Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Importance of Being Innovative

Author’s Note: This is Part II of a III part series in a look at the rise of F2P in the West. I will take a hard look at the path to a F2P MMO market and what it means for gamers and developers alike.

Part II: Innovation

What is Innovation? Is Innovation fun? Does Innovation lead to greater sales and profit? What is Innovation? When things are going badly developers will do anything to stop the hemorrhaging; they’ll throw everything and the kitchen sink at the problem. They say ‘Necessity is the mother of all invention’, which is why Innovation is often defined as 'it’s when things are worst that you’ll do the previously unthinkable'.

Turbine Studios

Turbine Studios was hit with layoffs last week. It follows the high profile layoffs at Bigpoints’ LA studio and Zyngas' Austin studio this week. The makers of Lord of the Rings Online, Turbine is seen by many in the gaming world as one of the best examples of a F2P conversion from subscription-only based payment structure. Turbine just released its forth expansion, Riders of Rohan. After a game goes gold there are routine layoffs, as companies will often hire temp workers in the crunch time before launch. If these round of layoffs are merely that then there is little to be concerned about with the regards to the overall health of the company, but if the layoffs are more dire than the gaming world must step back and try to understand if F2P is working in its current iteration.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Good for the Goose, Good for the Gander

Author’s Note: This is Part I of a III part series in a look at the rise of F2P in the West. I will take a hard look at the path to a F2P MMO market and what it means for gamers and developers alike.

Part I: Money

There is a fundamental dichotomy in the way developers and gamers view F2P. From a business standpoint the only real reason for a developer to take a game F2P is to make more money than they are currently making. Certainly offering choice is a nice aside, but the point of the switch from subscription to F2P in whatever form, is to make more money than they are currently making. Gamers on the other hand view the F2P switch as a way to play a game without spending money, or more accurately they wish to control the way and the when of the money being spent. Here in then lies the Dichotomy, while gamers might have a thought in the back of their minds about the idea of business driving decision-making for developers, they aren’t inherently moved by the argument. So too developers might also acknowledge that gamers want everything for free, while putting that aside to make money. The games that make the best compromise between those two schools of thought are the ones that are likely to be the most successful.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Reboot. It’s a popular term these days. Everyone from Hollywood to video games is using the word. It is most commonly used in reference to computers, the act of restarting a computer in case of a system crash or operating system upgrade. There are times though when I wish the word was never used. The Tomb Raider franchise has decided to ‘reboot’ the story; start over from scratch. At the time when I first heard it I felt some confusion, I had liked the previous two games, infact they had won awards and received critical praise and commercial success. The idea that the franchise needed a reboot was slightly annoying to me. As time went on, the studio made great pains to publicly distance themselves from past efforts. I acknowledge that no story can go on forever but where does that leave those of us who enjoyed the experience when we’re told that was a lesser product. 

I remember when Michael Bay, Hollywood’s perennial loud mouth cast aspirations on his own movie, the second Transformers. He was quoted as saying "We made some mistakes…The real fault with ["Transformers 2"] is that it ran into a mystical world. When I look back at it, that was crap. The writers' strike was coming hard and fast. It was just terrible to do a movie where you've got to have a story in three weeks." I remember when I read this thinking, so if I liked the movie what exactly does that make me? In the end, where there is money to be made there will be Reboots, but I for one am sorry to see them stay and will be happy to see them go. By the way, did you hear they’re rebooting Batman?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Do Not Pass Go

I was scanning over an article last week about the visibility of the Wii U. I didn’t pay much attention to it but I noted it as interesting enough to remember. Then a few days later my younger sister asked me what the Wii U was ‘is it a Gameboy’ she queried me. I remembered the article and so I asked her what she thought it was. She went back and forth from a Gameboy to something to do with the Wii. Then she said ‘I went to the website but I couldn’t tell what it was’. I know why Nintendo picked the Wii U as a name. They wanted continued brand recognition as their Wii was the bestselling console in the last six years. The thing is I’m not sure they’re getting their money’s worth. My younger sister is more attuned to gaming than 90% of the people who bought the original Wii and she didn’t have a clue. My sister is one person, one among many and yet is she the norm? Tomorrow Nintendo might have the best advertising stint since the 80’s. They might get the word out and people will know exactly what the Wii U is trying to do, but how many of us really believe that’s going happen?

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Spoken Word

As gamers we rarely see the written word anymore in video games. These last 365 days have been momentous for writing in video games. More than any time in all of video game history, story has become the driving force of change. And yet writers are rarely well-known. Other than a few articles here and there, little is ever written about them. So in homage to the great stories and the writers who crafted them, here is the spoken word in all its glory.

Friday, October 5, 2012


In honor of Assassins' Creed 3. I think we all saw this but if you didn't, the new Lincoln Trailer. It is magnificent.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Party Etiquette

It’s amazing sometimes what people know. You can be surprised by the area and expertise that someone knows about subjects that you have no clue about. I always like to talk to people who know a lot about things I know nothing about; it makes things interesting. I stopped playing Guild Wars 2 last week. It’s not that it isn’t a great game, in many ways its probably one of the best games of its genre, and certainly a game of the year contender. I took a step back and realized that the lack of real story was hurting my enjoyment of the game more than I had realized, plus the play style isn’t exactly my cup of tea so I went back to The Old Republic. Oddly enough though, one of the best things about The Old Republic since I’ve been back is the group finder. I tend to play a lot of MMO’s totally solo. Whether it’s a residual effect of playing Guild Wars 2 or not, I’ve played in more parties in a week times then I did in three months last time I was playing. Speaking of parties, here are my Rules of Engagement for parties: