A couple days ago, we published a chat with Gearbox Software’s main mouthpiece, Randy Pitchford. And boy can he talk. And when he talks the talk, other people get to talking too. Especially when Pitchford launches a few verbal volleys in Steam’s direction – calling it a “money grab” -- as he did in our interview. As a result, Tripwire Interactive (Red Orchestra, Killing Floor) president John Gibson has decided to fire back.
“Is Valve exploiting independent developers? In short: absolutely not. Without pulling any punches, I can say with certainty that if it weren't for Steam, there would be no Tripwire Interactive right now,” Gibson said, explaining that he believes Valve has “kicked off an indie revolution.”
“Randy's statements suggest that small developers are getting ripped off through their royalty rates. Without breaking any non-disclosure agreements, let me just say that our royalty deal was great, and is in line with what I understand that other digital distribution services are offering.”
“We have never had a situation where Valve downplayed our competing titles. On the contrary, they have done a great job of promoting our games on the front page of the Steam store and through the pop-up advertisements on Steam.”
Gibson also emphasized that all publishers find themselves awash in the murk of “conflicts of interest” at some point or another. “With console digital distribution, Microsoft and Sony have a complete monopoly on their platforms, and both companies make first party games. At least Valve has competition on the PC,” he added.
Gibson’s full response is available for your perusal over at Gamasutra. It’s definitely worth a read.
Zombies are nature’s griefers, it would seem. Or at least, they are if Left 4 Dead 2’s new “Scavenge” multiplayer mode is to be believed. See, here, the shambling jerks aren’t even looking to get their fill of juicy, succulent brains anymore. Nope. Instead, they’re actively seeking to knock out survivors’ power generators for -- what we can only assume to be -- fun. After all, if those pesky zombies were hurting for a heaping helping of brains, why wouldn’t they just chase down the survivors like always?
So here’s how it works: players are divided into the usual teams of survivors and special infected, just like in versus mode. Levels are littered with a grand total of 16 gas canisters, which survivors must collect in order to power a generator. The mode is played as a series of two minute rounds, though more time is added to the clock each time survivors manage to haul a can to their generator.
The infected team, of course, is out to make life difficult for the survivors by playing keep-away with the cans. Apparently, Spitters and Jockeys really shine here, as they can set cans on fire and “steer” survivors away from their objectives, respectively.
Left 4 Dead 2 will launch with six Scavenge maps – one for each campaign – on November 17. There's a video of the new mode in action here.
With Left 4 Dead 2, Valve’s showing its full hand. It’s going all out. After all, with no other major franchise to help line the developer’s pockets, what other choice does it have?
"We'll be supporting Left 4 Dead 2's launch with a $25 million campaign," said Doug Lombardi, Valve's vice-president of Marketing. "Left 4 Dead 2 has already set the record for greatest number of pre-orders in our company's history, and we're still over a month out from shipping."
"Based on the strength of pre-orders, Left 4 Dead 2 will be the fastest-selling product in Valve's history," said Gabe Newell, president of Valve. "Left 4 Dead 2 has consistently run at 300% of Left 4 Dead's numbers."
So yeah, Left 4 Dead 2 – no pressure.
Now if only Valve tried its hand at building up another series – perhaps something with, say, physicists and small crablike creatures that reside on or around the head. They could be called… cranium crustaceans! Too bad Valve hasn’t been keeping a sequel to a crazy idea like that under wraps for nearly three years.
We usually use this space to write about videogames. We’re hardly advice columnists. But believe us when we – as your friends – advise you to quit dilly-dallying and just preorder Left 4 Dead 2 already. Valve’s sweetened the pot time and time again, and we’ll be damned if it isn’t starting to smell mighty fine.
Early bird gets the worm, so they say, but Valve’s taking it a few steps further. Here, said tech-savvy bird will nab an exclusive melee weapon (the American baseball bat), early access to the Left 4 Dead 2 demo, and 10% off the game.
If more purchases came with free baseball bats, this world would be a much more zombie-free place. Granted, our planet’s tree population might also suffer a bit, but as we all know, if the zombies win, deforestation won't be far off.
If you’ve played Left 4 Dead to death, Valve’s just made a pair of announcements that are sure to brighten your day.
First up, Left 4 Dead’s “Crash Course” DLC will finally walk among the living on September 29. It’s free, of course, and includes a new campaign, new survival maps, and a few other tweaks and balances.
Then, just in time to catch you on the rebound after you’ve kicked Crash Course to the curb, Valve’s dropping a Left 4 Dead 2 demo on October 27. Preorderers will apparently gain early access to the demo, though, and since you’re probably already going to buy the game anyway, you might as well.
