It’s no secret that YouTube has yet to turn a profit. Despite steadily growing advertising revenue, the massive bandwidth costs required to stream a bazillion videos a day has kept the video giant out of the black. However, the company has announced an ambitious plan to monetize all those page-views by embedding their watch pages with “click-to-buy” links to retailers offering products related to the video.
YouTube is starting small, with iTunes and Amazon links on videos posted by certain record labels and trailers from Electronic Arts, but it plans to “slowly but surely expand the program to additional content and product partners.” They also plan to allow their advertising partners the opportunity to attach retail links to copyright-infringing videos posted by users, as long as they allow the video to remain on the site.
The program will initially only effect viewers in the United States, but if you live elsewhere and feel like you’re not seeing enough advertising in your daily life, don’t worry; YouTube plans to expand to other markets soon.
This is freaking brilliant. Warhammer Online, as with any MMO, is home to a number of -- in this case, preternaturally quick -- gold spammers. But unlike those other MMOs, whose developers only emerge, spit a "Get off my lawn!" at the gold-amassing fiends, and then stomp back into their lairs, far too uncaring to actually latch the gate behind them, Mythic is taking a different approach.
"Since WAR launched we have been banning these jerks like crazy," Mythic co-founder Mark Jacobs wrote in his blog. "As of Saturday Night, we had banned about 400 of them. My CSRs have a zero tolerance policy. We don’t wait and let them stay in the game and ban them en-masse, my guys ban their useless, time-consuming butts right away. We have a strike team whose sole job it is to get these guys off our servers as quickly as possible."
But that's not even the best part. Jacobs continued:
"This weekend, we unveiled a new wrinkle in the fight against them, the public ban message. Players on our Phoenix Throne server have been treated to special messages when a gold seller/spammer is banned. I’ve given them a wide leash to come up with creative messages to tell the entire community who has been banned and we keep it within the Warhammer universe."
"Messages like 'Tchar’zanek has ordered the slaughter of [Spammer] and all others of his kind who weaken the Raven Host by providing wealth and power to the unworthy' have been seen all weekend. We will continue this policy and expand it to the other servers. We are in for a real fight against these bottom feeders and it will be a long and costly battle but it’s one we are going to take to them and this is only the first step."
We don't know about you, but we've never tossed our hard-earned dollars into a spammer's alchemic pot, and we sure as hell aren't starting now. Now if you'll excuse us, we must return to killing everythingthat moves and rooting through fresh remains. Ah, nothing like an honest day's work to set the mind at ease.
After fighting the ill-advised fight for nearly two weeks, the powers that be at EA finally decided to take a walk on the sane side. In a statement released today, EA promised to add a touch of intelligent design to Spore's ridiculously restrictive DRM by doing the following:
Expand the number of eligible machines from three to five.
Continue to offer channels to request additional activations where warranted.
Expedite our development of a system that will allow consumers to de-authorize machines and move authorizations to new machines. When this system goes online, it will effectively give players direct control to manage their authorizations between an unlimited number of machines.
Additionally, the Spore Online Account system will soon receive an overhaul -- allowing up to five unique identities per account.
The question, however, is whether any of this actually matters. Spore is still wrapped in the slimy tendrils of DRM, and just because EA decided to lop off a few doesn't mean the publisher has mopped up all of the bad blood it's managed to accrue. But what's your take?
Allow us to paint you a picture: It's non-denominational politically correct holiday morning. You burst free from beneath your covers, quivering from a mix of the wintery chill meandering through your room and sheer, unbridled excitement. With each successive footfall, your speed builds; the world around you is a blur. Chairs, tables, and boxes impede your path, but it's no matter -- you've been practicing. Bathed in the glow of your fireplace, you shatter the brightly colored paper that encases your gift.
However, within the box's ruins, you find only a small scrap of paper. Obviously composed by your parents, it tells you to check Maximum PC for the sad truth that sullied what should've been your finest day. According to your parents' note, the MPC post is dated 9/16/08.
After hurriedly booting up your PC and searching the article, your eyes shift immediately to a bolded bit of text near the middle of the page. "GameStop's website now lists Mirror's Edge PC's release date as January 6, 2009," it reads. "Additionally, Amazon users who preordered the title have also been notified that the game will be launching on that day."
