The RPS Bargain Bucket: Like Penguins

By Cassandra Khaw on June 21st, 2014 at 1:00 pm.

There’s really not much to say about this week except, “You know Steam is having a sale, right?” But not just them. Everyone seems to be joining into the fun. The real question is, of course, how many of these games will actually be played once the discount frenzy has ended. One? Two? How many will be relegated to the digital depths of game libraries everywhere? Pixar would make a total killing if they swooped in and made a video games-inspired riff on Toy Story. (Yes, I know there’d be a herd of licensing agreements to wrangle. Let’s pretend those don’t exist for a moment.)

The Other Worlds Bundle
$3.39/£2.39/€2.99
An understated but surprisingly decent bundle. Bundle Stars’ offerings seem to be largely comprised of okay and god-awful, but their Other Worlds compilation is actually genuinely interesting. At least, if you have a stomach for the weird, the wacky, and the atrociously voiced. The Journey Down is a favorite of mine, even though I still prefer its’ 2D self best. The character design is fascinating albeit a little creepy. I also love The Void, even though it’s borderline unplayable in sections and will gleefully screw with your mind. It’s haunting, strange, unsettling, and all the other words traditionally associated with Ice-Pick Lodge’s games. Also, Time Gentlemen Please! and Ben There, Dan That is absolutely awesome if you’re inclined towards their brand of humor. (The rest are pretty good too.)

The Ship
$1.13/£0.80/€1.00
The Ship is not a good place for anyone lacking cat-like reflexes. But, isn’t that generally the case for any game which requires you to kill other living things? Much has been said about this unusual murder-em-up, which plays out a lot like a love child between Assassin and The Sims. The basic idea behind The Ship is this: you need to bludgeon someone to death while avoiding being bludgeoned to death. Human needs such as sleep and food must be attended to as well, further complicating the already sticky matters of someone else’s heart.

Amnesia Collection
$6.99/£4.79/€5.79
Aaaaaaaah. *deep breath* AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH. (You should know about the Amnesia collection by now. Seriously. It’s that game that makes grown men cry. Not sentimental tears, of course but those gulping, heaving tears bled from the bones of terror itself. You know, the kind you would cry if you were hiding in a closet and something absolutely terrifying was in the room looking for you. Yeah. Those kind of tears. Anyway, to resume – ) Aaaaagh.

War on Vikings
$12.49/£9.49/€11.99
I think this might be the cheapest War on Vikings sales. I could be wrong. In which case you may lynch me, Internet mob. Anyway, the price is dependent on if you can cash in that 20% voucher which Green Man Gaming is so famous for. But, moving on. It’s a polarizing game, that is riddled with faults and high ambition. At its core, it is a game about skill: quick reflexes, fluid combat, and varying degrees of realism. Your character can grow tired. Take more than a handful of hits and you will be crushed like a tin can on a four-lane highway. P.S: The game does not support boob armor, which instantly elicits a few extra points from me.

Also of note:

GOG’s 2014 Summer Sale
You should really be paying attention to GOG.com right now. Hell, I’m tempted to argue that they may have better discounts than Steam. Why? Because I like retro games, really. And point & click adventures. GOG’s daily bundle deals are particularly noteworthy, so much so that I would suggest checking in at least once a day to see what they’ve got in store for you. More intriguingly, it looks like they have almost their entire catalogue discounted by 50%. Definitely worth a quick rummage.

ShinyLoot’s 101 Days of Summer Daily Sales
“Hit and miss” is a great phrase to use in conjunction with the games from this website. Many of the titles on display are those that have been wheeling way below the radar: broken bits of genius, unpolished attempts, and the utterly strange. That said, you may well be able to find something interesting sometime in the next eighty days or so.

E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy – $0.99/£0.69/€0.99
I really wanted to like E.Y.E. I did. I mean, there are cyberpunk elements intermingled with a dollop of Warhammer 40k. What is there not to like about a game like this? And while I could be mistaken, I believe this may well be the one of the rare games that has mechanical objects counter-hacking you in return. The game was hopelessly broken the first time I tried it, however. You might have better luck than I did.

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108 Comments »

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  1. Baines says:

    EYE at 90% off was only an eight hour community vote sale. It was back to 75% off around an hour before RPS posted this article.

  2. Premium User Badge

    thedosbox says:

    That’s a very happy/satisfied looking penguin.

    It’s worth noting that GOG is currently listing “Hitman Classics” @ 80% off for the next half hour. That’s Codename 47, Silent Assassin & Contracts for US$5.17

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      Gap Gen says:

      Yes, very regal. Emperor penguin?

    • Shadowcat says:

      I’m more disconcerted by what’s behind it, staring into its freaking soul, its eyes like black fists.

      (\Vince: “It’s not his fault, he’s a lonely prawn.”)

  3. Syra says:

    Have you heard of “Wreck it Ralph” Cassandra?

    • Scurra says:

      That was my immediate reaction too. Wreck-It Ralph is a genuinely great film, and should be seen (and loved) by anyone who cares about video games. No, it’s not quite Toy Story but then what is?

      • malkav11 says:

        It’s a lovely film that I enjoyed a great deal, but it only really spends much time in one videogame realm (the kart racer). There was room for a lot more riffs on the medium. Ah well.

        • Lagran says:

          There is a sequel in the works which is supposedly dealing with online gaming and the like. Hopefully that’d enable the movie to use a more game-jumping story and seeing more cameos than sticking in Sugar Rush for the first one.

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          Vandelay says:

          Most of the game references were basically just a character popping up and someone saying “Hey look, it’s Pacman.” I think they definitely could have gotten more humour out of the standard formula used in games (just look at The Stanley Parable as an example,) but then it would have been incredibly niche and not really a Disney film.

          It was still really great though. Didn’t know there was a sequel coming.

      • Stardreamer says:

        Cassandra has been programmed with the most tragic backstory ever written….

