Square Enix’s Reluctance to Comment on Nier Mod Only Added to the Hype

Whether intentional or not, Square's reluctance to comment on the mod only added to its hype.

On this week’s Thanks for the Knowledge, our very own Imran Khan is guest-hosting with special guest and reporter at IGN, Rebekah Valentine, to go over the latest headlines in games and entertainment. Tune in to hear them talk about all of the latest Marvel news out of Comic Con, Nier Automata’s bizarre secret church footage, Ubisoft’s unclear future, Annapurna’s most recent showcase and their favorite games of the year so far. Listen on your preferred podcast player or or read the entire transcript down below!

Thanks for the Knowledge – July 31, 2022: Rebekah Valentine | Annapurna Interactive Showcase, Nier Church & More Transcript

Imran: Hello, and welcome to Thanks for the Knowledge, Fanbyte’s weekly news podcast. I am not Head of Large– or Head of Media. [Rebekah laughs] Wait, that’s a 99 Potions joke that I’m reusing in Thanks for the Knowledge. I am not Head of Media John Warren. John Warren is doing his best SNL impersonation and is on a boat this week, so I am taking over for Thanks for the Knowledge this week, and I’m glad to be your guest host. This week, as a special one off episode, I’m going to sit down and talk with one Rebekah Valentine, who has previously been on the show with other guests, but it’s going be a one-on-one conversation, and we’re gonna talk through this week’s news. If listeners are not aware, Rebekah Valentine and I have somewhat of a relationship. We are living together, and we are, I guess, a couple is the correct word for it?

Rebekah: I guess a couple!

Imran: I guess a couple.

Rebekah: I’m sorry, that’s what we’re going with?

Imran: I’m not– I’m trying to think of like, what the– [Rebekah laughs] ’cause like, what is our celebrity couple name?

Rebekah: We are romantic partners.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: Why do we need a celebrity– why– what?

Imran: Because we’re celebrities who are a couple, so it’s like Bennifer.

Rebekah: I’m not a celebrity.

Imran: Yeah, we’re, uh…you’re verified on Twitter, you’re a celebrity

Rebekah: That doesn’t– no. They’ll verify anyone these days.

Imran: Producer Paul Tamayo suggests Imrab. What about Rebran James?

Rebekah: Oh no. Oh no. That’s something that would be very funny if it was anyone other than me. [Imran laughs] I would laugh at that if it was any of our friends, but I will not claim it.

Imran: Mm-hmm. Well, we don’t have to claim it. It’s just given to– like, celebrity couple names are bestowed on you.

Rebekah: Ugh.

Imran: This week, we are going to talk about multiple subjects, but Rebekah, you just got back– or no, you didn’t get back. You just covered Comic-Con remotely.

Rebekah: I just got back from the office. [laughs]

Imran: Yeah. You were in the office covering Comic-Con.

Rebekah: I was.

Imran: I know you are not particularly Marvelpilled.

Rebekah: No.

Imran: You are not somebody that like covers– like I drag you to those movies, but you like–

Rebekah: You don’t drag me.

Imran: I buy tickets for both of us, and I’m like, “Hey, we’re going to this movie,” and you’re like, “Okay, cool.”

Rebekah: Yeah.

Imran: And sometimes you like them and sometimes you don’t.

Rebekah: That’s true.

Imran: How did you come out of Comic-Con feeling about the slate of nerd culture for the next five years?

Rebekah: Oh my God. It’s so– you know, it’s funny. I simultaneously am looking at this Marvel timeline, and I’m just like, this is too much. This is just way too much. Why is there so much? Oh my God. But also looking at it and going, man, it would be really cool if we just all knew what video games were planned for the next couple years but also could be cool about it, because half the reason why we don’t do that in video games is because if something gets delayed or like misses a window, everybody loses their minds. But in film, like things usually come out on time, and so you can like project all the way out to 20-fricking-26. But that’s, it’s like so much. I don’t know who half these people are. One of these movies apparently has a dude who’s like a square and has like an angry face. It’s like this–

Imran: MODOK.

Rebekah: I’m glad you knew what I was talking about, because I sure didn’t.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: Which is apparently like a–

Imran: Mechanical Organism Designed Only for Killing. MODOK.

Rebekah: Why do you know this? [laughs] It’s just like this incredibly deep cut. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I guess it was, it was like good for me in the sense that, yeah, I’m not like a Marvel person. I’m not even big…this is like a weird thing to say. I can say it on the Fanbyte podcast. I’m not a big entertainment person, if that makes sense.

Imran: Right.

Rebekah: Like, games and books are like the two…my two touch points to pop culture. I do watch TV. I do watch movies, but I feel like I watch them a normal amount rather than an enthusiast amount, and so I’m not up on literally everything the way someone who might go to Comic-Con is, but I found that covering it from home actually gave me a lot more insight into that culture, like a crash course almost, and so that element was actually really fun. Like I feel like I learned a lot and maybe found some things that I might enjoy in the future, maybe confirmed that I’m going to ignore some others, and that’s fine.

Imran: Was there anything there you were like, “Okay, this is something I’m actually excited about. I want to try this out”?

Rebekah: I mean, I think like…I think definitely some of the Marvel movies. I was weirdly intrigued by The Sandman. This is not a Marvel movie.

Imran: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: I had not ever thought for more than one second about The Sandman, and I couldn’t tell you anything. It’s the Neil Gaiman thing, right?

Imran: Right.

Rebekah: Gay-man? Guy-man? I’ve never said his name out loud.

Imran: I feel like it’s Guy-man, but also I just might be wrong.

Rebekah: I’ve never said his name out loud. I like know who this guy is, I’ve read his books, and I’ve never said his name out loud. Okay. Fun times on this, on a podcast where I have to talk out loud.

Imran: Yeah, thanks for the not knowledge.

Rebekah: Yeah, right? But yeah, like I don’t know anything about this. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about it, but I watched the trailer, and it like looks cool.

Imran: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: There’s like a magic Sandman, and there’s like Death, and they’re friends. And yeah, I don’t know. It just had a vibe to it that was really cool, and I’m like, okay, now I want to know more about this.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: So maybe I’ll like try to figure out what this is and maybe watch it.

Imran: My extent of knowledge with Sandman is that Yoshitaka Amano did the art for the comic.

Rebekah: Mm!

Imran: And I owned that, never read it, but that’s a thing that looks really good, so maybe I– [laughs] if the movie matches that similar graphic or similar art styling, maybe I’ll watch that.

