This Winter’s AAA Game Slate Might Be More Interesting Than You Think

Will we soon know God of War: Ragnarok's release date?

I record every episode of Thanks for the Knowledge on Fridays with rare exceptions, so this week’s episode is a little wild, woolly, and sad all at once given the disgraceful reversal of Roe v Wade. It was nice to be able to talk to Imran Khan and special guest Jeff Grubb about something else even for a little while. I wanted to pick their brains about a few of the biggest games we’ve seen this month as well as this Winter’s kinda strange AAA release slate.

You can also listen to the episode on Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

One game that came up in conversation is God of War: Ragnarok, extremely conspicuous by its absence during this month’s showcases. Might we see something from Sony Santa Monica before the calendar flips over to July? Is this game actually going to come out in November? We speculate a bit and chop it up about Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and Final Fantasy XVI.

Topics covered in this week’s show

Transcript of my conversation with Imran & Jeff

John: Hot game, summer 2022 might be technically kind of coming to an end, but there are still some, uh, new tidbits of information that we should all discuss. I have two very special guests on the show today. One is of course news editor in Ron con. Hello, and the other is a first timer for the fanbyte network.

We’re very, very excited to have him here from giant bomb. It’s Jeff Grubb.

Jeff: I’m coming for you, Imran. I’m gonna get my title back.

Imran: I mean, to be fair. You’re number three. So you have to presumably get through number two to get to me.

Jeff: He didn’t have to, he just popped outta nowhere and just came out and he like was on the side of the, the mat the whole time I did all the work and then. (John and Imran laugh)

And then you hit me with that outta nowhere. So, you know…

John: so we have to, yeah, we have to talk about the elephant in the room. I mean, Imran did defeat, uh, Andy Cortez and Jeff Grubb in a triple threat match to become the number one games journalist um, and

Jeff: so what’s the record there, Imran? Like one in four, one in five?

Yeah, I’m actually pretty sure that was the first match, but I think it was

John: because I was, I watched KFW. I, I I’ve been watching I’ve, I’ve watched probably like 60% of them, but I definitely watch a hundred percent of them that Imran have, have been on. Sure. As I support, you know, I just support fanbyte unconditionally of course, in any sort of form.

Right. And, and I just kept, I’m like, Imran’s getting the dog shit beat out of him every single week.

Jeff: I’m like they set his, his stats wrong or something. That’s what I asked. I was like,

John: I was like, I was asking Imran, do they just like set your stats to shit? Because that’s what it seems like. Um, but the short king got the victory.

I’m I’m, I’m very, I’m, I’m happy to have the trophy in our trophy case over here. It’s great.

Imran: I’m doing the Brock Lesner thing where I get the title and just don’t wrestle ever again. (John laughs)

Jeff: There you go. Yeah. Just show for the pay view. Like once, once a year.

John: Yeah. You got, you got those. The eight dates, eight dates a year for $500,000 a date or whatever, whatever

Jeff: the number one game journalist is the only one that gets paid.

Imran: Yeah,

Jeff: that’s right.

John: Uh, well, I wanna start with you, Jeff. Just kind of like. Life stuff, if you will. Yeah, because like, I, you know, you, you, you wrapped up at games beat you, uh, started as one of the core nine over at giant bomb. I, first of all, I think the stuff y’all are doing over there is awesome. I think it’s like been a really nice refresh and revamp and obviously, uh, Jan and the existing crew over there have been amazing, but it’s been great to see all how’s it going so far?

Jeff: It’s going really well. It’s, um, the kind of thing where even as, so I was always a fan of giant bomb. And, um, even as someone who’s a fan of it, I always thought of it as like, kinda like a rock band and like, yeah, maybe the, the guitarist gets replaced every once in a while. Right. But you, the core is still a band.

And then, uh, when this was happening very quickly, like Imran or sorry, uh, Jan, uh, mentioned to me like, uh, we’re thinking of like a sports franchise where like, you know, eventually everyone leaves, but the spirit can stay the same and we wanna do a winning franchise. When you explain that to me, I’m like, okay, this actually makes some sense.

And that doesn’t mean that, um, people shouldn’t be sad that they’re their favorite player left. Uh, right. I get that, but, but we are gonna do our best to, you know, get that ring and, and try to like put out content that people can feel really good about. And, um, And I think that side of things, we’re super confident in that.

Uh, because we, we were like almost running into this thing where it’s like, we wanna do so much. We have so many ideas. There’s so much energy. Everyone wanted, wants to work on these things. Now we are, uh, in a position where, um, we are recording two or three things at a time and putting up a lot of content in, in a day.

And it’s, um, The reaction’s been really pleasant, really nice, really kind. Uh, it, I, it’s hard to remember a 180 on the internet from, uh, from the Jeff Gman leaving on Monday to announcing this stuff on a Tuesday. Yeah. Uh, and I think since then, and people were like, look, they’ve assessed the situation. And like, this feels like actually what needed to happen for everybody. Jeff is off doing his stuff, uh, his solo stuff. And I’ve been watching that. I’m a Patreon subscriber to that. I, I love it. I think he’s, he is in his element there. Um, I think the next Lander guys have already established themselves as, uh, obviously this works for them. And the question was always gonna be over us over a giant bomb,

and I think really quickly we put out some things that’s like, okay, we are, uh, are gonna have a lot of game coverage, a lot of fun stuff to talk about with games. We’re gonna keep a few of our non gaming stuff happening, but it’s gonna be a lot of games nonstop and we’re gonna make that stuff as entertaining as possible.

And it’s really worked so far now. I mean, maybe we’re in the honeymoon period, but I still think this is gonna be something we can maintain for quite some time.

