all enjoy. The success of Sam Rami’s Spider-Man movies goes to show, well maybe we can ignore the third movie. Still, those movies are a great example as to why it would work to keep the films at PG-13. As the MCU got started, it showed a perfect balance for adults and kids. The universe of Marvel movies has made Disney billions of dollars. So, why make a superhero movie of a guy who is a foul-mouthed murderer? Fox did have valid reasoning behind their decision.

Ryan Reynolds was not the strongest spokesperson to get the project greenlit. Fox did not want a rated R superhero movie, especially if it stars the guy who did Green Lantern which is still an embarrassment to the genre. However, some footage of Ryan as the Merc with the mouth came online. After the leak, people took to social media to let it be known how incredible the footage looked. Fox did take their time because of how worried they were about Ryan Reynolds, and the fear about a rated R superhero flick was still scary. However, once they finally gave Ryan the thumbs up, Tim Miller, Ryan Reynolds, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wenrick got to work. The rest became history once the incredible marketing came full speed and the film released to become the highest grossing rated R movie ever made.

Fans who are worried about a project that may never see the light or something that has been canceled should look at the positive side of it. Their voices may not be heard, but they could be. With the resources with have today, anything is possible. Social media is easy access that puts out a message instantly. A studio could get thousands of phone calls or letters which are still powerful. The story is different when fans take to every social media outlet that a company has and spams them to give them back their show. The world is different now, we have new methods to revive shows or movies. If the revival does not happen, at least people went in fighting for that show to come back. Imagine how many more shows or movies could still be around if people just voiced their opinions.

 

Image via Fox

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How TimeSplitters is the Game We Need to be Rebooted.

The gaming world is full of original ideas and games but remasters and reboots are huge in the last couple of years. Remastering games that are older can be great. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is the prime example of taking a game to make is look up to the standards we have today for graphics. Overall gameplay remained, and the game went on to be a huge success. This brings gamers a beloved game back into their lives without any out-of-date graphics. Reboots have been a big part of the last few years too. Recently Doom came out and was beloved by just about everyone, myself included. The game looked beautiful and played wonderfully. Young people like myself did not play the original games. Taking the premise and making a modern day FPS with the Doom license worked out tremendously. The discussion about what should be remastered or entirely rebooted is everywhere in the gaming community. What I want the most is a TimeSplitters reboot, and I am going to go into why this is the best idea.

TimeSplitters is a sci-fi, action, comedy, FPS. Many themes make it so different from any other shooter out there. I have admittedly only played the last game, TimeSplitters: Future Perfect. This conclusion to that trilogy was excellent. It caught up newcomers on the story and had one of the best multiplayer experiences I have had. The last game was made in 2005 and has been silent ever since, for the most part. A fan remake has been in the making since 2013 called TimeSplitters Rewind. After some issues, the project recently got mentioned to be still in the making. Some great progress has come, and if it does well enough, we might be able to see another game in the future.

The story is full of colorful characters, unique levels, and a diverse amount of weapons to try out. The final entry has one of the most horrifying levels I have ever experienced in a video game. Yet, the game is full of humor that lightens the tone of the game. There is a perfect mix of horror, sci-fi, action, and comedy that works together perfectly. Where this game can be a hit if rebooted is not in the campaign but in the multiplayer.

Playing this game with my friends and adding bots to the game created some unique matchups. Zombies could be fighting robot and ninja monkeys, gingerbread men can fight off a team of humans, and so many more awesome combinations. Since using bots for multiplayer is not used anymore, this can be used for who the players can choose to play as. Having a variety of characters to choose from and possible customization options can lead to so many possibilities for the players. The number of weapons will create so many options for play styles and opportunities to try out something different.

The third and final entry to the TimeSplitters games is one of the favorite games of all time.  Story and multiplayer are both a blast for so many reasons. I think if the rewind goes well, Crytek might allow a full game to be made. A fresh new start for the series and the genre will be healthy for all parties involved. If you could choose any older game, what would you like to see as a reboot?

