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’ »
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!’ »
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’ »
Sony Computer Entertainment announced that Kazuo Hirai, who recently took over as President and CEO of Sony, will be stepping down from his SCE post as Representative Director and Chairman. He will continue to sit on the board part-time.
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’ »
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’ »
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’ »
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’ »
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’ »
Look, Blizzard, I told you: I’ll come back when you start making RTSs. Complete RTSs, not the shenanigans you’re pulling with Starcraft 2. Your Diablo III screenshots, while delicious, have no power over me! I’ll not be tempted, damn you!
…I’m gonna wind up buying Diablo III, aren’t I. Nyaugh. Anyhoo, let’s get to some news:
- Japan makes noises about regulating a peculiar form of
gambling social media sales. Japanese game companies shriek in horror, including a few you may recognize.
- EA confirms it’s restructuring, which includes some of the previously-mentioned layoffs. CEO John Riccitiello also owns up to the company’s distant second place in social gaming.
- All aboard the doom train: Sony posts its forecasted loss, announcing (in a roundabout fashion) a meager 1.8 million Vita sales. Experts (and professional amateurs such as myself) opine on what may save the device.
- Microsoft, by way of Michael Pachter: “Don’t expect a lot of game stuff [at E3]; expect a lot of dashboard, interface, multimedia.” Excellent, now I know which conference I can ignore.
- Tetsuya Nomura indicates that he’d like to see Kingdom Hearts return to consoles. Square Enix confirmed for working on the Blizzard-Valve Timescale.
- Diablo III preorders make it bigger than Jesus, Redbox goofs on Max Payne 3, social gaming is slowing down in the US, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Random Revenue Generators’ »
Guess who’s back! How’s everybody doing? I spent the weekend watching mutants and mercenaries duke it out in the Capitol building. And then I came home to play Fallout 3 heyoooooooooo! Okay, yeah, obvious joke is obvious, but DC is a cool town even if you’re not a political junkie such as myself. But anyway, it’s good to be back at home base, got my computer a shiny new video card, the Mass Effect 3 review finally done, and ready to get down to business. So let’s get on it! In today’s headlines we have:
- Bethesda announces The Elder Scrolls Online. I explain why this is not going anywhere profitable, and point to a much more interesting property they’re funding for one Shinji Mikami.
- A Forbes article breaks down that Zynga, Groupon, and Facebook work with an accounting firm that makes rules up as they go. I wish I were kidding.
- Eurogamer runs a lengthy piece on the demise of Free Radical. Long story short, it took a little more treachery than doped-up marines going “Boosh!”
- NVidia rolls out a top-of-the-line graphics card for $1000.00. How else can a month’s salary last until next week when they push the envelope even further?
- FilePlanet is no longer being updated, thus preparing itself for the annals of Internet history. Behold, children, the days when patches didn’t download themselves.
- Electronic Arts rolls out an Indie Bundle, upending basically every sensible definition of the term ‘indie.’ And on Steam, no less, making it all the more confusing.
- A Chinese company develops a console specifically for
pirates China, EA asks for feedback on Origin, I speculate based on Sega-centric Steam deals, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Capitalism Means Never Saying Sorry’ »
Nothing quite like a sales binge to pick up on games you missed, especially when it reminds you how expensive some of them are. Hey, dude selling Suikoden V for $100: I hope your parents hated you, because I do. Also, a heads-up: I’ll be in DC next week starting Sunday, so no podcast while I’m away. See you all the following week! With that said, here are this week’s headlines:
- Rumors swirl that EA may be laying people off, though even if they’re true there may be a plausible explanation. Or EA’s stock could be dropping, it could be that too.
- That said, Zynga appears to have gone off the deep end, with more OMGPop-style pricey acquisitions in the future. OMGPop, incidentally, may have peaked the very day of its acquisition. Get some popcorn, folks.
- Two of the Big Three schedule their E3 conferences, prompting a rehash of speculation. My take: Microsoft offers no surprises, Sony needs to explain themselves, and Nintendo will steal headlines whether it wants to or not.
- Speaking of Sony, the New York Times offers a revealing look on where the electronics giant stumbled. Short version: departmental tribalism, right down to war paint and scalping.
- Wired’s Chris Kohler asserts the existing publisher-hardware-retailer model is broken and we don’t really need it. I agree, but scrapping it all seems premature.
- Namco-Bandai may avoid using GFWL for the PC version of Dark Souls. On bended knee, I beseech Bamco to do the right thing and serve the Newell.
