MS Developing At Least One New “Core” Title

By Jim Rossignol on August 30th, 2010 at 9:55 am.


Microsoft have been saying that they’re getting back on track with the PC, after years of letting things slide in favour of their TV-box. Evidence of this is to be seen – apparently – in GFWL, but also in the arrival of Fable 3 on PC, and the relaunch of Age Of Empires as an online game. VG247 report that there’s even more going on behind the scenes, too. They spoke to Microsoft Game Studios GM Dave Luehmann while at GamesCom, and he had this to say about MS bringing out games that would support the traditional PC gamer habit of buying hefty hardware: “There are other products, and I can think of one in particular, that will really encourage that type of behaviour,” he later went on to say: “Think of it as a barrier to entry. So, there’s a cost barrier to entry, there’s a hardware requirement barrier to entry. Using web games as an example, think about that funnel, from very, very casual to core MMO players. How do you bring your customers into a funnel, into a relationship with a company and then give them lots of different product offerings?”

I’ve no idea, but did he say “core MMO”? Hmm. Speculating cap on, folks. What core MMO could MS possibly be developing?

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88 Comments »

  1. myros says:

    MS Flight MMO of course.

  2. blargh says:

    uuuugh. i hope this doesn’t mean flight will be an mmo. but uugh regardless.

  3. Kali says:

    As of today, I own exactly 0 games that use Games for Windows Live, and unless there is an extremely must-have title that comes out using GFWL, I will continue to avoid any game using it.

    It is a horrible, immersion breaking, badly themed, slow, game-breaking cancer almost on par with Ubisoft’s always-on DRM and I will not touch anything marred by its presence.

    • Brumisator says:

      Batman: Arkham Asylum was GOTY last year…

      But I agree GFWL is a crime against humanity.

    • Kali says:

      @Brum

      Played a demo and wasn’t too impressed with it, to be fair.

      Skipped it because of GFWL.

    • AndrewC says:

      Maybe you should get a 360 too? It’s pretty cheap now, there’s lots of good games on it, like Batman: AA, and its operating system is very slick.

      Yep, I reckon that’s the solution.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      @frightlever: I don’t think any game uses cloud saves on GfWL. But never mind that, who thought it was a good idea to put copy-protection on the sodding save games in the first place?

    • StingingVelvet says:

      If you turn off all notifications and use offline profiles it becomes invisible and, singleplayer-wise at least, is not DRM.

      For those reasons I find it hard to hate it.

    • Bloodloss says:

      Seeing GFWL on a game actually makes me happy. I like it. I especially like how it integrates with your Xbox Live profile and shares achievements etc that way. The main thing stopping it from being really good, and a great way to keep in touch with your friends on the 360 and PC and what they’re upto gaming wise, is people who don’t know what they’re talking about whining about it because it’s the cool thing to do. It does have some issues that need to be ironed out, but calling it a cancer is ridiculous.

    • CharmingCharlie says:

      @ StingingVelvet – since when has GFWL not been DRM ?

      “Microsoft is adding some fresh piracy prevention tools to Games for Windows Live. While the details were sketchy, it’s been reported that a new server-based login scheme is being added and it will be mandatory – just like with Steam. They call this nifty thing “zero-day” anti-piracy scheme. Sure, if it’s not too bad and lets you take your game and play it on multiplayer computers (one at a time of course) then we don’t see a problem with it. ”

      http://www.altplusf4.com/index.php/200903241548/PC-News/games-for-windows-live-gets-anti-piracy-system-drm-crazy.html

      That sounds like DRM to me, there is also another DRM scheme in GFWL which limits you to 15 activations and after that you cannot activate the game

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      @CharmingCharlie: There’s also the Steam-style “you have to be logged into your account and that’s it” activation as well now, not just the limited one. They do give developers a sliding scale of stupidity, letting them decide how much of the game requires an online connection.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      Every GFWL game I own, which is a lot, allows you to play with an offline profile without ever activating it. That means the singleplayer is DRM-free. A lot of people seem to miss this, as it pressures you to make an online profile, but the option to do otherwise is there.

