Doing satire well is an incredibly challenging prospect and can be richly rewarding, particularly in a time of meme-fuelled engagements and people constantly hunting for community-based entertainment. With the earliest recorded publishing in mid-2012, Play4Real (P4RGaming.com) can be seen as one of the pioneers of the modern space of games industry satire, being quite ahead of its time in retrospect.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief Jack became a prevalent figure among the satirical site’s readers, offering cutting takes on current gaming stories through their novel comedic lens. Play4Real gaming made for great reading that was somehow entertaining and indicative of how the community and players saw, or at least joked about, the subjects of the articles.
Favourites for the crosshairs of Play4Real were popular titles like Pokémon, the ever-eccentric Hideo Kojima, E3 hype trains, ZeniMax, and Nintendo, but that’s not to say that just about everything else in gaming wasn’t fair game, too. These days, mega game company CEOs are scrutinised mercilessly by professional and amateur industry pundits: some of the massive exposés regarding crunch, executive pay, Ultimate Team revenues, microtransactions, half-baked releases, and bugs over the last couple of years would have been prime targets for Play4Real were it still in operation.
However, like several others in a similar theme, Play4Real came to a close, with its final posts on its social media platforms going out on 25 December 2015. Now, sites like The Onion dominate the satirical news corner of the internet, while Hard Drive has done an excellent job of reviving the gaming satire niche, launching in 2017.
So, in homage to Play4Real, here are some of the site’s best and most popular articles in full so that you can experience their take on the gaming industry.
1. ZeniMax Debunks Elder Scrolls Online 200M Budget Rumor: We Couldn’t Have Wasted That Much Money
Before Fallout 76, everyone had already piled into another of Bethesda’s ill-received online releases: The Elder Scrolls Online. With fans just wanting more single-player adventures from the franchise, gamers were more than happy to pounce on what can now be called a ‘Bethesda Classic’ of a launch with TESO.
Here, P4RGaming.com ran with a well-circulated story that came from a quick Tweet, which claimed that the game cost $200 million to make. Jack went further, quoting game director Matt Firor as dismissing the claim, saying that “based on the game’s quality, not a lot of money was put into it,” and that if that sum had been spent, “people would be banging on our doors to play [it], which is not the case.” An honest dismissal of such outlandish claims, it would seem.
2. Majority of Gamers Today Can’t Finish Level 1 in Super Mario Bros.
What starts as a dig on the failed Wii U console evolves into an indictment of modern gamers, who are much more entitled and not even willing to read an instruction manual, apparently. Using the classic platformer Super Mario Bros. as the subject matter – an aptly challenging game – Nintendo president Satoru Iwata attempted to explain why games were getting easier.
It was stated during the investors’ meeting that, when provided with an instruction manual, “many of [the participants in the study] didn’t read it,” and that, to make the game easier, they suggested starting with a mandatory tutorial and to give Mario a sword or gun. It finishes with the biting line of “as a stockholder, you should be relieved to know that our games are easier… As a gamer, you might feel a little sad, and you should be.”
3. Microsoft Releases List of 1000+ Songs Not to Play Near Xbox One Due to Voice Control Interface
Putting the all-in-one media and functionality features ahead of gaming, it’s fair to say that Microsoft made its Xbox One easy prey for the jokers of the internet – especially on the heels of the much-loved Xbox 360. At the time of this Play4Real piece, reports were running wild of even Xbox One adverts activating the consoles. So, to mitigate this, Microsoft released an ever-updating list of 1,000 songs to keep off of an Xbox-friendly playlist.
4. Hideo Kojima Explains Quiet’s Supposedly Sexist Design: The Desert’s Hot
Released in 2013, a satirical piece like this might just be too on the nose in the contemporary space. Still, popular game designer Hideo Kojima was called to explain the aesthetics of the Metal Gear Solid V character Quiet, who wore torn tights over a two-piece bikini. Kojima’s response was simple: “because [the desert] is very hot.”
In case that wasn’t enough, it turned out that Quiet’s back story involved a tragic heatstroke incident when she was a child, and so, she refuses to overdress in warm environments, which was described as “very moving.” Further, he details that while Quiet’s attire wasn’t a mistake, his character designs for Metal Gear Solid, based in Alaska, were very wrong as they should have worn a lot more due to the cold.
5. Hideo Kojima: I Will Need to Remake Every Metal Gear Game Twice to Fix the Continuity
Hideo Kojima is well-known among gamers as being somewhat eccentric and certainly a novelty in the industry. So, a headline such as this would have caught out a fair few readers who didn’t know that P4RGaming.com was a satire site.
It’s a bit of a running joke that there’re so many mainline and spin-off games to the Metal Gear series that making a feasible timeline is near-impossible, with many just writing off the spin-offs to allow for a coherent series. Here, Kojima is quoted as saying that he’s “too creative” and that he’ll need to “remake every game twice in order to really repair the damage.”
6. Pokémon Creator Admits Games are Anti-Christian, Aimed Towards Satanists
Evolution is a core feature of the Pokémon series but in stark contrast to a core Christian belief, and so, naturally, the Pokémon creator must be anti-Christian. While this would be the logical line of thinking, it was only confirmed by a P4RGaming.com report that recounted an interview by Time with creator Satoshi Tajiri. He cites a rebellious streak against his Christian parents, with the proven natural process of evolution being shunned at home, making it an inspiration for the massive game franchise.
