Sections

Rat in a cage: why your mind loves Steam sales

Monday, 20 August 2012 08:20 GMT By Julie Horup

You have a gigantic library of Steam games you buy in sales then never play. Why would you spend money on something you don’t use? Julie Horup searches for answers.

“It’s absolutely fundamental for the human being to react quickly when offered something, and we have very strong urge to gather and hoard. Sometimes this exceeds our abilities to reconsider whether or not we actually need a game that’s only available on sale for a certain period.”

In the 1950s, American psychologist BF Skinner coined the term ‘Operant Conditioning’. His theory attempted to explain how we learn through behaviour, and how we repeat actions if they’ve positive consequences, or how we refrain from doing something if it repeatedly turns out to have a negative effect.

To prove positive reinforcements can make us repeat certain behaviour, Skinner invented an operant conditioning chamber known as the Skinner Box, in which there was a rat, a lever and a food dispenser. At first the rat wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to do in its new-found cage, but when it accidentally pressed the lever food would be dispensed. The rat’s behaviour was positively reinforced with a yummy reward. It didn’t take long before the rat would learn to constantly press the lever in order to get food.

Operant conditioning still stands as one of the most renowned behavioural theories; and it can help explain why we spend a lot of money during Steam’s sales even though we’ll probably never play most of the games we buy.

The Steam Box

Initially it might seem a bit strange to compare rats in a box to people buying games on Steam, but it actually makes a lot of sense, especially given Steam’s reputation as the most popular digital platform online.

“If it was some random online store that you never had visited before, then you’d be less inclined to buy from it, but because you’re so familiar with Steam it actually makes a difference,” explained Johan Eklund, psychologist and co-founder of Checkpoint Therapy, a company that offers consultation and counselling to people dealing with excessive video games use.

“It’s a very basic thing when we’re exposed to some sort of stimuli or perform an activity, like playing a game on Steam, and it turns out to be a positive experience. The whole experience becomes extremely positive, and the next time you see a game on sale on Steam, and you have to pay less for it than usual, you’re even more prone to buying the game, even if you have limited knowledge of it. Because of the positive, earlier experiences you’re more motivated to actually click ‘buy’.”

Valve’s extremely effective at creating positive experiences, and the company knows how to plan perfectly executed sales. This Summer we saw the introduction of community voting in polls to decide which games would go on sale next. While users might think of their involvement and voting as something to their benefit, this is just the employment of basic psychology that’ll most often lead to improved sale figures. You’re being treated like rats pressing a lever to receive a reward.

“If you vote on a game, then you’ve invested in something that didn’t even cost you anything. But you’ve also prepared your mind for the possibility of the game going on sale. If it does, it acts as positive reinforcement since your mind believes that you’ve made a difference.

“If you have to go through the process of responding to a poll, and it ends up being in your favour [your pick going on sale], then there are already a lot of positive feelings present, which makes it much more likely that you’ll buy the game,” said Eklund.

“It doesn’t cost Steam anything to make a poll, so it’s actually quite clever. They get to see which games people want to buy while also observing how motivated people are. If you look at it from Steam’s perspective, then it’d be rather sensible to believe that they’re maximising the amount of games being sold.”

Involving users in this way can be compared to companies asking their employees how they work best, what their interests are, and then delegate their assignments accordingly to their response. While the approach is somewhat different from the community-driven sales, the final result is the same: the persons feel more involved and thereby more motivated to show their support and perform at their best – in this case by preferring Steam as the place to buy games instead of visiting competitors like Origin.

Playing to the mind’s way of reacting to certain situations is also present in Steam’s time-limited offers.

“If you make something limited or make it seem like a sparse resource, it triggers a reaction in our mind and starts our need for hoarding, which then translates into trying to maximise the possible yield,” explained Eklund.

“It’s absolutely fundamental for the human being to react quickly when offered something, and we have very strong urge to gather and hoard. Sometimes this exceeds our abilities to reconsider whether or not we actually need a game that’s only available on sale for a certain period. When Steam succeeds in triggering this response, where reflection is tossed aside, then the consumers are much more likely to buy something.”

Easy access

According to Eklund, it’s obvious – besides the psychological aspects – why gamers choose Steam as their primary digital platform even when ignoring their famous sales, and it’s the same reason why Apple proved successful with iTunes as the go-to place for buying music online.

