All About Gamakarmica
If any of you haven't heard about this hack, which is likely you haven't since no games websites are actually covering this, what happens is someone breaks into your account via FIFA 12 and uses your points on hand and your credit card/debit card to purchase Ultimate Team packs for its Ultimate Team mode.
Well, last month, I was one of those lucky accounts. And after about 38 days of my account being held from Microsoft to prove if it indeed has been broken into, they finally refunded my points, cash and given me free Gold membership to boot.
With that comes a really strange dilemma: I had about 4400 MP and already used 1200 MP to buy NBA Jam: On Fire Edition. The question for me is: What next? I waited to see if any Black Friday deals would be worth a shot and, surprise, none of them were. I've created a list of games I've been curious about and I'm asking for you guys to give me a hand in choosing some titles. Here are a few I thought of:
Orcs Must Die!
Burgertime: World Tour
or if there are any others you can think of, I'd love to hear it.
When the whole intrusion happened, a game called Dungeon Defenders was released and, ironically enough, I was going to use my points to get it. However, after waiting a whole week and getting impatient, I decided to get it on PS3. And so far, I've enjoyed it a lot.
However, there are some problems with this game that I can't help but feel it completely missed the mark.
The lack of customization of your characters is just unfortunate, because the compulsive need to improve in this game is one of the most enjoyable aspects of this game and its hampered by it's lack of visual feedback.
The other is the multiplayer looting/mana distribution, In a word: horrible. There is no way to need/greed on any items in this game nor to evenly distribute mana or loot to people on the map, which is such a grave oversight.
I love to play more of this game, but I think I'll end up playing multiplayer with people I know now, not with strangers. Any of you care to jump in?
Every gaming year that passes, certain types of things happen that end up being themes that define the time at large. Last year, the main themes were "Will anything be better than Mass Effect 2?" "Nintendo does it again with the 3DS!" and "Stories in games that rival cinema (i.e. Red Dead Redemption, Heavy Rain)".
It's almost funny that after such a positive year last year, the industry seems to takenmore downtrotten themes this year: "Yikes, what happened to the 3DS?" "It seems like everything is going free-to-play..." and "What the hell? Another game with an online pass?!"
Mind you, Online Access Passes have been going on for a couple of years now, starting with the "Project Ten Dollar" strategy by EA with their sports titles. However, little by little, other companies have implimented their own versions of Project Ten Dollar, whether by locking certain content away (online access to multiplayer or in the case of Batman: Arkham City, a whole section of the single-player campaign) or by giving access and means to enhance the users experience by DLC at a discount (Forza Motorsport 4; Gears of War 3) or given a completely new game to download (Alice: Madness Returns). Some, recently, used DLC as a means just to release a cheaper retail title and supplement the game with DLC sales (MX vs. ATV: Alive).
Originally, the Online Pass was used to "recoup costs by maintainingservers for the online portion of the game' and thus were justified in a way of doing so. Now, it's become a full blown business model that at first was intended to battle used sales markets, but are now just a means to increase revenue.
Yet, even with this access pass, something seems amiss. Why are certain games simply giving the option of DLC (Gears of War 3) for keepingconsumers with the game, while others (Homefront) are capping their online access without a pass or outright blocking it (Resistance 3)?
The simpliest answer: Because the game companies releasing those games known they will not get the sales needed to recoup the costs of their investment.
Certain games have been blocking key features from consumers who don't pay new simply because they know they what people will want to play and what people will ignore. Case in point: Resistance 3. Resistancein the past has been a very good seller for the Sony Playstation brand. Yet, the game series and it's company, Insomniac games, have been taking some hard credibility hits due to its highly disappointing Resistance 2, which sold relatively well at first, but then dropped off quickly due to a less than strong online community and a lackluster single player campaign.
Knowing this, Sony had to make a few insurable decisions: First was to guarantee that the amount of money spent maintaining servers will be comparable to the amount of people who will play the game thus not overspending on those servers so they can utilize the sales in other areas and not hemmorage them for online services.
On the business side, this was probably a good idea: Resistance 3 only sold 180,000 on its initial release, which barring a minor Christmas miracle, will only drop as the weeks go on this busy season. That being said, Sony has already recouped the money of those shipped units via the retailers buying those units in bulk.
