Thursday, December 8, 2011

For the Republic!

Dust off your lightsabers and polish your thermal detonators.  The most anticipated MMO RPG of all time – Star Wars:  The Old Republic is nearly here. 

Although most producers and developers don’t like release dates to go as scheduled, this game is NOT likely to experience any last-minute delays (knock on wood).  December 20 will see the U.S. release, and Star Wars fans everywhere are writhing with anticipation.

Developed by BioWare and published by EA and LucasArtsOver, has already achieved 2.4 million registered players.  This magnitude is clearly indicative of a game that may be too big for its britches. 

With over 720,000 beta testers, 78,000 newly created guilds and 9 million hours of gameplay, players are obviously ready to unleash the Force. 

Hopefully, developers are aware of the game’s notoriety and are prepared to deal with clogged servers, impatient consumers and heavy criticism.  Either way, hurry and pre-order before it’s too late!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Game Rentals are Killing Developer Sales

Blockbuster. RedBox. GameFly.  All these videogame rental venues have an unfortunate consequence for developers:  they don’t make them any money. 

Used games come at a fraction of the initial retail price.  Once a game is traded into a retailer, it profits no money toward the companies that produced and distributed the game.  All the money for used game sales goes to the retailer.  This is convenient and economically practical for avid gamers, as today’s games are more expensive than ever, and new titles are released multiple times a week.

At $60 plus tax for each new game release, gamers are more frequently trading in old games or renting in order to save some cash.

So, while gamers can save a few bucks by doing this, it’s also providing companies a reason to sell more new copies.

In the past couple of years, downloadable content has become ever-popular.  Games are more frequently being released with “online pass” codes that are only available for new copies. 

Although frustrating for those that can’t afford hundreds of dollars a week in new games, this method of “exclusive content” is a way for companies to generate more revenue while discouraging the sales of used copies.

If consumers can’t afford it, they won’t buy it.  Maybe if games weren’t so expensive, companies would see more new purchases and less trade-ins.

Monday, July 25, 2011


The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) earlier today announced that it filed a motion to the U.S. Supreme Court for reimbursement of $1.1 million in attorneys’ fees from the State of California.

The motion follows the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of ESA in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association/Entertainment Software Association. On June 27, 2011, the Court ruled that a 2005 California law regulating the distribution of computer and video games was unconstitutional, and violated protected expression, upholding the decisions of both lower courts. The decision was a landmark victory for the First Amendment rights of video game creators, parents, and consumers.

“We look forward to moving forward and working together to raise awareness about the valuable tools and information available to parents,” said Michael D. Gallagher, CEO of the ESA, the trade association representing U.S. computer and video game publishers. “From the start of this misguided legislation, then-Governor Schwarzenegger and specific California legislators knew that their efforts to censor and restrict expression were, as court after court ruled, unconstitutional and thus a waste of taxpayers’ money, government time, and state resources.”

In the motion to recover its attorneys’ fees, ESA argued that “California persisted in defending a law that Plaintiffs warned the Legislature was unconstitutional before it was passed; that was previously found to be unconstitutional by the district court and a unanimous panel of the Ninth Circuit; and that is similar to at least eight other laws invalidated as unconstitutional prior to the time that California sought certiorari in this case.”

Gallagher stated that the video game industry still welcomes the opportunity to work with legislators in raising awareness about the Entertainment Rating Software Board (ESRB) video game rating system and other tools, like parental controls, that the industry voluntarily provides to parents. That information helps parents make informed choices about the entertainment for their families. The ESRB independently rates computer and video games and was lauded by the Federal Trade Commission as the gold standard of entertainment ratings systems.

The U.S. video game trade association also noted its commitment to partnering with retailers in enforcing the ESRB system.  In a recent study, the FTC found that the vast majority of children (about 87 percent) who tried to buy M-rated games were prevented by retailers from doing so — a figure higher than any other entertainment industry.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Killing Floor

Killing Floor is a cooperative, survival-horror shooter developed and published by Tripwire Interactive.  It runs on the heavily modified Unreal Engine 2.5, and is only playable on PC and Mac.

