Archive for the ‘Podcasts’ Category.

What Happened This Week – On Hiatus

Well, I suppose this shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Yes, after frequent delays, false starts, and lack of time to search for a new job, I’ve decided to put What Happened This Week on hiatus. Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – On Hiatus’ »

What Happened This Week – The Cold Calculus of Microtransactions

All right, back in business once more.  Hopefully we won’t be hit by another freak storm this weekend, but really it seems like the power dies if someone so much as coughs too loudly.  Let’s get to the news before it happens again.  Here’s what’s going down:

  • Zynga starts getting hit with lawsuits regarding allegations of insider trading, with underwriters paid to help insiders offload stock before it fell.  Also known as “Tuesday on Wall Street.”
  • Not to be outdone, EA has also filed suit that Zynga copied The Sims Social to create The Ville.  Man, who do you root for in that fight?  (The answer is EA, seriously.)
  • Ubisoft’s Uplay exposes players to an exploit that allows websites access to, and control over, a user’s computer.  It’s like they want people to pirate their games.
  • The Old Republic pulls the pin and goes free-to-play.  Should’ve kept the base, BioWare!  And the base I mean your playerbase.  By making KotOR III instead.
  • Sony posts a sizable loss of some $312 million for the first quarter of 2012, including losses in the games division.  Tempting to blame the Vita, but their true problems run deeper.
  • Squenix has an ambitious ten-year plan for Dragon Quest X.  It sounds crazy until you realize they’ve been running Final Fantasy XI for at least that long.
  • Rumors abound regarding Bethesda and the STALKER series, Take Two posts a lower earnings report due to unrealistic expectations, and more!

Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – The Cold Calculus of Microtransactions’ »

What Happened This Week – Low Voltage

Once again, my evening was brought to a screeching halt by a combination of mother nature and the inadequacies of our local power grid. This time it tricked me into a false sense of security, as we didn’t lose power during the actual storm, but instead three hours later when it had cleared up. As I was gathering news links at the time, you can imagine my surprise.

Anyway, didn’t come back on until this morning and I had to start from scratch. Long story short, WHTW will be up tomorrow. Sorry, folks!

What Happened This Week – Naysayers Right and Wrong

News time, everybody! Get it while it’s hot, metaphorically speaking as the transfer of information is not linked to temperature! In tonight’s episode:

  • Zynga’s stock takes a nosedive due to slashed earnings estimates and insiders dumped the stock months ago.  Pardon me, I’ll be over here doing my “I called it” dance.
  • Boston Magazine provides an in-depth postmortem on the many, many warning signs leading up to 38 Studios’ closing.  Short version: Schilling mixed up baseball and business.
  • Key developers come out strongly against Windows 8, with Gabe Newell saying Valve may encourage Linux development as a hedge.  Mr. Newell, hedges are supposed to save money.
  • Crunchyroll breaks down a Japanese poll showing the Japanese are no longer bullish on their own gaming industry.  Clearly, the industry needs more ara ara~
  • Square Enix takes to Twitter to confirm Versus XIII is still alive.  CEO Yoichi Wada has to stop himself from saying it’ll be done “when it’s done.”
  • FFXIV gets rebranded, Irrational Games uses Metacritic as a hiring requirement, OnLive joins up with the Ouya, and more!

Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Naysayers Right and Wrong’ »

What Happened This Week – Now Seventy-Five Percent Off!

Ooof… man, what was I thinking? Don’t… nobody even tell me the damage. If I don’t see the bill, it doesn’t exist. I’ll pretend this big stack of games I bought just magically appeared there. Yeah, that works for me. Anyhow, it’s time to distract myself, and you, with the news:

  • Apple suffers a serious hack, allowing users to bypass some in-app purchases and get the goods for free.  Welcome to the 99%, Apple users!
  • Meanwhile, Microsoft posted its first loss in 26 years.  Strangely enough, they could probably commiserate with Nintendo, right down to the “constant media doom chorus” thing.
  • Michael Pachter speculates that Activision strongarmed Nintendo into developing a conventional Wii U controller, a silly notion for multiple reasons.
  • Gamasutra’s half-year analysis of gaming industry retail paints a grim picture for 2012.  The numbers don’t lie: CODBLOPS2 probably won’t save this year.
  • Torchlight‘s developer uncovers more than a few similar art assets between a Chinese-based iOS MMO and their game.  Purely coincidental, I’m sure.
  • Weird new software categories show up on Steam’s droid app, the Ouya’s first game is a prequel to a game planned for 2015, and more!

Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Now Seventy-Five Percent Off!’ »

What Happened This Week – Podcast Later, Serve the Newell Now

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare, Bastion (+soundtrack), Beyond Good & Evil (thanks, JMan711!!), Blocks That Matter (thanks, xerozohar!), Burnout Paradise, Civilization V, Driver: San Francisco, Frozen Synapse: Red DLC, Hard Reset, Just Cause 2, KotOR, The Longest Journey, Mirror’s Edge, Mount & Blade: Complete, Payday, Republic Commando, Trine 2, The Walking Dead.

Yeah, yeah, another delay, forget about that. Civ V was engrossing and the Steam Summer Sale ends in a few hours and Witcher 2 is fifteen bucks what are you doing here I DON’T CARE IF YOU HATED THE GAME ON THE FLASH DEAL IT’S FIVE BUCKS GO GO GO

(Update tomorrow once me and my wallet have had time to recover.)

What Happened This Week – Kickstart the Atom

Is this year going fast for anybody else? Maybe it’s my mad scramble to find another job, virtually any job, outside banking right now, so I’m just noticing the passing weeks more. Oh well. It’s news time! In tonight’s episode:

  • Via Kickstarter, we have the Ouya: an open source, Droid-based console priced at $99.  Surely this will spearhead the glorious indie revolution that upends gaming forever…
  • …except the numbers don’t quite add up, there doesn’t seem to be a concrete prototype, no games have been confirmed, and its own supporters have made comparisons to the Phantom.
  • Meanwhile, Nintendo plans to link the Wii U and 3DS through its online service, which will (initially) be free to use.  Shiggy asks: but what of Metroid and Star Fox?
  • Vivendi discreetly scopes out possible buyers for an as-yet-unconfirmed sale of its ActiBlizzard stake.  Even money says they’re waiting for CODBLOPS 2 numbers.
  • Pachter sez: EA may break out the long knives for John Riccitiello, with Peter More as a possible replacement.  Should’ve kept the base!  And not picked a fight with Activision.
  • BioWare reveals its plans for the Ultima franchise: a free-to-play action/RPG.  Ugh, BioWare, and you were doing so well with the Mass Effect 3 DLC!  Why?
  • The Last Story gets its worldwide release date, CERN may have found the Higgs-boson, and more!

Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Kickstart the Atom’ »

What Happened This Week – Everybody Misses the Nineties

Yaaay, we’re back!  And hopefully we’ll stay on time going forward, or at least we won’t lose power right when I’m about to start writing.  Anyway, news time!

  • Sony acquires streaming game service Gaikai for a cool $380 million.  Speculation abounds as to how doomed modern consoles are (not very, for the moment).
  • Vivendi plans to sell off its stake in Activision-Blizzard.  Possibly a restructuring effort, or maybe they just see Call of Duty being the next Guitar Hero, with all that would imply.
  • Zynga reveals “Zynga With Friends,” and exciting new games ending with -Ville that are totally not the same idea over and over.  One’s even an “epic slot machine adventure” for extra irony.
  • Yoichi Wada asserts Final Fantasy VII isn’t getting remade until they make a game that surpasses it.  My take: better get a DeLorean, ’cause we’ll need the nineties again.
  • Atlus announces and defends its decision to region-lock Persona 4 Arena.  So that’s why the official forums melted down the other day.
  • The EU rules that resale of digital games is legal, Pokemon Black and White 2 makes all of the money, Facebook suffers a sizable email fiasco, and more!

Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Everybody Misses the Nineties’ »

What Happened This Week – Just Another Day

Ngaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Well, I guess I’ll have to apologize after all. Sorry folks, it’s been unusually busy this weekend; had company over, cracked windshield, all sorts of fun. On top of that the heat wave finally broke today, so what little free time I had was gobbled up pretty quick. And maybe, possibly, Spec Ops: The Line turned out to be far more engrossing (if disturbing) than I anticipated. There was a Steam deal! I was weak willed! There was a warm sunbeam to nap in! I’m the victim, here!

New episode tomorrow Tuesday. I totally meant Tuesday the whole time, and definitely did not change that just now because of an inopportune computer crash that ate half the script.  Stay tuned!

What Happened This Week – Freak Monsoon HoliDelay a Go-Go

For those of you fortunate enough to not live in northern Illinois, we got whacked with what I can only describe as a reverse hurricane: a freakishly narrow storm front that lasted for about thirty minutes surrounded by clear blue sky. Suburban Chicago is no stranger to strange weather, but this was… new, to put it lightly. We lost power for pretty much the entire day, which means I didn’t get a scrap of work for WHTW done beyond news links. And honestly, there wasn’t a lot going on this week anyway, so if you don’t mind I’m taking an impromptu break and will have the next episode up next week.

Sorry, folks… actually, you know what, I’m not sorry. In a way, I think I needed this. We spent the day cutting down tree branches, clearing debris, and being disconnected (well, almost, thanks to my droid with the 3G connection), and between all that me and the old man tried to stay cool, kept the generator running for the fridge, drank a lot, and just relaxed. It’s been a stressful few weeks in general, a lot of behind-the-scenes drama, and sometimes it’s good to unplug once in a while.

Someone a lot smarter than me once said they spent the New York blackout a few years ago just unwinding on the patio with a cooler and nothing important to do, and it was one of the best days they’d had in a long time. There’s wisdom in that, my friends.

We’ll be back next week, I’ll see you all then! Until then… find some time to relax bit, all right? And while you’re at it, watch Haruka getting clobbered by a box. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

What Happened This Week – Tablet Plus Keyboard Equals Innovation

Or so we’re supposed to think, I guess. Hey, everybody! We’re on time this week! Let’s not dawdle, here’s what’s going on:

  • Microsoft unveils the Surface, a powerful new tablet with a keyboard cover that may cost $800-$1000 we’ll discuss price later
  • Nintendo shows off a new, bigger 3DS with a longer battery life, possibly at the expense of the whole ‘portable’ thing.
  • Persona 4: The Golden gives Vita sales a shot in the arm.  Good game Sony, now you just need, oh, another couple dozen of those.
  • A week after EA’s Origin pointman says they won’t be offering “going out of business” deep discounts, Origin offers deep discounts.  EA GOING OUT OF BUSINESS FULL STORY AT 11
  • Squenix might bring Final Fantasy VII to Steam, if only they could get it to work.  Meanwhile, Final Fantasy XI continues to print money.
  • Sega launches a browser-based card game for Valkyria Chronicles, to be depicted in the TBS miniseries, “How to Ruin Everything Beautiful in This World.”
  • Blizzard suspends digital Diablo III sales briefly to combat goldfarmers, another Capcom fighting game veteran leaves for greener pastures, and more!

Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Tablet Plus Keyboard Equals Innovation’ »

What Happened This Week – Burnout Gives HR Stuff to Do

There are weeks, even single days, that make me want to crawl into a bunker with as much food, games, and quality booze as I can manage, seal that sucker up, and hide there for, I dunno, a year or so. But then I tell myself, “I know life sometimes seems bad, but at least you didn’t sign over the Running Man to MC Hammer.”

Shame, too. It was the freshest move I’d ever seen. But enough of that, let’s get to the news.