Rebekah: Yeah. I think the other thing was actually the Lord of the Rings series, Rings of Power. So, I’m super cynical about Lord of the Rings media. I love the books like so much, and I actually really liked the original film trilogy. I thought it did the best job that anyone really could of encapsulating those books in a film version, which I think would be a really hard thing to do. First Hobbit movie is okay, but pretty much from there on, like everything just sort of went off the rails. I’m like very cynical about sort of this mass media money making view of Lord of the Rings and Middle Earth that sort of like jumped off from the fact that the movies were these just massive blockbusters. I don’t think that they expected them to be as huge as they ended up being, and so now everyone sees Lord of the Rings and gets big dollar signs in their eyes, and so everybody’s trying to riff off it. We’ve got like mobile games with like gacha mechanics, and we’ve got like Shadow of Mordor, which is a great video game with a cool system in it but maybe shouldn’t have been set in Middle Earth, ’cause it seems like it’s got kind of a cynical view of it, which is not what Tolkin was writing about.

Imran: Mm.

Rebekah: So anyway, I’m like a big nerd about this stuff, and I wasn’t super stoked about Amazon, [laughs] about the Jeff Bezos company doing a Lord of the Rings adaptation. But I gotta admit like the panels kind of like drew me in a little bit, like they seem like they’re– well, most of them seem like they’re thinking about the source material. I was sort of thrown a curve ball a few days later, with sort of the line where they’re like inaccurately interpreting Tolkein to be like, “Oh, well, there’s no– we’re not making a show about politics, right? Like this is not a show…this is a show that is timeless, that could be enjoyed in all ages.” And it’s like just completely ignoring the fact that art is a product of a political environment inherently.

Imran: Yeah. Are they trying to argue Lord of the Rings is not a show about various world wars?

Rebekah: I don’t know! It was a weird line. It’s one of those moments where I genuinely can’t tell. Like, I’m pretty sure the origin of this question, like I don’t know that the interviewer was necessarily thinking of this origin. I don’t know who the original interviewer was, but I’m sure that the reason why this question came up in the first place is because there are like some nerds on the internet who are mad, “Oh no, we might have gay elves or something.” I don’t– they’re like mad about some perceived politics, some perceived wokeness or whatever. And so this discussion has like apparently kicked up, and it gets all the way to them, and by the time it’s asked in the interview, I feel like there’s maybe wiggle room to see them as trying to answer like, “Oh, we’re not trying to make a story about Trumpism,” right? Like, we’re not trying to draw like direct lines to specific political figures or political moments that are happening now in 2022. Like, I could sort of see them thinking that was the question being asked of them, but that’s not the question that was being asked of them, and that’s not the answer they gave. So it felt like weird and unintelligent and un…like disturbingly separated from the very strict Tolkienism that they have purported to be sticking to elsewhere.

Imran: Mm. Well, okay. So Comic-Con sounds like it was interesting.

Rebekah: Yes.

Imran: At least in terms of a thing that news came out of for the entertainment product.

Rebekah: Yes.

Imran: Let’s talk about the thing you’ve actually been watching over the last week. [Rebekah laughs] We’ve both been watching this. You and I both wrote stories about this earlier in the week, but a church in Nier Automata was discovered on, I want to say, Sunday? Or Monday, I believe, something like that. But it was a thing no one had ever seen before in that game and immediately people called fake, but the thing that kept people from calling it fake is that moderators were saying, “This could not be possible.” You can find the story on ign.com by Rebekah Valentine or on fanbyte.com by me, where we– I kind of bought into it of possibly being real. You were a little more like…we both went different ways during the week about what could this possibly be.

Rebekah: And neither of us were right. [both laugh]

Imran: So, explain to our readers a little bit of like the background of this thing, and then we’ll talk about how it could have ended last night.

Rebekah: Yeah. So, this saga actually began over a month ago, like almost two months ago. This Reddit user, brand new account, user sadfutago, which as everyone in the community will remind you, futago means twin in Japanese. [laughs] It became a meme by the end of it.

Imran: Mm.

Rebekah: They posted a thing on…I think they originally posted on a Nier fanart subreddit and then eventually moved to the regular subreddit when they got no answers. But they basically said, “How do I get into the church?” And, you know, a couple people replied and were like, “What church?” because there’s no church in Nier Automata. Like, there’s a couple places, I guess, that you could maybe like misinterpret as being a church, but there’s no church. And so, you know, people are trying to be helpful. They’re trying to, you know, help someone who seems a little confused, and they’re like, “Hey, can you send us a screenshot of where you’re at? Like, what’s going on?” And over the course of the next couple months, this person slowly started drip feeding like a little more information every single time. And they kind of– they positioned themselves, they seemed– they were in like this persona of maybe like a kid or like a teenager, like somebody who isn’t super…like doesn’t have a whole lot of access to, you know, a lot of technology necessarily. They claimed to be playing on like the 1.0 PS4 version with like no patches, when asked about that. They claimed they like didn’t have the ability to take large video chunks.

Imran: Right.

Rebekah: But as they slowly started drip feeding information out, like at first it was this door in the Copied City that doesn’t exist for anyone else. It’s like a blank wall. There’s no door there. And, you know, they were able to open this door and drop down a really long ladder and then run down this hallway that is like this twisted Alice in Wonderland hallway with these towers sticking up through the different sides of the hallway that retract as A2 runs down. And then this continues to progress. They post a little more each time. And finally we get this long video and these screenshots where they enter a church, and it’s this like very– it’s Copied City. It’s like very, like, stark white church with pews. It’s got this little bird bath with these two birds in the corner, these two like fake, like still birds, not like moving birds. At the front, there’s this like altar with like a figure of a child laying on it with the Lunar Tear sticking out of their chest. There’s a weird black, like, blocky glitchy blob in the corner, and then there’s like a chest that 9S can open by hacking.

And it’s this very detailed like lovely environment, and this does not– the crux of this is no one else can find this. This does not exist in anyone else’s game. So this person is like asking for help, like how– “I have gotten in here. How can I help my friend get into this church?” And everyone is like, “You can’t. Like, this is not a real thing. What is this?” And so everyone is sort of torn apart over this, because on one hand– at first, everyone thought, oh, is this like some cut content that we never found? And so– there’s a Nier modding community and a Nier like, you know, a community that has dug into the game. And they datamine this thing, and they’re like, “This doesn’t exist. This is not a thing that is actually in the game.”

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: And they get this–

Imran: The pews specifically. Like everything else you could find somewhere in the game, somehow.

Rebekah: The assets, yeah.

Imran: But the pews specifically were not like findable by dataminers or modders.

Rebekah: The door, I believe, as well. The door was like very elaborate.

Imran: Mm, yeah.

