Valorant’s Closed Beta is a Success, but for How Long?

Valorant burst onto the scene with record-breaking viewership.

Valorant’s closed beta surged in popularity faster than anyone could have predicted. The hyper-competitive game is the perfect recipe for niche gamers moving away from multiplayer battle royales. 

Valorant skyrocketed to the top of the Twitch chart. It surpassed 1.7 million peak viewers breaking the record set by 2019 League of Legends World Championships Finals. Within the last seven days, the closed beta has accumulated over 103 million views. Gaming lifestyle company, 100 Thieves, recently held the first Valorant invitational tournament one week after its beta release. The eight-team event featured popular streamers including Shroud, Timthetatman, DrDisrespect, Ninja, and Summit1g. With this much success, can Riot Games’ Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch hybrid maintain its momentum?

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Photo Credit: PC Gamer

Despite Valorant dominating the number one Twitch slot, some veteran streamers have questioned if Valorant is watchable. Veteran streamer Jaryd ‘Summit1g’ Lazar shared his opinion stating, “I think the abilities are going to be its [Valorant’s] undoing. If I’m being 100% honest, I think from a viewer’s perspective – I was thinking about while playing…it’s very slow and bland and [has] these stupid and boring chokepoints.”

Veteran streamers play an important role in the first impressions of a game. If they feel a game is bland and won’t help them maintain viewers, they’ll no longer stream it and move on to their favorites or the next big game. Many lower-tier streamers tend to follow the wave of veterans to grow their channels.

The official game won’t come out for months but, according to Twitch Tracker, there has been a dip in viewership despite more Twitch channels streaming the game. 

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The drop in viewers may be due to big streamers with high viewership streaming Valorant for the first week and gradually decreasing their playtime. On April 14, Riot expanded its closed beta access which accounts for the increased channels beginning on the 15th. 

Valorant’s record-breaking exposure has made it a success, but the true achievement will be measured in downloads, revenue, and players’ frequency. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, released in 2012, currently has over 1.1 million players on Steam. Its peak player spike of 1.3 million occurred this month at the same time as Valorant’s beta release. Valorant will need a strong player base to maintain its current dominance. 

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Photo Credit: Newsweek

Valorant’s lead producer, Anna Donlon, and game director, Joe Ziegler are monitoring beta feedback and making additional changes going into launch. There’s no word on additional levels, characters, guns, and abilities, but they’re undoubtedly coming. With the possibility of overexposure, Valorant’s creators will have to release fresh content throughout the beta until launch or go on hiatus and release updates periodically. The last thing Riot Games wants is Valorant to become stale before its official release.

The long-term prospects of Valorant are unclear. It has the potential for greatness, but only time will tell if it has the staying power of the games it’s borrowing from.
 

Metacritic Names The Last of Us Game of the Decade and Here’s Why

Naughty Dog’s writers and developers received multiple accolades for The Last of Us. Now, they can add Game of the Decade to their list thanks to Metacritic voters. The Last of Us beat out runner-up The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and third place winner The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The PlayStation exclusive, originally released in 2013, wasn’t even on store shelves before winning Most Anticipated Game at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards. The post-apocalyptic game became one of the best-selling PS3 games and was ported to the PS4 as The Last of Us Remastered in 2014.

Although the game has been praised for its stealth mechanics and overall gameplay, what makes The Last of Us stand out is its five-time award-winning storytelling. It distanced itself from the saturated zombie genre by including cinematic cues and traditional videogame aesthetics.

Neil Druckmann and his team developed a story that immersed players into a world that made them feel empathy through control. Instead of playing a standard third-person shooter, players became Joel and Ellie. The naturalness of conversations and the subtle A.I. changes made the game more intense, relatable, and life-like. As a result, players were invested in these characters and their journey. 

The empathy gained during 12+ hours of gameplay made the ending more memorable for players. Numerous articles and subreddits were created to discuss Joel’s final decision. Depending on the player, the game may have revealed a moral or philosophical position they weren’t aware of.

SPOILERS

“I love it because in a game that’s basically all about saving the world, in the end, the protagonist is selfish and decides not to. Seriously how rare is that?” – AndrewTheGoat22, Reddit Member

“So Joel accepts his fate and forces Ellie into the hell on earth with him. What a selfish prick. ‘You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.’ Damn you Naughty Dog.” – LargeSticker, Reddit Member

“That last bit was always my sticking point in siding with Joel. People say Ellie would have chosen to die… maybe so, but she didn’t get to make that choice! If Joel is bad for robbing her of that choice then Marlene is equally guilty of the same thing.” – ZapRowsdower, Reddit Member

“I feel like it was the dirtiest decision Jole [sic] had to make… choosing between a girl he views as his daughter and saving the world? He already lost a daughter, but then making that decision? I feel like he made the wrong choice saving her, but it makes me relate to him more because that’s what I would have chosen.” – HemaL2, Reddit Member

With The Last of Us Part II taking place five years after the first game’s events, players will discover how Ellie and Joel’s relationship has changed. Ellie will be the protagonist, so it’ll be interesting to see her character development and how she has grown in her harsh environment. 

