If you’re a fan of the first couple Max Payne games and Alan Wake, chances are you’re pretty excited about developer Remedy Entertainment’s new game, titled Quantum Break.
But we live in a strange time in the land of video games, a time in which different things are being tried and tested…sometimes with disastrous results. Remedy will be doing something very different with Quantum Break, and it’s sure to worry some who were excited about the game. But unlike things like not even bothering to make a single player campaign or withholding content to try to force pre-orders, Remedy’s decision to do this, for better or for worse, makes plenty of sense.
The unique thing about Quantum Break, is that it’s not just a video game. It’s actually something of a synthesis of video game and TV show elements. No, you’re not going to have to sit through an entire hour-long episode of a TV show in the middle of your game (at least I highly doubt you will), but there will be live-action videos that play at certain points. And these videos won’t be the same for everyone; the choices you make during the game will determine which videos play.
Because of this the game features many possible live-action videos, and with video quality as high as it is these days, Remedy decided that the file sizes for all of these videos simply would have taken up too much space on the game, and they were forced to figure out a way to fix to this problem. The solution? Stream the videos.
That’s right, when it’s time for these live-action videos to play, they will stream remotely. Narrative designer Greg Louden spoke to Game Informer about the decision, saying:
“We have 40 different variations of the show in total where basically your choices get to make it evolve and change whether it’s from a junction choice or we have these things called ‘Quantum Ripples’ which essentially unlocked sort of deleted scenes from the show. Then combined with that, the show length can change based on your decisions because some episodes are longer as a result and some episodes are shorter. It basically evolves and that’s why we needed to stream it.
I can’t give you an exact size, but it is big, so we wanted to create this high quality game experience and use all the disc space to maximize the visual effects qualities of the animations and all that stuff. So for us, it was kind of like a natural choice. Also, our desire to really make it change… I think if we only had one show, it probably would have fit, but we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to do this active experience where you negotiate the story and change it, so this was the only real solution to our problem. When we figured out how big the data was, we had to backpedal and think of some good solutions and this made sense.”
This of course means that in order to play Quantum Break, most players will have to be online. This is a problem because gamers hate being forced to be “always on” to play their games. Even people who are always online hate it, just because they like to have the option to play offline.
It’s also a problem because some people don’t have quality internet, and streaming videos like this could be an unpleasant experience. Then there’s those who don’t even have access to an internet connection, who probably won’t be able to play at all. It’s unclear what will happen to those who purchase a physical copy of the game and try to play without an internet connection. I assume either it won’t work at all or they’ll have to skip the video segments entirely, which would be confusing to say the least.
Yet another problem is the future. What happens if this game is the hit Remedy Entertainment hopes it will be, and die-hard fans want to play it 10 or 20 years down the road? Will that be possible, or will it, like all the other online only games, become completely unplayable when the decision is made to shut down the servers? This is when it all really becomes a damn shame, when video game fans can’t play a video game because it’s not as simple as buying the product, putting into your console, and playing whenever you want to anymore.
One option there will be is the choice to download the videos, but at the moment this will only be offered to Xbox One players for some reason. For PC players, the videos will be 4K resolution (1080p on Xbox), which is why they won’t be available to download, but some PC players would still choose downloading the videos over streaming. I wouldn’t be at all shocked if they too are given this option in the future, maybe even with the option to download the 1080p videos instead of the 4K ones. Time will tell on that.
All of that said, I still completely understand why Remedy made this decision. Another current problem with gaming is the size of the games themselves. With most consoles coming with only 500GB of storage (much less than that when you see how much their operating systems take up), those hard drives can fill up quickly. It’s just a risky decision to make.
It will certainly be interesting to see how large Quantum Break with all of the videos will be. The game will be released on April 5th for Xbox One and Windows 10.
You can read more on the game and see trailers and gameplay demos right here.