The Sunday Papers

By Jim Rossignol on October 2nd, 2011 at 9:36 am.


Sundays are for nervously reading the Sunday Papers, and thinking about what might appear in them. Oh well, worse things happen at sea. Let’s have a look at all the things that can only happen in videogames.

  • It’s a big one to start: Eurogamer ask the question “How Bad is PC Piracy Really?” The answer, perhaps unsurprisingly, is that no-one really knows. Here’s Capcom’s Christian Svensson: “We looked at quantifying what the real losses are,” says Christian Svensson of the PC Gaming Alliance and Capcom, “and it’s incredibly hard to do, because you end up having to do a set of cascading assumptions that you have no real ability to validate in any meaningful away.” More insightfully, there are a lot of good points made about how and why companies choose to use DRM, but I think it’s Guillaume Rambourg from GoG who sums my feels up best: “”Piracy is some kind of ghost enemy, and chasing a ghost enemy is a pure waste of time and resources. The only way really is to make the whole gaming experience easy, convenient and rewarding for the users – this is the only way to fight against piracy.”
  • Speaking of Eurogamer, and of DRM solutions, here’s Digital Foundry doing their tech analysis thing on OnLive.
  • On a much lighter note, Ste Curran, the brain behind Chime, points out this blog of food based on videogame recipes, including sandvich. I am even going to try some of them. Curran is also looking for a developers for secret projects, if you’re free and idle.
  • Keeping with the frivolousness, here’s Kotaku’s instructional feature on how to spell important videogame sound-effects. I’d debate a few of these, to be honest. But then I am very sad.
  • Bizarre rant from Mike Bowden on VG247, where he asks videogames to stop making him learn, so that he can get on with the “experience”. I agree that game experiences should be better and easier to access, but I think Bowden is missing the point about how games work here. It’s not whether they make you learn, but whether they make you want to learn. The best game tutorials are the ones you don’t notice, not necessarily the ones where you don’t need to master anything. What Bowden is bumping against are the games that are bad teachers, and don’t reward you well enough for you to want to figure out how they work. (And arguably some of the best game experiences are only fun while you are figuring out how they work, anyway, but that’s a secondary argument.)
  • I’m pretty sure Kieron added this link to the SP document because he gets namechecked in it, but the point it makes about how games are named is nevertheless interesting: “VVVVVV hides its flipping mechanic in plain sight with that repeated letter V. Viridian’s navigation of the world sees him thrown from floor to ceiling and back again, over and over. His forward momentum (although you’ll move in all directions) completes the tracing of this wave.”
  • Tim Rogers writes a long, long, long piece entitled “Who Killed Videogames?” And it’s the best thing he’s written in ages. The gist of it: “To put it most bluntly — and this is only a theory — videogames killed videogames. As is often the case with this kind of senseless cold-blooded murder, the finger on the trigger belonged to a videogame-psychosis born of the worst qualities of game design. They are the qualities most ready to be studied: that players like (maybe-)you or me can’t progress to the next dungeon in The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past unless we’re going in with 999 rupees; if we don’t have 999 rupees, we are going to go to the nearest cluster of bushes and hack them down until we do. When a psychiatrist looks at videogames, he’s not going to appreciate the fineness of the sprite art; he’s going to find the elements that get stuck in the brain.”
  • Deltagamer charts the history of the Call Of Duty series.
  • The Reticule interview Valve’s Chet Faliszek about CS:GO.
  • Is the Humble Indie Bundle actually a cleverly orchestrated guilt-trip? BnBGaming seems to think so.
  • Will Porter talks about why real-world meetups (like our RPS drink-o-chats) still matter to gaming communities.
  • Deleted City is an “archaeology” of Geocities, the once-thriving free hub of the internet, now defunct. It’s also a clever piece of design.
  • Me being interviewed for The Observer. I talk about Fallen City.
  • A slice of PCG’s Minecraft server rendered up all nice.
  • Also in Lego news: this amazing spooky house.
  • Music this week comes via Fullbright, who recollects the original soundtrack for Syndicate. God, I’m old.

.

156 Comments »

  1. bill says:

    That Tim Rogers thing made my head hurt… it took me ages to even find the link to the second chapter.

    Is he talking about gamification, and the way games turn us all into completionists? I gave up at some point.

    So, on a point that may well not be at all related to the article i didn’t understand:
    I’ve just started playing Mass Effect, and due to a lack of free time I’ve decided to play it “properly” instead of playing it like a gamer. I’m going to do the things that seem logical or fun to do, and i’m not going to waste time helping any random guy i don’t like.

    Is the game actually finishable like that? Or do RPGs assume we all complete all the tasks and upgrade to the max?

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Personally I saw every side mission in the Mass Effect games as a complete waste of time and resources. Taking time out to investigate a missing freighter is the equivalent of Superman stopping to lift a cat out of a tree. I’m saving the universe, bitch. Get outta’ my way.

    • bill says:

      Oh, but i sound all negative – so i’ll say that I get where Mike Bowden is coming from.

    • Flappybat says:

      I closed it when I realised I had been tricked into reading a Tim Rogers piece.

    • Premium User Badge

      Man Raised by Puffins says:

      Is the game actually finishable like that?

      Yup. It’s probably the best way to play Mass Effect too, a lot of those sidequests are just so much tedious busywork.

    • Burning Man says:

      It depends if you’re referring to ME1 or ME2. ME1 is meant to be played through the way you’re suggesting, with focus on the main story and side missions as apertifs. If you’re referring to gameplay difficulty then I’m not entirely sure, but buying a big enough gun and hiding long enough should help your cause. ME2 however, requires you to enjoy all the little side missions it features, because it simply isn’t a main story game. You’ll never have a problem with gameplay, as long as you hide for long enough and throw enough biotics at your opponents.

    • Bayonetto says:

      That Tim Rogers thing made my head hurt… it took me ages to even find the link to the second chapter.

      For anyone else who may encounter the same problem. You will find the link to the second chapter at the bottom of the first chapter, saying “Next Chapter”.

    • Shooop says:

      White text on a black background isn’t popular for a good reason. Most sites use off-black when they want light text/dark BG combinations.

      My head swam a bit with all the information being thrown at it, but the biggest problem was it was just hard to read because of a stupid design mistake.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Burning Man covered the main differences in ME1 and ME2, and I’d just add the following:

      In ME1 you can ignore the side missions, which are mostly boring and samey, and you’ll get real tired of driving that ATV around. However the endgame boss battle is easier if you’ve gained enough XP to fill out most of your skill tree. But it’s not a big deal.

      In ME2, there are small filler side missions, and also longer “team loyalty” missions where you build trust with your team members. You can ignore the filler missions, but if you don’t complete the team loyalty missions it will close off the romance options (if you care about that), and it will affect who survives the big set piece at the end. At least half the game is in those side team loyalty missions, so you’ll miss a lot if you don’t complete them.

    • noclip says:

      I came away from the Tim Rogers thing with the same feeling as when I see a crazy person with a sign on a street corner making a passably cogent point.

    • malkav11 says:

      The recruitment and loyalty missions in ME2 aren’t side missions. They’re the core gameplay. They constitute something like 80% of the game content. The real side missions in that game are the throwaway little missions you can sometimes find when scanning a planet. The ones that are just a couple of slivers of context and a few bland boxy rooms full of robots or whatnot. And those are safely skippable.

    • Premium User Badge

      tirosu says:

      Tim Rogers is an acquired taste, personally, I rather enjoy his writing. Took a few 9500 word+ articles to get to that point though.

      The best distillation of how he writes: http://www.actionbutton.net/?p=645; it’s short! I promise.

    • Josh W says:

      Reading that article on social games was very uncomfortable, because I realised halfway through I was actually being done by the same mercenary psychological-ism he ambiguously decries:

      He leads off with a point, sets it up like it’s going to be this big expose, then keeps diverting, chucking in signs that he’s going to develop on a theme, but then abandoning them just as they get interesting, that’s the point, it’s not about making an interesting point, it’s about continually getting interesting “any minute now”.
      It’s a drip-feed waiting game masquerading as an article, slowly giving you a bit of what he was talking about, but always layered with a combination of self loathing and self-promotion (I hate how good I am at this).

      He’s making a point about how he left the games industry, oh, no he’s not. He’s talking about how clever he is. The title and framing device is irrelevant to the content, just evocative and good for drawing people in.

      Of course there’s content in there, and there has to be interesting bits or there’s no drip feed, they are:

      Social games are designed top down to control your time, the timings of actions are not tuned for feel by someone playing, but designed based on externally defined models. You can tell this by the fact that all the numbers divide by five, they are all first-draft numbers.

      They control your time by making you wait, and escalating that waiting time as you habituate, then offer you a shortcut for money.