  4. CookPassBabtridge says:

    The only game I REALLY want on discount is OMSI2. It just seems to stay resolutely high priced like British Rail train fares.

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      J. Cosmo Cohen says:

      Similarly, I just want Silent Hill: Homecoming to go on sale. It still sits at a ridiculous price for how old it is.

      • Press X to Gary Busey says:

        That game has had some strange publishing on PC (likely they don’t give a shit). It wasn’t even available to buy on Steam for several months here in Sweden but the retail box with a Steam key was. It even got in the GameStop PC bargain bin before it was available on Steam without a proxy.
        And the current pricing is the first time I’ve seen the regular € pricing lower than both £ and $ (it’s 50% higher in dollars).

        It’s usually 75% off around the Halloween sales but it was also 50% off during the last Holiday sale.

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      AngelTear says:

      I thought about you when I saw ETS2 on Steam 85% off as a flash deal, yesterday. Hope you grabbed it ^_^

      (I wanted to grab one copy myself, but I’m in no-buying-games mode, except for Transistor and Always Sometimes Monsters, and I successfully resisted temptation)

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        That ship sailed many months ago. Well, 81 hours of gameplay ago at least anyway :) SOOOOO GOOD and can’t wait to get my Rift in August to play it alongside my wheel. All I need is a pull cord horn thing HOOT HOOT (also Rambert)

        So far I only got Call of Juarez after seeing NerdCubed’s playthrough. That guy also made me want GTA V on PC. But I am feeling in the mood for some good first person racing games too. ETS kicked that off I think

    • Dozer says:

      I miss British Rail train fares. Renationalise the railways!

  5. altum videtur says:

    I so wanted to try EYE then I forgot about it completely. Every once in a while I get the idea that I might try it then summarily forget time and time again.
    So that’s basically as valid a relation with the game as if I actually played it. Like some spoorless and increate lunar body orbiting whatever planet should represent my memories best.
    Savara, I guess.

    • steviebops says:

      Wat?

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Profound

    • altum videtur says:

      bruv you even Tyrian

    • mezron says:

      Like some spoorless and increate lunar body orbiting whatever planet should represent my memories best.
      Savara, I guess.

      I’ve played EYE a couple times, and this pretty well sums up my experience with it as well….

  6. Premium User Badge

    J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    I’m glad Steam is doing another meta game for its sale. Not that I’m participating much, but I think it’s always fun to have something else to do when spending buckets of money. I also wonder about how they go about developing these things. For instance, last big sale you could cheaply purchase the cards necessary to continuously earn the sale badge; this time, by introducing a contest involving the cards, each and every card has maintained a healthy price point. For some reason I find this sort of thing fascinating.

    Also: RED TEAM FOR LIFE.

    • Premium User Badge

      AngelTear says:

      No offense, but I find that kind of Steam meta-game highly toxic and exploitative, and simply dangerous because certain kinds of people could easily become addicted to it. I’m just happy I never started collecting Steam cards myself, or I could easily count myself among the addicted.

      It’s a lot like exploitative methods used in F2P games, except brought to a whole new level. And while it’s good that those who don’t want to participate are not punished because of it (unlike games that become pay-to-win), the rewards for those who do get hooked are even more transparently empty, valueless and flimsy than in-game boosts in said F2P games.

      They could at least save face by giving a small percentage of all that money they get from people who have too much money for their own good to charity.

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        J. Cosmo Cohen says:

        No offense taken. I was addicted to weapon collecting in CS:GO to the point that I had to stop playing the game. I can easily see that being the case for this sort of meta game, too, where someone may be unable to stop and in turn cause irreparable damage to themselves (in the form of debt, of course).

        Your points are well taken and have given me a new perspective I hadn’t thought of before.

      • Dawngreeter says:

        I, too, think that companies which create alcoholic beverages are at fault for alcoholism. Also, chocolate factories, Belgium and Switzerland are at fault for chocoholism.

        Oh, and I’m addicted to Internet. That’s Al Gore’s fault (also, RPS’s).

        • The Random One says:

          Considering that the government demands that the makers of cigarrettes, alcoholic drinks, fatty foods etc. place warnings on the packaging of their products (instead of turning to their population and saying STOP EATING SO MUCH FOOD, YOU GODDAMN WHALES) I’d say the position you sarcastically pretend to hold is the position many people sincerely hold.

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          AngelTear says:

          There are several differences, obviously. I’d argue that the most relevant one is that all the things you mention are worthwhile, even if they can be addicting and so potentially dangerous to certain individuals. The internet, or chocolate, or cigarettes are all nice things/useful/valuable/worthwhile experiences in their own right, apart from their addictive qualities. A world without internet, or without chocolate, would be worse off.

          Steam Trading cards have been created purely for being addicting and for exploiting certain basic psychological weaknesses, they have no value in themselves, people didn’t want them before they existed, and they don’t gain anything from them except experience levels and bragging rights if they are on top, or more likely social pressure because someone else’s steam account has a higher number than yours. They created a need by giving you an empty experience bar and a number, and then they scratched that need themselves. I don’t know if the world would be better off without steam trading cards, but it certainly wouldn’t be worse off.

          • Dawngreeter says:

            You seem to describe gaming in general. I had no need to play Assassin’s Creed. The company created that need. And then I had to pay to fulfill it, newly created and all. The bastards.

            Also, I had no need to read Neuromancer. And I had no need to watch Lost in Translation. All created needs which fill absolutely no useful purpose.

            Yet I really, really enjoy having a Walking Dead badge on Steam.

      • Baines says:

        I wonder how much money Valve makes off of trading cards. Most cards seem to sell for only a few pennies on the Marketplace, and Valve takes a chunk of those pennies.

