Sections

Attack of the clones: How copycats are killing innovation

Sunday, 19 February 2012 06:16 GMT By Nathan Grayson

Is Zynga the evil emperor of the social scene, or does the problem extend beyond everyone’s favourite scapegoat? Nathan Grayson reports.

What actually constitutes stealing? Does “copy pasting somebody else’s hard work and then watching the cash roll in” count? Sounds about as black-and-white as it gets, but the gaming industry’s dug deep into the issue, and the only thing it’s struck is a messy, spurting vein of gray.

Don’t swipe the pie from the windowsill. Don’t take a cookie from the cookie jar. “Bank robber” is not a viable profession. When I was a child, my mother drilled each of the above into my head, and there’s a common lesson to be learned among them. The short version? Don’t steal. Police will shoot you. Some of them really like cookies.

Funny thing about being an adult, though: Things get really complicated really fast. Suddenly, life becomes a tightrope-walking chainsaw juggling act, and nothing makes sense anymore. You’ve got taxes and rent and a family to deal with. If you don’t go to the gym, you will inflate and die. If you break the (oftentimes arbitrary) rules, you will go to jail and get a spanking of an entirely different sort. Life’s not the black-and-white perfection palace you thought it was. You do what you have to do, even if it means getting your hands dirty. The angel and devil on your shoulder go out for drinks every Friday.

So honestly, in the face of all that, what actually constitutes stealing? Does “copy pasting somebody else’s hard work and then watching the cash roll in” count? Sounds about as black-and-white as it gets, but the gaming industry’s dug deep into the issue, and the only thing it’s struck is a messy, spurting vein of gray.

If you want an example, you need only look as far as Zynga’s recent brazenly red-handed tactics. Tiny Tower and Bingo Blitz are obvious victims of sloppy chop jobs, but neither indie has been able to play David to the social giant’s Goliath. And Zynga’s hardly the only one at the scene of this apparent crime. So, what gives? Well, as per usual, things aren’t as simple as they seem.

Seeing double
Every social game should have a lawyer as part of its design team, EA chief creative director Richard Hilleman explained during the SMU Game::Business::Law summit in Dallas, Texas. Yes, design. A lawyer should be there every step of the way, he argued – from the very beginning.

“Social games are a business first and a game second. Design around that and accept all those business responsibilities first. You cannot retrofit the business in later. Social games are almost completely backward in every way,” he stated candidly of an approach that’s given rise to strategies like buyable items that decay over the course of days, which keeps monetary “churn” constant.

“So much of social gaming is about designing as close to the legal line as possible. You have to drive close to the line to make the business work. So you have to know where the line is. If you’re gonna drive into that business, you’d better have help. You can no longer depend on the goodwill of your competitors. You have to protect your own real-estate.”

That’s the mentality much of the social gaming space is built on. It’s not dog-eat-dog so much as it is monkey see, monkey do, monkey sue. But why? Why are emerging game platforms like social and mobile such precarious legal minefields?

“Well, I don’t think this industry has been free from lawsuits,” said Insomniac CEO Ted Price, whose company is in the process of launching its own social gaming initiative, Insomniac Click. “There have been plenty. They just haven’t made headlines as often as what we’re seeing today. There are a lot more similarities between games in the social space, and everybody’s jumping on what seems profitable at the time. There are trends that are popping up and flaring out very quickly. Everybody wants a piece of it, so you get a lot of plagiarism.”

“Practically speaking, the reason it happens is that one can build a social game faster and more cheaply than a console game. You don’t see this very often in the console business for a lot of reasons. The practical reason you don’t see it is because people are spending a lot of money and a lot of time making triple-A games, and I don’t think developers want to go head-to-head with exactly the same concept because everyone loses generally.”

“Social games are a business first and a game second. Design around that and accept all those business responsibilities first. You cannot retrofit the business in later. Social games are almost completely backward in every way.”

Hilleman, meanwhile, chalks it up to the very DNA of modern games, which is no longer fixed. Back in the day, games had a very specific trajectory. They leaped from shelves into your hands, from hands into a console, and – once soundly beaten – from console into a dusty closet that might also have been a portal to Narnia, never to be seen again. Now, though, odds are that your favorite game is a constant presence in your life. It’s a “service.” You don’t simply save the princess and call it a day.

“My opinion is that our shelf life of our business in the past has precluded our ability to really respond to that effectively to [copies],” Hilleman explained. “So the only real answer was to build a new product that took your users back. So what’s changed is that when software is a service, suddenly that’s not the equation anymore. When you lose your customer, you may never get them back. So the stakes are higher, and the periods and consequences of loss are more extensive.”

“The other thing is that free-to-play is that 20:1 or 100:1 ratio. For every paying player you lose, it changes that ratio in a dramatically negative way. So I think those are the two effects.”

I fought the law
So it’s a giant gold rush, and everyone wants their slice of the pie. In that sense, it’s gaming’s latest Wild West – a place that’s abandoned triple-A gaming’s established rules of etiquette and conduct. A lawless land full of lawyers. Obviously, it’s a perfect place for the Zyngas of the world to throw their weight around or, say, the blatant platform-leaping theft of Ninja Fishing’s iOS assassination of Ridiculous Fishing or, well, Gameloft’s entire game library.

From a legal standpoint, though, can comparatively scrawny indies do anything to avoid getting hung from flagpoles by the industry’s biggest bullies? Unfortunately, the prognosis isn’t so hot. The law, it seems, isn’t exactly on their side.