Disheartened, but willing to wait, you decide to read the rest of the article to pass the time. But the article -- its contents -- seem a little too accurate, you soon realize as your eyes grow wide.
We know everything about you, unsuspecting reader from Applewood, Colorado. Your past, future, and present are an open book -- a brittle-paged tome for our amusement. You can't escape; we will always know where you are.
Game publisher Electronic Arts has been catching a great deal of flak over its decision to saddle Spore with SecuROM inspired DRM. What was to be a hotly anticipated creature creator game now stands as a product to be made an example of by angry PC gamers who have the nerve to want to be treated like a consumer rather than a potential thief. Well over 2,000 Amazon 'customer reviews' have Spore pegged with a 1.5 star rating, most of which feature angry rhetoric over Spore's DRM, which limits users to three activations As one reviewer put it, "this basically means that you are actually RENTING the game, instead of owning it."
But is EA being unreasonable? The publisher claims the three PC limit essentially represents a balance of meeting the needs of the largest portion of its user base while still limiting piracy. EA notes that, according to its own stats, less than 25 percent of its customers ever activate a game on more than one machine, and those that wish to activate on more than three accounts fall into the under one percentile.
Hit the jump to see what else EA had to say on the matter.
It doesn't matter that you rarely, if ever, saw Scrappy-Doo get into a fight, because you always knew that given the chance, he'd be ready to throw down no matter who the opponent was. Apparently that same spunkiness doesn't translate into the tech industry. How many times did we hear about Microsoft promising a hostile takeover of Yahoo its demands weren't met? Skip ahead a few months and Microsoft is still Microsoft, while Yahoo is still Yahoo.
Now it's Electronic Arts who is backing down in its hostile takeover bid, who earlier this year took it unsolicited $2 billion bid public for rival game maker Take-Two Interactive, best known for the Grand Theft Auto series. EA tried unsuccessfully to buy Take-Two back in February for $26 per share, and after the offer was refused, EA tried its hand at strong-arming Take-Two with threats of a hostile bid, only to extend the deadline multiple times.
The hostile bid official ended in August, and now one month later, so too has EA's interest in the company. Perhaps Spore is doing better than the Amazon customer reviews would indicate?
As sunlight glinted off a grenade reaching the zenith of its soldier-bound arc, I could only wonder what my hapless opponent was thinking. See, the man was rooted -- as though entangled in nearby bushes -- to his position. There had to be a reason. Maybe he was a mathematician without peer; he'd done the calculations and no matter how fast he ran, he'd soon be engulfed by my ordinance's cantaloupe-colored splash. Or maybe his path in life had been bordered by four leaf clovers -- his luck so great, he was certain the grenade would be a dud. Maybe he just couldn't take life anymore. But then all of that ceased to matter.
As I continued my stroll through the brightly colored playground of destruction, I noticed that other soldiers were, all told, pretty okay with Havok-powered, life-halting flights.
Yeah, my enemies were walking vegetables. The only damage I accrued was a sinking sense of utter disappointment. Mercenaries 2, after its top-notch predecessor, labored development cycle, and catchy commercial jingle, was a big, fat letdown.
So, have you ever surfed a game's hype wave, only to reach a completely non-descript shore? What's your biggest gaming letdown? What game had you brimming with excitement, but only left you shuddering with rage? (And don't say Daikatana, because that's a cop-out.)
Today's Roundup is reporting live from outside a dark, ominous cloud that's recently enveloped one of the decade's biggest upcoming games. Additionally, you'll find stories about the MMO market's failings, a dev whose unmentionables you'll want to boot, and the Xbox 360's upper limits. All that and more after the break.
"Gordon Freeman is a menace to society. When he's not bludgeoning our men with cars and annihilating our demolition teams with their own ordinances, he's white-washing their corpses with paint and treating wild, endangered headcrabs like lowly mammalian bulls. Sure, we enslaved his species and all, but does he have to be such a jerk about it? He toys with us as though this were some sort of game, and we won't stand for it."
--An excerpt from The Combine Times, the final Combine paper to include anything other than obituaries.