        Clicking on a card in your inventory shows you the current Marketplace price of that card, as well as how many copies of that card have been sold in the last 24 hours. FTL cards are going for $0.10 or $0.11 on Marketplace, with Valve taking $0.02 per sale. That doesn’t sound like much. I’ve got three different FTL cards, and each tracks at over 3600 sales in the last 24 hours. That’s $72 in transaction fees per card, and there are eight FTL cards.

        Bastion cards sold over 2500 copies in the last 24 hours. Hotline Miami sold over 3000 per card type.

        I’ve two different Garry’s Mod cards, and they list at around 13,000 copies per day. Valve is only making two cents a sale, but that still comes to $260 per card in a 9 card set.

        And the Summer Sale cards themselves? I’ve got two. One is at 78,883 sold and the other is at 79,480. They are also selling for more than any of the games listed above, around $0.40. Valve takes a $0.04 cut. 79,000 sales at $0.04 per sale comes to $3,160. It is a ten card set, so that would mean Valve has taken in $31,600 in one day from that set. And that figure is probably low, because the majority of those sales were likely above $0.40 per card, so Valve might have been averaging more than $0.04 per sale.

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          AngelTear says:

          That’s kinda scary when you realize that they’re getting all that money without selling any real “content”. A lot like banks and finance, really.

          Plus, for every game set, there are foil cards and booster packs. The number of sales are lower, but their prices are considerably higher.

          Also, there are people who buy games with trading cards only to leave them open and get the cards, games they are not interested in and wouldn’t have bought otherwise, so there’s even more profit.

          • Reefpirate says:

            “Kinda scary”? I don’t see what’s scary about any of this… Do you also find Baseball cards and Pokemon scary? What about those arcade games where you can win stuffed animals if you can catch one in a claw? Surely those quarters could have gone to a local food bank or something…

            These are relatively harmless recreational activities and I don’t see how they can be scary unless you’re stuck in a mindset that sees any sort of superficial commercial transaction as nefarious.

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            AngelTear says:

            You’re conflating part of what I said with part of what I didn’t say.

            It’s scary to me that they can make thousands of dollars by selling something as empty as virtual badges. As I said, it’s the same kind of scary that I get when I think about how many people make stupid amounts of money with financial trading, where money isn’t really invested, it’s just there and then somehow, without doing anything *real* with it, you have more. They’re not selling cards because they’re worthwhile experiences, like games, or because someone put their time and effort into them, they’re selling cards because they first created an empty sticker album to fill that wasn’t there before, and people feel compelled to fill it, and it’s not even going to be a memory or something you can look at again, like a proper sticker album, you just do it to get exp points. That’s scary to me.

            It could be similar with baseball cards, I guess I have a milder gut reaction because at least there’s a sense you’re getting something material, at least they had to print it and you get an actual piece of paper. It doesn’t hold well in terms of rational argument, but it makes a difference in terms of instinctive reaction.

            The remark about charity was separate from it, it just makes me angry to see people waste their money on *nothingness*…

          • Philomelle says:

            They aren’t nothingness, they are data. Just like other forms of entertainment, such as games, movies and music, were all given digital presence over the years, so did collectible trading cards transform into data these days. Claiming that they are nothingness just because their data takes shape of something you personally have no interest in is extremely disrespectful toward people who do find entertainment in the activity associated with that something (in this case, the act of collecting).

            Now, I won’t argue that the act of collecting can become extreme and ruin people’s wallets. But people can become over-invested in any hobby, from trading cards to sports to video games, and there are plenty of cases when that investment can turn self-destructive.

            tl;dr I’d appreciate if you stopped talking like all trading card collectors are irresponsible money-wasting addicts just because a few people are. I’m sure that isn’t how you mean to come off, but that is how you keep coming off in this conversation and honestly, I believe you’re better than that.

          • Premium User Badge

            AngelTear says:

            When I collected cards or stickers as a kid, I felt like I got something out of them either by playing with them or by owning the picture at least. People who collect trading cards, from what I can tell, don’t do it for anything other than to get the badge (you can easily get better pictures of the same thing by in-game screenshot, or generally around the internet – and you definitely don’t play with them with your friends), and the need to get badge is generally just fueled by social pressure.

            But let’s put all that aside. I know this kind of comment is generally disliked, because it attacks things people like and they don’t want to be told otherwise. It also makes me be disliked, because it looks like I’m arguing from a “better than you” position that I honestly don’t think I have – if anything, I dropped out of university and I see a psychologist because, among other things, I feel like I’m such a terrible person on such a profound level that I don’t deserve to be happy, or enjoy myself, or have friends, or have most of the things I have.

            So, I’m going to be completely honest here, and say I have trouble justifying my game purchases to myself. I have trouble justifying buying off-brand coke (I haven’t bought Pepsi or Coca-Cola for years, spending that much money on a drink baffles me). I can’t say I’m a collector, but occasionally I like to buy small plushies, or fairy statuettes, and I have a hell of a hard time justifying that to myself. It’s completely entitled, and it’s a stupid waste of money that I shouldn’t have any right to waste. Then again, being selfish is relatively easy, and it’s even easier for people who have a normal sense of self-esteem and lack my sense of guilt about everything.

            So, people who spend even more money on things that are equally or even more inconsequential or useless – I could count steam trading cards, but I remember making similar comments on the article that narrated the stupid amount of money people spend on certain DOTA accessories, and I could say the same about people who buy SUVs when all they do is go from home to the office, just because they need to feel bigger and better than you, or the ones that buy a new iPhone every year, or the ones that spend 2000$ on a 42″ tv screen to replace the year old 40″ screen they had previously, and I could go on, the more unnecessary and superfluous the luxury the better – they baffle me, to a certain extent they make me angry, but I also wonder if they ever feel guilty about the way they so selfishly spend their money half as much as I feel guilty for buying a CD, or a bottle of water or an ice-cream when I go out.

