Amazon orders two seasons of Critical Role


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Amazon Prime has announced that two seasons of animated series Critical Role will be made available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. The series, created by voice actor Matthew Mercer, was originally a web series that premiered on YouTube and was streamed live on Twitch. In the series Mercer and several other veterans from the voice acting industry play Dungeons and Dragons. Fans of the series funded a Kickstarter campaign to animate the very first episode of the series but was so successful that they were able to fund an additional 9 episodes. Now Amazon is providing funding for an additional season and both be available for streaming. Voice actors Laura Bailey, Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson, Liam O’Brien, Marisha Ray, Sam Riegel and Travis Willingham will all be reprising their roles in this new series, as well as serving as producers on the show.

To me this is a great decision for several reasons. I have always enjoyed animation, and I feel this form of storytelling has largely been left unexplored or underutilized in its current form. I am glad Amazon is willing to risk an animated series where other companies may be more hesitant. Though Netflix often is credited as the innovator in the streaming world, I am glad to see that Amazon is willing to bring unique and creative content to their platform. I think this move is also a testament to how far web-based content has come. Years ago, the idea that YouTube was a creative but not very viable outlet for content. Now with this move and the rise of the YouTube celebrity, web-based content is demonstrating that it is a media market with a vast potential. Finally, as a fan of Mercer and his show, I am glad to see that it is getting the mainstream attention it deserves.

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Do we still need Bethesda?


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Video game developer Obsidian has released their latest title, The Outer Worlds and I has been met with acclaim from both critics and fans alike. Obsidian gained notoriety when the worked-on Fallout:  New Vegas, under publisher Bethesda, the owners of the Fallout series.  However, once that game was completed Obsidian turned away from the series and Bethesda in general to strike out on their own. Without Bethesda to back them up many people wondered if Obsidian was capable of retain the game quality fans expected from them. With the recent acclaim their new title is getting it is safe to say that such fears where not founded. Fans were quick to note the similarities between this new game and the fallout games of recent years. Many fans consider Obsidians game to be better than Bethesda, delivering the complexity and feeling of a fallout game the Bethesda has failed to catch with their recent titles. At the same time this comes when Bethesda has continued to foolishly bumble from one mistake to the next. Their latest installment of the Fallout series, fallout 76 was labeled by fans as nothing but a cheap cash grab. This coupled with constant negative press featuring the games features and updates has severely hurt Bethesda’s public image. This begs the question of what lies in the future for Bethesda, as fans that once stood by them leave in order to get the product, they want elsewhere. This also makes said fans question if their original love for the Fallout series is because of the work Bethesda does or despite it.

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Borderlands 3 divides its fans


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Borderlands three has become divisive in the eyes of the audience. Of these split opinions neither really spell well for the game, with both sides pointing to serious issues on the games part.On the one hand you have the long term fan of borderlands who find that this latest installment of their favorite series does not cater to them. They accuse the developers of the game, Gearbox  of having dumbed down their game for the sake of it having a broader appeal. Specifically they oppose the frequent tweaks and changes the developers have made to the game in the weeks following its release. They argue that feeling overpowered and exploiting weaknesses has been and should remain part of the Borderlands experience. One the other hand what the article refers to as the “destiny crowd” argue that such balancing efforts are necessary on the part of the developer to ensure that all options in game are equally fun to play. I’m inclined to agree with this crowd, as I see this as a necessary step if Borderlands 3 is to survive in the modern video game market. In the heady days of Borderlands 1 and 2 , there were few games that followed the “loot and shoot” model, so the weakness of the games in terms of both mechanics and narrative were willing to be overlooked by the player base if it meant experiencing this exciting new format of game. However this was several years ago, and now a days suck Looter Shooters are everywhere. Gearbox has been placed in a difficult position, having to keep pace with its competitors while still delivering fans what they want from the series. Having played the game mys;ef, i can see the divide between fans. While the gunplay and movement have been vastly improved by following in other games success, the narrative lack the true feel previous games had. While I still think Borderlands is a good game, it falls short of being the great game its predecessor Borderlands 2 was.

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Blizzard silences Pro-Hong Kong player.



Perhaps one of the fastest growing media markets in the global community is the Chinese market. Everyone from movie producers to videogame streamers have been attempting to grab a share of this market. However, in order to have access to this revenue stream these companies must comply with the authoritarian Chinese government and the most recent case of this is in connection to game publisher Blizzard. In a recent interview during their tournament for the popular online game Hearthstone, e-sports player Ng Wai Chung, better known in the community as Blitzchung, expressed his support for the ongoing protests in Hong Kong that seek to resist the growing power the Chinese government has on the city. In response Blizzard banned Blitzchung from competitive play for up to one year and refused to deliver the prize money he would have received for competing in the tournament. Word quickly spread of Blizzards actions, sparking consumer outrage. Many Consumers began calling for a boycott of Blizzards products, and memes and image lampooning the company spread throughout the internet like Wildfire. In addition, several streamers of Blizzards twitch channel followed in Chung’s example, knowing that they would be removed in a similar manner to the e-sports player. I understand the outrage at Blizzard and fully support Chung and the streamers action.  By attempting to cater to China and its market Blizzard has irrevocably damaged both their reputation and their profit margins domestically. This only fitting, as it is dangerous and immoral for Blizzard or any company to allow itself to be compliant in the actions and wishes of a totalitarian regime in the name of monetary game.


