During Steam’s Monster Summer Sale, I noticed something during the Tom Clancy franchise sale. The price of the upcoming Rainbow Six: Siege is $80 CAD. The US dollar price is $60. If you were to pay for the game in USD and have your credit card company convert it to CAD, a Canadian customer would spend $73. That’s an inexplicable loss of $7 as a sort of living in Canada tax (when no sales tax is charged by Steam in Canada) from a company whose biggest development studio is in Canada and receives subsidies from various levels of Canadian government.
It’s not just the Canadians who are losing out for not living in America. According to the Steam All Region Price Checker extension, British customers are being charged the equivalent of $80 USD and others in the EU will be paying the equivalent of $68 USD.
So why are certain countries paying more than other and who is at fault for the price discrepancies?
I don’t know how many times that people have to be told not to pre-order games for it to sink in but I’m not sure that it will matter. For all the convincing pitches that game companies themselves make with games that are broken on launch or otherwise in need of a lot of work to be considered of triple-A quality, publishers are coming up with ever more convincing pitches to get you to pre-order games or upgrade to more expensive editions of the game and it all comes down to money.
It used to be that pre-order perks were limited to things like skins or weapons or other little bonuses that didn’t really make that big of an impact on the overall game. Those traditional pre-order bonuses should not be confused with the setup that Turtle Rock Studios and 2K Games have come up with their latest hoped triple-A money printer Evolve.
In order to move pre-order copies of Evolve and to sell the various deluxe editions of Evolve, Turtle Rock and 2K have come up with one of the most complicated and ridiculous DLC schemes in recent memory. People have actually come up with charts in order to keep track of what is included with which version via pre-order, purchase, season pass and a la carte. Evolve might be one of the better games this year but its DLC will make it one of the most controversial at the same time.
Have you heard of H1Z1? It’s the latest MMO from the artists formerly known as Sony Online Entertianment (now called Daybreak Games). While SOE’s MMOs are all free-to-play, H1Z1 has launched as an Early Access title on Steam for $20. That price gets you immediate access to the game along with a few other perks. By all accounts, it’s quite obvious that it’s in the alpha stages of development.
The problem most people are having is that it’s a triple-A company that have gone the early access route. SOE has a few popular MMOs on offer already and with their financial backing from Sony and now Columbus Nova, it’s not like they should need the funding from Early Access sales to complete and polish the game.
But H1Z1 is the popular example of Early Access gone wrong. They aren’t the only example out there right now. Imagine my surprise a couple of weeks ago when I launched Battle.net and saw Heroes of the Storm waiting for me to click. The problem was that it wasn’t there to download. HOTS got a spot on my Battle.net launcher so I could spend $40 on the Founder’s Pack which includes immediate access to the game along with a few other perks.
So how is SOE and H1Z1 getting blasted for releasing an alpha of their game as early access while Blizzard is getting a pass for Heroes of the Storm?
On Monday, CD Projekt Red announced that The Witcher 3 has been delayed until May 2015. That’s the third release window for the game since it was announced. The original 2014 release window was specified down to Fall 2014 which was revised to February 2015 and most recently to May 19, 2015.
At one point in time, a game being delayed for a second time would have been met by the internet gaming community with torches and pitchforks, especially a game that is as hotly anticipated as The Witcher 3. However, reaction to the move has been mostly favourable.
After being burned too many times in a row with games that are broken or technically faulty upon launch, gamers are starting to say enough with the now standard practice of a day one patch and are looking for a return of the good old days when games were done when they were released.
At the start of a column last year, I made a joke about how every games writer seems to be in lock-step when it comes to major talking points. I wrote: “I’m convinced that there is a missive sent out to video games writers with talking points that we’re all supposed to stick to for a year.”
One year later, Breitbart, an American news site with a pro-conservative slant to coverage, has uncovered a secret mailing list of leading games journalists that suggests that my little joke might actually be reality. A mailing list of about 150 leading games writers may be shaping the discussion and coverage of major games industry stories on leading websites.
A couple of weeks back, I stopped posting on here unannounced. That was in the midst of the Zoe Quinn controversy, since redubbed by unimaginative people as “GamerGate,” and there was no other news being reported by the gaming media. Normally, I would find something from the tech world or some videos to fill in the Friday (August 29th, if you’re keeping score at home) but I was absolutely defeated.
Not only had the Zoe Quinn story not died after the couple of weeks it had been alive but the discourse had gotten worse. It wasn’t just all the slut shaming, harassment, threats and other general misogyny that was directed at Zoe and anyone who spoke in support of her or against slut shaming, misogyny and the like. The gaming media, having spent the entire Zoe Quinn scandal not talking about the accusations of members of the gaming media compromising their professional ethics and integrity in dealings with Quinn, came out swinging and condemned gamers for being terrible people. They declared gamers dead.
They wildly missed the mark. Gaming isn’t dead. Gamers aren’t dead nor are they the worst people in the world. It’s the people who are spewing hate that are the real terrible people but they don’t represent all gamers.
In a fourth year human resources course, we were posed a question about what we would do if an employee was sleeping with someone from a customer business. I responded with the old Trudeau-ism of “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.” What is personal is personal and it stays that way as long as it doesn’t affect my business.
That was the wrong answer according to the professor and whole rest of the class. The implication of the scenario was that my hypothetical employee was sleeping that person to make sales. They couldn’t be using each other just to use each other. She was obviously using him to reach another end.
Gaming is going through this same scenario right now. Zoe Quinn, the developer behind Depression Quest, is mired in scandal after her ex-boyfriend outed her as sleeping with a number of people in the industry, including a writer for Kotaku, which blew up into accusations of Quinn using sex to get positive coverage from the gaming press.
The International might be taking place right now and it is the biggest eSports tournament in history but it’s far from alone in the MOBA genre. While it’s big, Dota 2 only boasts 9 million monthly players to League of Legends’ 67 million people playing each month. While they’re two of the most popular games in the world, they’re far from the only MOBAs on the block.
Alongside League and Dota is an ever-expanding group of competitors in the MOBA sector. In the last year or so alone, we’ve seen alphas, betas and full releases of Smite, Dawngate, Heroes of the Storm, Infinite Crisis, Dead Island: Epidemic and more. That’s not included the recently announced MOBAs from Gearbox, Crytek and CD Projekt.
With so many MOBAs entering the market against dominating category leaders, do any of these new entries stand a chance and what, if anything, can they do to compete?
I’m a little behind the rest of the world but I finally finished the reboot of Tomb Raider this weekend. The delay in completing it wasn’t because it was a bad game. If I was to give it a rating, I would probably give it an 8.0 or an 8.5. There was just something about the game that meant I put it down after a few hours last year.
Playing it through over the last couple of weeks made me conscious of what I disliked about Tomb Raider. It wasn’t the gameplay or the plot but the portrayal of Lara Croft throughout the game that I found odd and off-putting.
When I was at Fan Expo last August, someone in line for the State of Gaming panel asked the group of us waiting where we thought the industry was headed. Increasing the quantity and quality of free-to-play games was a popular answer. More mobile games for core gamers was another answer. Motion controlled games on Kinect, Wii U and PS Eye finally becoming proper gaming was a less popular suggestion but it was made.
After some pondering, I realized that those answers weren’t wrong but I had a better one. While all those ideas might be right, I think Titanfall might be a harbinger for where the industry is headed. It has nothing to do with mechs or pretty graphics or third-party triple-A games going exclusive. It has everything to do with dropping the single-player campaign and launching a game with only multiplayer.