Games for Windows Lives! No, wait. We’ve used that one, haven’t we? Ok, let’s go with a demand of some sort. “Deliver on your promises!” Something like that. Oops, that one’s also an oldie. How about a nice, protracted metaphor about getting with your sister, then? Huh? We’ve done that too? Darn! Well, you get our point: Microsoft’s come to us on its knees begging for forgiveness time and time again, only to take baby steps toward improvement while everyone else makes strides. So forgive us for being a bit skeptical here.
“Other companies should look to Microsoft for leadership, but I’m not sure they do. It is our job to lead the way on PC. And in some ways we are doing that and in other ways we are not. So we need to step up,” Microsoft Games Studios’ general manager Dave Luehmann told MCV.
“We are putting some real investment and big IPs behind the Windows platform. We’ve spoken of the first three, Fable III, Age of Empires Online and Microsoft Flight. However we are not going to stop there.”
Microsoft, Luehmann explained, now hopes to test the waters in all sorts of new business models – Age of Empires Online being the biggest example – clearing the way for third-party developers to dive in as well.
Granted, between what seems to be an admission of “Yeah, we screwed up just a bit,” and some tangible, soon-to-be-playable evidence, this seems to be Microsoft’s biggest PC gaming push in quite some time. And whether the software behemoth’s sentiments are sincere or not, new business models like free-to-play mean fertile soils in which to plant its money trees.
The bottom line? We’ll get a few games out of it, at the very least. And who knows? Maybe -- just maybe -- Microsoft will actually stick around this time. We, however, aren’t getting our hopes up.
On the surface, assuming the role of, say, a space captain, spell-slinging badass, or superhero who sees lasers and breathes blizzards sounds like just about the greatest thing ever. And yet, there is a videogame genre that basically says, “Ok, let's take those fantasies, grind them up, and sprinkle them in a blender with heaping helpings of boring.” It's the MMORPG, and Cryptic Studios head Jack Emmert – a man who's been behind the scenes on games like City of Heroes, Star Trek Online, and Champions Online – has had just about enough of it.
His solution? Neverwinter. Described as a “co-op RPG,” it aims to reach a hand inside that blender and pluck out the boredom while leaving behind the good stuff. And, we suppose, keep both its hands. Difficult, in this case, doesn't even begin to describe it.
So, how's it gonna work? Read all about it – straight from Emmert himself – after the break.
Street Fighter IV's great and all, but the cool kids (by which we mean the ones that Tiger Uppercutted you so hard that your Internet connection dropped) have moved on to Super Street Fighter IV. As with previous “Super” editions of Street Fighter games, SSFIV packs a slightly larger wallop in the form of new fighters, stages, modes, and a number of balancing tweaks.
PC gamers, however, lost their SSFIV privileges when a few bad eggs ruined everything for the rest of the class. Big round of sarcastic applause for – of course – piracy!
Speaking with 4Gamer.net (translation via Gamasutra), producer Yoshinori Ono said that while Street Fighter IV's PC version actually sold fairly well, it was also "number one in piracy." Unless he's able to find an extremely powerful anti-piracy solution, he explained, SSFIV's staying locked up tight on consoles.
Being a PC gamer (or, we suppose, an early 1800s engineer), you probably just gave your typical answer to all of life's problems: Steam. Ono, however, isn't too hot on that idea, as he believes that kind of restriction is unfair to those without access to Steam.
Theoretically, though, anyone with access to an Internet-enabled PC can have Steam up-and-running in seconds, so we don't really understand Ono's logic. So instead, no one gets to play, because that makes perfect sense! Maybe pirates also stole Ono's basic reasoning abilities?
Barring a real-life version of Thriller's music video, the King of Pop will probably never moonwalk among us again. However, his memories live on in the minds of his fans, his music, and... a massively multiplayer online PC game? Seriously, World, why not just make a calendar where every day of the year is April 1 and just be done with it?
The game's called Planet Michael, and it's slated to launch late next year. So, how's it work? Will our face have slots for upgrades? Not quite, unfortunately. Here's the gist, straight from developer SEE Virtual Worlds:
“At its core, Planet Michael is a massive social gaming experience that will allow everyone, from the hardcore fan to the novice, to connect and engage in collaborative in-game activities with people worldwide. Entire continents will be created that will celebrate Michael's unique genius in a way that underscores his place as the greatest artist of all time.”
The game world itself, meanwhile, will be composed of “visuals drawn from Michael’s music, his life, and the global issues that concerned him.” Well, at least it won't be dull.
Us, we'll probably spend most of our time on the Smooth Criminal continent. Not so much the Neverland continent; we've heard that place is kind of, er, weird.
Enough with the funny business, Good Old Games, and get back to doing what you do best -- serving up classics games in DRM-free glory with Windows compatibility and mostly reasonable prices. But what's that, you ask, didn't GOG.com announce to the world that they're closing up shop? They did, but it turns out it was a publicity stunt. Our sister site PCGamer.com was all over this one and extracted the following statement from GOG:
"First of all we'd like to apologize to everyone who felt deceived or harmed in any way by the closedown of GOG.com. As a small company we don't' have a huge marketing budget and this is why we could not miss a chance to generate some buzz around an event as big as launching a brand new version of our website and even more important, bringing back Baldur's Gate to life!"
You can read the full statement here, as well as a similar explanation on GOG.com's website. The bottom line is the stunt worked, and if we weren't such big fans of what GOG is all about, we'd stay pissed. But damn it all, that's hard to do in an era of gaming where DRM has dug in its hooks, so we're willing to assume GOG is being sincere and had a momentary lapse in judgment.
