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Opinion Business Platform Post-Sony's PS Conference, Does Microsoft Lack An IP/Char With Enough Mass-Market/Mainstream Appeal?

Does Microsoft need to focus more on big-brand character-driven content (single-player or not)?

  • Yes

    Votes: 152 42.3%
  • No

    Votes: 121 33.7%
  • Unsure

    Votes: 21 5.8%
  • Doesn't Really Matter

    Votes: 65 18.1%

  • Total voters
    359
  • Poll closed .

Ozzy Onya A2Z

Member
Apr 16, 2012
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Now let us have a look at what is announced in terms of possible characters to hit the big time.

Starfield -


Hellbade II -


Fable III -


Everwild -


Avowed -


Redfall -


The Ascent (more create your own) -


Bright Memory Infinite -


CrossfireX -


State of Decay 3 -



Xbox has plenty in the bag and more due for short-mid term releases.
 
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yurinka

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Jan 19, 2007
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www.capcom-town.es
They have Minecraft, where there is Steve (even if most people don't know the name of hte character, the game is super popular). Their other games not sure if will sell 10 million copies if it's true that the big Zenimax games won't be on PlayStation. And well, with Gamepass less.

Back then Master Chief was super popular (specially in NA) but I think Halo isn't in its best moment. They now will have Indiana Jones, but not sure if it will be console exclusive and not sure if it's so big between the younger generations as it is in mine.
 
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Dream-Knife

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Feb 22, 2021
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Master Chief is more recognizable than any of Sony's IP other than Spiderman to the masses. They're both a joke compared to Nintendo.

Until I got back into video games ion 2017 I had never heard of any of those characters.
 
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Warnen

Can he swing from a thread? Take a look overhead / Hey, there, there goes the Spider-Man
Sep 24, 2005
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I would say besides the Marvel (more known from movies/comics then games) Master Chief is prob best known “mascot“ between both companies by a large margin.
 

Claus Grimhildyr

Vincit qui se vincit
Jan 30, 2018
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MAJOR NOTE: Just gonna remind again this has NOTHING TO DO WITH SOFTWARE QUALITY!!! Anyone who tries twisting it into that is just flat out wrong. If they mention poorly-rated games like Bleeding Edge, just point them to Order 1886 or The Tomorrow Children for Sony equivalents. BOTH companies have plenty of highly-rated 1P games over their respective histories so please, this has NOTHING to do with game scores or ratings!!!

So Sony just had their much-anticipated PS event on Thursday and, some opinions aside, it's been generally very well-received. It was short yet sweet, featured a lot of content, and closed out with a steady stream of impressive first-party content. However, what was most interesting to me what the type of content they closed the event out with, combined with the brand power of that content, and the frankly insane amount of online engagement metrics and mindshare discussion said content has had even outside of gaming-orientated spaces, and that's made me realize something quite potent in Sony's strategy, and something I feel Microsoft needs to address.


Simply put, Sony are being very strategic in building off 1P momentum with characters and IP that have decades-long histories and rapports with legions of fans around the world, are in very good reputable standing, with proven software development entities behind them and benefiting in most cases from trans-media (as in, multi-media) presence that's helped some of those transcend "mere" gaming spaces. If you want a clear example of this look no further than SpiderMan. Arguably THE most popular fictional character in the entire world, regardless of medium, and Sony just so happens to have exclusive access to the best games featuring that character and their universe, made by a studio now synonymous with many as the premier developer of superhero games, Insomniac. And those games, just happen to only be available on their PlayStation platforms, at a time where SpiderMan is also enjoying arguably the most success in terms of superhero films post-Endgame. Simply put, that power combination of IP, character, legacy, nostalgia and quality is very much real and a rare mixture you only see once every so often in the industry.


Nearly 8 million views in only two days. These are Hollywood blockbuster levels of viewer engagement and mindshare impact, no matter how you frame it.


Ragnarok not doing too bad either with 4.5 million views in a couple of days.

Indeed, the only other video game property I can think of that comes close to the cultural mindshare power of SpiderMan is Mario himself, but we're still talking a pretty sizable gap in those terms (maybe not so much in terms of game sales, but that is not the only factor when I discuss cultural mindshare power). And this is where I bring Xbox into the picture. I'll be frank: this has NOTHING to do with terms of absolute quality. There are plenty of high-quality, high-scoring Xbox/Microsoft 1P games, especially of recent with releases like FS 2020, Psychonauts 2 and the soon-to-be Forza Horizon 5. However, let's not beat around the bush: Sony has just as many of such games and some of them, such as the aforementioned SpiderMan or God of War, have vastly more cultural mindshare/brand power than anything Microsoft does, and that's something Microsoft needs to address.


