BioWare recently released some spankin’ new Mass Effect DLC, but, uh, it seems like they forgot to tell everyone. Titled “Pinnacle Station,” the Mass Effect DLC made a minimal impact upon landing, mostly because there was little-to-no pre-release hype associated with its launch. Oh sure, there were some hints – a wink, a nudge, and even a leak – but not a(n official) word from Microsoft or BioWare.
You’d think it’d be in your best interest to promote a new addition to your two year-old game, seeing as how most people have probably shelved it at this point. But then, we’re not marketing experts, so what do we know?
Anyway, the DLC costs five Washingtons – or one Lincoln – and gets Shepard and co. back in shape for Mass Effect 2 with 13 brand new combat missions.
Another week, another game calls in sick for 2009. So, Battlefield 1943, what’s your excuse? After all, it feels like you’ve been out on consoles since, well, 1943. What’s the hold up? Said producer Gordon Van Dyke:
“We haven't released a Frostbite [DICE's game engine] built game on PC, so going into this project we lacked a starting foundation we had on Console. There are also many different and unique only challenges to the PC that has lead to us pushing the release even further to Q1 CY 2010 [early next year].”
“This was a hard pill to swallow, but it was absolutely needed to ensure the features and functionality that PC Players have come to expect from Battlefield on PC are not missing. Things like support for DirectX 9 and 10, higher player count (up to 32-player matches), wide peripheral support i.e. Joysticks for flying, VoIP, and ranked server provider hosting. So it was and still is the absolutely right decision, for quality sake, to not release until it is ready.”
Disappointing as it is, you can’t really argue with that. See you front-and-center in 2010, Battlefield 1943. Until then, at ease, soldiers.
Ever have one of those moments where you said something completely inappropriate – like, say, any number of four letter words – while strolling through a locale where things like that just don’t fly – like, say, your kindergartener’s bring-your-parent-to-class day or a nun convention? You know how it is; seas of chit-chat part, as though diving out of the way of the approaching eighteen-wheeler that is the crushing realization that you just screwed up big-time.
Electronic Arts recently found itself caught in the sizzling headlights of a similar situation. In promoting upcoming hack ‘n’ slash ‘n’ totally ignore the source material Dante’s Inferno, EA thought it might be fun for gamers to take pictures of themselves performing “acts of lust” with its already swamped staff of Comic Con booth babes. The winner of this competition would then get a night on the town with said babes, and some other odds and ends. Yeah. Predictably, the entire gaming community immediately ceased to jabber about other topics, crossed its collective arms, and sent a damning glare in EA’s direction. “Oh, haha, we didn’t mean it like that,” EA essentially said in reply, backpedaling. But obviously, that didn’t undo the damage that’d already been done.
Clearly, EA – in this situation – had its audience pegged incorrectly. Despite our apparent love of some of life’s baser aspects (shooting, explosions, and John Madden, for instance), gamers don’t take too kindly to blatant misogyny. Big whoop, though, right? In many gamers’ eyes, this is just another dark mark on a record already stained by countless instances of greed and sloth. Throwing in lust just rounds out the roster, right? It’s EA, after all. And as we all know from previous experiences, stereotypes and generalizations are always right.
We don’t just mean PC games, either. Even console games couldn’t stand against the shockingly legal substance that is The Sims 3. And we’re talking retail sales here, too. That’s console turf! Guys in the audience, we’re sure you once told your younger sisters that playing with fake guns was way cooler than fiddling around with dolls. Well, based on the way The Sims 3 (820,000 copies sold) trounced console best-seller Prototype (419,000 copies sold), we’d say you were dead wrong.
