Alan Wake 2 Review - Its Dark Is Worse Than Its Night
Image Source: Remedy Entertainment via Twinfinite

Remedy’s Announcement of Alan Wake 2 Physical Edition is Proof Fan Feedback Works

"Beyond the shadow you settle for, there is a miracle illuminated"

After nearly a year of vocal public outcry, Remedy’s Alan Wake 2 is due to receive physical copies this fall. Especially surrounding events like Summer Game Fest, the full might of the industry is on full display. Yet Remedy’s decision is one in a long line of clear examples that gamers’ voices matter in this industry.

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Alan Wake 2’s Digital-Only Outcry

Alan Wake, protagonist of game series of the same name, shines flashlight beam on humanoid figures possessed by the Darkness.  Interacting in a lumber yard, the three Dark figures approach Alan while one raises an axe to throw at him.
Image Source: Remedy Entertainment

“It Began With a Dream” – Alan Wake 2 Physical Reveal

This year, Sam Lake, Creative Director at Remedy Entertainment, stepped out onto the Summer Game Fest stage with help from a glowing introduction by event organizer Geoff Keighley. For many gamers, this charismatic Finn remains one of the last true icons of the industry and a man who players trust.

As such, it was only fitting that he was the messenger from the team at Remedy to deliver the happy news. The fans had won, and the struggle was over. Alan Wake 2 was to, at last, be given a physical release.

On stage, in front of over two million people, he admitted to the audience that the fans had been the ones to bring about this drastic change in the narrative:

“Many of you have been posting your Remedy game collection, pictures of your shelves with Alan Wake 2, so far digital only, sadly missing. Well, we are happy to announce physical deluxe editions and physical collector’s editions for Alan Wake 2 coming this Fall.”

“The Shifting Logic of a Dream” – Remedy’s Reasoning

Casting our minds back to before the game’s launch, we have to push past the relief of knowing that the story of Remedy’s latest title has a happy ending. We face the fact that the news that this sequel, 13 years in the making, would be digitally exclusive hit fans of the franchise like a ton of bricks.

Remedy originally attempted to justify their decision to fans with a laundry list of reasons behind the decision in a Frequently Asked Questions post on the title. They stated that the disproportionate skew of game sales to digital, the wish to keep the price of the title lower, and the avoidance of an unnecessary day-one download were all the reasoning they needed for the decision.

However, this decision was an odd one – especially considering the rocky relationship Remedy has had with digital storefronts in the past. The original Alan Wake had to be pulled from storefronts as they ran into issues with its use of licensed music.

“How Do You Run From an Idea?” – Fan Backlash and Protest

Regardless of the reasoning behind the decision, fans of the series were quick to let their frustrations be known on social media. Apart from being displeased in principle, many stated they would outright refuse to buy the title on the basis of the digital-only availability. Some even attempted to put pressure on Remedy and Epic Games to reconsider their digital-only plans:

byu/Jaden_Social from discussion

Moving forward, the title was released to the gaming community to wide critical and user acclaim. However, the pressure from fans didn’t relent. Every discussion about Alan Wake was plagued by at least one mention of the decision. From promotional interviews to developer Question and Answer panels, Remedy couldn’t escape their decision.

Yet here we are, in a post-Summer Game Fest 2024 world, where deluxe physical and collector’s editions are proudly touted by Remedy.

That FAQ post that broke so many Alan Wake II fans’ hearts now stands as a testament to their perseverance. It was updated immediately following the announcement. It now includes information regarding the Night Springs DLC, the inclusion of photo mode, and conveniently strips any previous mention of the reasoning behind the decision.

Regardless of any historical revision, prepare yourself to take photographs of those newly fleshed-out Remedy shelves – and do so knowing that you are the reason that Alan Wake 2 proudly sits there.

Halo Infinite’s Gameplay Showcase Backlash

The Master Chief, supersoldier protagonist of the Halo series of video games, walks towards a blue hologram of a shattered ring-like structure whihc fills the room.
Image Source: Microsoft

“A Spartan is a Symbol” – The Importance of Halo Infinite to Xbox

The launch of any new piece of gaming hardware is a nervous time for consumers. The success of your favorite franchises and ecosystems is on the line yet again. They balance the precarious position of this new generation’s success or failure. However, for Microsoft, it was even more stressful.

