Shinra Inc. And AR Games
Yes, this IS about Pokemon Go. How did you guess? To be clear, this is a parody. I play and am, frankly, addicted to Pokemon Go and I love it. But I have to poke (see what I did there) some gentle fun at it. And remember if anybody could take the Pokemon Go formula and make it much much worse, it's Shinra Inc.
To those not in the know, Shinra Inc. And was a series I ran that ended about a year and a half ago. It lasted 5 seasons and 60 episodes, plus one bonus episode "Shinra Inc. And Omake" consisting of 3 mini-stories. Well I enjoyed writing it. I like the short quick humor and quippery. I liked the characters, I liked the over-arching stories. I liked the inside jokes. So I'm bringing this one back.
Phase 1: Weakness
Reeve rifled through the thousands of scattered sheets that littered in the inside of Rufus's old desk. His organizational habits were always lackluster, but within his own domain it seemed that any call for presentability was squashed. Amongst the paperwork he found were several months worth of unsigned expense reports, fifteen separate pay stubs per week all made out to slightly different spellings of his name, what appeared to be the first draft of a novel titled "Who Wants To Publish A Millionaire?" and blueprints for some sort of intruder removal system that featured a large catapult and a stick figure drawing labeled "Palmer".
He heard footsteps coming up the stairs and turned away from his task, standing up to see Scarlet approaching him - a look of enthusiasm she only had when she was designing a weapon or getting a pay raise.
"So, per your instructions, we have added a new division to our R&D team. I had some ideas I wanted to go over with you," she said.
"Alright, go for it," Reeve nodded.
"Well, the big money these days is on mobile games, right? We lure them in with a free download, get them hooked and then make them pretty much require premium currency to advance," Scarlet said.
Reeve sighed and folded his arms. "I miss the days when we just slowly killed the planet to make our money. Work felt more honest."
Scarlet ignored this. "Well the only problem is kids seem to be wising up to this and are finding ways to stretch their regular currency or just not buying games that feature this gimmick."
"Good for them."
Again, Scarlet ignored him. Reeve wondered if he needed to be here for this conversation.
"So," she pressed on. "We've been thinking of taking it in a new direction. We can use the phone's camera to create a game that takes place in the real world. It will add the immersion factor and it will be unique enough to draw in skeptics. We just need a hook that will assure as many people as possible play it."
"And so you come to me on this, the day of my spring cleaning, to ask for what exactly?" Reeve asked.
Scarlet put the tips of her index fingers together and flashed him puppy dog eyes. "Can I get 18 million gil to buy the rights to Pockymans?"
Childhood images flashed through Reeve's mind at the mere mention of the wildly popular game. It was developed by a software company in Wutai and involved the simple yet addictive task of catching and raising small monsters to fight for you. He hadn't played that game since he was 12 and yet he knew it was still around.
"Uh… so we're targeting kids with this one?" Reeve asked.
"No way, we're targeting nostalgia-laden manchildren with spare cash," Scarlet said. "Look I know 18 million is a lot, but I know there are enough people out there that we can make back our investment a dozen-fold at least. It'll probably pay for itself in the first week."
"So this game… how would it work?" Reeve asked.
"Huh?" Scarlet shrugged. "Well I'd have the eggheads on my team develop it but primarily the idea would be it would use your phone's GPS to make monsters appear around Midgar and you could go hunt and catch them like you could in the old game."
Reeve was a responsible man. A man with a strong head and good morals. A man who was not easily rattled or shaken. But he was also a man with a long lost love, and in those moments of weakness, greater men than he reveal their humanity.
"The money is yours. Whatever you do, you get those rights and make sure that game is good to go," Reeve said.
Phase 2: It's Super Effective
The group sat in the conference room a mere week later to discuss the upcoming launch of the title. Quick work had been made of the application and a considerable expense had been sunk into this venture, so it merited a discussion all its own. Plus, it was Friday and nobody felt like doing any real work.
"So Scarlet, how is your brain child going?" Reeve asked.
"Well we were operating under a tight budget. Considering most of our funding went to acquiring the rights we had very little left over for development and even less to set up stable servers. The beta-testing has been tedious to say the least," Scarlet explained.
"I see. Does the game function?" Reeve continued, his patience wearing thin along with his hopes.