      They also sometimes have a “flurry of actions” mechanic to get you to play intensely at times, which requires you to pay money to take full advantage of, because of the waiting times.

      They are also designed to be just finickity enough make you feel guilty for not playing them to the optimum level because you think they are “so easy”.

      If you’re making such a game, make waiting calming and give players light interactivity to fiddle with, just enough that they want to wait in your game’s screen rather than your competitors.

      Always check how a game designer treats his game; is he a weed dealer or a heroin dealer, does he get high on his own supply? People who won’t touch their own games should be suspicious.

      When building a currency system, get people to spend money in the tutorial stage, when they are most receptive, by giving them some for free and requiring them to spend it. Let them feel how much quicker it makes stuff, so they are more likely to use it later.

      When getting stuck in a “who wants it more” relationship game with a girl, change the topic when they’ve just lost, to something more productive.

      And the bit Jim mentioned, so he does say good stuff, but they are used in a dodgy way, to pull you along, to his blog, and probably to his book (eventually), without properly giving the implications (I had to fill a few of those out myself).

      I don’t have anything against long articles, or multipage articles, or articles with story digressions, but please writers, close your sentences (or narrative arcs), don’t just keep starting new stories and rationing out your ideas.

  2. Bull0 says:

    So we’re officially calling OnLive a DRM solution now? Just checking.

    Sounds from that interview like they are going the map-based single model per team (with some variations on that model) route with CS:GO. So if I want to get my “arctic warfare man in venice” fix I’m gonna need to stick with CS:S. :(

    • Teddy Leach says:

      The thing is, OnLive isn’t really DRM per sé. The online only aspect hasn’t been put there to prevent piracy or the like, that’s just how cloud gaming works.

    • Bull0 says:

      Yeah, exactly. It has DRM connotations, undeniably, but it isn’t “a DRM solution”, it’s a cloud gaming solution

    • Premium User Badge

      Llewyn says:

      This is down to the simple issue that a thing can be more than one thing at the same time. Certainly it was conceived as a cloud gaming platform designed to solve problems (which might be) experienced by gamers, but undoubtedly it’s now seen by some publishers at least as a DRM solution.

      Which way OnLive currently view themselves probably depends on whether good relations with those publishers are more profitable to them than good relations with other publishers and subscribers. How we might describe it probably depends on our viewpoint and which agenda we want to push at any given time ;-)

    • Bull0 says:

      No it doesn’t and no it isn’t, and don’t be so patronising. The service was created as a cloud gaming solution, so it’s a cloud gaming solution. To make it work you need an internet connection and to be connected to their servers. That is NOT the same as forcing you to arbitrarily connect to a server to establish digital rights management – the fact that it has DRM connotations, which I stated pretty clearly, is a byproduct. The fact that publishers somewhere somehow might take the idea and run with it to protect their IP doesn’t mean that’s what it was designed to do or that’s what it is doing. The difference is not just semantic.

    • malkav11 says:

      OnLive is pretty close to perfect DRM: you never get to actually touch the game because it’s not running on your system. So there is no way to crack it. As far as I know, no one has released a game exclusively for OnLive, so it isn’t operating as DRM at the moment. But they could, and it would be pretty much the worst thing ever.

      (The thing about OnLive-as-DRM, though, is that while it would be effectively impossible for an end-user to circumvent, unless they had some sort of proprietary operating system with the games coded to only run on that platform, an OnLive employee could leak the game to pirates.)

    • Bull0 says:

      Yeah definitely – it’s a publisher’s wet dream, I wasn’t trying to deny it – the point is it’s designed for and is presently being used to pursue a nobler purpose. Officially labelling OnLive “a DRM solution” is like officially labelling kitchen knives “a murder weapon”

    • Shooop says:

      I wouldn’t go that far, but it definitely does work as an anti-piracy measure. Unless you can reliably splice yourself into their servers whenever you want to play a game there’s no way to take anything from them for free they don’t offer you themselves.

    • Bull0 says:

      *edit* Oh, you meant you wouldn’t go as far as “publisher’s wet dream”. Yeah, that was a tad hyperbolic, I suppose.

    • Shuck says:

      Onlive is absolutely a “publisher’s wet dream” – or at least it represents a publishing model that is. You don’t think the developers of Onlive weren’t seeing the anti-piracy benefits of the service? I honestly don’t see how they could have gotten past the initial concept stage without that being part of how they conceived of the service and how they would sell the idea to publishers. Online/multiplayer services have always been part of the anti-piracy strategy. That something like “Battlenet” is a service that provides a benefit to users doesn’t mean it isn’t also, equally, a means of making sure players have purchased copies of the game. The “carrot” approach to DRM might be unfamiliar if you’re used to only seeing the “stick” but it’s still a DRM strategy.

    • Bull0 says:

      I think we’ve basically covered this. Kitchen knives, etc.

    • Shuck says:

      “Kitchen knife” is absolutely the wrong weapon metaphor, though. Civilian handguns are probably more apt. Although most handguns won’t actually be used to murder anyone, they’re designed to kill people, and that fact is even part of their appeal. Onlive has to be “sold” to both gamers and publishers. So half of its appeal is that it’s a form of DRM, and it’s designed that way. That function is in no way an accidental byproduct or misuse of anything else.

    • Josh W says:

      Cloud services are actually very close to DRM: Many services have moved from being produced as applications to being cloud services because of the control it gives to the service opperator. In most of the applications the processing costs are negligable, and the portability aspect irrelevent to their users. It’s simply a desire to shift to the “softwear as a service” model, and compete with google.

      But that’s oversimplifying, and just because a lot of people use cloud services for control doesn’t mean that’s all their good for obviously. Onlive could be really valuable for dense sim-y MMO games, particularly if they let you hop from device to device while still accessing the game.

  3. Drake Sigar says:

    Mike probably wouldn’t like puzzle games.

  4. JackShandy says:

    So I guess this Mike character has decided that only hardcore competitive titles exist, and that they’re crap. In passing reference, he makes mention of “The Witcher and those Bioware games”, apparently because they’re the only games in existence that aren’t about getting a high score. The article reads like a child flailing around in Starcraft and Street Fighter, unable to reach the half-meter it would take to pick up Machinarium or Passage.

    There are games out there made just for you, Mike. Try some art games! Be soothed.

    • bill says:

      You see, I totally get where he’s coming from. I’ve been feeling similar things myself (and am currently playing Machinarium and Mass Effect 1).

      When I saw the title I thought it was going to be a rant about the overly intrusive tutorial elements we get in games now, but it’s actually a rant about how gameplay hasn’t really evolved past the basic elements we’ve had for years. Of course, there are games that fall outside what he’s talking about, but as a general rule games are about:
      (a) Learning Patterns
      (b) Gaining points/powers/equipment
      (c) Repeating optimum solutions

      Bioware games are a good example, as they often appear to be trying to do something new, trying to break out of that pattern of gameplay – but they often devolve into exactly that – and it does make them repetitive. Mass Effect plays and looks nothing like Jade Empire – but they are essentially exactly the same (so far).

      games with more freedom and less game elements…

    • Bull0 says:

      bioware games aren’t really an exercise in emergent gameplay design though, are they? they’re a delivery mechanism for traditional RPG play and a story. picking on them for not breaking the mould is a bit easy

    • JackShandy says:

      Ignoring the alternatives, criticizing games on that basis still seems off to me. He’s claiming that it’s bad that he has to learn things to get better at a game – would you agree with that? He doesn’t propose an alternative, either, and I can’t really see one. Maybe he’s advocating getting better at the game purely on the basis of your in-game abilities, with no player skill involved.

      I don’t think you can really say that most modern single-player games rely on memorization of enemy spawn-points or maps. Memorization of enemy types and abilities, maybe.

    • bill says:

      Yes and no. (And remember it is merely his personal taste, not something to be imposed on others.)

      One issue is repetition and progress. For example, if you take a racing game approach:
      Race. Lose. Race. Lose. Race. Lose. Race. Lose. Race. Lose. Race. Win. Next race.
      [] Progress. Repeat.

      Compare with GTA:
      Find a car. Jump over a building. Try stealing a truck. Drive off a tall building. Fight a guy. Find a tank.
      []

      The first is learning by repetition and failure until perfection. The second is learning by play and experimentation.
      Many other “core” videogame elements tend to have similar structures to the first example:
      RPG: Grind. Grind. Grind. Level Up. Fed Ex. Fed Ex. Fed Ex. Buy shield +1.
      Shooter: Shoot. Die. Shoot. Die. Learn level. Shoot die. Learn patterns. Shoot die. Win.

      It comes from video games being “games”. And games tend to be close to “sports”. And sports tend to require effort, time, sacrifice and improvement to progress.
      Whereas, for example, movies, books, and play don’t require that.

