Ashes Cricket 2013 Pulled From Steam, Hilariously Awful

By John Walker on November 26th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

The sorry saga of 505 Games’ Ashes Cricket 2013 continues apace. Beginning with one of the dumbest trailers in gaming history, it was supposed to appear in June this year. You know, in time for the Ashes. It didn’t make it, except they got lucky. For reasons my brain cannot work up the energy to care about, rather than the usual two year gap between the Australia Vs England bat-to-ball grudge series, they’ve started another one already, just a few months later. A fortuitous one-off anomaly allowing the game to slip five months and not suddenly be enormously out of date. So now, in time for the latest Ashes, it’s been released on PC alone. Except, it’s all going a bit wrong. Just a few days later it’s been mysteriously pulled from Steam, the Facebook page has vanished, and there are lots of rather cross customers. And an increasing number of excellent videos.

By the mysterious magics of Steam, Ashes Cricket 2013 still remains playable on RPS’s Central Computer. And by crikey, it’s quite the thing. Well, just take a look at a completely unspectacular moment I recorded:

As well as looking like it’s from the early 2000s (check out those crowds!), the choppy animations and weird skips aren’t YouTube or editing – that’s how the game plays, all the time. Trying to follow the ball is quite the thing, as each fielder sproings from one glitchy animation to the next, pinging from one place to another, while the camera chops and changes at all the wrong moments. It is, immediately, a bad game. Then take a look at this incredible footage from player Matt Whitehorn:

The issues go deeper, of course. Despite being PC only for the moment (rumours are that it hasn’t successfully passed the consoles’ certification processes) there is absolutely no mouse input at any point, from menus to playing. And while there are keyboard controls, there’s no way to know what they are, nor to edit them. You just have to stab at keys randomly until you stumble on the right ones. Control options are only available for a 360 controller, with which the game was obviously designed to be played, but amazingly the on-screen instructions for accessing them are only shown for the keyboard. Commentary is all over the place, the ball seems to teleport itself about, and the statistics are broken.

Forums are filling up with stories of the absolutely abysmal AI, which allows spectacular scores to be racked up in a single ball. This lucky customer managed to score 16 in one go. While that’d certainly be a version of cricket I’d enthusiastically tune in for, it’s not perhaps too realistic a portrayal of the world’s slowest sport. And it proves to be one of the dramatically lower scores the game can offer.

The game’s official forums also make for quite the reading, and rumour has it that 505 have pulled the game’s Facebook page because of all the bug-displaying videos players were posting. It’s certainly vanished. On top of this, the game’s Twitter account hasn’t been updated since September, which is odd for a game that’s just come out. Here’s some more stunning footage, sped up 16x, from Whitehorne:

What has happened here is not yet known, and I imagine it’ll be a long while before we hear the stories from behind the scenes. Clearly the game must have been in some sort of development hell, if a bonus three months’ miraculous grace still wasn’t enough to get it into a fit state for release. Whether it’s been pulled by 505 or Steam we don’t yet know. We’ve contacted 505 and Valve to see if we can find out what’s going on.

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87 Comments »

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  1. Silent_Thunder says:

    As a note to this, Cricket Revolution is only $3 on Steam. I bought it with some spare change from selling those stupid trading cards Steam has. No idea why I did, think it was the only game I could afford with that amount of wallet money. Can’t tell you if it’s good or not, but after playing a bit I can offer the opinion that no, cricket is not a game you can pick up and learn instantly. The game did seem to marginally function at least, and has a free demo. So there’s that.

    Kinda sad when a $3 game from 2009 Pakistan beats you.

    EDIT: Also according to reviews Ashes Cricket 2009 is quite good, which seems odd considering this, but apparently its a completely different developer and publisher. Guess the Cricket Association people must own the trademark for the game series or something. Dunno. Probably why you shouldn’t try to build a brand name off the competition’s name.

    • The Dark One says:

      Don’t take Silent_Thunder’s word for it, Cricket Revolution received the most sunny review Bro Team has ever released:

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      phuzz says:

      I learnt the rules for baseball from some arcade game I used to run through MAME, cricket can’t be much harder surely?

      • DrGonzo says:

        Yes. Yes it is.

      • mistwolf says:

        I’ve lived in Australia for a decade now, became a citizen, and still have no idea WTF is happening in the cricket games my inlaws occasionally watch. The terminology alone sails so far over my head that I can’t begin to understand. I’ve never seen a game this cryptic.

  2. Conehead The Barbarian says:

    The slowly creeping forward umpire in the third video made me laugh so much, if it makes me laugh must be a quality game!