      I have this discussion on every forum I post on because people don’t seem to know about it. Trust me, I play them all offline and never activate them.

      For multiplayer it is DRM, but then that’s pretty normal and matters little to me.

    • Freud says:

      “Every GFWL game I own, which is a lot, allows you to play with an offline profile without ever activating it. That means the singleplayer is DRM-free. A lot of people seem to miss this, as it pressures you to make an online profile, but the option to do otherwise is there.”

      Don’t you need to be logged into GFWL to save the game in single player? I think it worked that way for Arkham Asylum.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      The one GFWL game I can think of that I’ve played (aside from the DOW2 demo) was Red Faction: Guerilla.

      I was unable to even play RF:G until I installed xliveless. I couldn’t get to the main menu screen.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      @ Freud

      Yes, you have to be logged into Live to save, but you can be logged into an offline profile you never activated online.

      Batman was actually one of the few games I tested with my ethernet cord unplugged to satisfy some people on another forum. That game has no DRM what-so-ever past a disc check.

    • Vinraith says:

      Yes, you have to be logged into Live to save, but you can be logged into an offline profile you never activated online.

      However, if you make the mistake of activating an offline profile online, all save games associated with it become inaccessible and any progress you’ve made in said games is lost.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      “Every GFWL game I own, which is a lot, allows you to play with an offline profile without ever activating it.”

      That doesn’t somehow make it okay to limit the number of activations when you DO activate. (Especially when, as Vinraith points out, you can say goodbye to your save-games.) Seriously, what is the point, then? No protection against any sort of piracy, but legit users get screwed. And there’s also the fact that older keys aren’t game-specific, so a pirate can use a single key to go online with a whole bunch of titles.

      Offline play is DRM-free, so what. Grab a cracked exe off wherever, and you get the same, without having to deal with the most idiotic form of DRM ever devised.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      I’m not praising GFWL or anything, I find it to be lacking for sure, I am just saying it’s hard to hate it when it’s essentially DRM-free for me.

    • Collic says:

      @ Vinrath, I absolutely hate GFWL (the only game I ever bought with it was fallout 3), but I seem to remember with that one, after a little searching, you could find the save files locally and copy them over into a new profile. They may have changed that knowing how obnoxious GFWL is, but I thought I’d mention it.

  4. Choca says:

    Microsoft’s history with MMO : announce something, cancel said thing three month later.

    Fun.

  5. negativedge says:

    Fucking christ I hate corporate analyst talk.

    “funnel [them] into a relationship with the company”

    are we talking about some kind of contraceptive here?

  6. Kadayi says:

    A reflection perhaps of the 360 having peaked? Sure Kinect is due, but everyone seems very cool about that (save perhaps for Dance Central).

    • Delusibeta says:

      I thought it was Children of Eden that everyone approved of? Then again, it’s coming to the PS3 (and the Wii will more than likely see a version) and it’s developed by (shock, horror, gasp) Ubisoft

    • StingingVelvet says:

      I have nightmares that Kinect will actually sell a ton, despite all the bad press and indifference. It seems like everything the internet agrees sucks before launch still is massively successful.

    • Kadayi says:

      @StingingVelvet

      I got the impression that a lot of games journalists were fairly ‘cool’ about it. Sure it doesn’t require a controller to function, but effectively it’s just another Wii and that’s kind of died a death in a lot of ways with 3rd party titles largely bombing. Sure, it will probably sell ok, but it’s questionable if after the initial novelty honeymoon period it retains longterm developer interest.

  7. rocketman71 says:

    Ohhhh, intrigue, mistery… What respected franchise will Microsoft sodomize this time?.

  8. Brumisator says:

    Apple cores.

