Archive for the ‘THQ’ Tag

Pointless offers   Leave a comment

Last week, the recently F2P MMO Crimecraft: Bleedout had a special offer on that was typical of special offers on the F2P sections of Steam: join, try it now and you’ll get in-game advances and items for which you normally pay. These offers work because it gives an incentive to try a F2P game out of the bunch that you wouldn’t normally pick up.

I play a few F2P games, I generally aim to be cost-effective when it comes to gaming, a hangover from bygone unemployed days and F2P games give a lot of room to try before cash changes hands. This is good and I generally find the games that I pay into are not ones I feel I need to pay into to get ahead, they are games like League of Legends that end up making pay cash almost as a ‘thank you’ to the developers. That’s the attitude I’ve stuck by, games that feel like they are wrangling cash from me fall by the wayside.

Now, this sort of offer on Steam is great because I can’t download and try every F2P, nor would I want to. My games catalogue is massive on PC alone, not adding in the catalogues of my retro home computer and console gaming or the tabletop gaming I do. I will never run out of what I already have to play unless I moved into my dad’s attic and quit my job and all social contact. Further, I would need to wade through as much rubbish as my current catalogues to find the League of Legendses or Lord of the Rings Onlines. These offers are a great way to tapping the flow, as it were, and offering up the F2P buffet in manageable plate-loads.

The problem is when a game company seems to want more players than it is willing to reasonably support. So this offer on Crimecraft was up until the 29th and I made several attempts to get in there, create a character and play. I download the game via Steam, create my account, login. There are two servers. The first (Exeter) is full and the other has a population of high (Euricho). So I try Euricho first and I’m put in a queue of nearly 700 people. I estimated by the drop rate that it would take me about half an hour to forty-five minutes to get in, so I try later.

Later does not work. The same problem in both servers. They are stretched beyond what they can reasonably support. I don’t mind the game supporting such a limited userbase, it’s ultimately up to the game publishers, but why have a special offer trying to draw more players in when the special offer will only be accessible to a remote portion of those players?

Sure, it will potentially increase the player base and, therefore, income for the game. I tried logging in today and neither server was a problem this time, so it was short-term, but it doesn’t say much for the game’s attitude to its players. Imagine logging on to the game as a loyal player who’d been playing that game before the offer. Suddenly, you cannot play or are forced to wait up to an hour because they want to cram their servers full with potential cash-giving players.

Vogster (the developers) have a more than healthy sized community playing their game for the resources they allot it, unless their servers report false stats about player numbers. If they want to increase their base beyond what they currently have, they need an extra server.

The bigger problem is that this is indicative of some of the bad thinking behind F2P models. Players aren’t there to sell a set product to or build relationships with, they are cash pumps and you fit as many of them as you can in your game. Crimecraft isn’t necessarily advocating this outlook, but it would seem it given they made a drive to get more players than they can support comfortably. People need to be very sceptical of F2P games and I think they really need to know the sorts of business models being used before they feel comfortable investing.


This week in gaming.   Leave a comment

* SquareEnix are speculated to soon unveil a new Carmageddon game, after the cancellation of the series in 2005.

* The Witcher 2 will require an NTFS-formatted HDD (with 16 Gb for the game) due to the file size limitations of FAT32 and the large size of some of the game’s files.

* Dragon Age 3, despite the poor reception from gamers of Dragon Age 2, is on the horizon as BioWare starts looking for environmental artists.

* Gameloft’s CFO has argued that incorrect evaluation of market value has inflated the social gaming market and created an unsustainable bubble.

* The eagerly awaited open beta of APB Reloaded, set to start on the 18th May, has been delayed due to an unforeseen bug.

* On the subject of MMO Betas, Guild Wars 2 will have its own coming in the second half of this year.

* Despite the partial reversal of fortune for the beleaguered studio, Champions Online and Star Trek Online developer Cryptic Studios is to be sold by Atari.

* On the subject of decline, NCSoft has attributed limited marketing to its own decreased sales.

* CD Projekt Red have announced that The Witcher 2’s upcoming DLC will be free.

* THQ now argues that it rivals EA and Activision-Blizzard in size following the success of Homefront. Homefront’s mediocrity evidently didn’t damage it’s sales too badly.

* Sony Online Entertainment is offering free identity protection services to European customers who might have been affected by the recent hack.

* Honest Hearts, the first of three recently announced DLC packs for Fallout: New Vegas, has been released.

This week in gaming   Leave a comment

I’m abandoning main news in order to push for more separate news articles, leaving more room for quick-cap news here.