"Oh it does work. When you're out there catching the little bastards it's actually kind of fun and you can even take a picture of yourself with it," Scarlet began. "But the tracking doesn't work so good, the combat is basically a tapping affair and we've basically just made the appearance of monsters random and incredibly biased towards city-folk over rural users."
"That seems problematic," Elena quipped. "I was just getting excited over it too."
"Well I'm sure they'll fix those problems before launch," Tseng offered.
"Yeah… no, you see we sunk most of our money into the rights so again we're basically going to release this thing come hell or high water. In fact the servers are pretty much only up for 20 minutes a day to cut costs and as we release to new markets that will probably plunge to a negligible amount of time. Basically if people don't start buying premium currency right away and in huge amounts we're screwed," Scarlet added.
"And the other problems?" Reeve pressed.
"Well our plan right now is to launch immediately but not tell anybody how the game actually works and let the users figure it out for themselves. Misinformation will spread like wildfire and people will just think that they're being stupid rather than realizing we did a terrible job explaining our product," Scarlet said.
"So I gather you're not expecting it to get that big a reception?" Palmer offered.
"Oh no, we've already had 4.5 million people join the waiting list," Scarlet nodded. "Nostalgia sells."
Phase 3: Launch Day
As Scarlet predicted the game was breaking records for downloads within the first 24 hours of its release. Before long people were out roving through Midgar hunting for monsters. Two unexpected side effects of this were people getting exercise and socializing which made the experience seem all the more rewarding.
Servers handled rather poorly the first day, however for those who were able to get on the game was touted as revolutionary and an unbelievably fun experience. There were even enough die hard fans to start trickling in funds for the premium currency.
Even the Directorial Staff had downloaded the game and were out and about as a group on that Saturday roaming Sector 8's fountain plaza for monsters. Scarlet, Reeve, Elena, Tseng and Palmer were chatting amidst captures and more often than not server crashes.
"I tried to convince Heidegger and Hojo to join us, but they didn't seem too interested in playing," Elena said. "Heidegger said he wasn't a baby and Hojo said he preferred to capture real monsters."
"Reno, Rude and Cissnei are playing," Tseng said. "But they're off on their own catching monsters in the slums. I've even rumors that Geneva, Mayor Domino and Bosker have all created accounts."
"Feels like we're missing somebody," Scarlet sighed. "But who-"
Suddenly the group was standing in front of a man with disheveled blonde hair, and a thick beard. He wore a white trenchcoat and matching white slacks with nothing but a high-end cell phone in his hand.
"Well, well, well," came the voice of Rufus Shinra. "So this was your plan all along. Get old Rufus addicted to some boyhood dream and take him for everything he's worth eh?"
"Rufus… what are you talking about?" Scarlet asked.
"What the hell happened to you? You look like death. I thought you retired with like, hundreds of millions of gil," Tseng added.
[Author's Note: See Shinra Inc. And Downsizing]
"I did. Until you sneaky snakes and your sneaky snake ways concoted a plan to get all my money!" Rufus shouted, pointing an accusatory finger at Reeve.
"Holy hell," Scarlet groaned flipping through her phone. "I just got a message from our head accountant. Somebody spent 141 million gil on premium currency for the game."
There was a pause, and Scarlet looked up from her phone and back to Rufus. Rufus favored her with sarcastic sneer and motioned towards himself.
"For the love of all that is good and pure how the hell did this happen, Rufus?" Reeve asked.
"You mean you didn't know? Oh that's rich. Let's just make a game all about Pressy Rufus's favoritest game ever," Rufus shouted. "I spent more than half of my fortune on that damned game and I probably won't stop!"
"The game has been out for 12 hours, how on earth did you think it was necessary to buy that much currency?" Scarlet asked.
"I'm Level 85 and all the monsters are a lot harder to catch now."
"Level eighty- our admins aren't Level 85 and they've boosted their level through the console. Just… how?" Scarlet rubbed her face in disbelief.
"Never underestimate the power of a man with literally nothing better to do with his day. I've been a wreck ever since I downloaded this game. I've had to sell my mansion and move into a slightly smaller mansion. I haven't shaved. My clothes are in tatters," Rufus groaned.
"Is that beard fake?" Elena asked.
Rufus seemed taken aback. "Ehh, what?"
"Is that beard fake? I mean it looks like you've got straps going from the beard to behind your head," Elena explained.