      And so, i guess, we’re back to the eternal core issue of whether video games should be games/sports – or whether they should be entertainment/stories/art/etc.. and of course they should be both and more at different times.

      But, as gamers get older and have less free time, they tend to be less forgiving of such timewasting (ie: skill building and practice).
      The response of game companies seems to have been handholding and artifical aids, to help you through the learning process – but for me that takes the fun out of the learning, and makes it even more annoying. What would be nice would be a response of trying new approaches to game design.

    • Bull0 says:

      Nope, you’ve lost me. I haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about. Games are sports, and all gaming is just trial and error, or something. Sounds pretty loony. Certainly doesn’t sound like my experience of gaming over the last ten years or so. I don’t think I’d play shooters if they really fit the “shoot. die. shoot. die.” pattern you describe. I’m not even convinced it exists.

    • JackShandy says:

      I’m with Bull0 on this one, Bill, you’ve lost me. What kind of modern game have you been playing where you lose five times for every time you win? I can think of Super Meat Boy and Roguelikes and things, but they’re deliberately being masochistic.

      The basic Quicksave function renders that whole idea null anyway. When you can teleport to five seconds before death, rote memorization has nothing to do with your success.

      EDIT: Basically I think the error here is that Trial-and-error is by no means the only teaching method videogames use.

    • Dervish says:

      Mike can’t be expected to look beyond the newest and shiniest products. He has a family and a life. Stop alienating him.

    • Consumatopia says:

      My problem with that article is that he’s clearly expressed what he doesn’t want in games–a test of his memorization skills and reflexes. But he hasn’t expressed what he does want. Maybe he doesn’t know–in which case he shouldn’t be playing video games.

    • EliteGamer says:

      I really didn’t get Mike’s point. I can understand wanting games to be more intuitive and less arbitrary or not being a fan of jumping through hoops, but isn’t mastering new and different systems half the point of a game? He doesn’t want to get familiar with the game and he doesn’t want his reflexes tested so uhhh… what does he want? If you remove player knowledge and player skill, then challenge wise you’re only really left with strategizing off basic rules… and surely that would make the tasks themselves more mundane and repetitive. Also honestly isn’t “learning the best way to do something, then practicing that infinitely” a complaint you could address at literally anything? And personally I think he’s overstating how necessary it is anyway, it’s not like learning spawn points and maps is the ultimate instant-win strategy.

      Plus I have no idea where he was going with the whole ‘EXPERIENCES’ thing. Trying to put that section into more concrete terms, he’s asking for games to give him something memorable and meaningful? Well I just don’t see complex or challenging gameplay as an enemy of interesting and unique scenarios, in fact they can complement each other rather well. Or we could we be talking about narrative meaning, but if you just want a story then perhaps a game isn’t the best choice. IMO it sounds like he wants the game to roll over and let him win, but wants to still feel involved with the victory. I’ll grant that games can have tedious/repetitive/frustrating parts to them but I think it’s better to complain about those specific instances rather than damning everything.

      Also isn’t accruing in game-abilities usually a product of time, when the investment of time is something he complained about in the section immediately prior?

  5. tossrStu says:

    Oh bums, sorry, I meant to send this in for this week’s Sunday Papers: Rhodri Marsden on Minecraft. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/minecraft-if-you-build-it-they-will-play-2361873.html

    It doesn’t say anything that anybody here won’t already know, but it’s nice to see indie games getting mainstream press attention (even if it IS the behemoth that is Minecraft that’s getting the attention, although there is a nice shout-out to a few other indie games tacked on the bottom)

  6. ArcaneSaint says:

    Ubisoft is complaining that their PC sales have dropped with 90 per cent, and they’re trying to pin that on piracy*. Have they even considered the small, unlikely possibility that it’s their attitude towards PC gaming thats negatively affecting their sales? Of do they truly believe that last-minute delays and additional layers of always-on DRM is good for sales?

    *Not that piracy isn’t an issue, but in this case, c’mon.

    • Grygus says:

      DRM causes piracy. I had to pirate Mech Commander 2 just to play it; the CD wouldn’t play because of the DRM. I had to pirate Medieval II: Total War Kingdoms because Direct 2 Drive’s DRM went screwy and couldn’t return a number; their customer support struggled for two days with it, whereupon I got impatient, spent 45 seconds downloading a cracked executable, and everything was fine. I cracked the Oblivion executable because the DRM version wouldn’t allow me to use a lot of mods. That doesn’t even mention all the games I’ve cracked just so I wouldn’t have to insert the CD to play. When DRM makes the pirated version demonstrably better, it is directly counterproductive.

      The very fact that DRM is still unproven is pretty damning at this point. Unfortunately, there is a financial interest in believing that DRM is awesome. Obviously the DRM makers themselves believe that, but developers get to excuse slow or poor sales by pulling out this boogeyman, which means it behooves them to pretend to love DRM regardless of their true feelings.

      I’m not saying that piracy isn’t bad. I’m saying that if piracy is killing you, adding DRM isn’t going to help your cause at all. I’m also saying that developers are aware of all this, but financially it is safer to pretend it isn’t true.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      The thing I don’t understand is how they determine how many copies they “should have” sold.

      “We should have sold ten times as many copies of Game X.”

      And if my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a wagon.

      You make shit games, or games with shit DRM, and word gets out. People don’t buy them. Do some people pirate them? Sure. Did *every single person that you think should have purchased a copy* pirate a copy? Fuck no. They’ve got some serious delusions of grandeur if they think ten times as many people would’ve actually purchased their last several titles.

    • Kadayi says:

      “I had to pirate Mech Commander 2 just to play it; the CD wouldn’t play because of the DRM.”

      I love how ownership of the act is always one of being forced to do something. I’m fairly sure there were likely a number of solutions to addressing whatever issue you had (getting a replacement disc, updating a driver here and there) and pirating the game was merely one of them truth be told.

      “The thing I don’t understand is how they determine how many copies they “should have” sold.”

      Market research most likely coupled with analysis of current trends.

    • LuNatic says:

      Oh yes, I can imagine market research like that:

      “Umm, excuse me sir, can I ask you a question? Yes? Right, well, I’d like to know how many video games you pirate on a monthly basis please. No, no, that’s okay, just round it up to the nearest hundred, we’ll take it from there.”

      Maybe not. I would suggest the following a more likely source of their piracy figures:

      CFO: Alright chaps, this piracy business is costing us and I want to know how much?
      CEO: Right. How do we find that out then?
      Executive Producer: It’s not like they’d tell us if we asked.
      Head of Marketing: It can’t be that hard to work out. You just have to think like a geek.
      *All Shudder*
      Head of Marketing: Maybe not then. Still, I’m sure we can produce a figure. What do we know about geeks?
      CFO: They wear glasses.
      CEO: They have pimples.
      Executive Producer: They live with their parents.
      CFO: They don’t brush their hair.
      Executive Producer: They look at porn on the internet. Err, or so I’ve heard…
      Head of Marketing: Maybe we should try this differently. How many types of games are there?
      CFO: Well, lets see. There’s video games.
      CEO: My kids have a Piss.
      *All look at the CEO*
      CEO: It’s that thing from Japan, with the bowling game!
      Executive Producer: I think you mean a Wii. And those aren’t types of games. There are shooter games, role playing games, racing games, strategy games, sports games, simulator games, and action games. So that’s seven types of games.
      Lead Designer: There are indie games too!
      CEO: …you’re fired.
      Head of Marketing: So, there are seven types of games. Let’s say they play five of each every month.
      Executive Producers: Shooters are really popular, make it ten of them.
      Head of Marketing: Okay, so that’s… forty games a month then. If each game costs $100*, then that is $4000 a month. How much would a geek earn in a month?
      Executive producer: $400?
      Head of Marketing: Lets call $100 of that living expenses, which means they can buy three games a month. So they must pirate $3700 of games every month. That’s 99%!
      *CEO and CFO gasp*
      Executive producer: Actually, it’s 92.5%
      Head of Marketing: Whatever. If we sold $500,000 of games last month then they owe us…
      CFO: $6,666,666!!!
      CEO: SOMEONE CALL SONY, I NEED SECUROM NOW!!!

      *Australian pricing

    • Kadayi says:

      @LuNatic

      TL:DR

    • Bull0 says:

      ““The thing I don’t understand is how they determine how many copies they “should have” sold.”

      Market research most likely coupled with analysis of current trends.”

      /thread

    • TenjouUtena says:

      So, I know one iPhone exclusive developer who tracks piracy via phone-homes (When transmitting high scores or checking for content.) And he reports that for his company’s apps, some that were top on the app store for a while, he got somewhere between 25% and 33% pirated apps talking to the high score servers.

