“Rock Bottom”. It comes to us from the publisher of “Get Rich or Die Gaming” and “The Rise of Gaddafish”, and it’s equally zany.

You don’t play “Rock Bottom” for a cohesive story, you play it for Read the rest of this entry »

This is more a “be aware this thing exists” post, be cause if you played the original “The Impossible Game” and enjoyed it, then why wouldn’t you want a whole new long and incredibly difficult level to try (and repeatedly fail) to beat? And that’s exactly what “The Impossible Game Level Pack” would have offered, except it offers something else: *two* new levels, rather than just one.

What amazes me about these two games is Read the rest of this entry »

I’m almost finished going through the archives of old articles I had once authored, and then not posted for whatever reason. This one is from December 14th, 2010, and it’s largely complete.

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Further proof that people who say that PC gaming is dying simply don’t get it.

What’s happening is that PC gaming is growing, but changing as it does. There are hundreds of millions playing Bejeweled, FarmVille, and other downloadable and/or browser games. This is far and away the bulk of the PC gaming market now. Far and away. Dedicated Windows gamers with fancy gaming rigs are now the distinct minority. That’s possibly more to do with the growth of casual gaming than it is the death of traditional PC gaming, however; the shift from PC gaming being retail-centric to digital distribution-centric makes it hard to quantify the relative size of the traditional hardcore Windows gaming market.

There’s long been a casual PC gaming scene, as far back as Solitaire and Minesweeper being included with Windows at least. What’s changed however, from what I see, is that it has evolved from casual gamers who played occasionally during downtime, to a new form of what you could (oxymoronically) call dedicated casual gamers. I know people who plan their day around when they have to be available to harvest their crops in FarmVille. I certainly have never heard of someone doing that for Minesweeper.

CityVille gaining 22 million users in the first 11 days is further proof of that. Has a hardcore PC title ever reached 22 million in sales, let alone 22 million concurrent users? And don’t discount the power of those 22 million eyeballs, these people are spending money. Zynga’s making a veritable mint off of microtransactions for their games.

The lesson for Indie Game developers is that Facebook games have grown on the strength of the low barrier to entry, and then made money on microtransactions.

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This may be the last time I comment on the Halo Master Chief Collection for a while (though I remain excited about it). A few observations:

- all of the maps from the console Halo games have been included here, but none of the Read the rest of this entry »

Used games

Posted: 2014/06/10 in Indie Games

Here’s an article I wrote in 2010, in the very early days of the site. Apparently I was authoring up a storm, but not posting them. No, I don’t know why.

I am frequently surprised when video game publishers complain about used game sales. I worked on the front line of used game sales at “EB Games” from 2002 to 2006, and what I saw strongly suggests that the game publishers benefit from it more than they realise. Here are my unaltered throughs on the subject from November 2010 (complete with no real introduction, to speak of):

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The margin (percentage of the shelf price that is not your cost of goods sold) on game consoles has been essentially non-existant since the days of the NES.

The margin on new games is also incredibly small, something like 15-20% (in retail, it’s not usually even worth getting out of bed for margins like that, because you haven’t paid your rent, power, staff, insurance, etc. yet and you’re already making virtually nothing prior to those expenses).

The only thing that’s even halfway decent margins are accessories, and even then it’s usually on the third-party accessories (Mad Catz, etc.) where the margin is even close to something that you could theoretically cover all your expenses and still possibly have a small profit at the end of the day.

The only reason department stores sell games is because of the traffic it brings in. To them it’s akin to a loss leader, something they have to have, but they hope to sell you game accessories and also things unrelated to gaming. Dedicated game stores don’t have that second luxury (high margin stuff in all the departments surrounding the video games area). If you’ve ever bought toothpaste (or whatever) when you bought a game at a department store, then you know why they have to have a gaming department even if they make very little on the games.

Every single store I’ve seen that focuses on games, and games alone, has survived on one (or both) of two things: used game sales and/or Read the rest of this entry »

I guess I’m buying all the numbered Halo games again, and I’m looking forward to it. With today’s official announcement of the “Master Chief Collection” of Halo games, which I absolutely plan to purchase, it’ll be the third time I buy the original Halo, the third time I buy Halo 2, the fifth time I buy Halo 3, and the second time I buy Halo 4.