Odds are, however, both Insomniac and Sony aren't making money with the initial sales of the game. 180K in units adds up to just about $10.8M in sales that retailers have recouped.
Let's say retailers in total have purchased in bulk 500K in units in September. That basically means Sony has already made roughly $30M with the sale of those units. However, if those retailers don't sell those units, what are the odds of them reordering more? Pretty slim, unless Sony agrees to sell those items bulk at a steeper discount, which could cut in the profit margins of Sony.
If Sony was anticipating this, then they have already allotted that budget for server maintenance in tandem with units sold. Thus, the online pass is needed in case of Online sales. Here's a strange factor no one puts into the debate of used sales: distributors do save money due to the use of used sales and, thanks to the online pass structure, actually PROFIT from used sales.
This is due to the lessening costs of disc pressing and unit management. And you also can bet that game companies do anticipate used game sales on their docket when they forecast their sales.
So, why is the use of an online pass system where blocking content is an admission to failure? Mainly because the company producing the game is anticipating lackluster sales or the off-chance that the sales they are producing WILL NOT cover the costs of its development. With the rumors that the Resistance series will no longer be continuing after 3, anticipation with this game hasn't been exactly high and pre-orders weren't filling up either as a barometer of potential sales growth.
Thus, another sickening albeit sobering fact: Pre-order sales may actually have an effect on whether a studio may implement an Online Pass structure and exactly how it will be implemented. Gears of War 3 is providing an optional "Season Pass" to get discounts on DLC in order to incentivize you to keep your game and we all know that GoW3 had an outstanding amount of pre-orders prior to its launch.
On the opposite end, let's look at Bulletstorm. Word of mouth buzz was okay, but it was a new IP that was affectionately being called "Ouch My Balls: The Game". So, as you can pretty much guess, pre-orders weren't exactly coming through and as such, a month and a half to two months before launch, an online pass structure was announced that blocked the multiplayer portion of the game. After projecting that sales for Bulletstorm could break 4.5M, Epic then recended and said they saw no profit from the game after initial sales only made 300K.
This is by no means saying that games who have restrictive online passes won't be successful. Battlefield 3 seems to be primed to getting good sales this year and Batman: Arkham City seems to be poised to making a lot of cash as well (although calling the pass restrictive is a little inaccurate, since you can still complete the entirety of the game). But, if you really take a look at the reasoning why some games have the pass and why some don't, it is simply a matter of dollars that they were anticipating to lose, not dollars they are neglecting to make.
You know...I try to remain optimistic withsports games when it comes to a new edition of a franchise. Sure, 99% of the time they make incremental changes with very little difference from the previous year except for roster changes, but I still look forward to some gems, since sports games have the great capibility to be the most technically sound and addictive games on the market.
And with that, we go to the recent release of MLB 11: The Show. The Show, in its core, is a technically sound game of baseball with very little wrong with the overall product. That being said, nothing really has changed with the game since MLB 08 and since then it's grown a tad stale in my eyes.
MLB 11 comes with a few refinements and changes to the overall control scheme. MLB 11 introduces to the series Analog Pitching, Hitting and Fielding. MLB 2K has toyed with this type of control for the past few iterations, with mixed results, but The Show seems to relatively get it right on its first try.
Basically, in order to pitch, you have to pull the right stick back to set the power, while pushing it forward in a specific direction to dictate placement. With hitting, simply swing the stick back and forth in a fluid motion to swing the bat. Last, with fielding, simply move the stick to the direction you want to throw it in, hold it in for power and accuracy then let go at the right time.
Now, again, all of these controls work very well. The only problem, which is a big one: It still feels like the same game. When FIFA introduced new controls and features, it changed the way the game is played. As did NBA 2K and the NHL series from EA. The Show, however, doesn't feel like a new game at all. In fact, you can revert it back to the old controls and it plays and feels exactly the same.
The only new feature that deserves minor props is the Home Run Derby, which features Playstation Move support. Unfortunately, there is very little feedback to how you are actually swinging, so it's a party novelty at best.
All in all, if you really like The Show, get it and you'll enjoy it all the same. It's just that...the same.
Coming up in reviews will be Homefront, Full House Poker and Torchlight. Sorry for the short blog!
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