Will Druckmann and his team subvert from conventional storytelling? Will they strike gold again?

The Last of Us Remastered is available on PS4.

The Last of Us Part II will be released on May 29, 2020 on PS4.

SOS: The Rise and Fall of a Unique MOBA

How did SOS, by Outpost Games, go from being a unique MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) to alienating their core fanbase? The developers switched the game to a battle royale.

SOS launched in late 2017 as a social survival game. Players were part of a reality TV show where 16 contestants were dropped on La Cuna Island and had to use their wits and fight Hupia (island monsters) to obtain relics. These relics were the key to obtaining one of three seats on a chopper to escape the island. What made this game unique was its open-mic system. Players could verbally strategize with each other by forming alliances, running solo, or backstabbing everyone they met. The choice was theirs. This resulted in each game being intense because you never knew what would happen.

At the time of release, Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) were two of the most popular games. Fans of SOS rejoiced for something different.

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Since the premise of the game was a reality show, players who live-streamed their game had an audience count displayed with their character. Overtime, Outpost Games set up a system for viewers to interact with their favorite streamer by applauding, sending hearts, hate emojis, laughs, and loot.

It was interesting watching gamers interact with other players as themselves or in roleplay. Many steamers got to know each other online and offline thanks to the game. SOS hosted an event to bring their best players together. Everyone was genuinely excited to see the person behind the character who was their teammate or backstabber.

The developers added more features including a defibrillator to revive your friends, additional melee weapons, a night mode, additional guns, bulletproof vests and made the Hupia look more menacing. Everything seemed to have been going well until one rumor became a reality.

The Switch to Battle Royale

After Outpost Games’ last content release update, the game shifted from being strategic to kill on-site. During March 2018, SOS had approximately 2.5K players online. That number decreased to 400+ in one month. Players seemed to be disappointed the original game style was replaced and abandoned the game.

After several rumors, Outpost Games launched SOS: Battle Royale despite the protest of their fans.

Allegedly, Outpost Games was dealing with some legal issues, losing money, and releasing a battle royale was a last-ditch effort to garnish profit. Regardless of their reasons, the SOS: Battle Royale was released with low active players and in a market saturated with battle royales. The developers reached out to popular streamers to play the refreshed game, but streamers quickly realized SOS had lost the charm which made it unique.

Outpost Games kept SOS: Classic as secondary, but heavily pushed for gamers to buy the new battle royale. Eventually, Outpost Games announced, in June 2018, SOS: Classic would be removed and SOS: Battle Royale will become free-to-play. Players who paid for both versions of the game were disappointed and were only offered cosmetics for their characters. All of Outpost Games’ efforts were to no avail.

With declining players and amounting frustrations, Outpost Games released a statement announcing servers will be shut down for both games on November 12, 2018.

Dear Contestants,

We come to you today with unfortunate news. After much deliberation, we have decided to shut down SOS. This will affect both SOS and SOS: Classic. This was an extremely difficult decision to make, but one that, sadly, is necessary.

From the very beginning, we set out to create an experience with SOS that would resonate both with players and audiences. Unfortunately, through multiple iterations of SOS, we were unable to fully realize this goal and engage players and viewers in the way we had hoped. For that, we are sorry…

Thank you for being a part of the SOS community and coming on this adventure with us.

Sincerely,

The Outpost Games Team

What Could Have Been is Now Nothing

Outpost Games somehow lost their way. Instead of releasing new maps or new mechanics, they chose to fall into the same box as everyone else with a battle royale. Maybe if the game started with a battle royale mode, it would have survived. Changing the game within a couple of months may have been the equivalent turning League of Legends into Fortnite. You can’t drastically switch things up because the product becomes something different than what the audience paid for.

The official website for the game has converted into is a free online slots website known as SOSGames (School of Slots Games). The fact that a fun invigorating game is now gone and replaced with free online slot machines is disappointing.

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SOS‘ social media accounts are inactive and Outpost Games have removed their website and social accounts.

SOS: Classic will always be remembered for building online friendships and players providing intense, yet intriguing, gameplay. This style of gaming deserves a comeback, but with better management. The audience is still there. They just need a quality game.