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The Weekly Wrap – 3DS hits skids, Ubi DRM “succeeds”

Saturday, 30 July 2011 11:01 GMT By Nathan Grayson

It’s been kind of a slow week – is what we’d be saying if we were compulsive liars. While the summer game drought snoozes on, news is stealing the spotlight and hurling it into the sun. Here’s what it all means.

Heavy global 3DS price cut confirmed as sales stiff

What happened: Nintendo finally got knocked off its cloud, and it hit the ground. Hard. No, it hasn’t hit rock bottom and it’s certainly not six-feet-under, but you don’t need to be a brain surgeon, rocket scientist, or rocket brain to see the writing on the wall: slashing one-third of a device’s price after only a few months does not bode well.

What it means: Errant VG247 fifth Beatle, fourth Musketeer, and third best-located (for reference: Steph – awesome horse farm, Pat – in a secret underground sky volcano) Rob Fahey pretty much killed with his blow-by-blow analysis. The gist: the price was far too high relative to everything from iPod to PlayStation friggin’ 3, marketing was incredibly narrow and didn’t do it any favors, and – of course – we’re not in pre-App-Store land anymore, Toto. Then the PS Vita ruthlessly took aim at 3DS’ price advantage, and it was sink or swim. In other words, no more treading water for Nintendo. Without a doubt, Nintendo’s approach to the 3DS’ launch was haphazard and soaked in the retch-worthy musk of arrogance. Turning things around is going to be a tall order.

Worse, we have to take issue with perhaps the only argument in 3DS’ favor: core games, more depth, etc. We don’t buy it. Mobile gaming has been quietly growing its own crop of core-tilting titles – and though they may not be up to snuff with dedicated portables just yet, they’re getting there. Between ports of titles like Final Fantasy Tactics, ambitious Oblivion imitators like Aralon: Sword and Shadow, and gobs of interesting indies (Machinarium, Emissary of War from a former BioWare lead, etc), we simply can’t add our voice to that anti-core chorus. Sure, the control method may not be as well-tailored, but it’s good enough. And all other factors considered (price and convenience being chief among them), “good enough” will more than suffice for most.

Ubisoft says its DRM “is a success” due to reduction in piracy

What happened: Ubisoft’s reviled “always on” DRM reared its ugly head yet again – first with Driver: San Francisco, and then in a scare involving From Dust. Predictably, PC gamers were pissed. So, how can Ubisoft possibly justify what appears to be a dogged war against common sense, happiness, and bunnies? Try “a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection.” Ruh-roh.

What it means: Until we see some hard numbers, you won’t see our skepticism monocles popping off our faces. But even if Ubisoft could definitively prove that it took the wind out of pirates’ sails and – just to make us happy – put Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean series out of our misery, we still wouldn’t approve. In what crazy topsy turvy Bizarro Land is it OK to consider something a “success” when a large contingent of your customers despises everything you stand for? Capcom hasn’t been on much of a hot streak lately, but at least they had the right of it on this issue: If your fans start rallying against you, you find a new way of doing things. You don’t just stick your fingers in your ears and then wave your alleged “success” at their expense in their faces. This is simply common sense: If you rub your customers the wrong way, they’ll bite back.

THQ Q1 – Net loss of $38.4M, Red Faction shelved

What happened: THQ had another rough quarter, so it did some house cleaning. With a hammer. Red Faction’s less-than-desirable results stuck out like a sore thumb, so THQ took a big swing right at the franchise’s foundations. Goodnight, sweet destruction engine. And flights of Ostrich Hammers sing thee to thy rest.

What it means: Red Faction’s another victim of the triple-A transition period, and a chilling reminder of how quickly you can swing from overnight success story to over, done, down, and out. For big-budget franchises, a thinning of the herd now seems inevitable. If it’s not a megaton hit, it’s only holding you back. When one wrong move can mean a company’s slow (or disturbingly quick) demise, there’s not any room for second chances. THQ, especially, seems to be learning the hard way. If it’s any consolation, your precious Master Chiefs and Call of Duty dudes aren’t going anywhere. Right now, it’s a good time to be incredibly big or incredibly small. If you’re in the middle, though? Yeah, turns out those vultures aren’t flocking to you simply because of your charming personality.

