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Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012

More Black Ops 2 Preorder Bonuses

GameStop announces another wave of preorder bonuses for Call of Duty Black Ops 2, the upcoming military shooter sequel. Word is: "By pre-ordering now at GameStop, customers will receive the Nuketown 2025 bonus multiplayer map, a future rendition of the fan-favorite map in Call of Duty: Black Ops, at purchase. Customers that get in early and pre-order during the second wave will automatically receive bonuses revealed in waves three and four."

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion Sets Sales Record

Stardock announces that Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion is smashing all the company's previous sales records. They offer some details on this, including some praise for the impact of sales on Steam, clearly putting the rivalry over once having owned the competing Impulse service in the rearview:

  • The company has sold more than 100,000 copies digitally to date of Rebellion
  • The company’s internal projections factored in a large “cannibalization” percentage of its own direct sales through its web site and sales from its former digital distribution platform Impulse (now owned and operated by GameStop.)
    • Sale stats showed that Steam sales did NOT cannibalize those sales
    • Steam sales instead replaced what Stardock has usually seen via sell-in at retail

Steamships Ahoy - Resonance

Steam now offers Resonance, a new adventure from indie developer XII Games, offering a 10% discount during its first week of availability (thanks nin). Here's a description of the game:
When a brilliant particle physicist dies unexpectedly, the race is on to secure his terrible new technology before it falls into the wrong hands. The lives of four playable characters become entangled as they fight against the clock to find the dead scientist’s secret vault.

The suspicions they harbor, the memories they guard, the connections they share - all will converge as these four ordinary people work together to prevent a potentially cataclysmic disaster.

Quoteworthy - "Windows 8 is a Catastrophe" - Gabe Newell

"The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don’t realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior," says Valve's Gabe Newell as quoted on AllThingsD. "We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It’s a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we’ll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that’s true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality." Thanks VG247.

Storm over the Pacific Patch

Matrix Games now offers a new patch for Storm over the Pacific to update the World War II strategy sequel to version 1.10. This forum post includes a complete change log, and here's an overview: "The v1.10 update fixes the issue of CTDs after assigning a commander, as well as the problems with bad counted supply and the calculations of bombardments. Players will enjoy several new features as well, such as units being able to switch places with a SHIFT+click and an increased buffer to store naval AI activities."

Drox Operative Beta Patch

Soldak Entertainment now offers a new patch for Drox Operative to update the beta of their upcoming action/RPG to version 0.911. The full change list resides here, and here's a quick abstract: "This patch adds a couple more race/race interaction quests, improves the race statement stuff, and fixes a bunch of other little things."

Evening Previews

Into the Black

Link of the Day: RPG Lady Armor - Dorkly Comic. Thanks Ant via Slashdot.

Return to RIFT

The RIFT Website invites former subscribers the chance to return to the MMORPG for free:
Previous subscribers! Log in to RIFT™ July 25 - 29 for a weekend of unrestricted free access to the entire game, including all your characters. Join Instant Adventures across four new zones, dive into new Mentoring and Leaderboards features, explore the Primeval Feast Sliver, and engage in the groundbreaking PvP warfare of Conquest. As always, new players have access to levels 1-20 completely free with RIFT Lite!

TrackMania 2 Free Platform Pack [Updated x2]

Though it's not reflected on the TrackMania 2 Canyon Website, NADEO sends word that a new "Platform Pack" patch is now automatically available for their racing sequel that adds a new "Platform" game mode among other things. The goal of the new mode is to complete an entire track without the need to respawn, and this trailer (thanks Frans) shows how that works. Here's a description:

  • 1 new game mode and solo campaign
  • 23 new tracks
  • Game mode available in editor for players to create their own Platform tracks
  • Dedicated ranking for Platform players
  • The King of the Ultimate Nightmare Challenge: first player to complete a full drive-through on the Ultimate Nightmare platform track with absolutely no re-spawn, can send the replay to Nadeo to see their achievement celebrated in an upcoming dedicated video on the ManiaPlanet Youtube channel

Update (2): After, a brief delay, this new pack is now available. Thanks Frans.

Steam Hardware Survey Results & Bug Fix

The Steam Hardware & Software Survey now offers the June results showing the hardware being used to play games on Valve's service (thanks VG247). These results reflect jump in the use of newer hardware, and they kick off with the following explanation of how this is in part because they've addressed a bug in the system:
There was a bug introduced into Steam's survey code several months ago that caused a bias toward older systems. Specifically, only systems that had run the survey prior to the introduction of the bug would be asked to run the survey again. This caused brand new systems to never run the survey. In March 2012, we caught the bug, causing the survey to be run on a large number of new computers, thus giving us a more accurate survey and causing some of the numbers to vary more than they normally would month-to-month. Some of the most interesting changes revealed by this correction were increased OS share of Windows 7 (as Vista fell below XP), the rise of Intel as a graphics provider and the overall diversification of Steam worldwide (as seen in the increase of non-English language usage, particularly Russian).