Rebekah: Like the…I don’t know which door they were referring to, but like one of the doors that he goes through is like very like elaborate and is not in the game. So, so, right. So, so this is not a thing that exists in the game. So there was sort of a hunt going on trying to figure out, like, is this like cut content? Did this person like accidentally get some sort of old copy of the– I mean, you know, coming up with all sorts of like strange theories as to why one copy of the game might have this in it. But then, you know, the modding community sort of turned, okay, well, what is this? Could this be a mod? And the resounding answer from basically every single modder, like known modder in this community, is no. There’s no way. We do not have the capability to do this level of stuff in Nier Automata. Like not even just, “Oh, we’ve gotten close, but no one’s done it yet,” but we have not even gotten remotely close to adding assets wholesale or like rearranging them in this particular way. I mean, I’m not like super up on modding, but basically like this is just completely completely removed from anything that has ever been done before.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: Impossible, no way.

Imran: Yeah. The thing they told me is like, it’s beyond capabilities for current modding system, like modding tools.

Rebekah: Yeah. And a lot of people said this, like it wasn’t just a couple experts that were trying to convince everybody. Like, I mean, I was sitting in the Discord and on the subreddit for all week, and repeatedly, over and over, everybody: “No, there’s no way. There’s no way. There’s no way.”

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: So the third possibility, which got stoked maybe a little further than the people who were actually behind this intended, was that this was some sort of marketing tease, and this is the avenue I went down. I thought this was a marketing thing, ’cause I like reached out to a couple people I know at Square Enix. I was like, “Hey, what is this?” and they didn’t say, “I don’t know,” they said, “We can’t talk about it.” And like, every time I heard that, I was just like, oh.

Imran: Right.

Rebekah: That sounds like a thing where you know what this is, and it’s a marketing thing. So I assumed it was a marketing thing. And it was exacerbated by Yoko Taro himself, who delightfully– somebody tweeted at him and was like, “Hey, do you– is this like cut content? What is this?” And he quote tweeted it and said, “If you’re looking for insight, look at my bio.” And his Twitter bio says, “Please direct all queries to my publisher,” or whatever it says, basically pointing at Square Enix, which is just like a delightful troll, which Yoko Taro surely looked at this and knew instantly what it was. Like, he knows what’s in his game. He knows it’s not cut content. He knows it’s not marketing for his stuff. So he knows it’s mods and is just, you know, playing fun games with everybody.

Imran: Right.

Rebekah: Yeah. So this went on all week, just this constant escalation. It eventually turned into– there was a video where he ends up– he comes back as 9S, opens up the hackable chest, fights the black blob. People are losing their minds, because like the black blob and the figure on the altar and the Lunar Tear, and Devola and Popola’s weapons are in there too, so everyone’s losing their mind thinking this is some sort of NieR Replicant connection. He fights the black blob; he wins. He goes over to the bird bath in the corner. It’s asking him the questions, if you know NieR Replicant, it’s asking the like, what, it’s like, how did mankind die or whatever it is, the black disease.

Imran: Right.

Rebekah: Whatever. And yeah, it’s this whole tease, and it finally built to a head last night, where we got a series of screenshots, absolutely incredible screenshots of 9S standing in like this giant cavernous room with these towers sticking up out of things. And if you know the end of Drakengard 3, the giant like mass of the giant flower with all of like Zero and her compatriots.

Imran: All the Intoners, yeah.

Rebekah: Yeah, thank you. Like sticking out of it with their arms outstretched, like this thing, this flower with these women sticking out of it is like hanging from the ceiling. There’s like chains stretched across the ceiling, and there’s a big lunar– I think it’s the Lunar Tear that’s sitting in the center of the room. And it’s these beautiful screenshots, and it leads up to sadfutago linking a Twitch stream called “Finale,” and it was–

Imran: By that point, it had become obvious it was no longer a like, “Hey, how do I discover this thing I found?” kind of troll.

Rebekah: No, no, no. This is like a calculated…

Imran: Yeah, it was him like showing– or not showing off. It was a presentation.

Rebekah: Yes.

Imran: It was a show of I wanted, like, this is leading to something. Come here at some point in time.

Rebekah: Yeah. So I set my stupid alarm and woke up at an extremely stupid time of the night. I think it was like 1:00 A.M. I don’t even remember.

Imran: Right. We went to bed, and you had your phone and headphones on you.

Rebekah: I did. I did go to sleep, but I woke back up, and the delightful answer is this was a mod.

Imran: Mm.

Rebekah: It was in fact a mod, and I think the most impressive– it was three people. Their usernames that they go by are DevolasRevenge, Woeful_Wolf, and RaiderB. So it’s three people. The message they said, they said, “Thank you. Everything we have shared has been completely in-game, no editing was used. We have been loving all the discussions and theories – it has been an amazing journey. It has been inspiring to see the community come together after so many years, it made all the hard work well worth it. We hope everyone had a good time, we certainly did.” And then they said, “Over the following days, we’ll be releasing the new Blender add-ons and scripting tools. Completely open source. We have so much more in store for you. DevolasRevenge will release the mod files if you’d like to finally enter the church yourself. Keep an eye out for more, especially RaiderB’s upcoming mod, which is already prepared.”

So, I haven’t– I was checking this morning. I haven’t seen a whole lot of details about what these mods actually are, and again, I’m not a modder, so I don’t think I have anything smart to say about what these actually are. But from what I can tell these three people, basically, just the three of them blew open like recreating Nier Automata somehow in Blender.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: And are going to make it open source, and they managed to keep this a secret from I think the majority of the community, because these are three names I did not see much. I don’t think I saw– I mean, I, you know, wasn’t checking every name, but like, they seem to have deceived a lot of their fellow modders, in a good way.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: It was a wonderful surprise.

Imran: How must it feel to be a modder working on something and then presenting it, and every other modder in the community says: Yeah, this is not possible.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Imran: What you’ve done is actually– it must be real, ’cause it defies belief? Like, that is such incredibly talented work. Also, I appreciate that they didn’t stretch this on beyond like multiple weeks, ’cause that would’ve been interminable if they just kept this going for like the next– they knew when to end it. They knew that it was right to just go like, “Hey, we’ve got a thing. We’re just doing this now.”

Rebekah: Yeah.

Imran: It is fascinating how well this worked out. A lot of us were bamboozled. I think a lot of us were bamboozled because we talked to Square Enix and were like, “Hey, what’s the deal with this?” They said, “We can’t talk about it.” And I think that’s– ’cause what I believe is that Square Enix probably doesn’t want us to like pay attention to Nier Automata mods. They don’t want us knowing that there are Nier Automata mods, there’s things messing with the game files.

Rebekah: Right.

Imran: So in their effort to not acknowledge it, they ended up making it a much bigger deal than just saying, “Yeah, this is not real.”