They were coming out of a tenuous struggle of a console generation. Xbox sales were initially hindered by an aging Kinect sensor and had to play catch up to PlayStation 4.

As such, they had looked to their golden child, their system seller. They were leaning hard on the armored figure of Halo. The Xbox Series S and X were the first Xbox consoles to launch with a Halo title since the original Xbox in 2001.

Touted as the next generation title to show off the admittedly impressive technical specifications of the new Xbox systems, Microsoft was ready.

The power of the consoles was directly linked to Halo Infinite. Microsoft itself shouted from the rooftops about how the game was “poised to usher in the next generation of gaming,” being the platform for the next decade of Halo worldbuilding and content updates, and using its bespoke Slipspace game engine. Ultimately, it was “taking full advantage of the power of the console to deliver unprecedented visual fidelity.”

“Folks Need Heroes, Chief” – Fans’ Disappointment with Reveal

Then gamers actually saw it. This was the future of not just Halo, but Xbox, and it proceeded to do nothing but underwhelm. As Reddit user flickyuh stated at the time:

byu/Arn_Skr from discussion

The flat textures and pop-in of assets became the fuel for satirical comedy surrounding the title. With the naming of a badly rendered Brute face ‘Craig’ becoming a meme to the gaming community, clearly fans were not impressed by the title. It seems as though the high ordinance promised by Halo Infinite hadn’t quite blown up like Microsoft had needed. In fact, it had barely fizzled.

Fans pushed, as they had every right to do, against this facade of a next-generation showcase. Then, Microsoft pushed back – but not against gamers.

“We All Fail … It’s What Makes Us Human” – Halo Infinite’s Success

Despite marketing, brand deals, and the Xbox Series X boxes themselves plastered with the Master Chief’s face, Microsoft delayed Halo Infinite – their hail-mary play for console dominance – to after the release of the Xbox Series X|S.

In an ‘Inside Infinite’ post to 343 Industries’ official Halo Waypoint site, Microsoft conceded that fans had driven the decision to push Master Chief’s latest adventure back. Director of Art Management Neill Harrison admitted that “the reality is that the art and visuals weren’t at the bar we hold for Halo – even in a work-in-progress state.”

Development Manager for the Graphics Team, Ani Shastry went even further to lay out how fans had held them accountable:

“I definitely want to acknowledge the input that we got from the Halo community and our fanbase; staying open to critical feedback and looking at areas where we can learn and do better is an inherent part of our culture at 343.”

What resulted delayed the title, and it definitely cost Xbox their poster mascot at launch. However, Halo Infinite earned the highest gamer score of any of 343 Industry’s titles on Metacritic. Clearly, the time fans bought the developer paid off.

The case of Halo Infinite also shows that gamers’ voices can not only delay a game but can even delay the game – even for the newest console, from the largest company in the world.

Battlefront II (2017)’s Hero Unlock Scandal

An ewok, a small bear-like creature from the Star Wars franchise, runs through a wooded area with burning wreckage around them.  They are chasing after a retreating Stormtrooper - the infantry of te galactic empire.
Image Source: Electronic Arts

“I’ve Got a Bad Feeling About This” – EA’s Botched Microtransactions

Electronic Arts is no stranger to controversy. In fact, they literally have earned the title of the ‘worst company in America’ – twice. However, arguably no controversy has been so prominent that it has brought forth the passion from the gaming community as Star Wars Battlefront II’s hero unlock scandal did.

The announcement of EA’s sequel to their highly successful reboot of the much-loved Star Wars game series was met with excitement from fans. However, this pre-release hype didn’t last too long.

It was soon announced that players would have to unlock heroes, their favorite characters from across the Star Wars universe. This was begrudgingly accepted until it became apparent how egregious the practice was. User Soeren Kassper, on Star Wars fan-site Star Wars Gaming, posted on 14.10.2017 that they had calculated the cost to players.