The full PC game sales list is below:
The Sims 3 (EA The Sims Studio, Electronic Arts)
The Sims 3 Collector's Edition (EA The Sims Studio, Electronic Arts)
The Sims 2 Double Deluxe (EA The Sims Studio, Electronic Arts)
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King (Blizzard Entertainment)
World of Warcraft Battle Chest (Blizzard Entertainment)
WarCraft III Battle Chest (Blizzard Entertainment)
SimCity Box (Maxis, Electronic Arts)
Diablo Battle Chest (Blizzard Entertainment)
The Sims 2: Apartment Life (EA The Sims Studio, Electronic Arts)
Prototype (Radical Entertainment, Activision)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion GOTY Edition (Bethesda Game Studios, Bethesda Softworks/2K Games)
Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Terminal Reality, Atari)
Sickening, really. EA’s Simpire continues its conquest, and even Reel Deal Slots Adventure couldn’t stand in its way. So, how long do you think The Sims 3 will hold its position in the PC sales top ten? For brevity's sake, we'll take the liberty of adding a "billion" to whatever number of months you go with. As a conservative estimate, obviously.
Command & Conquer 4, recently announced as a PC-exclusive, isn’t an MMO. However, if your PC isn’t connected to the Internet, playing the game’s a no-go. No campaigns, no single-player bot matches – nothing. So what gives? Well, apparently, it’s all part of an ambitious new game feature called “player progression.”
“As of right now, you need to be online all the time to play C&C 4. This is primarily due to our ‘player progression’ feature so everything can be tracked,” the game’s community manager wrote. “C&C 4 is not an MMO in the sense of World of Warcraft, but conceptually it has similar principles for being online all the time. While some may be taken aback by this, we’ve been testing this feature internally with all of our world-wide markets.”
He also added that relative Internet speed won’t throw a wrench into non-multiplayer gameplay, so if your connection’s a dial-up dinosaur, its lackadaisical lumbering won’t cause your game to lag or anything.
And while we’re sure this all-seeing player progression feature has the potential to be the backbone of some ambitious new game mode, we can’t help but notice the light scent of piracy protection wafting from this one. Will gamers complain about it? Probably. But will they finally stop pirating games forever? Nope. We can’t in good conscience, then, sling too much vitriol at EA – especially if the developer’s at least trying to give us an interesting game feature for our troubles.
Sometimes, crying is ok – like when a loved one dies or it’s your party. Bawling like a little girl, though? Well, that’s only permitted when Tim Schafer’s involved. Typically, of course, Mr. Schafer’s games turn on the waterworks by sending players into fits of laughter thunderous enough to awake even your newly deceased loved one. But now, he’s finally got us blubbering out of sincere grief. Why? Because Brutal Legend is a console exclusive.
Eurogamer asked Schafer why he’d make such a glaring omission, to which he replied:
“Well it's really an action game, that when you play it you'll see that it was meant to be on a console."
However, all hope isn’t lost just yet. While a PC version may not be in development at the moment, Schafer neither confirmed nor denied the possibility of such a port in the future.
“We are really focused on the Xbox 360 and PS3 version right now,” he said.
Pray to the rock gods, people. It’s all we can do at this point. And if you think that’s sacrilege, well, look at it this way: The normal gods didn’t give you Brutal Legend on the PC. What have you got to lose?
Yesterday, we found out that Mark Jacobs, General Manager of Warhammer Online developer Mythic for 15 years, recently left the company after EA put it in the Large Hadron Collider with BioWare. We did not, however, find out why. Today, in a farewell letter, Jacobs himself clarified things slightly, but failed to spill the beans on why exactly he couldn’t stick around to see Mythic become one with BioWare’s biomass.
“Early in May, Electronic Arts let me know that they wanted to make some changes within the Games Label and as a result of those changes I have been out of the office (and out of touch with the team, game, etc.) since that day,” he wrote.
“I have helped shepherd Mythic through good times and bad, through near bankruptcy and through our many successes. During my tenure there my duties have run the gamut from being CEO/GM to doing some of our legal work to acting as lead designer and even using my personal credit cards/credit to pay for the phones we used when we launched DAoC back in 2001. While I will miss doing those things (well, some of them anyway) for the studio, what I will really miss are the people at Mythic.”
As you can imagine, Jacobs – not exactly a man known for his fury – had little to say about whatever happened behind the curtain between him and EA.
“If you are looking or expecting me to damn EA or anyone there, you will be sorely disappointed. Over my 23 years of making games professionally I have refrained from attacking the competition, former and/or current partners, other game developers, etc. except on a few very rare instances. I have no intention of breaking with tradition at the present time and I hope my track record in this regard remains unchanged for the rest of my career.”