Rebekah: Yeah. I do think– so, based on kind of what they said during the stream, it sounds like they had actually intended this to go on a little bit longer, but for– they had some personal reasons, it sounds like they had to hurry it up, but also they admitted they never– what they expected was for just the Nier community maybe to seize on this as cut content. They didn’t expect it to go nearly as wide as it did.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: And I definitely think that Square Enix’s denial and the modders just vehemently saying this was impossible sort of riled everybody up and just made everything explode. But I mean, I think there’s sort of some interesting reactions to this. So the modders obviously seem to be thrilled, like especially because it is going to be open source and they’re gonna get to play around with it. The people who were like involved in the modding community and even like kind of involved in the Nier community from the beginning also seem pretty thrilled. It’s very cool. There’s a lot of people who are disappointed, because I think this ranged so far a lot of people actually started expecting it to be some sort of tease for something big. I mean, I did think that’s what it was for a while, but they’re like genuinely disappointed and feel like they were, you know, deprived of something, which I think is sort of a bummer reaction, honestly, to some really talented people pulling off such a stunt so effectively and having something really neat to show for it.

Imran: Yeah. Like, I kind of know what their plans are with this series. So like, I was like, it’s not likely they have anything to actually tease right now, but it’s very…I understand kind of where people are coming from thinking it was going to be new content for Nier Automata. It didn’t make a lot of sense, but I understood where people were coming from. It’s still neat. It’s still a wild story that has happened and that they can like, they had a presentation to show at the end of this. They have things that are going to create Nier Automata content at the long view of this. So, I can’t have that much sympathy, but I understand why people are a little like bummed out by it.

Rebekah: Yeah. I just, I mean, I think part of it too was that the Switch version is coming out soon, and– I mean, my prediction was that this was going to be like a small piece of new content, like maybe like an extra dungeon or like an extra area with a special boss or something, added for the Switch version that would also be present in other versions. Like, that’s kind of the direction I was going for a while. But yeah, like this is not remotely disappointing. This is like a very, very cool thing. And I think it really helped– I mean, Nier Automata came out in 2017. It seems like this really helped revitalize the community a little bit. It got, I mean, I know a ton of people are gonna bounce now that the saga is over, but I mean, it got me wanting to play Nier Automata, like I was sitting there last night and I was like, I know I personally am not going to solve the secret of the church, but I really just want to run around in Nier right now. And then I realized it had left Game Pass and I no longer own it, so [both laugh] I didn’t play it, but yeah.

Imran: Gotta buy the Switch version, then.

Rebekah: Right, yeah. I mean, it’s…I think it’s breathed some interesting life into the community. I’m super stoked to see what people do with these mods.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: Because now that even more people have access to the tools, I’m sure we’re going to get even more cool things.

Imran: Yeah. Like you could do a…I wonder if they could, for the most part, like do some Drak– ’cause the end of that event was Drakengard models.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Imran: So I wonder like, could you import some Drakengard stuff? Like, Drakengard 3 is not necessarily a great game, but it’s…

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Imran: More importantly, it’s a game that runs like shit on PS3. [Rebekah laughs] I’ve been waiting for them to do a Drakengard 3 HD remaster or something. They just have not done it, ‘cause I assume that game was made with like bubblegum and tape. [Rebekah laughs] But I wonder if modders could do some cool stuff. Like, could they at least bring those characters in? Could you play as Zero in Nier Automata? Like, those would all be very interesting things, and I’m excited for their possibilities, as someone who’s very like Nierpilled, but yeah, they happened to choose– like, if they did this as Babylon’s Fall, nobody would give a shit. Nobody would be like, “Oh, this is cut content in Babylon’s Fall!” It’d be like, “Yeah, sure. I bet this is Babylon’s Fall. No one’s gotten that far. Who knows?” [Rebekah laughs] But they did this with Nier Automata, with Yoko Taro specifically, with all this stuff, made people cling to a hope for a mystery, for something interesting coming out of it. And I think something interesting did come out of it, just not the thing everyone thought it would.

Rebekah: Yeah. I think it helps that, uh, who was it? Who was it that said that this was something Yoko Taro would do?

Imran: Uh, Yosuke Saito, the producer on the game.

Rebekah: Yeah. Yeah. Saito tweeted, when all this started to blow up, he’s like, “Yeah, this is something Yoko Taro would do,” which he’s right. It super is. I mean, it’s a little involved, but the general idea of it, like running some sort of bizarro ARG with like screenshots of a church. I mean, that feels very in the realm of Yoko Taroism.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: Even if the details don’t perfectly line up, but the broad strokes do, and I–

Imran: Yoko Taro is also the first person to tell you he won’t do something unless it’s for money. [laughs softly] So the fact that this wasn’t monetized in some way would make me think immediately: yeah, it’s probably not Yoko Taro.

Rebekah: Yeah. I mean, he says that, but I think the dude likes making cool art.

Imran: He does, yeah.

Rebekah: Yeah. I love this. I’m not remotely disappointed. I’m not remotely sad I was wrong. It was really, really fun. I love…I love when there are like secrets. I love games as they line up with secrets that the community all bands together to solve. It’s really fun to me.

Imran: Yeah. Let’s move on real quick. This is a thing I know you have thoughts on. I know you’ve been wanting to like write about this.

Rebekah: Oh boy.

Imran: What’s going on with Ubisoft lately?

Rebekah: Ah, what is?

Imran: ‘Cause they had their financial call not too long ago, but this week they did a weird thing where over the past week, reporter Jeff Grubb of Giant Bomb, who has been on this show, mentioned on another podcast that Roller…Champions. I had to think of all the different Roller portmanteaus in my head. Roller Champions was going to be canceled soon, and like that was on like a galloping shock to anyone. That game does not seem like it’s doing super well. And Ubisoft uncharacteristically denied it. But also like you combine that with their recent delays or recent cancellations, all that stuff, it’s not quite clear what’s going on with that company. They feel like they’re kind of in a bad way. What’s your take on all this?

Rebekah: I have like multiple takes. So, Ubisoft historically has been really bad at…project planning’s not the right word, but at saying dates out loud and then sticking to them. Like, not even in just the last couple years, not even in just the last five years, but like literally throughout the last couple decades. There are multiple– I do not have the dates or the names of the games in my head or pulled up on my computer at the moment, so I mean, if someone wants to see the article I wrote a few years ago, I can dig it up and find it. But a couple years ago for GI biz, I was talking about Ubisoft delaying a bunch more games, and I pointed out that like historically, they have been sort of poked at by investors, because they’re like, “Hey, you do this a lot, actually. Like you’ll make a bunch of big pronouncements for release dates for your games, and then stuff gets delayed and delayed and delayed and then canceled. And like, what gives? Why do you keep doing this? Why not just not say dates? Or why not, you know, wait until you’re ready?” And like, Yves Guillemot at the time I think that he was asked this question, like gave, you know, sort of a non-committal response.

