Well, this is a bit of a bummer. In the wake of Valve's release of Steam for OSX, there were rumors that a Linux version was in the works. In a recent interview with Gamesindustry.biz, Valve's VP of Marketing Doug Lombardi let it slip that Steam for Linux isn't in development. "There's no Linux version that we're working on right now," said Lombardi.
We'd like to point out he did qualify that statement with "right now." That could theoretically mean that a Linux version of Steam could happen in the future. He could have been more categorical in his denial, but it's still sad for fans of Tux. We're still holding out hope Valve is just building suspense for a big reveal at some later date. Hey, it could happen, right?
Zynga just can't help making a mess of things. Updates from games like Mafia Wars and Farmville nearly ruined the Facebook experience until the social networking site cleaned up the application spam. But out in the real world, cleaning up Zynga's mess is proving costly.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sent a letter to Zynga last week threatening to hit the company with a lawsuit over a messy guerrilla marketing campaign. Apparently Zynga thought it was a good idea to glue fake $25,000 bills to select sidewalks in five locations in Hayes Valley to promote the latest version of its Mafia Wars game.
According to the city's Department of Public Works (DPW), cleaning up the mess involves bringing in a steam cleaner and is a 45 minute affair, plus administration time.
"We don't have any staff to spare," said DWP spokeswoman Christine Falvey.
The city is demanding that Zynga fork over all its information about the marketing campaign, including "emails, work orders, scope of work, contracts, marketing plans, or other records -- that show when and where the graffiti in San Francisco was placed, and by whom." In addition, the city wants Zynga to come up with a "proposal to fully resolve the issue," one that goes beyond just paying for the cleanup.
It's no secret that game publishers aren't particularly fond of Gamestop, which thrives on pre-owned game sales. At the same time, publishers found a way to cash in on Gamestop's used game business, and that's by charging second hand buyers an additional fee to access online content. Some predicted that these DLC codes would cut into Gamestop's lucrative business, but according to U.S. analyst Michael Pachter, that hasn't been the case.
"The company has not seen a negative impact on used software sales from first-use codes or new competitors in the space," Pachter said in his post-financials report on Gamestop. "The company estimates that only 25 percent of used game buyers play online."
It should be noted that most of these DLC codes target multiplayer, and so far, there's only been a handful of titles from EA and THQ that have adopted them. With titles like Madden 2011 on the horizon, however, and other big names to follow, Pacther's assessment might prove a little premature.
Circle February 9, 2011 on your calendars, folks. That's the day Valve confirmed it will be releasing Portal 2, the anticipated sequel to the original surprise hit.
The release date leaves plenty of time to drop hints about what you want for Valentine's Day, or vice versa if you're the one buying gifts. It's also somewhat sooner than some had thought, as previously we only knew it was going to ship sometime in 2011.
There's more good news associated with Portal 2. Valve has decided to release the upcoming sequel for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC platforms all on the same day, which leaves only Mac gamers out in the cold, at least for the time being. A version for the Mac is also expected, but probably won't debut on the same date as the other platforms.
We fell in love with the click action of the Das Keyboard, which is largely attributable to the mechanical keys. A handful of copycats have since released mechanical keyboards of their own, but according to Razer, their new BlackWidow is the first one aimed exclusively at gamers.
"The Razer BlackWidow is the world's first mechanical keyboard that has been engineered from the ground up for gaming," said Robert Krakoff, president, Razer. "Imagine every single key on the keyboard with the precision of a mouse click -- no more pressing of keys without knowing for certain if they have been actuated. Precision clicking coupled with an optimized lighter key actuation force, this changes the way gamers will play from now on."
Razer claims the BlackWidow is three years in the making, with part of that development time put into constructing mechanical keys that won't leave users feeling fatigued after extending typing/gaming sessions.
Other features include fully programmable keys with five additional gaming keys, on-the-fly macro recording, 1000Hz ultrapolling, easy access media keys, and a gaming mode option.
The BlackWidow is available now for $80. There's also an Ultimate edition for $130, which adds individually backlit keys with five levels of lighting, headphone/mic jacks, and an additional USB port.