As you can see, Forza Horizon 5 is one of the few MS games with a similar level of cultural mindshare impact, tho I'm not sure how many of the 7.5 million views were within two days' time. As a racing game, it still has the stigma of "just a racing game" to many gamers despite being arguably the best out there.

Before people bring up "But Minecraft!" or "But Sea of Thieves!", let me frame this by responding that the former, by and large, is neither seen by the majority as an "Xbox" or Microsoft branded property, nor are games like Minecraft genuinely shaping the larger meta of gaming discussion within the community or among the larger mainstream audiences. As for Sea of Thieves, well it is definitely a fine quality title these days and very popular on Steam, but it's not within the sphere of a Minecraft, and you'll never see a game like it really shaping meta industry discussion or competing for cultural mindshare with a Mario, God of War, or SpiderMan. Let's just be realistic on that and, again, it's nothing to do inherently with measurable quality in any of what is being discussed here.

So why is it a problem longer term for Microsoft if they persist in lacking such characters or IP that are strongly associated with the Xbox brand? Well, simple: we can see a direct correlation in how Sony having characters and brands like SpiderMan, God of War, Uncharted, TLOU etc. benefits to growth and persistent presence of the PlayStation brand globally. They are even now seemingly building their own gaming equivalent of the MCU film universe, which could be a perfect timing if in case the actual superhero film bubble starts to shrink, but tastes for high-quality superhero content stays or even grows. All of this not only benefits Sony obviously, but also their third-party partners, because a persistently healthy and highly-sized PlayStation brand means a large and health platform ecosystem for third-parties to thrive in, whether that means game sales, DLC/MTX sales or even subscription content models.


Many would argue that Microsoft's most popular character is Master Chief, with the Halo brand being synonymous with Xbox. This is likely true, but it's also true that Master Chief has lost a good deal of his brand power over the years thanks to scattershot quality in multiple post-Bungie Halo releases handled by 343i. This has diminished the brand's selling power as well as cultural mindshare footprint, in the face of competitors not just from Sony, but also Nintendo (the games don't need to be FPS to be competitive in this context), Activision, EA etc. And long-term, THAT MATTERS, because it contributes to acting as a limiting factor for Xbox brand growth REGARDLESS if it's console sales, or services like GamePass which are still largely being fueled by the Xbox fanbase.

And now that leads us to the big question: what can Microsoft do to address this shortcoming? Well, as textbook or a meme this may sound as a response, ultimately it is true: while games like Flight Sim and Forza are arguably among the best of their kind, the reason they do not sway the larger meta and mindshare is because they ultimately feature...inanimate objects. Inanimate objects that lack any type of human element to them, either in terms of being actual, clearly unique/distinct character designs (with stories/worlds to go along with them), or human-like anthropomorphic/cyborg/robot-style characters where the same holds true. One of the biggest reasons Master Chief is Microsoft's most recognizable character brand is because he has a human-like presence, and was established with a strong sci-fi universe and great stories. Unfortunately, that has been compromised thanks to 343i, and the fact his helmet provides very little to no chances of the player to emotively connect with the character through their eyes and facial expressions, is a massive limiting factor.






What Microsoft needs ARE more games with distinctively unique, timeless character designs and either powerful story narratives, lore-dense worlds (in both written/oral myth and visual design) or (preferably) both, that can allow players to personally connect and relate with the avatars they control on a human-like level. Even better if they can pull in doing this with a character that already has some type of established legacy and rapport with audiences at large transcending gaming exclusively, similar to what Sony and Insomniac have pulled off with SpiderMan (this is NOT me advocating for Microsoft to acquire a developer/publisher like WB Games, btw, or even saying they need to license rights to a comic book character to do this. However, those are options available to them if they feel they are worth doing).