* Opposable Thumbs talked about the story and aftermath of the controversial Potato Sack promotion for Portal 2.

* One of the iconic Abe games (Oddysee or Exoddus) is getting a new HD remake sometime in the future, it has been confirmed. We can hope this’ll find its way to the PC.

* THQ’s Red Faction: Armageddon has been delayed by a week, no explanation has been given but last minute bug fixing is suspected.

* After disaster after disaster, F.E.A.R. 3 has been pushed back again from its already amended release date to later in June.

* EA’s latest Need for Speed entry, The Run, has been detailed and dated for a November release.

* Players will be able to download the Brink server software via Steam before the game’s release. Bethesda have also offered an FAQ about the configuration of the server.

* With their recent woes, JoWood have received a helping hand from who are selling JoWood titles with up to 75% off this weekend. With a little luck, this’ll help keep the wolf from JoWood’s doors.

* John Romero has started work on a new Facebook game. The game, Cloudforest Expedition, will be the second game that Romero makes on Facebook and is expected this Summer.

* Lord of the Rings Online creators Turbine are merging their US and EU LOTRO servers, relieving Codemasters Online of their duties maintaining the EU servers on the 1st June.

* After a bumpy ride with Alpha Protocol, but success with Fallout: New Vegas and preparations to ship the new Dungeon Siege game, Obsidian Entertainment have apparently gone through a round of layoffs.

* Mojang have released details about the modding plans to be implemented in Minecraft Beta 1.6.

* Bethesda have released details of the changes from Oblivion to Skyrim. Looking at some of the changes (especially to attributes), I don’t think this’ll be the breaker in my downward preference for Elder Scrolls games (from Daggerfall onwards, anyway).

That’s all for this week. See you after the weekend.

This week in gaming   Leave a comment

Sorry it’s a day late. Holidays created the delay.

Quick cap news

* South Korea has enacted a gaming curfew preventing gamers aged 15 or under from playing online games from midnight to 6AM. The curfew was passed unanimously.

* Gearbox has announced that any talk about Borderlands 2 not from them should be dismissed. It has stopped it popping up.

* Telltale has announced a release date for the remake of Hector: Badge of Carnage.

* An “ultra edition” of Super Meat Boy for the PC has been announced for release in the UK between and September.

* With its UK release, Mortal Kombat creator Ed Boon recalls the original game’s controversy nearly 20 years ago.

* THQ reports boosted sales for Dawn of War II Retribution after switching the platform from Games for Window Live to Steam.

* Ubisoft are offering free games with every purchase this weekend. It wouldn’t be too hard to purchase all the Ubisoft games worth having with such an offer.

* Fallout: New Vegas has little in the way of extra DLC so far, but that has not stopped a GOTY edition being prepared, it seems.

* An internal memo from Activision revealed a very strong optimism on the future strength of the Call of Duty series, good news for Call of Duty fans.

* Fans protested against certain aspects of Portal 2 on Metacritic. Personally, I agree that the in-game store is a bit of a low blow from Valve, but finds the criticism beside quite off the mark.

Main news

Lack of time means there’s no main news this week, but the upcoming week promises a full return to schedule and a review of Portal 2.

Saints Row the Third “trailer” (PC preview)   Leave a comment

Quite April Fools-esque, but here it is:

Better than Homefront, though, I’m sure.

Atom Zombie Smasher review tomorrow, hopefully Hoard later in the week.

This week in gaming   Leave a comment

Quick cap news

* Valve are remaining quite vague about future projects, there are signs of a Counter-Strike 2, but no real news of the next Half Life 2 episode.

* EA seem to be cracking down on fan-made remakes of the old Ultima IV game. The game was declared freeware by Origin before EA’s acquisition of them, leading some to assume incorrectly that the game is public domain.

* Bungie are excited about the hands-off approach Activision are taking towards the former Microsoft developer in their partnership.

* THQ announced hefty job cuts at both Volition and Kaos Studios, further proof that Homefront sucked.

* Despite the interesting choice of day for the announcement, Magicka: Vietnam will be coming on the 12th April, apparently.

* co-founder and editor talks about the reasoning behind the shutting down of the individual developer ratings on Metacritic, as well as the original concept itself.

* The new Mortal Kombat game will require an online pass purchase for second-hand buyers, with Warner Bros. following suite to EA and THQ. This controversial system sparked criticism when players mistakenly bought passes for first-hand copies of THQ’s UFC 2010 as well as the difficulty it causes for second-hand games retailers.

