My case for Digital Distribution

7 03 2010

A lot of people have said that digital distribution is a bad path for the game industry to take, mostly because of things like not having a tangible copy of the game and also the inevitable problems that would arise from a site shutting down or if the servers were offline. But personally I feel, given the way computer games have been slowly disappearing from retail stores even before things like Steam came along, that this is a good path for computer games to go down. I can use my own personal experiences watching the retail computer game market shrink to back this up.
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GameX: A Retrospective

26 10 2009

So today I got back from GameX, a combination game and game industry convention that was taking place in the Greater Philadelphia area. I did do a couple tweets on what I had done while I was there but clearly that was insufficent. Since my laptop was way too broken to be of much use I’m going to have to condense everything I did/saw/found interesting into a blog post right here. Of course since this is really the first convention of any kind that I’ve been to I probably didn’t do enough things that people would deem sufficient for a con-goer, but oh well. More after the jump
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Ideas and somesuch

26 07 2009

So I’ve been on vacation all this past week. It was ok. It gave me some time to relax which is important in between searching for jobs and working on various projects. I also came up with an idea for a business that has little to do with game design but might appeal to a gamers sense of collectivity.

Originally the idea was that it’d be a company that makes reproduction game boxes for those people who like showing off their game collections on shelves like I (and many others) do. Then I realized that would probably be expensive. So I thought, what about a website that allows users to create virtual shelf-space for their game collections? Sure it’s not as tangible but in this day and age where many people are wired to the internet it’d be a good idea, plus it would contain information about each game (release date, developer, publisher, etc.). Of course that’s about all I thought up so far, mostly because there probably isn’t much money in the idea and as much as I don’t like to put money first in an idea I am still looking for work and thus money is a bit of an issue at this point in time.

Speaking of, I’m still trying to get in touch with a couple people about possibly making a game for the Independent Games Challenge that Guildhall and Gamestop (among others) are co-sponsoring. I figure even though it’s a 2-month dev cycle that should be familiar to most veterans of WPI’s accelerated course schedule, no?

The Invisible Hand of Adam Smith Extends its Middle Finger

12 06 2009

As I get ready to trade in another 6 games I haven’t played in a while to Gamestop just to get one new game, I am reminded of the problem the game industry has with the cost of games. Ever since this console generation, game prices have shot up to $60, something we hadn’t seen since the N64 days. We were told that the switch to disc media would benefit the consumer because game prices would go down. That hasn’t happened. I doubt it will even with this current economic crisis. Now while some people blame Gamestop for their trade-in policies, I choose not to. After all, used games was how I built up the game collections of my Genesis, my N64, my PS1, my PS2, and my NES. The problem is that Gamestop has to make money off of the secondhand games market, and sadly with game prices the way they are now, they can’t drop prices dramatically on used games for the current generation of consoles.

So we’re back to the big problem, the price of a new game itself. ranging from $40 on handheld systems, to $50 on the Wii, to $60 if you’re buying for the PS3 or 360. These are pretty much the highest prices each company’s current-gen console has had for a game, apart from the aforementioned $60 N64 titles.
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Not talking about E3 – Goldeneye: Source Beta 3.1 Review

3 06 2009

With everyone talking about E3 this week I’ve decided to…not talk about E3 at all clearly. Instead I’m going to do a little first impressions review of what is quickly becoming my favorite Source Mod.
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PSP is Go(-ing nowhere fast)

1 06 2009

Originally when I decided to make an entry about Sony’s unveiling of the PSP Go I was going to try to avoid saying anything that Sony’s loyal fanbase would misconstrue as the work of a Microsoft or Nintendo fanboy. Then I remembered that’s what they think any dissenting opinion about Sony is from, so I decided pulling punches was unnecessary. That said I am going to try to remain constructive.
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Valve sapping mah enthusiasm! A look at the Spy/Sniper update