John: Yeah. I mean, I, I, I think definitely so far so good. You you’ve had a lot of like really honest, honest to God, great. Like graphic design kind of overhauls

really good stuff. So like the visual language of, of every show is amazing and, and the vibes are great. So it’s like, I think, I think, um, I, I think y’all are doing really good work. I think, uh, you’re right. The, the vibe between those two days is pretty wild. I was like, I was like, wow. But a lot of people on, on website eulogizing, this, this group that is not dead.

And I’m like, we don’t have to eulogize stuff. That’s not dead. And then the next day it’s like, yeah, see, like they had a plan like this was, this came together really fast. And I wanna talk about that because you just did a, a big move and I don’t think I’ve ever, and this is a huge compliment. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone move and start working as fast as I think I’ve seen you do it.

like, that’s fucking insane to me because if I move house, it is weeks before my office is set up and like ready to do stuff. So. That’s I I’m that’s, I’m very impressed by that.

Jeff: Well, no, thank you. I, I think that is just a byproduct of the way my, my brain works. All the stuff that is, uh, behind me is outta sight outta mind.

Yeah. When I’m doing the job. And so what I do is, and, and really that, that, it’s really hard for me to compartmentalize and organize stuff that is outta sight. And so what I could do is. Let me create an environment where I can put the things I need to focus on in front of me. Yeah. And then I, I can execute on that.

And so that’s the first thing I did is just like, okay, we’re, we’re moving, I’ll have like the laptop and stuff. I’ll do a few shows from the hotel room. I can handle that. And then when we get to get to the house, I’ll make sure I have like enough computers and stuff to be able to, to put piece this together.

Yeah. And then when the truck started arriving, I knew exactly what I needed to just. Piece the studio together and, and make it happen. And that, I mean, there is like, we still have a million boxes in the garage. we have so much stuff to tell. I mean, my van broke down in Indiana. I still gotta go pick that up.

They are waiting to get a transmission from Nissan who, who knows when that’s gonna happen. Uh, there’s like things to take care of, but when it’s it’s time to, to like do the show. Uh, I’ve set it up. So it’s very easy to just jump in and, and it’s, then it that’s like me being in my element is that sort of stuff where I can just put it in front of me and execute.

And, uh, so thanks for noticing. It means a lot that you, that you pointed out.

John: No. Fair enough. I still, we, we, we moved into this house in October, 2020. And the, uh, closet of my office is full of boxes that I think I threw things in. Yes. They were not organized at all. Couldn’t tell you what’s in them and I may never open them again. So

Imran: yeah, I mean, that’s, my office closet has two boxes that are just like there. Like, I don’t know, what’s in them at this point. It’s been months.

Jeff: And that’s the good part about, about, uh, the, the getting like packing up is this thing where you have to fit an infinite amount of work until like a handful of days.

Yeah. And, and then getting to the place in unpacking is like, having like, okay, this, you could probably get this done in about a week or two, and then you take it infinite amount of time and you never actually finish that project. That’s the, the nice part of that unpacking. So I’m fine with that. There are boxes that are gonna go in that closet over that I’m putting to over here to my left and they’re just gonna remain in there. Uh, uh, probably forever. Uh, cause we’re not moving again. I’m never moving again. This is it.

Imran: It’s it’s funny, Jeff, that you mentioned the, the quick turnaround of news mm-hmm on the Friday before I was reading games, beat for news. As I, as I do when the Dean Takahashi is like weekly.

Yes, Dean beat comes out. I was scrolling through it and at the bottom it’s like, oh yeah, Jeff grubs going a giant bomb. And I was like, what? And then I, I refreshed and that part was gone and I’m like, Dean, like, are you gaslighting me? What’s happening here?

Jeff: I, I was, uh, so Dean asked me, uh, if he could like.

Uh, say that I was leaving and I’m like, yeah, of course we need, I, I understand. Cause all this stuff is happening and like I’m, I’m only tangently involved in like the, the giant bomb side of it at this point. But I understand that like, something is going on where, where, where, where Jeff needs to leave.

And, uh, they’re gonna try to have this, this really quick refresh and like, Hey, we need these clips for this video. Uh, and I even, even like that first meeting, it was like, Hey, we wanna do a video and reintroduce this stuff. And we came up with a bunch of ideas. Yeah. And they’re like, can someone write the script?

I’m like, yeah, I can handle that. And I’ll do that. That sounds fun. Then I need to get a van and drive across the country. Uh, and I was in a hotel room in Colorado for a few days before we started that. And, uh, that Friday, I think we were getting ready to pack up and get in the car and go cause my wife’s, my wife’s teaching job finally came to an end.

And I got a DM from a friend, uh, Jean Carlo of vedi, who, um, I worked with a bunch and uh, he’s like, man, congratulations on the, the move to giant bomb. And I’m like, what the fuck are you talking about? what can I swear? I’m sorry. I’m like, what are you? Okay. And so, and so my, and he’s like, oh, I saw it in, in the Dean article.

I’m like, oh no deans. And so I go and I rush quick into the, to the thankfully I still had CMS access and I’m like, I rushed into the CMS and I delete it and I refresh the story. And then I’m like, Dean, I just meant, you could say I was moving on, not where I was going. And then he just goes, oops. And then Mike Menotti, who’s.

Dean is like a, a big character, but it’s like Dean Mike Menotti also works at games. Beat was just like a, a parting gift from Dean Takahashi. Uh, and of course I think it’s completely fair that I get scooped upon what I’m doing after my job. So I’m like, you know what, I’m not gonna really complain, but it was very funny.

John: Yeah, that is, that’s really amazing. Imran, I didn’t know that, but you had seen it and then it got refreshed out of existence. That’s amazing. Amazing.

Jeff: I’m like, I’m like how many people raid the Dean beat? Anyway, this is gonna be fine.

John: Ah, this is totally fine. It’s totally chill.

Imran: It’s just like five sickos like me that are like, oh, what Dean’s gonna say this week?

