Looking to Gamescom 2014

We’re just a week away from Gamescom 2014 now.. time to catch up on what’s happening in the gaming world!

Amongst the more interesting headlines.. Valve is rumoured to have slipped the Source 2 engine out, via the Dota 2 Workshop tools.  Fans of the game found references to Source 2 in file names and routines, and the new and improved engine has been rumoured for a while.  Valve has made no comment as yet, so we’ll have to wait and see..

Blizzard will be celebrating World of Warcraft’s 10 year anniversary this November with some in-game activities.  Players can look forward to Tarren Mill vs Southshore, a special 40 player Raid Finder version of Molten Core and a Molten Corgi pet for those logging in during the event.

Ubisoft have released screenshots and gameplay details about their newest Settlers game, Kingdoms of Anteria.  Part city builder, part action strategy, Kingdoms of Anteria allows players to build, manage and expand their kingdom, whilst fighting enemies to gain loot and resources with up to four players.  Closed beta launches soon.

BioWare has been teasing something with their short videos (You’ve Been Chosen).. we won’t have to wait long to find out what this one’s all about, as a special fan event takes place next week, at the beginning of Gamescom 2014.

Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2 DLC Up For Grabs

BioWare are currently giving away all the DLC for Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2.. all you have to do to collect it is log in on their website and select your format.  This huge, free bundle of DLC even includes the Fan Reward Pack at the San Diego Comic Con in 2011!

Dragon Age III: Inquisition is currently in development, with no release date as yet though rumours suggest the game may be held back to 2014, for release on the next generation of consoles.

Dragon Age III: Inquisition Confirmed!

Dragon Age III: Inquisition has now been confirmed in an open letter to the community from BioWare’s Executive Producer, Mark Darrah!

No details about the game’s story have been released as yet, though rumours suggest the player will be a member of the Inquisition, with the game set in a land divided by civil war.

The team developing the third Dragon Age game include many of those who have worked on the series from the start; they are working on a new engine for this game, hoping for a more expansive world, better visuals, improved reactivity to player choices, and more customisation!

Star Wars: The Old Republic – Expanded Free to Play Version

EA have announced that Star Wars: The Old Republic will get an expanded F2P version later this year, allowing players to take on any of the eight character classes up to level 50, from the current limit of 15.

Subscriptions will still be available for players who want unrestricted access to the entire game; Free to Play players will have some restrictions on access to new content and advanced player features. (more…)

Amazon Refunds on Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3’s ending has apparently disappointed so many people that Amazon have apparently decided to offer full refunds on the game.. gamers have been reporting that they’ve had refunds on their games, at least.  I think this is the start of a slippery slope.

Now.. I’ve not seen this ending yet.  I understand that it isn’t quite what people expected, and that people are disappointed.  Mass Effect 3 is, however, not broken, and people should not be expecting a refund because they didn’t like how the story turned out.  It’s pathetic. 

If you played the game through to the end, you’ve had what you paid for.  What’s next?  Demanding refunds because you didn’t like the ending of a film?  A book?  Can I order a three-course meal at a restaurant, but then complain that I didn’t like the sauce on my dessert, and so refuse to pay for any of the meal?

Our right to a refund is supposed to be there to protect us from shoddy goods and services, not to allow ridiculously self-entitled people to use products and then end up not paying for them by claiming they were dissatisfied.  It isn’t there to allow people to cheat their way out of paying for things.

If Amazon are offering a full refund on ME3 now, they are just encouraging people to buy the game, play it through, and then claim they didn’t like it and ask for their money back.  If you claim a refund for a game you have played all the way through to the end, you are worse than a pirate, because not only are you a “lost sale”, you are costing people money in handling the order in the first place; shipping, dealing with your emails and refunding you.  You would be less of a burden on the gaming industry if you just downloaded it, played it and deleted it.

And what does this mean for writers?  Write the ending that fans want, or risk the potential that they can cheat you out of your pay?

If writers suddenly have to start making the ending the fans want, then we all lose.  There’ll be no more creativity; only the same tired storylines that have ‘proven’ themselves satisfactory in the past.  Or maybe no story at all.  Or we’ll have fan-fiction.. and well.. that doesn’t have a great reputation for quality, does it?