- A rumored meeting between Apple and Valve is debunked, Saints Row DLC may have saved THQ, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – The Future Needs More RAM’ »
Ah, 16-bit-era Shadowrun. Come for the cyberpunk revenge plots and foxgirls, stay for the considerable XP/money grind so you can break the game in half. Good times, both SNES and Genesis. Anyway, on to the news:
- Sony’s financial woes catch up to them, doubling their loss forecast and forcing 10,000 layoffs. “Holy s***, now what?” indeed, Mr. Hirai.
- Jack Tramiel, Commodore International founder and the man behind the C64, died at 83. Yet another legend in the tech field that I knew almost nothing about.
- Peter Molyneux speaks out about leaving Microsoft for his indie venture. Will it change the world, or will it OH JUST REMAKE SYNDICATE ALREADY GODDAMNIT
- The Better Business Bureau weighs in on the Mass Effect 3 ending furor, which is my personal “this has gone way too far” threshold.
- Meanwhile, Victor Ireland rather gloriously misreads Steam’s effect on RPG sales, while his own Clash of Heroes 2 Kickstarter falls well short of its goal. Time to serve the Newell? I’d say so.
- Wired’s Chris Kohler takes a scalpel to the argument that used games are hurting the industry. The conclusion: the industry is hurting the industry.
- Project X Zone‘s creators are among the least likely to localize anything, Wasteland 2‘s Kickstarter coasts to a comfortable finish, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – And I’ll Keep Lying, I Promise’ »
If life in the retail trenches has taught me anything, it’s that those jobs are really more precautionary prison sentences. True, there’s no cell and there aren’t as many gang fights, but it’s a stain on your past nonetheless, and the longer you stay in the harder it is to get out.
This depressing thought brought to you in part by nostalgia, for which I have that April Fools’ burst of Toonami to thank. Damn but that was good teevee. Anyhow, here’s the news:
- GAME exits administration, having found a buyer
crazy enough willing to take on its debts.
- Sega, by contrast, announces a sizable drawdown in operations due to an income shortfall. Basically, don’t expect Valkyria Chronicles 3 in English anytime soon. Or ever.
- Meanwhile, Denis Dyack alternates between reassuring people that Too Human is still a thing, and warning that used games will crash the industry and kill your family in their sleep.
- EVE Online‘s developer partners with Nvidia to offer select video cards for virtual currency. I’d love to hear Paul Krugman’s take on this.
- Brian Fargo speaks out on the lopsided balance of power between publishers and developers. A lengthy interview on RipTen, but a good one: read it all here.
- Obsidian joins forces with inXile to help develop Wasteland 2, pending a Kickstarter goal of 2.1 million. So, when I write the check for all of my money, which of you do I make it payable to?
- An OMGpop developer explains why he balked at Zynga’s offer, Michael Pachter disregards a silly PS4 rumor, GOG.com gets a facelift, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Putting the Band Back Together’ »
“Anytime, Fly Girl.”
I don’t know about you guys, but I dropped my pacifist playthrough right then and there. But enough about how I pass the time waiting for Mass Effect 3, it’s time for the news! Here’s what we’ve got:
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – You Keep Using That Word’ »
Note to self: if Recettear is any indication, EasyGameStation’s Chantelise is worth a look. It’s never too late to enjoy indie RPG goodness. But I ramble, this isn’t about me and my compulsive Steam purchases, it’s time for the news! Here’s what we’re covering:
- SCE’s Shu Yoshida explains why the Vita stumbled in Japan, and how for the US/EU release this time shall be different! We examine why it probably won’t be different at all, Steve.
- Jack Tretton confirms we won’t see any PS4 developments this year, freeing them up to
wait for Microsoft to release their specs focus on the Vita.
- Meanwhile, EA plans some unusual marketing schemes for Mass Effect 3, including launching early copies of it via weather balloons into the stratosphere. Quoth Sarcastic Hawke, “What could possibly go wrong?”
- Brian Fargo of inXile Entertainment announces a Kickstarter plan to fund production of Wasteland 2. And here I figured it’d take months to test the limits of Kickstarter’s power.
- The Guinness Book of World Records crowns, by popular vote, Call of Duty: Black Ops as the best videogame ending ever. I wish I were kidding.
- One of BioWare’s more accomplished writers strikes out on their own, Bobby Kotick gets elected to Coca-Cola’s board of directors, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Step One: Secure 3Gs’ »
Yes, I’m late to the party on Recettear. But it’s never too late to make money through overpriced goods! Anyway, hello everybody! We’re back from break and ready to tackle the news, and what a couple weeks it has been:
- Facebook files for its $5 billion IPO, appearing every bit a giant of the tech sector until people start asking how much one would really pay for social networking.