“Whenever anyone’s copyrighting something, they’re protecting their code and the cumulative end effect of the expression – but not necessarily the idea behind it,” explained Dallas-based attorney and former Joystiq “Law of the Game” columnist Mark Methenitis. “So if I’m gonna make a farm game, it’s inevitably gonna look like Farmville or MyFarm or any of the 12 farm games. And I’m not really infringing on anything just because that’s how it’s gonna work.”

“I mean, if you were copying every single game mechanic down to the Nth degree and you were copying all the assets or you’d stolen the entire backend code, then you’d be doing something to infringe. But otherwise, you can have a lot of apps that are pretty similar and just look that way because that’s the way they should look.”

What it really comes down to, then, is the miles-wide gulf between copyright law and patent law. Methenitis continued:

“No one has been out there patenting any of these social games. If they’d been out there patenting it, theoretically you could get protection for the idea. One example is Crazy Taxi. There actually was a patent on that idea. And there ended up being a lawsuit over Simpsons Road Rage where they ended up settling out of court because it was infringing on the patent. It’s a different consideration than what you get with copyright where it’s only protecting the thing as a whole – rather than the idea specifically.”

Side-by-side comparison video used by
Zynga in its copycat suit against Vostu,
courtesy of Techcrunch.

Innovate or die
Beyond that, however, lies only madness. Fighting back is an impossibly tall proposition when you don’t have stable ground to stand on – let alone necessary funds to avoid drowning in a sea of legal fees – and that’s the position many smaller developers find themselves in today.

“You are sort of out of luck [in terms of a lawsuit] unless Nimblebit decides to sell out to, say, a Playdom,” said Methenitis of the Tiny Tower/Dream Heights controversy. “But ultimately, it’s not really copying the game. It’s just sort of copying the game genre. The tower thing. And Tiny Tower was based on an even older series of games from the ’80s and ’90s that was a whole genre that was much more popular in Japan than it was here.”

Hilleman, meanwhile, shared a similar – though slightly more optimistic – point of view.

“What I can say is that there are a lot of people who spent time making something. Good for them. From my perspective, [Tiny Tower]‘s derived from yet another product. So having people who I don’t think invented something arguing about it is comical at best. What I would say in this case is I would hope people who did great creative work didn’t get punished for that work.”

“I said earlier today that sometimes those circumstances are a calling card for your expertise. I suspect Zynga’s relatively aggressive behavior with them will buy Nimblebit friends.”

What, though, of platform owners like Facebook, Apple, and – in the case of the Minecraft-clone-packed Xbox Live Indie Games Channel – Microsoft? Surely there’s something they can do to keep their spit ‘n’ shined storefronts from devolving into hives of scum and (arguable) villainy, right? If you read that sentence and then said “Yeah, totally,” I admire your dogged determination to stay upbeat. Reality, though, is a total jerk sometimes.

“Really, their only space to play is if they get a takedown notice involving something that’s actually infringing,” said Methenitis. “Otherwise, they want to keep things as open as possible, because if there’s more content, they make more money. Unless one of them decides they want to take a sort of philosophical stand on it, it’s unlikely they’re going to do anything unless, again, Apple buys Nimblebit or something.”

Numbers, however, support a policy of non-involvement. Zynga, for instance, was responsible for 12 percent of Facebook’s 2011 revenues. 12 percent! So how the hell does one stay afloat in these hydra, Loch Ness Monster, and Bigfoot-wearing-a-scuba-suit-infested waters? Here, at least, there is consensus – slim though resulting consolation may be. The short version? Beat everyone else to the punch and don’t talk to anyone ever.

“Innovate. Innovate. There is no other answer. If the elephant tries to step on you, you have to move,” Hilleman replied without missing a beat.

How the hell does one stay afloat in these hydra, Loch Ness Monster, and Bigfoot-wearing-a-scuba-suit-infested waters? Beat everyone else to the punch and don’t talk to anyone ever.”

“If you can’t protect, innovate,” Methenitis agreed. “If you stay one step ahead and always have the more interesting product, people are going to pay money for it regardless of whether there’s three clones of it that aren’t quite as good. Really, your best defense is a good offense.”

History, though, paints a somewhat less encouraging picture. You need only take a look over Zynga’s track record to realize that smart, innovative companies are crunching around in the gears of the social giant’s moneymaking machine. Mob Wars, Farm Town, Social City, and Gardens of Time all launched first, only to fade into obscurity once Zynga released eerily similar equivalent products. Ninja Fishing and Capcom’s MaxSplosion, meanwhile, displayed similar success in the mobile space while shamelessly steamrolling right over brilliant indies. So perhaps Insomniac’s Price has the right of it when he opts to say nothing at all.

“I’m not gonna say anything about our social games, and one of the reasons I’m not is because of what you just mentioned. I think when you’re going into the social space, you have to be very careful about what you say. You have to make sure there isn’t any chance that your idea is going to be used by someone else. Period.”

Damned if you innovate, damned if you don’t. Either your big idea eventually gets swiped, or no one notices you in the first place. Is it any wonder people have such a hard time making these things fun when they’ve got so many other putrid dishes on their plate?

I love games. I love this industry. Situations like this, though, really make me wish my mom would have just let me become a bank robber.