  9. Patrick says:

    Halo MMO reborn? :)

  10. O.G.N says:

    Mechwarrior the MMO would be nice.

  11. subedii says:

    Let me know when the actually make some real improvements to GFWL.

    Because all this? This is pretty much the same stuff they said last time around when they wanted to make their “big” push with GFWL.

    Shortly before making some half-hearted moves and then dumping it again.

    • Zogtee says:

      How many years have MS said they’re returning to the PC now? It’s a couple , I’m sure, and yet nothing happens. Except for GFWL, which was more like a kick to the balls than anything else.

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    I wonder about the Halo MMO, actually. I mean, they’ve already had one crack at it, so the intention is there.

    • subedii says:

      I’m not exactly keen on grinding for my lvl40 Epic Warthog here.

      To be honest, I’d be more impressed (and it’d be a more meaningful move on their part) if they’d just port Halo: Reach over. And not two years late. And exclusive only to Windows 7 for some inexplicable reason.

      Halo: Reach + upgrades to the GFWL system could really be what MS needs if they want to make a real push with GFWL. In particular, combine it with cross-platform play if at all possible, so that the playerbase is there, and won’t just shrink and die within a month. Limit cross-platform to gamepads only if you really have to.

      It could really show off GFWL’s strong points. TS matchmaking (assuming it doesn’t end up the stupid system they implemented in DoW2), cross-platform play, some upgrades to allow decent chat (and PTT by default). MS has the resources and the capability to make that push if they want to.

      Unfortunately, I suspect they don’t want to.

    • Kadayi says:

      Unless they could offer a cross platform play space I don’t see that as a goer Jim as it would basically be a kick in the teeth to the existing 360 halo fanbase (now go buy a PC you chumps), and probably weaken the 360 as a platform from a sales perspective given the general attitude is now that if you own a 360 and a PC your best off getting the PC version (bye bye to all that licensing money MS). Plus we’ve all heard the horror stories of how they investigated cross platform multi-player with Halo (or TF2) and the 360 players got comprehensively pulverized by the M&K brigade.

  13. robrob says:

    Oh, me! Me! Please Microsoft, encourage my behaviours! Bring me into your funnel! Gosh I am just dying to enter a relationship with lots of different product offerings! What a wonderful company!

  14. Tei says:

    Microsoft is like a dog, that bark and follow all cars, but can’t focus on one enough time.

    I have a hard time understanding W.T.F. is this representative talking about.

    And Microsoft is like a awnful Ex that you know is bad for you, and always, always lie.

  15. Navagon says:

    GFWL could only ever be considered an assault on PC gaming. Or at least a severe molestation.

    As for what Luehmann was saying; he needs to lay off the medication. Trying to read something into that is like trying to learn the meaning of life from a lunatic as he talks in his sleep.

  16. Jacques says:

    Please, please, please let it be another Battletech game.

  17. Kid A says:

    Halo MMO.
    Third person WoW clone, have to register a GFWL account and pay the sub in MSPoints.
    Everyone just rolls Spartan Shaman.

  18. Shadowcat says:

    Microsoft can pretty much fuck right off at this point. They’re like a damned yo-yo when it comes to PC gaming, announcing their ‘renewed commitment’ to the platform one moment, making their successful internal dev teams redundant the next, and then announcing how massively keen they are on the whole thing a few minutes later.

    Our memories are not that short. We do actually remember that you constantly swing back and forth on this (or certainly have done so ever since deciding you wanted in on the console market). Your assurances are therefore not only next-to-meaningless at this stage, but they are actively irritating to read, given the near-certainty that this will not actually be a lasting decision.

    So here’s an idea: make PC games, or don’t. Just fucking decide which one it’s going to be once and for all, and either way stop announcing your bloody commitment (or lack thereof), because that is really really pissing me off.

    • Commissar says:

      100% correct and well said.

    • oceanclub says:

      Bravo sir.

      P.

