Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
| The video game industry has gone from a mole hill to a mountain in no time flat, Chris DiMarco is your Sherpa as you endeavor to scale Mount “Everquest”

June 2013

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Microsoft Makes Moves To Accommodate Indies

June 27, 2013

It is impossible, anymore, to look at the concept of gaming--at any level, casual or core--without considering the indie developer in some way. Several major titles have emerged to firmly cement the indie in the gaming concept, and so, failing to consider the indie in any procedural point is a bad idea. Microsoft is showing the value of the indie clearly with some recent new decisions that make things just a little easier on the indie developer.

First, there was one report that came in that will likely prove valuable to the indie developer, as the reports indicated that Microsoft was dropping the update fee associated with titles on the Xbox 360. Earlier, payments measuring in the tens of thousands of dollars, according to reports, were required to issue patches for games that needed a little extra updating.

Why Used And Rental Games Were Such A Sticking Point

June 26, 2013

Easily one of the--potentially, we can even strip the qualifier away and just call it the--biggest controversies in gaming for the last couple years was the issue of used and rental gaming. More specifically, would the next generation consoles permit such activities--that gamers had grown fond of over the years--to continue? Yes, no, maybe, with fees, without fees...the suppositions flew like no tomorrow. But for the most part, the answer turned out to be yes, eventually, and that's good new for gamers and for the industry alike.

A recent report that came out today broke down the retail gaming market--new, used, and rental alike--into its various components including cost of goods sold, licensing fees and similar matter.

Sometimes It's The Little Things: Headset Mics in the Next Generation

June 25, 2013

The console wars are still going strong, and even though most of the newest players won't take the field until holiday season this year, there are still plenty of shots being fired across the bow. Once again, though, the pratfall in this one seems to go squarely to Microsoft, and it's all about the headset microphones.

Microsoft dropped word earlier that the Xbox One would in fact not come with one of the wired headsets that Microsoft described as a "must have" when it came to online gaming. Perhaps worse, the headset had as of yet no suggested retail price, so Microsoft gamers planning to get the headset would have no idea how much to bump up the expected payment just to get in on the action. This is an especially unusual development, given that Xbox 360 versions have commonly included a headset microphone, except for the Arcade and Core versions.

Rust Offers A Mix Of Experiences

June 24, 2013

It's strange, but we've just closed out the E3 event not so very long ago, and what happens? A new game crops up that's really rather impressive in its own way. It's another slice of indie joy, and from the look of things, it may well have an unexpected mix of experiences that will top anything coming out any time soon from the major players.

Product of Garry Newman, creator of the famous--some might say "infamous," depending--"Garry's Mod," the game in question is called "Rust," and it's bringing together an absolutely spectacular number of different experiences all in one handy package that may not be a graphic wunderkind, but will certainly blow a few minds for its sheer ambition.

"Rust" is described as a combination of--and you're going to want to brace yourself for this one--"Minecraft," "DayZ," and "S.T.A.L.K.E.R." Now that's a combination that one typically does not find in gaming choices, and the breakdown of why these names were cited is especially telling.

First, the comparisons to "Minecraft" come around as the result of the environment. Players move around the field--which looks pretty sizable--and gather resources.





Microsoft Backs Down on DRM; Will It Change Minds?

June 20, 2013

Something very exciting only recently happened when Microsoft--who likely saw the torches and pitchforks on the mob which reached back from Redmond clear as far as Kansas--who pulled back on the DRM reins and put out the word that many of what was previously thought banned would be, in fact, allowed. This was reacted to across the Web with various levels of relief and outright cynicism, but the question of the day was, would it change anyone's minds?

Given that on the Web--at least several parts of same--public opinion was running against the Xbox One at about the level that's best described as "a wedding where everyone in the room hates the groom except the bride," it's a reasonable point that Microsoft would want to make some changes lest it lost the entire console war by having virtually no one show up to buy an Xbox One. So Microsoft pulled a 180, removing the once-a-day login requirement to play games and replacing it with a once-in-the-console's-lifetime requirement. The idea of used games was opened back up as well, and everyone at Gamefly probably breathed a near-simultaneous sigh of relief at the thought that an entire console's worth of games would be no longer unavailable for rent, matched only by the relief from GameStop. Even the region restrictions would be pulled, allowing gamers in, say, Australia to pick up United States games.