Grim Times

It’s really not looking good for GAME.  Yesterday’s news showed that they were looking for a buyer.. a few options such as a partial GameStop buyout were being outed in the press, with the latest possible buyers being Hilco and OpCapita.

Share prices, which started the week at 3.5p, fell to below 1p yesterday morning, and only just made it back over the penny mark.  This may put buyers off.  It may be that buyers are waiting until GAME goes into administration, as they can then negotiate around store liabilities.

GAME has also failed to secure stocks of Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, which is due on March 23rd, and a press release from Tecmo Koei states that neither Ninja Gaiden 3 or Warriors Orochi 3 will be available through GAME or GameStation in the UK and Ireland, with alternative stores listed as HMV, ASDA, Blockbuster, or online.

Other bad news, or bad press at least, came for EA and BioWare.. there was a large backlash against Mass Effect 3’s ending, which apparently doesn’t take into account players’ choices in the game.

Fans discovered that the Day 1 DLC character can be unlocked from the disc; EA stepped forward to say that From Ashes is not on the disc, but is a 600MB+ download; but that some “framework elements and character models needed to be put on disc”.

The latest news is that a multiplayer DLC for the game has been spotted, by somebody using a development kit.  No pricing or release date has been mentioned as yet, but this news doesn’t seem to be getting a good reception from fans.  At this rate, we’ll be waiting for the GOTY edition.

Metacritic Drama with Mass Effect 3

Mass Effect 3 launched today in the US with UK gamers forced to wait until Friday.  The game has scored high ratings from the press, as expected, and has a Metacritic score of 93, but the user score is currently down at 2.5, based on 562 votes.

Sounds familiar.. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 also took an initial battering on their user score: one of the devs asked for help on Twitter, noting that the score was “suspiciously low”.  Indeed, there were a large number of 0 ratings across the three platforms.

While I’m sure there are plenty of honest ratings being submitted for the game, and here for Mass Effect 3, the political voters have certainly been out in force.  Are people downvoting the game out of spite at the Day 1 DLC?  Or is it rage at the latest revelation that the multiplayer will have an effect on the ending of your singleplayer game? (more…)

In the News – 6th March

Mass Effect 3 launched today for the Americans, with the UK release due on Friday.  The game currently has a Metacritic score of 93, while the user score is currently at 2.5.  Political voting?  I think so.

The latest that the multiplayer will have an effect on the ending of your singleplayer game.  As you complete missions and earn the support of different people, you gain them as War Assets: the game takes the number of collected War Assets into consideration when calculating your ending.. and it seems that you need a fairly high number of them.  During multiplayer, you can improve your Readiness rating.  This rating is used as a multiplier against your War Assets, so has a positive effect. (more…)

A Weekend’s Gaming

Most of the weekend was spent playing games (Mass Effect 3 multiplayer and Orcs Must Die!), with a little spent outside in the sun, and some TV time thrown in as well.  I’d call that a good weekend 🙂

We had decided to get together and try out the multiplayer demo for Mass Effect 3.


Are we being exploited by DLC?

Spurred on by the debate around the Mass Effect 3 DLC, I started writing some thoughts down.. but it quickly turned into a definite TL;DR with DLC, online passes, pre-order bonuses, retailer exclusives and the fight against used games.. as well as the all-too-common cry that customers are being exploited.

So.. I’ve split it all up, with this part mainly being about DLC, in-game purchases and other bonuses, and another part to come about the fight against used games.  I’ve mentioned a few games or companies in my examples here.. either because they were the first or best example to come to mind, or because I know that product better.  I’m sure I’ve missed some great examples, and although I’ve checked my facts, I may have something wrong or out of date in here.. so feel free to let me know in the comments 🙂

The first Mass Effect 3 DLC pack appeared briefly on the Xbox Live Marketplace last week, and stirred up quite a debate about exploitation.

One complaint against DLC is that it provides an incentive for developers to withhold part of the game to charge more for it later.. or even on the same day, in the case of Day 1 or unlocks of content from the game disk itself.  You can’t return DLC if you don’t enjoy it, nor can you sell it on as it’s usually tied to your game account.  Other complaints are about price (Modern Warfare 2’s ‘Stimulus Package’: £10 for 5 maps, two of which were re-releases), or the worth of the DLC (Oblivion’s Horse Armour), and then there’s the idea that it’s only being produced to milk consumers for every last penny. (more…)

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