      They didn’t put any ‘DRM’ in in the sense that it turned you off if it figured it out, but, there are ways to actually get hard numbers on this stuff. At least sometimes.

    • Bull0 says:

      Well, if you have any kind of server->client communication at all that tracks unique clients, and you compare that to your sales numbers, you could get a pretty good idea of how many illegitimate users are out there. But when you’ve got that, it’s all too tempting to just arm it with some sort of payload to neutralize the illegitimate users, be that an activation or regular authentication or whatever, and I think by and large that’s what happens.

    • Srethron says:

      Putting everyone‘s undying love of all things publishers (and their marketing departments, especially Ubisoft’s) think and do aside, what “good enough or better” games has Ubisoft published recently? I’m not coming up with many candidates. Besides the Assassin’s Creed series of course, which itself isn’t everyone’s cup of tea plus is under threat of getting buried in a never ending sequel avalanche at this point.

      Still, I’ll be surprised if the combo of lack of games people like me are interested in, UbiDRM, delaying PC releases, a PR tone that I would describe as “hostile”, and a global recession have had zero effect on their stated 90 percent PC sales decline.

    • Srethron says:

      It’s nice that we have a similar starting point I suppose, but we go in different directions. I was primarily interested in discovering any Ubisoft-of-late titles worth buying–ones which could give me genuine confliction about my hostility toward (untoward) hostile DRM.

    • Bull0 says:

      I agree, their portfolio of games is pretty mediocre. I generally don’t play their games – AssCreeBro and the last Splinter Cell being exceptions, but I waited for a sale in both cases because I knew their irritating DRM would generally sour the experience. Their generally weak portfolio is one of the plethora of contributing factors I was alluding to in my comment, although I didn’t name any of said factors explicitly. While we’re on the subject, that’s what I meant by “said something similar” – your second paragraph is similar to my comment, not your first.

      I really, really liked the more action-oriented direction the last Splinter Cell game took though – it was my favourite of the series to date, and I’d be pretty interested in the next one if they take a similar tack. But that’s not exactly “new” – came out in 2010, which in ubisoft reporting terms was fiscal year 2009, i think.

  7. felixduc says:

    ”Piracy is some kind of ghost enemy, and chasing a ghost enemy is a pure waste of time and resources. The only way really is to make the whole gaming experience easy, convenient and rewarding for the users – this is the only way to fight against piracy.”

    I must admit, I LOL’d at reading that bit.

    Easy, convenient and rewarding: a very succinct definition of piracy.

    • Bull0 says:

      I think that’s exactly his point, until we modernise the traditional delivery systems for games to make them more convenient we can’t beat piracy. But hey, it’s good to laugh.

    • Kadayi says:

      @felixduc

      TBH I think this idea of needing to compete with the pirates is kind of daft in a way. In a previous Sunday Papers some guy said you can’t beat pirates on service or price, and that is the bottom line. Even if (as some people wish) developers threw the DRM handbook out the window (including Steam) they’re still at a disadvantage Vs pirates because they are the ones footing the bill and needing to make the money. By not protecting themselves effectively they’re putting themselves in the situation of being street musicians reliant on the generosity of spirit of the audience, Vs playing a gig at a venue where you pay a fee to enter.

      Personally I don’t decry developers or publishers deploying DRM if it serves the purpose of negating or reducing 0 day piracy (I want publishers to make money so they can pay developers to make games because I love games). Stopping piracy full stop is impossible, and that’s generally not the intention of DRM. It’s all about reduction when the zeitgeist is on (interest in a game is very much of the moment). The vast majority of people seem happy enough with Steamworks, and that seems the lesser evil. Where as the sometimes always on DRM of Ubisoft is clearly more odious at least in principle (though I think the reality is overblown).

    • Roshin says:

      I was thinking along these lines the other day, actually. Some games on Steam now offers the soundtrack either as a separate purchase or as part of a pack. I like this and have bought most of them. If they weren’t so easily available, I most likely would have torrented one or two of them instead. Not because money is tight or because I think I have some vague right to it, but simply because it’s so easy.

      It sounds so simple. Make your products available and easy to purchase and then people will. Not everyone, because no matter how you twist and turn it, some people will *always* nick it. Make it hard and put obstacles in the way and you lose some potential customers and you still wont get rid of the pirates.

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      You CAN beat pirates. It’s not even hard. You just need to provide a good service that makes it easier, faster and more convenient to legally own a game than to crack it. Steam’s success can be attributed in large part to how convenient it makes purchasing games. Fill your cart, click through three or four steps, get the games, start downloading. Speeds are much faster than even the best of torrents, they’re automagically installed and integrated into a good interface, you sometimes get bonuses and patches are automatically applied as soon as they pop up. Pirates can’t beat that.

      Then you have things like GOG, which add many nice bonuses on top and no DRM to boot.

    • Kadayi says:

      @FriendlyFire

      The main reason people pirate has less to do with convenience and a lot more to do with not having to pay for it. There’s no options there for publishers and developers. Free to play only works with certain models (MMOs and multi-player). There’s very little option for narrative game play in that kind of system.

      Also GOG by on large sell old games they didn’t develop, at prices that just wouldn’t work for most current developers.

    • Shooop says:

      He’s not wrong for the most important part, but I would argue his definition of piracy is off.

      It definitely happens. It is a crime. But no you can’t stamp it out completely, attempting to do so is a waste of time and effort. You can try to minimize it though by making the games good enough for people to pay for and a little of what Edios did in Arkham Asylum.

      Going with the “burn down the village and kill the children too” approach Ubisoft and now EA are taking is a waste of their time and money which ironically discourages buyers. Not only are the methods invasive and ineffective, it’s obvious they spent more time working on the DRM than their actual products.

    • malkav11 says:

      If someone’s primary motivation for pirating something is that they would like to obtain it for free, they are already a lost cause.

      If they are pirating it because they would like to play it but are unwilling to pay the current price, they would like to try it before buying it, they can’t buy it at all in their area, they don’t want to deal with the DRM you’ve saddled it with, etc. Then you have some room to work.

      Anyway. The fact of the matter is, like it or not, piracy exists. And it is now trivial for a significant part of the population. So people who make a living producing media are already, essentially, in the position of having to rely on the goodwill and generosity of the consumer. They can certainly attempt to enforce a payment model where everyone that plays their game, reads their book, listens to their music, or whatever has paid to access that content. The methods tried so far have been largely ineffectual in doing so, but maybe they’ll stumble on a new method that actually works. And maybe it won’t screw over the customers that were already paying. And maybe it will actually increase their monetary gain more than it costs to implement. I wouldn’t count on it, personally. Personally, I’d try to work out new payment models that ensure I make money without forcing it out of consumer pockets; or I’d try to earn sufficient goodwill that I can reliably make enough money off the current payment model. But that’s me.

    • Consumatopia says:

      It makes more sense to ask why people who aren’t pirating won’t pirate than to ask why people who are pirating pirate. It’s free, you don’t need a reason to do it, you need a reason not to do it. Maybe you have a slow connection, you don’t want to waste time searching, you’re afraid of getting caught, you think it’s technically difficult or the resulting game would be buggy or trojaned (just as the publishers don’t really have any idea how many sales they lose, I don’t think the leechers have any idea how often they get pwned), or you want the game now aren’t willing to wait a week for the crack to be released. (I think that last one is overestimated–if the publisher announced that the game would be free a week from now, I suspect most people would wait a week).

      It’s funny, I’ve heard games publishers taking far more often about how easy and ubiquitous piracy is than about how much safer and more convenient it is to buy legit. Honestly, pirated or legitimate, “convenience” is never a word one associates with PC gaming.

      The “PC sales collapsed but console sales stay flat” line is unconvincing. Where do $0.99 iOS games come in? What about casual/free-to-play games? The ever-growing library of older titles that go on sale sooner and sooner after release? It’s not “piracy” that puts newspapers in financial trouble across the country, it’s that they’re competing with cheaper (yet still legitimate) alternatives. AAA games might be more like newspapers than one might think at first.

  8. RegisteredUser says:

    Surely Ubisoft’s PC sales being down 90% won’t have ANYTHING to do with false promises to customers and leading with few others the efforts of putting the most annoying and restrictive DRM onto games.

    It’s just that people really hate paying for games.

    Except that every single humble indie bundle sold over $500k in VOLUNTARY payment.

    Well darn, there goes that argument of the other guy being the asshole.

    (Are there still douches that will enter “0.01″ cent into the payment box? Of course. There will also be people that earn 6 figures yearly salary and continue to pirate. But I am still firmly convinced that you can convert far more people than is always argued just by not pissing people off with DRM, showing them you can come through with your service and game content promises and not demonizing them as they are the ones who are supposed to HELP YOU by giving you money..and, oddly enough, quite a few small studios and indies have experienced just that by doing it this way and their stance on piracy isn’t zomgwtfbbqendoftheworld, but that’s just how it is, we’d rather try to convert..)