            On a related note, I’m going to leave this here http://www.givingwhatwecan.org/

          • joa says:

            The purchases that you call entitled and superficial drive our economy, and that does a hell of a lot more good for people than donating to charity ever will. On the site you linked to, if everyone started giving 10% of their income to charity, the results would be disastrous and we would end up in poverty ourselves.

          • Philomelle says:

            I actually dislike your argument for reasons completely unrelated to you arguing from a “better than you” position, it’s because you argue from a “worse than everyone” position in which you intentionally sabotage your own life due to depression, then are shocked when people don’t follow you in your footsteps. I know that because I’ve been depressed for many years, still need to be very careful about my chemical balance and generally recognize when my brain is just being a shit to me.

            None of that is a “stupid waste of money”. Very poor people buy those things too because they sometimes want to buy something that makes them feel good. Everyone wants to feel good, even if it’s through stupid inconsequential things. What you’re doing is completely disconnected from wasting money and is actually your depression-infested brain going “Some people out there are suffering, so I’m going to suffer equally to them because I’m such a worthless piece of trash”. That is a terrible way of thinking. The way of improving the world has nothing to do with doing your best to suffer as much as other people who suffer and everything with trying to improve the world so that nobody else suffers. Refusing yourself nice things because other people in the universe have it bad is an inherently flawed way of thinking and only increases or equalizes suffering in the world, not reduces it.

            You also assume, very wrongly, that those people who spend money on ridiculous luxurious things, don’t also spend them on something helpful or useful. Do you know for a fact that none of the rich trading card merchants ever donated to charity? Do you have proof that every single corporate CEO is a soulless money-hoarding wight? I’m not saying that none of them, are but the fact is that people do things that are good, helpful and altruistic in-between moments of selfishness. That’s because most of them don’t want to suffer in place of someone else (because, as I said earlier, that only equalizes or increases suffering in the world), but would rather be happy while also making someone else happy on the side.

            Your argument is basically that people who do selfish things are selfish all the time, which is straight-up wrong. A lot of those people help others, donate to charity, do volunteer work, participate in political activism and more. And the reason they have the energy to constantly do these good things is because they allowed themselves to keep going through being selfish where it helped them.

            Stop that. Stop all of that. You’re not thinking about helping other people, you’re thinking about how to make yourself suffer as much as hypothetical other people who suffer because your depression-infested brain is allergic to happiness. An inherently miserable person cannot help anyone. Build up your happiness, then spread it around. That’s the direction you should be thinking in.

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            AngelTear says:

            Well, as an aside, I don’t have any data but I don’t believe that even 0.1% of the people who are extremely selfish with their money are ever not-selfish in different moments.

            But, thank you for being a nice human being to me. I think part of me even agrees with you, on most of what you said ^_^”

          • Hahaha says:

            Some of the cards have some nice unique artwork when you click on them but that dosen’t really outweigh the negatives

          • Damn Rookie says:

            @Philomelle. It feels a bit ‘off’ to say anything here, as I certainly don’t want to get in the middle of your discussion (apologies to AngelTear as well), as it were, but I just wanted to say thanks for posting that. I’ve never read ‘that’ put into such eloquent and unequivocal words before. Very good stuff.

          • valrus says:

            In case it makes you feel better about buying a game or a plushie, the nice thing about money is that spending it doesn’t make it cease to exist, and therefore “wasting” money is quite different than wasting food. If you buy my game, now *I* have $10. I might even make that charitable donation, or I might feed my kids or something, or I might just do something silly with it, but whatever I do, the money circulates yet again.

            (NB: I’m not really trying to cage $10 off you; I don’t have any games for purchase right now. But I could, and other people do, so buying games can be awesome. Likewise plushies.)

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          SuddenSight says:

          I can’t help bit wonder who is buying all these cards. I put every card I get on the market, and most of them sell, but every game seems tog ice you a heap of cards.

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            AngelTear says:

            Well, every game gives a number of cards equal to half of the set (rounded up in case of an uneven number of cards in the set), but you can also complete the badge multiple times (5 times if I’m not mistaken), and then again with foil cards.

            So, one person completing a badge can absorb the cards from about 9 other people, not counting booster packs which drop at random, and not counting foil. Still, for every card there are thousands of “copies” waiting to be picked up in the market, not being used, there is definitely no shortage. It’s only the cheap ones that are constantly sold.

          • Baines says:

            Quite a while back, people started making price lists that calculated how much it cost to “buy” a badge outright, based on the market prices of all the necessary cards. That on its own shows the mindset of some of the buyers.

            Why “buy” a badge? In the early days, people wanted to rush up their Steam level and get the rewards for that. There was also buying for coupons, particularly in the early days when coupons stacked.

            Then there were Steam sale events. In the early days of a sale (and particularly the first sale where Steam was awarding blank cards before the event proper started) you could turn a profit by buying a badge and then selling the event card you crafted.

            Now Valve have taken that event drive even further, with daily prizes based on points accumulated primarily through crafting Summer Adventure badges. Now people will sink money into trying to win individual days, likely in the hopes of being lucky enough to get the free Wishlist games prize. (I’m sure there are people who have retooled their wishlist specifically for that chance, as well. Populating it with only a small set of expensive games.)

          • Philomelle says:

            I buy them. They’re purely collecting for collecting’s sake to me. Kind of like stickers packaged with bubblegum that a lot of us collected as kids. There’s a small twinge of satisfaction as your sticker album fills out more and more.

            I allow myself a very strict budget for cards, however (5 dollars max on most months, 20 during sales if there are no games that really interest me). I’ve seen people who have every single badge unlocked and those confuse me, since that means spending hundreds upon hundreds of dollars on cards every month.