    • Kadayi says:

      I think fundamentally their problem is that they are trying to manage the needs of supporting a hardware platform as well as cater to the PC audience, which from a business perspective is kind of daft given it’s effectively a competing platform. In a lot of ways they’d have been better off making all their 360 titles wholly exclusive like Sony does and just sticking to their guns. I guess it says a lot about the spiralling cost of games development that they are bringing Fable III to the PC. I’m kind of surprised they haven’t ported 2 to the PC in the interim though, if nothing more than to secure some pre Fable III sales.

  19. Tei says:

    Maybe this dude is talking about that Age of Empires MMO?, that one probably needs GPU acceleration beyond what a weaksauce Intel graphic card can produce (hence: “core MMO”).

    “core” = GPU with Shaders 3, DX10 support, and power to really use these things.
    “casual” = anything below.

    (note: you have never seen this definition of casual and core, I just invented it to flesh this dude opinion).

  20. chokoladenudlen says:

    WoW: World of Windowcleaners.
    An immersive MMO in which you must battle the elements: wind, rain & Blizzard(s) to clean the tower of your master, the dreaded Wizard/Warlock/Stripper/whatever…

    Fantastic new gameplay mechanics include the ability to move your windowcleaning-cart not just up, but also back down again! (Once your character reaches a certain level, that is).
    And, for a small micropayment fee, you may also gain the ability to move sideways! Allowing you to out-polish your opponents by reaching those pesky windows first!

  21. coldwave says:

    core MMO

    MMO core

    Mmocore

    Emocore

  22. Phinor says:

    Microsoft’s idea of core these days is pretty much the same as our idea of casual. Expecting anything is just deceiving yourself.

  23. jalf says:

    I’m willing to bet 20 bucks they’ll cancel it before release. I’m not sure how they’re expecting that to be profitable, but so far, it has seemed to be the central part of their in-house game development strategy.

  24. binni says:

    “Funnel” and “Funneling” are the worst 2 buzzwords in the gaming industry right now. I hear them all the time.

  25. icupnimpn2 says:

    “Think of it as a barrier to entry.”

    That is a really, really bizarre thing to say when you’re describing effects on your customer base. In the business world, “barrier to entry” specifically evokes Porter’s Five Forces. “Barriers to entry” are spoken of in reference to how a company can keep another company from competing in the same space. Does Microsoft think of its customers as its competition? If so, that might explain some of the company’s behavior over the last decade.

  26. destx says:

    Calling it now, it’s going to be a MS Comic Chat MMO.

  27. Alabaster Crippens says:

    You know what I’d like to see?

    An Outwars MMO. Just because I loved gliding in that game.

    Jetpacks and gliders: Things I want more of.

  28. Fazer says:

    If Microsoft thinks PC gaming is about “hefty hardware”, then:
    - they think they don’t have to optimise their games,
    - the’re doing it wrong.

  29. Harlander says:

    Microsoft still own the computer games license for Shadowrun, don’t they?

    I’m not sure whether that bodes well or ill…

  30. Merc says:

    I understand all the negativity towards Microsoft…but what if they are actually developing…

    FREELANCER 2.

    If that’s the case, consider me sold. (Without all the GFWL crap)

  31. Jimbo says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily read that as Microsoft working on a ‘core MMO’, just that he recognizes the people playing those games are one end of the spectrum of customers that he needs to get into his funnel. So to speak.

    I’m more interested in whatever he is referencing when he talks about needing to upgrade your PC. Unless X720 is coming out next year or something (not gonna happen), I can’t think of any game they could develop, fitting that description, that would make sense for them to develop.

    When they show me something that doesn’t look like Zynga made it, I’ll listen to what they have to say.

  32. TomSmizzle says:

    Viva Pinata MMO.
    Please please please, a Viva Pinata MMO.

  33. Taillefer says:

    Games company: “So, what we’re doing is making some really exciting games that we think a lot of gamers will enjoy. People will be able to see our dedication to the platform through the quality of our titles and keenly anticipate our next release.”