Blockbuster, seemingly down for the count in the DVD-by-mail game after suffering repeated blows from Netflix, isn't done fighting just yet. In an attempt to claw its way back into contention, Blockbuster is adding videogames to its monthly subscription programs, Dallas News reports.
Not only that, but the games are being thrown into the mix without any kind of pricing premium.
"We think it's a compelling value for households with kids," said Kevin Lewis, senior vice president for digital entertainment at Blockbuster.
Lewis might be selling the move a bit short. It's not just kids who play videogames, but regardless of your age, you'll soon have access to 3,163 game titles on Blockbuster.com, or 90 percent of the game titles released since 2000 for the Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and Wii consoles, Blockbuster claims.
This isn't completely new territory for the struggling video rental chain. According to Lewis, Blockbuster has been testing by-mail game rentals in Cleveland and Seattle since last year.
The makers of the point-and-click adventure game Machinarium came to a realization recently. Their DRM-free game was being pirated by about 90% of players. Such is life for a game that doesn't bother users with serials or authentication. A similar rate of piracy was found for the DRM-free World of Goo. However, the folks behind Machinarium are feeling generous, and are offering people the opportunity to participate in their new pirate amnesty sale.
Until August 12th, Machinarium (and its soundtrack) will cost only $5. It usually goes for $20. The game is available for PC, Mac, and Linux. In Machinarium you play as an unassuming robot traveling through a beautifully detailed world mechanical malcontents. We grabbed this game from Steam a while back, and can testify to its quality and challenging puzzle-based gameplay.
You don't need to prove you pirated the game to join in the fun. Anyone is free to buy the game during the sale. If you like point-and-click style casual games, $5 is a reasonable price to pay. You can check out a demo of the game, and buy it here.
Do we need another gaming service? If OnLive succeeds the way its developers hope, it could be the only service you’ll ever use again. After sampling OnLive over several weeks, we believe in the technology—but we’re not at all sold on the licensing model.
Instead of downloading entire games—a la Steam—or buying discs from an e-tailer or brick-and-mortar store, OnLive streams games instantly. On the upside, the service boasts astonishingly low client-side hardware requirements, because OnLive’s servers execute the game code and stream 1280x720-resolution video to your PC (or Mac). Your computer sends packets containing your in-game actions back up the pipe to OnLive. All you need is a dual-core CPU. We’re talking any dual-core—even Intel’s Atom 330 will do the trick. You don’t need discrete graphics, either.
If you've been dismissing the rumors that Google is about to take on Facebook in the social networking space, let this set you straight. Google has just bought social game developer Slide for $182 million. There are already murmurs that El Goog is looking to make more acquisitions of this sort soon. With this and a partnership with Zynga, Google looks to be building up to something. Google Me perhaps?
Slide makes simple Facebook games in the same vein as Zynga. Just like Zynga, these games are given value by having a community of players that can interact. This will be the biggest hurdle for Google. Just having Farmville or SuperPoke Pets on a social networking site won't cut it; there needs to be a community around it. Right now, Facebook is that community.
Google has many of the pieces of a social site with services like YouTube, profiles, Gtalk, and Buzz. They just need to be assembled with a few games for good measure. Can Google tempt people to join its own social ecosystem?
We have to give props to Ed Fries, the former vice president of Microsoft's game publishing division, for going out and not only recreating Halo for the Atari 2600, but for putting together an actual cartridge that's playable on the legacy console so many gamers grew up with.
Halo 2600, as it's aptly called, made its debut at the Classic Gaming Expo in Las Vegas this past weekend. It all started off as a simple project to help learn the system, but Fries took it a giant step further by turning it into an actual game with the goal of creating it using no more than 4 kilobytes of data.
The finished game plays something like a cross between "Adventure" and "Berzerk." You control Master Chief through 64 rooms with different enemies to shoot and items to pick up, culminating in a final boss battle.
Good luck trying to add Halo 2600 to your collection, though, as only about 100 cartridges were produced. If all you want to do is play the game, you can do so online for free at www.halo2600.com.