The quick cap news
* Richard Garriott returns with his latest offering Portalarium and talks about the costs and distribution model of social games. On the other side, Braid designer, Jonathen Blow, criticised social games for the way they treat consumers.
* Civilization IV became the first game to win a Grammy award for the song Baba Yetu. It took the “Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)” in the 53rd annual award (incidentally, both it and the sequel, Civilization V are in the Steam deals as of the time of writing).
* Dragon Age II has gone gold, with a demo coming out in the next few days (the 22nd, to be exact). The completion of this demo unlocks a special dwarven weapon for use in the full version of this game upon release.
* Microsoft have been teasing people about a potential new Halo game, in a demonstration of the Kinect, they briefly displayed an image showing “Halo 5″ for a second or so. What happened to Halo 4, anyway?
* Magicka, the new indie hit with its innovative magic system, has hit 200K in sales. Certainly, with a lot of the bugs patched, it is a much more solid, enjoyable game and with only a few more minor tweaks, proper online play is viable. DLC is forthcoming.
* Activision Blizzard has been in the news a lot recently, with Blizzard announcing that its upcoming Starcraft II expansion, Heart of the Swarm, will likely not see a 2011 release.
* On the same front and despite its recent redundancies and the closing of a studio, rumours abound that Activision are interested in acquiring Take-Two Interactive. The rumour comes from British gaming magazine MCV and, for those not in the know about European media, the tendency to be as vague as possible about your sources here leads me to take this rumour with a pinch of salt.
* The open beta of the F2P MMO APB: Reloaded has attracted over 100k sign-ups. With a beta program set to begin on the 28th of this month, there is hope to revive what was one of the biggest flops in video gaming history.
* In other F2P news, Champions Online’s switch to a F2P model seems to have propped up Atari’s failing boxed retail sales and there is more news on Paradox Interactive’s Salem popping up, confirming perma-death.
* Finally, it seems Bungie are working on a new MMO FPS, possibly titled Destiny. Rumours abound about this ambitious project, which will be Bungie’s first post-Halo offering.
The big story today is that Crysis 2 and Killzone 3 have both been leaked onto the internet by pirates. The PS3 Killzone 3 leak comes after the Sony’s failed attempts to subpoena Google and Twitter in relation to PS3 hacks. In a joint statement, EA and Crytek lamented the leak of Crysis 2 and encouraged players to buy the game.
What this has lead to is two rather undesirable groups emerging: on the one hand we have the pirates themselves who use all sorts of justifications for their illegal activity and on the other PC gamers who run to levels of self-depreciation that would make Opus Dei members pause. What is needed, in my opinion, is a middle ground between these ultimately unhelpful extremes.
As an example of a better middle ground, l would present the reactions of people like Ice-Pick Lodge in response to the piracy of The Void and that of Gratuitous Space Battles creator Cliff Harris. They spoke with and tried to understand why pirates pirated games, Ice Pick even made a torrent of bonus content available. They were not sympathetic to pirates, as Cliff Harris wrote in his summary of events, but they tried to tackle the problem without useless recourse to DRM or talking about pirates while using the noun “fuck” or the adjective “fucking” every five seconds. As to The Void and GSB, I encourage everyone to look at and buy those excellent games.
Our second story is about the fate of Mirror’s Edge 2. EA rejected the pitch given by Swedish developer DICE after what was acknowledged to be less than expected sales of the first game. Despite excellent reviews, the game only entered UK charts at 20. While people at DICE have moved on to Battlefield 3, EA commented to 1UP claiming that the game was still in the background, refusing to confirm the game’s cancellation, and that it was “an important franchise” to EA. Further news on the future of the game as it comes. I personally find it telling that EA thinks of it as “IP” and a franchise rather than as a game, but that is inevitable given they are a large publisher who think in terms of what sells or does not rather than the innovation, beauty and grace of a game.
That’s all for the second week in gaming. Have a good weekend.