Jeff: It was on, there was a, a thread about it on reset era and it popped up on the, uh, I don’t know, like the Reddit, uh, for giant. And like, but it was like, those people saw it and then no one else did. So I didn’t really go too wide after that.

John: Yeah. You know? Fair enough. Fair enough. Uh, well, let’s talk about some games.

Uh let’s. Let’s let’s do that. Uh, we got to see a, uh, 24 minute Nintendo direct. Um, hilariously Nintendo uploaded for a while, uploaded a flick, whatev what was it? A 45 minute version of it with nothing on it for a while. That was funny. Um, we, we got to see a lot of this world. We got to see a lot of the mechanics, bunch of characters.

This game is really fucking big. I wanna get into that. Uh, Imran I’ll start with you since you know this I’ve I’m I’m gonna say this is your baby Xenoblade Chronicles 3. Um, any big surprises from, uh, what, what we, uh, what we saw?

Imran: Not real. So like my initial report was that they were struggling with getting so many character models on screen Uhhuh and like, it, it appears their solution to that was what if we just switched them out every so often?

mm-hmm like, yeah, that, that makes total sense. Like, I, I, I think a lot of people took my implication when I said that took us an implication of like, oh yeah, they’re wait, they’re waiting for a switch pro. Which like, maybe that was a thought at some point, who knows, but like, Usually when our developers run into that situation of, Hey, what we’re doing is not working on this hardware? Yeah. They make a design decision that’s like, what if we do a thing that makes it seem like this is our decision the entire time

John: yeah. Um, yeah, I it’s, it, it, it was, it is impressive though. I mean, even for a switch game, like it is. You know, it’s like these Xenoblade games have always been kind of about scale and exploration and a lot of characters on the screen.

It does seem like they’re doing a better job with that. Although I did seem see some, uh, pretty major frame hitches in a couple sections, but that’s fine. Yeah. It’s no Pokemon, you know, that game is gonna

Imran: run. Like it’ll probably run fine, but run at a low resolution. Yeah. Which I like I’m expecting it to run basically like Xenoblade 2 does, but with more things happening at once.

John: Yeah. Jeff. Do you like big games? How big is too big for you?

Jeff: I like, uh, I like big games that let me, uh, just kinda wander off and, and find my own fun. Uh, Elden ring really worked for me. Yeah. And that, that felt like one of the biggest games that there is, period. Um, so yeah, I, I say I do like them. I Xenoblade’s never been one that I felt much of an interest to go check out myself.

Sure. It it’s definitely falling into that. Like this looks like a lot of other games that have this, this, uh, art style and this influence. And so I’m because I can’t tell ’em apart. I’m not gonna like pay too much attention to this one. But one thing I have heard that has enticed me is like that, like you said, it has a focus on scale and people have always said, that’s really impressive.

And I’m like, well, when I get around to it, that’d be nice to see. But, um, this one, the, the. The video they showed for this, uh, it, it was more compelling to me than Xenoblade has been in the past. It is the kind of thing where I’m like, I might check it on, check on the, in on this, if the people who are fans of these games come back and say, I, I think maybe there’s a chance Jeff could like this.

Uh, uh, but. Uh, you know, it helps that, um, I didn’t see too many swords with boobs. Uh yeah. And, and so I won’t be embarrassed if like my wife wa walks in watch, watch me play this. So, uh, it, it, what is the take on that? Like, is that a, because I don’t see the community like freak out, like vagina bones here, but are maybe I’m just missing it.

Were people, do you guys do vagina bones? I just say,

oh, I’m I’m I’m simpatico. Yeah. Yeah, no, that was, yeah. That was not out of pocket. I totally get, yes, I remember it. Well, yeah. I

talk about vagina bones, like once a week. So not like, yeah.

Imran: We’ve all emerged from the vagina bones wars. Yeah, seriously.

John: We have, um, I, I, I didn’t, I haven’t seen anything that was like, um, I, I saw the most, that was about one character with an American accent, instead of all of them just sounding like bad.

Uh, dinner theater in London, right. um, like, so that, that was what I heard the most. I didn’t see any, anything in this 24 minute thing that said, okay, they’re gonna do some sicko shit from the second one in this one. Um, there’ll do

Imran: something waifu related. Cause like they know a hundred percent that makes money.

But I, I think it’s, I think they took the feedback from two of like, Hey, you guys are actually getting kind of gross

John: with this. Yeah. You all went too fucking far. there’s a line. .

Imran: Yeah, but like even, even Elden ring kind of does the waifu thing here and there. I think most, most developers sure. Most Japanese developers tend to say, tend to be like, well, this makes the game more marketable.

Right. How can we do that without hurting the actual reputation of the game? Yeah.

John: But you said something Jeff, that I, I kind of agree with. I mean, I, I, I like these Xeno blade Chronicles games, and I like a lot of stuff that mono OV has made, even though sure. To, to your point, um, Uh, I’ve told the story a few times on the network.

Uh, my mom did walk in on me playing Xenosaga, episode three. Um, my religious mother walked in when, um, you know, the big ti robot was revealed to be Mary Magdalene. Um, incredible. You know, that’s incredible. It was, you know, she was. Pretty appalled by that at the time I remember that. Um, so Monolo soft has got a history.

I, I, I like a lot of what they do, but I do think it all kind of bleeds together. It all kind of looks the same and, and has the same kind of footprint. And that works for a lot of people. It has. I, it, it fatigues me a bit.

Jeff: Um, yes, but

John: I am intrigued by how many characters there are that you can kind of control it once.

It seems like a lot. You can, like, you can shift in these like extra guest characters that you collect, like Pokemon, it looks like it can, they can join you. And that, that, that that’s kind of compelling. There’s a lot of like, uh, classes that you could basically trade between your characters, which like I think is also cool.

