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Games

Telltale + Game of Thrones

IGN:

IGN has learned from multiple sources that Telltale Games is developing a game based on George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.

It’s worth noting that, while “Game of Thrones” is the title of HBO’s series based on Martin’s books, the series itself is actually known as A Song of Ice and Fire, and the first book is titled Game of Thrones. It’s currently unclear what title Telltale will be using for its game, and whether the storyline will be based on the show, books, or something entirely new.

Telltale recently made the rather amazing The Walking Dead episodic game (that I still haven’t finished), but they have also made a few clunkers in the past. This is either going to be completely awesome or a total disaster.

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Games

Clueless Nintendo Update: “Maybe They Just Don’t Know It’s a New System”

Oh, Nintendo. This is not the problem.

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Games

Insert Typical PA Report Overreaction Here

So, yeah:

Sony has announced that over one million PlayStation 4 consoles were sold to consumers in the first 24 hours of availability. It’s important to put some context around that number in order to drive home the power of that number.

Context number one: Amazon.

In case you have forgotten, here’s what Amazon.com looked like in 2005, when the Xbox 360 launched.

Context number two: Supply shortages.

Every other system quoted in the article for comparison was a supply-constrained launch. There weren’t any Xbox 360s to go around for weeks after launch. The same with the PS2 (to a lesser extent) and I remember waiting for months to be able to buy a Wii.

If you want to talk about sell-through, let’s talk sell-through after two dates:

  1. This Friday.
  2. The end of the year.

Those will be the meaningful comparisons.

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Games

PlayStation 4 Quick Thoughts

So my PlayStation 4 arrived today, and I’ve spent a little bit of time playing with it. Some quick bulleted thoughts on it so far:

Hardware

  • The DualShock 4 is a great controller. The analog stick is still in the wrong place, but it’s leagues better than the DS3.
  • The box itself is really small for launch hardware; it’s smaller than my PS3 Slim. And it’s really aesthetically pleasing.
  • It wins the simplicity award; as few ports as possible and really easy to connect.
  • I wish Sony would lose its apparently institutional fear of IR ports for use with universal remotes. It pretty much guarantees I’ll use the One for movies.

OS/Dashboard

  • The home UI is kind of a disaster. It’s like they took the PS3’s XMB and the Vita’s menu system and just mashed them together. That’s not a good thing.
  • Service integration is pretty painless, though it’s a notable omission that you can’t push your video to YouTube.
  • That said, the Twitch integration for broadcasting is badass.
  • I don’t always want to drop my screenshots to Twitter or Facebook; my friends don’t always need these updates. I may make a new Twitter account just for my PS4, which defeats the purpose.
  • The activity stream (“What’s New”) for your account and your friends’ accounts is a cool idea and looks really neat—but it’s way too busy.
  • Vita and/or iOS screen linking works well and especially on Vita is really cool.

Games

  • It would be nice if there were some that reviewed well and that I’m not buying on Xbox One instead.
  • Except for Resogun, which is pretty cool.
  • But losing Driveclub as a launch game probably hurt. (I don’t even know if it’s any good.)
  • Offering Cross-Buy on some games that I’ve bought on PS3/Vita already is really nice of them even if it’s to play the games I’ve already played.
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Games

“You Can Sleep Here All Night”

A well-written piece by Ian Williams about the sad state of labor practices in the video game industry, where forced “crunch” periods are destroying souls:

Here, as in few other places, we see the kind of exploitation normally associated with the industrial sector in creative work. Already subject to lower wages when compared to the broader tech sector, video game studios’ management maintain the status quo by consciously manipulating the desires of writers, artists, and coders hoping to break into a creative field. The profit vacuumed up goes to ever more bloated management salaries and the unremittingly glitzy, tacky spectacles churned out by gaming’s PR departments.

One conclusion at which he arrives is something I sincerely hope does not occur:

The exploitation in the video game industry provides a glimpse at how the rest of us may be working in years to come.