But they keep doing this, right? Like, historically, they just say dates, and then stuff gets pushed all to hell. And I’ve not…I don’t have a clear answer yet. Like I want to do some sort of analysis or investigation into this and like figure out what the deal is at Ubisoft, like why this keeps happening. My assumption, my guess would be because there’s sort of like a disconnect between…there’s a disconnect between like projects being greenlit and expected to do big numbers, big money, and then sort of a point where they realize it’s not actually going to do huge money, and then they have to do one thing– they have to either pour a bunch more money into it to make it better so it will make money for them, or they have to cut their losses and just drop something that is not, that they’re not happy with. And I feel like this actually happened with Roller Champions. Like I love the idea of Roller Champions, and there was a brief period of time when Ubisoft seemed very, very excited for it, and then suddenly they weren’t excited for it anymore.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: And they just sort of like threw it out. They barely marketed that game. Like, I did not hear anybody talking about it, and they just sort of– I feel bad for the team, because it feels like they sort of threw it out there to die. And I’m sure that Jeff Grubb is correct that it is being wound down and Ubisoft is just like using a peculiarity of like the language that was used or whatever to, you know.

Imran: Yeah. “Not canceled” can mean so many things.

Rebekah: Right, yeah. Like I’m sure in spirit, Jeff is absolutely correct on that one, and Ubisoft is just sort of, you know, trying to turn it around a little bit. But again, that’s not the first game they’ve done it to, and they have all of these projects that are just sort of perpetually in limbo: Skull and Bones, Beyond Good and Evil, like…

Imran: Well, Skull and Bones has a date now. It seems like that game is gonna be just a trash fire, but it does actually have a date.

Rebekah: Yeah, I played that game at E3 2017. [laughs]

Imran: Same.

Rebekah: It’s like, yeah, it just keeps happening. I mean, they delayed Frontiers of Pandora. I’m not sure– and I can’t figure them out either, because they specifically said, “Yeah, we delayed some unannounced games.”

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: I mean, I guess they’re doing that for the shareholders to explain why the numbers are changing, but it’s such a weird thing to just be forthcoming about. Like, when you have this reputation of being the company that just constantly delays things, why would you say, “Yeah, we actually delayed more things than you thought”?

Imran: I feel like it’s gotten particularly egregious lately though, ’cause like, they’ve got really nothing this year.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Imran: Like this year’s big release is, besides Skull and Bones, which as we mentioned, probably going to be a trash fire.

Rebekah: Mm-hmm.

Imran: Like, the biggest thing they’ve got is Mario + Rabbids, which is not a…I’m sure it’s gonna be fantastic game that I will love, not the typical thing Ubisoft hangs its hat on for the year. And like, they’ve announced a Splinter Cell remake, but they must have announced that literally as they greenlit it. They canceled their Splinter Cell VR game. There’s really no Assassin’s Creed to be seen.

Rebekah: They canceled that Tom Clancy thing, that thing that they literally announced and then immediately shut down like a week later.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: And then today, and then this last week in their earnings call, they were like, oh, it’s like fully canceled.

Imran: The battle royale that they announced when I was on vacation, [Rebekah: “Yeah”] when I came back, they sent me a PR saying they’ve delayed it, and I was like, “Hey, delayed what?” [Rebekah laughs] And like, it’s such a weird thing. It doesn’t feel like that company really knows what it wants to be anymore, and I can’t tell like, was this part of the large ousting of developers from when they had to clean house due to the sexual harassment and bad company culture stuff? Like, are they suffering now because they did that two years ago? Or is it just like, they’re just disorganized?

Rebekah: I mean, I think they’re definitely suf– I mean, okay. I think they’re definitely suffering because of COVID, like everybody is. This is the year of all of the games that quietly, you know, suffered during COVID are now getting public delays. And so we can’t discount that. That is everybody; that is impacting everybody. I’m sure that’s part of it here. But like, they have this history, and it does seem more egregious for Ubisoft than it does for anybody else. And I think you’re right to sort of pinpoint the work culture at Ubisoft as the problem. I would say, you know, aside from just sort of, you know, kicking out a bunch of people who were maybe in charge of projects and then maybe not like filling those roles effectively, I mean, I wonder…I saw the Ubisoft like workers Twitter account tweeting the other day about how, like, was it 25% of the people who signed the initial open letter have since left Ubisoft?

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: So, I mean–

Imran: And it’s been a year, and they still haven’t gotten anything from Ubisoft in terms of their demands.

Rebekah: Yeah. Like, I wouldn’t be shocked if everybody’s just got like crappy morale right now, and a bunch of people are– like, a bunch of good people are fed up and leaving and finding other jobs. Or, you know, people are being, you know, asked to move into different roles or different projects, and they’re refusing, because, you know, the culture’s just such a mess. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, the answer is I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going on at Ubisoft, but I definitely think there’s some weird trends, both like as a company over the last several decades but then also in the most recent two, three, four years. And I want to poke into it. I wonder if I’ll find the time somehow, but it’s certainly a weird thing that kind of makes me worried for Ubisoft?

Imran: Yeah. Like, I wouldn’t say I’m worried, ’cause like whatever, they’ll be fine.

Rebekah: Right.

Imran: But like, they have no big tent poles anymore. And I feel like the Prince of Persia remake [Rebekah: “Mm”] has been emblematic of what that company is being and acting like now, which is that wasn’t even an original game. It was just a remake of a much loved game from way back in the day. They gave it to a studio that just seemingly did not have that much like primary development experience, and then it got delayed and delayed and delayed. From what I understand, that game was supposed to come out on its original release date, but Cyberpunk scared them so bad, ’cause the actual release is a trash fire again, that they were like, okay, we have to hold this a little bit. And then eventually they just pulled it from that developer and give it to Ubisoft Montreal, who I feel like should be doing something more ambitious with their time than a Sands of Time remake, but also we don’t know when that game will possibly come out.

And what I think always…what fascinates me about these Ubisoft delays is that they’re so sure on one financial call, and then the next quarter rolls around, and they’re like, “Whoops, got delayed to hopefully like two quarters beyond where we said it was going to be.” Avatar is a very good example of that, where they were really damn sure it was coming out, and they were– that was their big tent pole title. That was going to be their big money maker, and now they’ve got nothing for the next 8 months, 12 months? It’s like, it’s very fascinating that they got themselves into this weird position where nothing is working, where they’re not even throwing anything at the wall to see what sticks, they’re just holding it in their hand and being like, “I’m gonna throw this against the wall. We’ll see what happens when I do.”