Latest

  • Star Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness – details on story and setting emerge

    Information pertaining to the story and setting in Star Ocean 5: Integrity and Faithlessness has been detailed by Famitsu. According to what Siliconera reports, several centuries after leaving Earth, humans have created the “Galactic Federation” in order to maintain unified order and peace after years and years of war. But all is not peaceful, as […]

  • This homebrew app turns your 3DS into a remote desktop – shown running World of Warcraft

    Modders are busy working on a Nintendo 3DS homebrew app which turns the system into a remote desktop. A post on the gbatemp forum (thanks, Eurogamer) shows the app in action running World of Warcraft on a 3DS – although not perfectly. At present, the app has a rather low frame-rate, but development is still […]

  • Release dates for three Hyperdimension Neptunia games announced

    Hyperdimension Neptunia fans will be pleased to know three games in the franchise have release dates for Steam and Vita. Hyperdimension Neptunia U: Action Unleashed, which was announced for western audiences last year, will arrive on PS Vita will be released digitally and and at retail in North America on May 19 and in Europe […]

  • Mass Effect 4 survey contains info on crafting, exploration, a Horde Mode more – RUMOR

    Remember when a Dragon Age: Inquisition survey popped up and outed possible content for the title? It’s happened again and this time it’s for the next Mass Effect game. Note: take the information contained herein with a grain of salt. Surveys, if this one is legit, are usually sent out to test ideas and aren’t […]

  • GTA 5 PC: modders poking around the files find Army Cavalcade, Feroci and SuperGT textures

    More GTA 5 information has been posted by modders poking around in the files of the PC version. This time, instead of zombies and horses, textures for the Army Cavalcade, Feroci and SuperGT vehicles have been found. New leaked vehicles Barbarian, Detonator and Tampa are also mentioned in the thread. A screencap of the files […]

  • Sony leaks: Uncharted movie similar to National Treasure but more “intense” and not as “silly”

    Sony Pictures wants the Uncharted film to be similar in tone to the National Treasure franchise, but not as soft or silly, and with deeper romantic storyline than the Nicolas Cage films. The information on the upcoming film was pulled from emails and database files derived from the Sony Pictures hack last year by North […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront isn’t just a “big-budget Battlefield mod,” says DICE

    DICE boss Patrick Bach has promised Star Wars: Battlefront isn’t just a “big-budget Battlefield mod,” as the game carries the Battlefront title for a reason. Speaking with Eurogamer during Day 2 of the Star Wars Celebration yesterday, Bach said the team stayed true to the “core ethos” of the Battlefront series by adhering to what […]

  • New Steam policy restricts accounts to protect users from phishing scams and spam

    Valve has implemented a new policy on Steam which limits user accounts which have spent less than $5 through the store. The new policy is to protect users from phishing scams and spam. If the users hasn’t spent anything on the store, they at least have to have $5 sitting in their Steam Wallet. This […]

  • Latest Flash Sale on the US PlayStation Store discounts action games and movies

    Sony is hosting another Flash Sale on the North American store with plenty of action games, and some films, to help get your weekend started. The list is super long, so here’s a few highlights: Army of TWO The Devil’s Cartel Battlefield: Bad Company 2 Bayonetta Beyond Good & Evil HD Castlevania: Harmony of Despair […]

  • A new expansion for Postal 2 called Paradise Lost was released today

    It appears Postal 2 has a new add-on available. No, it’s not for the 2003 version, but the Complete Edition which was greenlit on Steam 10 years later. Called Paradise Lost, the add-on stars the Dude and contains a new single-player story campaign and new areas featuring free-roam gameplay. The original voice actor for the […]

  • GTA 5 patch 1.01 is now available for PC, fixes launcher and framerate issues

    Rockstar has released patch 1.01 for the PC version of GTA 5 and along with a fix to the character’s facial features changing when transferring to PC, the launcher will no longer drain your CPU and crash. Here are the full patch notes: Fixed an issue where the GTAV Launcher would use an abnormally high […]

  • Ultra Street Fighter 4 will arrive on the PS Store for PS4 in May

    Ultra Street Fighter 4 will be released on PlayStation 4 in May, Capcom has announced. All characters, levels and previous DLC will be included in the PS4 version, including a fix to input lag found in the PS3 version’s controls. The fighting game will be released digitally on the PS Store May 26 for $24.99 […]

  • Upcoming Dark Souls 2 patch to fix weapon degradation glitch

    Weapon degradation wan’t an intentional feature in Dark Souls 2, and now that it has carried over into Scholar of the First Sin, the glitch will be patched out in an upcoming update. The glitch also affected the framerate of Dark Souls 2 on PC, and on all platforms with Scholar of the First Sin. […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront is now available for pre-order on Origin, Amazon, others

    Star Wars: Battlefront is now available for pre-order through EA’s Origin service as well as Amazon and GameStop. Star Wars: Battlefront pre-orders, as previously reported, will include early access to the free Battle of Jakku DLC. The planet is included in the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and finds the New Republic coming […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront – watch the lovely reveal trailer here

    The first trailer for Star Wars: Battlefront was released today after much anticipation. Watch the lovely game reveal below, all captured on PlayStation 4. The trailer was revealed during an EA panel today at the Star Wars Celebration, and featured Lucasfilm concept artist Doug Chiang, the game’s senior producer Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir, and other members of […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront has 40-player battles, play as Darth Vader and Boba Fett

    Star Wars: Battlefront will take place during the original film trilogy’s timeline, according to a report from the Associated Press. It appears the information was posted ahead of time, (via Kotaku) as the report is written in past tense. According to the report, players will take part in “frenzied shoot-outs between up to 40 players” […]

