PC gaming is mad. You can’t deny it: we’re a platform that’s expecting people to strap a lunchbox to their face to make it feel like we’re actually inside a game. But when it comes to the headlines, that’s not mad at all. In fact, relatively speaking, that’s positively normal, so take a moment now to worry about your sanity.
Thankfully 2015 was a year full of headlines so absurd we forgot gaming was mad to begin with. This was the year when Konami insisted that their MVP Hideo Kojima had just popped off on holiday, rather than admit that they’d had a bit of a falling out. 2015 contained the month when Activision thought it’d be neat to invent a terrorist attack and pretend it was real. It was the year, frankly, when the industry lost its collective marbles.
So in celebration, let’s run down the maddest of the mad. Starting with…
In the most absurd saga of the year, Konami attempted to quietly push Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima off a cliff, while adamantly sticking to their story that he was most definitely ‘on holiday’.
It all started July, when Kojima’s name was removed from the box art and any marketing materials for Metal Gear Solid V, along with the Kojima Productions logo. Konami attempted to continue business as if nothing were wrong, whistling like an unalerted MGS guard as the entire internet began sleuthing.
It appeared that things had gone very sour between Kojima and Konami, and reports began to leak that MGSV was Kojima’s last project with the studio. The New Yorker published a story claiming that Kojima had in fact already left the office permanently, having cleared out his desk of sausages just months before his 30th anniversary at the company.
Aside from small rumour and speculation, nothing came out of Konami for months. Not until The Game Awards in December, where Kojima’s best buddy Geoff Keighley revealed on stage that he wanted the MGS creator to join him at the ceremony, but Konami’s lawyers had banned him from attending. Apparently because he was still under employment contract with the company, they could bar him from having a few pints with his bros at a glitzy awards show.
But let's face it: he’d definitely been in Benidorm for the last three months. You wouldn’t give up that for a weekend in LA now, would you?
The entire saga concluded in the final weeks of the year as Kojima stepped out from the shadows sporting a new beard and a new independent company - handily called Kojima Productions. His first Konami-free project is in association with Sony and will be a timed PS4 exclusive, but it will eventually make it to our majestic platform.
The dark nights of Arkham
Arkhamgate is not, infact, the gates to Arkham Asylum, but the collective name for a bunch of headlines dedicated to Batman: Arkham Knight’s PC port. And boy, were there a lot of headlines. It all started in June when the game stumbled out of the Batcave and vomited all over its Batsuit, or ‘released and didn’t work on PC’ as most folk would say. The PC version of the game was riddled with bugs and performance issues, meaning many gamers struggled to get the game to run while their console brethren were smacking supervillains in the chops.
The situation was deemed so hopeless by publisher WB Games and developer Rocksteady that the game was pulled from the Steam store, like Batman disappearing in a cloud of smoke but with far less dignity. And this wasn’t a short-term move either: Arkham Knight was pulled from sale for months and months. During its hiatus, reports revealed that the PC issues were known before release, casting a dark shadow over the whole thing. WB Games were determined to fix it all though, and brought Nvidia on board to help.
Arkham Knight finally went back on sale in October, only for players to discover it was still as broken as Bruce’s back in Knightfall. Sure it was a bit better than before, but it was still the runt of the litter compared to the smooth console versions. Furthermore, WB Games had to admit that the game would never support dual GPUs: the job was just too demanding. Thanks to such a debacle, the game can be refunded on Steam until the last day of 2015, regardless of how many hours you’ve played.
All in all, a bigger mess than Jason Todd’s face after playtime with the Joker.
Pornhub was the internet street corner for people dealing Fallout 4
If you were a lucky person at Gamescom this year, Bethesda took you to a private booth and gently caressed your eyes with combat footage from Fallout 4. If you were less lucky, you could find a shaky-cam bootleg copy on the internet in the most unlikely of places: Pornhub. Yes, if you were really quite desperate for a crappy visual substitute for the real thing, you could find it nestled between the various strange adult niches on a dirty website.
Palmer Luckey did a funny little jump for TIME
I mean, just look at this.
Call Of Duty live-tweeted a fake terrorism attack to promote Black Ops III
In September Activision completely lost it as their marketing department thought it would be pretty neat to live-tweet a fake terrorist attack to try and promote Call of Duty: Black Ops III. The company’s social media ‘specialists’ changed their Twitter avatar and header to read ‘Current Events Aggregate’ to make things looks just that more REAL and GRITTY. They then proceeded to tweet BREAKING NEWS about an explosion on the North bank of the Singapore Marina. The whole saga was broadcast to the account’s 2.8 million followers. Stay classy, CoD.