Mass Effect 3′s FemShep almost certain to be blonde

What happened: BioWare’s FemShep popularity contest ended up being more of a blowout. As of now, blonde FemShep is winning by a Reaper-sized landslide, commanding nearly 30,000 Facebook “likes.”

What it means: Diversity is dead, Barbie’s cruel influence has corrupted everything you love, blah, blah, blah. No, not really. We’ll miss redheaded FemShep, but this is hardly another Reaper plot to end the universe. First off, bear in mind that male Shepard’s default design isn’t exactly Eyecatcher McIndividuality. He’s an actual, factual bald space marine, for crying out loud. These are default designs after all; essentially, they’re blank slates. Hell, they generally end up encouraging people to customize their characters. As BioWare told us, 83 percent of Mass Effect players customize their Shepard.

Which brings us to our next point: customization. In this age of personalization – be it in social networking, music services, or even your morning coffee – games are embracing customization options in a big way. If you don’t like your character – if it doesn’t represent your background or who you are – change it. The world’s a gigantic, incredibly diverse place. The only way to really cater to everyone is to let them do it for themselves. We’re not saying that game designers should take this as an excuse to ignore everyone who isn’t white and currently wearing Axe bodyspray, but things aren’t as dire as they may seem. A default character design is hardly representative of a game’s entire direction.

EA responds to Dragon Age II Steam disappearance, blames Valve’s “restrictive” TOS

What happened: Mommy and daddy kept fighting. Shortly after Dragon Age II’s “Legacy” DLC made its way into the wild, the game proper mysteriously disappeared from Steam’s virtual shelves. Except there’s really no mystery here – no convoluted conspiracies or “aha” moments. Valve’s new terms of service are to blame, plain and simple.

What it means: Except not, because there’s a lot more to it. For one, EA’s now looking to “to work out an agreement to keep our games on Steam.” Really, though, both sides are being overly controlling to the detriment of their customers. EA’s just trying to look like the knight in shining armor while Valve keeps its cards close to its chest – just like it always does with everything ever. So EA pipes up first, blames mean old man Newell, and then promises to fix it all. Really though, both companies are equally at fault, and gamers are the ones suffering for it. Sadly, this is just another byproduct of a gaming world ruled by increasingly proprietary networks and communities. Steam, Origin, Call of Duty: Elite, Battle.net, and their ilk – separate, but hell-bent on doing things their way and their way alone.

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6 Comments

  1. NinjaMidget

    Nathan, your writing style is just plain awesome:

    “secret underground sky volcano”

    Wonder what goes on inside your brain! In other news, great sum up of the week!

    #1 4 years ago
  2. TheWulf

    Of course, what Ubisoft doesn’t mention is that whilst piracy numbers may be down, sales figures show less sales than before the use of DRM due to less sales to PC users. Ubisoft doesn’t seem to be too popular at the moment and almost every PC gamer I know of is just skipping over their games.

    And a line that essentially says “PC gamers are filthy pirates.” from them isn’t going to do their popularity any favours. Their stockholders are going to have a rude awakening in this regard.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Telepathic.Geometry

    Nice write-up Nathan. Hats off.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. hitnrun

    “A clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection.”

    i.e., your game sucked and no one played it.

    Less disparagingly, this post explains everything you need to know about piracy and DRM. Short version: pirates and customers are different markets. You have no one to blame but yourself for low sales, and pirates have no one to blame but themselves for increasingly casual- and console-oriented AAA games.

    And of course, commenting on DRM is not complete without reiterating: it does not work. At all. Pirates can download any Ubisoft title day-and-date. Therefore, if authenticating via a broadband connection has a negative connotation with piracy, there are other factors involved (see link).

    #4 4 years ago
  5. blackdreamhunk

    wow publishers looking to screw pc gaming over how they can I bet million that Microsoft and Sony is be hide it!!!!

    even EA wants to screw you up!

    EA: We can remove your purchased game in Origin

    If you scour through the internet, you might find a handful of articles describing how evil EA is as a gaming corporation. Well, maybe this is the latest reason you can take account for.

    Looking at the fifth line of EA’s Terms of Service, it has been carefully stated that:

    “We reserve the right to change and update Content and Entitlements without notice to you. If you have not used your Entitlements or Account for twenty four (24) months or more and your Account has associated Entitlements, your Entitlements will expire and your Account may be cancelled for non-use. Once you have redeemed your Entitlements, that content is not returnable, exchangeable, or refundable for other Entitlements or for cash, or other goods or services.”

