Monthly Archives: November 2009

Facebook and Twitter on Xbox

Now finally Facebook and Twitter on Xbox 360 have gone live. Downloaded them today and just briefly tried them out, and I don’t feel that blown away. How I understood it you have to enter the both services separately, and you can’t do anything else when you use them. Thats okey I guess, but it would be much more powerful it they accessable also when playing games. We don’t want to exit the game to access social services. For example wouldn’t it be great to be able between matches in Modern Warfare 2, to tweet the result, or tell everyone on Facebook the score? I haven’t explored the Xbox version completely and to connect with Xbox Live friends, it seems they have to “activate” the applications.

And along side this we also got confirmed today that Facebook will also hit Playstation Network with the new 3.10 firmware update.

Its interesting to see how the social sites like Facebook, Twitter and even Last.fm is expanding to new territories such as the video game consoles. Companies start (or already have) understood the power of working with the social sites. For example at GamersGate I created our Facebook group and our Twitter feed (@Gamersgate). Its a great tool to communicate with our fans and followers. And its wonderful how we can connect all the services together. For example how every time I write a Tweet (which doesn’t happen often) it automatically generate a Facebook “what am I doing?”. And I am just learning more about Facebook Connect and the possibilities it offers. I look forward for the time when we only need one account that’s connected to all different services.

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Uplay launch beta with Assassins Creed 2 release

Today Ubisoft launched its new digital service Uplay. Going out in a press release (I created an account earlier today) that the first game using this will be Assassins Creed 2, released today in North America. Before the press releases I was in and watched the video describing uPlays features. In a nutshell its Ubisofts own centralised digital platform, connecting their games and the players.

To begin with it will be focused on four services:

  • Uplay Win
  • Uplay Help
  • Uplay Share
  • Uplay Shop

And the services isn’t dependent on platform, but will span through the three important ones, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC. It will offer players community features, achievements and possibilities to shop (I would view as DLC ). I kind a like it. I mean, the platform owners already have this in place. But this gives Ubisoft more control, and if they can break this to create a huge community it can really be something big. I think this is the first step for the big publishers to do their own thing and not give away control to Microsoft, Sony or say Steam.

The Press Release details:

Ubisoft announced today that players of Assassin’s Creed II on PlayStation® 3 and Xbox 360® will be able to use the in-game interface to connect directly to the Uplay beta.

Uplay is Ubisoft’s online destination where gamers are at the center of a connected gaming universe that will be developed around four primary services: Uplay Win, Uplay Help, Uplay Share and Uplay Shop. The Uplay Beta is only launching with Uplay Win so far.

Uplay Win enables players to collect units based on their actions in the games and exchange them for rewards such as exclusive in-game content or goodies.  Uplay Win’s Units can also be gathered cross platform: PC,360, PS3.
In
Assassin’s Creed II, a real Altaïr costume and exclusive in-game content such as access to the Auditore Family Crypt are among the rewards offered through Uplay Win. For those who don’t want to redeem their units right away, they can save them to use on other games such as the upcoming Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Conviction and many more to come.

Players will also be able to access Uplay Share, Uplay Shop and Uplay Help from www.uplay.com.

And first out is Assassins Creed 2, so its gonna be very exciting to see how it works! Got news that Ubisoft sent me a PS3 copy today :)

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Left4Dead 8-Bit, Valve should pick it up

In conjuction with the release of the new Left 4 Dead 2, Kotaku have noticed this video. A fan made video on how a 8-bit version should be like. This is nothing new, we often see videos on demade on how new games would look if they were 8-bit.

But if I were Valve (the ones behind Left 4 Dead), I would try to pick this 8-bit version up and sell it. Cheap that is, but I think people would buy it. And it would be a great way to market and expand the Left 4 Dead IP.

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Importans of Pricing

We have had some really interesting releases the recent weeks on the site. Especially two games have stood out, Torchlight and Machinarium. Both games are developed by smaller studios and only released online. Both review and sales wise they have done really good! Just looking at the numbers on our site I see it. What makes me even more proud is that I signed both titles.

We have been discussing the success of those titles, and one thing that we see in both, is pricing. They have fairly low prices. Machinarium is a bit shorter than Torchlight, but then the price is lower on that one. Torchlight you can get for around $19.95 and you get many hours of playing out of it. This is a great example for good pricing. At the end of the day its about value for money, and Torchlight is definitely that. Unfortunately I haven’t had time to play it (played through Machinarium), but once things cool down after Modern Warfare 2, Borderlands and Assassins Creed 2 I will get to it.

