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.
"Last November we launched what we hoped would be a ground breaking sci-fi MMO. In many ways, we think we've achieved that goal. Tabula Rasa has some unique features that make it fun and very different from every other MMO out there. Unfortunately, the fact is that the game hasn't performed as expected. The development team has worked hard to improve the game since launch, but the game never achieved the player population we hoped for."
"So it is with regret that we must announce that Tabula Rasa will end live service on February 28, 2009."
On the bright side, Tabula Rasa's subscription fee is bowing out before the game's final act, making the MMO free to play beginning January 10. But wait, the goodie bag runs deeper. Active players as of 10 A.M. PST Friday morning will also leave the funeral with:
3 free months of City of Heroes including digital client
3 free months of Lineage II including digital client
Aion beta access (coming soon)
Aion pre-order access (available in 2009)
1 free month of Aion including digital client (available in 2009)
Best of luck to employees affected by Tabula Rasa's untimely end. Job market be damned, you all have the talent to land firmly on your feet.
That’s right Valve faithful, just this week Gordon Freeman celebrated his valiant service at the Black Mesa Research Facility for the 10th time. That’s a whole decade of butt that Mr. Freeman has been kicking, and he’s opened up the door for tons of other great games.
It was the release of Half-Life that really put Valve on the map, and the video gamer’s world is a better place because of it. Games like Counter-Strike, Day of Defeat, Team Fotress (2!), Natural Selection and Left 4 Dead have all come out thanks to Half-Life's humble beginnings. If it weren’t for the release of Half-Life 2 and the extremely flexible and stable Source engine, much of the landscape that we all love to shoot up from the first person wouldn’t be here today.
So give your best wishes to all the fine folks at Valve that have kept a strong decade of gaming alive. Without them, without Steam, without Gordon, we wouldn’t be spending so many countless hours (well, counted on our Steam profile pages) blowing out zombie brains and cursing those clever Spies.
Well, how's this for unexpected? One day, one of North America's two pillars of professional gaming collapses, and the next, pro gamer Tom "Tsquared" Taylor becomes the first pro gamer to slap a mugshot on Dr Pepper's tiny, 20 oz. billboard.
Taylor will appear on roughly 175 million bottles of the good doctor's delicious nectar from January to April 2009. He currently twiddles his thumbs for Major League Gaming, and, despite the fact that we've never heard of him, is apparently a pretty popular guy.
“It’s not like I’m Tom Cruise or Usher walking down the street or anything like that, but it’s gotten to the point where you have to look your best when you go out,” Taylor said. “I carry a Sharpie around, like Peyton Manning.”
Along with adopting the latest Manning-inspired fashion trends and name-dropping like life is a giant Twitter input box, Taylor recently inked a three-year, $250,000 contract with MLG.
The upshot of all this: pro gaming in North America still has a shot at taking off. Now if promoters can figure out a way to really capitalize on the popularity of players like Tsquared (step one: stop using nicknames like "Tsquared"), then pro gaming might just blossom into something special.
After already once claiming the gleaming golden press release for fastest-selling PC game in 2007, Blizzard's back to its crazy shenanigans. According to Acti-Blizz's better half, WoW: Wrath of the Lich King moved 2.8 million units in a single day -- 400,000 more monetarily magnetized boxes than previous record holder WoW: The Burning Crusade.
“We’re grateful for the incredible support that players around the world have continued to show for World of Warcraft,” said Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime.
“Wrath of the Lich King contains some of the best content we’ve created for the game so far, and we look forward to seeing even more players log in to experience it in the days ahead.”
So, did you brave the WotLK-starved hordes to secure a day-one copy? We didn't, but the local line weaved down from GameStop and up into our room anyway, so we still consider our war stories valid.
As it stands, the PC gaming industry is estimated to be worth a massive $20 billion today, and it is predicted to enlarge to $34 billion by 2012.
While many have claimed that PC gaming is dying, they don’t take into account the sales of gaming-oriented PCs. According to Ted Pollak, one of the two men behind this robust estimation, “Retail software figures are not an accurate barometer for the health of the PC gaming industry. The retail numbers don’t capture the casual and digitally distributed games, either.”
Pollak goes on to state that PC gamers don’t really buy that many games to begin with. “Enthusiast PC gamers often latch onto one or two games that offer multiplayer options and stick to these titles for years. Hardware is where they spend the big bucks.”