- In the process we learn that Zynga makes up about 12% of Facebook’s earnings. As a reminder, Zynga is currently looking for ways to survive without Facebook. Happy filing, Mr. Zuckerberg!
- Kazuo Hirai formally assumes his role as President and CEO of Sony, to which his exact words are “Holy s***, now what?” Truer words have rarely been spoken.
- Double Fine’s Kickstarter project succeeds far beyond expectations, suggesting a viable path for small-to-midsize developers outside the usual publisher song and dance. I wouldn’t hold my breath for a rash of publicly-funded games, however.
- Amazon plans to open a retail store in Seattle, apparently in a bid to corner the market on physical depictions of irony.
- THQ faces a slew of financial difficulties, from shedding 175 jobs to a potential delisting on the Nasdaq. They should’ve rolled the North Korean taco truck around some more for Homefront.
- Square Enix posts a decent profit for 2011, a man named William Fourkiller (OK state rep) wants to tax violent games, Ubisoft’s always-on DRM schemes backfire, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Capitalism, Ho!’ »
Nothing like a week of updates to make a guy feel like he’s treading old ground, but hey, anything worth talking about is worth talking about again. Tonight’s discussion topics are as follows:
- The Bethesda-Interplay legal mess comes to a close, with Zenimax paying $2mil for Interplay to stop harassing Fallout and claiming the MMO’s going to make it.
- GSC Game World announces on Facebook that development of STALKER 2 is somehow still underway. Why do all the beautiful things in life have to be undead?
- Zynga acquires another executive from EA. Poor Zynga… their stock’s lackluster performance has caused them to mentally regress to last year.
- BioWare reveals that Mass Effect 3 will require Origin and will not be available on steam. Also, they broke their arm in a boking accident.
- Workers at a Foxconn plant in China threaten mass suicide over low pay and poor conditions. Industry leaders feign shock that they’re still doing business with Foxconn.
- Ars Technica gets a closer look at the Wii U, and learns surprisingly little.
- Diablo III gets a console version, a Gaikai rep makes a silly assumption about the Big Three, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Is This the 50′s or 1999?’ »
It’s just not a week in the industry without some long-forgotten property being dug up, only to be reburied just as abruptly. Times like these are hell for anybody that was born in time to appreciate the 90s. In tonight’s episode:
- Interplay and Bethesda reach some kind of settlement which allows Interplay to continue pretending to develop Fallout Online. The judge was kind enough to deliver the settlement notice to the cardboard box Interplay is currently working out of.
- The ESA reaffirms their support of SOPA, whereas Epic Games – a member of the ESA – actually comes out publicly against it. It’s… complicated.
- Vox Media plans to launch a gaming news website, and goes on a talent-poaching spree to staff it. So how many articles about Japanese dating sims can we expect per month? This is important.
- Speaking of Japan, Japanese retailers preempt Sony by offering in-store price cuts on 3G PS Vitas. Sony, if you’re hiding Monster Hunter on us, now would be a good time to show it.
- Social game Shenmue Towns is shut down, dashing the hopes of all five people who were aware Shenmue had a social game.
- By contrast, X-Com makes a surprising comeback in all its brainy, strategic glory as X-Com: Enemy Unknown. Take that, Shooter Season 2011!
- Kaz Hirai is announced as Sony’s next president, the iOS gold rush (and pending disappointment) continues, we deal with E3 and 2012 speculation, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Trading Places in Development Hell’ »
Happy New Year, everybody! Welcome back, time to round up the news as per usual. Today’s selection should serve as a healthy reminder that not all publicity is good publicity, as the good David Bowie can attest to. Here’s what went down over break:
- The PS Vita launched in Japan, moving fewer than expected numbers and with several software glitches. Even straight-up hardware reviews were mixed, like this one from Joystiq. Sony is probably relieved that’s all they had to worry about.
- BioWare’s co-founder hints that they’re taking cues from open-world games, including Skyrim, for Dragon Age 3. Oil, meet water.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2 also sold less than anticipated, which was a total surprise to people that have no idea how sequels work.
- A Firefox add-on subverts DNS blockades like the ones proposed by the Stop Online Piracy Act… before the Act is even released. No prize for second place, Congress!
- Leaked email chains provoke the internet to converge on one Ocean Marketting (typo intentional) and its hilariously awful one-man operation. The Mayor of Boston is now a meme.
- Nintendo finally unveils the official Legend of Zelda timeline. All three of them. That high-pitched collective cry of anguish you’re hearing is the fandom trying to sort this out.
- Star Wars: the Old Republic finally launches, the Big Three “kind of” withdraw their support of SOPA, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Shame, What You Have is Gone Tomorrow’ »