April Fools! On April 1st, jokes are simply indispensable. Therefore, well-known names from the gaming industry have often used the day to allow themselves to have fun with their fans. In 2018 Sony presented a board game on Facebook, which you can play with up to three players in the "local network". The action role-playing game Path of Exile took advantage of the hype surrounding the battle royale genre in the same year and advertised on April 1 with a corresponding game mode.
But it is not always just the announcements or small gimmicks that are meant as jokes. Especially with developers, one or the other Alberei provided so much positive feedback that it became an official title. We have put some of these games together for you in this special.
The best known example is without a doubt Pokémon Go. Although the original April Fool's Day wasn't even intended to be a real game, the idea for the augmented reality phenomenon came from this very thing. On April 1, 2014 there was the Pokémon Challenge on Google, in which users should find Pikachu figures using Google Maps. Responsible for this was Niantic, the later manufacturer of Pokémon Go, which at that time was only part of the Google group. However, the Pokémon Challenge was so well received that founder and boss John Hanke Nintendo proposed a cooperation to make the joke a reality. And as fate would have it, the Mario company was looking for a game app for a smartphone anyway. An official collaboration soon followed, and $ 20 million went into the development of Pokémon Go. And the rest, as they say, is history.
A slightly crazier April Fool's joke allowed publisher Ubisoft with its Far Cry series. On April 1, 2013, the gaming giant released a trailer for Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon on its YouTube channel – apparently an expansion of the main game in an arcade style. What exactly was behind the title, however, could only be speculated: Is it an independent game, a DLC or just a joke on the part of Ubisoft? The company finally provided the answer itself: a few days after the YouTube video, those responsible confirmed that Blood Dragon was actually a full-fledged game in the series, which was intended as a parody of various 80s action films. Accordingly, Blood Dragon adheres to the well-known gameplay mechanics, but also complements the action-packed ball game with synth music, neon colors, cheesy dialogues and robo-dinosaurs. A great combination!
The story of Conan Chop Chop, which is due to appear in the 2nd quarter of this year, also began with a trailer for April 1st. The video shows in a humorous way which "crazy" features the game will have. For example, hold on to the left and right! Or compete with over 2000 other players at the same time in Eye of the Storm mode until the last survivor wins. The developer Funcom, also known for Conan Exiles, received so much positive feedback for the gag that it didn't take long for the development of Conan Chop Chop to actually start. Of course, the trailer's ambitious plans are not fully adopted, 12K resolution or 9 billion randomly generated dungeons also appear somewhat utopian. Nonetheless, fans can look forward to a solid Acton RPG that doesn't take itself too seriously.
The Goat Simulator from the Swedish Coffee Stain Studios was released in 2014 as a ready-made game for the Joke's Day. According to the developers, it's an old school skating game, except that you play a goat and break things instead of tricks. A concept that was well received by players – also thanks to the various glitches and bugs that made for some crazy scenes. Accordingly, the goat simulator with the wacky physical laws has now been given four expansions, sold six million copies and grossed ten million euros. Even if the game experience of the Goat Simulator is anything but innovative or profound, the ratings of the community are almost always positive. However, the feedback from the players should be treated with caution. After all, goat fun is praised mainly for its cult status and less for its playful experience.
Source: Coffee Stain Studios
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
In 2002 Blizzard Entertainment also had an April Fool's joke with its fans. 18 years ago, the American game developer announced that it would implement a fifth race in the real-time strategy game Warcraft 3. For this purpose, a separate website was even created on which, among other things, the history and the units of the new Pandaren race were explained. Accordingly, when the fourth World of Warcraft add-on called Mists of Pandaria was announced in 2011, many players were hoping for a new joke. However, the twist failed to materialize. Instead, Chris Metzen, vice president of Blizzard's creative department, reaffirmed at BlizzCon 2011 that it was really the next chapter in WoW. Unfortunately, he did not confirm whether the addon actually had its origins in April Fools' Day. For many members of the WoW community, this seems to be obvious. Therefore, the Pandaren are still smiled at by many fans nine years after their introduction.
Idea Factory developers are usually only known for their action RGPs around protagonist Neptunia. It was all the more surprising when the Japanese studio announced Neptunia Shooter last year – at least up to a glance at the calendar. The teaser published on Twitter, in which you can see Neptunia flying across the screen in 2D and shooting hordes of opponents, was released – surprise! – on April 1st. However, why the game developer initially declared the title as a joke is unclear. However, it is reasonable to assume that the community's opinion was captured first and then decided whether the game has a future or not. That would also explain why Neptunia appeared as a full retro shoot 'em up the following month on May 21. Either the development period required was very short or the game was already in the starting blocks on April 1st. Regardless of this, however, Neptunia Shooter did not have any real success.
Source: Idea Factory
As a pure marketing strategy, Sega took advantage of April 1 last year to promote its new branch of the Yakuza series. In a video that the game company initially dismissed as a joke, it was shown that the combat system in the seventh part "Like A Dragon" by Beat 'em Up should be converted to a turn-based system. A short time later, however, Sega made a role backwards: none of this was a joke. The new Yakuza actually comes with a modified combat system – and of course also has various other improvements. It remains to be seen whether this back and forth ultimately ensured that the game was better recorded or generally hyped. But one thing is certain: Sega wants to keep an eye on the feedback on the combat system and, if necessary, also return to the old style. Yakuza 7: Like A Dragon has been available in Japan since January 16, 2020, and the western market is expected to be served later this year.
In addition, there are of course various other games that were created from original April fools. For example, there is the first person shooter Superqot, which combines the gameplay of Superhot with the graphics of the 90s classic Quake. Accordingly, you shoot your way through dark dungeons and masses of demons, only that you can slow down the time by standing still on the spot. And the standalone DLC Saints Row IV: Enter the Dominatrix actually goes back to a joke published by publisher THQ in 2012. However, the game didn't even come true a year later. So you can actually free yourself from the eponymous Dominatrix, a computer simulation full of BDSM topics, and use crazy super powers and alien technologies. The typical Saints Row madness.
Last but not least, there is the beating title Fightng EX Layer, which was released by developer Arika on April 1, 2017 as a nameless prototype. The studio only wanted to familiarize itself with that with Unreal Engine 4. Thanks to the positive fan echo, however, it became a complete game, which finally appeared in June 2018 for the PS4. You see: Not every April Fool's joke remains a funny mayfly. So keep your eyes open this year too!
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4: 3 graphics in 2019? That could have been a reason why Neptunia Shooter was denied great success. (Source: Idea Factory)
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