It would take 4,528 hours of consistent playing – or an even more shocking $2,100 – to unlock everything.

“I Don’t Like You Either” – EA’s Award-Winning PR Blunder

A Reddit user by the name MBMMaverick wrote a post detailing their grievances with the revelation of just how much time (or money) was required to access everything in the game, culminating by stating that “this age of “micro-transactions” has gone WAY too far. Leave it to EA though to stretch the boundaries.”

EA promptly responded. Amongst other things, the idea behind requiring players to unlock the various heroes was apparently to give gamers a “sense of pride and accomplishment” for doing so. Yet, as has been shown gamers can do, EA was lobbied with an onslaught of complaints and feedback.

This culminated in the former Reddit response earning a Guinness World Record for the most downvoted comment in the site’s history.

“Do, Or Do Not. There is No Try” – EA Backs Down From Fans

After sticking to their guns for so long, EA couldn’t deny their decisions any longer and fell on their sword. In a very public come-down from their previous position, EA posted their ‘Progression System Update’.

They admitted that “we have been listening”; and that “as a result, we have completely reworked the progression system in Star Wars Battlefront II.”

It seems peculiar that fans are now lamenting after EA pulled the plug on updates for the title, especially considering that such a controversy could have surrounded it. However, gamers wouldn’t have had the freedom to enjoy the solid gameplay and enjoyable stylings of the title had it been bogged down by EA’s microtransaction practices.

They say it’s better to work with the devil you know, and we are very knowledgable about EA’s failures. However, as they know all too well, that doesn’t mean fans will let them get away with them.

Sims 4’s Extravagant Expansion System

Promotional image for the Sims 4 'vampire Game Pack', showing three vampire figures crowding arounda  scared looking human character.
Image Source: Maxis Studios

“Sass Awrful!” – The Sims’ Decadent DLC Practice

You, reader, clearly love video games as much as we do at Twinfinite – or else I can’t imagine you would have read this article. But, for all the patting on the back for our successes, you need to be vigilant. Unfortunately, situations like those above are constantly occurring.

Unsurprisingly, Electronic Arts is once again in the firing line for their decisions regarding another beloved video game series: The Sims.

The modular design of The Sims has been integral to its enjoyment for decades. This has allowed players to customize their game experience to their own needs and tastes. This is done through the creation of different portions of paid DLC centered around specific wants from the player. With the DLC your Sims can become farmers, environmentalists, werewolves, and much more!

However, especially with regard to the most recent full title in The Sims 4, fans are becoming increasingly unhappy. This is the result of ten years of paid expansion to the game. Without the inclusion of any DLC, the base experience seemingly grows stale relatively quickly.

Evidently, everything (including the kitchen sink) can be set aside and sold in the game’s ‘expansion packs’, ‘game packs’, ‘stuff packs’, and ‘kits’.

It has been announced that the game’s sequel, Sims 5, is going to be free-to-play at launch. Alongside this, The Sims 4 is going to receive continued support running parallel to its release. This is absolutely fantastic for the longevity of The Sims 4 as an individual title. However, it’s a red flag to many fans as to the practices we should be aware of.

Fans, Use Your Voices!

The video game community has a lot to be proud of: its camaraderie, its passion, and its strength to stand up and let its voice known. It might seem a little self-congratulatory, but it’s clearly for good reason!

Gamers exist in a difficult position, to be so incredibly passionate about the art form and the industry yet to be constantly at the whim of the studios themselves.

It’s heartwarming that gamers have had such successes in the creation of Alan Wake 2’s physical releases, saving Halo Infinite from a disastrously underwhelming launch, and pulling EA away from objectively anti-consumer practices. However, we never know what issues may arise on the horizon, yet with the amount of video game enthusiasts constantly increasing, our voice gets louder every day. So, don’t forget to use it.

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Image of Connor Wright
Connor Wright
Connor is a Freelance Writer at Twinfinite. Hailing from the east coast of Scotland, with experience in the development and retail spaces of the industry, he uses his passion about games and Scottish charm to write features and guides. When he's not writing, Connor loves dissecting his favourite fictional worlds and plundering on the virtual open seas.