    Microsoft: “So, what we want to do is stick our customers in a funnel and offer them our products.”

    At least he’s honest, I guess?

  34. Hmm says:

    So, Microsoft will not make single player PC games anymore? Age of Empires ONLINE, Flight might as well turn out to be an MMO too, this talk about microtransactions and so on…

    Sheesh, why not keep your games multiplayer oriented, but at the same time create solid sp experiences for those who are interested?
    I bought Starcraft 2 for single player, yet often find myself playing with other people. Why? Because I’ve been shown a carrot instead of being told “sorry, multiplayer only”. I never would have bought the game if it didn’t have a campaign.

  35. rollermint says:

    Battletech MMO and its all water under the bridge, Msoft :)

  36. terry says:

    Tenner on Age of Empires/Wonders/Gravel.

  37. StingingVelvet says:

    I don’t really consider MMOs to be core games. I mean, I know WoW has a ton of hardcore players, so it depends on how you define the “core gaming audience,” but for MMOs are very casual in that it’s all about clicking for loot and having a better looking avatar. The only truly open and core MMOs are all old, like Ultima Online.

    That’s just my perspective though, of course.

    In short I would expect an MMO from Microsoft, just like I expected the kind of shitty Farmville clone that is Age of Empires Online. It makes sense for them to do casual and PC only experiences on the PC, while keeping their core games on Xbox.

    To impress me they need to make a real RPG or FPS game for the PC form the ground up, and the chances of that happening at very, very slim.

  38. Abe says:

    @Delusibeta

    Don’t worry, it’s being developed by Q Entertainment; Ubisoft is only publishing it.

  39. subedii says:

    So as opposed to the constant negativity, I thought I’d list out some ideas one how MS could actually improve things.

    - Give GFWL its own standalone client : Seriously, it’s been what, three years now?

    - Allow users to connect to both XBL and GFWL simultaneously : You make a big deal about how this is all supposed to be one unified platform that enhances your experience. Instead of making things more inconvenient as they are now, prove it

    - Give real support to cross-platform play : This is supposed to be MS’s biggest trump card, and yet they canned additional support because it reflects poorly on the 360? That’s stupid, there are a number of ways you could solve those problems and still maintain a level playing field. Or even simply allow cross-platform play for co-op. Something.

    - Give GFWL native Push-to-talk support : This is another of those stupid things that simply got ported over wholesale from XBL without thought. PTT has been standard on PC games since PC games have even had voice coms. It’s simple to fix, you should have fixed it a long time ago.

    - For that matter, fix mic support so that it actually works properly, because whenever I’ve tried to use GFWL for voice coms, it comes off as a staticy mess and we end up having to use Steam chat or Vent instead.

    - Use an intelligent implementation of TS matchmaking : Because what you did with DoW2 was the worst idea for matchmaking I’ve seen. Seriously, you want new people to get into the online game, in DoW2, your first 50 odd games are matched against super-high level players whilst the system “figures out” that you’re new to the game. How many new people are actually going to stick around for that kind of pummelling?

    - Drop the MS Points requirement : If I want to buy DLC off of Steam, I don’t need to purchase a bulk quantity of 1000 Newell Points for a 560 Newell Point game. I pay the actual amount, in actual money. It’s a stupid means of nickel and diming people, and we’re not so thick that we don’t understand that.

    - Drop the month-long certification process : This is a ridiculous hurdle to patching online games, and it had terrible effects for DoW2 online. Instead of being able to push out rapid, incremental patches, Relic were instead forced to push out mega-patches with huge sweeping changes, and at intervals of several months between each one. And the problem with mega-patches instead of incremental changes is that they typically break the balance as much as they fix it. Even for minor changes and fixed you had to wait months on end. For comparison, in its first month, Supreme Commander 2 (Steamworks game) pushed out more patches in one month than DoW2 could even manage in six or eight months. And some were really significant patches too.