    • LionsPhil says:

      It is a thing of stop-motion beauty, like an ’80s music video.

      Then he makes a player spin with a touch of his hand. Wheeeee!

    • Themadcow says:

      Sweet baby Jesus, that video made me laugh so much I’m mopping tears up from my keyboard. Needs a Peter Gabriel soundtrack.

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      Bluerps says:

      Yes, it’s amazing! My favorite part was when the second one appeared, at the very end of the video.

      • Shadowcat says:

        I hadn’t even noticed that. I also hadn’t noticed the stumps!!

        edit: or that, by ~0:50, the faster batsman was a length ahead, and so was running alongside his partner :) I was clearly too transfixed by the progress bar to notice anything else, the first time through.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Yeeeee. I hadn’t noticed that either.

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      Gap Gen says:

      Yes, that umpire was amazing. Didn’t dampen the spirits of the running gent none, either.

    • Shadowcat says:

      I had to keep watching the video just because the umpire was like a progress bar. I was faintly disappointed that there was no collision detection with the batsman (even though that’s actually a good thing), but almost laughed out loud once he reached the fielders.

    • Shadowcat says:

      Matt Whitehorn has a bunch more AC2013 videos on youtube, some of which are just as amazing. Go watch: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHqpy1isGyWnU-dlFgeVASQ?feature=watch

      The sad thing is that every now and then the game shows off a nice touch — there’s some actual potential hidden away in there. It’s nothing short of disgraceful that they charged people money for this, though.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Ha! I kept looking at him too. When he touched the guys in the middle it was just too much to bear.

  3. the_leveller says:

    in the meantime, check out Don Bradman Cricket 14, which looks a great deal more entertaining: http://www.bigant.com/bigant_games/view/don-bradman-cricket-14-28/

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      drewski says:

      Big Ant don’t exactly have a strong track record with their previous sports titles, but at least it should be playable…

      • the_leveller says:

        true, but they are at least trying to innovate, what with the playercam for batting which removes the nonsensical ‘psychic circle of knowledge’ and a career mode that I actually want to play for a change

  4. LionsPhil says:

    That “Great Fielding” video looks like a perfectly normal game of Cricket to me.

    It is possible that I do not understand Cricket.

    • DirtGunfrey says:

      As an ignorant American I have no idea what’s going on here. Cricket appears to be a game of wind-sprints and falling over.

      • Greggh says:

        I don’t get it either, I may not know much about Cricket, but I know what I like. And that video I like!

      • Shadowcat says:

        Don’t worry — no one has any idea what’s going on here.

      • Synesthesia says:

        this came to mind, the whole time.

        • KicktheCAN says:

          This video would probably be funny if I could tell it apart from an actual cricket game.

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      bglamb says:

      Yeah, that second video especially looks exactly like every game of cricket I’ve played in the park with my friends. Looks like a wonderful game to me.

  5. iucounu says:

    As a huge cricket fan: I am not remotely surprised. Cricket sims like this have come out regularly for years now, and (a) reliably crap, (b) virtually identical.

    There has never been a cricket sim where you get to control the individual players that has even vaguely approximated real cricket. Even the most fun ones (like dear old Brian Lara on the SNES) don’t play anything like the real thing – you end up in a weird world of slow looping bouncers and slog-sweeps for six every ball, because there’s always a mysterious cheaty loophole in the AI or interface quirk to exploit.

    I despair that we are ever going to be able to make this sport translate well to a dexterity-based arcade game. The basic formula seems to be the bowler plonks down a marker where he wants to pitch the ball, and then does the power/swing meter thing in the runup. 2-player, the batsman gets to see basically what’s coming; I remember in Brian Lara you’d deliberately pick your worst bowler so that the marker for the ball pitching was huge and thus leaked less information to your friend. If you can’t see what’s coming as a batsman, on the other hand, batting becomes too hard. They need some fresh ideas about how to control it.

    If you go the other way – the International Cricket Captain series – you get an abstracted management game where you just kind of fiddle with aggression sliders and Click To Bowl Next Over. It produces cricketlike scores, but is rather uninvolving.

    On the bright side, I recently played a protoype cricket-themed deck-building card game – think a cricket-themed Ascension – which was a lot of fun. Completely abstracted from the actual play of the sport, but felt a lot more like cricket than any of the PC or console games I’ve played.

    • Triangulon says:

      Sounds very intriguing. Can you give any more info/a name/threads on Board Game Geek?