          • malkav11 says:

            I was resistant to the idea of buying the cards for a long time, mostly because I resented that the whole system is structured so that it is literally impossible for you to have a complete set drop even if you’re lucky and get no duplicates in your allotted drops. The idea appears to be that you could eventually obtain them from booster drops, but, well… until I started buying cards and crafting badges, I’d had one drop, ever. (Now I’ve had three. Even if they’d all been for the same game the odds are I wouldn’t have a complete badge out of it, and they weren’t.)

            What I ultimately decided was that I was never going to put money into the system specifically to buy cards. Because talk about pointless. But if I could make a few cents at a time from duplicates and cards from games I didn’t particularly want to badge (or that are too expensive to complete), then rolling those back into completing cheap badges for games I did like and want to represent on my profile… well, that didn’t seem too crazy. And since I have a ridiculous number of games, it means that occasionally I fire up something with card drops left, play ’til it’s out, and expand both booster eligibility and my possible crafting. And I get to see what one of the many neglected games in my library is like. Works out pretty good, so far. And now I have something like 33 badges. (including the non-card ones, of course).

          • Baines says:

            malkav11, boosters are only a bandaid to an issue, and are not meant to be the way to complete a set.

            During the days of the beta, Valve explained that the limited drops were to force people to trade cards to get complete sets. The idea was that you’d trade cards from unwanted sets to get the needed cards from wanted sets.

            However, Valve dragged its feet on implementing a promised trading feature focused on trading cards, so people turned to the Market to sell and buy cards. Valve then made lots of money, and eventually just kind of quit trying to adjust a Trading Card system that was flawed both in and by design.

          • malkav11 says:

            Yeah, I have zero interest in trading. I’d really prefer a system where I could eventually put stuff together on my own, but in the absence of that, it’s the market for me.

      • Lemming says:

        “and simply dangerous because certain kinds of people could easily become addicted to it. “

        Personal responsibility, and all that. No ‘Nanny State’ please!

        • Premium User Badge

          AngelTear says:

          Of course, it’s entirely in their right to do so. It’s entirely in my right to think it’s highly unethical and potentially damaging to others (being a system entirely based on exploiting innate psychological weaknesses, ones that gamers may be particularly vulnerable to, at that), and to call them out on that. The boundary between something simply alluring/seductive and something that is conscious, studied manipulation is hard to define, or prove, let alone legislate over.

          Still, the concept of personal responsibility is based upon an idea of power over oneself and freedom to choose and think and act autonomously, ideas that certain manipulative applications of psychology call into question. I honestly don’t know enough to say anything with certainty about this, but I definitely believe it’s worth discussing.

          • Bull0 says:

            So you’re ready to condemn but with the caveat that you don’t actually know with any certainty that what you’re saying holds any truth.

            Hmm.

          • Premium User Badge

            AngelTear says:

            That’s exactly what I said. I said I don’t know enough because I in fact know absolutely nothing at all, and I said that because it helps prove my point, right?

            Seriously, though, when you’ve decided to not twist my comments, I said that it’d require more specific knowledge than I have to investigate the exact relationship between personal responsibility and manipulative applications of psychology, how much mental resistance one can apply against that manipulation and if law would be required to regulate it, and if yes, what kind.

            That has nothing to do with my calling it unethical. The fact that you’re trying to manipulate me into buying fluff and obsessing about it is already unethical for me, no matter how effective your technique is on the general population. Law only has to set very minimal standard of conducts for people, but thankfully human beings generally aspire for more.

          • Bull0 says:

            Lots of moralising with zero logic. I question the relevance or worth of such discussion.

          • joa says:

            How is it unethical? It’s just business. You cannot apply the standards of ethics you would apply to people to businesses.

            Businesses are out to make us much money as possible while spending as little money as possible, by any means, which includes psychological manipulation, if you want to go so far as to call it that. Everyone still has a choice; everyone has control of their senses. If they part with their money, that is their problem. The businesses are just doing what they have to.

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            @joa Its as though you are saying “there is no place for ethics in commerce”. And that is a truly chilling statement for someone to have actually internalised and agreed with.

          • Premium User Badge

            basilisk says:

            Everyone still has a choice; everyone has control of their senses.

            That’s exactly the point, you see. Human brains are not perfect and can be manipulated, as has been thoroughly proven over the last several decades. The homo economicus does not exist. We are talking here about a business that abuses the inherent flaws of the human brain to override precisely this “choice and control of their senses” you are talking about; basically disarming the security mechanism that is built into humans to drum up interest in a perfectly worthless product. Is that ethical? Should that be legal? Shouldn’t that be somehow controlled? Open questions; I do not have the answer.

            Again, it’s impossible to tell where does this stop being “advertising” and becomes all-out exploitation. The nearest equivalent we have is gambling, which is an imperfect analogy, but it sort of works. The line between an avid player and a gambler is extremely fuzzy.

          • joa says:

            No one has the ability to disarm the security mechanisms of the human brain. Yes it’s possible for people to manipulate and influence you – but that’s why you should always sleep on any big decision you make, and then you’ll be able to make a rational choice.

            The thing is, whatever businesses do, the people are still in control. The people could put a business out of business over night. If businesses are doing these things you don’t like, it’s only because the people are consenting. When it all gets too much, people can just say no. So the ethical responsibility lies with the consumer.

          • Premium User Badge

            basilisk says:

            Joa, I would hazard a guess that you don’t have any real-life experience with compulsions/addictions/whatever term you want to use.

            It’s nice to think that you can always remain strong and in control, but sadly, that is simply not the case. You may find this hard to believe, and I know I am not going to convince you with words, but that’s how it is.

      • Bull0 says:

        We’re going for “overwhelmingly puritanical” with this are we? There’s not a single thing in that comment I can agree with. Because some people respond badly to gamification, it should be banned? Or the staggering human cost might be meaningfully offset if Steam donated some token amount of its profits to charity? Why?

        While we’re at it how is *winning games from your wishlist* “transparently empty, valueless and flimsy”? Or unlocking Portal 2 a little early? Etc.