“Valve knows how to make [Steam] a pleasant experience, which can make a huge difference when buying a product.

“There’s always a barrier to overcome before getting what you want. The barrier at Steam is a lot smaller because you don’t have to type in thousands of passwords and click several times before the game you want is being downloading.

“I’m sure they’ve given it a lot of thought how to make the experience as easy and pleasant as possible.”

Pleasant it may be, but why does the human mind keep enjoying the stimuli from sales even though we tell ourselves it makes no sense to buy cheap games that’ll just gather dust in a dark, virtual corner?

These psychological mechanisms are exactly what drive you to advance in the very games Steam sells. The structure of Steam sales has a lot in common with game design, how it makes your mind seek rewards – whether we’re comfortable with it or not.

“It might be possible to be aware of the negative effects like buying a lot of games you’ll never play, but it’ll only happen momentarily. Unless it’s absolutely and constantly clear, then most people will forget about it,” said Eklund.

“If you go to the supermarket and buy a lot of toothpaste you might realise that you’ll never be able to use all of this toothpaste you’ve just bought, but you’ll have forgotten about it the next time you see toothpaste on sale. The mind’s ability to organise and plan long-term is overridden because we’re caught up in a moment where spontaneous urges take over, and it’s difficult to intervene when those urges block our otherwise logical way of thinking.

“If Steam made a status bar of how much money you spent last sale, and how many hours you’ve actually played the games you bought, then the users would be more aware of their consumption pattern. But obviously they won’t do that as they’re very selective in the information provided to the users.”

If you’re starting to feel like chopping off your head and removing your brain, you shouldn’t feel too bad. These psychological mechanisms are exactly what drive you to advance in the very games Steam sells. The structure of Steam sales has a lot in common with game design, how it makes your mind seek rewards – whether we’re comfortable with it or not.

“If someone points a light to a certain part of the ground, then you start digging and you end up finding gold. This would give a feeling of shrewdness and that you somehow figured out how the system works, which is kind of like what games do. You realise that your behaviour has positive consequences.

“It’s exactly what good games do: providing small challenges that you can handle well. When you finish a boss fight, you might get a positive reward, and then you feel like you’ll be able to handle a slightly more difficult challenge. It’s basically the same rules and mechanisms that apply every time people do something.”

At least there’s one good thing about how the mind works; you aren’t in danger of becoming addicted to Steam sales.

“Before we talk about addiction, we’d like to examine the specific case and see if there’s a reason why something has become such a rewarding behaviour that you’d spend all of your time on it, and because of this I’d go a long way before saying it’s an addiction.”

Latest

  • Sonder is still happening, and this is the best news of the week

    Sonder is a really interesting-looking new indie adventure, which I am quite excited to remember exists. We first heard about Sonder in late 2013, when its debut trailer introduced us to a Kamai Media’s ambitious vision. In the intervening months Kamai has been hard at work on its space station management sim slash non-linear narrative […]

  • Twitter axes playable Internet Archive embeds

    The dream has died: Twitter has disabled Internet Archive game embeds. Remember how for a few days you could tweet a link to an a game on the Internet Archive and it was playable direct from that tweet? Well, Twitter has cancelled that. All those tweets now just show links. GamesIndustry suspects it has something […]

  • Lords of the Fallen, Divinity: Original Sin developers will reveal new games at E3 2015

    Lords of the Fallen developer Deck13 and Divinity: Original Sin developer Larian Studios have new projects in the works which will be revealed at E3 2015. Publisher Focus Home Interactive is behind both new games. In a French press release [PDF] spotted by RPG Codex, Focus said it will show off the two unrevealed titles […]

  • Rare game announce expected at E3 2015

    Rare’s new game will be shown off at E3 2015, apparently. Rare hasn’t announced a reveal, and neither has Microsoft, but it looks like the news has slipped out anyway. IGN cites a tweet from Rare creative director Simon Woodroffe in which he says that a new project from Rare designer Gregg Mayles will be […]