25 05 2009

Ok so like I said earlier Valve put out the new “Spy vs. Sniper” update for Team Fortress 2. Feelings are mixed amongst many longtime players; partially because of the content in the update, but mostly because of how Valve chose to change the way we unlock new class items. Personally I’m not sure what to think, yet I can’t help but feel the new system will be not only a polarizing change, but possibly a bad one. Also it’s really hard to not say “you got someone’s MMO in my TF2” under this new system, but perhaps I should explain. Also there will be an actual review of the new maps and items contained within the update at the end of this, so settle in. (Click to read more)

Enter Sandman: A look at TF2’s maligned Scout bat upgrade.

20 04 2009

Ever since the Scout got his class upgrades in TF2 It is the only weapon from TF2 to ever be banned in league play. The only reason for, I can presume, is the fact that it stuns any enemy (even ubercharged) it hits for anywhere from 1-8 seconds depending on distance. In fact, it seems to be the fact it stuns ubercharged enemies is the reason it’s banned. Even though it’s never a guaranteed hit. But I posit that The Sandman, when put in the perspective of the entire TF2 package (including upgrades to all the classes thus far), is actually not the balance-breaker everyone seems to say it is. (Click to read more)

After-market add-ons = more sales?

17 04 2009

I’m sure many people have seen the trailer for FEAR 2’s new map pack. In what surely must make some scratch their heads and others laugh, Monolith have decided to, for free, release three new multiplayer maps that basically make the players the size of a plastic army man as they wage war within kitchens, sandboxes, and even a pinball machine. Fun? Yes. But it did something else bizarre to me. See I loved the first FEAR, but due to financial reasons never managed to pick up FEAR 2. Suddenly I want to run out and buy it just for the map pack. Granted I’m a bit odd and get caught up in whimsical things like this, but all the same I wonder how many other people had the same thought.

A similar occurrence came when Criterion announced new DLC for Burnout: Paradise, wherein one of the new cars was essentially the Delorean from Back To the Future, complete with the ability to hover, BTTF 2-style. Even better, they’ve now put the game out again with all the DLC pre-included, to save time I presume. Will this actually influence customers? Who can say. After all, regular DLC downloads seem to be doing just fine without being integrated into the main software package, but at the same time it’s bound to occur. Or at least, some people think it will (see all the Fallout 3 players holding out for a GOTY edition with all the DLC included).

One would probably have to do some data extrapolations looking at sales charts to see how much DLC and addons affect game sales, especially after they’ve been on shelves for a few months.

Suddenly, a problem with Microtransactions?

14 04 2009

I used to never see the big deal with microtransactions (i.e. paying for DLC and so forth on Xbox Live, the Wii Shop, etc.), but tonight I think I almost hit a stumbling block in my resolve to, aside from Battlefield: Bad Company, not have a problem with paying to unlock more content in a game.

I was playing an open beta of a new game on Instant Action (the server-side multiplayer games site) called Lore: Aftermath. Really fun mecha game, basically the multiplayer arena matches from Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries, complete with a mech lab. Of course, you don’t get immediate access to those. And therin was my problem. See I enjoy customization, but I’m not allowed to customize without paying money to unlock a large number of emblems, and in fact, every single weapon.

I almost was annoyed by this, but then I realized something. I’m playing a game for free. I’m paying to unlock more features, essentially paying for the game. Unlike Battlefield: Bad Company, where people were paying $60 including money for DLC that was really pointless (i.e. balance-breaking weaponry). Having thought about that it seems to me it’s acceptable to pay to unlock features in a game I didn’t pay for yet. In this way the gamer is setting their own price, and while I don’t have any proof, I have a feeling it might work out pretty well.

Of course since this is a beta I’m a bit loathe to pay to unlock features in it since I’m not sure it’d carry over when the full version hits. But I don’t feel like I was being cheated per-se, especially since I haven’t really felt the need to have customization in order to enjoy the game more so far.