Image via Crytek

Microtransactions: The Good (Sorta), the Bad, and the Ugly.

If you are a gamer, like me, then you are tearing your hair out about the whole microtransaction problem in the community and industry. For those readers who are not gamers, I will explain everything soon, just hold on tight.  This issue has escalated and has gotten out of control this year. Seeing AAA titles that are single player shove microtransactions down our throats, or multiplayer games making it impossible to do anything competitive until you spend even more money. We will dive into all of this on every possible side of the conversation. As the title suggests, yes there is some good. Before you rip my head off, look again and see the word sorta. I am against microtransactions, but there is a light to it to some degree. There is a lot to talk about, so let’s dive right into the basics first.

Nongamers, this is for you right here. You may have no idea what I am talking about, and that is okay. Microtransactions are a small transaction online, and in our case for gaming, it adds cosmetic, boosts, in-game currency, and more for the gamer to pay to get instead of playing a few hours to earn. The use of microtransactions has a variety as you see. Everything depends on the game and how the developers, and publishers want to implement any microtransactions into the game. Video games are becoming more expensive by the day, so these companies need new ways to earn money. This business method was more common for free-to-play games.

Why is this conversation starting now? This is a mix of two major titles that have come out this year that have finally made gamers explode. Star Wars Battlefront II which is published by EA and developed by DICE. The other game is Middle-earth: Shadow of War which is published by Warner Bros. and developed by Monolith Productions. People are furious over Star Wars because the progression system is broken. Taking dozens of hours to unlock one character, but you can skip everything by paying for it. I will say before moving forward that they are working to rework everything in the players’ favor and that microtransactions have been temporarily disabled. Still, some gamers did the math and realized that if you spend about $100 extra, then you still will not have everything in the game. That will be $160 total for a game that is not even fully unlocked. These methods are unethical and getting debated throughout the industry. As for Middle-earth, this is a single player game that you can buy loot boxes to earn new gear and specials to help boost you through the game. One, the gaming community is mad because they should not have to spend anything extra on single player experience. Secondly, towards the end, it becomes a grind. Reportedly from a lot of people, it takes hours to get what is needed to beat the game. When you are right at the end, but then gated off to spend another dozen hours mindlessly building an army of orcs to then complete a 50 or so hour game, you will become annoyed. This technique is just a pay-to-win method which is arguably the worse out there. Games with a pay-to-win method are usually online, but equally insulting to gamers when it is shown in singleplayer games like Shadow of War. The practice of microtransactions are known for free-to-play or online games, but a single player game that is one of the biggest releases of the year having them is outrageous. These two games were able to push gamers to their limits.

This method can be useful for individual companies. When developing a free-to-play game, you need to find a way to fund your game, additional content, pay employees, equipment for the office, etc. Even bigger developers may need it because games are so expensive now. Games like Overwatch and Grand Theft Auto 5 have managed to do this well. Overwatch will let players pay an amount for loot boxes. Opening these loot boxes may have another skin for a character or another fun treat for the player. Most people who are fans of that game have not been outraged by this system because their actual game is not affected. Grand Theft Auto 5 rewards players. Gamers can spend their money to gain in-game currency which saves a lot of time to get a new car, a gun, or clothing. The reward is the amount of money has given Rockstar the opportunity to update the game with free content. According to an article published on Forbes called “GTA Online’s $500M in Microtransactions Could Mean a Very Different GTA 6” written by Paul Tassi. He goes over more than just microtransactions as you can tell by the title, but the amount of money is what we are looking at for this topic. Some gamers are not happy since the game has had no real additions for the single player, but for those who love online, are generally satisfied with the free content. These are just a few ways that AAA titles get away from any outrage from their fans. The main thing is for these companies to be careful about how the game is impacted and how the business aspect is shown to gamers. If gamers get a sense of greed and manipulation, then you get significant problems.