  • Batgirl expansion included in $40 Batman: Arkham Knight season pass

    Here’s what you get in the $40 Batman: Arkham Knight season pass. Batman: Arkham Knight’s season pass was announced last week, but apart from the news that it would cost a whopping $40/£33, we didn’t get many details of what it would include. Thankfully, Warner Bros. has since acknowledged the clamour this caused, as players […]

  • Star Wars Day Xbox sale discounts Force Unleashed, Lego games

    Star Wars Day is upon us, and here’s an Xbox sale to mark it. Microsoft is offering discounts on Xbox 360 games to celebrate May 4. From my desk here in Australia the sale is a bit light on content – two Lego games, plus The Force Unleashed and its DLC packs. Your mileage may […]

  • Here’s hoping this tease means we see Mass Effect at E3 2015

    Mass Effect boss Mike Gamble has shared a teaser image, which we’re more than happy to draw speculative conclusions from. The new Mass Effect game in the works at BioWare Edmonton is a mysterious beast. Judging by how long it’s been in development, it feels like we’re about due for a proper reveal, to clear […]

  • Watch almost a whole hour of Wolfenstein: The Old Blood

    Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is almost here. Are you ready for old-school shooter action? Wolfenstein: The Old Blood publisher Bethesda livestreamed almost an hour of the Machine Games shooter recently, and has now uploaded the archive to YouTube. Check it out below: Wolfenstein: The Old Blood launches digitally on PC, PS4 and Xbox One on […]

  • Splatoon lacks voice chat to promote a positive online experience

    Nintendo’s multiplayer game Splatoon will not contain a voice chat option in order to “focus on the positive aspects” of online gaming. Speaking in the latest issue of Edge magazine (thanks, GamesRadar), Splatoon co-director Yusuke Amano said personal experience with negativity in online voice chat was one of the main reasons for excluding the feature. […]

  • D4 on PC: differences from Xbox One version, system specs announced

    D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die – Season 1 is coming to PC, and Access Games has provided a list of features different from the Xbox One version. We’ve pulled most of the changes off the game’s website and posted them below, along with the PC specs. D4 on PC Kinect gesture input controls replaced with […]

  • The Megalodon returns to Battlefield 4 with the latest CTE patch

    The Megalodon Easter Egg in Battlefield 4 may have been removed earlier this year from Naval Strike, but it has since resurfaced on the CTE with the latest patch. I’d make a Jaws reference, but it’s been done to death. The shark is shown in the video on the Paracel Storm map which was where […]

  • Survival horror game Kodoku has a new work-in-progress trailer

    Kodoku, the survival horror title from Carnivore Studio, has a new work-in-progress video available, showing you how the game is coming along. Announced for PlayStation 4 and Vita back in 2013, the game is slated for release sometime this year, and tasks the player with avoiding mythical Japanese ghosts using only magic and stealth. Thanks, […]

  • Current HoloLens prototype has noticeably “tighter” FoV compared to January build

    Microsoft’s augmented reality headset HoloLens is still very much in the prototype stage, according to various reports out of the Build Conference. Microsoft hasn’t discussed technical specs with the press yet as nothing is set in stone, but during a hands-on at Build, Ars Technica noticed the prototypes had a “x86 processor, 2GB RAM, 802.11ac […]

  • Silent Hills petition asking Konami to continue development has over 50,000 signatures

    A petition to save the Silent Hills game has been formed by fans in the hopes Konami will change its mind and bring the collaboration with Guillermo del Toro back from the dead. Konami confirmed on Monday the Silent Hill remake from film director Del Toro and Metal Gear’s Hideo Kojima had been cancelled, but […]

  • Attack on Titan has a US release date, title changed in EU over copyright claim

    Attack on Titan: Humanity in Chains will be released under a different title in Europe, according to the publisher, and while a release date has been set for North America, the same cannot be said for fans across the pond. According to Atlus, a copyright claim in Europe has forced the company to publish the […]

  • Yooka-Laylee meets final Kickstarter Stretch Goal in less than 24 hours

    The Kickstarter for Playtonic’s Yooka-Laylee sailed beyond its final £1 million ($1.5 million) Stretch Goal overnight, which will allow for a simultaneous release on all announced platforms. Once funded, Yooka-Laylee was slated for release on Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 4, Wii U, and Xbox One; however, a simultaneous release on all platforms wasn’t guaranteed unless […]