Rebekah: I would argue one thing is working, and that’s actually Mario + Rabbids.

Imran: Mm.

Rebekah: I mean, that game’s not out yet, so I guess it could be a total trash fire, but I assume it won’t be, right? Like the first Mario + Rabbids is very good. This one also looks quite good from everything I’ve seen of it, and I think kind of part of that is because Nintendo probably has a very, very firm hand in what this game is going to be and how its development is going and sort of having an extra non-conflicted hand on the wheel steering a project and being able to just sort of let them guide it is probably good for them? ‘Cause it has like a clear direction and a clear vision and, you know, isn’t heavily reliant on a bunch of crappy people who, you know, need to get fired for bad behavior. So, I don’t know. It seems like that’s going well and that’ll do well for them, but I mean, it’s not gonna save Ubisoft single handedly.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: Or save their financial year, I guess.

Imran: They need a banger of an Assassin’s Creed. And they’ve announced Assassin’s Creed: Infinite in response to Jason Schreier saying it exists.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Imran: But apparently there’s another Assassin’s Creed coming before that that we haven’t, they’ve not officially announced yet. And it just, it’s so– like, they might be better if they got back on the yearly cadence over it, but I kind of wonder if they’re so disorganized now they can’t, like if they don’t have the infrastructure in place anymore.

Rebekah: I think– this is just me musing. I mean, you can like contradict me if I’m just totally off base here. It feels like Ubisoft doesn’t know how to do small and medium sized games anymore.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: They very desperately want literally– like, what’s their next game? Assassin’s Creed: Infinite, infinity? Like, they…

Imran: Yes, that was the– not the next game. That is down the line.

Rebekah: Right.

Imran: Supposedly there’s an Assassin’s Creed game between that.

Rebekah: Like, think about the Assassin’s Creed series and where it started and what it is now in terms of size and scope, and then just the– I don’t remember any of the information about Assassin’s Creed Infinity or whatever it is, but like, just the name itself? It just seems like so much. It seems like way too much, and it feels like they want every game to be like that. They want every game to be a massive like Tom Clancy’s Division 2 level thing that they can monetize the hell out of forever and ever, like they– or The Division, whichever Division was good. Maybe both of them, I don’t remember.

But yeah, like they desperately need every game to be that, and the second they realize a game is not going to be that—Prince of Persia, Roller Champions, whatever—they just sort of say, okay, well– they either cancel it, or they just sort of like, you know, throw it out there and say, “Okay, well, here you go,” and that’s it. And yeah, that’s a bummer, like I feel like you lose so much in that. I mean, I used to love the Assassin’s Creed series when it was a little more contained, and it’s never going to be that again.

Imran: There was a time where they felt like they were supposed to be the biggest publisher developer in the world.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Imran: Like, they had so many studios across like, internationally. They had just a studio in every country, everyone at some point was working on something, and they had 9 to 10 releases a year. And those were like…it’s very interesting to think back on those days, because it did seem like Ubisoft was poised to take over the entire industry. They fought off a Vivendi takeover. They’re fighting rumors right now that they’re trying to be acquired. It doesn’t seem like they’re in the same place. I’m not sure exactly what changed beyond just games got more expensive to make, which maybe that is the thing. Maybe that is actually the defining factor in what makes a big publisher into a struggling one.

Rebekah: Yeah. I don’t know. Someone should investigate it. Maybe it’ll be me.

Imran: [laughs] Someone should, yeah.


Paul: Hey, Thanks for the Knowledge listeners. It’s Paul. Hope you’re having a nice relaxing start to your week. Just wanted to quickly interrupt this week’s episode to let you all know about the rest of the shows on our network, which you can find over at fanbyte.com/podcasts. Maybe you’re in the mood for a really amazing Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes spoilercast with our very own Nerium Strom, Imran Khan, and LB Hunktears. That’s on the 99 Potions feed right now, actually. Want an improv style game show about video games? Look no further than Channel F, where this week, our amazing intern Charles joins in on the festivities, where we ask the question: is Charles really that young, or are we really that old? All this and more over at fanbyte.com/podcasts. And hey, we don’t run any advertising for our shows, so if you could tell a friend about Thanks for the Knowledge or any of the other wonderful shows that me and Jordan Mallory produce, we’d really appreciate that. Anyway, thanks for listening, and back to the show.


Imran: Speaking of smaller games and smaller publishers, Annapurna Interactive had a show this week. Why don’t you– real quickly, what were your highlights for that show?

Rebekah: Oh, I’m really stoked for Thirsty Suitors.

Imran: Mm.

Rebekah: I love the idea of like a Scott Pilgrim, uh…Scott Pilgrim, fight off your own sort of disgruntled exes, plus like Jet Set Radio skateboarding, plus cooking minigame? That sounds really cool to me. Let’s see, what else? Keita Takahashi has a new studio called Uvula, which I have no idea what it’s making, but I’m happy for that dude, ’cause it seems like Phenomena was not a great time for him, and he makes weird stuff, and I hope whatever he makes he’s doing better, and it should be a good time.

Imran: Yeah. It’s weird how…I think that Keita Takahashi is just so like, he wants to just do his own thing, and that conflicts so much with like the business of video games [Rebekah: “Yeah”] that he keeps running into issues [Rebekah: “Yeah”] with people who are like, hey, like Sony canceled Wattam, or like not canceled, but like, they no longer wanted to be a part of Wattam at some point. When he was at Namco, apparently people just, like the executives stopped talking to him as a whole.

Rebekah: Oh, that’s so weird.

Imran: Like, despite Katamari doing fairly well, they just didn’t want to– like, he wanted to make $20 playgrounds, and they didn’t want that anymore, so he went and made literal playgrounds.

Rebekah: Aw.

Imran: Like, I’m glad he is back in video games. I’m glad he’s doing what he wants. I hope this one works out better for him.

Rebekah: Yeah, I do too. I’m super stoked. Cardboard Computer, the studio behind Kentucky Route Zero, is working on a new project. Don’t know what it is, no title, no nothing, but I devoured Kentucky Route Zero. I will absolutely eat up whatever else the studio makes. Like, it’s so exciting.

Imran: Mm.

Rebekah: I really liked the look of Flock: Gather Your Friends. It’s this little game. It looks– a lot of this is just me like looking at trailers and trying to like discern what this is. You’re like, there’s a little person riding on this colorful bird, kind of flying around like these very colorful like naturey landscapes. And there’s like all these little– they look almost like, they’re almost like Bugsnax type little creatures, not food, but like little weird bugs, or like little creatures all around.

