Good morning, friends, and welcome to another edition of Replay. This week's videogame news includes a, um, battle royale between Fortnite and Apex Legends , another weird gaffe by Steam, and Nintendo sneaking a big surprise into an unassuming package. Press Start now.
Nintendo's Using Its DIY Cardboard Platform to Get Into VR
Remember Nintendo Labo? The cardboard thing, where you could build little models and robots and stuff and animate them with the Switch? It was part Lego robotics kit, part mini-game generator, and it was a fascinating experiment on the part of Nintendo. It was pretty kid-friendly, to boot! Well now, it's gonna do VR. The main VR kit will cost $80 and will feature VR goggles as well as several cardboard kits to build, while a $40 set will feature the goggles with only one kit, a blaster.
It's an interesting mixed-media approach to VR, the basic tech of a Google Cardboard merged with fully meatspace models that attach to the goggles and make them a bit more spatially vibrant for the kids to latch onto. As Nintendo's first foray into VR since the Virtual Boy, this is definitely a surprise. Testing the waters, maybe? We'll see if Nintendo's interest in VR continues into the future. But if not, at least we've got a neat cardboard laser out of the deal.
Fortnite Has Finally Been Pushed From Its Twitch Throne
For the past 11 months, Fortnite was the most-watched game on Twitch, which is one of the best barometers of a game's success the internet has to offer. If it's being watched, it's being talked about, written about, and just about everything else. A watched game is a big game. And for almost a year, Fortnite was easily the biggest.
Is Fortnite still the biggest game in general? It's hard to say for sure, but one thing is for certain: It's no longer the most watched game on Twitch. Last month, that honor went to Apex Legends , the hottest new battle royale on the block. Will Apex Legends be able to keep up that momentum? Only time, and Twitch views, will tell.
Steam Blocks a Pretty Upsetting Game For a Pretty Flimsy Reason
Big ol' content warning for this one, folks. OK? OK.
So Steam, as we know, has questionable moderation policies, as exemplified by the game Rape Day , a real title that its developers attempted to release on the platform. The game, if it can be called that, is a visual novel in which you commit terrible acts of violence against women. Steam, a few days after Rape Day went viral for its untold horrors, announced the service would not be allowing it on the store. That seems good, right? Well, read on. "Much of our policy around what we distribute is, and must be, reactionary—we simply have to wait and see what comes to us via Steam Direct," Valve said in a statement . "We then have to make a judgement call about any risk it puts to Valve, our developer partners, or our customers. After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think Rape Day poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won't be on Steam."
Which, OK, cool. But a couple of things. First, that's the reasoning? It might put your bottom line at risk? That's a weak reason to remove a game from the store, when "because it's about really upsetting things for no good reason" is right there. That's not to say I want Steam to be moralizing on their storefront, but—and this is my second thing—it seems as though the company has no standards outside of keeping an eye on what people are most upset about, which is no way to run a market that sells pieces of interactive expression. I'm not sure how to curate a marketplace like Steam, but I'm fairly certain this is not it.
Recommendation of the Week: Black Mesa on PC
Half-Life is one of the greatest games of all time, a classic first-person shooter that set the mold for what those games could be. It's also, well, pretty old, and maybe you want to satisfy that Half-Life craving but with a more modern twist. For that, you gotta try Black Mesa , a full remake of the game created by fans-turned-creators in the newest version of the Source engine. It's impressive, works to fix some of the biggest problems the original had, and is almost—very nearly—entirely finished. Check it out.
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