But then that started to fatigue me about like the scale of that in and of itself. Um, so I don’t know. I’ve just been thinking a lot about like how big is too big when I watch this stuff. Mm. I

Imran: mean, I still haven’t finished Xenoblade two. Right. Which is why, like, I’m not probably gonna leap in as Xenoblade three.

Sure. Because XO blade two is one it’s very big. And two, the battle system is so complicated that I’m like 60 hours in. And I just realized that reason every battle is taking 20 minutes is because I’m not doing it. Right. and like, uh, I, I, I started learning how to play, do the battle system. Then the game crashed on me and does that game does not auto save.

So yeah, I stopped playing after that, before. The last nine months. So at some point I will go back to it and I will have to relearn what, the, whatever the fuck I learned for the battle system. And then after that, then I will maybe get this by three. But just thinking about all of that is exhausting.

John: Speaking about missing, uh, mechanics, uh, Iran, you may have missed this conversation yesterday, but, uh, did you know that Niki played through the first, um, few levels of neon white and couldn’t get past one of them because they, to just totally missed that there was an alternate fire that, uh, does your abilities.

Oh, no. I mean, Niki just like fucking missed. That’s like the first thing they tell you, um,

Imran: I mean, that happens, which is like, it’s a, it’s a Testament to why we get over ized in a lot of things. Uhhuh.

Jeff: Absolutely. Uh, Dean tahashi, uh, did a review of what was a mass effect or something like that. Never upgraded his character.

Cause he didn’t know he could . Yeah. So I didn’t think

Imran: that’s what, that’s the Dean Takahashi story you were going to tell

Jeff: there’s lots of him, but yeah, that’s the one I’m gonna go with this time.

Imran: like, I. Famous or infamously when I played re bowl for the first time, this is not like a major mechanic, but I didn’t know.

You could run until the castle. Oh, wow. Would you actually have to run at that point? Yous not gonna make it. Yeah, so like I cuz at that point in my life, I didn’t, that was, I think the first game I had played with analog stick and a run button. Mm. Or maybe it wasn’t and maybe I just didn’t conceive it for some reason, but like you didn’t need to do it and I just never have to.

And the game never tells you,

Jeff: Hey, do this analog stick. The whole thing with analytics stick was like, Mario, like it’s harder. You press the stick. The faster goes, if you need to walk, you just hold it halfway. That was the whole thing. Yeah. And then, and then these developers, like, no, we’re not doing that.

yeah, it’s a, yeah,

Imran: fuck that influential game. Cuz now almost are most games. I feel like have some kind of run toggle. Yeah, absolutely.

John: Yeah, they do. Um, alright, this thing’s got a $30 expansion pass. I feel like the, the, the one for two did well. It

Jeff: it, yeah. People seem to like it from what I remember. Yeah.


John: and

Imran: also a thing I need to do before Xeno blade three, I guess. Yeah. Right.

John: Just play that thing. It’s like a prequel, it’s like a big kind of meaty prequel, I think, to, to the original story. Uh, and the story content, uh, for Xeno blade three with this expansion pass goes through December 20, 23. That’s beefy.

That’s like a little more than a year of content. So that feels. I guess. Yeah. Um, Nintendo made

Imran: so much money off a smash pass. Yeah. Like literally at an venture conference. They’re like, we need to do more of this. we’re we’re we are really losing out by not having constant, uh, season passes that go for years.

So I suspect there, we will see a lot more of that plan with more games than just like Xeno

John: blade. Yeah.

Jeff: Yeah, we gotta trick atten into making money, doing all kind. Like what if we put out good online and they make a ton of money, we should do this more. We just gotta trick

John: them. I,

Imran: I turned on my switch online last night.

Yeah. To like just, I wanted to load the answers before thing. And it does five, like, does that hidden block thing? Where’s like, oh yeah, we’re gonna reveal all the games to you. Yes, there, they were five bucks. I’m like, wait, what? What did I miss? Cause I thought the only game I needed was Pokemon snap. And then it does Pokemon snap, Spanish Pokemon, snap, German, Pokemon snap.

Wow. Pokemon, snap, English, like, okay, great. And they’re all there and you can’t get rid of any of them. So I didn’t just have like five versions of Pokemon snap. I didn’t realize those were different

John: skews. That’s incredible. Mm-hmm that’s amazing. Um, uh, alright, well, let’s move on. Um, uh, we, we also got found fantasy 16.

Devs did a bit of an interview circuit this week. Um, what’s that like? uh, but, um, we, we did get some, uh, uh, cool little morsels. Apparently those, uh, giant icon battles will feature different gameplay styles, uh, are y’all excited to, uh, play rock M robots with these big monsters. Yes.

Imran: Yeah. The, the pro wrestling one that they just name drop hell.

Yeah. As if that’s not like a thing that interestedly or instantly made me like, huh? What Uhhuh? That’s the one I, cuz that seems like the right kind of stupid final fantasy should be more stupid. Mm. It takes itself too seriously. And I, I like the idea that they’re already like. Hm. What if we just didn’t dig it seriously?

What if this was not like an epic Lord, the rings game of throne. Mash up CA thing, it just says someone rings a bell and then you BA Bahamas and a Titan, like wrestle each other.

Jeff: Yeah. That was my concern. When I first like saw it, like is like, uh, they’ve been watching game of Thrones and then that’s what they’re making.

And, uh, and that happens with final fantasy frequently. Like they were watching the prequels and we got final fantasy 12, and then we, you know, they were watch. Uh, a game of Thrones. So now this is what we’re getting. It was just kind of my, my line of thinking. But then, um, I, I don’t think that it was, it’s not that simplistic, the game that they are showing off now, it looks like they have a bunch of ideas and they are very excited about those ideas.

And so I’m like, Okay. I, I always get up and outta bed for any developer who has, who’s like declaring loudly that they have a vision. And so I’m like, okay, if that’s the case here, I’m gonna be paying attention. Um, and yeah, the, the, the big wrestling sequence, I mean, they had like life bars and stuff. It looked like a fighting game.