7. Ed Boon: We Don’t Know If Mortal Kombat X Can Be as Offensive as Mario Kart 8
Few would take the time to compare the Mario franchise of games with the Mortal Kombat series, and yet, in the face of equality, this Play4Real piece makes the fighting game out to be a beacon of light. As detailed by director Ed Boon, the Mario games have “Peach being weak and totally helpless,” whereas in Mortal Kombat, “[they] made the females too strong in Mortal Kombat.”
The problem with so much competition to be offensive from such a popular game, the piece would have you know, is that Mortal Kombat needs to become far more offensive. Nintendo as a whole company was cited as the main competition in this regard, with “Tomodachi Life [excluding] gay marriage,” while Mortal Kombat 9 had “a strong pro-gay marriage message.”
8. Soulcalibur 6 in Development Hell Due to Arguments Over How Big Ivy’s Breasts Should Be
As the Soulcalibur series became more and more popular in western markets, it increasingly drew comments concerning a specific aspect of its female character designs and physics. Even prior to the 2012 release of Soulcalibur V, outlets would run stories on the infamously buxom fighters in the series. Luckily, in mid-2011, the director of the game released the below guide to how female physiques are regulated in the series.
In a typical satirical fashion, Jack reported on the development troubles endured by director Daishi Odashima and his team while working on the long-anticipated Soulcalibur VI. He claimed that “Some [staff members] work overtime on [Ivy’s] character model even if they are not part of the character design team.” It’s not just Ivy, though, as apparently, “many chose to skip [Soulcalibur V] altogether after learning that Taki would not appear.”
9. Analysts Say All Games Released in 2014 Must Be Open World Otherwise It Will Not Sell
Still very much being a focus in gaming, there was a tremendous amount of focus on which developers would release the next smash-hit open-world title. So, it didn’t come as a surprise that an NPD Group report found that open-world design would become mandatory by 2014. One of the more poignant quotes taken from head analyst Marshal Cohen was that “most gameplay will just consist of walking from point A to point B, and players will love it.”
Funnily enough, this 2013 piece ended up ringing true for one of the biggest companies in gaming, Ubisoft. In 2017, they pivoted the Ghost Recon franchise into an open-world setting, continued in Breakpoint, and grew the Assassin’s Creed franchise into an even vaster open-world experience with Unity and then Odyssey. Soon after, Watch Dogs Legion and Immortals Fenyx Rising furthered their open-world focus.
10. PETA Member Traumatized by Pokémon, Sues Nintendo for Emotional Distress
With easily one of the best header images of the lot, this piece by Michael aptly picked apart everything that’s wrong with Pokémon in the eyes of animal rights activist group PETA. The issues are said to trackback for this PETA member, Miranda, to LeafGreen, due to its marijuana connotations. Detailing the Pokémon Origins episode of Cubone & Marowak, the post goes on to explain that, in the show, poachers chased two small dogs, with the skeletal head of one alluding to the cruel experiments performed on the puppy.
Of course, it wouldn’t just be Miranda’s children who were banned from the game series, but also her soon-to-be ex-husband. Apparently, Miranda also caught her husband sneaking in some Pokémon catching time in the bathroom, with him preferring to “catch a shiny Mr. Mime,” rather than adhere to his wife’s rules. PETA was certainly a favourite of Play4Real, with them also reportedly going after Nintendo for whale hunting, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag for virtual whaling, and Nintendogs for motion capture animal abuse.
11. Iwata Asks: Miiverse Penis Drawing Detection Took Weeks to Develop
Poking fun at an aspect that can be seen across games that offer a clean slate for user input, this piece cites an Iwata Asks interview with Yoshiomi Kurisu, in which the director addresses the issue of penis drawings. Discussing the prevalent issue within the Wii U Miiverse social network, he says that the problem only arose with the release in western markets. Further, the very real difficulties of detecting and moderating penis drawings was discussed, stating that “Nintendo of America really took the system to its limits.”
12. Ouya Upgrades E3 Booth from One Parking Lot to Two Parking Lots
Following Ouya setting up an outdoor exhibit at E3 2013, and the police being called to shut it down, it only makes sense that the upstart console creator’s founder, Julie Uhrman, would want to come back stronger than ever. So, as reported by Jack, Ouya announced that E3 2014 would see their stand expand from one parking lot to two. Naturally, security staff were warned ahead of time of Ouya’s impending presence, with one calling the situation “just depressing.” Unfortunately, Ouya’s intended second showing at E3 didn’t quite pan out, with the Kickstarter-backed console being discontinued in 2015.
13. The Sims 4 to Feature Over 40 Ways to Torture Your Sims
As all gamers know, The Sims is a life simulator that people play to create exceptional lives for their virtual humans, leading them down impressive career paths while also building their families and homes – but often with a bit of malice along the way. So, when Electronic Arts announced that new ways to torture Sims would be coming to the franchise, it caught the attention of gamers worldwide. Tormenting Sims was always possible, but hidden features would now allow players to amputate, harass, poison, and give shock collars to their Sims. It seemed like a natural step for a company that always gives its players what they want.
These were just ten of the superb articles put out by P4RGaming.com, with there being many more clever and satirical takes on the gaming scene of the time.
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