Once example of a game that goes the other way is the recently mentioned Modern Warfare 2, that instead of lower the price have raised it. Just in UK the game will go for £54.99!!

This more than anything made me realise the important of right pricing, regardless of the kind of product. After looking through many seasons of Dragons Den it hit me even harder, were many of them complain about bad pricing. At the same time its really hard sometimes when you will introduce a product on the market. There is many variables taking into consideration when deciding price. Development cost, margins, profit and ultimately what customers is ready to pay. I starting to learn more and more about it and see the importance. And damn, what a difference it can make!

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Modern Warfare 2 controversy

This week one of this years biggest game is released, Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, and the controversies have been quite many, as expected for a big title like this. But the issues have mostly been around the PC version, and its Multiplayer functionalities. The first was the lack of dedicated servers, which allow players to host their own servers. The game is basically locked to Infinity Wards (IW) own system. This also prevent Moding of the game,  limiting the customers/players to modify the game and creating new “version” of it, basically improving and evolving the life of the game.  For hard-core PC players, dedicated servers is a must! Some have even started a petition against IWs decision to skip it, and its growing fast.

And with the news about the dedicated server come the biggest problem, according to me, it has complete Steam Works incorporation! What this means is that it have the full Steam technology in the game, and it requires a Steam account to be played. This is bad for us at GamersGate, since we will never be able to sell the game, as our internal policy is to not accept games that require Steam to be run. It doesn’t make sense from a business perspective, giving our customers away to Steam automatically which would happen. It would be like stating that we Support Steam, a competitor, which is madness. And now even Direct2Drive have gone out, stating that  they won’t sell the game at all due to the Steam incorporation, along side us and Impulse. This have really spawned a storm on the net around this. Cause D2D have before sold games that have the Steam in them. But its great that we are many putting pressure on developers and publishers not to support the Steam software, that lock the customers to Steam and strengthening their potential monopol. Its unfortunate that some new really good games have the Steam implementation, such as Empire: Total War, Serious Sam HD and of cause Valves own games Left 4 Dead 2.What Steam does is locking in its user in their network, something that some find okey, but I think most really doesn’t like.

And after the news about dedicated servers and no modding capability, then its revealed that the number of players in multiplayer have been reduced, from 32 vs 32 in Modern Warfare 1, to only 9 vs 9! Its seems like they didn’t want to do the PC version at all… Just focusing on the console ones. I heard on the Kotaku podcast were a guy called in and said that he had checked his nearest Gamestop regarding pre-orders, and I believe he said around 400 Xbox 360, and merely 10 PC pre-orders. And Call of Duty grew up on PC!

But the thing that interest me most about this controversy with dedicated servers and lack of modifications of the game, is how its a step backwards. IW claims that they have made it “eaiser” for people to just start playing online, that players don’t want to config or setup their own servers. Its like smacking all hard-core players in the face. I don’t think they realise what a mistake this is. The big problem is how they lock the game for people and removing features that is essential for it to be longed lived. Just look at Counter Strike, one of the worlds most played games, that started as a mod. If it weren’t for the openess of Half Life, it probably would have been borned on the Quake or Unreal engine. Then Valve and Steam would probably not be as big as they are today. Many great games, not to mention development studios have been spawned from this open culture. And instead of supporting this, IW and Activision decides to look their most important release this year completely tight! Its like taking a step backwards!

Last weekend I was in Karlstad, and I spoke with some students about this, and they said that now Modern Warfare 2 is something for them to play until Battlefield Bad Company 2 comes out, which will have dedicated servers. Also very interesting is how the founder of id Software (Doom and Quake series) John Carmack have gone out, defending IW decision to scrap dedicated servers.

Its gonna be very intersting to see the sales numbers for the PC version vs 360 and PS3 after all those controversies. Personally I will pick up my 360 copy on the day of release. Though it seems that several GameStop stores in North America started selling it many days before… Oh well!

*UPDATE

And now that the game is released a new Steam controversy have surfaced. Those who bought or pre-purchased the game on Steam have to wait 2 days extra to play the game. I bet many of their customers are really pist about this!

Modern Warfare 2

Modern Warfare 2