Now what I’m *really* looking forward to is the follow-up collection of the Halo titles that didn’t star Master Chief. And the remaining Halo games have their fans: “Halo 3: ODST” has arguably the best singleplayer campaign of all the Halo games (especially when played solo), “Halo: Reach” has a lot of fans for its take on multiplayer and has arguably the best co-op campaign, and finally there’s “Halo Wars”.

Ah, Halo Wars. It was recently decreed to still be a “viable franchise” by the head of 343 Studios, the people behind Halo. If there is to be a collection of all the *other* Halo games, I expect Halo Wars to make the cut. It’s sold over 2 million copies, unheard of for a console real-time strategy game. Whenever I go into the game there are typically 1500-2000 people playing concurrently at any given time, which probably adds up to something like 100K individual player over the course of a month. Most console games are a ghost town 6 months after release, but Halo Wars soldiers on, despite new consoles pulling people away from their Xbox 360s. Finally, they released four games for the Master Chief Collection, and they’ll want to get as close to that number as they can for a follow-up. Perhaps they would include Spartan Assault in such a collection as a fourth game, or even the “Forward Unto Dawn” film.

But when? Microsoft has had annual Halo releases each “holiday” for several years now. Most people point to 2009’s “ODST” as when this began, but if you dig a little deeper I would argue it spans a little further back.

While there was a three year gap between Halo 2 on the original Xbox and Halo 3 on the Xbox 360, The PC version of Halo 2 came out in spring 2007. To me, this is the beginning of the “modern era” of Halo releases. Halo 3 then came out in Read the rest of this entry »

There are no shortage of “Halo: Spartan Assault” reviews out there, but I suspect relatively few reviewers have played it on “phone”, “tablet/desktop/laptop”, and “console”. Hey, it should have made the list of “Games I’ve Bought Twice” (or more).

But I have played it on all of the above. I first purchased it on Read the rest of this entry »

Uncharted movie

Posted: 2014/06/07 in Indie Games

Wow… I had totally forgotten that I had written this piece back in early 2013. But I read some fans complaining about how the proposed (and still unfilmed, last I heard) “Uncharted” movie was coming along. It reminded me a lot of fan reaction (mine included) to the plans for a reimagined Battlestar Galactica series, and how wrong many of us felt when it came out and it was amazing.

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Sometimes you just have to trust the creative team behind the show, especially if they have a strong track record, and hope for the best.

Case in point: Richard Hatch wanted to make a sequel to the classic Battlestar Galactica (BSG). He wanted to write a multilayered story about Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve had an Xbox One since near launch, but not played a lot of games on it. Not because there aren’t good games on it, there are, but because I’ve been using the Xbox One for other things, such as controlling my TV and Xbox Fitness.

But I couldn’t resist trying “Max: The Curse of Brotherhood” because the normal $14.99 (or 11.99 pounds, or whatever) price is axed for Xbox Live Gold members for the month of June. And while I haven’t completed the game so far, I’m impressed.

The thing I like about it is Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t worry, more reviews are coming soon. For the time being, though, I’m enjoying trolling through my “Drafts” folder of un-posted articles.

I wrote this in 2011. Not sure why I never posted this one. At the time I was pondering the question… “Why Microsoft did Indie Games first – will others follow?”

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If you think about it, it’s a huge endeavour. To roll out indies Microsoft had to:

- make easy to use development tools, that were powerful yet sandboxed just enough to prevent abuse

- create a peer review infrastructure so that Microsoft didn’t need to participate in the approval process

- create an infrastructure so that indie developers can get paid (there are over 1500 XBL indie games available now, and some developers have as little as one game on the service, so that’s a *lot* of cheques going out to developers every quarter)

- create the game and title update distribution infrastructure (built on the Xbox Live backbone, but with some modifications)

It’s not just something you do overnight. No one’s done it quite like Microsoft either: both the iOS App Store and Steam require submitting it to Apple and Valve, respectively, for approval. Only Microsoft, to the best of my knowledge, has provided the distribution and payment infrastructure, while keeping themselves out of the review/approval process. The peer review process is extraordinarily democratic and, frankly, just really cool.

I would love to see Sony and/or Nintendo do something similar, the more opportunities for indie developers the better IMO, but I really can see why Microsoft (with its background in operating system and network software) did it first when you look critically at what had to be done to make it happen.

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