* Atari have been raiding their old catalogues lately and have come up with a another remake. This time, 1980’s Warlords sees new life for the modern age.

* Rise of the Immortals, Petroglyph’s F2P entry into the MOBA genre, has a closed beta starting on the 5th April. This is your last chance to get in line, folks.

Main news

It seems that David Gaider really sees the haters hating at the moment. Following his defence of Dragon Age II against the attacks of one gamer, Gaider experienced hostility from homosexual gamers who felt that Anders was portrayed as the stereotypical gay man who wants to seduce the straight guy and won’t accept no for an answer due to the rivalry gained for rejecting his advances.

Some think this smacks too much of the stereotype used in the (frankly, barbaric) “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of the US military; others think it would be more worrying (and telling) if he didn’t react negatively at all; others have argued that it is good because it shows Bastal (the “Straight Male Gamer” of this affair) what it is like to be a woman (in that he is constantly receiving unwanted sexual advances). I think all of these positions are just the sort of utter nonsense that should lead anyone rational to realise how trivial all this ultimately is.

In more important news that is not becoming increasingly mired in senseless identity politics, Ubisoft have been granted an injunction by a Montreal court against THQ. The injuction prevents THQ from “poaching” staff from Ubisoft for its new Montreal branch. The law courts have been active at the moment, since Silicon Knights’s case against Epic Games over forced setbacks on the development of Too Human is finally going to court. Email logs from Epic apparently show that developers assigned to aid Silicon Knights with the Epic Engine were told that Gears of War tasks took priority over Too Human tasks and the tools for the engine were not up to the agreed-upon standard, which Silicon Knights argues was a breach of contract. Epic launched a counter-suit, claiming Silicon Knights’s subsequent in-house engine stole Epic technology and believes it will be vindicated in the end, according to a press statement they released.

This week in gaming   Leave a comment

The quick cap news

* falsely reported two new Fallout: NV DLC packs on their way, but the report was denied by Bethesda.

* One more reason to see the PC as the natural home of the indie developer is that Nintendo stated a complete lack of interest in what it calls “garage devs.” Most think it is merely the Nintendo crying at the Apple Store eating so readily into handheld sales.

* NPD have stated that they are slowly adapting to the new era of digital distribution, after criticism that it couldn’t account for what is now 40% of the market and still growing.

* The new Stars Wars MMO from Bioware Austin, the Old Republic, has nearly 1.5 million beta-testers according to EA.

* For those with misgivings about the bugs in Dragon Age II, a patch has been released which most importantly fixes the busted save file problem.

* The final DLC for Mass Effect 2, called Arrival, will see the light of day on 29th March, across all platforms. This last DLC sees Shepherd to the edge of the known galaxy and will lead in to Mass Effect 3.

* Volition are saying the PC is worth investing in, despite the threat of piracy. I suppose that’s very easy to say given that they probably know as well as anyone that piracy dents sales very little.

* On the subject of piracy, Ubisoft showed themselves to be both dumb and hypocritical this week as it was discovered they had effectively “pirated” their own stuff after a Reddit user launched the accusation.

* Jagex, developers of RuneScape, have a deal with Hasbro to make a new Transformers-based MMO expected to be released sometime in 2012.

* Valve announced that they were hiring Doug Church. Church has an impressive 20-year long career that saw him work on projects like Thief: the Dark Project, System Shock and Ultima.

The Main News

The big story today is that the $400m Activision versus EA lawsuit got the go ahead and has been scheduled for May. The saga started after Activision counter-sued ex-Infinity Ward devs who accused Activision of firing them to avoid royalty payments. The suit exploded as 38 others at Infinity Ward then filed lawsuit against Activision. EA were added into this after Activision accused them on using unlawful practices to create this whole situation for Activision in the first place.

It, finally, gives me such great pleasure to announce that a game I loathed since I first heard its stupid, half-baked premise and saw the ridiculous and sometimes tasteless publicity stunts pulled for it has been released to utter disappointment of the part of reviewers. Homefront’s release to poor reviews left publisher THQ with falling stock by more than 20 percent. Reviews concentrated on how brief the single-player campaign was, as well as poor writing and voice acting, while speaking more favourably of the multiplayer aspect. If you’re are looking for a decent multiplayer game, however, you can do a lot better for a lot cheaper without having to go through an utterly implausible story. Even reading the reviews that are 80+ on Metacritic, they often point out the same problems as the lower reviews, but seem arbitrarily to tack on a good score as if to keep THQ happy.