This week has been an object lesson in how gaming news is made. Aside from the EA Louse effect, which I discuss below, there was a whole slew of articles claiming that Steam was all set to allow trade-ins.
The source? A rambling guess from a gaming analyst. There was never any actual evidence except that he thought it might be a good idea. This is one of the differences between real journalism and pretend journalism – a real journalism site (like Eurogamer, yes) checks sources.
Of course, this process gets complicated because sometimes an analyst comes up with an idea which actually does get taken on board later by manufacturers. Or an idea which appeals to management who force it on unsuspecting studios. Or an idea which is so blindingly obvious (hey everyone! Prices will go up!) that they can claim some kind of foreknowledge when everyone else is saying, “Uh, that was kind of obvious.”
As an aside, is there actually any (paid) analyst in the industry other than Michael Pachter? He gets quoted in the press so much sometimes that I wonder how much he’s paying them off.
In other news, FF14 is granting new players an extra free month on top of the free 30 days that they get with the box. I actually think this is a very smart move on their part, I hope it tempts players to hang in there and see how much a MMO can change in a couple of months and I think future sub MMOs need to look at offering longer subs in the box price too.
Also, apparently Nintendo think that the DS has a great future as a sort of shopping list. Sorry, I mean, “interactive grocery helper.” Personally, the only interactive grocery helper I want is the one that will go fetch all the grocery while I finish essay plans and type up more blog posts.
The Saga of EA Louse
It’s the oldest story in the world:
- Boy meets gaming studio.
- Boy gets job.
- Gaming studio is in trouble.
- Boy gets notice of redundancy.
- Boy writes a scathing “kiss and tell” blog post about terrible shenanigans in gaming studio
This time it is Bioware Mythic which is in the firing line, as one of their artists (maybe former artist by now), decided to weigh in on the subject of why WAR failed. Something that will be news for the people still playing it.
I don’t have the heart to go through the blog post in detail, but check it out and read through the comments too. To me, a similar article could have been written by engineers for any number of companies I have worked for in the past. The description of management conflicts is actually par for the course, and it doesn’t sound as though EA Louse was treated especially badly in any way (other than being fired when times were bad, which is also an all too common story.) So I wouldn’t dismiss this. But it’s also biased, he’s not necessarily right in his particular spin on the internal politics, and even if he is, who cares?
The industry cares to some extent and the blog post has stirred up some responses, neatly summarised here by gamepro. My thought is that anyone who has ever worked in management in engineering will have some sympathy with David Jaffe’s view that, “Everyone always thinks they know better than the people in charge.”
More interesting are EA Louse’s allegations that SWTOR is costing more than $300mil to make. Bloggers have seized on this number and asked, reasonably, is it even possible for a game that expensive to be successful?
We’ll find out in a few month’s time.
Facebook unplugs LOLapps games
An interesting story from social gaming came up this weekend. LOLapps claims 150M users for their Facebook games. So when users found that they weren’t able to access their favourite games this week, questions began to be asked. It must be fun relying on a platform that you don’t control to run your business.
A little more digging reveals the suggestion that LOLapps had been exploiting bugs on Facebook which allowed them to spam gaming messages to people’s walls without permission.
If that’s the case, then I hope the ban is upheld. If Facebook has any ambitions at all to show more interest in concerns about users privacy and their privacy controls then they need to bear down hard on deliberate infractions, especially when its done in pursuit of profit. After all, it isn’t as if there aren’t a zillion other similar Facebook games that people could play instead.
Dragon Age 2 Signature Edition
Bioware have announced a fairly hefty package of rewards for players who pre-order DA2 before January 11th, including in game items, an unlocked extra character and a downloadable soundtrack.
Pre-order bonuses certainly aren’t unknown in the industry, but this is a step further than the extra downloadable content (eg. Shale et al) that was available to everyone who bought a new copy of DA, whether pre-ordered or not. And the fact that they’re advertising the freebies as worth $20 is a fairly clear sign that they’ll be selling them to buyers who don’t pre-order.
So if you know already that you want the game, don’t forget to get your pre-order in early. And make sure it’s from vendors who are offering the signature version (the FAQ has a list.)
Blizzard bans people for cheating in SC2 single player
Does a cheat still count as a cheat when it’s a single player game and no one else is involved? Apparently it does for Blizzard who are cracking down on cheats … but in-game cheat codes are still OK.
They explain that it’s because cheating mods often contain cheats for multiplayer as well as single player. And they have a zero tolerance for third party hacks that could contain multi player cheats.
This comes of the game only being playable via battle.net. Eurogamer also echo my thoughts which is to wonder whether it’s fair on Achievement hunters if some people are able to use hacks or cheat mods to complete Achievements. Except in my case I’d love to see more people cheating their way to Achievements, because it just shows how dumb achievements are in the first place!
Defence of the Ancients 2 announced
Valve announced this week a forthcoming sequel to Defence of the Ancients (which was originally based on a Warcraft III mod). Naturally it will be tied in deeply to Steam, with achievements and in-game rewards for participating in the community.
They even note the idea of a coaching system by which experienced players can tutor newer ones (if they can reward the vets well enough to make this work, it could be quite an interesting approach.)
I’ve never actually played DotA, but I’m quite intrigued by what I’ve heard about this version.