      • iucounu says:

        Just checked it’s not secret or anything, and seems to be fine: the designer is Chris Taylor-Davies (Twitter: @ctd, BGG: Christo, apparently) and playtesting seems to be organised here: http://playtest-london.blogspot.co.uk/. He’s a charming chap and the game is very enjoyable. I particularly like that you can buy adjective cards to attach to shots (your Square Cut becomes a Cracking Square Cut and goes for more runs, that sort of thing.)

    • yogibbear says:

      The MP cricket games I used to play on friend’s N64 (I think?) had a post marker swing change along with the power meter and they also had different delivery types… so even when playing 2-P the batsmen didn’t know
      a) what delivery type
      b) what spin/swing direction
      c) what power
      They also had to interpret the delivery stride lineup.

      So bowling like Glen McGrath / Shane Warne to Brian Lara could still result in lots of ways to get someone out.

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    Anthile says:

    Maybe Valve are trying to purge the real trash but as long as Bad Rats sits on its throne of stolen pocket money it can only be a distant dream.

  7. Zankmam says:

    I still cannot comprehend cricket.

  8. Mbaya says:

    I can’t help but think the second video would actually be a faithful representation of what would happen if my friends and I actually decided to attempt to play in real life.

  9. luckystriker says:

    Why ARE the Ashes being played again so soon?

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      drewski says:

      Because the World Cup is in 2015 in Australia and NZ. Cricket Australia and the ECB decided it was better commercially easier to move the return leg into the slots that would normally be occupied by some countries nobody cares about this summer.

    • John Walker says:

      Something to do with rescheduling around the World Cup so their poor arms don’t get tired.

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    Stense says:

    Oh dear, it seems to have pulled a pie chucker straight down the throat of the man out at cow corner and got a king pair with a golden duck.

    That actually made sense, in cricketese.

  11. The Dark One says:

    Commentary is all over the place, the ball seems to teleport itself about, and

    Forums are filling up with stories of the absolutely abysmal AI, which allows spectacular scores to be racked up in a single ball.

    Rather than a typo, I choose to interpret this as a nod to the level of QA the game underwent.

  12. RiffRaff says:

    Judging from those videos it seems like accurat represent of criccct , you must not bedrunk enough to learn th rules. What happenin they are using the wicket to do thgoogly to pass the ball to tail enderso they gat can the over winning by tea . I Dont know aht you are watching , I understand fine, just fine, just fine.

    GO GREAT BRITAIN!

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    drewski says:

    Valve really need to give automatic refunds for this. It should never have been released at all. Hope CA and the ECB got their license fees up front…

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      Stellar Duck says:

      Meanwhile, good games has to go through Greenlight.

      And I assume WarZ is still on there.

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        cpt_freakout says:

        It is, under some bullshit changed name. There’s probably several teams at Valve working on these kinds of things, under rules/guidelines/considerations that are not specific enough yet, which could explain the complete unevenness of its selection process.

        • Baines says:

          War Z was presumably handwaved through without any checking, because Hammerpoint Interactive was a “known”/”trusted” publisher that already had games on Steam.

          Revelations 2012 got approval allegedly simply because the developers licensed the Source engine from Valve to make the game? (Which is mostly just a reskin/mod of L4D2, at least according to those unfortunate enough to play it.)

          The key thing to remember is that even though Valve made a digital store, they don’t want to do the work of running a store. They don’t want to review games to see if said games meet any kind of minimum standards. They don’t even appear to really have any form of minimum standards in the first place. Valve takes action when there is enough bad PR to force their hand, and even then they can be reluctant to act.

          • SillyWizard says:

            Minimum standards what? It’s the consumer’s responsibility to ensure he’s not buying crap from a Good & Crap emporium.

            Digital-goods merchants like Valve put products on their site which they have every reason to believe function the way the developer claims it will; then they arrange sales of keys for said games with the publisher. They’ll pay $X for Y keys, and sell the keys for $Z/apiece.

            Do you think the game publisher is going to give Valve refunds for keys purchased? Fuck no.

            Can you expect Valve to quality control the literally thousands of products they currently sell, and the hundreds if not thousands of products in line to be sold in the near future? Fuck no.

            Take some responsibility for your choices.

            I’ve made stupid PC game purchases. Y’know what I’ve learned? To stop making stupid PC game purchases.

      • soldant says:

        To be fair, there’s also a lot of trash on Greenlight, or games that are being posted up there on the promise that they’ll materialise if they just get on Steam.

  14. Bweahns says:

    That second video was hilarious. I was laughing out loud for most of it.

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    Chaz says:

    Ah thank you! Those videos had tears of laughter rolling down my face.

    If real cricket was more like that, I’d watch it all the time. Perhaps they should create a new game and mix in elements of Takeshi’s Castle.