Like there’s some cool stuff happening there and I’m, I gotta see how this plays recent final fantasy games have definitely had a lot going on in terms of game play, being very good. So, uh, I’m gonna tune in for this and, and kind of see how it’s going.

Imran: Yeah, it’s weird. That square NX seems to be firing in all cylinders internally.

Now, like they did that statement a couple of months ago when they sold off crystal dynamics and the rest of them, that was like, we’re gonna focus on our internal development. It’s. it, I’m not, I’m trying to think of a non terrible analogy for this that does not offend everyone, but like, it generally feels like they, they have gotten free of a lot of their shackles cuz some of the worst shit they’ve put out has been from, from their Western sides and from yeah.

External publishing partners. So like that their. I’m actually massively excited for the things they’ve got. They’ve announced recently of like seven remake and the, the, for the 14 stuff in 16,

Jeff: like right. There is no like left of live. There is no, uh, bow and wonder world, at least, at least that we know of that they have announced that they’re like, Hey, what we got for these?

These are, Hey, the quiet man too is on its way. It seems like they’ve like. Gotten past whatever that initiative was like, let’s put out the worst games of the year, every year. Like, that’s our plan, we’re the producer. It’s everybody. But like, I’m like, we there’s clear successes happening in final fantasy and they are doubling.

Like, they couldn’t be doubling down harder on final fantasy seven if they tried, like, they are like, it’s all final fantasy seven all the time. Yeah. And then we have those leagues about final fantasy tactics, Reba and final fantasy nine remake mm-hmm it’s like. They, they know what works. They’re following maybe a slight, a slightly modified version of the Capcom playbook of double down on the games that are selling do even more of that.

Um, and that, I mean, that’s good because square Nicks needed that guidance cuz they, they were lost in the woods with a lot of stuff that wasn’t called final fantasy 14 for a long time. There. Yeah,

Imran: which I think does is maybe a Testament to how long it takes for a big publisher to actually write the ship.

Yeah. Like it’s not everyone. I, this is not, you know, cause I was one of these people, but like people on message boards, things, if they just did this, this, and this, then like, they’d be a fantastic publisher. But when you have like, 5,000 employees and multiple things, projects in the works that take years to make it must be actually very, very difficult to go.

Okay. Here’s what our next, uh, our next phase looks like, because most of what we’ve seen from square next, in the last. Five to seven years was decided in one weekend retreat where a bunch of executives sat together in like the woods. Right. And like, decided what, okay, we gonna do a fun to seven remake.

This is what if a fifteen’s gonna look like, like these kind of things. So I, it does take a very long time for

Jeff: the boxes, boxes in the closet. Get ignored for a long time. You have to go like, actually get your hands on that stuff. And you’re right. It’s, it’s very easy just to let the ship continue on the, I mean the big ship metaphor absolutely works.

It. It’s a big, heavy thing that is moving under it’s own momentum and to change that requires the input of a lot of external energy. And, uh, yeah. It always that you need to know like where to apply that energy. And that takes a, that’s a long fact finding process. So, yeah. Yeah. Uh, I I’m hopeful for a competent square index.

Again, I would love Sega to maybe like, Hey, can we get our stuff together? Uh, like just kind of look around, maybe try some of this stuff say, go once in a while, but, um, at least it does show that there is a path forward or a path back from seemingly being lost.

John: Yeah. I, I, I think, I think it is, is interesting and it, and honestly, a Testament to square Enix I’m gonna put, gonna put their, uh, their, uh, machinations to get into web three stuff aside.

I’m gonna just put that out aside the room for a second and say, you know, there may be one of the easiest armchair quarter. Developers to actually fix. Yeah. But like it’s a Testament to them that they kind of decided to just do a lot of that stuff, which, um, you know, it’s like, I, how long have we been talking about final fantasy seven, you know, a remake or, uh, just doubling down on a lot of this stuff and, and yeah, it’s cheap and yeah, it’s easy, but now they’ve done it and they did it.

And maybe the most spectacularly effective and good way. um, and it’s kind of a, a shock to me that remake was as good as it was, uh, Iran. And I talked about that a lot on another podcast this week, but, um, yeah, it’s like it it’s, they, they seem to kind of get it, uh, who knows

Imran: what this web three shit they,

John: they wanna do will be,

Jeff: um, But they keep talking about it.

I, I, do you think it’s, do you think it’s boardroom bullshit or do you think they’re really having? I think it’s just boardroom bullshit because it was just boardroom bullshit or at least they don’t know that like the investors don’t care about this at this moment. Right now at this moment, they actually don’t want to be hearing about NFTs.

Yeah. Cause because anyone that’s invested in NFTs in that group is like, knows that their, you know, NFTs are crypto over and kind they’re, they’re taking a beating. They don’t wanna reminder like, oh, that someone’s trying something here. They sort of want to forget about it. So either square next thinks this is still what investors want to hear and is wrong about that.

Or there is a legitimate interest in making something happen, which I think is in line with that, that like new year’s holiday card. Yeah. That new CEO sent out or the president sent out, um, But yeah. Yeah. Cuz it’s like unforced errors. You don’t have to keep talking about it. You don’t have to keep saying it and the way that they phrase it, like it’s too early to be talking about doing NFT games, uh, for dragon quests and final fantasy.

I’m like, well, yeah, like that’s a terrible idea. You should never do that. Why are you saying it’s too early to even do that? Uh, but. You know, maybe, maybe I’m just reading and like I’m, I might be connecting the dots here and really, they are just like saying this stuff for investor’s sake.

Imran: Yeah. I mean, I think they, they genuinely like the idea of cause like they love the idea of a store that they control and make money up every single transaction.