    - Region Support Lockout : This has to go. If someone registers their game in a country that is not “officially” supported by GFWL, then they simply aren’t allowed to play online. It’s stupid, and there’s no reason for it.

    All this, and I’m not even talking about what they could do to compete with Steam’s community system yet. Because they don’t need to right now. They just need to get the basics right first.

    Anything I’ve missed out?

  40. AlabasterSlim says:

    Microsoft just isn’t relevant in the PC Games space anymore. With companies like Valve, Stardock, D2D, and Blizzard blazing a trail why do we need a tired old monolith to clomp around and destroy what we hold dear? Just admit it Microsoft, you’re invested completely in the Xbox 360 and you really have no interest in PC Gaming at all. The sooner you let go, the sooner we can all move on and be happier for it.

  41. Jimmy says:

    I couldn’t careless about MS and their PC initiatives. They’ve done nothing positive for the PC platform (GFWL, making developers redundant, etc). Also, i find their IP i.e. Halo, Alan Wake, Gears of War, Forza 3, etc to be mediocre nonsense.

    It’s one of the many reasons i refuse to buy a 360, their IP just doesn’t do it for me, personally.

  42. Dawfydd says:

    Oh that would be so, so sweet.
    Whilst the free re-release of MW4: Mercs by MekTek has been a breath of fresh air (More mechs for single player? Yes please!), the lack of a proper, PC based MW game since 2002 has left an appreciable hole in the PC game lineup. Hell, I’d even have settled for PC conversions of the old X-Box Mech Assault games. At the very least they moved the in-game timeline forward from where it was in the MW4 games….

  43. DXN says:

    How do you bring your customers into a funnel, into a relationship with a company and then give them lots of different product offerings?”

    Where did MS hire this guy? Obviously if you want to bring your customers into a funnel and then give them lots of different product offerings, you have to enclose the customer/retailer square in a porous marketing barrier that outflows the core brand direction seamlessly with integrated progress markers, and invert the typical customer-brand suspension in the same direction as it was. Then it’s just a case of releveraging external development hooks through a core viral seeding strategy, and then you can pretty much do whatever you want and it’ll galvanise the outlaid customer-relationship scaffolding into a solid symbiosis framework of mutual customer-brand co-excitement. Then, bam, so much revenue you will actually be crushed into a tiny, extremely rich point of highly-condensed energy/matter.

  44. perilisk says:

    “So, there’s a cost barrier to entry, there’s a hardware requirement barrier to entry.”

    There’s a “avoids GFWL like the plague” barrier to entry…

  45. Rii says:

    What he said.

  46. vader says:

    Do I have to change my facebook status to “in a relationship” now?

  47. The Sombrero Kid says:

    this is marketing speak, the core game designed to push the hardware (which is what he was on about then) is Fable 3 and the mmo is age of empires, he wants to make it sound like theres more in his hard than there actually is.

  48. Tumerok says:

    *cough* Asherons Call *cough*

  49. Po0py says:

    I thought of that too but it would actually require some effort on Microsoft’s part so it’s anybody’s guess.

  50. dingo says:

    Hm it’s certainly interesting to see how a big company like MS is drifting in different directions and contradicts itself quite some time.
    As other people pointed out right now no PC gamer cares about MS besides being offended by all the nonsense they usually fling in our direction when asked for PC ports (Alan Wake etc.).
    They simply burned those bridges and realize now what they did.

    I’m speculating that maybe they fear that Kinect will not fly but instead bomb hard.
    That would leave them with an aging console and little else.
    By diverting their core audience at least partially back to PC they could continue running the Xbox 360 until Sony makes the move to the next generation and then follow suit.

    However they won’t be able to get a foot into the door unless they offer some real kickass shit for the PC (Gears, Halo, Alan Wake and this time DECENT ports).
    I’m pretty skeptical that they can do this.

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