Not even a month removed from its penny-pincher friendly, yet – for us – utterly bank-breaking Thanksgiving sale, Steam’s back with more holiday deals than you can shake a stocking, jingle bell, or other holiday themed shakable object at.
As with last month’s sale, Valve’s elected to rotate in new deals each day until January 3, in addition to continuous discounts on nearly every game in its colossal catalog. So, what’s under the tree today? Well, in the “this would be a pretty decent deal under any other circumstance, but Mirror’s Edge is going for $4.99, GTA IV’s at $7.49, and STALKER’s at $1.99” category is Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising at $19.99. There are some other nice deals in there too, but for some reason, that one really stood out to us.
Now then, make with the buying. Not since the olde times when can-kicking was nearly an Olympic Sport could you purchase hours upon hours of cutting-edge entertainment for the price of a can of cola. Go live the consumerist dream.
Torchlight’s a fantastic game – no doubt – but let’s be honest here; the devilishly addictive Diablo clone only contains about three different types of objectives. Fortunately, Runic’s released an update that adds 60 Steam Achievements, which sounds like just the thing to spice up that fifth playthrough you’ve been mulling over.
In addition, for those who want to send their saves to the eternal save haven that is the Steam Cloud, Torchlight now supports that too. And, to sweeten this deal that we erroneously declared “spicy” only two sentences ago, Torchlight’s 50% off until Monday.
That puts one of the best PC-exclusives of the year at $10. If this doesn’t excite you, check your pulse, because you’re probably dead. Or you already own Torchlight, which would explain why it’s suddenly so intelligent in here.
Today may be Thanksgiving, but over in Steamsville, it’s already Christmas. So, what’s under the tree? Damn near everything. For the next five days, Steam will be discounting different selections of games every 24 hours. So maybe the whole thing’s actually more like Hanukah, but we digress…
These aren’t just dusty old re-gifted games either. They’re fresh off the virtual shelf. For instance, right now, Batman: Arkham Asylum’s going for $25, and a whole mess of THQ games – including Red Faction: Guerrilla, Saints Row 2, and Dawn of War II – have been bundled together for only $49.99! But wait, there’s more! Dragon Age, Champions Online, Grid, Far Cry 2, and a LucasArts bundle have all dropped into impulse purchase territory, and with that kind of Death Star-sized tractor beam tugging at your wallet, how can you refuse?
You can’t – because even shop-lifting rarely produces prices this low. Penny-pinchers, it’s finally time to give your fingers a break. On the menu are your dreams, and it’s Steam’s treat.
Just a warning, though, Gabe Newell. You’re not the first somewhat rotund man to be extremely generous around December. Not that we’re complaining, but you’re stepping into Santa territory, and we hear jolly old Saint Nick has quite the legal team.
Everyone wants a piece of the direct-download pie. With apologies to our gaming columnist for inching onto his beat just a tad, I think that some intrepid gamer - or, better, an intrepid gamer-businessman - needs to put his finger in the swelling dike of direct download services before it bursts all over the Web and ruins us all.
Dramatic? Perhaps. The description is no less dramatic than my growing frustration at the inability to manage my downloads, multiplayer experience, and cash across the many platforms that exist on the modern-day "Gamer's Internet." In a perfect world, the various game publishers would band together and come up with a common solution-a universal iTunes, if you will-by which all could contribute core content, extras, add-ons, and share the costs of bandwidth, UI development, and communal matchmaking.
A couple days ago, we published a chat with Gearbox Software’s main mouthpiece, Randy Pitchford. And boy can he talk. And when he talks the talk, other people get to talking too. Especially when Pitchford launches a few verbal volleys in Steam’s direction – calling it a “money grab” -- as he did in our interview. As a result, Tripwire Interactive (Red Orchestra, Killing Floor) president John Gibson has decided to fire back.
“Is Valve exploiting independent developers? In short: absolutely not. Without pulling any punches, I can say with certainty that if it weren't for Steam, there would be no Tripwire Interactive right now,” Gibson said, explaining that he believes Valve has “kicked off an indie revolution.”
“Randy's statements suggest that small developers are getting ripped off through their royalty rates. Without breaking any non-disclosure agreements, let me just say that our royalty deal was great, and is in line with what I understand that other digital distribution services are offering.”
“We have never had a situation where Valve downplayed our competing titles. On the contrary, they have done a great job of promoting our games on the front page of the Steam store and through the pop-up advertisements on Steam.”
