Gaming News: RealID was merely a setback, Dragon Age 2 announced, Firaxis hit by layoffs, E3 Game Critics Awards

I’ll start with my one and only World Cup joke, in honour of the World Cup finals: France, the only national side with 21 strikers.

Incidentally, Paul the Psychic Octopus now has his own facebook page (we assume under his real name).

WoW players love their pseudonyms

Blizzard this week announced that new Starcraft 2 and Cataclysm forums would require all posters to display their real names, as currently shown on their battle.net realID. Following widespread backlash from the community, they later withdrew the part about displaying real names in favour of a forum id.

Normally “Company A announces X. Company B then unannouces it 3 days later” would not be news. But the big story here is in quite how loud and unanimous the feedback from players against this change really was. There were crazy huge forum threads (I think the Blizzard IT team who kept those forums up all week under the heavy load are the unsung heroes of the piece), posts and comments all over the blogosphere, and reports in numerous national media. I am not sure that anyone would have predicted that quite so many people felt so strongly about their pseudonymity. I certainly would not. On a less pleasant note, some protestors also publicised information about Blizzard/Activision employees including addresses, details of family/ kids etc. I can’t condone this, but it undoubtedly was effective.

I do notice though that in many of the media pieces, they mention that gaming forums often use ids. Whilst failing to mention that this is thoroughly mainstream practice online outside facebook and many of the selfsame publications allow people to register with ids to comment on their own news stories.

We have assumed for awhile now that the spread of real names across the internet is inevitable. If nothing else, the facebook generation who were introduced to the internet via facebook will consider it normal. But now I wonder. There are certainly advantages to pseudonymity, many of which have been raised in this week’s discussions.

Anyhow, there is no doubt more to be said on the topic of internet privacy, as well as how to clean up gaming culture for the mainstream. The only arguments I have little time for in this debate are those who claim that it isn’t important.

Dragon Age 2, now more Mass Effectish

One of the other stories which caught my eye this week was that Dragon Age is apparently Bioware’s biggest selling title. I would have expected to see Mass Effect/ Mass Effect 2 in that position, and if you look at the actual article, Rob Bartel’s quote is:

“last November it was the single most globally successful title we’ve put out to date”

Last November was before ME2 was released. So – yeah – draw your own conclusions.

Anyhow, this week Bioware announced Dragon Age 2, a sort of sequel to the first game which features a different protagonist, different continent, updated graphics, and possibly very different style of combat. I hope the trademark blood spatters stay in though.

Unlike the original game, DA2 won’t offer the option of multiple character origins. Players will play Hawke (a character who, like Shepherd, can be either male or female) and the game tells the story of his/her rise to power over a period of 10 years. I do love that Bioware takes a different storytelling style with each DA release with the first being a classic ‘callow youth goes on adventure and saves world’ story, then Awakenings where you have to establish a power base around your keep, and now a 10 year epic tale.

Some commentators have said that they think the new DA2 sounds too much like ME in style for their tastes, and that the hero won’t feel as though it belongs as much to the player. We’ll have to wait and see.

Layoffs at Civilisation Developer

Firaxis laid 20 developers off this week, presumably a sign that they haven’t yet started work on Civ 6.

E3 Game Critic Awards announced

Every year, a poll is taken of critics from various publications to see which games or hardware presented at E3 most impressed them. The winners for this year’s awards were published this week.

I don’t see anything here that is either surprising or exciting (except maybe that Portal 2 beat SWTOR for best PC game). The critics liked the DS3 a lot. Games which got a shout out include Civ 5 (best strategy), Portal 2 (best PC game, best action/adventure), SWTOR (best RPG), Rage (best console game, best action game, best graphics).

I’m assuming here that ‘Best Action Game’ means best shooter, and I don’t really get why they don’t call it best shooter. But what do I know?

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6 thoughts on “Gaming News: RealID was merely a setback, Dragon Age 2 announced, Firaxis hit by layoffs, E3 Game Critics Awards

  1. I’m not at all suprised Portal 2 won out over SWTOR. It’s a Valve game and the sequel to deserved critical darling.

    The only other company that’s been as influential on video gaming is maybe Blizzard. Though I’m not sure even WoW had the impact on how modern games work that Half Life did.

  2. Yep I do agree that Blizzard’s IT staff are unsung heroes, period. They do tireless work and get nothing but ridicule, rarely ever praise.
    Also not just Blizzard’s IT staff, their ISP’s IT staff as well for being able to manage the surge of traffic as well as they did. While the site was slow that day, it was up and it did work.
    Perhaps it’s a good thing that Blizzard resides in a tech friendly area. It also doesn’t hurt that their HQ is in one of the highest rent districts in the state…

    I also agree that Half-Life has had profound impacts on the gaming community since 1998 when it was released. When Half-Life 2 was bundled with Radeon 9600 and 9800 graphics cards (which were released in late 03, when HL-2 was expected to be released), it was a no-brainer for me at the time to buy one – a card I KNEW for certain could run the game quite well PLUS a free copy of the game I’d buy anyway.
    Half-Life 2′s legacy will go past being one of the best made FPS games of all time – and also pioneered digital distribution.

  3. Spinks, that e3 list…

    Star Wars TOR won best RPG-but it lost Best Online Multiplayer to Assasin’s Creed. Make of that what you will.

    • The more I think about it, the more I think that the WoW is going to remain the dominant game until the genre undergoes a big enough popular paradigm shift that WoW can’t adapt enought to fit it. The game to finally unseat it won’t be the Old Republic or Guild Wars 2, because they’re essentially doing more of the same and that’s something that Blizzard has always been able to beat. Because the company is essentially built on doing more of the same, only better and more polished than other companies.

      It’ll be the game that finally successfully melds ‘Action’ gaming with the MMORPG model. A more elaborate version of Red Dead Redemptions multi-player with an MMORPG frame, for example, would probably be part of the way there.

    • Also a good point.

      The thing with SWTOR is that it’s being the most expensive game to make in history, or something like that? It’s being made by a well respected studio, etc. And … it’s not yet impressing the critics. That’s either because it’s not that good, or the critics are failing to properly reflect the opinions of the market (ie. do critics automatically weight shooters and action games higher, or is SWTOR just not as fun?)

      • I’m not sure that hardcore game critics ever really understand markets and mass psychology. Those really are different specializations. *shrug*

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