  • Microsoft confirms departure of Xbox Europe VP Phil Harrison

    Microsoft has confirmed the departure of Phil Harrison, its corporate VP of Xbox in Europe. According to a statement, Harrison left to pursue interests outside of the company, Xbox boss Phil Spencer told GI.biz. “Following a successful tenure as Corporate Vice President in Xbox in Europe, Phil Harrison has chosen to pursue business interests outside […]

  • Battlefield Hardline Rent-a-Server option coming to both last and current-gen consoles

    Battlefield Hardline players will be able to take part in the Rent-a-Server program, similar to the one in Battlefield 4, when the first patch for the shooter is released. Rental servers will come to both last and current-gen consoles, and CPU issues will be addressed in the patch as well, which PC players will be […]

  • Chip’s Challenge and unreleased sequel Chip’s Challenge 2 arrive on Steam next month

    Chip’s Challenge, the 1989 top-down tile-based puzzler created by Chuck Sommerville, is heading to Steam along with the unreleased sequel Chip’s Challenge 2. After the release of the first game, Sommerville spent two years developing the sequel, only to find the trademark had been sold. The trademark’s new owners wanted him to fund the publishing, […]

  • Pillars of Eternity patch betas hitting Steam, update 1.05 to drop in May

    Patch 1.04 for Pillars of Eternity dropped yesterday, and according to Obsidian Entertainment, players can expect the next round of fixes to arrive in May. According to a post on the Kickstarter page, patch 1.04 contained quite a bit of fixes, and going forward, the team plans to continue squishing bugs, adding additional polish and […]

  • Goat Simulator comes to Xbox platforms

    Goat Simulator continues its plan to dominate all platforms under the sun by releasing on Xbox consoles. Goat Simulator has been released on Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The store page for the Xbox One version is now live, but the 360 one is lagging behind. Don’t know what this game is or what it’s […]

  • Alienation: first co-op footage revealed

    We have our first look at gameplay footage from Housemarque’s Alienation. Housemarque has finally given us a look at their upcoming shooter project, Alienation. The twin-stick shooter will feature co-op and the new video shows it in action. It’s a short one but still manages to demo several environments. The game was shown off at […]

  • ReShade SweetFX supports GTA 5, user-made presets begin popping up

    GTA 5 modders started making presets for ReShade SweetFX as soon as they realised the tool supports it. To the modding community’s delightful surprise, shader-altering tool ReShade SweetFX was discovered to support GTA 5. What this means is that anyone can download the tool, mess around with the post-processing options, and inject them into GTA […]

  • Project Cars goes gold, full track list revealed

    Project Cars has finally gone gold. Project Cars developer Slightly Mad has announced that the racer has reached gold master milestone. “We know the wait for the game to be released was worth it, as we’re confident the quality and realism level we have achieved will provide our fans with the game they are all […]

  • Dragon Quest Heroes has a stupid subtitle in the West

    The Western release of Dragon Quest Heroes has been given the most absurd subtitle. Square Enix announced a while back that Dragon Quest Heroes will come to North America and Europe this year. Unlike in Japan, it will launch only on PlayStation 4. Earlier today, the Japanese publisher revealed what the game’s logo will look […]

  • Minecraft vulnerability allows users to crash servers remotely [UPDATE]

    A security flaw discovered in Minecraft’s code that could give perpetrators the ability to crash servers remotely has been fixed via a patch by Mojang. Update: Mojang has released an update to Minecraft patch 1.8, listed as version 1.8.4, and it is available now. It fixes reported security issues, in addition to some other minor […]

  • Official Bloodborne merchandise now available, including a limited edition statue

    The PlayStation gear store has added a new section dedicated to Bloodborne merchandise. The first set of items is as good as you’d expect. If you’re a fan of Bloodborne and want to make sure everyone around you knows it, you’ll be happy to know that Sony has added a few pieces of Bloodborne-branded gear […]

  • Destiny Xur update: should you buy The Last Word?

    Xur is selling one of Destiny’s top hand cannons today: The Last Word. Is it worth grinding the coins for? The answer is a resounding YES. The Last Word is one of Destiny’s best Exotics, and one of the best Hand Cannons in the game. Our Destiny expert Alex notes that it’s one of the […]

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory for April 17, 18 – The Last Word edition

    What did our good buddy Xur bring for us this week? Xur: Agent of the Nine, Destiny’s weekend vendor is back with more Exotic offers. Xur is your guy if you’re after Exotic weapons or armour, provided you have the Strange Coins for them. Head over to the lounge in the Tower Hangar, you’ll find […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt discounted for Gold members, pre-load now live

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt files are now live on the Xbox Store. Xbox One owners with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt pre-orders can start downloading the full game to be ready for launch. The file size was confirmed earlier to be just over 25GB. Those who have yet to pre-order can do so at […]

9 Comments

  1. WFMMK

    To be honest when I think of copy cats I think of Gameloft before anyone else.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. GrimRita

    Im sure Ol McDonald will have something to say about Farmville.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. IrrationalGamer

    There’s a difference between being in the same genre and blatantly copying another game, piece by piece.

    Ignorance on the part of the consumers of these social/mobile games is what allows companies like Zynga to continue their copying escapades.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. absolutezero

    To me practices like this are symptomatic of the worst kinds of people seeping into the industry, their king is Mr Kotick and they do not give a rats ass about games.

    Not that they ever gave a shit about any money producing artistic medium they latched onto to suck the life out of.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. manamana

    @WFMMK: exactly – everytime I see a GL game, that is.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. DarkElfa

    Nope, Zynga is the evil emperor of the social scene.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. OlderGamer

    Great piece Nate. I love when you guys do this type of writing. It is thought pervoking. It is insightful. Its the reason i enjoy this site so much. that and believe it or not the crazy ass people posting.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. DSB

    Reading that was a real thrill. Outstanding writing Nathan.