Because it's not JUST about the hardware or JUST about the services, or even JUST about the quality of the content, all three of which we can say Microsoft have either generally excelled in or have begun to show serious improvements in over the past few years. Ultimately, those things won't do much if that content doesn't have powerful enough brand power, or lacks characters, worlds and/or stories that can emotionally resonate with players through conveying strong human-like designs/avatars, narratives and qualities. That, combined with masterful marketing, are THE two biggest factors in building up strong cultural mindshare and, if you can dominate the cultural mindshare, you dominate the money, especially if the other things are persistently high-quality.


This is something Sony are demonstrating they understand. It's even something Nintendo are starting to show they understand given the push for Nintendo properties outside of gaming, like the Universal theme park project. It is, however, something I feel Microsoft has NOT demonstrated they understand, and maybe their roots and dominant presence as a business software company are to "blame" here. In any case, it's something I hope they at least realize internally, and are looking to address with their upcoming projects and industry-related moves, because if they fail to do so they will never gain the type of market brand growth they obviously desire, and will definitely not gain the cultural mindshare that would massively benefit the brand's pursuit to larger wealth.

But anyway, I'm interested how the rest of you feel on this? Do you agree with my general point here, or disagree? Do you think this is a pressing subject for Microsoft to take into consideration, or is it just a bunch of hot air over nothing? Sound off and let's have a discussion on it.

Sony is not demonstrating they understand this. Maybe during the PS3 and Early PS4 era they did, but now? They are actively pushing away developers with unique ideas, concepts, and visions to push the same style of game with the same artstyles. They actively have *less* diversity in their line up now than they did 15 years ago.

Microsoft needs to improve on this aspect, yes, but I feel they are on the right path. They are buying well known studios and giving groups like DoubleFine the freedom to create wildly unique designs and settings. The only question is when we will actually see these purchases pay off, which I am doubtful will be before 2023-2024.
 

Kagey K

Member
Dec 18, 2013
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The crux of this whole joke is that people think Sony when they see Spider-Man.

No they see Marvel, Sony is an afterthought or Neverthought for most people when they see the webslinger.

Only gamers make it like Spiderman= Sony.
 

vaibhavpisal

Member
Jun 10, 2019
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OP if my mainstream appeal, you mean something like Spiderman, that cannot be achieved via only games.

That guy is in comics, tv shows, super hit movies AND video games.

These game characters like Master Chief and Kretos will have to go beyond video games.

And while Master Chief has other media, none of that stands on its own. They all tie into video games. We are yet to have comics or tv shows starring him that anyone can watch (outside of Halo fans).
 

Kagey K

Member
Dec 18, 2013
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When people see a Spider-Man game they think PlayStation.
Most people that think spider man don’t think games.

But it’s hilarious that you assume most ppl like 1.5 games vs the other 30 that came before them.

In fact id go as far to say that most people think Spider Man on Nintendo 64 was better and having him in Tony Hawk was pinnacle Spider Man for video games.
 
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MrFunSocks

Banned
Jul 9, 2020
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Oh yay, another thread based on YouTube clicks lol.

Would it help Microsoft if they had a popular marvel character exclusive game? Sure. Microsoft don’t own any bargaining chips with marvel though whereas Sony have them by the balls. If there’s anyone out there that still claims that Sony owning the movie rights to spider man had nothing to do the exclusive spider man and wolverine games then they’re delusional.
 

Bryank75

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Jan 12, 2018
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What would be really cool for Xbox to have is a Team America game....

Since South Park got 2 games.

I think something crazy, funny and action packed would really attract people.
 
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Heisenberg007

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This entire argument boils down to one thing and one thing only: how good your games are.
  • God of War was always big. But was it as big as it is now after the 2018 reboot? No. The reason everyone is so hyped about God of War is because the 2018 game was a 10/10.
  • Insomniac's Spider-Man is a big deal. But if it was only about MCU characters, Square Enix's Avengers would have been a bigger deal. It's simply because in terms of game quality, Insomniac's Spider-Man > SE's Avengers.
  • Ghost of Tsushima is not based on any popular character. It's the first game in the series, so no backing history or nostalgic value. It is now catapulted to becoming a huge IP, simply because the game was so good. It's now getting a movie, directed by John Wick's director. The sequel will only be bigger and better, and the IP value will only grow significantly.
  • Same goes for Horizon Zero Dawn. New IP that sold over 10 million copies, instantly became a PlayStation icon, getting a sequel everyone is hyped for, and likely getting a new film as well.
I know you mentioned that it is not about software quality; I think it's only about that. Otherwise, SE's Avengers would be bigger than Insomniac's Spider-Man, and Ghost of Tsushima (the only game in a yet non-existent series) wouldn't be a big deal.