And if people are trading like quitting their own economy, where everything feeds up to them, then I think they will happily leap on board. And

Jeff: they’ve, they’ve said it they’ve said as much in the past, like they’ve said that exact line of reasoning, why they is, why they like it. . Yeah. And

Imran: like the blockchain gives them the actual security to make sure it doesn’t become like aid, uh, a free for all cheating people, replicating whatever, uh, as they need to, or near or want.

But. Also everyone hates it. So it’s very hard to thread that needle. And especially like, I think it’s very confusing for them because culturally in Japan, it’s not considered a, like, they’re not necessarily happy about it, but also they don’t care. They don’t see it as the end of the world. Right. I was talking to some Japanese developers at GC and they were saying like, there’s actually a lot of really interesting things we could do with this.

Like we could actually make digital games, sellable and stuff like that, which they can do now. Don’t uh, but like, they are not against the idea of blockchain, web three NFT stuff. They have concerns, especially environmental ones, but the further up to chain you go, the environmental concerns get less and less like care

John: less pressing.

Yeah. Mm-hmm . Yeah. Um, yeah, I, if, if they do web three, just make it so that I can buy a web three version of, um, the, uh, of, of any 2d, uh, square index game with better font. And that’s fine. um, like that’s all I need. Um, right. So a font fantasy 16, they’re kind of a shoeing open world design to do this kind of open zone thing.

Is that kind of a shock to either of you or, or is this kind of in line with what you’d expect from the.

Jeff: I, I think this goes in line with what I was saying earlier about them having a vision and, um, uh, like the reason you do open world, if your final fantasy in the past, I think is, cause that’s what gamers want.

And that’s what like, can look good on the back of the box and in commercials. And, um, it just looks like, oh, there’s gonna be all this stuff to explore, but that’s like that, that needs to then be the impetus behind the gameplay mechanics. And that was never really, they were never putting that peanut butter and jelly together at square, so right.

I think, um, You know, putting that the need to come up with an open world game that is compelling to play aside. What, like what, what do you want a final fantasy adventure to be? Right. Well, you do want it to be this grand, you know, world traveling thing where like you are a, you’re gonna set, set out on an adventure and it’s gonna take you to places you didn’t expect.

And they’re gonna be big and scary. And then when you accomplish your goal there, you’re gonna realize, well, we need to actually go to this place. And then at the end of the store, you’re gonna probably wrap back home and things are gonna be different and all the characters are gonna be different. And, and they’re gonna feel different about the world that they left behind.

Like it just fits with the kind of thing that they’re trying to do here so much better. Yeah. That is it. Once again, gives me a lot of confidence about this game specifically.

Imran: Yeah. Yeah, I was, I was talking to, uh, a Japanese developer who actually very, they make very famous action games and they were telling me they were, they’ve been working.

Are they working on a prototype for a game where the initial pitch was, this is going to be an open world action title. And the, they worked on it for years with that same prototype over and over and over. And the problem kept coming up. They didn’t know how to control the pacing because the second you let people just do whatever they want.

They get bored doing the same, like repetitive action or fighting the same enemies and all that. And controlling the pacing was so incredibly important for how they. Play this game. That doesn’t mean it can’t work. It obviously does work in games like horizon and Gav war and recently Eldon ring. But if you’re making a certain kind of game, like a devil may cry or a band or something going just like, let’s just make this open world is such a hard switch to flip because that changes just basically everything about the design.

Jeff: Like it didn’t like, it didn’t like even really work in near automata. Like it’s a, like, yeah, the open world stuff was not the best part of that game by a long shot. And it was the kind of thing where. If I start trying to go find my own fun here, I will find nothing. I’ll get bored. I need to just stay on this CRI path and, and see what they put in front of me.

Yeah. Right.

John: I is the definition of open world kind of getting fuzzy to either of y’all cuz it is to me.

Jeff: Yeah, definitely. Cause we, we have like, um, you know, Sonic frontiers talk about opening zone stuff and it’s clearly just an open world, but it’s like slightly open spaces. Yeah. The thing is just that the scale is continuing to grow and grow and grow.

Right. And, um, And like, and that’s both like in terms of a, uh, square footage it’s, it’s growing and it’s growing in terms of density. Yeah. And then the, uh, the possibilities in that space are also growing. It’s like these, this three dimensional growth that is making it so that, uh, these games could be bigger and deeper than ever before.

And yet at the same time, we still kind of get open world games that have been. That are the equivalent to G GTA three or something to this day. So, no, there’s this genre. We call open world games and it’s just this massive open possibility space of what that could possibly mean. So yeah, it’s getting way more fuzzy.

Yeah. Like

Imran: saints row is making it a marketing point that, Hey, we’re making open world games. Like there used to be open world games that are just kind of like. Non-linear you can do. Cause whatever mayhem you want, just go to the mission when you’re done.

Jeff: Just go to the way point

John: when you’re done. Yep.

Yeah. Yeah. Open sandbox versus open world. I feel like that’s a, a bit, bit of a, maybe better distinction, but the stuff is getting fuzzy. Like I I’m, I’m still looking at a lot of. You know, the, the gameplay snippets we’re seeing for final fantasy 16 and kind of, you know, screenshots. And I’m like, okay, we’re gonna probably split hairs on whether this is open world or not until this game is even out.

So I don’t know. It’s,

Imran: it’s so funny to me. They’re just not saying the words, breath of the wild. They’re trying so hard. Not to say those, even though it’s like, so it’s like a guy walks in with a mustache is like, what’s at the mustache. He’s just refusing to acknowledge it. Like, why aren’t you saying anything about it?

John: It’s it’s it really? I mean, it’s like, it’s not that surprising cuz you know, it’s. Very biased, but it’s like my favorite game ever. Um, but it is amazing how much breath of the wild has just fucked people up for the past, like six years of like, what do we say? What do we do about

Jeff: anything? I mean, it’s, it’s so ti, like, you never know if you’re talking to like a weird fan boy, who’s like, it’s not on their system.