  • Yet more insanity is added to the fifty-car pileup that is 38 Studios: RBS Citizen’s Bank is suing Curt Schilling directly, and an anonymous wife of a 38S employee speaks out.
  • Oh, and Rhode Island state police have launched a criminal investigation into 38S.  So has the Massachusetts Attorney General.  And the FBI.
  • ICANN prepares for bidding wars on more top-level domains: .xbox, .sony, .apple, and countless others sure to bring back those timeless dotcom jokes from the late 90s.
  • Sony is still trying to convince people the Vita is doing fine, though salary cuts and returned benefits suggest at least someone is taking this doom thing seriously.
  • EA openly admits it would rather have a higher-price game not sell than sell more copies on discount.  Counterpoint: Syndicate is $59.99 on Origin, and $20 plus S&H on Amazon.
  • Eurogamer interviews Yoshinori Ono, the man behind Street Fighter 4, whom Capcom almost literally worked to death.  Read the whole thing if you’ve got time, it’s… sobering.
  • Dead Space 3 has to sell five million copies, Dragon’s Dogma sells just over half a million, I analyze what these stories have in common (read: the AAA push is killing us) and more!

Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Burnout Gives HR Stuff to Do’ »

What Happened This Week – Sunday, Sunday, Sundzzzzzzzz

Moving this thing to Monday would solve so many problems. Of course, getting a new job would solve even more problems, and I’ve been having trouble with that, too. Yes, yet another week where I have to push WHTW back a day. Sorry folks, though in my defense I was slightly preoccupied with Father’s Day. And, okay, maybe I had a couple margaritas and fell asleep in the sun. It was a nice day out! Hope you got outside too, was a good day for it.

Anyhow, new episode up tomorrow night. See you then!

What Happened This Week – Weird Acts of Corporate Theater: 2012

Well, E3 has come and gone, the convention center’s been cleared out, and it’s all over but the shouting. Who were the winners? Staggeringly few, it would seem. Who were the losers? All of us. Behold:

  • Microsoft: You kids like Kinect, right?  I hope so, because we don’t have a single new idea on stage today, so here’s a bunch of stuff you already knew was coming…
  • …and also the SmartGlass, designed for people who can’t wait until after the show or game to look up supplementary trivia.
  • Sony: Don’t worry guys, we’ll save E3!  Look, David Cage is making another movie!  And we’ve got Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed 3 DLC, and The Last of Us!
  • The Vita?  What’s that?  Oh… ohhhh, right, we were supposed to market that!  Oh god, we totally forgot!  Quick, throw some Black Ops on there, they won’t know the difference!
  • Nintendo: Pfft, amateurs.  Here’s how you save E3: Pikmin, Mario, more Mario, the balance board, karaoke, and minigames!  Bam, done!  Just hand us your money as you walk out.
  • What do you mean, “Where was the Zelda?“  Look, uh… we’re, um, still working on that.  Maybe there’s a Fire Emblem for the 3DS or something, I really don’t know.  No more questions!
  • Ubisoft: In spite of our utterly unlikeable hosts, we are the only company with a halfway decent gaming roster to show this year.  This, ladies and gents, is the face of despair.
  • My liver will never forgive me for all the drinking I put it through.

 
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Weird Acts of Corporate Theater: 2012’ »

What Happened This Week – Vengeance-Related Delay

The conspiracy theorist in me suspects that Windows has built-in functions that detect whenever you’re about to say something bad about Microsoft, and crashes accordingly. How else could one explain that happening right as I’m writing up the podcast, thus losing a large chunk of progress? Other than more reasonable explanations and simple coincidence, I mean.

So yeah, had to rewrite most of the script and I now save compulsively as a result. E3 2012 episode will be up tomorrow. Sorry, folks ;_;

What Happened This Week – War By Other Means

If covering the news has taught me anything, it’s that companies would openly shoot at each other Syndicate-style if only they could get away with it. Anyway, welcome back, on this lovely evening before E3 kicks off! Here’s what’s happening:

