Looking for something to do over the holiday break or need an excuse to duck away from the in laws to regain your sanity? Crytek's got your back. The developer announced it is serving up the multiplayer shooter Crysis Wars free-to-play for 10 days, starting tomorrow at 11:00 AM PT and good through December 28th until 11:59 PM PT. You can snag your holiday trial at MyCrysis.com, which the developer says includes the latest version of the game with brand new maps Savanna and Frost. You'll need to register to receive a unique key.
Also just released is a new patch for Crysis Wars, which comes less than a month after patch 1.2 was released.. Patch 1.3 includes the Holiday Map Pack (two above mentioned maps), and fixes the loading of custom assets in downloaded maps.
According to a new study by the psychology department at the University of Illinois-Urbana, senior citizens should trade in their Bingo nights and fire up an RTS game instead. By doing so, over-60 seniors have a good chance of improving their cognitive functions.
The test consisted of 40 seniors playing Rise of Nations, a turn-based real-time strategy game with a heavy focus on building cities. Half of the test group received 23.5 hours of training in the game, while the other half did not. Each participant was assessed before and after playing on a variety of tests designed to "measure executive control functions," such as the ability to switch tasks, short-term memory, and other cognitive functions.
Senior gamers who underwent a training session were found to be "significantly better -- and faster -- at switching between tasks as compared to the comparison group" with no training. Working memory, short-term memory of visual cues, reasoning abilities, and the ability to identify rotated objects was also improved after playing Rise of Nations.
Now you know what to buy your grandparents for Christmas if you're having trouble coming up with a gift idea.
Nvidia's nZone website has posted download links to new beta videocard drivers, version 180.84, for both Vista and XP. Little information has been given about the new drivers, other than that they're intended to improve gameplay with Rockstar's new Grand Theft Auto IV videogame.
"Nvidia recommends that you update your system with the following GeForce v180.84 driver for the best experiences on Grand Theft Auto IV," nZone writes.
Users who have installed and played GTA IV on the PC have complained of varying issues, including missing textures and intermittent crashes. GTA IV's support page lists several troubleshooting steps, one of which recommends users download the newest drivers with a link to the nZone page containing the beta release. However, no specific bug fixes or performance issues have been identified with the new drivers, so it might be hard to tell what difference they're making.
As always, take proper precautions whenever experimenting with pre-release code. As Nvidia discloses regarding beta drivers, they "may include significant issues." When you're ready to take the leap:
Electronic Arts couldn't have predicted the unprecedented backlash from outraged gamers following Spore's release, or at least not the extent that they would take the anti-DRM crusade. Protests ran the gamut from blasting the title with thousands of negative user reviews on Amazon to not just making the game available on warez sites, but actively encouraging consumers to pirate the title. If you thought it might be awhile before SecuROM saddled another high profile release, think again.
Despite all the recent raucous, Rockstar has decided to implement the DRM scheme on GTA IV for the PC. But before you cry foul and grab the pitchforks and torches, Rockstar says its version will be much more user friendly than the one found on EA's Spore.
Hit the jump to see what makes GTA IV's DRM different than Spore's.
Are you smarter than a 5th grader? No, we're not talking about the TV game show, and instead we're referring to little Arjun Mehta, who while in 5th grade came up with the idea for PlaySpan and founded the in-game commerce network the next year. The service now serves as a micro-transaction payment system for virtual goods in over 200 different games.
Little Mehta and his father Karl Mehta, the company's CEO, received a big cash infusion for PlaySpan, announcing this week the company has raised $16.8 million in Series B funding from Easton Capital Group, Menlo Ventures, Novel TMT Ventures, and STIC Investments, in addition to other undisclosed investors. That brings PlaySpan's total funding up to $24 million, which the company says will used to expand into Europe and Asia, and grow its global publisher and userbase.
"Online games publishers and social media application developers are looking for new sources of revenue byond traditional advertising and subscriptions," said Karl Mehta (PDF). "We are enabling a new business model in the form of micro-transactions for users that prefer the pay-as-you-go model."
While the free-to-play genre has turned into a bit of a misnomer given the prevalence of cost-driven upgrades and character capabilities, PlaySpan represents an improved business model over earlier attempts that were often setup without the publisher's permission and plagued with fraud.
Back in July when Google first launched its own version of Second Life called Lively, Maximum PC blogger Chris Moody wondered about its long-term success and whether it would ultimately prove a pop hit or a flop. Just shy of six months later and we already have our answer.
"It has been a tough decision, but we want to ensure that we prioritize our resources and focus more on our core search, ads, and apps business," Google said on a blog post.
In other words, Google has decided to end its Lively experiment and will shut the service down at the end of the year. Those who worked on the project will be reassigned within the company, presumably on projects that won't share Lively's untimely demise.