    I had huge reservations about the underlying conclusion until I got to that last bit – It’s absolutely spot on.

    I don’t see it as a goldrush, I see it as a trenchwar. Everybody’s dug in, everybody’s taking 20 yards this way, 20 yards the other, and once every year or so, someone happens to take a kilometer in a raid, which says nothing for how they’re going to do next year.

    It’s not effective, it’s not efficient, and it’s not daring. They aren’t in the trenches because they feel it’s productive, they’re in the trenches because they’re timid and scared of what’s on the other side.

    The only way you get anywhere is by leaving your comfort zone. That’s as true for war as it is for business. Unless you’re the guy to stand up and say “I don’t KNOW that this will work, but I believe in it” – You’re going to go absolutely nowhere.

    I’d compare Sony and Microsofts first party strategies as case and point. Sony delivers Little Big Planet and Uncharted. Microsoft delivers more of the same. Sony has them beat every step of the way on first party content as a result.

    The games industry is a sad group of wimps. They don’t have balls, and they don’t have a vision, and as a result they might get a few yards a year from the trenches, but they’re never going to make a breathrough that way.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. FeaturePreacher

    I think it’s wonderful that Zynga has exposed the flaw of small, easy to make phoney games. Games that are easy to make are easy to copy. You would never see Zynga copy something such as Assassin’s Creed, Ninja Gaiden, or Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare. These are games that serve an audience that’s hardcore enough to know the difference between a genuine game and a terrible copycat. Hence so many of the copycats fall by the wayside. Best wishes to Zynga in their efforts. Hopefully someday, they’ll have the entire phoney game catalog available.

    #9 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

  • Fix for GTA 5 PC Windows install bug releasing today

    Rockstar is set to release a patch today that will fix a bug preventing players from installing the game. The bug is tied to Windows usernames that use certain characters not supported by Rockstar. There’s already a workaround available on the Rockstar Support site, but those waiting for an official update will be able to […]

  • Prey 2 dev’s new mobile horror Lost Within out now on iOS and Fire

    Remember Lost Within, that mobile survival horror erstwhile Prey 2 developer Human Head Studios was making with Amazon Game Studios? It’s now available on iOS and for Amazon’s Fire devices, through the appropriate App Stores. There’s a little bit of extra info on it on the AGS blog, if you’re keen; unfortunately the blog doesn’t […]

  • Let’s take a look at Blood Bowl 2′s Chaos faction

    Blood Bowl 2: The Chaos Theory is only the latest in a much loved series of games based on a game based on two other games. Blood Bowl is a popular Games Workshop tabletop game which blends the fantasy universe of Warhammer with a fantasy sport drawing inspiration from American football and related games. It’s […]

  • “Second-person” shooter Screencheat coming to PS4 and Xbox One

    Goldeneye players should be familiar with the concept of screencheating, which is what this new indie is all about. Screencheat has been on our radars for a while but has now been confirmed for PS4, sparking a new wave of interest with a trailer and PS Blog post. However, it was one of a number […]

  • World of Warcraft Timewalking will make old dungeons fun again

    World of Warcraft will soon introduce a feature called Timewalking, designed to make you feel young again. When WoW players participate in a Timewalking event, they’ll be transported to a randomly selected classic dungeon. Upon entering, their level and gear will be scaled way, way down to the Dungeon’s Heroic level – so they won’t […]

  • Bloodborne and Dark Souls messaging – in real life

    Soapstone is a cool little app that mimics the messaging system found in Bloodborne, Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls. Bloodborne and Dark Souls fans will surely agree that the asynchronous multiplayer side of things, with players leaving anonymous tips, encouragement and jokes for each other, is one of the cooler aspects of the From Software […]

  • Mass Effect fans, get a load of this My Talking Elcor plushie

    I have been waiting to write about this all day because oh my god. Mass Effect attracted a devoted fanbase and Bioware has found tons of clever ways to satisfy that fanbase’s desire for clothes, collectibles, books, comics and toys related to the future world of Commander Shepard and company. The company has been so […]

  • Homeworld Remastered Collection headed to retail

    Homeworld fans can purchase a neat little package of gloriously remastered nostalgia soon. The Homeworld Remastered Collection has been available online since the end of February, but is now on its way to retail thanks to a deal between new rights holder Gearbox and Ubisoft. The PC exclusive will launch in physical form from May […]

  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt download size lower than predicted

    The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has a hefty install footprint, but it’s not as bad as we expected. The Witcher 3 was expected to be a 50GB download after a note to this effect was added to the PlayStation Store. It looks like that might have been a placeholder figure, as DualShockers noted today that […]

  • Bloodborne, beaten with a Guitar Hero controller

    Come on now, you didn’t expect anything less from the Souls community, did you? Bloodborne has been vanquished with a Guitar Hero controller, just a few weeks after its release. Kotaku reports Bearzly took nine hours to finish the game, which is probably less than many players using a Dual Shock. You can watch a […]

  • Vendors? New social space? Your House of Wolves questions will be answered

    Destiny players learned more about House of Wolves in this week’s Bungie update than you might realise at first glance. Resident Destiny expert Arekkz cast his eagle eye over this week’s Bungie Weekly Update, which announced next week’s Reef tour livestream. I personally am most excited to learn about gear upgrade paths, but Arekkz points […]