  • Not a Hero will miss its May 7 release date, but not by much

    Not a Hero will miss its May 7 release date, according to an announcement from Roll7. Not to worry though, it’s only by a week. According to the developer, the delay is due to “having undergone super-secret upgrades to crank shit up to 60fps.” The extra week will provide the additional time needed for tweaking […]

  • Assassin’s Creed, The Crew, Far Cry 4, other Ubisoft titles on sale through the Humble Store

    Ubisoft has put a number of its games on sale through the Humble Store. Franchises Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry are on discount as are single release titles. The list of games on sale are below. For pricing in your region, head over to the Humble Store. Anno 2070 Complete Edition Assassin’s Creed 3 Assassin’s […]

  • Payday 2: Repeater rifle, Peacemaker pistol introduced with The Butcher’s Western Pack

    Overkill Software released the 21st DLC pack for Payday 2 yesterday, titled The Butcher’s Western Pack. The pack will run you $4.99/€4.99 and other digital distribution channels. “For our 21st DLC we go back in time to visit the Wild West and the arsenal it was known for,” said the developers. “With it we’re introducing […]

  • The Yooka-Laylee Kickstarter just launched and has already met its funding goal

    Playtonic Games launched the Kickstarter campaign for Yooka-Laylee at 5pm UK, and in just over 30 minutes it already hit its $270,000 funding goal. You can watch the funding counter continue to roll over through the link. Yooka-Laylee is a 3D platformer where the characters use special moves such as Yooka’s tongue grapple and Laylee’s […]

  • Batch of hi-res Persona 5 screenshots released by PlayStation Japan

    A set of screenshots have been released for Persona 5, and while you’ve seen these before in magazines and on the official website, these are high-res versions. Some will even look familiar to those who watched the first gameplay trailer back in February. The shots were posted over on the PlayStation Japan Persona 5 game […]

  • Is Alien: Isolation getting HTC Vive support?

    Placeholder images for SteamVR icons have been found and it looks like there may be support for Alien: Isolation, so if you enjoy soiling yourself, get psyched! NeoGAF members found a thread on Reddit, where a little rooting around in a Steam directory unearthed the images. The list includes both games and apps, and as […]

  • Xbox Live multiplayer is free this weekend on Xbox 360

    Xbox 360 players in all Xbox Live regions can play multiplayer online for free this weekend. If you are a Silver member, this means you are Golden from May 1-3 and can play multiple games online with your buddies. All you have to do is log-in to Xbox Live.

  • Assassin’s Creed actor Michael Fassbender confirms film production starts September

    The Assassin’s Creed movie will start production this fall, actor Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, 300, X-Men:First Class) as confirmed. Speaking with ComingSoon.net, Fassbender said filming will start in September, which is inline with Ubisoft’s announcement in February. The actor will star in the film alongside Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard, both reuniting with their MacBeth director Justin […]

  • Eve Online boss states VR won’t be as big as we think next year

    I don’t think I’m the only one who wants VR to hurry up and manifest into a Sword Art Online-esque reality. Unfortunately, the chief executive officer at the studio behind Eve Online doesn’t think that will be happening any time soon. Talking to Venture Beat, Hilmar Veigar Pétursson touched on his excitement at the prospects […]

  • The Last of Us: Left Behind goes standalone in May on PS3, PS4

    Naughty Dog has announced that The Last of US DLC Left Behind will be released as a standalone experience next month. It can be purchased for both PlayStation 3 and PS4 through the PS Store and a two-hour demo of the Factions multiplayer will also be made available. “The Left Behind standalone game will have […]

  • EA’s annual E3 press conference takes place on June 15

    Electronic Arts has announced its annual E3 2015 press conference will take place the day before the show kicks off on June 15. EA, Microsoft, Sony and Ubisoft always hold press events the day before E3 officially starts, so this isn’t any surprise, really. The presser, dubbed “Live to Play”, will last one hour and […]

  • Steam exchange rate mix-up closes down community market

    The Steam community market was buggered up big time today after a mix-up with currency conversion had items selling from practically nothing, to millions of dollars. PC Gamer picked up on the news after a thread on Reddit appeared with screenshots depicting just how silly things were getting over there. The currency exchange rate data […]