Imran: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: And you’re like trying to gather them up and fly around with them. I have no idea what the point of this game is, but it looks really cute. [laughs]

Imran: How do you feel about Annapurna in general these days? Like, I know I’m asking this question about like multiple publishers at this point, but like, do you feel like they’re keeping to their level of like quality and promise of, you know, digging out cool indie things?

Rebekah: Yeah, I think they mostly are. I do think as they have grown– so, there was a time a couple years ago when I said like, you know, Annapurna pretty much publishes nothing but bangers. I don’t know that that’s necessarily true anymore, but it’s also not untrue. I mean, I think like–

Imran: They published the worst game of last year, I feel like.

Rebekah: Oh, right. I always– you know what? I always forget that they published 12 Minutes. Okay. [Imran laughs] Let me put a little asterisk by 12 Minutes, and I’ll get back to that, why I don’t think that ruins my theory, even though 12 Minutes is very bad.

Imran: Mm.

Rebekah: Annapurna has grown considerably. They’re still an indie publishing label, but they publish a lot more games than they used to. And I think inevitably once you’re publishing that volume of games, you’re going to– not everything is going to be a 10 out of 10 game on Metacritic, right? Like, the vast majority of everything I’ve seen them publish has been good to great, right? Like, it’s all pretty good at least. It’s all for somebody. I have not heard of them having any truly bad games except for 12 Minutes.

Imran: Mm.

Rebekah: But I see how we got here. Like, Annapurna is not sitting there supervising every level of what 12 Minutes is. Like, they signed on before this thing was finished and my…I can see a world where someone comes to Annapurna with this pitch and with these people signed onto it and, you know, with this prototype, and they’re like, “This is cool.” Because we all did think that 12 Minutes was very cool when we saw like the early demos and the promise of it. It’s a cool idea. And so I totally understand why they signed on for this.

Imran: They seem very laissez faire in general though, ’cause like– this is not to conflate game quality with actual human issues, but they don’t really take much involvement with it when they sign and publish a game. In the case of Steve Gainer, where they just kinda like let him be, even though people were complaining directly to Annapurna about it.

Rebekah: Well, and that’s sort of the other side of the coin, right? Like, so I– my two sided thinking of Annapurna is I think they are very good at looking at a sea of ideas and picking out a bunch of really good ones and saying, “We will give you money and we will publish this.” They seem to be like, they have a really high success rate on that, and I don’t think– I mean, I think that high success rate has been muddied somewhat, but I don’t think it’s been ruined. I think if you’re picking up an Annapurna published game, it’s probably gonna be good to great.

Imran: Mm.

Rebekah: I am really troubled by the fact that they now have three studios that have worked with them in recent years that have had like really crappy allegations come out about the work culture at those studios. Like, that…

Imran: And those three are Fulbright and who else?

Rebekah: Fulbright, Phenomena, and…Mountains, Mountains.

Imran: Mm.

Rebekah: The…it’s Florence, right?

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: Yeah. Like, that’s really troubling to me, and I know kind of the theory on that is that Annapurna is very hands-off, but at a certain point, like when you’ve got three studios that this has happened to, maybe it’s time to get a little more hands-on, people! Like, maybe it’s time to talk to your people and see what’s going on, ’cause that’s really troubling. Like, that kind of abuse exists in indie development as well. It’s not just at the AAA level, and in fact, it’s often easier to disguise at the indie development level, because when you talk a big game about diversity and inclusion and, you know, making games for the sake of making games and not to make piles of money, it’s easier to mask some pretty crappy, horrible things.

And I don’t love that Annapurna has just been sort of quiet about all of this, and so it sort of makes me– that’s the thing that makes me hesitate a little bit, not 12 Minutes, but the fact that they seem a little bit reluctant to either vet the people they’re talking to seriously, or—I mean, you know, you can’t always know, like, I mean, people hide these things very effectively—but when it happens, very vocally condemn it and say, “Hey, this sucks. We will never work with them again. Oh my God.”

Imran: Yeah. All they’ve really done is they’ve like quietly shuffled things around and been like, this one person who’s problematic is going to not be in charge of this thing anymore, which is like, good that you’re getting us towards a solution, but it does seem like they’re actively trying to avoid a public stance on these problems, which I understand why. I understand that they want to be the publisher in the background that like just picks up cool little indie games and then does a cute little Twitter for them, but overall, like, I do think it is a problem that they need to start dealing with more hands-on.

Rebekah: It super is, yeah.

Imran: All right, Reb, before we finish up here, I wanted to ask you…mostly, honestly, like, I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this one, because you told me when I asked you this question earlier. [both laugh quietly] But do you have a game of the year so far?

Rebekah: Yeah. You know, it’s Elden Ring, I think pretty obviously. I think Elden Ring is like, if we’re being honest, most people who’ve played it’s game of the year.

Imran: You say pretty obviously, but the reason I was curious is you have loved other games this year, recently.

Rebekah: Yeah. I think… [sighs] There’s sort of this problem, and I can’t take credit for this phrasing, and I don’t remember where I heard it. I heard it like on Twitter or on a podcast or something the other day, but there’s sort of this syndrome that I feel like a lot of us are dealing with this year of playing a couple– there’s several very, very good games that people are playing and then saying, “Oh, this would be my game of the year, if not for Elden Ring.” Like, there’s a lot of that going around right now. [laughs] And I very much feel that way about Live A Live, honestly. Like I really, really love Live A Live. I think Live A Live beats Tunic, but before I played Live A Live, I would’ve said that about Tunic.

Imran: Mm.

Rebekah: I’d have been like, “Oh, this would be my game of the year, if not for Elden Ring.” I also really, really liked Citizen Sleeper. I thought that was a really incredible indie game that I– I don’t know that it necessarily would’ve risen to game of the year, but I was like, wow, this is great. And it feels painful to me, because at the end of the year, I’m going to have to talk about my game of the year in a bunch of different settings, and I’m gonna be talking about Elden Ring over and over. And I loved Elden Ring. I loved so many things about it. It is probably one of the most incredible things I’ve ever played, but I always feel this like twinge of guilt. Like, why am I not talking about the little guys? I wish I could be talking about the little guys right now. Everybody knows Elden Ring’s great! I don’t need to stand up for it!

Imran: Yeah. I mean, it was like that year that…there was the Game Informer game of the year meeting, and I came into it late ’cause I was working on a story, and I was like, okay, I know what I’m gonna fight for. And when I came in, they were like, “Okay, is it God of War or is it Red Dead Redemption 2?” And I was like, “Monster Hunter?” [Rebekah laughs] And by that point, nobody was talking about Monster Hunter. But there’s a lot of things this year. We keep saying it’s a fairly like light year, which in terms of like game traffic, it kind of is.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Imran: But in terms of video games that are releasing that are going to probably be like…going to be games that we remember by the end of the generation, it’s been actually a pretty decent year.