Microsoft just hasn't delivered AAA quality 10/10 games with memorable characters for a long, long time. They have done that consistently with Forza, but that's not character-driven, so not applicable in this case.

Halo is their biggest IP. While hardcore Halo fans are very excited about Halo Infinite, honestly assess and tell if it is doing a great job exciting new people to join the franchise. Will it bring in millions of new people, who haven't played a single Halo game? If not, how will these IPs grow?

It does not matter even if Xbox secures superhero licenses. They will have to make great games, or it will be similar to SE's Avengers. And if you can make great games, you don't necessarily need superhero licenses, e.g., Horizon Zero Dawn and Ghost of Tsushima.
 
May 28, 2013
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Most people that think spider man don’t think games.

But it’s hilarious that you assume most ppl like 1.5 games vs the other 30 that came before them.

In fact id go as far to say that most people think Spider Man on Nintendo 64 was better and having him in Tony Hawk was pinnacle Spider Man for video games.
I assumed none of the shit you say I aasumed. You're only projecting your own thinking unto me. Like you're the one assuming shit about the previous Spider-Man games (and fatally wrong on top of it, because a very beloved Spider-Man game and considered by many to be the best was a PlayStation game). And the N64 game you bring up? You're laughable dude. Just laughable. People should make rounds laughing on your face at that shit you posted.

Cracking Up Lol GIF
 

Heisenberg007

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Nov 16, 2020
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Only 4 of Sony developed PS4 games got close to or exceeded 10 million copies sold; Uncharted 4, God of War, Horizon and Spider-Man. No others (apart from TLoU Remastered) have even exceeded 7 million. None of their games have exceeded 20 million sales, something that Nintendo is currently doing for fun.
The Office Lol GIF by NBC
 
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Kagey K

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Dec 18, 2013
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I assumed none of the shit you say I aasumed. You're only projecting your own thinking unto me. Like you're the one assuming shit about the previous Spider-Man games (and fatally wrong on top of it, because a very beloved Spider-Man game and considered by many to be the best was a PlayStation game). And the N64 game you bring up? You're laughable dude. Just laughable. People should make rounds laughing on your face at that shit you posted.

Cracking Up Lol GIF
First Place Reaction GIF by Timothy Winchester

It in the end I do t really give a fuck. So yay you.

This is a great example of recincy bias and how judgement can be clouded.
 
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Gameplaylover

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Jul 26, 2021
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I have such a superhero fatigue I don’t really give a shit about them.
Same, i stopped counting how many superhero movies we had in the cinema in the last years + Netflix series + Amazon series + games and it doesn't stop. All the Lego supero games, Deadpool, Avengers, Wolverine, Guardians, Spidermans, Batmans, Marvel vs. Capcom, Injustice, Mortal Kombat characters and so on. It's just too much.
 
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pasterpl

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Feb 8, 2020
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I don’t agree with op, I prefer ms games because of the genres diversity, playstation is always my mid gen purchase as Sony exclusives are not must buys for me, similar genres, similar execution, all fell as created using similar blue print, while ms games are very different. IMO. Sony should add some diversity into their lineup to make it interesting instead of playing it safe all the time. I have no doubt that their games will sell a lot, but they don’t captivate me, I am tired of the same formula over and over again. i would love to see more games like detroit, a proper FPS from Sony, maybe a proper arcade racer (doesn’t have to copy forza horizon, but I think Sony is more Than capable to producing something like project Gotham).
 
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Withnail

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Dec 16, 2009
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This entire argument boils down to one thing and one thing only: how good your games are.
  • God of War was always big. But was it as big as it is now after the 2018 reboot? No. The reason everyone is so hyped about God of War is because the 2018 game was a 10/10.
  • Insomniac's Spider-Man is a big deal. But if it was only about MCU characters, Square Enix's Avengers would have been a bigger deal. It's simply because in terms of game quality, Insomniac's Spider-Man > SE's Avengers.
  • Ghost of Tsushima is not based on any popular character. It's the first game in the series, so no backing history or nostalgic value. It is now catapulted to becoming a huge IP, simply because the game was so good. It's now getting a movie, directed by John Wick's director. The sequel will only be bigger and better, and the IP value will only grow significantly.
  • Same goes for Horizon Zero Dawn. New IP that sold over 10 million copies, instantly became a PlayStation icon, getting a sequel everyone is hyped for, and likely getting a new film as well.
I know you mentioned that it is not about software quality; I think it's only about that. Otherwise, SE's Avengers would be bigger than Insomniac's Spider-Man, and Ghost of Tsushima (the only game in a yet non-existent series) wouldn't be a big deal.

