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.
Traditionally a console-focused publisher, Square Enix has finally decided to bestow its, er, unique sensibilities upon Steam’s ever-growing masses.
On April 9, the Japanese mega-publisher will drop add its first drop – a JRPG called The Last Remnant – to Steam’s bucket, with promises of more to come.
"We are excited to offer the millions of Steam customers online access to Square Enix titles beginning with our major action RPG, The Last Remnant," said John Yamamoto, president and chief executive officer of Square Enix."Square Enix is committed to delivering the best quality titles to PC gamers and distribution on Steam is one of the many steps we are taking to increase accessibility for fans in North America and PAL territories."
We think it’s great that Steam’s embracing the Japanese side of PC gaming – just so long as it shies away from groping around in this steamy (read: NSFW) region. Thanks in advance, Valve!
You should be excited about this. Like, sure-let’s-raise-and-drop-the-New-Year’s-Ball-again excited. If you don’t know why, here’s some homework.
Anyway, at today’s Valve DICE keynote, Gabe Newell announced that a series of Valve-penned comics are setting up shop on Valve’s Monopoly map, and – even better – that they will receive their Certified Fine Art status from the team responsible for Valve’s “Meet the” series of Team Fortress 2 movies.
Ahem. Apparently, the comic is meant to “excite customers about the company’s games outside of creating game content.”
Delightful. 2009 is now officially Best Year of the Century.
Well, kinda. GameStop has reopened its palace doors to Dawn of War II and – by virtue of its inclusion with the game -- would-be assassin Steam, but THQ’s Saints Row II and 2K’s NBA 2K9 remain conspicuously absent.
Upon its removal from GameStop’s pre-order list, Dawn of War II was thought to be the opening volley in a scuff between storefronts – retail vs. online, to be specific. GameStop employees, however, insisted that the retail giant merely exhausted its pre-order supply for a short period of time.
Certainly, GameStop’s passive refusal to slow its waterfalls of boiling oil for Saints Row II and NBA 2K9 seems a little odd, but re-stocking Dawn of War II – PC gaming’s first heavy-hitter of 2009 – pretty much puts the kibosh on any sort of cold war between GameStop and Steam.
PC gaming isn’t dead; it’s merely waiting for the day conditions are finally right for its return. Like Jesus! However, it looks like Our Lord and Savior (or incarnation of your particular religion’s greatest evil – you know, whichever) is posting a Craig’s List bulletin searching for a new pal for Friday night card games, because PC gaming’s “return” is nigh.
Finally, someone – in this case, fractiously monikered gaming blog Rock Paper Shotgun – has conducted a semi-official survey of PC gamers’ buying habits. The result? RPS discovered that, of the 2,000 keyboard warriors interrogated, 93% have digitally purchased at least one PC game in the past 12 months, 71% bought more than four games digitally, and, through some flashy mathematics, that 47% of all PC purchases in 2008 were digital.
Assuming that RPS’ findings are more or less accurate, this means NPD’s figures would nearly need to be doubled before hitting the mark.
Have the first shots in the long-brewing Digital Distribution vs. Retail Wars been fired? About two weeks ago, GameStop.com abruptly stopped taking pre-orders for THQ’s upcoming Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War II, and scrubbed any mention of the game from its site. While no one has been able to get an official reason out of either GameStop or THQ, the speculation is that the conspicuous disappearance is connected to the use of Valve’s Steam service as copy protection—GameStop is probably peeved that in order to install DoW2, gamers will have to install Steam and be presented with an option for fabulous deals on PC games that doesn’t require hauling their asses down to the mall and digging through all the Barbie Horse Adventure games on GameStop’s depressing PC corner shelf.
Further investigation, though, may indicate that this is no coincidence.