  • GTA 5 playable with Virtuix Omni VR treadmill

    You’ve seen GTA 5 with Oculus Rift, Now see GTA 5 with the Virtuix Omni. GTA 5 PC has unlocked a number of exciting possibilities. Modders and hackers are still working on making the game’s files accessible to third-party creation tools, but several cool things have been produced even with this barrier still in place. […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: play as Rain and other locked characters on PC

    Mortal Kombat X players comfortable with tinkering with the game’s files can unlock unplayable characters. Mortal Kombat X includes a number of familiar fighters available only as opponents, not playable characters. if you’re super keen to try out Rain, Baraka and co, you can – with a bit of fiddling. Redditor XVermillion figured out that […]

  • Madden 16 release date set for August, of course

    Madden NFL 16 has a deeply unsurprising release date. Madden’s release date always falls at the end of US summer, and Madden 16 is no exception. EA Sports has announced that the NFL sim will release on PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on August 26. We have absolutely no further information at […]

  • Star Wars Battlefront won’t have Battlelog support

    Star Wars Battlefront is not just Battlefield in a Hallowe’en costume, so don’t expect the same suite of features. Star Wars Battlefront is the subject of intense anticipation and curiosity, so it’s not surprising a bunch of rumours have turned up. One of these rumours suggests that Battlefront will have its own version of Battlelog, […]

  • Battlefield Hardline beats Bloodborne to top March NPD chart

    PS4 had a good month but it was EA’s multi-platform Battlefield Hardline that was the best-selling game. March 2015 NPD at a glance Total spend down 6% YoY. Hardware and software both down. Console hardware blamed for significant hardware dip. Accessories up. Battlefield Hardline tops software chart. PS4 outsells other consoles. Wii U, 3DS and […]

  • Destiny: House of Wolves gear upgrade paths will be revealed next week

    Destiny developer Bungie will reveal new equipment upgrade paths during a livestream next week. Destiny: House of Wolves will release on May 19, the developer announced last week, promising a full schedule of reveals over the next few weeks. It also gave a broad outline of some of the things it will be discussing in […]

  • Don’t forget: the Elder Scrolls Online Welcome Back Weekend kicks off tomorrow

    Just a quick heads up to remind you that The Elder Scrolls Online Welcome Back Weekend kicks off tomorrow, April 17 at 10am EDT. The free weekend is an incentive to bring back beta players which tried the game, but decided not to pursue a purchase. You can play the MMO until 10am EDT on […]

  • Tale of Tales announces May release for Kickstarter success Sunset

    Those attending Kill Screen’s Two5six Festival next month will be able to play Tale of Tales upcoming title Sunset before it’s released. Along with the news provided to us by BeefJack, Tale of Tales have also released new set of lovely screenshots which we have posted below. Sunset will be released on Linux, Mac and […]

  • Take 50% off select racing titles through the Codemasters online store

    Codemasters has launched an online store and is celebrating by giving you 50% off the titles listed. Here’s what’s on sale: F1 2013 Classic Edition F1 2014 – F1 RACE STARS BUNDLE F1 2013 GRID 2 GRID 2 Reloaded GRID Autosport DIRT 3 Complete Edition DIRT Showdown Toybox Turbos F1 RACE STARS Hit up the […]

  • Spy_Watch coming to Apple Watch from Surgeon Simulator devs

    Surgeon Simulator developers Bossa Studios have announced its working on an Apple Watch game called Spy_Watch. Spy_Watch, according to the developer, has players heading up a spy agency which isn’t faring too well. Players will need to train a spy and then send him out on various missions to “reclaim the agency’s former glory.” Real-time […]

  • Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power hits Steam Early Access next week

    Frozenbyte has announced Trine 3: The Artifacts of Power will launch on Steam Early Access next week. The early access title will run you $19.99/€19.99/£14.99 and you can purchase it come April 21. If the short video above isn’t enough to tempt you, a video showing nine minutes of gameplay was released last week.

  • Journey, Flower, flOw trilogy to be released this summer on PS4 in 1080p at 60fps

    A remastered version of the Journey Collector’s Edition is coming to PlayStation 4 from ThatGameCompany. According to Gamespot, the trilogy will contain PS3 titles flOw, Flower and Journey on one disc, and it will run in 1080p at 60fps. A standalone version of Journey will arrive close to the trilogy’s release on PS4 through the […]

  • Here’s a few screenshots of PS4-exclusive Alienation from Housemarque

    Screenshots for Alienation, Housemarque’s four-player co-op PlayStation 4 exclusive, have been released and you can have a look at them in the gallery we’ve posted. Announced at gamescom 2014, the game features three main character classes, weapon customization, and various team set-ups. The game has players shooting at things with twin-stick gameplay with a top […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront website notes November 17 release, teaser video and first image hit

    The first Star Wars: Battlefront image has been posted, and apparently it appeared on the official website at some point this morning. The game will also be released on November 17, according to the official website’s source code. The release date is noted in the code located in the image below. Props to Gematsu for […]

  • Mortal Kombat X is the fastest selling entry in the series to date

    Mortal Kombat X has sold faster than any other game in the series to date, making it the “biggest launch” in Mortal Kombat history, according to creator Ed Boon. Speaking in a series of tweets, Boon said both the mobile and console versions have “literally millions of players getting online” resulting in the servers being […]

  • Shadow of the Beast reboot resurfaces with some new screenshots

    The Shadow of the Beast reboot, which was announced in 2013, has show its face once more with early screenshots. Screenshots of the Amiga classic remake show off the Karamoon’s desert and the main character, Aarbron. According Matt Birch, CEO and founder of Heavy Spectrum, the team is currently hard at work on the “core […]

