Gaming News: Good Old Games is dead or is it?, Facebook revises gaming platform, Civ 5, Frogster axes senior management

Next weekend, Arb and I are off to the Eurogamer Expo so hopefully will be able to share a few hands on thoughts. And when I say hands on, I mean screens viewed dimly over the backs of a bunch of other gamers, most of whom are taller than we are. Looking forwards to meeting up with some other bloggers there too!

In MMO news this week, the big story for me is that CCP finally announced the vampire game everyone knew that they were working on. But the blurry trailer doesn’t look to be in a very advanced state and they’re estimating release at 2012 at the earliest.

Also, Blizzard are incorporating a Plants v Zombies homage as a minigame in Cataclysm. Minigames have been increasingly become a part of mainstream MMOs and it’s a trend to watch, if only because it offers a different type of endgame to raiding.

Another story that made that rounds is that a game called Planet Michael, based on the world of Michael Jackson, is in development. Surely this must be some kind of tax dodge, the Springtime for Hitler of online gaming.

There is also a rumour that Lionhead’s Project Milo, set to be one of the keystone Kinect titles, is no more. I never thought it sounded like a very interesting idea for a game, more of a PhD project.

Good Old Games revamps site, annoys lots of people with misleading PR

Good Old Games (GOG), a site specialising in digital download of older PC games caused a ripple around the gaming community when they announced last week that their site was closing down. It later turned out that this was a hoax, they redesigned the site and added some new games and relaunched it a few days later.

Unfortunately, while they were ‘closed’ customers couldn’t access their games and probably assumed they had gone forever.

The GOG chaps dressed up as monks to apologise (I’m sure that helped .. not), and as an additional note, they’ve now added Baldur’s Gate to their collection.

I’ve long since stopped being surprised at any PR events thrown by the gaming industry. In this case, even last week when the site went down there were a few indications that GoG wasn’t really gone for good. Still, people or websites pretending to be dead online so that they can jump out at you later and yell, “Psych!” is annoying whichever way you cut it. Plus it just makes people less inclined to trust online sources which is probably bad business if your business is digital downloads.

Facebook revises its gaming platform

Mark Zuckerberg spoke this week at a Facebook event for game developers, and discussed the basic issue of how to let games spew out viral messages (which is what the developers want) vs users desire not to be spammed.

From what I can gather, they’re talking about a different type of Facebook experience for gamers compared with non-gamers. So if you play any Facebook game, FB will assume that you love being spammed by game messages and throw more of them your way. Whereas if you don’t, it won’t.

To me this really highlights the limitations of Facebook as a platform. Those limitations have paradoxically been part of the site’s strengths – because it isn’t possible to easily filter your friends list or message list, people have tended to send out far more information to far more people that they might have done otherwise.

And the other aspect is that Facebook is caught between several sets of interests. The big gaming companies make more profit from the platform than FB does itself. They also are responsible for much of FB’s income via advertising and virtual currency (30% of facebook credits profit will go to FB.) What they want is not necessarily what the users want, but the users aren’t the ones who are paying FB.

Civilisation 5 is released, geek productivity falls

This week marked the release of the 5th entry in the legendary Civilisation franchise. It has received brilliant reviews, despite (or because) of the developers making several major changes to the established game.

Also, it uses a hex grid.  If you’re knee deep in Civ 5, have fun and we’ll see you next year sometime ;)

In other best-selling franchise news, Pokemon Black and White looks set to break DS sales records in Japan.

Senior management axed at Frogster

Frogster is a publisher with a long history with F2P MMOs, such as Runes of Magic. They’re also preparing to launch TERA (this year’s Aion?) and have recently released more information on the revived Torchlight-like Mythos.

They were also in the news this week after a management shakeup saw 3 execs picking up their pink slips.

So what did you get in the sales?

I was strong. For almost all the way through the Steam and GoG Christmas sales, I eyed the bargains on offer and resisted the urge to buy. But on the last day I succumbed to Defense Grid: The Awakening (it’s a tower defense game, I’ll write more when I’ve had more time to play) — for the knock down price of £1.25.  I’m looking forwards to spending more time with the game, my first impressions were great.

Anyone else pick up any bargains in the sales? How low does a price have to be, or how good does a sale have to get to draw your attention to a game you might otherwise have ignored?