        • HadToLogin says:

          Portal 2 is completely different story. You didn’t need to invest money into that (if you had games already) and if you did, you actually received something valuable/meaningful (bunch of games).
          Here, in most cases you get nothing of value (depending if we talk only about game-badges or event-badges, where they drop some F2P items that can be sold for few $$$). Well, beside a chance for 3 free games. But from those few millions of people using steam, only 30 people will get it…

          • Bull0 says:

            You’re totally right – they’re totally transparent and empty as long as you only talk about the things that are transparent and empty

      • Premium User Badge

        basilisk says:

        Thank you, AngelTear. Sometimes I feel I’m the only one who’s really disturbed by this; I would happily sign everything you say in this comment thread.

        It’s impossible to say where exactly exploitation begins and where harmless diversion stops being so harmless, but I am convinced that Valve have crossed that line ages ago. The TF2 and CS:GO crate system and the trading cards are simply Not Nice. Lots of people “profit” from the system, but at the end of the line, somewhere, there are people pouring real-life money into it. And as with gambling, it’s pretty ballsy to say they are “at least getting enjoyment out of it”, as the common counter-argument goes. Addictions are weird that way.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          TL;DR version: More information is always good with these things. Look up Cialdini’s “click whirr responses” and Edward Bernays’ Public Relations theory.

          I think boning up on this stuff is a good thing, and agree that discussing it is important. Learning about influence and compliance has been quite an eye opener. There was an awesome Professor of applied psychology by the name of Cialdini who identified “click whirr” responses – automatic behaviours that humans learn – that he wanted to educate people about. These can be used without our awareness, and laboratory testing had shown carried a disproportionately influencing effect.

          Examples you may like to look up are the Authority effect, The Halo Effect, The Scarcity Principle and the contrast principle. His text was intended as a way for normal people to innoculate themselves against having these provably powerful principles ranged against them. The irony is that shortly after he published the book version of his findings, the application of his methods exploded in advertising and anywhere ‘compliance professionals’ work.

          Some were better than others – for example has anyone really been driven to buy a “Limited Edition Mars Bar”? Probably not – this example of using scarcity is amateur at best. But there is an industry that is dedicated to finding these ways of exercising influence over people, commercially and politically. Its called “public relations”. For the very cleverest and deepest applications, check out the work of Edward Bernays and his leveraging of social dominance and connection as a form of political and commercial influence. It doesn’t take a lot to see how social media can be used in this way.

          Note I am not saying the word “control”. What we are talking about is disproportionate influence, which in many ways is more insidious, because those who are influenced come away with the sense that they chose to do so. They will resent being told they were “controlled”. Being aware of the click whirr responses changes that, because you can now see when someone is attempting to use one.

          Is gamification an example of the above? I am not sure (it certainly leverages “drive for reward” as a means of getting you to do something you may not otherwise do), but its certainly worth understanding the psychology that underpins it.

          • Geebs says:

            Yeah, it’s not like I can be bothered to take any sort of moral stance on Valve’s gamification-of-buying-stuff (and even if I did it seems that there are plenty of people out there dumb enough to defend that with the argument that “people used predatory selling practices on me when I was a child, so it must be okay”), but I do think that the more brain-hacks they use, the more scummy they make themselves look.

            It’s particularly depressing that they are so good at it that the people whose brains have been hacked actually go on to defend Valve because they think that they spent all of that money on meaningless ones and zeros of their own free will.

            http://news.psu.edu/story/277383/2013/05/21/research/getting-bottom-zombie-ant-phenomenon

    • malkav11 says:

      It’s not nearly as fun as the scavenger hunts were, but it is at least something more than -just- card farming, I suppose. Unfortunately, I think Valve kinda broke the game by including a way to deliberately change teams to a particular team. Everyone’s flocking to the winning team(s) instead of making a five-way fight of it. I was just lucky enough that that happened to be the team I was randomly autoassigned to.

      • Premium User Badge

        Vandelay says:

        Yes, the scavenger hunt was a much better meta-game. It meant you were actually playing the games you were buying and also going back and playing games you previously played. With this one you have to spend money on those pointless trading counts in order to actually earn any points and contribute to your team, as I don’t believe you get enough drops in a game to create a badge.

        The former still had slightly dubious undertones, as people would buy games just to get the achievements rather than because they wanted them. The fact you had to use some skill in order to get the achievements meant that it wasn’t quite the slot machine lottery that they have here though.

        I don’t believe the existence of trading cards is problematic, just as I don’t think the existence of alcoholic drinks is, but Valve do have a responsibility not to encourage an addiction to collecting them, just as alcoholic drink sellers have a responsibility not to encourage over drinking. Just look at the scores page and the way they rapidly increase even on the teams that have few points and it is a little terrifying to think how much people must be spending in order to have a very, very slim chance of winning 3 games.

        • Baines says:

          People cheated on the Treasure Hunt events. You could use a program to award yourself Steam achievements for games.

          People exploited the Christmas coal event, with some setting up hundreds of new accounts to farm coal. And cheating achievements of course to get more coal.

          • malkav11 says:

            I totally understand why people cheated on the couple of events where you could get free games, but it wouldn’t be that hard to run a scavenger hunt type event without that level of incentive. My favorite was the summer one where you could select little pieces of brand new DLC for participating games – there were like one or two full games on the list but nothing anybody’d care much about. I’m sure people would still cheat, but at that point they’re just denying themselves the fun of earning it honestly so meh.

            I do find that the trading cards give me a mild incentive to play the associated games but there’s literally hundreds of games in my library that give them and they’re largely interchangeable, and of course they don’t actually require me to do anything in particular. I know it’s common to farm them by just leaving a game running in the background (or more than one!), but I’m not interested in doing that unless I really don’t want to play the game enough to get the full quota of drops. (I did it with Eversion because as it turns out, whatever it may become later, it starts off as basically finicky Mario, and I don’t like Mario games at all.)