The relaunch is scheduled for 8:00am EDT tomorrow and GOG promises the site will be bigger and better than ever, and still DRM-free. And no more shenanigans.
We're just going to throw something out there. Kudo Tsunoda, creator of Microsoft's motion controlled Kinect, is whacked out his mind. That's really the only conclusion we can come up with when someone makes outrageous claims, like essentially declaring that the first person shooter genre on the PC is dead.
Yet that's exactly what he did in a recent interview with Game Informer. Here's Tsunoda's take on the evolution of first person shooters.
"If you think about the way that first shooters evolved, they started on the PC," Tsunoda explains. "People for the longest time tried to port shooters from the PC onto the console. And people said the same things that they are saying now about Kinect -- 'It's never going to responsive enough to do this,' or 'You're never going to get a fun first person shooter on the console, it's only made for a keyboard and mouse and that is the way it is supposed to be played.' And as long as everyone was just porting the existing shooters over to the console, they weren't as fun as the PC ones. Of course, they were built for the PC.
"Halo did an awesome job of building a first-person shooter exclusively for the console, and now hardly anyone plays first person shooters on the PC anymore. It's all about the console."
We bolded the quirky comment not only for emphasis, but to make sure we really read what we thought we just read. We get it, Halo enjoys a rabid following, and despite being gimped with a controller, first person shooters are a viable genre on the console. But to declare that hardly anyone on the PC is playing them anymore is just dumb.
If your virgin ears are loathe to walk the darker alleys of the English language, modern videogames might not be to your liking. But there’s regular videogame cursing, and then there’s the overachievers. The A students. The ones who find even the “explicit” versions of songs to be tame, and the clean versions to be almost completely inaudible – like a dog whistle to human ears. And then, leading them, you have Mafia II.
Right now, Guinness World Records accepts that the game contains over 200 uses of the dreaded, yet oddly versatile word. However, that number will soon become more exact, because – as Guinness told Joystiq – “2K have promised to supply us with a copy of the game's full script under NDA so we can count the number of f-bombs ourselves and update the record with a complete figure."
Previously, sadly underrated Wii light-gun shooter House of the Dead: Overkill took home the gold-plated trophy of a certain finger-based rude gesture with 189 instances of the F-bomb.
So yeah, it’s probably a good idea to keep this one away from the kids. You know, since the blood, organized crime, hard M-rating, and authentic Playboy Magazine covers weren’t already enough of an indicator.
Well, physical game discs, it was a good game. You fought hard and had a nice, long reign, but now you’re relics -- destined to be excavated millennia from now and presented as evidence of our time period’s ingenious developments in Frisbee technology. Hear that? That’s the fat lady singing. She’s belting along to the tune of 11.2 million units, which is how many the digital market moved during the first half of 2010. Retail, meanwhile, went down swinging with 8.2 million.
Note, however, that NPD – who presented the report – doesn’t have access to Steam or Blizzard’s sales data. Instead, "weighted and projected" surveys provided a portion of the data, which were – at the very least – accurate in so far as Steam came in first by so many thousands of miles that most of its competitors were technically on another planet.
Direct2Drive, EA, Worldofwarcraft.com, and Blizzard.com rounded out the top five, which sounds about right to us, although we’d still like to see some hard numbers to back it up. Overall, however, NPD saw a 21 percent decline in traditional PC game sales, the blame for which it placed squarely on the shoulders of the already massive casual and free-to-play games market.
So basically, the PC gaming market is like an incredibly unstable dictatorship. One day, someone’s on top, but the next, they’re mysteriously found dead – the cause of death being a far less mysterious knife between their ribs. Then someone else takes over, and the cycle begins anew. Word is, they’re already making an HBO drama about it. And by “word,” we mean we’ve got a cheapo video camera and are willing to pay in whatever you can steal while our roommates aren’t looking.
Good Old Games, or GOG.com, the online portal for DRM-free copies of older games ported and sold on the cheap to run under Windows, has waved the white flag and closed up shop, at least for now.
"We have recently had to give serious thought to whether we could really keep GOG.com the way it is," a message on GOG.com's website reads. "We've debated it for quite some time and, unfortunately, we've decided that GOG.com simply cannot remain in its current form.
"We've very grateful for all support we've received from all of you in the past two years. Working on GOG.com was a great adventure for all of us and an unforgettable journey to the past, through the long and wonderful history of PC gaming."
What the future holds for GOG.com remains to be seen. In their parting note, the GOG.com team said that the closure doesn't mean the idea behind the site is closed forever, but didn't elaborate.
For those of you who previously purchased titles through GOG.com but may have since formatted your PC, the company said it will put in place a solution so that you can re-download them. Updates on this will be posted on GOG.com and on the company's Twitter and Facebook pages.
If you weren't one of the first to snatch up a copy of Halo: Reach for the Xbox 360 earlier this week, there were plenty of others who filled in the gap. According to Microsoft, the latest title in the still uber popular Halo series pulled in $200 million in global sales on launch day.
"We feel really good about where the 'Halo: Reach' numbers are," said Phil Spencer, vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. "What 'Halo: Reach' numbers tell me is gamers are there. They are willing to buy the great experiences when they come out. In fact, that we are exceeding 'Halo 3' numbers out of the gate tells me that the industry is in a healthy state."
Fetching $200 million on day 1 day made Reach the biggest launch of any game or movie so far this year, Spencer claims. All told, the entire Halo franchise has sold more than 34 million copies during its ten-year tenure, pulling in almost $2 billion in sales.