    Origin is a carbon copy of Steam, that is brought to you by EA. And their newly launched marketplace involves purchasing items, in which in this case, video games. So, if you comparing the TOS, and using the service to buy your games, you can get an idea that EA will delete what you have been buying after 2 years. Provided that you didn’t use ‘em within the time range.

    Now, tell me Battlefield 3 fans, did you buy something with your hard earned money just to lose it in the end?

    http://myona.com/2011/07/31/ea-we-can-remove-your-purchased-game-in-origin/

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Phoenixblight

    @5

    Most DIgital retailers have this clause in the TOS. D2d, Origin, Onlive all you have to do is login, so if you don’t log in within 2 years they delete your account. Moral of the story take 2 seconds to log in. Except Onlive, they lease their games for 3 years so you have to rebuy it after that point.

    #6 4 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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    Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones can now be purchased through GOG and Steam. On both services it will run you £12.99/€14.99/$14.99. Links here and here. The game features: Fully explorable ‘Metroidvania’ style overworld, laying siege to a diabolical cloning facility with varied and detailed environments. A variety of special equipment to unlock new […]

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare DLC Ascendance has arrived on PC, PlayStation consoles

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare players on PC and PlayStation consoles can now download the Ascendance DLC. The second content pack contains the OHM weapon, the OHM Werewolf custom variant, and the second entry in the Exo Zombies saga, Infection. Four new maps are also included: Perplex, Site 244, Climate, and Chop Shop. Ascendance was […]

  • Latest Xbox 360 system update is live, now supports 2TB hard drives

    Xbox 360 now supports 2TB hard drives via the latest system update for the console. Support for the drives was announced earlier this month and has been available for preview members. “In addition we will also no longer reserve space in advance on your hard drive,” said the firm. “If you are using 16GB of […]

  • Kickstarter for Banjo-Kazooie spiritual successor Yooka-Laylee launches tomorrow

    Playtonic Games has announced the Kickstarter campaign for its spiritual successor to the Banjo Kazooie series, Yooka-Laylee, will launch tomorrow. The title of the game was announced today along with the Kickstarter date. Formerly known as Project Ukulele, the 3D platformer is said to be “between the size of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie,” and stars Yooka […]

  • Console version of Mistwalker’s Terra Battle is in development

    Now that Mistwalker’s Terra Battle has surpassed 2 million downloads on mobile, the developer is now working on a console version of the tactical RPG. As part of the original Download Starter campaign, the 2 million milestone means the company will begin development on Terra Battle’s console version with details to be announced at a […]

  • Prison break game The Escapists is heading to PlayStation 4 from May 29

    The Escapists, Mouldy Toof’s prison break game originally released as a timed console exclusive Xbox One, has a release date for PlayStation 4. For those unfamiliar with the title, which is also a PC release, it tasks players’ time management skills as they do a bit of digging and crafting, and other prison-type stuff as […]

  • Dead Island 2 delayed into 2016 to ensure series is “taken to the next level”

    Dead Island 2 has been delayed into 2016 by Yager in order to ensure the sequel “takes Dead Island to the next level.” According to a tweet from the developer, it set “big goal” for the game, and in order to deliver what fans expect, the team needs more time to reach development goals. “We […]

  • Project Cars: here’s a list of all available cars at launch

    Project Cars will contain many, many cars and if we are counting correctly, there will be 74 total at launch. The standard edition contains 65 total, and when factoring the free car as well as the Modified and Limited Edition cars packs, you can add an additional nine cars to the mix. Comb through the […]

  • Competitive matchmaking support is coming to Team Fortress 2

    Team Fortress 2 will soon feature support for competitive matchmaking, which Valve says is a “high priority” project for it at the moment. According to a report from TeamFortress.tv, which visited Valve headquarters recently, Valve is looking into the possibility of 6v6 or 9v9 matches 9v9, a possible quick play option and it is also […]

  • GTA 5 PC patch fixes garage, Job crashes – full notes here

    Rockstar has pushed out a 353 MB patch for GTA 5 on PC The patch fixes a number of annoying bugs related to vehicles and garages, some deathmatch issues and purchase errors. It should also fix various freezing and crashing bugs, as well as a little issue with Steam. Time will tell if the patch […]