  • Britney Spears signs five-year deal with Glu for new mobile game

    Pop star Britney Spears has signed a five-year deal with Glu mobile for a new, untitled game. The mobile game will feature her “voice, likeness, and creative influence,” and is due for release sometime next year. Glu also signed a deal with Katy Perry in February, so expect a game revolving around her to hit […]

  • Large Activision publisher sale on Steam discounts Call of Duty, Prototype, more

    Activision has put the majority of its library on sale through Steam this weekend, and if other titles weren’t included, it could be referred to as a Call of Duty sale. Below are a few standouts. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare – Gold Edition 25% off Call of Duty: Ghosts 67% off Call of Duty: […]

15 Comments

  1. Talkar

    I’ve actually been less and less inclined to buy games on Steam over the years. I’ve gone from buying 10-30 games during the half year sales, to about 1-3 games. They do have amazing deals, absolutely, but they also have lousy customer support (they don’t even have a phone number o.O) and i’ve had more than a few problems with the DRM side of Steam (servers are too busy, even if it is just a SP game i’m trying to play). The store side of Steam is absolutely great! However the other aspects of Steam are still lacking…

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Patrick Garratt

    I only buy when I really want something. I think I did Left 4 Dead 2 for €10 and I play it loads. I still haven’t bought Portal 2, even though I think it was €5 the other day. I clearly have a back-wired brain, but I have a big problem with buying anything unless I know I “need” it. I haven’t bought Portal because I know I won’t play it at the moment.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Giskard

    @2 While I won’t dispute your claims, you MUST play Portal 2. That’s all I’ve got.

    The Steam sales are also somewhat useful for an avid gamer. I usually don’t pick up all titles as they are released, but still want to play them. The Summer Sale in particular is good for this, as summer is the perfect time to squeeze in an extra game or two, as the weather in Sweden is 100% guaranteed rain whenever, wherever.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. alterecho

    Nice analysis. Eklund should have also considered adding the social aspects into this discussion. Like gifting/friend’s list/in-game chat/Achievements etc.
    People should start looking into options such as Raptr. It really is awesome.

    My urge to get those awesome offers hit a brick wall when Steam started splashing a certain dialogue box and wouldn’t allow me access to MY library unless i clicked I Agree.

    @2 Yeah you ABSOLUTELY need to play Portal 2. Some may not find it awesome though.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Patrick Garratt

    @3 Yeah, I will play it eventually. I have zero time at the moment, so I just can’t justify buying it. I understand the logic in the article, but I do find the incessant impulse buying a little odd.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. schnide

    Did you speak to anyone apart from this one expert? Because I don’t think it’s anything to do with the Skinner box theory.

    Instead, it’s simply that Valve sell quality titles in their sale at greatly reduced prices. If you know that something usually costs X, and you have a time-limited chance to get it for X/5, that’s a positive outcome for your brain if you buy it because you feel like you’re getting something for less than it’s worth. So even if you don’t play it, it doesn’t matter, because you know you’ve got it there if you want to and you don’t feel like you’ve wasted much money if you don’t.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. viralshag

    @Pat, Well a few of us have 75% off coupons for it…

    #7 3 years ago
  8. silkvg247

    I did impulse buy in the first couple of sales but it’s died down a lot now. Probably because I’m fully aware I have about 3 years worth of gaming stockpiled, so I’m being quite selective about what I pick up now.

    I do get around to trying games eventually, but the thing is unless they grip me in the first 30 minutes I put them back down and forget about them; mainly because I know I’ve a lot more games to try out. It’s a shame though because it means I’ll never understand the hype around Amnesia, amongst others.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. distraet

    @6 Since I wrote the piece: Yeah, I did talk to another psychologist about it (who agreed on Skinner’s theory), but obviously there are different approaches to this subject. The Skinner box is just one of many theories that can help explain the behaviour of the human mind during a Steam sale.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. absolutezero

    You have a “gigantic pile of boxed games” you never play. You bought them from Shopto in a sale. You never play any of them. WHY

    WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS

    EXPOSE.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. schnide

    @9

    Would’ve been good to include the second expert in the article? ;)

    The Skinner box theory, to me, only seems to explain the benefit of buying from Steam in general – ie. because you had a good experience last time. In particular reference to the Steam sale, price is the key. I think two different principles are being confused here.