    TL;DR: Ubisoft’s sales are likely down because their consumer and game-DRM ensnaring politics are crap and indies and others are showing how it’s done with non-DRM, non-suing, pro-support, pro-listening-to-you stances towards consumers.

    Reading the remaining pages of the article, I see that this is pretty much the gist as well..

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Yup. I haven’t touched a single Ubisoft game, pirated or otherwise, since they started with their online-only-DRM bullshit.

      And they hardly haven’t been cracked.

      Won’t be buying Diablo 3, either, for exactly the same reason.

    • Kadayi says:

      @RegisteredUser

      The vast majority of gamers don’t read gaming forums, so this proposal of yours that somehow Ubisoft games being pirated as some kind of payback for (unstated) ‘broken promises’ seems slightly incredulous tbh.

      You know that the $500K the HIB made was for charity? You also understand that $500K would barely cover a months development cost on most triple A titles?

      @RvLeshrac

      Bravo

    • theleif says:

      “Ubisoft told me that their PC game sales are down 90 per cent without a corresponding lift in console sales.”
      Michael Pachter, analyst, Wedbush Morgan

      Ubisoft told Michael Pachter. Well there’s a good combination of two sources of information i don’t trust!

      Edit: And i’m a pretty trusting person.

    • Bull0 says:

      I think Kadayi nailed it. Ubi’s sales performance is a many-headed beast, with a list of different causes as long as your arm; pinning it all on their use of DRM on the PC is pretty naive. Have an agenda by all means, activism is good and DRM basically sucks, I think most people would be behind you there, but it’s in trying to lend that agenda false gravity with bold claims about the catastrophic effects it’s having on their business that you start to lose people

    • RegisteredUser says:

      @Kadayi
      A game does not have to be pirated to have bad sales.
      However it might sell badly due to overzealous DRM. Or telling people that said game will have feature X and not DRM Y, then not providing feature X, but definitely DRM Y.
      Why this requires a gaming forum participation in your eyes I don’t know; marketing campaigns and promises are often loud and repeated enough to reach the consumer without making a single post to a forum ever.

      On the other hand, if you provide a product that is very close to the image you create in people’s heads throughout your marketing AND you make it convenient to use, it may just get good sales.

      Thank you for misformulating my point completely though. One would think it is possible to notice how I talked about sales and never mentioned piracy in the complete non-bracketed bit.
      I even made sure to use “sales” in the TL;DR. Despite even that – no luck.

    • The Colonel says:

      I have to admit to being fairly ambivalent towards DRM until the whole thing kicked off on RPS about it. For me, anyway, it only becomes something significant once people start discussing it and I start thinking about it a bit more deeply. I very much doubt that I would have come to the (strong) position of refusing to buy games with draconian DRM without the galvanising effect of the community on RPS. I would be surprised if this wasn’t even more the case with your average gamer who (I assume) isn’t into the idea of PC gaming to the point where they would read a blog about it every day.

    • Kadayi says:

      @RegisteredUser

      You are not the average gamer. If you are here at this site, you’re a gaming aficionado. There is no point applying your principles to a wider audience, let alone a majority, because you are firmly in the minority. In exactly the same way that the vast majority of the game playing public didn’t remotely care about the short development cycle between left4dead and left4dead2, the vast majority don’t care about always on DRM, because they are principally concerned about ‘game as experience’ not whether they are somehow being oppressed by the man. Does that mean that DRM should be condoned? No, but likewise there’s no point getting voluminous about it to the point of pomposity or exaggeration as to its actual impact. There’s no chicken and egg with game piracy and DRM. One definitely came after the other.

    • Bull0 says:

      “If you are here at this site, you’re a gaming aficionado.”

      Woah woah woah. Lets’ not go nuts.

  9. phenom_x8 says:

    The piracy things make me always thinking and feel a shame about piracy in my country! As a 3rd world country, piracy is quite rampant here. There’s no law enforcement towards this practice (except for windows of course, due to their representative already exist here) and so It have become the part of our culture because getting game for free would be considered cool than pay a helluva lots of money for the legit copy that will spend more than half of our minimum wages (after tax being added)!
    And sorry, there’s no exception between console and PC game here. In fact, console game copy and modded console hardware could be found way more easily than the copy of PC game being sold in rack store (the same case with the legit PC game at game store in western country).
    Is there any legit copy being sold?? Of course it is, sadly its not in many store (online mostly) and without any significant discount for 1-2 years old game I wanted to have (we have to pay the full price for it)!
    Its much more about our personal awareness actually whether we decided to buy or pirate the copy of our game! Personally, I’m start buying legit copy from now on through Gamersgate, GOG, and D2D (wait for the big discount ofc) ! I just hope that I would help the developer by buying it although I never download it except for a few old games under a gig (due to crappy net connection)!

    • The Colonel says:

      If you’re in a third world country you can probably be forgiven a little piracy of western goods. IMHO anyway.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Yeah, the USA was kind of infamous for lax enforcement of copyright back in its early days. We can’t really expect more out of other countries as they’re developing.

    • Starky says:

      Indeed as much as I hate the phrase piracy is a “first world problem” – for anyone in any country where the cost of a game is more than 25% of their monthly salary – then I say they can pirate all they bloody want too.

      That is the thing with piracy, wish I could find the stats, but there was a study that revealed that something like 70-80% of Piracy happened in countries that really had no buying power or ability to legitimately pay for games, Russia and eastern Europe, china, south America and so on.

      While that 20-30% of piracy that happened in the EU and NA had no real impact on overall industry income, but instead tended to reallocate that money from singleplayer games to multiplayer/online; because gamers have a gaming budget which they’d spend – and then pirate games ontop of that.

      Simply put a NA or EU pirate might spend $250 a month on games and gaming, but then pirate anything outside that budget. If they could not pirate any games at all that wouldn’t magically triple their monthly spend. Piracy only effects how they might spend that money.

    • Starky says:

      @Consumatopia

      Indeed, America was basically founded on infringement of European patents (much like China is founding itself on now) in order to fast track itself to leading industry.

      Hell Hollywood itself was born out of a desire to evade royalty payments for camera/projection patents holders.

  10. Inglourious Badger says:

    The question is, Jim, which game/s did you end up playing this weekend? Or did the crippling indecision/sunshine win?

  11. Rao Dao Zao says:

    “I remember when FTP stood for something else.”
    “Wh-”

  12. Kynrael says:

    Tim Roger’s essay is an inspiring piece of work.

    • The Colonel says:

      If that’s an essay I’m about to fail my masters. It seemed really interesting but surely the salient points could have been presented in a slightly shorter and less abstract piece?

    • lumenadducere says:

      Is it though? I don’t know, I thought most of it was already well-known – that social games are just backed by “suits” who don’t care about the product and don’t play them, that they’re at best abusive of what being “social” actually means, etc. And I find it hard to say that they killed gaming as a whole, especially when he specifically mentions triple-A developers as being of a different mold.

      Maybe it’s my perspective that’s skewed, as I stay away from Facebook games, but as long as we have the more traditional gaming companies that aren’t specifically designing shallow games that rely on psychological manipulation, I’d disagree with anyone that says that gaming has been killed.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Diziet Sma says:

    So judging by that PCGamer Minecraft shot, was the minecraft project actually conceived as a way of putting EBoy out of a job?

  14. Kevlmess says:

    The Kill Screen article, though quite a nice read otherwise, missed the imho rather obvious point that VVVVVV resembles the rows of spikes captain Viridian repeatedly sad-faces into.

    • Nova says:

      Well the great thing is that VVVVVV reflects so many aspects of the game.
      The rows of spikes, the way Veridian navigates the levels, the starting letters of the six characters, the hardest part of the game to the top and back (Veni Vidi Vici – Vici Vidi Veni), the roman letter for a fifth dimension as mentioned in the article.
      That alone is brilliant not to mention that the game itself is awesome.

    • Urthman says:

      Yeah that really bugged me. How could you play this game and not notice that VVVVVV is a picture of the spikes that are everywhere?

  15. Metonymy says:

    Some of us have been saying that piracy is a made-up problem for years.

    1-First, make sure your game isn’t terrible
    2-Make the 0-day piracy harder (you can never make it impossible) This is a critical step, the vast majority of people are far too stupid to successfully pirate. Music piracy became a problem because it became so easy that hillbilly relatives can do it.
    3-Include good multiplayer
    4-Consider the possibility that selling games is an extremely dated concept, like selling TV shows.

    • JackShandy says:

      Number four – are you advocating Free-to-play?