As for what the demo actually contains, it’s anyone’s guess at this point. We’ll let you know as soon as Valve finally spills its guts. Our highly advanced torture techniques – known as “extreme nagging” in some circles -- break everyone eventually.
Some of you, we’re sure, are probably exercising your God-given right to boycott Left 4 Dead 2 for whatever reason. Australia, though, totally has us Yanks beat. Over there, no one’s buying the game! Oh, what’s that you say? The game’s been “banned” in good ol’ Oz? That’s why they’re not buying it? Well then, that’s no good at all.
As it turns out, Left 4 Dead 2 was refused classification by Australia’s ratings board, the OFLC. Why? Because it’s too violent, apparently.
“The game contains realistic, frenetic and unrelenting violence which is inflicted upon ‘the Infected’ who are living humans infected with a rabies-like virus that causes them to act violently,” reads the OFLC description of the game. “Attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore.”
“We were surprised to hear of this news yesterday,” Valve’s Doug Lombardi said. “Obviously, everyone at Valve is pretty bummed. It would be a shame if folks in Australia, or anywhere else, are unable to purchase Left 4 Dead 2 because of a ratings issue.”
Bummer indeed, Doug. Guess it’s time to start stuffing those zombies with marzipan and kittens instead of blood and bone. And maybe replace gunfire with the sound of children’s laughter. Yeah, that ought to do it.
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.
Ever since Valve announced Left 4 Dead 2 at this year’s E3, it’s been in the doghouse with many fans of its first undead slaughterfest. Believe it or not, though, Valve never intended on ruffling any feathers. Crash Course, as it turns out, was on a crash course with Left 4 Dead right from the start. Extenuating circumstances, however, prevented the L4D DLC from sealing Valve’s promise of free updates with a nice, crusty zombie smooch in the nick of time. And by then, well, it was too late.
“I think in this case we just didn't message correctly. We didn't make it clear that Left 4 Dead was still going to be updated. We just didn't think to mention it, we were focusing on other stuff. We, internally, always knew we were going to do cool new stuff, so we didn't say anything about the original game,” Valve’s Chet Faliszek told Offworld.
“Of course we also intended to get the Crash Course DLC for L4D out before E3, but some things held us up. I think if we had that out before the Left 4 Dead 2 announcement, then it would have been clearer for our intentions. Losing the opportunity to get that right hurt us, but I think we made the right choices otherwise.”
Well, that’s that, we think. The case of Valve vs. The Fans is officially adjourned.
Is it really time for a new Team Fortress 2 update already? Yessiree, this new update’s as real as that last question was entirely rhetorical. But wait, Team Fortress 2 update, something’s different. Did you get a haircut? Buy a new outfit? Manifest yourself in the physical world so that you might be able to get a haircut or buy a new outfit? Nope! You’re just not serving as a vehicle for crummy class-related stuff anymore. You’re your own man!
Instead, this TF2 update seems to have given form the nod over function. Translation: New hats – and plenty of them. Day one of the update touts 18 new hats, including a Viking helmet and a fireman’s hat, among others.
A new community map rounds out the revelation du jour. Called Arena Offblast, the map’s a “fast-paced, high-altitude community map set in a top secret missile silo wedged into the top of a hollowed-out mountain.” You know, one of those stupidly dangerous places that only people with guns in their hands and chips on their shoulders seem to congregate around.
The teaser site also plays host to a number of hidden pages that – if you’re willing to dig them up – will give you a bit of dirt on the rest of the update’s content. If you’d rather not sully your hands with such menial labor, however, Shacknews found the bonus pages and put them on display.
So, any guesses as to what’s in the pipeline for the rest of the update? Personally, we’re hoping for the ability to don multiple hats at once. If our head’s going to be one giant target, we’ll at least make it a headache for our opponents to hit the part that actually kills us.
Just because a Valve's got a new baby sloshing around in its tremendous, engorged Boomer womb (insert baby Boomer joke here) doesn't mean the developer's going to start neglecting its first undead child. The proof? A brand new, totally free DLC campaign is on the way for stalwart L4D1 supporters.
Titled “Crash Course,” the new campaign fits snugly between No Mercy and Death Toll, chronologically speaking. Along with new Campaign and Survival maps, new character dialogue, a recharge timer for Infected teammates, and rebalanced item spawns also put the C in this DLC.
The new scenarios will, of course, work fine and dandy with Campaign mode, but apparently, Crash Course’s true purpose is to be a “30 minute” showcase for Versus mode. You know, more like a typical multiplayer shooter.
It’s out in September. And it’s free! Unless you’ve been so horrendously wronged by the existence of Left 4 Dead 2 that even Valve’s continued support of L4D1 (the very thing you feared for when L4D2 was announced) isn’t enough to stop your steaming, you’ll play it. You’ll play it and you’ll love it because, well, why not?