  • Fire Emblem If will come in White Kingdom and Black Kingdom versions with amiibo support

    We’ve finally got some juicy details on the next Fire Emblem game, but the most interesting aspect is that there will be two versions of the game. According to Siliconera, who translated an interview between Intelligent Systems and 4Gamer, there will a White Kingdom and a Black Kingdom version that offer different aspects of the […]

  • Deception 4: The Nightmare Princess heads west with “Golden Toilet” pre-order bonus

    Deception 4: The Nightmare Princess will debut on western PlayStation 4 systems this summer, Koei Tecmo has announced. It is also coming to PS3 and Vita. The game was produced by Keisuke Kikuchi of Fatal Frame fame and takes up where Deception 4: Blood Ties left off allowing players to relive Laegrinna’s pursuit to free […]

  • Nintendo US eShop update: Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario demo, Paper Mario, more

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with a demo of Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition, Paper Mario on Virtual Console, and amiibo Tap. The full update is below. eShop update amiibo Tap – free – Wii U Star Wars Pinball DLC – Wii U Paper Mario – Wii U […]

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided PC port handed off to Nixxes

    The PC port of the new Deus Ex has been handed over to Netherlands based studio, Nixxes software. After the initial reveal trailer at the beginning of April, we’ve only had a few morsels in the way of additional news. The most intriguing tidbit to date has got to be the fact that you’ll be […]

  • First-ever PC Gaming Show to take place at E3 2015 in June

    PC gaming will finally have its very own E3 press conference this year, thanks to PC Gamer and AMD. The PC Gaming Show will take place on June 16 at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles and it will be livestreamed on Twitch. PC Gamer said speakers at the presentation will include representatives from Blizzard, […]

  • Majora’s Mask light available now on Club Nintendo for 6000 stars

    Club Nintendo shuts up shop on September 30 and members are being encouraged to spend accumulated stars before then. And what better to spend them on, than this adorable Majora’s Mask light? If you’re a member based in Europe you can nab it for 6000 stars. If you’re in Australia or New Zealand, it’ll only […]

  • Unity support announced for HoloLens, will work with Windows universal apps

    Microsoft is partnering with game engine developers Unity in order to make HoloLens compatible with apps and games which use the cross-platform engine. The partnership was announced yesterday during its Build Developer Conference. Universal apps for Windows 10 systems will also be available on Xbox One later this year, suggesting possible HoloLens functionality with the […]

  • Splatoon Nintendo Direct airs Thursday, May 7

    A Nintendo Direct focused on Splatoon, the Wii U multiplayer title, on May 7. It will kick off at 7am PDT/10am EDT/3pm UK and it can be watched via the Nintendo Direct website. You can also have a look at the game through Nintendo’s Twitch channel. The last game-specific presentation took place last week and […]

  • GTA 5 PC: clean up the streets as a member of the San Andreas PD with this new mod

    Remember the awesome mods for GTA 4 and San Andreas that let you run amok online as a member of the po-po? Well, dust off your taser and load up your gun, because it’s coming to GTA 5. The new mod for GTA 5 is currently in alpha and can be downloaded at palmbeachgames.com. You […]

  • Indie shoot ‘em up Project Root comes to Xbox One, PS4 and PSVita

    Project Root is a self-proclaimed rejig of the shoot ‘em up genre that was released on PC last year, and it’s finally coming to consoles. Combining free-roaming elements with the usual business of shooting things, Project Root was released this week for Xbox One, PS4 and the PSVita.

  • You can now bet on eSports online, starting with League of Legends

    If you’re getting bored with sticking a pony on the races, you can expand your gambling horizons at Unikrn where you can watch esports streams and get a little action on the side. The new platform was set up by Rahul Sood – previously the general manager of Microsoft Ventures. At the moment, customers are […]

  • Has Watch Dogs 2 been leaked?

    Ubisoft employee, Julien Risse, may have inadvertently confirmed Watch Dogs 2, thanks to his online CV over at LinkedIn. Videogamer.com spotted the slip up, in which Risse lists Watch Dogs, the DLC Bad Blood, and Watch Dogs 2 on his profile. Creative Director Jonathan Morin has already talked about his ideas for improvements for the […]

  • GTA 5′s Trevor makes his Jackass debut, complete with leopard-print knickers

    YouTuber Abstract Mode has shared his vision of what Trevor Philips’ life might have been like, had he not been completely batshit crazy. Watch Trevor get mauled, run over, and hit by a train, before taking a majestic swan-dive into someone else’s pool at the climax. Thanks, Kotaku.

