Gaming News: Acclaim shuts down games, Google game dev advocate leaves, Digital Chocolate sues Zynga, THQ says used games are evil, Kinect will feature voice control

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Another quiet week, this time featuring a selection of bad news.

The EQ2X open beta is also in progress at the moment. Anyone trying that? I made a cool half elf guardian called Spinks and am quite liking New Halas. The streaming works like a dream – it’s a very fast install indeed and gets you into the game almost immediately. The EQ2 devs are still in love with the zone design that sends you out from your quest hub to the same group of mobs about 5 different times in a row. It’s also very lonely when you can’t actually access any chat channels. And call me old fashioned but I think that plate mail should look like plate. I don’t see this as a long term diversion.

Player vs Developer (who has been on a roll this week, go check his blog) has written a thoughtful post discussing all the EQ2X free to play restrictions.

Acclaim shuts down all games (except 9dragons)

Earlier this year, Acclaim was bought by social gaming company Playdom. This week it was announced that they have shut down all of their games. I don’t pretend to understand the thinking behind buying a developer and then shutting down all of their games unless they were costing too much to run and the actual developers are needed to work on new projects.

9dragons may have escaped the cull. The North American license has been bought by GamersFirst. Presumably more news about what they plan to do with servers will be forthcoming.

Google’s game supremo jumps ship

In what must be a blow to Google’s gaming plans, their games boss has left after just four months in post. He commented that Google wasn’t the perfect fit for him, which could mean anything really.

Digital Chocolate sue Zynga

As the header says, Zynga are being sued for the rights to the name “Mafia Wars.”

They said in a statement:

We are surprised and disappointed by Digital Chocolate’s lawsuit. The timing of the action appears to be opportunistic, and we plan to defend ourselves vigorously

Frankly, all copyright and patent suits are opportunistic. There’s no point going to all the hassle and expense of suing someone unless there’s some money in the property. And since Zynga have made their fortune by hijacking other people’s game ideas, it’s ironic to hear them complaining about it now.

Is it evil to buy used games?

THQ complained this week that when gamers buy used games, they are cheating developers out of their rightful profits. The Penny Arcade crew jumped in and agreed that they were uncomfortable with the used market.

And then there was a storm on the blogosphere.

Personally to me this comes down to ownership. Once I own an item, then I can do with it as I wish, including selling it in the second hand market once I am finished with it. This is very different from piracy (which involves making unlicenced copies and selling those.) You also don’t see authors complaining about libraries – quite the opposite – although no author ever got rich from borrowing fees.

Having said that, if companies wish to charge for providing online services then it seems perfectly reasonable for them to do so. Just once you have decided what to charge, you don’t get to double dip. It’s another mark in favour of subscription service, in fact. Although it’s against the EULA to sell accounts in most sub MMOs, at the end of the day the developer is still getting monthly fees from someone. F2P has an even more chilled model. They actively want everyone to play for free so that they can entice them to use the cash shop.

So perhaps the flaw is with the charging model which requires players to put down a large amount of money up-front for a game they haven’t yet had a chance to play.

Kinect either will or won’t feature voice control

There were some mixed messages this week about whether Kinect will feature voice control or not. The upshot is that Microsoft claim that it will – at least for English.