Stardock's Annual 2011 Customer Report (Adobe Acrobat format) has the private company's latest public assessment of where they stand. They discuss game plans, their desktop apps, and the sale of Impulse, which the report's conclusion says will lead to visible results:
Conclusions 2011 was Stardock’s most successful year since its incorporation in 1993. It used the capital gained from the sale of Impulse to bring in world-class talent and evaluate the accelerating trends in consumer software. Over the next 18 months, it hopes to begin announcing a wide range of new products, games, and technologies.
For our industry, it’s a time of transition. The PC consumer market could potentially see a consolidation in which virtually all PC games are sold either through Steam, GameStop Impulse, Battle.net, or Origin while non-games end up on a Microsoft Marketplace type system.
While these changes are taking place, the mobile space is exploding. Developers who were once PC developers are migrating in ever greater number to either iOS or Android. And Apple, with AirPlay, is setting itself up to compete head-to-head with the next generation console offerings.
It is a good time to be a software developer. It’s an even better time to be a software consumer.
Ubisoft has released a new trailer from Far Cry 3 showing off gameplay centered on the Dr. Earnhardt character in the upcoming first-person shooter sequel. Here's their description: "Check out the action-packed shooter gameplay and immersive world of Far Cry 3 through the troubled eyes of Dr. Earnhardt, the island's resident 'pharmacist.' Use an arsenal of weapons, explosives and vehicles to fight against the island's ruthless and deranged inhabitants. Explore a stunning and treacherous environment, filled with diverse terrain, exotic creatures and mind-bending botanicals." See if you can convince the bouncer you're old enough to view this: Continue here to read the full story.
The BioWare Blog has a post from BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka confirming that criticism of the ending of Mass Effect 3 has had a massive effect on them, and they will indeed be changing the way the game ends, as they said they might. Here's a bit on their change in plans, and what lead to this point:
Building on their research, Exec Producer Casey Hudson and the team are hard at work on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey. You’ll hear more on this in April. We’re working hard to maintain the right balance between the artistic integrity of the original story while addressing the fan feedback we’ve received. This is in addition to our existing plan to continue providing new Mass Effect content and new full games, so rest assured that your journey in the Mass Effect universe can, and will, continue.
The reaction to the release of Mass Effect 3 has been unprecedented. On one hand, some of our loyal fans are passionately expressing their displeasure about how their game concluded; we care about this feedback, and we’re planning to directly address it. However, most folks appear to agree that the game as a whole is exceptional, with more than 75 critics giving it a perfect review score and a review average in the mid-90s. Net, I’m proud of the team, but we can and must always strive to do better.
Wasteland 2 by inXile entertainment Kickstarter update #4 features Brian Fargo channeling his inner Billy Joel to explain "We didn't start the fire." He says that while they are on the verge of the $1.5 million funding level that will permit them to create Linux and OS X editions of Wasteland 2, he does not foresee making console editions of the post-apocalyptic RPG sequel: "It is imperative that we deliver the core PC experience that the fans are expecting here and I want to avoid any elements that could distract us. The console interface is quite different when you consider the input device and proximity to the screen whereas the Mac and Linux are pretty much identical to that of the 'PC'. We will consider a tablet version due to the similarity of the screen and interface but even on that we need to do a bit more research." He also proposes a little Kickstarter socialism to help share the tremendous support some projects are receiving:
And speaking of goodwill it occurs to me that we can harness the power of Kickstarter in a more meaningful way. Fan funding is bigger than me or Wasteland 2 as I have remarked before. The development community has come together to support us in ways that I didn't think possible and our power as developers will ultimately come from us sticking together. Both gamers and developers have so much more strength than they realize. But in order to help facilitate the power of crowd funding I am going to suggest that all of us that do utilize this form of financing agree to kickback 5% of our profits made from such projects to other Kickstarter developers. I am not suggesting taking a backers money and moving it to another project.. I mean once a game has shipped and created profit that we funnel that back into the community of developers to fund their dreams. I am tentatively calling this "Kick It Forward" and I will be the first to agree to it. In fact, I will have our artists create a badge that goes on all Kickstarter projects that agree to support this initiative. Imagine the potential if another Minecraft comes along via Kickstarter and produces millions of dollars of investment into other developers. This economic payback will continue to grow the movement way beyond the current system. I hope others will join me with this idea and make this a true shakeup.
The World of Warcraft Website now offers a Mists of Pandaria Beta Opt-in and FAQ with details on how to participate in the beta testing of the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion and answering pertinent questions about the testing and what the add-on will bring to Blizzard's MMORPG. They also say that they will be inviting annual pass holders into the beta in waves, and will be ramping up this process as quickly as possible.
Namco Bandai is teasing an announcement for Dark Souls, unashamedly using this as a way of attracting more "likes" to the Dark Souls Facebook Page. Thanks GameInformer, where they speculate that this announcement will be the revelation of a PC edition of Dark Souls that a lot of gamers have said they want and may very well has already been revealed via a PC Powerplay tease (thanks Ehkzai). They say the more people who like the page, the sooner the announcement will come, and as of now the 142k people who have hit the little like button have helped reveal exactly nothing, so it's possible this will require the participation of every one of Facebook's six quadrillion users.
The Star Wars: The Old Republic Website has an update on changes for the crew skill system in the upcoming version 1.2 patch for the Star Wars MMORPG. The website also has word that they are conducting another free weekend for the game beginning tomorrow, saying this will only be open to those who have not participated in a previous free event for the game. Here's word:
Like with the first Weekend Pass Free Trial, players will be able to experience the opening chapter of each of the eight character classes in the game. You will have the opportunity to explore each class’s Origin World, and may even have the chance to visit their faction’s Capital World. In addition, Weekend Pass Free Trial players will have the chance to face off against other players in PvP Warzones, or join with their friends to play through an early faction-specific Flashpoint.
Gaslamp Games has a status report on the upcoming version 188.8.131.52 patch for Dungeons of Dreadmor, saying they've just issued release candidate #7 for the patch, saying it should be available by the end of the week. They offer a complete change log and as a bonus, a piece of artwork from Project Odin, their next game.
The ArenaNet Blog has a post by Mike O’Brien discussing microtransactions in Guild Wars 2, their upcoming MMORPG. He explains: "We have a new player-driven market that allows players to trade gold for gems and gems for gold. If you want something, whether it’s an in-game item or a microtransaction, you ultimately have two ways to get it: you can play to earn gold or you can use money to buy gems. We think that’s important, because it lets more players participate on a level playing field, whether they use their free time or their disposable income to do it." In spite of how the original Guild Wars also used microtransactions, this is not going down well, as demonstrated by the 100+ pages of comments on the Guild Wars 2 Guru Forums on the topic. Thanks Titus_Nefarius.
truepcgaming - PC Gaming- A Positive Look. PC gaming has come under fire in recent years due to how most developers and publishers view the PC as a gaming platform and the distrust this has caused in PC gamers. With the many issues facing PC gaming from atrocious DRM schemes along with piracy and poor ports, this platform has left a bad taste in the mouths of PC gamers across the world. While most of the negativity is rightfully justified, there are many areas where PC gaming still shines bright.
I got my face back yesterday as planned, and did a good job of not hacking myself up with my first shave in six months. It only took MrsBlue about 15 minutes to notice this time, which is a record. It once took her almost a day to realize I had shaved off a Van Dyke several years ago.