There were, as some projected, losers in such a decision, with publishers no longer able to get in on the action from the used gaming market, though this loss is really nothing new as publishers weren't getting in on the used market much as it was. Some in turn claim that every used game sold is a new game that won't be sold, but then, the chances of that person buying a new game were rather slim to begin with.

Given that the pre-order launch edition of the PlayStation 4 already sold out at Amazon, it's a safe bet that Sony likely won't prove a loser in the gaming stakes. But the question is, how many gamers will change their minds and go from Sony back to Microsoft? Microsoft has some very exciting games in the pipeline, like "Dead Rising 3"--which certainly got me--as well as "The Elder Scrolls Online," which seems as though it won't be as PS4-exclusive as early reports had suggested, and that's certainly going to get some attention.

In fact, it's starting to look like Sony's only real draw left is its price tag, which at $100 under Microsoft's may well be worthwhile to plenty of gamers. The fact that Amazon is out of PS4 launch day preorders (at least those without an extra game) says something about the posture of many gamers. There's still quite a bit of ground to cover between the launch of the new hardware and right now, though, so just about anything could come up between there and there to cover things. Keeping an eye on this particular development, though, should be very much worthwhile, especially for gamers considering which system will occupy their time in the coming years.







The Rise of Open World Gaming

June 19, 2013

It's an interesting development, and one that took a little outside prompting to catch on to, but there seems to be a common thread running through a lot of upcoming releases. That common thread is one of open world gameplay, and there appear to be a larger number of games than normal that take advantage of the format.

To some degree, there has always been a little open world gaming going on. The Fallout and Elder Scrolls series have done a great job of this, but they were never alone. Consider the growth of the open world offered by the Grand Theft Auto series, especially the most recent versions.

Oculus Rift, Virtuix Omni, FPS Gaming--Virtual Reality Redux?

June 18, 2013

Some new and exciting news came out earlier today around the Oculus Rift, which managed to land a major infusion of funding in the form of a $16 million shot in the arm from Spark Capital and Matrix Partners. With this influx of cash comes the opportunity for bigger, better technology, more experimentation, more staff to put all the necessary manhours into the project, and a very big potential for a heads-up display that can give us a level of immersion heretofore unknown by man. This leads to one interesting question: is virtual reality making a comeback?

There are two critical fronts that would power the idea of a return of virtual reality, and these two are commonly found in most any entertainment or information front: hardware and software. With the rise of the Oculus Rift--especially based on some of the video around this one; seriously, go take a look at YouTube and see the sheer number of reaction videos to this technology--a detailed, immersive, and simple to use technology will soon be in gamers' hands, providing a kind of visual input that hasn't really been seen in most gaming.

State of Decay: By Design and Implication

June 17, 2013

With E3 now quite thoroughly in the can, and a host of different topics come and gone in its wake, the post-major event letdown, for some, has started to settle in. But as for me, I can get back to a topic that I've been meaning to tackle for some time, but couldn't thanks to the array of much bigger topics to tackle.

Today, I'm going neck-deep into "State of Decay," the recently-released indie title that's been making quite a splash thanks to its unusual gameplay and its admittedly rather exciting storyline. In "State of Decay," you play a guy who's been out in the woods for the last couple of weeks with an old fishing buddy, out for the standard "get away from it all" sort of trip that many have been known to indulge in. But this particular trip involves getting away from a lot more than you might think, as you've also gotten away from the zombie apocalypse.

E3 2013: So This Was E3

June 13, 2013

With this being the last day of E3, and even on the West Coast in its declining hours, it's always a good time to take a look back and see what we learned from the big event. With new games, new hardware, and new attitudes coming into play, E3 2013 meant a lot of things to a lot of people, so here's a look at what I took away from the big show.

1. Nintendo may have a chance to catch up. While many no longer regard Big N's efforts as being part of the "console wars," Nintendo is still in the market.

E3 2013: Oculus Rift and PlayStation 4--A Future Together?

June 12, 2013

Speculation abounds in the midst of hordes of trailers and exhibitions going on out at E3, but one of the biggest speculations comes out of a combination of two key factors in gaming. Putting these two developments together may well lead to something very exciting, if it leads anywhere at all.

Basically, word came out of Sony Computer Entertainment's own Shuhei Yoshida, saying that not only has he tried out the second part of this story, but he also loves it. That thing in question is no less than the Oculus Rift, and Sony reportedly has a couple of the development kits on hand.

These two separate factors, when added together, makes the equivalent of water and cesium as far as video games go.