    It’s not much different to any sale, even in physical retail stores – the difference is that with Steam, as I mentioned, they’re quality products, easily accessible at the click of a button, and at great prices. You don’t need the Skinner box theory for that.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Psychotext

    Thankfully I’ve stopped buying any games now until I’ve made progress on my backlog. That said, I’ll never make any progress on my backlog so I suspect I’ve stopped buying games for life. =/

    #12 3 years ago
  13. DSB

    @11 Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.

    It’s easy enough to get a psychologist with a certain view and just let him talk based on his own ideas. As long as it isn’t challenged, it becomes dogma.

    I’d probably go for an advertising exec, it’s more their field.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. TheWulf

    I think the specific way my mind is broken makes me immune to operant conditioning, or perhaps it’s because games usually don’t have a whole lot of what I want, and it’s only the odd particularly exceptional game that does. And then I tend to buy that as soon as it becomes available.

    I have frequently gone through entire Steam sales without making a single purchase – and those where I do? I’ve never really bought anything for myself. I’ve used them to buy copies of games that I’ve found to be truly exceptional for friends. Steam sales really don’t do a lot for or to me. I’m incredibly glad that they’re there, because it gives people who’re on a lower monetary bracket a chance to snap up some titles.

    It also gives a developer/publisher a chance to recoup some sales, whereas they might have lost some due to an outlet doing them a massive disservice. Like Rock Paper Shotgun’s intentionally horrible and purposefully sensational review of New Vegas. That hurt it. And yet it got over ten thousand comments disagreeing, which just proves that they did that to garner advertisement clicks. And what’s funny is that people have said that they avoided New Vegas because of that fucking atrocious abuse of journalistic power (RPS has no integrity in my opinion, these days, and the only person I even think of trusting is John Walker). And now those people who avoided the game have been picking it up in sales and they’ve been saying how much they loved New Vegas and how much of a truly awesome game it is.

    So yeah, there are many reasons I love Steam sales. They just don’t do a lot for me because I don’t have as generic a palette as most. I’m looking for very specific things, and amidst this sea of super violent, hyper-realistic shooters and mundane settings, I’m not finding a lot of what I want.

    So maybe my desire to horde is killed by the simple fact that most of the things on offer to horde aren’t at all that shiny.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. fearmonkey

    I love steam, but I didn’t always love it….

    I preferred buying games on the 360 over Steam until this year. MS is so stingy with their sales, and when they do have big sales, it’s always disappointing and laughable if it wasn’t so sad :(
    MS has a huge batch of old Arcade and GOD titles and they rarely have anything on sale for a great price.

    I just bought Alan Wake on Steam with the expansions and the Arcade game for $9.99, MS never has anything remotely that awesome. During the summer sale, I bought Fallout:New Vegas with all expansions for $9.99, Fallout3 with all expansions for $4.99 and Oblivion with all expansions for $4.99.
    I just bought Lord of the rings:War in the north on Green Man gaming for $4.00 which was a steam code.

    It’s really hard to care about MS’s sales anymore when Steam and the other digital game sellers have such amazing deals, and even PS3 has those amazing play for free subscriber games plus better deals than Live. Gamefly has play for free games and great sales as well.

    #15 3 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

  • Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate free DLC pack for May includes Metroid and Mega Man armour

    The May DLC pack for Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate boasts some big ticket items, including Metroid, Street Fighter, and Mega Man gear. This big fat chunk of free DLC, detailed on the capcom unity blog, includes Hunter equipment: Metroid’s Varia Suit Metroid’s Zero Suit Metroid’s Arm Cannon Taiko Drum Master Hunting Horn USJ’s Star Rook […]

  • Destiny: Xur location and inventory for May 1, 2 – Hard Light edition

    Here he comes with his weird face, dealing goods and gear for Guardians. It’s Friday. Xur: Agent of the Nine is back in the Tower. Of Course he is. Got your Strange Coins? Here’s what’s in his bag this week: Ruin Wings [Exotic Titan gauntlets] – 13SC Don’t Touch Me [Exotic Hunter gauntlets] – 13SC […]