    • cliffski says:

      “4-Consider the possibility that selling games is an extremely dated concept, like selling TV shows.”

      thats your solution?
      because an as entrepreneur, my reaction to that is then to go run a solar panel company instead. Yes, it’s a solution, and makes sense, but as gamers, if all game developers took a similar view, you’d be playing todays games for the rest of your lives.

      It’s not a solution, it’s a statement of the complete collapse of the games industry. Thankfully, I, and millions of other people do not have some sort of mental block about paying to play games.

    • Salt says:

      Metonymy, your solutions sound very much like what mainstream games have been doing for some years.

      1 – Obviously no one sets out to make a terrible game

      2 – As is so often said in DRM discussions it doesn’t stop piracy, but just as you suggest it does make it slightly harder. It would be easier for me to email my copy of World of Goo to a friend than it is to reliably send them a Powerpoint presentation. Put basically any level of DRM on the product and the vast majority of potential pirates now have to go out into the murky depths to find a crack.
      I suppose the point to be made here is that there’s little to be gained from escalating the severity of DRM solutions, as they will inevitably get cracked. Although it’s a convenient narrative for the games media to hook a story on, DRM solutions on the whole are not increasing in severity: the broad trend has been a conversion from CD-checking and security compromising rootkits to (hopefully one-time) online verification.

      3 – It’s seen as something of a surprise if a major release doesn’t include a multiplayer segment with CoD-style unlocks.

      4 – The free-to-play bandwagon is now well loaded with hopeful young games eager to make their fortune, if only they can sell 12.6 million hats. The Flash game sector still has developers making the majority of their income from sponsorship deals which provide the game completely for free to the player (albeit with a few adverts attached).

      I suppose that your suggested solutions for piracy being already well in use makes a rather circular kind of logical sense, seeing as you open with the assertion that piracy is a made up problem.

    • Metonymy says:

      I advocate painfully solid DRM. Server-side content is what we see Blizzard doing, and it slowed down the crack of SC2 for weeks. It will do the same thing for Diablo 3. The problem is that no one is implementing the next step: discard all DRM once the initial profit spike has passed. This is respectful to the people who paid, who don’t want to resort to a pirated copy in order to own the game.

      The only downside to this strategy is that the 0day pirates typically generate some of the best viral you can hope for, as a publisher. You want these 5-50k players on anonymous boards, talking about having lots of fun with your game. Of course, for this, the game has to be very good. Most games are not very good. A “9″ in a game review really means “completely average,” which is why I stated something as obvious as #1.

    • malkav11 says:

      Online authentication is a step upwards in severity because it relies on an external server over which you have no control. A disc check requires me to have a functioning disc of that game, which I ought to have because I have the game installed and presumably purchased it on disc at some point. If I don’t, that’s on me. If an online authentication no longer works, welp. Guess it’s time to never play that game ever again! (Or turn to piracy, but we’re trying to stop piracy with DRM, right?)

    • Salt says:

      “I advocate painfully solid DRM. Server-side content [...]”
      So the solution to a problem you define as being made-up is to cripple how a game can be played and exclude a significant audience from ever playing?

      “The problem is that no one is implementing the next step: discard all DRM”
      A quick glance over just the past month’s news shows SecuROM DRM being stripped from Bad Company 2, and From Dust being stripped of UbiDRM. So I think “no one” is a bit of an overstatement.
      If you’re advocating server-side processing as a DRM method then switching the game over to use entirely client-side processing would not be a simple task. For instance even several months before release, it’s almost certainly already too late for Diablo III to be converted to support offline play.

      “0day pirates typically generate some of the best viral you can hope for”
      Wouldn’t a paying customer be just as likely to tell their friends – anonymous or not – that they’re enjoying a game? If anything they’d be more likely to say good things about it as they have a vested interest in feeling like they’ve not just wasted money on the game.
      In addition pirates are unlikely to keep up to date with patches released for the game as they have a tendency to break cracks, so they will be stuck telling people about how New Vegas is hopelessly buggy long after it has been fixed for paying customers. Bad viral advertising.

    • malkav11 says:

      If we are to believe the publishers, there are far more pirates playing their games than legitimate customers. That would be a lot of word of mouth.

      And believe it or not, the crackers commonly provide cracked patches as and when they come out. Not always, but a lot of the time.

    • Consumatopia says:

      because an as entrepreneur, my reaction to that is then to go run a solar panel company instead. Yes, it’s a solution, and makes sense, but as gamers, if all game developers took a similar view, you’d be playing todays games for the rest of your lives.

      As a games player, but even moreso as a human being, that sounds win-win, especially if stretched across all entertainment media. The library of existing music, movies, games and books is so vast that having access to all of it would be a greater boon than giving creators incentives to create more. And the people the people who were working on creating more would go do something else productive instead.

    • The Colonel says:

      If piracy resulted in the destruction of the gaming industry it’d probably stop. Hopefully it’d start with the death of AAA games with hollywood budgets and little or no residual or artistic value. And by that I’m willing to accept even a bit of decent writing and attention to the game-world as artistic value. Michael Bay games can go stick their heads in some pigs.

    • Sabre_Justice says:

      “4-Consider the possibility that selling games is an extremely dated concept, like selling TV shows.”
      Uh, plenty of people buy DVDs. And selling TV shows is actually a rather new concept, since owning an entire series on VHS was rather impractical.

  16. pkt-zer0 says:

    The “stop making me learn things” article seems pointless. Fun is learning.

    • bill says:

      But learning isn’t always fun. Isn’t that his point?

    • JackShandy says:

      I would argue that learning something new is almost always fun. The process you might have to take to get there might not be, but gaining knowledge is an inherently fun activity.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      I would suggest you have a hopelessly naive appreciation of the sorts of things human beings are required to learn in their lives if you think all learning is fun.

      Either that or you’re some bizarre freakozoid who really does find filing systems absolutely fascinating.

    • Shooop says:

      Well not always.

      But in video games it usually tends to be. Many games today are still about trial-and-error. It’s just the rewards are now more visually appealing (giant explosion instead of goomba falling off the screen).

      I don’t think a lot of people would find learning to navigate an outdated files system at a hospital very fun.

    • Skabooga says:

      Regarding learning and fun, the moment I learned all of Dwarf Fortress’s mechanics was the moment I stopped playing it. Although by now, the game has probably changed so much that I could have another fun go at it.

    • Consumatopia says:

      I find learning something genuinely new almost always fun. But as I get older, the problem I have with games, and electronics in general, is that they keep expecting me to learn slightly different ways of doing things I learned how to do decades ago. I want to learn real knowledge, stuff that will still be true decades from now, not just random noise encoded into a program that’s completely useless when I move on to the next program.

    • JackShandy says:

      Learning a hospitals outdated filing system lets you navigate it easier and with more efficiency. Knowing how to do something quicker or easier is fun. Like I said, the path to get there isn’t always fun, but gaining new, useful knowledge pretty much invariably is.

    • Consumatopia says:

      But if it’s only useful for getting a higher score in an artificial world constructed for the sole purpose of making you learn something is not useful at all outside that world, I don’t really consider that truly useful.

  17. Ajh says:

    I love how the piracy article has Ubisoft’s guy saying one thing, and GoG’s guy saying the exact opposite.

    Guess who I’ve bought games from in the past year? GoG. Yes, I know where I can pirate them, but I don’t NEED to. I can download the games from GoG and I don’t worry about whether my internet is going to die or if I’m taking my laptop into the mythical land of no 3g (Which is still really common in the US unfortunately.) or anything silly like that. And I give them money because I like knowing my games are virus free and I don’t have to jump through hacker-esque hoops to get them to play. I refer people to the site to buy their own games even. They especially appeal to the older crowd ….you know, the crowd with any sort of money left in this economic state.

    Honestly my game purchases over the past year have all been from GoG with the exception of my blizzard games and indie titles. Do I want to play the newest assassins creed? Yes, I do. But I’m not willing to let them tell me how to play it. Therefore I did not pirate it, I did not buy it. Ubisoft’s own attitude is, in my opinion, the main reason their sales are down.

    I’m going back to my beta version of desktop dungeons now, since I have a half an hour before I have to leave for work. Have fun with your sinking ship Ubi.

    • Kadayi says:

      @Ajh

      Ubisoft are an active publisher/developer where as GoG by on large just distribute old games. They are talking from asymmetrical perspectives and with differing needs. Whether GOGs versions of Fallout 1 & 2 are pirated to hell & back doesn’t matter to GOG so much because they aren’t having to pay the developers wages for instance, or do they need to make money in order to finance future game development. .

  18. Premium User Badge

    Man Raised by Puffins says:

    This feels like it belongs in the Sunday Papers (particularly after Tom Chick blessed it with a tenuous link to gaming): The Euthanasia Coaster.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      If I happened to have the misfortune to be in the situation where I wanted to end my own life that is most definitely how I’d want to do it.