A mistake many games tend to make is how they show the gamer that there are microtransactions. Most players will not be purchasing any microtransactions. They will buy the game and play it. An article found on The Wired called “Half of all mobile games money comes from 0.19% of users” written by Matt Kamen discusses this. The title summarizes it all that there is such a small amount of mobile gamers that will be buying microtransactions. This number is found from 48% of all mobile games are funded by this 0.19% of players. Some platforms and types of games are not included, but you only need that small amount to drive a game financially. The mistake comes in when they shove the microtransactions down the throats of their players. The data is there, most of these players will not be spending extra money. When you try to grab them to do so, then you ruin the experience entirely. Currently, I am playing Assassins Creed: Origins, despite being fun, then shove the store down my throat. I feel some pressure to buy something extra. Same for Middle-earth: Shadow of War which is even worse about showing off their store. You can unlock a similar loot box style that other games have, and gain some new gear. Unlocking this can be natural, but to unlock them to see what you got, you must go to the store for the game to see. Showing off all of the other loot boxes you can just purchase to be quicker. This technique feels greedy and unethical.

Imagine you decide to purchase a microtransaction that is a loot box. You will not know exactly what you get, but you may get something cool for your character. You spend whatever amount you decide on the select options. You open this box and get basic gear that you already have. You just wasted money on a virtual shirt, and it was the same shirt, so you have nothing to show for spending that money. This has caused many issues. China is one of several countries deciding whether this is gambling. If it is, then it can be illegalized, fined, or regulated, depending on the country. Overwatch is the main game that has had this discussion about, but many other games are in the same boat. I like the system from games like Grand Theft Auto because I know what I am getting. Generally, people give Overwatch a pass, but it is still a great game to use for this discussion Deciding to purchase a microtransaction should be worth it, but not every game gives you that. You can spend $1.99 for two boxes in Overwatch, and you may not get anything that satisfying. The other option is paying $39.99 for 50. You may get a lot out of that. 45 of those can be good, 30 might be good, 5 might be okay. This risk factor is a slippery road on many levels. For gamers, they are wasting their money and gaining nothing. As mentioned before, legally this is slippery. Countries can see this as gambling and crack down on the developer for this practice. As technology advances and the world changes, legally the nations around the world are adapting, slowly. Seeing this practice as a politician can give different impressions, just as it can with the gamers. It will be interesting to see moving forward on how this method of microtransactions changes over time.

Who is to blame for these greedy and manipulative strategies that the gaming community are so angry about? This has a few different sides. Gamers keep speaking about this issue, as they should. It is great that we are getting somewhere on this problem, but the money being made is what makes companies ignore our outcries about these methods. The saying goes, put your money where your mouth is held valid. The other side of this is the publishers. Developers often get all of the blame for these practices since they make the game. Publishers and the administrative side of the business are the ones who are usually causing the main issue. If a developer is not owned and publishing themselves, then it will be on them. Many big publishers such as EA are taking the heat. Several companies have explicitly and implicitly talked about EA. Some have been nicer than others. The Witcher developer CD Projekt Red made a brutal tweet a few weeks ago after a false claim that their next game, Cyberpunk 2077, will have a service style to it. Their tweet is below, and it is pretty obviously about EA. Seeing a company say these things shows a light for all the gamers out there. Not all companies are for these types of practices. Giving a game complete for people to dive into without any extra spending.CD PROJEKT RED

Microtransactions are not going anywhere, but changes might start happening. Even if companies like Activision, Ubisoft, and EA continue this path, it is not a problem. There are plenty of companies to support who are against microtransactions. Some companies can benefit, but should not be necessary, especially in AAA games. The fight will continue, but hopefully, things turn around for the better soon. If you are against microtransactions, then participate in any way you can. People come together and are making changes. That is why DICE and EA are making changes to Star Wars Battlefront II to make it up to all the gamers who feel betrayed and used. Companies need to be careful because not all of them can afford the consequences that EA is facing. They have enough money to survive a three billion dollar hit, but most can not. What do you think after all of this? Are any changes to the industry really going to happen with the aftermath of Star Wars Battlefront II?

Image via CD Projekt Red twitter and Electronic Arts