  • Dragon Age: Inquisition Jaws of Hakkon DLC drops for PS4 on May 26

    Dragon Age: Inquisition DLC has now been announced for May 26 for PS3, PS4 and Xbox 360. The announcement was made on Twitter via the official Dragon Age account. Mark your calendars! #DAIJawsOfHakkon pic.twitter.com/mU1WfkSrQV — Dragon Age (@dragonage) May 1, 2015 The DLC was released for PC and Xbox One back in March thanks to […]

  • New Witcher 3 screenshots highlight Geralt’s questionable fashion choices

    Even though The Witcher 3 release date is drawing closer, it still feels like a million year away. So here are some more screenshots to tide you over until then. We got to look at in-game shots yesterday, but these new screens show Geralt riding through some gorgeously vibrant mountains, in the midst of combat […]

  • Sims Gurus patch out pregnant men

    Say goodbye to The Sims 4 unique take on fatherhood, as The Sims Gurus confirm that male pregnancies are no more. The Sims 4 players have been reporting high numbers of alien abductions, leaving their male characters with sore bottoms and a bellyful of alien baby. Kotaku reports that not everyone was getting their knickers […]

  • Black Mesa countdown probably points to Half-life remake release date

    Half-life remake Black Mesa may have a release date at last. Black Mesa is a Source Engine remake of the original Half-life, which like everything related to Half-life feels like it’s taking forever to come out. The first part launched in September 2012, and it looks like we might have a release date for the […]

  • Spector puts down rumours of troubled Epic Mickey development

    Epic Mickey seemed like a surprising follow-up project from the man who made Deus Ex, but Warren Spector has put down rumours of a difficult relationship with Disney. Epic Mickey displays several qualities found in Spector’s other games and which he has always espoused in interviews – heck, this is the man whose dream it […]

  • Ubisoft makes good on Child of Light promise with free eBook

    Child of Light fans can check out a gorgeous new illustrated book set in the world of Lumeria. Earlier this month, creator Patrick Plourde confirmed that there were more Child of Light projects on the way. As we expected from the cagey wording, at least the first of these projects isn’t a game: it’s an […]

  • Half-life episode from Junction Point would have featured a magnet gun

    Half-life seems to be on near permanent hold, but at least we can glean some insight into what might once have been. Junction Point’s cancelled Half-life game came up in Warren Spector’s Reddit AMA overnight. Commenting that he isn’t sure whether he’ll get into legal trouble for discussing the project, Spector gave a few comments […]

  • Destiny: exclusive shader, emblem on offer with Nepal benefit shirt

    Destiny developer Bungie has asked Guardians to offer their aid, and they’ve already responded in troves. A new Destiny shirt added to the Bungie Store is the object of a fundraising drive to provide aid in Nepal following a devastating earthquake this week. Bungie popped the pretty stylish shirt on sale earlier today, offering an […]

  • What does the creator of Deus Ex think of Human Revolution and Mankind Divided?

    Deus Ex creator Warren Spector seems pretty positive about the direction the sci-fi series has followed under Square Enix’s hand. Deus Ex was created by Spector and his team at Ion Storm, and remained with Eidos after the developer shuttered. When Square Enix purchased the British publisher, it put new studio Eidos Montreal to work […]

  • Protest Goat secures future for Elite Dangerous destruction derbies

    One of the stranger and more beautiful stories to manifest in the gaming world this week, I think. Elite: Dangerous has given birth to an unintended, emergent style of gameplay; a destruction derby like affair where players gather in no combat areas to both race and gleefully smash into each other until a victor limps […]

  • Destiny’s stunning landscapes captured in panoramas

    Destiny has some beautiful environments, which screenshots don’t necessarily do justice to. Walking around Destiny exclaiming over the lighting effects and the tiny animated details is the best way to experience Bungie’s tremendous achievements, but these panorama images stitched together from in-game screenshots are a good second. Click to see them fullsize. Redditor CenturyEagle made […]

  • Star Wars Disney Infinity re-release on the cards – rumour

    Star Wars is a no-brainer for Disney Infinity, and at long last it looks like it’s happening. A Star Wars re-release called Disney Infinity 3.0 has reportedly leaked from German retailers. We have to lable this one a rumour as we haven’t seen the original source, but the story was originally reported by DisKingdom, which […]