  • Silicon Knights loses in their lawsuit against Epic, and then loses the countersuit for damages.  Expect Denis Dyack to insist that Too Human will continue… somehow.
  • Epic, by the way, rescued members of Big Huge Games, rolling them into a new studio and tasking them with another fantasy action-RPG.  Talk about paying it forward.
  • Meanwhile, Activision settles out of court with West and Zampella, thus freeing Activision to keep making Call of Duty and spying on its own people.  “But the future refused to change…”
  • CD Projekt reveals their non-Witcher property: Cyberpunk.  Apparently that’s the title of a pen-and-paper game easily confused with Shadowrun.
  • Nintendo hosts a pre-E3 video demonstration showing off the Wii U… the exact same aspects we saw last year.  Oh, and a classic-style controller and Nintendo-centric social network.
  • E3 predictions: Nintendo needs to have some game demos ready, Sony’s going to spin like an overclocked centrifuge, and Microsoft will be my cue to go get a drink.
  • A Final Fantasy Versus XIII trailer is mistaken for FFXV, Sony may have picked up Gaikai for PSN-related announcements, and more!

 

Are you ready?

Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – War By Other Means’ »

What Happened This Week – Endless Online Phenomenon

Say what you will about obscure Korean MMOs, but they come up with some catchy (if unrelated) promo videos. But I digress. News time! Here’s what’s going down:

  • 38 Studios and Big Huge Games got shuttered this week, their staff laid off and Amalur now property of Rhode Island.  Sadly, not too surprising given the money hole they were in.
  • Conflicting sales goals hide the real issue of what those 300+ developers – and their shiny new second mortgages from relocating – are going to do now.
  • Meanwhile, BioWare lays off some of its own people from The Old Republic team.  How’s that $200 million development cost working out, guys?
  • All this prompts Pachter to speculate that MMOs are dooooooomed!  My take: maybe, if everybody keeps trying to imitate/defeat World of Warcraft.  And speaking of which…
  • Diablo III got hacked, with reports of stolen items, money, and even characters.  Getting hacked in a single-player game has got to be some kind of record.
  • The horrible, horrible contract between Activision and Bungie is revealed.  Short version: 5 million sales of a new property in six months, and eight titles in eight years.  Read it and weep.
  • Sony patents a technology to interrupt your game with advertisements, Japan developers alternatives to kompu gacha, and more!

Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Endless Online Phenomenon’ »

What Happened This Week – We Grillin’ Tonight

Evening, everyone. Tragedy strikes the nation as I learn that “grilling food in polite company” and “editing/recording the podcast” are mutually exclusive activities. Thus, What Happened This Week will be up tomorrow. Sorry for the delay folks, but in the meantime I hope you’re enjoying the holiday weekend! See you all tomorrow night!

What Happened This Week – Go Public or Die Trying

“Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.” John Maynard Keynes said that, and I’d wager he knows a little more about the economy than you do, because he invented it! Yeah, the financial world is abuzz over Facebook’s IPO, and we’ve got our own take on that, along with a few other items of interest. Behold:

  • 38 Studios (Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning) owes the state of Rhode Island $75 million in loan payments.  I don’t even have a quip, you have to hear the whole crazy situation to believe it.
  • Facebook, as mentioned, went public, and then immediately flatlined before dropping a few bucks today.  Cue me feeling smug in three… two…
  • Activision drops its suit against EA over the Infinity Ward fiasco, on revelation that they went to absurd lengths to dig up dirt on IW staff.  Bobby Kotick, up to no good?  Pshaw, sirrah.
  • Epic unveils the Unreal 4 engine, prompting a new wave of speculation as to how many shades of brown and grey it can render.
  • CD Projekt’s hiring for a modern IP.  Given their work with fantasy IP, I expect good things.  Difficult things that kill me in the tutorial, but good things all the same.
  • Diablo III goes live, then dies, then lives again, then dies again, and so on.  Who could possibly have forseen difficulties with millions of players going online at once?
  • Square Enix is profitable again, Bamco keeps busy with the Tales series,  and more!

Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Go Public or Die Trying’ »

What Happened This Week – Prelude to Madness

Heya folks! Due to unexpected interference from reality, What Happened This Week will be uploaded tomorrow instead of tonight. Fortunately, thanks to this happy accident – which in no way involved napping in a warm sunbeam listening to the Sox humiliate the Cubs – I’ll be able to gauge how Facebook’s doing on day two and whether what happened Friday is part of a long-term trend. Sorry for the hold up. I’ll see you all tomorrow night!