PES 2013 Demo

A playable demo is now available for PES 2013, allowing the chance to kick around a sample of the next installment in this association football/soccer simulation. The demo supports five minute matches in a choice of two stadiums using a limited selection of teams. Word: "Experience the skill and technique demanded by PES 2013’s total football. As teams fuelled by Pro-Active AI make runs and behave like real players, PES 2013's all-new Full Control elements give you utter control over every move – with fully manual shooting meaning that no two goals will be the same. Player ID then adds further depth, as the best players move and behave just like their real-life counterparts. Get an early sample of PES 2013's gameplay." The download can be found on AtomicGamer, GamesMonkey, Gamer's Hell, and Strategy Informer.

WoW Mists of Pandaria in September

The Mists of Pandaria expansion for World of Warcraft should launch on September 25th, announces Blizzard, saying: "Upon the expansion’s release, intrepid explorers of the Alliance and the Horde will be able to set foot upon the shores of the long-lost continent of Pandaria and embark on a perilous journey to uncover its ancient mysteries." The MMORPG expansion will be released digitally for USD $39.99, as a digital deluxe edition for USD $59.99, or as a retail Collector's Edition for USD $79.99, and they will also offer a deluxe upgrade for purchasers of the vanilla edition. Word is pre-sales are now underway:
Presales for the standard digital and Digital Deluxe versions of Mists of Pandaria are now live. Players who would like to purchase either version and be ready to play the moment the expansion launches can do so now by visiting www.WorldofWarcraft.com. The expansion content will automatically be digitally delivered to pre-purchasers via World of Warcraft’s streaming launcher prior to the release of Mists of Pandaria. Players who would like to preorder the standard box or the retail-exclusive Collector’s Edition can do so by visiting their local retailer.

“Mists of Pandaria contains the biggest variety of new content we’ve ever created for a World of Warcraft expansion, with features that will appeal to new players, veterans, and everyone in between,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’ve received a lot of great feedback from players during our most extensive beta test yet, and we hope they enjoy exploring everything Pandaria has to offer when the expansion comes out in September.”

Shadowrun Online Video; Campaign Mode Announced

The Kickstarter Campaign for Shadowrun Online now offers the first video footage from a prototype of the upcoming Shadowrun game, as well as another video from Cliffhanger Productions explaining more about the game's story modes. There is also this update explaining they've "solved" the "free-to-play" issue with their new plans for a "campaign model," which is not free-to-play. Here's word on plans to adopt the Guild Wars model:
Following the business model of games like Guild Wars, we’ll also offer the game as a standard client based PC/Mac/and iOS/Android tablet game with with all items that give any advantage in the in-game store bought with in-game "Nuyen" you earn while playing Shadowrun Online! So basically, you buy the game ONCE, really OWN the game, and can play it for as long as you want WITHOUT EXTRA CHARGES. There won’t be any monthly payments either. Like with a pen and paper game new campaigns, cities and other content and feature updates are then sold afterwards as “Add-ons” in packs, but it’s totally up to you if you want them or not. You can play with the basic package as long as you want. We call this model the “Campaign model" since you will have full access to a complete campaign with your Kickstarter pledge, or after launch, with a retail purchase of Shadowrun Online.

1M Stronghold Kingdoms Players

Firefly Studios announces that Stronghold Kingdoms has surpassed the one million player milestone:
Stronghold Kingdoms, consistently the second most popular free-to-play game on Steam for nearly five months now, has reached 1,000,000 registered players. "Adiewux" joined World 3 on Monday at 11:45 BST, bringing the total number of Lords and Ladies playing Kingdoms to a massive one million. World 3 was the first of many new game worlds launched to keep pace with a huge influx of new players, following the game’s Steam launch in February. Reaching one million players has been a goal of Firefly’s for some time now and achieving it opens the door to even greater heights. The company hopes that with new markets and platforms, such as the recently launched Amazon Game Connect, the Kingdoms playerbase will continue to grow in 2012 and beyond.

Game Reviews

Hardware Reviews

Out of the Blue

The updating timing here has been very inconsistent lately, which I hope to get a better handle on going forward. I have a particular reason to post this evening's news earlier than usual, so hopefully I can use that as a springboard to a new trend.

R.I.P. 'Jeffersons' star Sherman Hemsley dies at 74. Thanks brother19.

Early Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Dibbles: Pro Pack.
Links: Dress Made Out of 50,000 Gummy Bears.
Stories: How the Dark Knight Became Dark Again.
Science: Strange New Fish Found Deep off New Zealand.
Army’s Pixel Camouflage Gets the Boot.
Media: Celebrities Read Mean Tweets.
Conan O'Brien Plays Minecraft.
Follow-up: "The Hobbit" Will Be A Trilogy After All? Thanks scorcese.fan.