As always, we wish Jacobs the best in his endeavors and can’t wait to see what he does next.
Hot on the heels of Bethesda and id’s recent trip down the aisle, we’ve got another pair of game developers joining hands. This time, though, the two developers were already living in the same bloc of the EA Empire, so no one actually bought anyone. Instead, RPG powerhouses BioWare and Mythic simply did a bit of restructuring, resulting in a new RPG and MMO super team.
BioWare General Manager Ray Muzyka is taking the reins of the newborn colossus as General Manager, while BioWare co-founder Greg Zeschuk is serving as Group Creative Officer. Meanwhile, non-group operations are to be managed by respective studio heads, with Rob Denton stepping in as General Manager of Mythic.
But what about former Mythic General Manager and co-founder Mark Jacobs? Well, as of June 23, he’s out. Apparently, Jacobs left of his own accord, though according to an unnamed former Mythic employee, that’s probably hogwash.
“People are shocked and in disbelief about Mark leaving,” he told Massively. “…I can’t even fathom Mark leaving a company he loved so much, it was his life. Personally, I can’t see that this is voluntary in any shape or form.”
Granted, that same source also said that Jacobs had been on sabbatical for the month leading up to his departure, so he’d been doing the business equivalent of tearfully averting his eyes any time someone mentioned the words “leave” or “goodbye” for quite some time – since long before employees knew about the merger, it seems.
So, anyone have any conspiracy theories they’d like to throw out? Aside from the old “EA has a secret underground puppy slavery ring” song and dance, we mean. At least put some effort into it.
Having your main moneymaker relentlessly plundered roughly 200,000 times weeks before its release should be no laughing matter, but that’s not stopping Sims 3 publisher EA from having the last laugh while ostensibly losing thousands of dollars.
"You identified our secret marketing campaign!" EA boss John Riccitiello said jokingly of Sims 3’s recent theft. "That was a very large scale – concentrated on Poland and China – demo program."
"In the game that was pirated there's [only] one city [out of two]... and Sims 3 has a massive amount of content, and a lot of it is downloaded once you register with EA... and join the online community" he explained. "So you get that content in addition to the second city [which is downloadable for people who register], and that's a major component... A huge amount of the gameplay is an overlay for the community, where you are sampling assets created by other people".
The hope, then, is that pirates will chomp onto EA’s lure and get hooked into spending money on the features they’re missing. So basically, it’s like a bigger demo.
Not a bad idea, either – and not unlike the moneymaking strategies free-to-play MMOs tend to employ, where the game costs jack, but the good content costs George, Abe, and a bunch of other presidents. Also, some unsolicited advice for EA -- Let pirates’ Sims live as kings, with the exception of two items: swimming pools and swimming pool ladders. Or just remove the ability for things to catch on fire. We don’t know about you, but those features alone would make us drop the full 50 bones.
If your parents always told you that wasting away your time with videogames would never make you any money, Adult Swim comedy show Robot Chicken must be quite the wakeup call. Those guys make money by playing with action figures. And now, they’re doing it with videogames too! It’s really not fair; if we try playing with the action figures on our desks while blogging about videogames, we just get thrown in MPC’s patented Pain Room – the horrors of which we aren’t at liberty to speak about.
“The campaign was conceptualized by Robot Chicken co-creators Seth Green and Matt Senreich and executed by the writing team including Matt Beans, Doug Goldstein, Mike Fasolo, Breckin Meyer, Dan Milano, Tom Root, Kevin Shinick, Hugh Sterbakov and Zeb Wells,” according to the press release, and includes such gags as “exploding poo, angry yetis, ruler yielding librarians and more.” Make of that what you will.
The DLC will be free with the upcoming Spore expansion Galactic Adventures, and is meant to show off the versatility of GA’s Adventure Creator tool. Based on some of the monstrosities birthed by Spore’s creature creator and the above description of this Robot Chicken DLC, we actually think this whole thing makes quite a bit of sense. Now whether that’s a good thing or not, well, we’re not so sure.