E3 2013: PlayStation 4 Gets Its Day In The Sun

June 11, 2013

I'll preface tonight's remarks by saying that I've been a Microsoft gamer for a long time. Microsoft introduced me to one of my favorite games of all time, "Morrowind: The Elder Scrolls 3." But now that Sony has brought out more information on the PlayStation 4, I can't help but think maybe the time has come to give Sony another shot.

I was a PlayStation 2 gamer, recently. Before that, a PlayStation gamer. I left Nintendo after the GameCube emerged, mostly because the GameCube had precious little in the way of games, as far as I was concerned, and PlayStation had a lot more to offer.

E3 2013: Xbox One Exclusives Get Announced

June 10, 2013

One of the biggest days of a big show has pretty much drawn to a close, and with several new Xbox One exclusives announced at the E3 2013 event, it looks like a good time to check out the slate and see what kind of lineup Microsoft will have on its side.

First, we have a note of vindication in the works, as one of the predictions made here came to pass. One of the big Microsoft exclusives for Xbox One is none other than "Dead Rising 3." The zombie game will be released this holiday season, so right about the same time the system itself emerges, and will offer up a very exciting new feature for Dead Rising players: no load times. Though the tone of the game looks much darker than its predecessor, the graphics are showing a lot more detail than normal and the whole thing looks very sharp overall.

But that wasn't all that Microsoft had to show off, oh no.



Microsoft Talks Used Games--Fees, Maybe

June 6, 2013

Something of good news emerged as Microsoft spilled the details on one of the biggest points of discussion surrounding the Xbox One: the issue of used games. While the news wasn't all good by any stretch, it is better news than some would have hoped for, though the used game and game rental industries may not have another generation to live after all.

Microsoft put out an update to its website that runs down the concept of game licensing. Microsoft denied that it would require any kind of fees to trade or resell games...but then followed up that good news with some bad. First, individual publishers would be allowed to charge fees if so inclined, though Microsoft would get none of that money.

Hardware: Shipbreakers Steps Up The E-Sports Market

June 5, 2013

Admittedly, right now, the PC strategy market might seem a bit on the thickly-stocked side. But there's always room for Jello, so to speak, especially when that Jello can present an interesting new idea or an old one done well. "Hardware: Shipbreakers" looks like it's ready to do one of the two, though everything that could be known about this title, as yet, is not.

While news about "Hardware: Shipbreakers" has been coming out for some time, word from GamesBeat suggests that this could be much more than another strategy game. Indeed, this new title from Blackbird Interactive has some big shoes to fill, as the company is reportedly looking to run it right alongside the likes of such major names as "StarCraft 2" and "League of Legends."

It's not that Blackbird is eager to compete with these luminaries in the field, but rather that these names have shown that the strategy gaming field can and does work, so bringing in another name to the field can offer a similar opportunity, and that there's room for more on this particular front.

"Hardware: Shipbreakers" is offering up an interesting premise to boot, as various groups are on a planet working salvage operations for what appears to be some kind of ship graveyard that's on a desert planet.





So Just How Much Will Gaming's Next Generation Cost, Anyway?

June 4, 2013

With E3 rapidly closing in on us, and a lot of answers in the making for the next generation of console gaming, there are certainly plenty of questions left to ask that will hopefully get those answers at the big event. But the biggest question left to answer is just how much those wonderful new systems will cost, and recent reports from Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter may just have the answers we all needed to hear.

Pachter, who often puts out prognostications on the subject of video games, recently released a note targeting the upcoming E3--Electronics Entertainment Expo--event, providing some predictions in advance of the big show. Pachter, backed up by analyst Nick McKay, has a handle on the pricing for the two new systems poised to hit the market. The PlayStation 4 will be the bargain system this time around, priced at $350, while the Xbox One will be the higher-priced model at $400.

The difference in pricing, Pachter and McKay suggest, is largely due to costs of components.



The Defiance TV Show / Game Link Gets New Life

June 3, 2013

Not so long ago, I tackled the world of Defiance right here, and generally, found myself happy to do so. This unusual, console-based MMO was surprisingly entertaining, and the connection to the TV series certainly didn't hurt. But now, there's a whole new level of life to the Defiance game and television connection that should prove surprisingly fun, not to mention provide some smart new ideas for other game producers.

Basically, what's happening here is that, as sometimes happens in MMORPGs, the game is introducing a new plot about a plague gone wildly out of control. Described as "hemorrhagic" in nature, it looks like something like the standard zombie plague gone plenty wrong, with loads more in the way of boils and the like.