World of Tanks players are the future of Russia’s military might, apparently
In October it seemed that Russia were planning the nerdiest offensive global warfare has ever seen as its Deputy Prime Minister announced that World of Tanks players were the future of its military. A Russian defence firm revealed that they were planning to manufacture a remote-controlled tank, to which Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin tweeted (like the hip techno nerd he is) “We need no tankers now, we need World of Tanks players.”
Naturally we’re expecting the 2016 Russian Generals selection exam to be a skirmish on Red Alert 2.
Russian airstrikes in Syria courtesy of Gaijin Entertainment
Further proving that Russia is well on the way to dominating the digital battlefield was this footage of their military force blasting the crap out of ISIS ground troops. The clip was shown on Egyptian TV as news anchor Ahmed Moussa got very excited about Russia air striking Syria. So excited, in fact, that he completely failed to recognize not only the British accents accompanying the clip, but also the fact that it’s footage from Gaijin Entertainment’s Apache: Air Assault.
“Yes, they are countering terrorism, truly countering it. Now you will see a terrifying video, terrifying,” comments Moussa, although it’s the quality of journalism here that’s actually terrifying.
Scottish guy created the Aye-Mac: an Irn-Bru-cooled PC
Apparently setting system sounds to bagpipe tunes and nailing a haggis to the case wasn’t Scottish enough for John Lawson, the Edinburgh native who decided to plumb a PC water-cooling system into a bottle of Irn-Bru. For the uninitiated, Irn-Bru is a bright orange soft drink which is drunk by every person in Scotland.
It’s all a dirty ruse, though. While the orange lights, liquid, and 2-litre pop bottle make it appear to be the world’s first soft-drink-cooled PC, it’s actually just standard water cooling with orange dye. Don’t let that put you off Scotland though: the bitter cold up there is 100% genuine.
Fallout 4 took revenge on Pornhub by stealing their ‘players’
Pornhub may have had the one-up on Bethesda during August, but November was time for the studio to strike back. And strike hard it did: as the game launched, Pornhub’s traffic dropped by 10%. At 5am that morning numbers began to fall, and a second dip began at 6pm.
Basically: Fallout 4 stopped people taking such regular trips to Palmdale. Talk about games influencing young people, eh?
Star Citizen Wars: The Derek Smart Saga
Did you ever back a Kickstarter project and then get so pissed off with it you sent a letter to the FBI? Derek Smart did. He’s Star Citizen’s most prolific backer (ex-backer actually - developer RSI refunded his pledge) and he’s spent a vast amount of time this year leading a crusade against it. See, he’s pretty annoyed that the game’s amassed millions and millions of dollars and has yet to release, despite being predicted to launch in November 2014. And so he’s roping in lawyers, the Federal Trade Commission, and - yes - even the feds to try and bring Chris Roberts and his team to justice.
Derek Smart himself is a developer (perhaps you’ve heard of his game Battlecruiser 3000AD?) and so has a vantage point that perhaps we don’t have. And his demands don’t sound mad on paper: he simply wants the company to be held accountable by publishing their facts and figures to show where the money has gone, and to refund backers because they failed to deliver the game when they said they would. It’s the velocity of his crusade that makes the whole thing seem so absurd though: blog post after blog post of complaints, and a Twitter account that seems obsessively dedicated to the subject.
The dispute became cringe-worthily public. RSI retorted back that they didn’t have to do anything that Smart demanded, and that all the information needed was on their website. A vast clash with website The Escapist on the issue resulted in pages and pages of entries on the Star Citizen website as Chris Roberts responded to the criticisms. Supportive backers activated their shields and created online petitions to announce that Smart did not represent their views. That overblown starship battle from Revenge of the Sith’s opening? It’s got nothing on this storm.
Of course, the whole thing has yet to blow over or detonate. That’s exactly what happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force. And while Smart gets continually worked up about it, Star Citizen keeps raking in the cash, with a crowdfunding total of over $100 million now. Haters gonna hate, but it don’t matter when people are still throwing dollars at imaginary spaceships.
Anything we've missed? Chuck your nuttiest gaming news stories of the year into the comments below.