  16. serioussgtstu says:

    Now I know how my dog feels when I pretend to throw the ball and she doesn’t know where it’s gone.

    How did this get through Steam’s certification process? There’s no way anyone at Valve actually played this beforehand. I do like that it only has keyboard controls though, it’s like the Dwarf Fortress of sports games and being cricket it’s just as impenetrable.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      Valve doesn’t have a certification process. They do, however, have a cage full of monkeys trained to throw darts at a giant list on the wall.

  17. CookPassBabtridge says:

    If the pre-order screen shots had been prettier they could at least have made a few million bucks before the mea culpa. Or maybe that’s only for space sim reboots
    /snark

  18. JoshuaMadoc says:

    Should’ve kept it up so Lowtax and Shmorky can “play” it.

  19. DapperDirewolf says:

    Second video had me cracking up. What a crock!

  20. jkz says:

    I thought it was an accurate simulation of the England team to be honest.

  21. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Made in Melbourne. Go us.

  22. GameCat says:

    I see so much potential for dubstep driven “36O duck laugh, NO HANDS, MGL, PR0 ShoTZ” videos.

  23. The Random One says:

    Maybe it’s an existential cricket simulator. Ashes to ashes, cricket to cricket.

  24. Mctittles says:

    Was this thing built on the Arma engine? All that terrible motion capture work reminds me of it.

  25. Gothnak says:

    I love the way even the score is presented wrongly…5/24 instead of 24/5. It’s like they have never actually watched cricket.

  26. aircool says:

    The reason for the current Ashes series coming so soon is because there’s some slack to pick up after the 2012 Olympics.

  27. Berzee says:

    Can anything surpass Little Master Cricket?

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      DrollRemark says:

      No. Never.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      As an American, I found Little Master Cricket very educational! I now know that cricket is a game in which pool balls are thrown at a man who must deflect them with a pizza paddle while having a minor seizure. The optimal strategy is to hold the paddle immobile in front of you like a shield for several minutes, then shove the resulting pile of balls forward and score fifty-three runs at once.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It was with this strategy that Gary Lineker won gold at the European Show Jumping Championships in 1972.

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    Surlywombat says:

    People talk about the “Citizen Kane” of games, I’m more interested in the “The Room” of games. Time to pre-order the boxed copy.

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      DrScuttles says:

      This almost insurmountable quest is why I read Richard Cobbett’s Saturday Crapshoot religiously.

      • SillyWizard says:

        I dunno. I think the internet has fragmented human experience to the point where a Citizen Kane will never happen again.

        Especially if you look into the history of the production.

        Essentially, a shit-hot young dev (Klei?) would have to garner all the attention in the world due to some earth-shatteringly awesome game, and then be given a blank check by one of the world’s largest publishers and told to do anything they want.

        Seems unlikely.

        But even if it were to happen, since people now have TV and the internet (not to mention books and such) to distract them, the likelihood of anything ever becoming that culturally significant again is pretty slim. We’re all perpetually burrowing deeper and deeper into our niches. Nothing good will come of it! Fuckin’ internet.

        Now I’m depressed.

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    jrodman says:

    This is excellent. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Daniel Klein says:

    I don’t know what’s wrong with those videos. According to all I know about Cricket, that’s exactly how the game is played.

  31. rickenbacker says:

    Wild guess: it’s from Actalogic/UIG? They have a history of putting out unfinished games, at full price, and then canceling all development.

  32. teije says:

    With the second video I feel I finally understand the appeal of cricket. What an awesome sport.

  33. Donners says:

    Oh well, there is always Super International Cricket, MacCricket and Shane Warne/Brian Lara Cricket ’99.

    Hopefully Don Bradman Cricket 14 lives up to the hype.

  34. Sarreq Teryx says:

    dunno, looks like a regular cricket match to me………

    (least understandable game EVAR)

  35. fish99 says:

    Cricket is easy to understand. If the bowler knocks your stumps over, you’re out. Hit the ball with the bat, run between the wickets before the fielders can knock your stumps over, you get one run for each length you run. If they do hit the stumps while you’re running between the wickets, you’re out. Hit the ball to the boundary gets you 4 run, hitting it over the boundary rope without bouncing gets you six runs. You can’t use you legs to stop the bowler hitting the stumps (LBW, leg before wicket). If you hit the ball in the air and a fielder catches it, you’re out. Each bowler has 6 deliveries before someone else has to bowl. Each team gets to bat twice if it’s a test match.

    That’s 95% of the game right there. You don’t need to know more than that to understand what’s going on.