            Sure, it’s shallow exposure to the games, but at least it gets me to fire them up.

          • Baines says:

            One of my issues with Trading Cards is that the implementation was about as broken and short-sighted as, well, pretty much anything Valve does on Steam. But I’m not sure how to “fix” it, not with the way that any fixes could be exploited.

            (It didn’t help that Valve didn’t seem particularly interested in making Cards “work”. Of course why would they, when cards in half-thought form were earning them buckets of cash for probably not that much effort?)

        • The Random One says:

          You got that right, Vandelay. I’d wanted Steam to do another ‘fun’ Summer Sale for a while, and I was disappointed, and couldn’t quite put my finger on why. But that’s why: they’ve shifted the focus to buying and owning instead of playing. It doesn’t matter wether you play the game, just that you own it. Plus, I don’t like the whole trading cards metagame and don’t like that the rewards system is tied to it – though I understand Valve’s (nefarious) reasons for doing so.

          • Philomelle says:

            Much as I enjoy collecting trading cards, I agree. I felt the sales were much better and more exciting back when they were about achievement hunts and not buying as much as possible in exchange for crafting a badge. I actually collected every single achievement during the last holiday sale that centered on them and it was delightful to try completely new games with intent of achieving something small in them, in one way or another.

            I understand why they removed those sales (the aforementioned cheating), but it still feels like the result is ultimately that they punished all players for the transgression of a handful cheaters. And while I still enjoy Steam meta-games to a degree, I find them much less engaging.

            The upside: I actually have time play games during the sales these days. I had to resort to some insane scheduling and gaming tricks for the aforementioned holiday sale.

    • steviebops says:

      GREEN TEAM for the duration of the sale.

  7. Vacuity729 says:

    So in this movie, computer games come to life when their owner is not around? That sounds like a sweet premise until you think about the details…
    In my pile of shame I have Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Is he (she?) going to contribute to a happy, cheerful movie?
    I also have the backstabbing, Machiavellian, empire-forming Europa Universalis III and IV. They may appear to be best girlfriends now (countries are mostly female), but really they’re only waiting for the right moment to slit each other’s throats and sell the body parts as dog meat for a profit.
    Oh, look! Surgeon Simulator 2013! Let’s hope none of the movie characters get hurt. If this guy tries to do first aid, we may as well just toss all their vital organs out the back of an ambulance; it won’t lower their odds of surviving his attentions.

    No, this movie would be a sick, depraved hell filled with monstrous characters wallowing in pride, violence, and greed, with sweet and beautiful baby badgers dying every twenty minutes. “A total killing” is an understatement, but in the wrong sense.

    Wait, no. You may be right. This movie quite possibly *would* make boatloads of cash…

    • Premium User Badge

      AngelTear says:

      Well, In Toy Story 1 Sid’s toys were supposedly depraved, but despite their appearance they revealed themselves to be good people, only their owner was evil. It’s a good start for a cheesy feel-good ending.

    • The Random One says:

      You may want to read Kid Radd…

  8. pilouuuu says:

    “Pixar would make a total killing if they swooped in and made a video games-inspired riff on Toy Story.”
    Wastn’t Wreck-It-Ralph kinda like that?

    • Premium User Badge

      Jalan says:

      That was Disney alone though, not Pixar. A distinction without a difference to some perhaps.

      • Xocrates says:

        Given that since the acquisition John Lasseter is in charge of both studios, and given the overall quality of both studios in the past few years, it’s a distinction that is starting to make less sense.

        Wreck-it-Ralph is surprisingly pixar-ish, though.

        • Premium User Badge

          Jalan says:

          There are some jokes that Pixar won’t touch. Probably as a means to remain as widely family friendly as possible. That’s not to say Wreck-it-Ralph was peppered with taboo humor but some of it was certainly not “all ages” as it is in Pixar films.

          • Xocrates says:

            I saw Wreck-it-Ralph on thursday and I honestly do not recall any joke I would consider a bit more edgy, in the meantime the Incredibles had the “no-capes” sequence where the joke was superheroes dying fairly gruesome deaths (not to mention Syndrome’s death), and those are by far not the only not entirely “family friendly” jokes in Pixar’s output, and possibly not even the worst offenders.

  9. Hahaha says:

    Why the fuck are people buying the steam adventure items

    Steal 1,000 Points
    1,000 Point Boost
    Steal 500 Points
    500 Point Boost
    Purple Team Token
    Blue Team Token
    Green Team Token
    Red Team Token
    Pink Team Token

    Some serious money grabbing bs

    • Baines says:

      Stuff like the points and steal points tokens seem particularly worthless, since it looks like each day one team is going to run away with the majority of points. Probably aided in no small part by people using the color switch tokens to jump onto the winning team.

      Purple owned the first day. Red owned the second day. Now Green already has almost twice as many points as any other team, and is earning points twice as fast as any other team (which all have almost identical points totals.) I guess Green will be winning Day 3.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jalan says:

      This entire event seems geared toward proving to developers that cards are a viable revenue stream, vs. a niche market run by ‘spergy goons to brag about how they can use their “earnins” to buy DLC for “free” (if someone reading this falls in that category, I apologize in advance, but stand by what I wrote – you guys don’t have to read some of the bollocks you write on a day to day basis re: this stuff like the rest of us do).

      The token prices are laughable though. With x team ahead, that team’s color switch token is guaranteed to be jacked up in price, a price which is likely going to be better spent buying two or three games on sale (daily or otherwise) that have card drops on their own than trying in vain to see if switching to the winning side in the final moments will prompt getting lucky in the “30 people out of multiple thousands” wishlist lottery.

      I miss the simple sales. Particularly the pack sales. I don’t think I’ve had quite as much fun spending my own money than when that happened, doling out the gift of Half-Life 2 to those without.

  10. Shooop says:

    The GOG sale is insane.