Gibson also emphasized that all publishers find themselves awash in the murk of “conflicts of interest” at some point or another. “With console digital distribution, Microsoft and Sony have a complete monopoly on their platforms, and both companies make first party games. At least Valve has competition on the PC,” he added.
Gibson’s full response is available for your perusal over at Gamasutra. It’s definitely worth a read.
Valve has released the first screenshot of Left 4 Dead 2's third campaign, Dark Carnival. Following The Parish and Swamp Fever (revealed at E3 and Comic-Con, respectively), Dark Carnival will be playable at this year's Penny Arcade Expo, taking place September 4th through 6th in Seattle. Valve will also unveil a few more of Left 4 Dead 2's 20+ new in-game items at PAX.
Yeah – this is getting pretty ridiculous. Just when you thought Valve’s market-dominating Steam service couldn’t cut any more off its game prices without bleeding money, they go and prove everyone wrong.
This weekend, Valve’s offering the Orange Box – a complete steal even at its original price – for $9.99. For those who haven’t been keeping score, the Orange Box contains Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episodes One and Two, Half-Life 2: The Lost Coast, Portal, and Team Fortress 2. Really, the only things this virtual incarnation of said box lacks are, well, actual oranges and any sort of box. But hey, you’re saving the trees for cheap, and isn’t that basically the American Dream?
So, six amazing games. Ten bucks. Breathing lightly on piggy bank will yield you that kind of scratch. Seriously, if you haven’t played these games, what are you even waiting for? Afraid you might lose your job while utterly engrossed in your new purchases? Well, if Steam keeps topping itself like this, you probably won’t need much money to keep your gaming appetite sated anyway.
Valve’s quiet, non-intrusive DRM solution – if nothing else – is highly preferable to many publishers’ boisterous assault on our PCs’ (presumed) innocence. We’d like to think Steam’s colossal success in some way attests to this.
So of course, Valve’s announcement that it’s now offering that DRM solution, known as the Custom Executable Generation, to any and all developers free of charge is reason enough to break out the Headcrab-shaped party hats. Or read press release quotes. Actually, you know what? Since we’re getting wild and crazy with excitement here, let’s just do both.
“Headlining the new feature set is the Custom Executable Generation (CEG) technology that compliments the already existing anti-piracy solution offered in Steamworks. A customer friendly approach to anti-piracy, CEG makes unique copies of games for each user allowing them to access the application on multiple machines without install limits and without having to install root kits on their PC,” explained the press release.
The new set of features also includes support for in-game DLC and a Left 4 Dead-tested, Valve-approved matchmaking system. Cool beans.
"Delivering this extension of services on Steamworks first anniversary, demonstrates our commitment to continually develop the platform to better serve the community working with these tools," said Gabe Newell, president and co-founder of Valve. "As we roll out these features, we continue to look for new ways make PC games easier to create and better for customers to experience."
And yes, before you make a snarky comment about it: DRM was already obsolete. But now it’s obsolete-er. It’s like making a horse ride in a trailer attached to a truck; the passing of the torch – especially in a situation like the one DRM has forced gamers into – need not always be cordial.
Steam’s only one or two artillery shells away from becoming Skynet at this point, we think. First, it gained access to the Internet’s vast wells of knowledge, and now the thing can even purchase DLC, if it’s feeling so inclined. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t a little more worried than we’ve ever been in our entire lives.
“Valve, creators of best-selling entertainment products and advanced technologies, today announced the arrival of in-game downloadable content to Steam, their massively popular PC gaming platform. In-game DLC allows developers and publishers to use their own games as a platform for selling additional content to gamers,” read Valve’s press release.
In other words, no more middleman. Shift-tab, grab a few new items, maybe a war against China, and hop right back into the game. No muss, no fuss – just complete reliance on Steam quick, efficient fun.
You hear that, GameStop? Capcom thinks you’re all washed up. Maybe it’s time to let the younger, prettier, and – most of all – immaterial new generation start helping you across the street, because your time’s running short. In an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, Capcom VP of strategic planning Christian Svensson explained why.
“Absolutely. No question in my mind. Digital distribution on PC ties directly into our strategy," Svensson replied when asked whether or not digital beats retail. “We will probably do as much digital selling as retail in the current climate,” he later added.
“To that end, on the PC side, I’ve spent the past year building up a digital distribution channel that has about twenty different partners. We’re ready on the console side, and we were the first Japanese publisher to do anything on Steam.”
Just in time, too. Our collection of game manuals was starting to get a little out of hand.