News Roundup March 6th

by Huey Chewwy in

Get a better look at the story of Mortal Kombat 11 with the latest trailer, the first event of Tetris 99 begins on Friday, a new Labo kit turns the Switch into a VR device, and Steam’s store policy is put to the test once again.

Seeing double vision

If you had said over 20 years ago that one of the big draws of a Mortal Kombat game coming out in 2019 is the story, people would have rightfully laughed at you. But here we are today with an official story trailer for Mortal Kombat 11 and it looks quite interesting.

Thanks to Raiden’s actions, Kronika is none to happy about him interfering with time and is recruiting characters from the past and present to change the course. Consequently, it seems that those opposing her are doing the same thing. There is plenty to unpack in this trailer that includes more character reveals, two Johnny Cages in the same room, and what appears to be a young Sonya Blade fighting alongside Cassie Cage.

Speaking of which, we have our next three confirmed characters for the roster. Erron Black, Jacqui Briggs, and Cassie Cage will be part of MK 11’s playable fighters. There are other characters that appear in the trailer that will most likely be part of the roster as well such as Kotal Khan, Liu Kang, Kung Lao, and Kitana.

I cannot even win one game

Tetris 99 is a big test of your skill with the classic puzzle game. The battle royale take on Tetris is getting its first event starting on Friday. The Maximus Cup tasks players with winning as many games of Tetris 99 as they can to be eligible to win free Nintendo Gold Points. The top 999 players will receive 999 Nintendo Gold Points apiece after the event ends, which translates to almost 10 dollars USD. The Maximus Cup ends on March 10th at 11:59 P.M. PT.

Getting into VR now

Initially making a splash with the Labo kits, the momentum has cooled off since that time. Nintendo looks to build on that initial potential with the next Labo kit that turns the Switch into a VR device.

That seems to be a very lofty concept but Nintendo has shown they can get pretty creative with the Labo kits. The Nintendo Labo 04 Toy-Con comes in a few varieties but you’ll need to begin with the Starter Set + Blaster. This turns the Switch into VR Goggles and another configuration that turns it into a blaster.

Two additional expansions will add a camera and elephant functionality or turn the Switch into a bird and wind pedal. Just exactly how the Switch turns into a VR device is kind of unknown at the moment but if anyone knows how to think outside the box, it is Nintendo. These new Labo kits will go on sale on April 12th.

Making up rules

For game developers, there is a 99 percent chance you’ll be able to put your game up on Steam. Their policies on what can and cannot be on the platform is rather undefined other than games that are either “illegal” or “straight up trolling”. This has resulted in plenty of adult games (most of them hentai) coming to the platform. Since adult games are not restricted under this policy, one such game tested the strength of this rule.

With a title like Rape Day, there is no question that this is an adult only title. As a visual novel, nothing seemed to have been off limits on this title including the action the name describes. As you might expect, the listing of this game got the attention of players and media alike before grabbing Valve’s attention.

In a blog post given today, Valve stated that Rape Day will not release on their platform. Below is part of the statement given on the decision not to allow the title onto the Steam store.

Much of our policy around what we distribute is, and must be, reactionary—we simply have to wait and see what comes to us via Steam Direct. We then have to make a judgement call about any risk it puts to Valve, our developer partners, or our customers. After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think 'Rape Day' poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won't be on Steam.

We respect developers’ desire to express themselves, and the purpose of Steam is to help developers find an audience, but this developer has chosen content matter and a way of representing it that makes it very difficult for us to help them do that.

Now, before today Rape Day got a page listed on the store with a tagline of “coming soon”. Is it hard to imagine that someone would have seen this before the store page went live? Below are points 5 and 6 from the “What to Expect” section from the Steam Direct page.

5. Before your store page or game build can go live, there is a brief review process where we run your game, look at your store page, and check that it is configured correctly and running as expected and not doing anything harmful. This takes between 1-5 days.

6. There are a couple of additional timing requirements before you can release your first few titles on Steam:

  1. A 30-day waiting period between when you paid the app fee and when you can release your game. This gives us time to review your information and confirm that we know who we're doing business with.

  2. You’ll need to prepare your store page and put up a publicly-visible ‘coming soon’ page for at least two weeks. This will help you start building your audience of interested customers that can wishlist your game or participate in discussions. This also gives you the opportunity to practice how you talk about your product so that you can have the best presentation when you hit the ‘release’ button.

This becomes important when you factor that on the game’s website the creator lists at the top that the game “is being reviewed by Valve, for inclusion in the Steam Store.” If the steps are done in order then shouldn’t have the store page for Rape Day been seen before the page actually went live? This just begs the question to whether Valve is not selling the game due to their statement given today or perhaps due to the understandably loud outrage against the title. Maybe the answer is a bit of both.

This only muddies the problem with Steam’s policies of what can or cannot be listed on the store because technically the creator did not break the rules. Not that a game that advertises rape in its description should be given a pass (it shouldn’t), but when you seemingly let anything on to your platform, this is the kind of problem that can arise. Valve not allowing Rape Day on its platform is the right move but this only illustrates the problems that Steam currently faces with its policies that resemble Whose Line Is It Anyway’s “The show where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter”.