So that’s why they wanna have this conversation. Right. For someone who’s just legitimately tired of having that, that same point brought up over and over, which is like, okay, fair. But, but also it’s happening. That’s

John: what are we supposed to do here? I

Imran: was, I was working at game inform when breath of wild came out and like all the studio visits I would do at like, within the year of that game coming out was just people in like their little studio, cubicles playing breath of the wild.

Yeah. Going to meetings, being like, okay, I just had this idea based on this game. yes.

Jeff: I mean, Nintendo does it’s it’s gonna like shake people up, shake ’em loose and like make, ’em think okay. If they’re doing this and they’re doing it in a way that feels very Nintendo. We, we, we, what excuse do we have to like, not do it ourselves and make it our own as well?

Uh, it, it happened, it was a lightning rod and I get people not wanting to talk about it, but it is what happened. It is just factual history

Imran: at this point. Yeah. Yeah. I, I am curious what game next year is going to be that. Because it could be rather while too it could be Starfield. It could be like any number of games that are just like that actually does the, we are setting the new standard for the next five

John: years.

Yeah. Yes. Yeah. I’m very excited to see what that is. Um, alright. We, we just, we, we just got all up. Jeff’s big announcements and showcases and all of that stuff. Um, Iran, I think you and I met up about two months ago to talk about winter of this year. Uh, I am no, I am no more clear. On what I will be playing this winter, uh, now than I was two months ago.

I mean, I know there’s gonna be Pokemon. I know, uh, there’s gonna be call of duty. I know there are gonna be a couple of big games. There’s whispers of God, of war hitting November. How are we feeling about God of war in November?

Imran: I, I suspect we will find out about God of war before the end of the month.

Yes. Uh I’m I’m gonna get there.

John: There are some leaks to that effect, I believe.

Imran: Yeah. I’m gonna guess that like, that game will hit this winter. Nothing they’ve shown has been like, this is not a knock on God of four in any way, but ly ambitious, like the first game was right. Which is why, why would you reinvent the wheel?

So, right, right. Like I, I suspect, yeah, that game will probably hit this year. But besides that, like, Yeah, I excited more things to be announced this year.

Jeff: It’s good. See like the, the list of games coming for October from, from bingey sales, he posted this and I’m like, okay, that’s kind of substantial. I’ll just read it real quick.

Uh, sure. If none of these games get delayed, they’ll come out in October. Marvel’s midnight sons. Okay. For spoken a play tail Requiem. Uh, persona five Royal for PSI, Xbox PC, uh, scorn Gotham nights high on life and call duty modern warfare too. Like that’s like,

John: it’s a, it’s a list of mids. I mean, like, I don’t mean it’s, I don’t mean to be mean about that because like, I’m sure some of those games are gonna be fucking sick.

But like, none of them are on my radar as like, oh shit, fuck. Yeah. Yes. Um,

Imran: this is, this is a weird code to this square, next stuff, but it’s weird how they just kind of like forgot about for spoken. Yeah. Like they’ve been announcing so much interesting shit. They have not marketed that game at all.

Jeff: Well, I mean, it’s shown up in a lot of state of plays and I think they’re like, that’s alright, job done.

John: That’s that’s it sure.

Imran: yeah, yeah, no one one’s convinced that what that game really is or how to play it. Right? Yeah. It’s

Jeff: like, they’re now recognizing what is happening there, which is like, when a game shows up repeatedly in a showcase and it’s still not creating buzz. That’s a, that’s a big problem.

Actually. People were like, unsure.

Imran: I assume that’s what the delay was about. But yeah, no, like, yeah, we’re, we’re a few months away and they’ve not really, I guess they still have some time,

Jeff: but. Right. Do you think like that, you know, we’ve alluded to like a, possibly hear about God of war rag rock late later the, this month.

Uh, do we, do you think that’s like a full state of play where there’s a bunch of other announcements in there as well? Cause it seems like there’s probably room for that to happen.

Imran: They they’ve, they’ve not done it as a what you first part

John: first state of play first part. Yeah. Yeah.

Imran: So they usually save those for September.

Yes. The

John: showcases.

Imran: Yeah. I. I don’t see a reason. They wouldn’t this time, like maybe Vic do a, got a war focus one and then a showcase showcase September. Yeah. Spider-Man two and like updates on the games. And then the, the thing they do of the CG announcement trailers. Mm-hmm , uh, that seems the most likely thing.

I also suspect there’s gonna be an hi direct sometime in the next couple of days. Yeah. Like, yeah, within the next week, I’m guessing.

Jeff: And at that one, I’m not sure either if it’s like I a third party’s a partner, like there’s the things I’ve heard. Make me think. I haven’t heard anything about first party stuff for that thing.

And I’m like, there’s still a lot of first party stuff they need to announce, but things I’ve heard make it sound like it could just be a partner showcase or a mini direct or something like that. So I’m still unsure about that as well.

Imran: Yeah. So like maybe Sony’s also being like, we want the news cycle to ourselves.

Let’s mm-hmm yeah. Let’s hold that off

John: for a bit.

Jeff: Yeah. And God war Rener could stand on its own. No problem there.

Imran: Yeah. That game is gonna sell great. And be critically hailed, no matter when it comes out. Yeah. Or no matter how much marketing they do for it.

John: and I, I don’t wanna be, I don’t wanna be a brat and be like, well, there’s no games coming out in the winter because honestly this year has been quietly, a fucking banger for games.

It’s been real good. Like, I mean, even just in the past week changed me, ninja turtles, neon white, like to really good games. I’d probably slot into my top 10 right now. If you, if you, if you made me, um, Uh, so it’s like, it’s not, I’m not complaining. It’s just an odd, it’s just an observation I’m making as someone who watches this pretty closely, that it feels later than ever that I have not gotten a good sense of a big triple a game that I can curl up with on Christmas morning, which is like a, a goofy thing to still want, I guess.