So what exactly went wrong? Part of the problem can be attributed to what ArsTechnica describes as "an overall lack of polish." Spending some hands on time with the service, the news outlet noted frustratingly clunkly and erratic controls, poor camera movement, and actions such as hugs and choke holds missing their target. Or could it be that interest in virtual social worlds like Second Life and Lively are starting to wane?
Have a theory? Hit the jump and post your thoughts on Lively's demise.
If you're anticipating Valve's upcoming zombie shooter Left 4 Dead (and if you're a gamer, then you probably are), then Valve has an offer it hopes you can't refuse. The publisher has released its Valve Complete Pack on Steam, a collection of titles which, if purchased separately, would run $235. Valve's asking price checks in at less than half that at $100.
In addition to Left 4 Dead, the Benjamin buys you Counter Strike, Counter Strike: Condition Zero, Counter Strike: Source, Day of Defeat, Day of Defeat: Source, Deathmatch Classic, Half Life, Half Life 2, Half Life 2: Deathmatch, Half Life 2: Episode One, Half Life 2: Episode Two, Half Life 2: Lost Coast, Half Life Deathmatch: Source, Half Life: Blue Shift, Half Life: Opposing Force, Half Life: Source, Peggle Extreme, Portal, Richochet, Team Fortress 2, and Team Fortress Classic. In other words, enough titles to give your broadband connection a good workout.
Word on the web is that you can gift duplicate titles you already own, but if that's you're intention, you may want to confirm this with Steam before plunking down the cash (we'll post an update if we receive confirmation).
Update November 21, 2008
Four days after sending in our support inquiry, Steam Support has informed us that gifting duplicate titles only applies to a handful of specific situations, none of which appear to include the Complete Pack. More information here.
The argument against used games is that by buying them, you're cheating the developer out of potential profits he or she may otherwise have obtained had you purchased the game as new. The obvious flaw is that not everyone who purchases used games at a discount would have bought the title for a premium price as a new release, so the question of how much the used game market actually affects developers remains an open-ended one.
Nevertheless, developers and publishers are brainstorming on ways in which they can either deter gamers from buying used games or cash in on the sales, and some of those ideas are sure to irk the gaming community. Take for example Epic president Mike Capps, who claims some developers would like to see additional fees tacked on to used titles in order to complete the game.
"I've talked to some developers who are saying 'If you want to fight the final boss you go online and pay $20, but if you bought the retail version you got it for free," explained Capps to GamesIndustry.
Developers and publishers have already started to push one-time download codes for new games, such as the 20-song bonus tracks available to Rock Band 2 owners, as well as DLC codes in games like Gears of War 2 and NBA Live 09. But if DLC codes fail to lure more buyers from the outset, you can bet that developers will continue to cast an eye towards the used games market and come up with increasingly obtrusive strategies for cashing in.
Tired of carrying your clan on your back while you clown the competition with moves that would have Fatal1ty thinking about retirement? Or maybe chasing that law degree is turning out to be more work than you anticipated and it's time for a change. Either way, gifted gamers looking for a change will have a chance to go pro and join Team Razer through a recruitment drive at the World Cyber Games (WCG).
"Team Razer is looking to recruit more professional gamers at the WCG Grand Finals, held in Cologne, Germany from November 5 to 9," Razer wrote in a press release. "To be eligible for consideration into the 'Go Pro with Razer' program, Razer will be in search of true hardware evangelists."
Sell-outs need not apply, as Razer says it isn't looking to simply pay talented gamers to user its products, and instead is only interested in those "already using Razer peripherals competitively." Interested applicants not planning on attending WCG are also welcome to apply for sponsorship at gopro.razerzone.com.
Taking a page from the RIAA -- whose umbrella of accusations have included suing an 83-year-old deceased woman (going for a default judgment, perhaps?) -- Atari has gone on the offensive by sending out letters threatening legal action against those who are believed to be downloading and sharing games online.
Among the recipients are Gill (age 54) and Ken Murdoch (age 66), a pair of senior citizens residing in Scotland who are being accused of stealing the game Race 07. To avoid legal action, they've been asked to pay what amounts to $815USD. The only problem? The Murdoch's claim they don't play videogames.
"We do not have, and have never had, any computer game or sharing software," the couple said. "We did not even know what 'per to peer' was until we received the letter."
According to DailyTech, it appears Atari has hired anti-piracy firm Logistep to round up IP addresses of those it believes are pirating videogames. But just as the RIAA has found out, sweeping allegations based on IP addys alone can sometimes lead to false positives, and with it a public outcry. With regards to the Murdochs, Atari dropped the case in the wake of negative publicity, but its legal campaign marches on.
Should Atari receive the same scorn the RIAA has received? Hit the jump and sound off.