Online multi-player for Freedom Wars, the PS Vita multi-player action game, is still as of yet unavailable, but vague wording in the promotional material is getting some Japanese gamers angry before it's even out.
In my import preview of Freedom Wars, I wrote that while the game did need polish in certain areas, it was, as a whole, addictive and a lot of fun. One area I did not cover was the multi-player. This is partly because I was unable to coordinate a gaming session with the friends I have who own the game, and partly because online play was not yet available.
A massive update for Freedom Wars that would allow for such features as online co-op, as well as area competition between regions, was advertised as scheduled for today. I was hoping to give it a whirl and see how it would change things up in the game, but yesterday, producer Junichi Yoshizawa posted an apology on the game's official blog, stating that:
A. the update was never scheduled for July 31st – despite the fact that Yoshizawa himself had posted about it on July 17th – but for some reason, promotional material had been printed with the set date, and that
B. a bug had been discovered that required fixing, and that while the developers had hoped to be able to provide an update on the initially unintended date of July 31st, it was realistically impossible at this point.
While Yoshizawa's apology seemed like a smart move, with gamers responding more with mild disappointment at the mixup rather than with anger, a subsequent twitter conversation between a fan and Yoshizawa has left many users feeling lied to.
Twitter user @wabisuke1 tweeted to Yoshizawa asking, "I've heard a rumor that the '8 player co-op' I've been looking forward to more than anything won't be implemented, but this is a lie, right? A lot of people purchased the game looking forward to this so I wish people would stop spreading such false rumors. I'm looking forward to the update!"
To which Yoshizawa responded, saying, "Thank you for your message! 8 player versus (4 vs 4) is planned for the update. However, 8 player co-op was never planned as a feature. I'm sorry if there was any misunderstanding, but we do plan to implement 8 player versus, so please, let your mind at ease!"
— 吉澤 純一 (@Jun_Yoshizawa) July 30, 2014
This has led to fans feeling misled or lied to. A look at a screenshot of Sony's press release posted by twitter user @kanade_sh14 has the language, "Online functions support up to 8 player co-op and versus gameplay, and players can enjoy co-op action with friends through ad hoc mode and with friends all over the country through Wi-Fi." ("オンライン機能は、最大8人までの協力・対戦プレイに対応しており、アドホック通信の他、Wi-Fi経由での全国の仲間との共闘アクションをお楽しみいただけます。")
Twitter user @int_ast posted comparison images of the game, noting changes in wording that omit the use of "8 players," further angering fans.
Said one commenter on the news blog ebitsu (えび通), "This is what we call 'fraud.' And to rewrite the official promotion could be seen as destroying evidence."
"It's currently (as of July 31st, 2014) clearly written on the PlayStation official homepage. It's not a 'misunderstanding.' This is violation of labeling laws." wrote another.
Other responders showed a level head to the whole issue.
"If you say 'up to 8 people' you assume 4 vs 4, if you say '64 players simultaneous' you assume 32 vs 32, that's how an FPS player thinks." wrote one commenter.
"I'd think that 8 player co-op would be too confusing." another added, noting that 8 player co-op was unnecessary.
Yoshizawa has subsequently posted a clarification and apology on the official blog, noting that other features that had initially been planned and announced such as compatibility with GPS functions and the near program, as well as 8 player co-op, had been dropped as ideas in order to make the game more balanced and enjoyable.
As it stands, online 4 player co-op is currently scheduled for the next major update, which is slated for early August.
Freedom Wars is currently available in Japan. A Western release is scheduled for some time this year. Hopefully it'll have online multi-player by then.
Update: Fans have responded to the clarification/apology and it looks like they're still pissed.
From the news blog, Ore teki Game Sokuhou@Jin (オレ的ゲーム速報＠刃)
"I'm too mad for words."
"I feel like I was deceived into buying a product, but can't I get my money back?"
"I think this should all have been announced before releasing the game."
"With all the 'can't do it' and 'no plans to,' this is nothing more than a full priced beta"
... Yeah, they're still pissed.
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To contact the author of this post, write to cogitoergonihilATgmail.com or find him on Twitter @tnakamura8.