Hottest Mess 2023: Mid-Year Check-In

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ALLTheDinos

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Edited By ALLTheDinos

Around the end of last year, I expressed my desire to see the Hottest Mess category return to Giant Bomb, even if it needed to come to the forums rather than Game of the Year discussions. Hottest Mess 2022 got a pretty good response, both in the call for candidates and in the voting. I meant to post something a week after the vote, but life got in the way until the topic felt moot. Recently, a friend and I began brainstorming entries for Hottest Mess 2023, so I thought I would take the temperature with the community while some first-half news was still fresh in our minds. Below is a preliminary list of Hottest Mess candidates for the year to date, with a couple caveats first.

I posted a blurb about ground rules for what I personally consider a Hottest Mess candidate, which I'll just copy-paste here: "I understand why the category was discontinued: none of the following compare to the biggest problems in the gaming industry. Those include harassment, abuse, grooming, threats, discrimination, exploitation, and layoffs. Some of these issues are even factors in the candidates listed below. However, these are also a huge bummer and the point of this category is to have some fun, at least as I see it." Since then, this very site experienced layoffs, and games media appears to be in even more dire straits than last fall. Some of the candidates below touch on these topics, but there are other angles that make it more complex than a pure bummer. Let me know if you feel differently.

Second, I've made the decision to make finalists from 2022 ineligible. So congratulations, Microsoft, your bizarre journeys in acquiring ABK will avoid becoming the Hottest Mess of 2023. If you really want to talk about this issue still, I assure you there are plenty of venues for it.

Hottest Mess 2022 Winner: Hellena Taylor's campaign against Bayonetta 3 (38% of the vote)

Hottest Mess 2022 Runners-Up: Microsoft's attempted acquisition of Activision-Blizzard and subsequent war of words with Sony (11%); Mick Gordon vs. Bethesda on Doom Eternal's soundtrack (11%)

Honorable Mention: Tommy Tallarico, who may have been counting on this award to pad his display case, missed the cut with 10%.

The Candidates (2023):

I'll add any suggestions to my Notes app and return to this thread late in the year when I prepare the year-end poll. Thanks in advance to anyone who contributes and/or calls me names.

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rorie

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The framerate in FFXVI is atrocious. I seem to be one of the few having severe problems with it, but I'll take this opportunity to point it out! It's barely playable to me in the state it's in.

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hermes

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I don't know... So far, this has been a pretty lukewarm mess of half a year. I have no doubts that might "improve" in later months, but if most candidates are "x game (option) that nobody expected much underperformed, was delayed/cancelled and/or was a technical mess", this will end up being a rather tame year.

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infantpipoc

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@hermes: Don't write off Starfield's mess potential just yet.

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splodge

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#4 splodge  Online

Redfall definitely pushing to the fore here. Still plenty of room to be outdone though.

https://youtu.be/qDB5Akd4-Z4

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PeezMachine

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This year seems a little less train-wrecky than last year (as long as we confine all Amico news to fiscal year 2022). None of the "this game was bad/buggy" stuff seems to be qualitatively special. So by default, I've got to hand it to Blizzard just completely own-goaling on Overwatch, even though my horse in that race retired to a nice glue factory upstate years ago. I would expect that sort of over-promising and inconsistency from an overambitious indie, not from one of the world's biggest developers that had to scramble after it saw its Overwatch business model challenged in European courts and has been suffering massive brain drain and OK I hear it now, I hear it.

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Efesell

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#6  Edited By Efesell
@rorie said:

The framerate in FFXVI is atrocious. I seem to be one of the few having severe problems with it, but I'll take this opportunity to point it out! It's barely playable to me in the state it's in.

Wait, what?

I've heard people say Performance is not as stable as they would like (I've only played on Graphics) but I've never heard anyone else talk about it being that severe.

Anyway I feel like Overwatch 2 is the easy but sort of uninteresting answer here so far, although the little I know about what Twitch has been up to lately is pretty fucked.

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daavpuke

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#7  Edited By daavpuke

Another strong year of contenders. I, for one, won't be normalizing the "big game is unplayable" trend, just because it seems to happen more frequently. The state of Redfall was fully unacceptable.

I would like to add to this list: Overwatch League has signed yet another player who was found grooming minors. It's the 4th or 5th case, which is kinda unbelievable.

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unclejam23

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#8  Edited By unclejam23

@allthedinos: I'd include the review bombing of Skull Girls. The Skull Girls thing has ignited a level of fury from The Gamers that's truly bizarre even by Gamer standards. Also I feel like this award should almost be called Metacritic Comments Section Presents: Hottest Mess.

Oh, and let's not forget the leaking of classified US military documents in that Minecraft discord server.

Does Reddit count?

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yyninja

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Great list! E3 2023 being cancelled is the front runner for me.

I would also like to mention the issue of overpriced video cards (*cough *cough NVIDIA *cough) with low memory capacities like the RTX 4060 lineup. Recent PC releases like Forspoken, Hogwarts Legacy and Last of Us Part I Remake all run terribly at 1440p and are unplayable on these cards.

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Edens_Heel

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Gollum not only being a hot mess but also leading the developer to hang up its development hat and to shift fully into publishing pushes it into the lead for me.