    I got three Sam & Max packs for less than $10 and the Tales Of Monkey Island pack for $3.50. It’s glorious.

  11. Lemming says:

    Bought Rage in the Steam sale yesterday. Fuck me is this game disappointing. It’s like the last fifteen years never happened.

    • steviebops says:

      It’s an odd one alright. I wonder if it’s a bad omen, id seem to often lag behind the times, I hope Doom doesn’t fail.

    • Freud says:

      iDeed.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      The best bit of RAGE is Smash TV. I played that over and over, the shotgun is built for it. Plus it makes you money to buy all that pointless effing vehicle ammo for the Lazarus-spawn car bandits.

    • SpaceAkers says:

      iD haven’t made a worthwhile game since Q3A 15 years ago.

      BUT GET EXCITED FOR THE NEXT DOOM GUYS!

      • spectone says:

        Doom 4 now with micro transactions, always online and multiplayer only.

  12. Scumbag says:

    On E.Y.E. Divine Icecreamancy “The game was hopelessly broken the first time I tried it”
    Wondering if that was on release or recently? Its been patched up quite a bit since then, but it is still jankey as hell.

    • Cassandra Khaw says:

      I tried it around the time of launch. :C It made me very sad then.

      • Scumbag says:

        Yeah, its had a lot of fixes since then. There are still performance issues, but if you want to give it another bash its as good as its gonna get right now.
        Its still totally batshit insane though.

  13. Baines says:

    So, Reddit users have apparently decided to try to rig the Steam Adventure points stuff, so that each team will win an equal number of days. Their goal is to have people only craft badges on their color’s day, cycling purple, red, green, pink, blue.

    That comes along after people have already started questioning whether or not Valve have already rigged the whole event, or would step in to rig/”alter” the event if one team was seen to be winning too many days.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      Money/desirable items makes people do the weirdest things and think in ways that are quite bizarre. I don’t think anything is rigged concerning this event, but I don’t care either way because I can’t/won’t participate. When I had voted several times I got a message saying “when you reach level 8 you’ll receive a card for every three votes” and I’m only level 6. Heh, like I’m gonna go from level 6 to level 8 before June 30th when the sale ends. Like everyone else I have a huge backlog and so I’m only looking to buy a few games and might not get anything if the price isn’t right. Haven’t bought anything from the GoG sale (backlog there as well), but having a great time right now with my GoG version of The Witcher 2.

  14. Juan Carlo says:

    You can get all 3 original Realms of Arkania games, along with the new HD remake and its DLC for 2.25.

    The new remake was a bit dodgy, but the originals were awesome games. So totally worth 2.25 for them alone:

    http://www.bundlestars.com/all-bundles/the-arkania-bundle/

  15. dethtoll says:

    The only thing scary about Amnesia is the way the series has transformed the survival horror genre into something unrecognizable and unlikable.

    • malkav11 says:

      I’m not sure I’d consider Amnesia or anything in its vein survival horror. The horror genre in gaming supports more styles than just survival horror.

      • dethtoll says:

        Yes, but a worrying percentage of “survival horror” games these days are just Amnesia ripoffs — linear sequences of highly-scripted scares where you can’t defend yourself. I’m really done with the whole First Person Wusser genre.

        Horror games used to be more diverse.

        • malkav11 says:

          Well, again, those are horror games, not necessarily “survival horror” games. I don’t think Amnesia had anything in particular to do with the latter subgenre (as originally popularized by Resident Evil) fading. If anything, I’d blame Resident Evil 4, which moved that franchise off in a more shootery direction that was very successful for them. And AAA publishers are all about milking success.

      • GameCat says:

        Well, how a game where you must run for your life from some monsters in cliched scary environment isn’t SURVIVAL horror?

        And yes, Amnesia did killed (ok, mayby just badlu hurt) horror genre. If you look back at finest horror games they have one thing in common -> fleshed out characters that you have cared about.
        I’ve tried to play both Amnesias and the only thing I’ve remember from first game is that main hero’s name is Daniel and he lost all his memories and from second game – you play as some guy with missing kids, which are almost like McGuffins, as we even didn’t see them. Why should I care for them?
        Compare it to Silent Hill: Shattered Memories INTRO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiSMlhAFNzI
        It’s simple cutscene but it delivers more info about characters than whole Amnesia did, lol.

        • Press X to Gary Busey says:

          Amnesia *was* a fresh breeze in an almost dead genre when it was released. Its popularity as Youtube scream fodder was what reanimated the horror genre into 99% first person jump-scare-hiding games.
          At least “horror” games are back on the table and I hope they will diversify again in the future.
          Triple-A horror is still dead and they maintain that it’s not viable after transforming every horror series into third person action.

        • malkav11 says:

          Any game where you can die would be “survival” something, by that logic. Survival horror originally had a more specific meaning typified by games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill.

          Also, I’m not sure that strong characterization has ever been a hallmark of the genre, and while I wouldn’t exactly call Amnesia a character-driven game, I think it has comparatively much stronger characterization than Shattered Memories. Good lord was that game awful.

          To me, the genre’s largely been about whether or not it was scary. Silent Hill (NOT Shattered Memories, but the original Japanese games), Condemned and Fatal Frame? Absolutely. Resident Evil, not so much. I do think you only get real existential horror from characters that you can care about or identify as, but I don’t think that’s been very common in horror gaming.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      The thing that’s weird about Penumbra/Amnesia is that everyone rips off the bad parts but Gone Home is the only game to rip off the good parts.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Mr Wibble says:

    I’m disturbed that the same penguin, sans bucket, is looking back at me from the corner of the room….

  17. Jason Moyer says:

    I’d skip the Amnesia bundle and just get the Dark Descent for $4. Or for $10 get the Dark Descent and the Penumbra bundle which is $6. The Chinese Room should be paying people to play AMFP.