Microsoft just hasn't delivered AAA quality 10/10 games with memorable characters for a long, long time. They have done that consistently with Forza, but that's not character-driven, so not applicable in this case.

Halo is their biggest IP. While hardcore Halo fans are very excited about Halo Infinite, honestly assess and tell if it is doing a great job exciting new people to join the franchise. Will it bring in millions of new people, who haven't played a single Halo game? If not, how will these IPs grow?

It does not matter even if Xbox secures superhero licenses. They will have to make great games, or it will be similar to SE's Avengers. And if you can make great games, you don't necessarily need superhero licenses, e.g., Horizon Zero Dawn and Ghost of Tsushima.

Yes agreed. But it's not just having the best devs, Sony also has the best production facilities such as mocap studios, sound stages etc which all these games have benefited from.

Also you forgot TLOU which even Microsoft said "set a new bar", and is about to become a truly huge IP if the TV series lives up to expectations.
 
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Robb

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I picked 'unsure', mainly because I feel it is difficult to judge MS at the moment.

They have so many new studios under their belt going into this gen. Even if only 30% of their studios manage to strike gold with some 10/10 game they'll have at least 7 this gen alone.

We'll see what happens. Exciting times!
 

Banjo64

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Dec 8, 2020
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Just goes to show the level of delusion from some posters :messenger_tears_of_joy:

You pick any random granny of the street and show her:

A picture of Pikachu - there’s a good chance she recognises the character even if she’s never played a Pokémon game.

A picture of Mario - there’s a good chance she recognises the character even if she’s never played a Mario game.

A picture of Minecraft Steve - there’s a good chance she recognises that it’s Minecraft even if shes never played Minecraft.

A picture of Master Chief - there’s a moderate chance that she recognises that he’s a video game character, even if she can’t name the game.

A picture of Link - there’s a moderate chance that she recognises that he’s a video game character, even if she can’t name the game (or thinks that he’s called Zelda).

A picture of Joel, Nate Drake, Aloy, Sackboy and Kratos - she hasn’t got a fucking Scooby-Doo who any of these are (unless she personally owns a PlayStation or spends time on NeoGAF) :messenger_tears_of_joy:

I think the reason the PS fanboys are so desperate about this (even included Spider-Man as their own IP :messenger_tears_of_joy:), is that it’s the last thing Xbox has over them. PS wins the sales wars, PS had more critically exclusive games last gen - I genuinely think it really sticks in all of your craws that Xbox still owns the more recognisable IPs. Your desperately trying to make it seem like Aloy IS A MAINSTREAM ICON because she has stared in one video game that has sold 10m units :messenger_tears_of_joy: absolutely pathetic.

Joel and Nate Drake might be iconic amongst people who play video games, but outside of that arena they are the 2 most generic looking indistinctive white action men you’ll ever see.
 

Banjo64

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You’ve backed up exactly what I’ve said, apart from I didn’t realise Spider-Man had reached the 20m mark. So thank you for that.

Have you even read that God of War link? :messenger_tears_of_joy: It only confirms an estimate based on the franchises total sales. But guess what, we don’t know how many copies God of War 3 Remastered sold, so we can’t extrapolate how many copies GoW 2018 sold from that.
 
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PropellerEar

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Nobody recognising captain Sparrow connects him with Xbox or the GaaS game which name I can't even remember.

On all platforms. This is closest to a mascot, but takes time before he is associated with Xbox in people's minds.

Master guy from halo?

Tittyarmor Peenix is recognisable Xbox character but not very likeable one.


On PlayStation too.
Nobody wants to remember this neo Lara.

Who dis?
Your teenage crush?

Doom chief from that öf-pee-ass game Doom that's on all platforms?

Steve from my 6yo nephews iPad, PlayStation, Nintendo and computer is it also available on that 360 serious one?

Now you brought some wank material:messenger_fire:
Oops. "Design from a past era" woke 343 killed her?

On all platforms.

Roid jaw on all platforms.
 
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