Tseng gave the beard a quick tug revealing it to be a costume piece and Rufus's own smooth baby face underneath.
"I didn't think you'd see that," Rufus said. "I was kind of building up for a lawsuit claiming you all ruined my life and I though the beard would be more dramatic."
"Good one," Scarlet nodded approvingly, moving around to look at Rufus's phone. "But you know if you want I can get them to refund you for the currency you haven't used. I mean there's no way you could have possibly - okay you've used it all."
Tseng smacked his head, Elena sighed and Reeve shuffled his feet nervously. There was a small digital chirping sound and Scarlet looked at her phone again.
"Another purchase? This time for 1 million! Rufus you have to stop!" Scarlet cried.
"That wasn't me!" Rufus insisted.
The group eyed him skeptically, except Reeve who put his hand behind head and nodded. "It wasn't him."
Scarlet looked almost betrayed somehow as she turned to him. "Reeve?"
"I agreed to get you the funding because, like Rufus, this was my favorite game series as a boy. You don't understand what it's been like for us. We have been waiting for this moment for almost two decades. The ability to finally go out and, in some small way, live the fantasy. It was too good to pass up!" Reeve folded his arms and bowed his head, only breaking the gesture of defeat to favor Rufus with a casual fist bump.
"You all need to learn some damned responsibility," Tseng said. "I loved the game as a kid too but wasting all your money on premium currency isn't the ideal way to experience that. If you want to truly live the fantasy, Reeve, you need to go out and do it like you should be doing it. Gaining it slowly but surely through hard work and patience."
"Well we kinda designed the game to reward impatience," Scarlet added honestly.
Phase 4: The Aftermath
"So, in total we owe 10 million gil in lawsuits from people who claim to have been struck by cars while playing the game, 11 million gil for people who have suffered trespassing from the game, a whopping 34 million gil in refunds for people who supposedly 'accidentally' purchased premium currency, and 25 million gil in various other complaints," Scarlet said. "But the game grossed 1.4 billion gil in its first month, so I'd say we are ahead of the curve on that one."
"And what about me?" Rufus asked. He had donned the fake beard upon entering the conference room, only to have removed it after Tseng tugged it and let it smack him in the face.
"Your frivolous lawsuit for emotional damages and… what was that bogus legal term you came up with? 'Unlawful Making Me Spending Of The Money'?" Reeve groaned.
"It's the out of place 'Of' that I particularly like," Scarlet smirked.
"Look, I feel like you owe me something. I mean if another one of these apps gets released I'll probably spend the rest of my money and then what will happen? I'll be some, 'not money having' cretin or something," Rufus insisted.
"We're not going to give you 141 million gil because you don't know how to use it responsibly. In fact that's pretty much the worst reason to give somebody a large chunk of money," Reeve explained.
"That's fine. I have a solution," Rufus said. He took a deep breath and then stood up. "I want my old job back."
"No," Reeve said immediately. "You almost ran the company into the ground twice."
"Look I think we both know that I am a reckless man, but if I have to live on my own with no source of income I will die out there," Rufus retorted.
"You still have 100 million gil. If you exercise even the tiniest bit of self-control-"
"I think we both know that's impossible!" Rufus insisted. "Look I'll make you a deal. How about I take your old job?"
"What?" Reeve asked.
"I'd be your assistant. I'd earn your salary… well maybe a little more than your salary. I'd be on the company payroll and benefits. But you'd still run the show," Rufus said.
"Okay, just gonna ask this now, and no offense Reeve, but is anybody wondering how the head of Urban Development wound up as the president in the first place?" Heidegger asked.
Every hand in the room raised, even - albeit reluctantly - Reeve's.
"But I'm the President now and I feel like I've done a good job of it. Hell I saved the company from Rufus's mistakes that has to count for something," Reeve said. "Look, Rufus. If you want to be my assistant then fine. I can hire you back on as my assistant."
Rufus tented his fingers. "Excellent! Now in regards to my salary."
"I'll pay you 640,000 gil a year with benefits. That's twice what you paid me," Reeve said.
"Boy I really screwed you huh?" Rufus shrugged.
"You have no idea," Reeve nodded.
"And the app?" Scarlet asked.
"We don't care about that anymore we're doing a new thing now," Tseng said.
"Well that seems unexpected and sloppy," Scarlet groaned. "What idiot is responsible for this mess?"
Written by: Jason Tandro