  • Halo: Spartan Strike arrives on Windows 8, iOS and Steam today

    Halo: Spartan Strike is now available on Windows 8, Steam, iOS devices and Windows 8 phones. The mobile top-down shooter will run you $5.99. Halo: Spartan Strike tells a new story in the Halo universe set during the events of Halo 2 on New Mombasa in 2552. Those playing on Windows 8 devices can compete […]

  • Final Fantasy 15 video shows highlights from the Episdoe Duscae demo

    Square Enix has released a Final Fantasy 15 video which shows highlights from the Episode Duscae demo included with launch editions of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. FFT0 has shipped over one million copies worldwide, and a player feedback survey is available for the Duscae demo until May 19. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is available on PlayStation […]

  • Bloodborne has sold over 155,000 digital units since release – SuperData

    PlayStation 4 exclusive Bloodborne has sold over 155,000 digital units since it was released on March 24, according to SuperData’s latest report. The figure produced by SuperData is worldwide and comes on the heels of the one million units sold announcement earlier this week. “After the release of the beautiful but terribly short game The […]

  • Nintendo US eShop update: Mega May returns, Super Smash Bros. update, Mii Fighter costumes

    Nintendo has updated the North American end of the eShop with a Super Smash Bros. update and the StreetPass Mii Plaza games Battleground Z and Ultimate Angler. The update is rather detailed, and a bit larger than normal, and you may wish to pay special attention to the activities listed. Here’s the full update: StreetPass […]

  • Here’s your first look at Sony boss Shuhei Yoshida in Super Time Force Ultra

    Sony Worldwide boss Shuhei Yoshida is a playable character in Super Time Force Ultra, and today, Capy Games has provided a couple images of the man himself in the game. Yoshida was announced as a playable character in the game during Sony’s PlayStation Experience event back in December 2014. The PS4 and Vita version will […]

  • The wait is almost over – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has gone gold

    CD Projekt RED has announced the news we’ve all been waiting to hear: The Witcher 3 has gone gold. This means Geralt’s latest, and possibly last, adventure has been sent to the factory to be pressed into lovely gaming discs. “We worked so damn hard over the past three years to bring you this game,” […]

  • Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is a “couple weeks out from beta,” new trailer

    Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture is just a “couple of weeks out from beta,” according to development studio The Chinese Room, and a release date will be announced “shortly.” To give you an idea of how development has been coming along since it was announced at gamescom 2013, the team has released a new trailer […]

  • GTA 5 on PC looks incredible, but I can’t recommend it to console players

    As much as Matt Martin loves GTA 5, he can’t recommend upgrading from console to PC just for a slick editing suite and even prettier graphics. “This is the third time in as many years that I’ve bought GTA 5.” I have a Grand Theft Auto 5 obsession, as I’m sure you know if you’ve […]

  • The Forest engine updated to Unity 5, major graphical and gameplay improvements made

    The Forest’s latest patch added substantial improvements to the game. The Forest version 0.16 is now live on Steam with plenty of new additions. The game has been ported over to Unity engine version 5. The plant and skin shaders have been replaced or rewritten. Many other visual tweaks have been made, such as model […]

  • Star Wars: Battlefront banner leaks from Star Wars Convention

    EA has been setting up the Battlefront booth at Star Wars Celebration, and one leaked picture shows what could be the game’s main art. Someone on Reddit posted a picture of the game banner at EA’s booth. Here it is: Lots of things happening here. There’s a Star Destroyer in the distance, TIE Fighters and […]

  • Get GTA 5 working with Oculus Rift using this tool

    There’s a way you can play GTA 5 in VR if you own an Oculus Rift Dev Kit and have a bit of cash to spare. VorpX, the go-to program for adding VR support to games has received an update recently to support GTA 5. This is far from perfect, as it only translates the […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team: week of April 15 team revealed

    This week’s Team of the Week is now available for anyone to challenge in FIFA Ultimate Team. The team members get selected each week based on their performance during the weekend matches. You can fire up FIFA Ultimate Team on any platform and challenge this squad. You’ll also find some Team of the Week items […]

  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will let you stealth all encounters, including bosses

    Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will bring back one of the original game’s major features. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is considered by many to be a great game and worthy of bearing the franchise name. One of its grating issues though was its boss fights. You only had one way to fight them: be confrontational. The […]

  • Project Cars PC specs and supported wheels announced

    The release date of Project Cars is inching ever closer and more details have been revealed to answer all your burning questions. Project Cars developer Slightly Mad Studios has revealed the full list of supported steering wheels on all platforms, as well as the minimum and recommended PC specs. Minimum specs CPU – 2.66 GHz […]

  • GTA 5 gets custom FOV mod on PC

    Those not satisfied with GTA 5′s built-in field of view slider can use a new mod to push the number even further. The PC versions of GTA 5 – just like its PS4 and Xbox One counterparts – lets you switch between third and first-person view in shooting and driving. The game has an FOV […]

  • Win! GTA 5 on PC!

    Want to win a Steam key for Grand Theft Auto 5 on PC? Just enter here. GTA 5 released on PC this week and is going down a storm. We like it a lot, which is why we’re giving away a Steam code for Rockstar’s latest. All you need to do is enter your email […]

  • GTA 5 topples Skyrim’s record for highest concurrent players on Steam

    Not factoring in Valve games, GTA 5 is the new king of concurrent player numbers on Steam. GTA 5 is very popular on PC, even more popular than games like Skyrim in its heyday. The number of concurrent players for GTA 5 has peaked today at 301,246. This makes it the only non-Valve game to […]

  • Mortal Kombat X: what does a modern fighting game look like?

