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Showing posts from January, 2010

A new decade, new DRM

Activation limits for games caused a lot of negative feedback from the gamer community. People felt that their games went from an ownership model to a more limited, renting model. The obvious thing to do for a publisher after all this backlash  would be to ease their DRM measures. So what does Ubisoft decide to do? Introduce a new, draconian DRM scheme of course!

So, what does their new baby do? Each Ubisoft game will regularly connect to one of their back-end servers. In other words, you have to be on-line all the time, even when playing a single player game. They're trying to put it in a nice spotlight: you don't need your CD in the drive any more! And your game saves are stored on their servers! A very useful feature promised by Valve years ago but it doesn't change the fact that you have to be on-line all the time. At least with Valves Steam I still have the option to use my off-line mode

This does mean that you won't be able to play on your laptop. Want to play h…

Rent a byte

On-line multimedia distribution is growing at a steady pace. Amazon is renting out books for its Kindle device. Game distributors such as Steam are generating more and more income. At the other side of the ocean movie providers like Netflix and Hulu are popular. And today there are two big announcements. Youtube will offer full movies for rent. And today Greenmangaming wants to offer second hand games... digital games.

An interesting idea but I can't see how they will manage to pull it off. Publishers seem to have put second hand sales into the same category as piracy. DRM schemes such as the infamous "three installs and you're out" are there to stop second hand sales. Stopping pirates will be the official version but it doesn't stop a single pirate as they never even see those installation limits. A sad case where the pirate is better of then the buyer. From a publishers side it's simple. If they sell their game for a third of the price to you they still get…

Pay now or pay even more later

This week I got this e-mail from Funcom:

Character Deletion Alert

Thank you for playing Age of Conan.

As part of our maintenance your account is now flagged to have your characters below level 20 deleted as part of maintenance. Please re-activate your account now to ensure that your characters progress and names stay intact.

After seeing last weeks phishing mail I had to take a look at the source of the e-mail as I suspected that this was just another scam. After all, why would any company want to destroy their customers property? But no, it's not a scam, the e-mail does come from Funcom.

Two years ago, I've bought Age of Conan as a pre-order. And I stopped playing after only a few days as it quickly became clear to me that this game wasn't my thing. Having my ass kicked time after time by two mobs of my own level got frustrating really fast. Frustrating enough to go play something else. Interestingly, when I shared this experience months after my Conan adventures with my W…

Please give us your WoW account

This week I found this in my mailbox:

At first glance it looks like a genuine e-mail from Blizzard, it even passed Hotmails spam filter. But I quickly remembered that I didn't get this kind of e-mail when someone changed my password and actually hacked my account two months ago.

Giving this message a closer look quickly gives more hints to show us that it's a fake:
"you Login verify your password" - Bad English in an automatically generated mail? No professional company would send this mail let alone one based in the United States;
"If you are unable to successfully verify your password . using the automated system" - That's not even a proper sentence.As every WoW player should know, Blizzard will never ask you to enter your password. The link of course: "http://us.battlu.net/login/login.htm?ref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.worldofwarcraft.com%2Faccount%2F&app=wam%2Fwww.worldofwarcraft.com%2Faccount%2F&app=wam" - us.battlu.net? Battlu sure isn't …

DLC - Directly Lost Cash?

The prices of games have been more or less steady the last decade. Now and then a game such as Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 2 comes along and causes a fuzz by raising the price but overall prices don't change much. The development costs of games keep on going though while the player numbers don't increase by that much. So publishers have to keep on trying to find more ways to get the money from our pockets without raising the retail prices of their games. DLC seems to be the newest card they've pulled out of their bags and it's quickly gaining more and more popularity.

At it's base, it's a nice idea. Instead of spending four years creating one big hit-or-miss blockbuster you can spend some time to create smaller pieces of content. If you can add a few hours of gameplay for $5 everyone will be happy. The customers will have a reason to keep on playing your game and the waiting time between content will be reduced. For the publishers, it's pure profit, there…

Mirrors Edge - Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fastest of them all?

In the near future all of our networks are monitored by a totalitarian government. I'd personally start encrypting all my traffic with 512 bit protocols. Others might start using carrier pigeons. Apparently the men of the future opt to use runners to distribute information. Probably because DICE didn't feel like making pigeon game. 

You are playing Faith, a runner who is discovering the secrets of the regime and is getting high on their Top Ten most wanted list. She'll run from the cops, save her sister, run even more and of course, save the world. The story is told with nicely animated cutscenes but it failed however to keep me really interested. It all felt like something that's just there to sew all the levels together.

The designers opted to choose for a first person experience. This is a bold decision as most platform games are played in third person (think Prince of Persia, Tomb Raider). Melee fighting is also difficult to pull of in first person.  It took me a …