And yes, it is noticeable that a good amount of the sales went to complete PCs, but there’s also a large market of you that buy your own parts. Many of the sales come from upgrade pieces such as improved graphics cards and memory. And for this, we at Maximum PC salute you.
Mirror's Edge may not be wall-running onto PCs until January, but at least it's sticking the landing. Today, DICE announced that -- if your machine has the cojones to run it -- Mirror's Edge will support PhysX's Newtonian prowess, giving Faith's PC adventure console-eclipXing effects.
"With the NVIDIA PhysX physics engine, the world of Mirror's Edge comes to life with real affects of wind, weapons impact, and in-game movements. Every-day objects within the game become part of the overall experience. Cloth, flags, and banners can now impact weapons and players; ground fog interacts with the player's footsteps; explosions fill the air with smoke and debris; and weapon impacts are enhanced with interactive particles," read the press release.
But how's it look? Well, GameTrailers has a new trailer if you'd like a tantalizing taste of the eye-candy.
So then, MPC readers, now that DICE is sliding a few pieces of realistically billowing cloth under the table, are you cool with the seemingly arbitrary delay? Or is your rage simply too fiery -- fueled by your 143rd run through Mirror's Edge 2D and the completion of our your stark white Mirror's Edge skyscraper case mod, complete with custom Faith action figure?
With the phrase now appended to read, "I'd rather get a root canal while playing a DRM'ed game [than date/know/look at you]," the time is right to take a stand against DRM -- and also brush the dust off a few classic games in the process. So, if you haven't already, definitely point your web browser in Good Old Games' direction. Especially now that the totally DRM-free service has added Epic's Unreal series to its ranks.
Already, Unreal Gold and Unreal Tournament: Game of the Year Edition are offering their services in exchange for low, low prices, with Unreal II: The Awakening and Unreal Tournament 2004: Editor's Choice Edition arriving "in the coming weeks."
"We know that a lot of gamers have been waiting for new deals," said GOG managing director Adam Oldakowski. "We're sure that the Unreal games will satisfy their lust for alien blood and intense multiplayer action... DRM-free, of course."
GoG also boasts games like Fallout, Gothic, and MDK, for prices ranging from $5.99-$9.99. Now go check it out! Show publishers that you'll be good boys and girls -- even without DRM's far-too-watchful eye looming heavy. If nothing else, it's a much more effective statement than complaining in our comments section (which we still encourage!).
Legitimate sport or not, professional gaming just can't seem to catch on in North America. First, the Cyberathlete Professional League wheezed out its final breath, and now, even after striking deals with BSkyB, STAR, and DirectTV, Championship Gaming Series is sitting next to its beleaguered comrade on a fluffy, DSL-connected cloud in gaming heaven.
The reason for its closure: CGS could talk a big game, but sadly lacked the credits needed to continue.
"While the concept was ahead of its time and we are extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished, it became increasingly clear as this ambitious project evolved, that profitability was too far in the future for us to sustain operations in the interim," said the CGS team in its farewell message.
"Our goal was to be ahead of the curve in the e-sports space, and we conceived of CGS as a true sports league. We invested wholeheartedly in the venture and presented viewers with a top-notch production, but the economics just didn’t add up for us at this time."
Good luck to everyone affected by this disappointing turn of events. Our prayers are with you.
MPC readers, what do you think it'll take for pro gaming to finally earn its spot next to apple pie, happy families, and football as something printed all over McDonald's bags and cups? Er, as a crucial piece of American culture, we mean.
We’ve relished the movies about it. We’ve daydreamed about it happening in our own lives. We’ve even drawn up detailed plans for how to survive the admittedly unlikely event of a zombie apocalypse (answer: barricade ourselves in the local Costco). There’s just something so tantalizingly thrilling about the prospect of fighting for survival in an undead-infested world.
Left 4 Dead, Valve Software’s new multiplayer first-person shooter, delivers that awesomely terrifying experience to us. Abandoned metropolises, a ragtag band of hapless strangers, and an endless horde of infected humans—all the staples of a nail-biting George A. Romero zombie epic—are present and accounted for in this ambitious cooperative adventure. But how does this game hold up to our obsessive zombie fantasies? We busted a few thousand undead skulls to find out.