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Call Of Duty Will Do 9/11 And Other Summer Game Fest Predictions

"Lights dim. Immediately shows a digitized re-creation of 9/11. No other details"

Activision

Somehow, even though Christmas was literally yesterday, Summer Game Fest – aka Keigh-3 – is almost upon us. Which B- and C-list celebrities will grace Geoff Keighley’s stage? Which triple-A games that won’t be out for another five years will debut their logos? Will Geoff finally acknowledge (outside Twitter) the layoffs that have plagued an alarming percentage of the companies whose floats populate his hype parade? On this week’s Aftermath Hours, we discuss all that and more.

On this week’s episode, Chris, Riley, and I huddle together after another week surviving the slow-mo media apocalypse, this time with (even) more AI. First we discuss Vox Media and The Atlantic’s mystifying decision to feed their journalists’ work into OpenAI’s woodchipper, shredding years of credibility and goodwill in exchange for a quick buck. Then we talk about Sony’s Neil Druckmann interview, which the company ended up pulling after the Last of Us maestro revealed that he was egregiously misquoted. Maybe having people who are not journalists try to create journalism-coded content is… bad? 

After that, we make our predictions for this year’s Summer Game Fest. Is Call of Duty gonna do 9/11? Absolutely. Is Hideo Kojima going to make some kind of appearance? Without a doubt. Is BioWare going to show actual footage of either Dragon Age: Dreadwolf or the next Mass Effect, rather than one of its trademark videos of art and some guys talking in the woods? That is… less certain. Finally, we finish out by trying to decide who we’d replace Geoff with if we could pick somebody else to host every consequential video game event under the sun. Our picks may shock you (but probably not).

You can find this week's episode below and on Spotify, Apple, or wherever else you prefer to listen to podcasts. If you like what you hear, make sure to leave a review so that one day we, the staff of Aftermath, can take over hosting duties at Summer Game Fest (and then immediately hand the reins back to Geoff because that job seems hard).

Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

Nathan: Alright, let’s officially transition into doing our predictions for Summer Game Fest, which is not Summer Games Fest, even though it should be called Summer Games – plural – Fest.

Riley: It’s confusing! Why is there no S? I have to look this up every time, and it drives me bonkers. Put an S in there, for goodness’ sake. 

Nathan: Off the top, because I took down notes for this; I love to prepare for things. I love doing homework. Anyway, main prediction – this is in my notes – “It’s gonna be a giant letdown, like always.”  

Riley: I was thinking about this, and all the things I always hope to see in an E3 – like oh, maybe there’ll be a new Dishonored or a new Deus Ex – we’re not getting either of those! And I had this moment of: what is there even to look forward to? 

Nathan: I also think that Keighley tends to save all of his bombshells for The Game Awards. For Summer Game Fest, we just kind of get some stuff that’s coming this fall.

Riley: I can’t remember last year.

Nathan: Yeah, you can’t remember last year because there was not really anything of note. It was all OK. That’s what it’s always like. 

Will someone rush the stage? I doubt it. Keighley probably has fucking snipers up there now. 

Riley: What else? There’s a bunch of presentations.

Nathan: Yeah so, I went through them all and looked at the possibilities. My number one prediction: We’re definitely going to see the gameplay debut of Call of Duty: Black Ops 6, and so notes here say, “Lights dim. Immediately shows a digitized re-creation of 9/11. No other details.”

Riley: There’s a part of me that feels like you can’t put 9/11 in a video game.

Nathan: I think they’re gonna do it!

Riley: Because the rumors say that Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 is gonna be about 9/11.

Nathan: I think it’s gonna be like [infamous Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 mission] “No Russian.” It’s experiential. You’re not gonna be doing 9/11, though that would be hilarious. The most audacious thing possible.

Chris: We don’t have swings like that anymore. Even at the height of that shit, you couldn’t have pulled that off.

Riley: I think, at least in America, it has a kind of cultural weight even still that… I think you just can’t.

Chris: I agree. They’re gonna do something 9/11-ish. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. I also think people just don’t have that dog in ‘em anymore. There was a real time in 2006, 2007, 2008 – or even the early teens – where you could really pull off some shit. It was about “Is that OK? Did that offend you?” Especially [Call of Duty: Black Ops 2], that was really bad. The Dark Knight guy [David S. Goyer] wrote that, if I remember correctly. 

Nobody has that in them anymore. Even the last Far Cry game felt like they were just recycling the old Far Cry edgelord shit they used to be able to pull off.  

Nathan: Oh yeah, Far Cry has not had the juice in three installments, at least.

Chris: Since Far Cry 2. But they can’t even get to Far Cry 3 again. They have to do, like, weird Cuban exile shit. 

Here’s my prediction: Now, have I been playing through all of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 on Mentor [difficulty] to unlock a mod? Yes. Will I try to beat the game on Master Ninja? Yes. Does that influence what I’m about to predict? Of course not. But what I’m saying is, they’ll probably try to announce some kind of weird Ninja Gaiden reboot or something. In part because there was an anniversary video a few months ago, but also because it seems like the kind of shit that would happen. 

That’s sort of Team Ninja’s deal now. Stranger of Paradise was somebody coming to them and going “Can you make Nioh, but for us?” And they were like “Sure.” I don’t doubt that Xbox would be like “Can we spend money on a weird [Ninja Gaiden reboot]? Bring this back home.” Because that has Xbox DNA in it. So that’s just me wish-casting that, because I think it would be funny, and it would line up with things that I’m doing right now. But other than that, I really don’t care. 

Nathan: What do we think the over-under is on Geoff finally mentioning layoffs on stage? Because he did it on Twitter earlier this year. 

Chris: I think he will.

Riley: Zero percent. I wrote an article about this in our newsletter – about how many of the companies featured at Summer Game Fest had layoffs, which was, like, 40 percent. How is he gonna do it? Is he gonna be like “Massive layoffs at PlayStation, and now… PlayStation!”?

Chris: No, what he’s gonna do is, he’s gonna do some annoying platitudes about how rough the industry is and how we’ve got to come together. “We are strong, we are gamers.” He’s gonna try to do gamer identity or games industry identity shit. He’s not going to in any way identify the cause of it, and by decoupling the cause from the results, he’s going to try to express empathy for the fact that everybody lost their jobs and get the cred for that while not spending any of the capital to insult the companies doing it. 

Riley: He did that about the sexual assault stuff a few years ago.

Chris: That’s the playbook for MeToo or Black Lives Matter. Every time there’s something that happens, how far can you push it before you make somebody powerful mad? 

Nathan: Also, Geoff’s entire thing relies on powerful people. He has deals with a bunch of big companies. He’s friends with Kojima. That’s the whole appeal.

But also, yes, on one hand it would probably be in some way good for him to expend some social capital to talk about these issues more frankly. Gamers are often like “I just want to see my new product; I don’t care about the people who make it blah blah blah.” But on the other hand, it’s Geoff Keighley. After a certain point, it’s like asking Jake from State Farm to talk about Palestine. What do we really get from that? If you’re looking for meaningful, impactful work, I’m not sure if that’s the place to look.

Chris: Right. That’s not going to make gamers suddenly give a shit about labor. And, you know, I want them to. That would be nice!        

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