  • Award-winning mobile indie Monument Valley out now on Windows Phone

    Windows Phone’s game selection can be a bit restrictive, but has expanded delightfully today: Monument Valley is now available. Monument Valley is one of those gorgeous, mind-bending puzzlers the indie scene produces on the regular, winning awards and consuming everyone’s lives for weeks on end. Developed by Ustwo Games, with beautiful, understated art from Ken […]

  • Old-school EverQuest servers safe from legal troubles thanks to Daybreak agreement

    EverQuest rights holder Daybreak Game Company given its blessing to the wonderful Project 1999. EverQuest: Project 1999 is one of those lovely ideas that it are all too often crushed by the realities of the games industry. An entirely fan-managed affair, it provides an emulated version of the classic EverQuest experience, which is no longer […]

  • Free Dragon Age short stories fill us in on Corypheus’s followers

    Dragon Age: Inquisition developer BioWare invites you to learn more about the lore and characters that make up its beautiful role-playing setting. Dragon Age is set in Thedas, a world still only partially revealed by the three core games to date. BioWare puts a heck of a lot of work into its worldbuilding, employing a […]

  • Remember that gorgeous Luminous Engine tech demo? It now utilizes DirectX 12

    Remember the gorgeous Luminous Engine tech demo Square Enix showed off three years ago? The firm showed it again at Microsoft’s Build Conference, this time utilizing DirectX 12. The Witch Chapter 0 [cry] real-time tech demo was created from research Square conducted using real-time CG technology and DX12 in collaboration with Microsoft and Nvidia. The […]

  • Stealth Inc 2: A Game of Clones sneaks onto GOG and Steam services

    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 […]

  • VR: Unreal Engine to add HTC Vive support

    The biggest digital PC game distributor and the most popular game development engine have both backed VR. It’s going to happen. An upcoming Unreal Engine 4 update will expand the development suite’s support to the HTC Vive, Valve’s VR headset. In this glorious new future where work on one of the most important engines in […]

  • WWE 2K15 PC supports modding

    WWE 2K15 may be the series’ PC debut, but it’s already getting into the spirit of the platform. WWE 2K15 does indeed support mods on PC, 2K’s Marcus Stephenson has confirmed. @ElementGamesTV you can. Now buy. — Marcus Stephenson (@stephensonmc) April 28, 2015 As Destructoid points out, this opens the door to all sorts of […]

  • Overkill’s The Walking Dead coming to PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2016

    Overkill’s The Walking Dead is one step closer to your grasping little paws. Overkill’s The Walking Dead will be published by 505 Games, Overkill parent Starbreeze has announced. 505 also published Payday 2, Overkill’s previous title, so the two companies have established a working relationship. In a press release, the publisher said the co-op title […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 pre-orders net Advanced Warfare DLC

    Buy Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 for later, enjoy bonus Advanced Warfare content now. Blacks Ops 3 is being supported by a rather cunning pre-order incentive even more likely to get you to lay your cash down sooner than you might otherwise. Gamespot reports a Black Ops 3 pre-order will receive a couple of […]

  • Steam Game Ban system lets developers determine who to block

    Steam users can now be blocked from individual games by their developers. Steam has always supported multiplayer bans for disruptive users, but a newly-implemented system allows developers to ban users from individual games using their own anti-cheat systems. Game Bans are enforced by Valve, but are enacted at the developer’s request and discretion. This change […]

  • Far Cry 4 devs matching Red Cross donations up to $100K to aid Nepal earthquake victims

    Far Cry 4 developer Ubisoft Montreal will match any pledges made to The Red Cross up to $100,000 to aid Nepal after the 7.8 earthquake struck the area in and around Kathmandu in Nepal. According to Ubisoft: “Having spent the last few years working on Far Cry 4, a game heavily inspired by Nepal and […]

  • Tales of Zestiria retail listing notes September release date, PS4 version

    Tales of Zestiria is coming west in northern autumn, and while it’s confirmed as a PlayStation 3 release, a Dutch retailer has it listed as coming to PS4 as well. Of course, listing it for PS4 could also be a typo, not that I would personally know about that sort of thing, really. However, according […]