 It was released May 2009, and was one of the highest-selling games on Steam shortly after its release.  It is currently available on Steam's Summer Deal for $7.50.  This amazing deal comes complete with all the additional content (DLC) offered, including all the character costume packs for significantly reduced prices.

The basis of this game's appeal is in its simplicity.  You can't help but enjoy it, despite its miniscule redundancies and obvious imperfections.  Players find a server, team up, and commence through ten waves of increasingly difficult fights, culminating in a fight with the top specimen, the 'Patriarch'.

On the surface, Killing Floor appears to have much in common with Nazi-Zombies from the Call of Duty series.  The 'zombies' (specimens) can sniff you out - wherever you hide, and it's up to you and your teammates to formulate a survivable strategy.

Players earn money by defeating zombies and surviving waves.  Between each wave, a trader offers some assistance in the form of flamethrowers, shotguns, shields, grenades, and an assortment of automatic rifles.  Players are able to 'trade' their money for more advanced and practical weaponry, in order to even the odds.  Players can also trade equipment, in order to keep the teams' weaker links goal oriented and ready to assist.

Killing Floor has won several awards since its release.  Voodoo Extreme's Reader Choice Awards nominated the game 'Overall Best PC Game of 2009', 'Best PC Shooter of 2009', and 'Best PC Game Expansion of 2009'.

Steam's Summer Sale will not be going on much longer, so I urge game fanatics to take advantage of their exceptional deals.  With some games discounted as much as 80%, Steam is truly setting high standards for competition.  While consoles are breaking the bank and picking the pockets of their devoted customers, the Steam powerhouse is providing more fun at considerably less expense.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Uncharted Bundle

Why spend so much money on pieces of games?  Release titles rarely include the entire game, with DLC becoming more and more common as games continue to contain less and less inaugural gameplay.  This not only affects gamers wallets, but also their affinity towards buying newly released games.

Bundle packs are becoming the more economic way to play old games.  Titles like 'Gears of War', 'Fallout' and 'God of War' are currently released with 'Game of the Year' editions that include all of the combined extra content for a fraction of the price featured upon initial release.  Disenfranchised gamers can abuse this privilege to save some money, and still experience the entirety of awesomeness that developers had originally intended en masse.

Soon enough, Uncharted star Nathan Drake will have his very own bundle pack.  This will include both games; Uncharted 1 and 2, and will also include a PS3 theme and avatar.  Although this release has (so far) only been announced for Europe, the States should see their bundle very soon!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Team Fortress' Uber Update

Team Fortress 2 has become a supremely renowned first-person shooter.  Developed by Valve and released almost 4 years ago, it still has a tremendous following.   This is due, in part, to the plethora of updates and additional content that TF2 has seen since its release.
With an update agenda that is second to none, the cartoon-influenced, Steam-powered multiplayer action is persistently being overhauled with supplementary features like weapons, wardrobes and abilities.  The gameplay has truly changed dramatically, for better or worse, in the past 4 years.
Valve recently announced an Uber update that is described as "the most ambitious update in the history of Team Fortress 2".  Complete with new maps and class packs (including new weapons and attire), this is sure to rebound disenfranchised players and garner a whole new demographic!  Can the popularity of this game hold strong for another four years?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A New Kombatant Approaches!

The Bloodthirsty Skarlet will join Mortal Kombat's colorful cast of killers!

Originating as a coding glitch for Kitana in Mortal Kombat 2, Skarlet is familiar to die-hard fans of the series.   As of June 21, she will be available on the X-Box Live marketplace for 400 Microsoft Points ($5).
The magnitude of her moves, which apparently involve even more blood-splattering techniques, are sure to blend seamlessly into the current maelstrom of Midway mayhem.  With Skarlet's exceptionally brutal and blood-spewing move set, it's difficult to tell whose blood you're covered in!  Watch her story!