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 season pass will cost you £35

    Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 isn’t released until November 6, but you can already hand over your cash for the Season Pass. The Season Pass is available for pre-purchase on Steam for £34.99, and will cover four DLC packs – although the details we have on the content are limited to ‘exciting’ at this […]

  • GTA Online’s cheating assholes are no match for this player’s vengeance

    Think you’re smart for using invisibility and infinite ammo glitches? You need to be taught a lesson, sucker. You can have all the hacks you want but if your GTA Online game is weak, you’ll still get your ass handed to you. As this fool discovered when attempting to hassle another player. There’s a fair […]

  • PS4 sales help Sony’s games division swing to profit

    Sony’s PlayStation business has made an operating profit of 48.1 billion yen ($404m / £261.5m) in the past 12 months. That’s thanks to stellar sales of the PlayStation 4 and PS Plus, even as sales of the PS3 have stalled and the company wrote off costs for the PSTV and PS Vita. The profit puts […]

  • New patch for Dirt Rally gives co-driver’s attitude a tune-up

    Dirt Rally gets a new patch three days after release on Steam. On Monday, we reported that the newest Dirt game has popped up on Steam’s Early Access and is available to pick up for £24.99, as well as giving you an eyeful of tasty screenshots. The patch – released yesterday – fixes some issues […]

  • New The Witcher 3 screenshots show combat, exploration and general carousing

    New screenshots released on the official facebook page for The Witcher 3 show Geralt annihilating a winged beast, out and about in the world exploring, and living the life of Reily amidst a bustling feast. We were already treated to some glorious screenshots a few days ago, but these new ones are in-game and give […]

  • Destiny: 14 things you might have missed during House of Wolves intel drops

    Destiny: House of Wolves does a great deal more than just slap some new content on the existing game structure. House of Wolves changes Destiny in a lot of interesting and very welcome ways. Bungie showed off many of these changes in its livestream, and let both me and Arekkz come and have a look […]

  • Scratch that cyberpunk itch with Technobabylon on May 21 – new trailer

    Technobabylon more like Wrecked-yo-babbling with my smooth flow about how good Wadjet Eye games are. I don’t know y’all, it’s clock off time and everything feels like a reach. Wadjet Eye makes pretty good adventure games – award winning, in fact. The latest project to spring forth from the benevolent, sheltering hand of the label […]

  • Skullgirls 2nd Encore brings exclusive new features to PS4, Vita in northern summer

    Skullgirls, the little indie fighter that could, is getting another crack at it. Skullgirls 2nd Encore is the second re-release of the one-time troubled 2D versus fighter from lab Zero Games. Having survived the shut down of its developer and collapse of its publishing contrast, Skullgirls re-emerged as Skullgirls: Encore, adding in a ton of […]

  • Danganronpa series generates “impressive” sales for Vita exclusive

    Danganronpa is selling quite nicely, thank you, says NIS America. Danganronpa is a series of murder mystery visual novel puzzlers in a similar vein to games like 999. Two of these have been released for Vita in the west – Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair. Speaking to MCV, NIS America CEO and president Takuro […]

  • I have no idea what is going on in J-Stars Victory VS+ but I kind of like it

    In this J-Stars Victory VS+ trailer, we see – uhh. Well. We certainly see some things. Look y’all, I was a massive weaboo in high school, but that was back in the dark ages when we had to take out Manga Entertainment VHS tapes from dingy little specialist rental joints that were literally underground, and […]

  • Please just watch this terrific trailer for Toren

    Toren is the kind of game I dream about when I drift off to sleep at night. This indie puzzle adventure strikes a spark in my little soul in the same way as Ico and Tequila Works’ Rime do. Mysterious, almost ethereal fantasy setting – check. Chance to actually walk around in that setting – […]

  • Play classic MS-DOS games on your own tweets

    In today’s episode of “what will they think of next”, someone’s figured out how to post playable versions of classic games in tweets. For some time now, Twitter has allowed you to embed various forms of media in tweets, most noticeably YouTube videos, simply by pasting a URL into the compose field. Turns out this […]