    Mortal Kombat continues to evolve as NetherRealm adds RPG systems and daily challenges to a solid fighting game, says Sherif Saed. “Mortal Kombat X takes many cues from games like Destiny, Call of Duty, and GTA Online with hourly, daily and weekly events.” For as many of its familiar facets, Mortal Kombat X has enough […]

  • J-Stars Victory VS+ coming west in June – new trailer

    J-Stars Victory VS+ will make the jump (see what I did there) to the west after all. J-Stars Victory VS+ is the western title for the fighting game which stars characters from a variety of Shonen Jump-published manga. Bandai Namco has announced the fighter will release in Europe on June 26 and in the Americas […]

  • Codemasters F1 license good through 2016

    Codemasters has at least one more F1 game in it. F1 2015 isn’t out yet, so Codemasters is naturally not talking about what it might get up to in the future. We do know what it can get up to, though; Codemasters’ Steven Embling told Videogamer has the option to continue the series. “We have […]

  • Project Cars has pretty deep graphics options on consoles

    Project Cars offers players a wide variety of ways to customise their graphic settings on PS4 and Xbox One. Project Cars is a graphics showcase and all early indications suggest it’s going to be one of the best-looking games out there. Slightly Mad’s commitment to graphics seems to go deeper than making things pretty, though: […]

  • Super Smash Bros. patch nerfs Diddy Kong – report

    Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Wii U is great but Diddy Kong is a beast and must be stopped. The latest Super Smash Bros. 3Ds and Wii U patch seems to have nerfed Diddy Kong, a character so over-powered that serious tournament players generate controversy by choosing to use him. Nintendo doesn’t publish patch notes, […]

  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel developer shuttered

    Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel developer 2K Australia has been closed down. Kotaku broke the news, and also had word from an anonymous source, who said that all staff have been let go. 2K responded to our request for comment with the following statement: We can confirm we have taken steps to begin the studio closure process […]

  • Samorost 3 trailer shows Amanita still in fine form

    Samorost 3 looks as delicately beautiful as its siblings. Samarost 3 developer Amanita Design has a reputation for gorgeous, slightly surreal world building. This new trailer for its latest adventure looks just as if not more lovely than the previous Samarost games and Botanicula. Samarost 3 is coming to Mac and PC later this year, […]

  • Amnesia dev’s new project SOMA now in beta

    SOMA is nearly here and I am torn between excitement and horrified dread. SOMA is the latest horror project from Frictional, the team behind Amnesia: The Dark Descent. We’re pretty excited to see what Frictional comes up with next, and we won’t have too long to wait, apparently; the developer has announced that SOMA is […]

  • Steam Guard mobile authenticator now in beta testing

    Steam is now testing its latest security measure. Steam helps you protect your account by offering two-factor authentication, a solution so beautifully elegant and effective that it’s astounding every gaming network doesn’t do the same (looking at you, Sony). Valve’s version is called Steam Guard, and it works via email. This isn’t always super convenient, […]

  • Godzilla battles Mothra in new trailer

    Godzilla lets you stomp around cities and battle classic kaiju. I’m in. Godzilla is coming to PlayStation 3 and PS4 in early July, but we haven’t seen a great deal of it since its December reveal. The new trailer below gives you an idea of just what Natsume has done with one of the biggest […]

  • Tales of Zestiria to launch this year – new trailer

    Tales of Zestiria continues Bandai Namco’s delightful new habit of bringing the popular JRPG series to the west before the shine wears off. Tales of Zestiria is coming west in northern autumn, the publisher has announced. That’s not a bad turnaround, given it first hit Japan in January, and localisation of text-heavy titles is expensive […]

  • Project Cars release date locked down, new trailer released

    Project Cars finally has a release date. Project Cars will release on May 8, Bandai Namco UK has announced. We haven’t yet had an update from Namco Bandai’s other regional offices, but its probably safe to bet the racer will release around the same time in the Americas, Europe and ANZ region. We can now […]

  • Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains trailer shows combat, online multiplayer

    Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains has plenty to offer fans of the anime. Previously known as Attack on Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind, the Spike Chunsoft action game is coming west thanks to Atlus. Gematsu reports it’s due in both Europe and North America in May, via the 3DS eShop. The trailer below […]

  • Bloodborne stamina recovery rate affected by equip weight

    Bloodborne players have unearthed an important gameplay detail not mentioned in the game’s menus or manual. In Bloodborne, players need to manage their stamina carefully for best results. A far more aggressively-tuned affair than past Souls games, Bloodborne does away with equip weight limits, and items have no listed weight details. As far as players […]

  • Street Fighter’s Ryu, Fire Emblem’s Roy spotted in Super Smash Bros. patch – rumour

    Street Fighter’s Ryu is rumoured for future Super Smash bros DLC following datamining of the latest patch. Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Wii U were updated recently, and hacker shinyquagsire23 claims to have found some interesting files while poking around in the 3DS patch data. As detailed on Reddit, the audio files included a new […]

  • Suikoden 3 PEGI rating suggests PS2 Classic re-release

    Suikoden. Suikoden 2. And now: Suikoden 3. Suikoden 3 has been rated by PEGI for PlayStation 3, presumably ahead of an upcoming re-release. Gematsu turned up the rating, and although we have no further information at this time, it’s not much a leap to assume the RPG will turn up as a PS2 Classic on […]