--Gordon Freeman's reply
Yeah, Gordon Freeman isn't the most loquacious guy around. He speaks through his actions -- or rather, your actions. But that's what makes him great. He's a videogame character under your direct control. He fights like you, so why shouldn't he think like you?
As you've probably noticed, my particular Gordon Freeman is, well, have you ever imagined what it'd be like if one of the loud-mouthed, rap-prone kids on Xbox Live was tasked with saving all of humanity (and managing a classy goatee)? Am I like that in real life? No, but slipping into the hazard suit of a silent protagonist like Gordon Freeman allows me to project a side of myself into the game that hardly even exists in reality. I'm not constrained by any pre-set personality the man might have, so my imagination washes over the game, and it becomes a whole new experience.
Sure, I enjoy having the tightly braided engagement-lasso of a compelling, whip-smart lead wrapped around my neck as much as anyone, but I also think that such a lead doesn't lend him/herself well to gaming's main strength: interactivity.
So, how do you like your protagonist: strong and silent with a side of whatever you want, or glib -- fried up and delivered just as the developers ordered?
Today's Roundup features heroes of both varieties, along with a smattering of other stories about your favorite industry. From details about WoW's colossal (and free!) pre-WotLK update, to exclusive titles' death knells, there's no way you'll leave this Roundup without something to talk about. Jump past the break for more.
Electronic Arts' infatuation with rival video game maker Take-Two Interactive have been anything but secret, nor has Take-Two's rejection. In late February, Take-Two publicly rejected EA's unsolicited takeover bid worth roughly $2 billion, a move Take-Two accused of being "opportunistic" with Grand Theft Auto IV nearing release. Not taking the rejection well, EA threatened with a hostile takeover in the following months, but has since backed down.
Now it appears the two game makers may be on the road to recovery, but unlike the previous spats, the current negotiations are being kept secret. According to EA's recent regulatory filing, both companies have signed a confidentiality agreement after agreeing to hold private talks about a potential transaction.
"As a result, EA does not intend to make any further announcements regarding the status of any discussions or negotiations with Take-Two unless and until discussions between EA and Take-Two have been terminated or such parties have entered into a transaction," EA wrote.
"Mwahahaha," I cackled gleefully as I skewered a yet another hapless Storm Trooper in the recent Star Wars: The Force Unleashed demo. "Help!" the poor soldier's cry echoed off the walls. But I didn't care. With a flick of my character's wrist, my foe's armor was put to its final test: a steel reinforced ceiling. My grin only widened when gravity yanked the Storm Trooper out of his skyward flight, planting him on the cold floor with a satisfying crack.
I'm a maniacal jerk.
Or at least I was -- in the game. Actually, "irl," I'd say I'm a fairly mild-mannered person. But unless you consider cheaply-constructed, mass-produced action figures to be an artistic medium, videogames are the only medium that allows us to act out our (seemingly sick) fantasies. Gaming's greatest detractors fault our hobby for being violent, and I'm not inclined to disagree with them. But hey, over-the-top violence goes hand-in-hand with interactivity. With the aforementioned action figures, many of us staged tumultuous battles, with swords, guns, fists -- everything -- in an almost primal manner. And it was fun.
Fact is, people are inclined towards violence. We wolf down popcorn while watching actors pretend to put bullets in each others' brains; we slow down traffic for a gander at a car accident. Our media expresses this -- caters to it, even. But society goes on. Few of our sane population are lugging around shotguns or holding up convenience stores with trusty stabbin' knives. Sure, circumstances cause people to do some pretty awful things, but generally out of necessity -- not for fun. And really, that's why videogame violence is great. It's catharsis -- a harmless arena in which we can live out our horrific, Trooper-smashing fantasies.
So, what's the most sadistic, cringe-worthy thing you've ever done in a game? To take things a notch further, think about the gamess you typically play. How many of them aren't in some way violent?
Today's Roundup features games that are, as you'd expect, violent, but one in particular uses its controversial brand of destruction to further a greater cause. In addition, you'll find Clive Barker's pie-in-the-sky dreams for the horror genre, hardware manufacturers' dirty little piracy-related secret, and more. It's all after the break.