But it is a thing I think

Jeff: about a lot. Yeah. I mean, a lot of obviously still a lot of it’s pandemic, but a lot of it is, uh, Activation and EA don’t make mini games anymore. Nope. And, uh, and you look around and it’s like, okay, well then who fills in that gap? Uh, embrace your group is not at a point where we can reliably expect them to put out really big games anytime soon.

Like maybe they get to that point in the future. And honestly, Xbox is still in that same boat where it’s like, They’ve been trying to make that transition and they’ve put out a lot of games that were like exclusive to PlayStation cuz of those old deals. Yep. And if those were coming out to Xbox, people would probably be like, oh, Xbox did have a few games, but they, they weren’t able to do that.

And so they’re still kind of reloading and we’re waiting to see if they’re gonna be able to pick up that pace. And Sony has got. GWA rag nor rock. And for spoken a few other things that they’re gonna wanna talk about, but beyond that, they’re like, we need to sell GWA rag nor rock. We’ll talk about the other stuff later.

Yeah. So we just don’t know. We just don’t know what’s coming in. So this year feels maybe a little bit later than what it might actually end up being. That’s like, there’s been

Imran: some weird upheaval, like with, uh, so much of the opposite team going to Nettes. There should have been weird the game this year, like.

They have outright said, Hey, we’re making yak as a eight. Like, it is a game that is coming. The fact that it’s not coming this year, I think is not intended. I think that should, they had all intentions of making it this year and it just

Jeff: not ready. And I think that, that, you know, there was a lot of people that were coming up in that studio that could probably there are taking over that franchise, but it doesn’t mean that that transition like that would’ve been like easy or smooth to pull off.

And, you know, you gotta replenish that talent and that’s not easy in any market across the world right now.

John: so true. So true. Um, I, I think this is, uh, this has been a great talk. I’ve been really, really enjoyed it. I think, uh, we’ll probably leave it there. It’s about time for me to pick up, um, air twister on my iPhone and play it, um, for the rest of the day.

Jeff: Because are you guys gonna get into the breach through Netflix, on your phones? Cause I am, I, I don’t know. I haven’t played any games. Like, but I’m going to, I I’ve, I’ve not yet either.

John: I, I played with the, uh, fuck, what’s the point P I did the point P point point P yeah. Point P. Yeah. Um, and, uh, that, that setup process was annoying.

so I don’t know, but we’ll

Imran: see. I think I was at, like, I was flying to LA when they announced it or something. Yeah. And I was like, I was, wasn’t getting all the details. So I was. People were saying, oh, you can play this on Netflix. So in my head, I thought it was, I could launch the Netflix app on a PS five or something and play it.

Sure. Right. Which I think should be the way they do it. But if

John: it’s a

Jeff: platform, it’s a, platform’s not gonna let ’em do that. Right. No, they’re not.

John: Won’t let ’em do that. Yeah, absolutely not. Um, yeah, but it’s like, I, I, yeah, so it’s a confusing, uh, set of marketing that Netflix has got right now, but, uh, uh, yeah, into the, into the breach, getting a, a resurgence is actually pretty great.

That game is very good. If you’re not played it, um, feels like a good time to get into it. Absolutely. You’ve got a lot of catching up to do with Danielle Han’s literal 2300 hours of that game played. Yes. A true sicko. I mean, that. Fucking

Imran: ridiculous. I don’t think I’ve played any one game that long. I’ve play a lot of games.

A lot of, or very long times. I I’ve

John: I’ve I will say I’ve played NFL two K five on the Xbox a lot, but it has not been for joining 300 hours. Yep. No way, no way. Um, Iran of course. Thank you for joining. Thank you. Uh, you can, you can find Uh, I have to say that for Natalie Flores, who list any of this?

Imran: Imron also in my Twitter profile. You’ll notice I, it says number one game journalist. It does

John: say that damnit. Yeah, it does say that. Jeff damn you. So what are,

Jeff: what are you gonna do about it? I’m gonna come for this man.

Imran: until then I think you are required to put number three game journalism. Yeah,

John: it is.


Jeff: He gotta, I absolutely gotta

John: get the record. Sorry about that. Uh, you could, of course follow Jeff G grub at Jeff grub and of course, find him over on, uh, uh, I almost said game spot. That’s not right. Giant bomb. Apparently

Jeff: I’m gonna be writing for game spot too. I’m just waiting for champ. Good job. And tell me how to do that exactly.

John: Right. I was, you know what, honestly, I was gonna ask that question, you know, if you’re itching to put your writing somewhere, but that kind of answers that question.

Jeff: That’s it’s like the kind thing where it’s like, yeah. If I have some new stories and I have time to like write ’em before you go to do a, gotta get those traffic bombs, those gro bombs.

Of course. Yeah. In fact, I’ll, I’ll help out with that. There is the occasional time where like, I need to write this down to explain to everybody why they’re wrong about so. Sure. And I’ll do that there as well. We’ll see. Well, that’s good to know.

John: Anything else you wanna plug?

Jeff: Uh, no, just that. I, I really like fan bite guys.

Uh, you guys do great, great work. I, I love the, the vibe, the, the building of an audience, the way that you guys are approaching it is, uh, something I really am envious of and think that you guys do a great job at so, uh, wow.

John: That’s very, just keep up the good work. Thank you so much. Uh, it’s been lovely having you or welcome back here anytime.

Thank you. Um, and, uh, yeah. Thanks folks. Uh, go get, um, air twister right now. Um, I’m required to say that because I, uh, I don’t know. I entered into some stark contract at use Suzuki years ago.

Imran: Goodbye. I, I love how every article about air that game has we weren’t allowed to talk about Sheu

oh God, God bless. Sheu.