Wrath of the Lich King may barely be ripe for the picking, but Blizzard's already hard at work on its next attempt at supplanting real life. Blizzard COO Paul Sams recent spoke with VG247 about the second generation of its MMO monarchy, and long-time WoW players will be both happy and relieved to hear that this game certainly isn't WoW 2.0.
“We want to create a great game,” Sams said. “Something that’s cool, and new, and different, and kind of next generation in terms of look and feel and gameplay. That’s a challenging endeavour.”
But as a dab of disappointment for WoW players' flagon of infinite joy, the new Blizzard MMO is still deep in the grimy pits of development, with no release date in sight.
“We’re definitely at the beginning, in the first half of development,” Sams continued.
“When we’re building a new game from the ground up, what happens is that it’s slow going for the first bit, while the team goes round and round and round figuring out how it’s going to look and feel, what the player experience is and what the differentiators are, and then the speed at which we then bring in the content and polish and actually get to the finish line…"
"I think the second half of the process is always substantially faster than the first half of product development,” he added.
Find out why it'll be quite some time before Blizzard gives fans an eyeful of its new MMO after the break.
When you were a hopeful, ambitious young whippersnapper, we're sure -- for the 15 minutes after you saw Apollo 13 -- you wanted to risk life, limb, and lunch by becoming an astronaut. Well, so did Ultima creator Richard "Lord British" Garriott, but he still went into game development and... oh wait, now he's abandoning game company NCsoft to live a life among the stars. Or something.
"I am very grateful to you loyal players for sticking around through what I think we can all honestly say was a rough launch. I thank the development team for pushing hard to get polish, updates and new content out every month since launch...a feat that I think is unusual in MMO development. They have a lot to be proud of," Garriott said in his farewell note.
"Many of you probably wonder what my plans are, now that I have achieved the lifelong dream of going to space. Well, that unforgettable experience has sparked some new interests that I would like to devote my time and resources to. As such, I am leaving NCsoft to pursue those interests."
Good luck, Mr. Garriott. Earth won't be the same without you.
Slow and steady wins the race against piracy? That's probably the mantra that came of EA and DICE's recent mind-meld, in which the publisher-developer duo decided to keep lithe heroine Faith from tip-toeing across PC rooftops until 2009 -- at least two months after consolites get their fix.
Now, today, after an almost conspicuously lengthy session of nonchalant whistling and faux-confused shoulder-shrugging, EA has announced a release window for its totalitarian twist on the formula Mario laid forth.
"The PC version of Mirror’s Edge will ship in North America in January 2009," said the press release. But that's not all.
"To keep the action coming after launch, DICE is currently developing downloadable content that will be available at the beginning of the year. More details to be announced shortly."
A late release to keep pirates from affecting sales figures? A spot of DLC to make players think twice about dumping Mirror's Edge in GameStop's used games section? Sounds like EA's really playing things safe with this franchise. It's just a damn shame that we all have to suffer for it.
Actually, "damn" isn't quite potent enough to describe the shame stream that currently plagues this situation. Jump past the break to see a more fitting phrase.
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.
And you thought only one person on the entire planet was well and truly pissed at EA for its repeated usage of DRM. However, that was only the beginning. Now, two more criminally dissatisfied customers have rallied their lawyers, hoping to pulverize the mega-publisher's pocketbook into penniless mush.
The first suit, filed by Pennsylvania resident Richard Eldridge, points the all-important blame finger at the Spore Creature Creator trial -- not the full game. According to the suit, the game "secretly" popped his machine's DRM cherry, a feature completely unmentioned in EA's End User License Agreement.
The other DRM-detractor, Dianna Cortez of Missouri, encountered SecuROM DRM in The Sims 2: Bon Voyage. Her computer was never the same after that day.
"After installing Bon Voyage, Ms. Cortez began having problems with her computer," reads the suit. "She had previously made backup Sims 2 game content on CDs, but her computer's disc drive would no longer recognize that content, reporting the CDs as empty. She could not access files that were saved on her USB flash drive or iPod, either."
She also calls EA's practices "immoral, unethical, oppressive [and] unscrupulous" -- a sentiment with which we're sure her fellow lawsuit-slingers would agree.
Now if the entire 0.2% hopped aboard the lawsuit express, we might be onto something. As is, however, EA's gold-encrusted big toe will be more than enough to squash these three valiant musketeers. If nothing else, we can only hope that EA will actually learn something from all this, but we're not counting on it.
Tim Holman, senior producer on Company of Heroes -- Relic's well-received, bajillion-selling PC-exclusive RTS franchise -- might be a teensy bit biased in favor of PC gaming. But his amorous feelings for the constantly morphing platform only go so far, and that's why it's time for an intervention. PC devs, quit shooting-up your games with prettier-than-real-life textures and nuclear-powered bloom lighting. Take it away, Tim:
"I think one of the things that hurt PC gaming is PC developers," he said. "If you make a game with such high-end requirements that only people with a $6,000 PC can play it at a decent framerate, of course your sales are going to drop."
"And of course people are going to pirate your game more, because they don't want to invest in your game first. They want to try it first for free [to see if it's compatible with their hardware]."
So, who's the excellently postured whiz kid sitting in the front of the classroom, setting an example for all the other miscreants? Why, that'd be Blizzard, says Holman. "It's no big secret. I know when I buy a Blizzard game, I'm not going to have to upgrade anything," he explained.
But Holman's far from stuffing this not-compliment sandwich into a plastic baggy and calling it quits; the thing's all condiments and no meat. His main point, then, is this:
"I laugh hysterically whenever I hear that PC gaming is dead. Every time I hear a person saying, 'PC games are dying,' or 'PC games are dead,' particularly if they're a competitor, I fully agree with them--and I encourage them to get out of the space as soon as possible, just so I don't have to compete with them," Holman said, laughing -- probably in a hysterical manner.
So, are you willing to give your eight GeForce graphics shurikens a break from flexing their potent prowess for the betterment of PC gaming? Or do you think Holman's opinion is a load of crock?
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.
Resident Evil 4's PC port notwithstanding, the Resident Evil series of survival-horror games is among the more enjoyable reasons to wet yourself. Thus, the possibility that the hide-and-go-aiiiieeee series' latest entry might be making its way over to our platform of choice inspires both excitement and trepidation.
Sadly, at this point, RE5's PC release is unconfirmed. After a PC version appeared alongside its console counterparts on a recent Capcom release list, Big Download attempted to get ahold of Capcom to verify the port's existence. In response, a Capcom rep waved the site away, merely saying that no official announcements have been made. Not a "yes," but certainly not a "no."
Our guess? It's coming. Capcom has been lavishing the PC with ports as of late, so we don't see why it wouldn't do the same for one of its biggest titles. At any rate, the game is slated to arrive on March 13. Common sense says that we'll at least hear something about the PC's dose of the T-virus before then.
Amidst all the panicked hubbub of the holiday season, EA slipped Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 into stores last week -- or at least, most of it. Not included in many unlucky game boxes was a mega-crucial 0.0001% of the game experience: the last digit of the Red Alert 3's CD Key. Uh-oh.
Fret not, however, if you're planning to commandeer and consume a copy of the game, because EA's brightest minds have put their synapses into overdrive in order to whip up a work-around.
"There is currently a work-around that may allow you to bypass this issue. Since you have the first 19 characters of the code already, you can basically try guessing the last character," said a note on EA's customer support site.
Yes, they're serious.
"To do this, simply enter your existing code, and then for the last character, try the letters A-Z, and then the numbers 0-9. You should eventually get the right combination, and be able to play the game."
EA: Its head isn't in the game. Seriously, there's no excuse for such shoddy work from one of gaming's biggest publishers. Get your act together, guys.
After EA dribbled its drop into the bucket, it was only a matter of time until other mega-publishers hopped in line. Proving the previous statement's veracity, here's THQ.
According to prettymucheveryone -- save for, of course, THQ -- the publisher plans to pack five studios onto the chopping block this week, bringing its total posse down from 16 studios to an economy sized 11.
The development studios being given the go ahead to stroll toward the light are Paradigm (Stuntman Ignition), Helixe, Locomotive, Sandblast Games and Mass Media.
Additionally, Juice Games (known for, uh, racing title Juiced) will remain open, but will lose roughly one third of its staff.
Our prayers are with those who find themselves unemployed. Good luck, everyone.