    • V. Profane says:

      Reply fail, but I think I prefer Bill Hicks’ proposal: use the dying as stunt people.

    • Fumarole says:

      Terminally ill stunt people: put ‘em in the movies!

    • Skabooga says:

      Couple of weeks ago I read the Wikipedia article on G-forces and their effects on the human body. It did not seem like a pleasant way to go.

  19. battles_atlas says:

    Jim did you read a different version of Blair’s take on the riots than I did? Either that or your comment that Blair “understood the riots best” was actually intended as a damning critique of all the other politicians that waded in, rather than praise for Blair.

    As I read it his take on the riots was to carve off a small minority who could just be analysed and treated in isolation, whilst the rest of us carried on with the terrific society he’d help bequeath us. No wider issues, no sense that actually as a whole society we’ve become pathologically fixated on personal enrichment through whatever means. Which makes sense given that its coming from a man that is currently using the Middle East peace process as a networking opportunity with oil money. New Labour spent 13 years believing that you could encourage a neoliberal winner-takes-all for society as a whole, whilst chucking some handouts at those that got left behind. The result was the most socially unequal, socially immobile society since before WWII. Oh, and the riots.

    I really look forward to the game, but I’d personally suggest taking pointers from somewhere like The Spirit Level, rather than the man who, along with Maggie, got us to the riots.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “was actually intended as a damning critique of all the other politicians that waded in, rather than praise for Blair”

      More or less. Although I didn’t read it quite as you did, and I was genuinely surprised to agree with him, to some extent. He seemed to acknowledge that there is genuine alienation within the society he and his cronies created, and he also said that it would be very difficult to deal with, which it clearly will be.

      It was a lot better as a response than “just criminality” or “all down to social inequality” and all the other left and right-wing clattering that followed the riots.

      Orr summed up my response better than I can be bothered to: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/24/tony-blair-alienated-youth

      “I really look forward to the game, but I’d personally suggest taking pointers from somewhere like The Spirit Level, rather than the man who, along with Maggie, got us to the riots.”

      As mentioned elsewhere the game has its own themes and influences already. It’s certainly not “taking pointers” from Blair.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      If we’re playing the “damning inditment of politicians’ responses to the riots” game it’s worth noting that Russel bloody Brand (of all people) had a much more sensible response than the majority of them.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/11/london-riots-davidcameron

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      Really? Blair and Thatcher are responsible for the riots? That’s…blah. ANGER. Because society before Thatcher was so united and great.

      As somebody who was actively involved in policing the riots, Blair’s analysis is spot on. It’s a small fragment of society who has been forced and then encouraged to live segregated from the rest of the law-abiding world, working on different social norms and legal systems. It has NOTHING to do with Thatcher or Blair, and has been around for far, far longer. These kids have been brought up without parents, and generally encouraged to shut up and keep to themselves – and as long as they were busy stabbing, mugging, and killing each other as opposed to us good, middle class white folk, nobody gave a shit.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      ” It has NOTHING to do with Thatcher or Blair”

      No, it has *something* to do with them, because they were both extraordinarily influential in shaping how we live. But it is far more complicated than having any one cause. Which is precisely the issue with 90% of the responses to the event. People want someone or something to blame, when actually it’s far more complicated – and therefore even more impossible to address – than anyone is easily able to articulate.

      Saying “same as it ever was” doesn’t really remove blame from people who were in power: they were the ones who had the chance to make it better or worse, or leave it as it was.

    • Quirk says:

      Blair’s take was better than many, but still missing something.

      The alienation is real, and some of it was caused quite directly by the state. Not because of lack of initiatives and financial handouts, but because of something that fitted in quite well with that absurd and horrible Labour authoritarian streak – the shockingly casual attitude to stopping and searching people who lived in those deprived areas. It kept coming up in media conversations with people who lived there. Kids started to get used to being treated like criminals, got used to the idea that the police were there to punish them rather than protect them. Of course they felt alienated.

      The police policy was understandable enough. When your number one focus is cracking down on petty crime, and most of your leads take you back to the same area, you soon stop being diffident about asking people to stop and let you see what they’re carrying. It’s not the police’s job to make the area better, it’s the police’s job to find who’s responsible for the smash and grab at the off-licence. The upshot though is a community that sees the state, sees wider society, as the enemy. That’s hard to change, and without changing that, pretty much anything else you do is going to be worthless. (Also, pretty much anything plausible to do on this score is by way of a start going to tie the police’s hands, make them less effective, lead to more unsolved crimes.)

    • V. Profane says:

      “Russell Brand is donating his fee for this article to a clean-up project.”

      People get PAID for Content is Free? Good grief.

    • battles_atlas says:

      @ Crimsoneer

      If ‘underclass’ means anything, its people so disenfranchised that they when they rebel they do so by smashing up shops rather than any institutions of the state. The riots couldn’t have been a clearer demonstration of the existence of such a group in society, and an underclass is, contrary to your version of history, a recent phenomenon in postwar British society. And by recent, I mean since the 1980s. The reasons are many, but I’d disagree with Jim that identifying the predominant one is particularly complex. Its the destruction of the working class through the erosion of the industrial base that used to employ them. Something that both Thatcher and Blair embraced as they hated the unions and were in thrall to the City. The lucky ones made it into the middle classes before the ladder got pulled up, many of the rest disappeared into a world of no hope, and little stable, respected employment. The other major element was the culture of materialism that Thatcher and Blair promoted. A nation of citizens became a nation of consumers and those that couldn’t afford to shop had no stake.

      To argue that the riots were the product of Maggie and Tony isn’t to pretend that some utopia existed before, its just a recognition that they changed the country and those changes have strong links to the riots.

      @ Jim

      I find your take too defeatist Jim. Blair’s suggested targeted interventions might well help turn kids around, but without wider changes (“they are an absolutely specific problem that requires deeply specific solutions”) its just a sticking plaster, not a solution. New Labour’s years show that sticking plasters don’t work. The change has to be structural. There is a lot of angst at the moment about how everyone can see that the status quo is a failure, but that no one is suggesting alternatives (Adam Curtis’ blog is great on this ‘TINA’ stuff). The reason is this defeatism – no one seems to believe we can change anything. Which is bizarre when we’ve just witnessed three decades in which a small bunch of ideologues in the US and UK have gone from wackjob outsiders to reshaping the world. As Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “I find your take too defeatist Jim.”

      What’s defeatist? I’m the one killing myself making a videogame about inspiring people to a bright shiny future, *obviously* I believe change is desirable and possible.

    • battles_atlas says:

      Fair point, I look forward to playing it.

      Also I’d have been less obnoxious in the posts above but the on-going existence of Blair as a not just a free (increasingly wealthy) man, but as some respected elder statesman, is a real fucking red rag for me. Can you next make a game where we get to hunt down war criminals and drag them before the ICC? Sure C4 will pony up the money.

    • Josh W says:

      It’s possible to be poor enough that you can never imagine being able to own your own shop. You don’t have to be underclass, you just have to be poor and have had no jobs around for years.

      To that kind of person, the local shopkeeper is a part of “the rich people”.

      From there it makes perfect sense; some people start rioting, and just the fact that they’re winning, that they’re getting away with it, gets people involved. Someone’s sticking two fingers up to the police and “the rich people” , and tonight they’re the ones with the power for a change.

      Then theres the fact that you’ve been wanting that new TV or status symbol for months, and now you can get it, if you nick it, and after the rioting dies down you’ll be able to show off your new shoes.

      Blair tries to make it specific, about the same group targeted with asbos, but rioters came from all kinds of social backgrounds. They were mostly people about our age and younger, and mostly from poor areas with serious youth unemployment, but they weren’t all.

      To me it’s simple, people were already dissociated from people in the local area above a certain level of wealth and age (you ever talked to the person who runs the tanning place down the road from you?), angry and wanted stuff they couldn’t afford, this just gave them an opportunity to express it.

      It’s simple but I don’t think it’s an oversimplification; you’d still have to look at why people are so pissed off and alienated, why they lost patience, why they went for random normal stuff etc etc.

  20. Batolemaeus says:

    Oh wow, that “Who killed videogames” article is incredibly depressing.

  21. malkav11 says:

    Gotta love that “How Bad is PC Piracy?” article. (Note that none of this is the fault of the article’s author, merely cognitive dissonance among some of the correspondents.)

    1) We can’t really tell what impact it has because it requires a whole bunch of unverifiable assumptions.
    2) But we’re going to assume it’s really bad.
    3) There’s no evidence that DRM works.
    4) But we’re going to assume that it does because people keep using it.

