So apparently this is a traditional week of sales in the US, which brings me to the picture to the left. What’s odd about this screenshot? It’s from amazon.co.uk. Yes, I’m puzzled too.
In any case, keep an eye out for sales from your favourite US vendor (eg. steam, etc) this week. There does come a point when virtual shops become almost indistinguishable from any other type of online shop with the various sales, time limited offers, etc … which is of course the point.
CODBLOPS duly and predictable broke some sales records last week, despite reviews generally agreeing that it isn’t as good as the predecessor. I presume people are keen for their annual shmup purchase and if it’s disappointing will just whine about it until they get a chance to buy next years’. But it is interesting that the quality of the game doesn’t seem to affect buying decisions unless it really does dip below some kind of acceptable level.
Speaking of which, Activision now claim that Infinity Ward (the studio which made MW2) has now been successfully restructured which means that they have 3 studios working on Call of Duty games. But we don’t know which one will be tapped for next year’s episode.
A lot of MMO bloggers have been writing about Perpetuum this week, an EVE-like game featuring giant robots which is in beta and giving out beta keys at the moment. Interestingly, even the home page gives me an EVE vibe.
EVE itself has released footage of a rather stunning character generator that will go live alongside Incarna (the upcoming expansion that will allow characters to walk around inside space stations). I do still have my doubts about a game where in a standard starter guide, trying to scam other players is listed as a standard way for newbies to make in-game money.
Posts of the week are from Rhii and Alas, both on the subject of having to choose between friendship and progression in WoW. And this illustrates nicely some of the structural issues in WoW which break up the community (not to mention stressing out players unduly) and which Blizzard has shown no interest in addressing by adding support for raid alliances or multiple guild membership. (ie. anything that would make it easier to be a member of multiple social organisations, some of which might be focussed on different in game objectives.)
The notion that if you want progression you need to pay for it by dumping your mates just reminds me of Fame (“Fame costs and right here’s where you start paying!!”). It doesn’t have to be that way.
Bioware’s Mystery Game
Bioware have been dropping teasers this week about a new unannounced game, promising to reveal all at the VGA awards.
Clues so far have been translated as:
- the atomic weight of iron
- lowest temperature recorded on earth, recorded at Vostok in Antarctica
- picture of a man with a gun
Amazingly, people are attempting to sound somewhat excited about the picture of the man with the gun. I’d say it’s either going to be Mass Effect 3 (in which case they should have teased with a picture of Garrus without his top on) or … some shooter. Kotaku are guessing that it’s a multi-player spinoff of Mass Effect, but surely if it was a scifi game they’d show space or something cool?
I wouldn’t begrudge Bioware if they wanted to take a shot (sic) at a FPS. Good luck to them. But I don’t think they really get the whole PR thing sometimes …
We’re taking the hobbits to Isengard … in Autumn 2011
Turbine announced that the next expansion for LOTRO, The Rise of Isengard, is due next Autumn. It isn’t going to be a huge expansion like Moria, Turbine are moving away from that kind of update due to pacing issues. But it sounds as though there will be plenty to do.
Also they are due to release more raid content next year before that.
I think the pacing comment was very telling. Maybe players would prefer more piecemeal content releases rather than waiting around a couple of years for a big chunk of content all in one piece.
Music games face a downturn
Remember those halcyon days when Rock Band and Guitar Hero were the big thing? All in the past now, apparently gamers just aren’t buying the things in the same quantities any more.
Jagex beats patent suit
Jagex, developers of Runescape, won a patent suit this week and the CEO took the opportunity to have a snipe at the dreadful US patent system. I don’t have much to add except for yes, the US patent system is extremely awful and allows people to pursue frivolous patent claims which end up being very expensive to the defending party on very little evidence.
(I was surprised that the losing party wasn’t required to pay costs, I’d have assumed that to be standard.)
Activision closes more studios
Apparently if your last game wasn’t a huge hit, Activision loses interest. This week they moved to close Bizarre Creations (maker of Project Gotham Racing), although there is a rumour that Microsoft is among several companies interested in buying the developer.
They also closed Budcat Creations, a studio that has been working on Guitar Hero and Band Hero games (see above note about music games being down on sales).