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ZombiePie

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sparky_buzzsaw

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Are we not counting Minotti's feet?

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Undeadpool

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@zombiepie: Publishers shunting social media blame-and-shame onto devs is an INCREDIBLY worrying trend this year.

@hermes: Don't write off Starfield's mess potential just yet.

If Bethesda's inexplicable track record is any indicator: people will run out and buy it, realize it's broken, and celebrate the brokenness as though it's a feature. And nothing will be learnt.

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Shindig

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If the Activision/Blizzard/King acquisition falters, that wins by an absolute landslide.

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Efesell

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Ah, would that Twitter made games...

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Junkerman

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I'll second Rorie about FFXVI's framerate being bad. There are times where it just seems to deteriorate to the point I need to stare at the ground for a few seconds and stop all character movement for things to catch up or pause the game.

I COULD put it in performance mode I guess... but I just bought this 4K TV and I'll be damned if I'm not juicing all this "next gen" stuff to the max. A console game should be able to sustain 30FPS minimum regardless of the settings.

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Efesell

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@junkerman: This is really interesting, I wonder what's going on here. I've only played on Graphics and I've never seen the game drop from a steady 30.

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Junkerman

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@efesell: No idea! It doesnt even really seem to be tied to commotion on the screen either, it'll happen while just exploring out of combat in some areas. It was really bad in that first forested area you travel to on your first adventure with Cid. Seems really random when it occurs. If it was truly linked to performance I'd expect it during a massive Eikon battle.

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cikame

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Honestly compared to previous years this list isn't too bad at the moment.

I think for me it's the Activision acquisition, which has been needlessly drawn out with ridiculous arguments such as giving MS an unfair advantage in the cloud gaming market, something Activision nor even Sony are taking an active part in, round of applause.

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AV_Gamer

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#20  Edited By AV_Gamer

Right now, I'm going to say Twitter. Elon Musk has just made it so people can't browse tweets without signing in with an account, and even then, the those people have a small limited number of post they can view, unless they pay for the blue check mark, and even then, the amount of post people can view will still be limited. This is devastating for game developers and journalist who count on twitter to get the message of their games in development, as well as other important information out. A lot of people are talking about leaving twitter because of this, but we've heard that talk before. Good thing I never had an account and I'm certainly not going to get one now.

But yeah, this is a major hot mess.

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chamurai

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@av_gamer: So THAT explains why I'm not able to check stuff now. I deleted my Twitter account, like, 4 years ago and only check Los Angeles Angels Twitter to see clips of Ohtani hitting homers since they're sliiiiightly quicker than checking MLB youtube. Alas!

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ZombiePie

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bigsocrates

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@zombiepie: If you mention Unity in a forum thread or on social media you owe them $0.35 per impression. That includes if your statement are cited by someone else in a different forum.

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PeezMachine

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Unity is my Lock of the Week for sure, but I think Embracer still has a plenty of gas in the tank to make a late-year push for runner-up in terms of sheer potential bodycount.

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ZombiePie

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Unity is my Lock of the Week for sure, but I think Embracer still has a plenty of gas in the tank to make a late-year push for runner-up in terms of sheer potential bodycount.

Embracer is definitely a runner-up. Finding out their endgame was "Oh, we wanted to get bought by the Saudi government" and then whoops... they did not get bought and then they mothballed all those studios at the end of the month so they wouldn't have to pay them benefits and timed the announcement so Satrfield dulled the editorial coverage. Sure; that's absolutely a runner-up.

But this Unity stuff is... I have not seen a company and brand burn this much goodwill, across the board, in 24 hours. The number of indie and mid-sized devs outright say they are planning to deleted their games is absurd.

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Efesell

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As for Game Pass and other subscription services, Whitten said that developers like Aggro Crab would not be on the hook, as the fees are charged to distributors, which in the Game Pass example would be Microsoft.

Plus this can be next years Hottest Mess after Microsoft sends a hit team to take out the entire company board.

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ALLTheDinos

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@zombiepie: Hahaha I was just making plans tonight after this news broke to update this post. I thought Embracer was a lock, but now… I think Hottest Mess is a more competitive category for a top 3 than GOTY is.

Anyone know how to make ranked choice voting polls work on this site? So many good options, it feels unfair to force people to select just one.

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AV_Gamer

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#29  Edited By AV_Gamer

The Unity thing is a hot mess, but the Embracer debacle many people saw coming and predicted, doesn't make it any less of a hot mess, but there are many people saying "I told you so" right now. There was no way they could buy up all of those companies and anything good come out of it.

I will throw the PS Plus massive price increase into the pot, since nobody has mentioned it yet. And sure, some can excuse it by saying "well, inflation", but it seems to me that this is an act of greed more so than anything else, given that many people are now using subscription services to play games instead of outright buying them. Having to pay nearly one hundred dollars just to play games online is a very hot mess, not to mention the other tier prices. Especially, since online gaming on PC is still free. You just need an internet provider and a PC powerful enough to play the latest games.

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Shindig

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I think the PS Plus hike is partly due to Sony not being able (or willing) to subsidise those free releases in the way Microsoft would for gamepass games. To be honest, those games are why I pay for it, rather than the online. Factor in possibly three games you want and that year has paid for itself.