VENN will Change Video Game Streaming


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ideo Games are one of the fastest growing media markets out there.  This has led to many additional industries forming, springing up from the groundwork from the groundwork of video games. Perhaps the most famous example of this is has been the massive success of video game streaming. Youtubers, Twitch streamers and E-sports competitors have collectively made millions in the past year with their content, and some in the sphere have been elevated to near celebrity status because of it. However, all this money is divided up, both in terms of platforms that stream video games and the content creators who play it. Enter the Video Games and News Network, or VENN. This network is set to launch in 2020, and will focus on producing video game centered content, ranging from documentaries to E-sports. The creators of VENN hope this network will serve two purposes, the first is to streamers the ability to produce higher quality content. The second is what every network want to do, to provide an outlet for advertisers.  As a consumer of YouTube let’s plays myself, I am quite interested to see where this product turns out.  I feel the world of video game streaming is largely ignored by many producers and advertisers, which is a shame given the vast potential it has in terms of audience reach. I’m also very interested in seeing how this competes not only with other streaming outlets, but also with traditional media, both new and old. I think the VENN is the right step towards making video game streaming appear as a more legitimate media outlet,  and there may come a time when sitting down to watch tow teams face of in a E-sport match in Overwatch will be viewed in the same light we view football games today.

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New Scorsese Film to appear on Netflix

'Everybody Knows' premiere and opening ceremony, 71st Cannes Film Festival, France - 08 May 2018

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Once again Netflix makes an attempt with the other studio giants in Hollywood. Legendary director Martin Scorsese latest film is set to premiere on the streaming service. This after Scorsese was initially rejected by his usually distributor, Paramount Pictures, due to them being unwilling to pay the large budget the film demanded. Netflix was acquired the film for an astounding $159 million dollars, showing not only how wealthy the streaming service has made them, but just how serious they are when it comes to producing their own content. Though this may appear risky for a streaming service, this one appears to be well calculated. The film, titled The Irishman, is a crime drama, a genre Scorsese has shown his talent with time and time again, most notably with the hit film Goodfellas. In addition to this it is set to star film giant like Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci. Earlier screening was very positive, and there are whispers of Oscar nominations. The article discuses that this wouldn’t be the first time Netflix has produced Oscar worthy content, as it received several awards for the foreign film Roma. Netflix’s ambitions are clear with this movie. By being so bold, the company is stating that it’s movie should be considered film as much as much as those that appear on the big screen. Given the content of the film I admire this choice, as it may not be long before movie theaters no longer exist, and all content is streamed right to the television. If this is the case, I’m glad Netflix is taking the time to consider quality content.

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Borderlands 3 Defies Sales Expectations


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As many PC players know, the Valve operated storefront Steam is widely regarded as the definitive place for acquiring PC games. It could be argued that Valve has essentially created a monopoly on the purchasing and owning of computer games. However, recently Some Developers have tried to combat this by creating their own Virtual Storefronts. Of these contenders Epic Game’s Epic Games Store is one that may offer the most challenge. To bolster traffic to their site, Epic Games has decided to make several of their upcoming titles exclusive to the Epic Games Store, negating Steams access to them. This has sparked outrage among many consumers many of whom hold a fondness for Steam as their preferred storefront of choice and have a dislike for Epic Games due to several mistakes the company has made in the past.

Many people believed that this would result in a disaster for Epic Games, hurting both their Storefront and the sales of their games. However, despite what someone listening to what the consumers would believe, it appears the anger toward the Epic Store has not been backed up with action. Both Metro: Exodus and the newly released Borderlands 3 have made more than their Steam hosted predecessors by a wide margin. This could be a worrying development for Valve, showing signs that their era of PC industry domination may be in its twilight years.

Though this success may cause Epic Games to feel more confident in their mission, it is important that they remain cautious. They already have a poor reputation among many consumers, and though it appears they are one the rise, all it will take is one misstep and Valve will reassert its place atop the PC industry pile.

Dave Chapelle’s special divides audiences and critics

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In recent years Netflix has gone through many changes. Of theses one of the most interesting is going form simply hosting television and movie content to producing their own shows. This Netflix created content has ranged wildly form documentaries to animated action shows. But of this vast array of choices it is the comedy special that remains the most popular. This may change however, with the most recent special by famed comedian Dave Chappelle noted for becoming highly controversial.

The special, entitled Dave Chapelle: Sticks and Stones, has come under the scrutiny of many critics. The focus of these criticisms where largely regarding the topics Chapelle decided to discuss in the special, such as the cases of sexual assault leveled at Michael Jackson or the LGBT community. Chapelle’s jokes where often seen as insensitive or unnecessarily cruel when discussing their subject matter. As a result of this many critics panned the series and tore it to shreds on online forms.

Surprisingly, the general audience has had the complete opposite reaction. Dave Chapelle’s show has received a ninety-nine percent audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. This indicates that the audience may be clued into a point of view mentioned in the article, that the offensive tone of the special was a strategic move on Mr. Chapelle’s part in an attempt to generate interest, in one form or another, in the several other specials he has upcoming. Another possibility is that this gauge of the audience’s opinion is misrepresented or exaggerated. Whatever the case may be, several experts both in comedian and media marketing mentioned in the article feel the critics view is unlikely to stop Chapelle from having more specials on Netflix, especially considering the host of other streaming services that would gladly Add him to their roster.

Considering the time, we live in and the content in the special, Netflix took a calculated risk in airing it. However, judging by audience reaction it has paid off. But it is worth noting that such gambles may not always pay off, and the resulting backlash could be catastrophic in the cut-throat world of streaming services.

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