    And then by the end of the article there’s “tangible benefits” and having a “crack free window” results in “meaningful revenue increases” despite having previously said that actually they have no data to support either of those conclusions. There’s a statement that “it would take converting three per cent of those people who pirated that game to be paid users – a very nominal amount – to meaningfully impact the actual revenue and profitability on the title.” I have no reason to believe this to be false. Probably it would do just that. And I can sort of see where this would encourage companies to keep spending time, energy and money on DRM in the hopes of this conversion taking place. But does it actually convert anybody, much less that 3%? As far as I can tell, there’s nothing supporting such a conclusion.

    I also like Svensson’s statement that “If the legitimate user is ever going to have a more negative experience than a pirate, you’ve done something wrong.” Which is entirely true….and unavoidable whenever you use DRM. Because DRM, unavoidably, restricts what you can do with a game and the (end user) pirate will never see that DRM.

    I do think GoG’s revenue from Witcher 2 is not a particularly meaningful data point, though. “Wow, we’ve sold more units of this new game we just released than we’ve ever sold of any of the 5-30 year old games that we normally sell.” Gee, ya think?

    • Kadayi says:

      “I do think GoG’s revenue from Witcher 2 is not a particularly meaningful data point, though. “Wow, we’ve sold more units of this new game we just released than we’ve ever sold of any of the 5-30 year old games that we normally sell.” Gee, ya think?”

      I think GoG like to paint themselves as the ‘good guys’ at any given opportunity and win points with websites and gamers for being ‘Anti-DRM’. The truth is though their principal product is appealing to peoples sense of nostalgia. There’s very little overhead with what they sell, so they can afford to charge very little. The games already exist. They pay the publisher their split, and the rest is support and profit. They aren’t making new games, just expanding their catalogue. No developers who ever worked on those titles, people cherish receive red cent afaik.

      As regards sales of The Witcher 2, that 1 million was across retail and digital, and from what I’ve heard on the grapevine digital was only about 20% of their sales. Most people bought the DRM disc version.

  22. Chorltonwheelie says:

    Nice article on CoD there. It’s a nice change from the “it’s a dull brown, on rails bore-athon” of PC gamers lore that usually has people queuing up to slag the series off.
    If your heart doesn’t pump faster when careering around on snowmobiles, avoiding falling helicopters or charging around a Brazilian favela mixing it with armed drug gangs then your probably dead.
    I bought RO2 by mistake and it has made me pine for the next Cod MW3.

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Michael Bay was fun the first time, but the explosions got boring after a while.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Hammering around crazily on a snowmobile was AMAZING FUN. One of the best game experiences ever.

      When I did it in No One Lives Forever 2.

      In 2002.

    • MisterT says:

      I feel just plain bored playing COD, it’s repetitive “oh, do exactly this, use this cover, shoot these guys, advance when this happens, rinse, dry, repeat”

      there is so little player freedom most of the time.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Thank you for reminding me that I was in the middle (read: not that far in at all) of replaying NOLF2 and am in fact bombing around frozen Russian wastes on a snowmobile. Must get back to that.

      Who needs modern games, eh?

  23. Premium User Badge

    frymaster says:

    on the subject of gaming communities, this is from the pub quiz at insomnia 43 back at the end of october:

    http://www.fileplay.net/file/14538/i43-the-world-famous-insomnia-pub-quiz-queen-rendition

    good times :D

  24. TheFlyingWooly says:

    That picture of the PCG Minecraft server is lovely.

  25. Urthman says:

    I’ve pirated some games and I’ve paid for a whole lot more games, but I’ve never, ever paid for a game because I was unable to pirate it.

  26. Calabi says:

    That Tim Rogers article makes me not want to play any games at all. Or at least check first is it trying to manipulate me. There isnt many that arent.

    • Srethron says:

      If it makes you feel any better, his logic probably extends to any non-gaming business which has a “monetization” plan. So… everything?

    • The Colonel says:

      Everything is toxic? FOR THE UNION!

  27. acidtestportfolio says:

    that tim rogers article makes me want to beat him over the head with a compendium of his own work

    (roughly the size of a phone book)

    • Srethron says:

      I can’t decide if the length of his article about time equaling money and the even longer companion article with large sections of the same text are meant to be ironic or just a stealth form of blog DRM. If only there was a way I could pay for some imaginary currency that would let me skip to the end of the article.

  28. Lusit says:

    Who killed video games? I think it should be pretty clear at this point that video games committed suicide.

  29. RogB says:

    During UBI’s research into the 90% drop in sales, did they EVER look at amazon/play/etc reviews of their recent games with stupid DRM?

    Of course not, why bother when you can just cry and blame piracy.

    Hey UBI: not treating PC gamers as thieving dogshit works wonders for sales.

  30. sinister agent says:

    Please hurry up and finish Fallen City so we can all dismiss it as crap purely to annoy you. Cheers.

  31. Radiant says:

    The thing with piracy.
    Is that no matter what the publisher does you can not beat free.

  32. MisterT says:

    I love how console focused companies like ubisoft and capcom think piracy is bad, when PC-only ones don’t find it an issue that they should bother trying to fix.

  33. Calabi says:

    I think they should stop calling them social games. There not social, mmorpgs are more social than these social games. That name is a clever lie. Their not even games just a pachinko machine.

  34. Tams80 says:

    More importantly: That Gourmet Gaming website is fantastic. Simple, good instructions that don’t require anything too fancy. It’s making me hungry just thinking about it. My student diet will never be the same again.

    I find the Humble Bundle easy to use. Then again I don’t give money to the charities, give most of the money to the developers (split evenly) and a little as a humble tip.

  35. Yernn says:

    What tools did they use to make that Minecraft shot? It doesn’t look like any of the standard mappers that I’m familiar with.

    • Yernn says:

      Mostly likely Blender for the rendering and something called mcobj to extract the geometry.

  36. alundra says:

    Humble Bundle:
    The article was sarcastic at best, still if people still don’t know what the eff then a little googling prior to donating is called for, and make it the default split so you don’t lose your sleep.

    Onlive:
    “We all know the score: OnLive reckons that the age of owning your own gaming hardware is coming to an end and that the future is all about streaming gameplay video across the internet from secure datacentres, with “dumb terminal” clients beaming back your joypad, mouse or keyboard commands. There’s no need to buy new console or PC hardware – the servers will be upgraded instead”

    This more or less sums it up and tells why this kind of “services” are as bad as supporting anything related to the mafiaa way of doing business. Furthermore, I don’t foresee reaching mp3 like market penetration anytime soon, there are companies out there investing bazillions in developing new hardware for the masses.

    Tim Roger:
    Well, spot on, but this one has been coming onto us all for a while now, gaming is now rarely something more than a device to milk gamers (hardcore and casual alike) out of their money, if not why do you think it is the growing “free to play” trend we are witnessing??

    PS
    Yeah, that piracy thing, somewhere along the line companies learned that gamers (and consumers in general) could be conditioned into mindlessly spending money for whatever the reason (aka consumerism), so what reason is left to provide a quality service to receive money if by providing a form of control and a de-valued product (no second hand sales) you still receive income?

  37. MD says:

    [Trying to get around the spam filter -- apologies if this comment ends up appearing 100 times in minor variations]

    I enjoyed the Tim Rogers article. The ending was a bit insipid, but overall it was a really worthwhile examination of a topic most of us probably are aware of in general terms, but don’t delve into. I know Rogers can occasionally seem to disappear up his own bottom, but he’s a skilful, *interesting* writer and I would take one of him over a hundred average hacks and industry mouthpieces.

    For those who are yet to make up their mind, do give him a chance — I don’t find all of his articles worthwhile, but when he’s got something to say he is capable of saying it well. I suspect some of his stranger pieces may be the result of not having much of a point to make, and putting most of his effort into playing around with form.

  38. MD says:

    Okay the spam filter is completely owning me today. I had some things to say about TIm Rogers, and I cannot work out which word(s) triggered the filter, but apparently I’m spam. Beats being a robot, I guess, which is what I usually end up as when I try to do a captcha. Anyway, the Tim Rogers article = worth reading.

  39. lumenadducere says:

    Hm, am I the only one that was unimpressed with the Tim Rogers article? Well, not unimpressed, necessarily, just sort of going “yes, but…” in my head the entire time I was reading it. It just seemed like it was greater detail on information we already had before, albeit with some differing emphasis. And yes, there are some similarities with the more traditional, non-Facebook gaming industry (particularly the surge in F2P games, but even those you can get a subscription and have it be a traditional MMO payment model), but nothing that’s really worth being too worried about.

    I dunno, am I missing something here? Didn’t we already know “social” games were one of the many personifications of evil?

  40. apachebreak says:

    Ummmm……where is this week’s Sunday Papers?