Rebekah: Yeah. It really has.

Imran: Speaking of which, like there’s still another whole half of the year to go, or I guess less, not the whole half of the year, ’cause we’re end of July at this point. But there’s a number of releases left. What are you looking forward to? Like, what’s on the Reb list?

Rebekah: I actually don’t know. Is that weird? Like, I couldn’t even really tell you what’s coming out this year that I– I guess I’m curious what Pokémon‘s doing. Like I know I’m gonna pick up Pokémon no matter what. I don’t see it even coming close to Elden Ring in terms of how much I’m going to love it, but I love a Pokémon.

Imran: Mm-hmm.

Rebekah: I don’t really know, like what else is coming out?

Imran: Well, we just mentioned Mario + Rabbids, which is one thing that I think a lot of people will dig.

Rebekah: Yeah, okay. Yeah, I will play and enjoy that. I liked the first one quite a bit.

Imran: For me personally, both God of War and Bayonetta 3 are gonna be pretty big ones.

Rebekah: Yeah, those won’t be huge for me. I did…so, I guess I’m mostly like hoping to be surprised by something. I’ve already been surprised multiple times this year. I did not have any expectations going into 2022. Like, I was not intending to play Elden Ring, and then I did, and it’s like one of my favorite things I’ve played in my entire life. I sort of stumbled into Live A Live and loved it. Tunic I was always interested in, but it exceeded my expectations. Citizen Sleeper was a total surprise to me. I played a lot of really interesting indie games that were really fun. So I guess I’m like hoping that I get surprised by some more like indies or just games that I don’t expect to love and then end up loving. I’m scrolling through this list of releases for the rest of the year, and I don’t know that anything’s really…

Imran: Leaping out at you? Yeah.

Rebekah: Yeah. I think I might play, uh…what’s this thing? I Was a Teenage Exocolonist or something? What is this? I might play that.

Imran: I’ve never heard of that. I like the title.

Rebekah: Yes, that’s a real game. Finji’s publishing that. It’s actually coming out at the end of next month. It’s a card battling narrative RPG.

Imran: Mm.

Rebekah: I’ve had multiple people recommend it to me. Oh, is it already out? This says it was out in 2020. Is it coming out on console? Is that what’s happening?

Imran: Might be a console release, might be early access that was– who knows.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Imran: I’m sure we could look it up and find out, but…

Rebekah: Maybe it was early access in 2020, and it’s now fully coming out. That might be what’s happening. Yeah, I don’t know. I’ve had like multiple people say that I might like that, so I’m gonna, I’m probably gonna give it a shot. I was also told about– this is not a game that’s coming out this year, but I was told I would enjoy a game called OFF.

Imran: Hmm.

Rebekah: Which is apparently a– hold on, I’m pulling it up right now. It is a game that came out in 2008. It’s a roleplaying game. It’s about baseball. It is about an enigmatic humanoid entity known as the Batter, who is described as being on a sacred mission to purify the world of OFF. The Batter travels through four bizarre zones in the world, revealing more about the world as the game goes on. Anyway, I was told I would like this, so I guess I’m gonna play a game from 2008.

Imran: Yeah. That sounds right up your alley.

Rebekah: Sure does.

Imran: Yeah. But yeah, that, I mean…I can’t think of what games I’m excited for the rest of the year beyond the ones I’ve mentioned, but like, I’m sure there’s gonna be a lot of stuff that just kind of catches me off guard too, like, oh, this thing is neat. This thing is a thing I find…will probably crawl its way in my game of the year list somewhere along the way.

Rebekah: Yeah.

Imran: And that’s good. It is good when you don’t know what’s gonna be on your game of the year list in January of the year.

Rebekah: Oh, Harvestella! I forgot that was coming out this year.

Imran: Oh, is that?

Rebekah: That Square Enix life sim farming thing.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: I’m psyched about that.

Imran: I was gonna say, maybe it’s gonna be some weird Square Enix game that– but they have like five more games coming out this year, inexplicably!

Rebekah: I’m on a Square Enix kick right now. I don’t know what’s going on. I loved Chrono Cross and Radical Dreamers when I played the Radical Dreamers edition.

Imran: Yeah.

Rebekah: I love Live A Live. I’ve been thinking about Nier a lot lately. I’m currently playing through Final Fantasy VII Remake, and now I’m excited for Harvestella. Square Enix, really speaking to me in 2022.

Imran: They’ve had a very quiet comeback story. It’s not been as like dramatic as Capcom’s has been, but like, honestly, most of the stuff that comes from Square Enix Tokyo has been good, like good to great.

Rebekah: Yeah. Is AEW Fight Forever this year?

Imran: I do not believe so. I believe it is next year.

Rebekah: Okay. Well, whenever that comes out. I’ve never played a wrestling game before, but I want to be Orange Cassidy.

Imran: [laughs] Everyone wants to be Orange Cassidy, at least some point in their– inside you are two Orange Cassidies.

Rebekah: [laughs] The one that’s actually fighting and the one that’s sitting alongside the ring going, “Yeah, whatever.”

Imran: Yeah, whatever. All right. Rebekah Valentine, news reporter for IGN, which is a thing I realized, somewhat mid podcast, I never mentioned that you are news reporter for IGN.

Rebekah: Yes.

Imran: So I wonder if anyone came to this podcast being like, “Why is Imran just talking to this person?”

Rebekah: This random person.

Imran: Like, what do they know about video games? [laughs]

Rebekah: Why is Imran talking to his girlfriend? [both laugh]

Imran: But news reporter for IGN, thank you so much for joining us on Thanks for the Knowledge.

Rebekah: Thank you for having me. Love to be here.

Imran: That’s been this week’s Thanks for the Knowledge. I’ve been your host, Imran Khan. Your regular host is John Warren. He will be back not next week, but the week after. This has been a special one off episode, but if you liked it, if you want to talk more about Fanbyte or Fanbyte things, you should go join our Discord at fanbyte.casa. If you want to talk about this episode, you can happily @ us @fanbytemedia. You can @ me at @imranzomg. You can @ Rebekah Valentine @duckvalentine. Our producer Paul Tamayo, you can @ @polimayo on Twitter. And I would love if you just checked out other Fanbyte podcasts as well, like 99 Potions which both John and I are on; Channel F, which is a show about video games and trivia and video game trivia as well; and plenty of other things on Fanbytes oeuvre, Fanbyte’s portfolio of various shows. Also just check out our website. The Nier story we talked about? Also there. So, it was lovely having you all this week. Thanks for listening.