But part of his solution for the industry is what I have been assuming is necessary for some time now:

Real unionization, involving an alliance between middle-rung workers and those itching to take their jobs below, is not just desirable but necessary, not only for the workers enmeshed in twelve-hour days, but to save the industry from tottering over the edge into obsolescence.

The games industry may soon be at a point of reckoning, with working conditions at an unsustainable level and games that sell four to five million copies considered failures because of the skyrocketing costs of development that don’t seem to be finding their way into the bank accounts of the creative people who are making them.

The games industry desperately needs unionization.

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Games

PlayStation 4 Unboxing Video

Speaking of next-generation platforms, only Sony could have created an official unboxing video1 this ridiculously pretentious.

It’s amazing.


  1. I continue to be amazed official unboxing videos are a thing. 

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Games

The Digital Future

The image you see up there is my game shelf. It’s loaded with titles I haven’t played, titles I’ve played through more than once, titles I think are classics and should be archived, and a years-old desire to put these things on display. It’s a collection in every sense of the word, especially since I stopped reselling my games a couple of years ago.

I’ve done this for a long time. It started with that latching game case that every kid on my block had for NES games, to a shoebox I used for SNES games, to CD racks and bookshelves and now DVD shelves I use to store bits in the form of plastic and aluminum.

Starting the end of this week, we’re headed towards a generational leap that for the first time promises to deliver games equally (or close to it) over the internet as well as from traditional retailers. I plan firmly to embrace it and at this point I’m not sure I’ll ever buy another physical game, Nintendo platforms excluded for the time being.

It’s weird to think that I won’t have a shelf loaded with the spines of titles I’ve purchased for my console, lined up for guests to peruse, but I’m excited by the idea that I’ll be able to access any game I’ve purchased at any time and load it up much faster than I would be able to move the disc from place to place. Reasons I’ve held off from this for some time but now don’t agree with:

  • Physical games are better from an “archival” standpoint and have more guarantee of being around in the future. I know this isn’t true because I have DVDs that haven’t lasted to this day because the materials simply broke down. They can be destroyed in a fire, lost, stolen, or have any one of a number of accidents happen to them.
  • The platform holders could revoke my access to my games at any time. With the increased emphasis on services in the industry forcing the hardware to the internet anyway, who’s to say they couldn’t do this with physical copies and your account as well?
  • I might not be able to download my games forever. This one will be interesting, but in any case I now believe that I’ll be able to download everything probably as long as or longer than my physical copies will survive.

The argument against myself basically came down to, “you trust Steam to be custodian of your games; why not the new consoles,” and I found that I really didn’t have a counter to that.

But here’s why I’m excited about going digital:

  • I have limited space. Shelving isn’t infinite.
  • It liberates me from caring about pre-order bonus bullshit. And I’m happy to see what Microsoft is doing with digital purchases of the “Day One” editions of some launch games, providing them to people who purchase digital within a certain number of days from release.
  • It disarms the power of the review embargo. One of the dumbest things the game industry relies upon is rendered almost completely impotent in an economy where I can trigger the download as soon as I’m done reading the reviews and I don’t have to worry about shipping times or store hours.
  • No more pushy retail clerks. I shouldn’t have to explain this one to you. Did I preorder? Nope. Don’t need to, because there’s no “allotment” I need to worry about.
  • The hope of day-and-date digital with the generational change. Sony appears to be backtracking this a bit, but my understanding is that most if not all major titles will be available digitally the same day as their physical versions. And if not, I’ll be voting with my wallet.

This change is something that’s been a long time coming. I was one of the first people to trust Steam with my game purchases when Half-Life 2 wandered onto the scene; now I plan on being one of the first people to cast off the restrictions of the disc and embrace digital distribution.

I only wish I could trade in my old physical games for the current generation for the same digital versions now. It would make things so much simpler.

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Games

Waiting for Novembermas

Screen Shot 2013-11-09 at 7.53.50 AM

I love the start of a new console generation. It’s full of weirdness, great ideas, fun, and mistakes.

In a lot of ways, you don’t know what you’re going to get. And this time, the competitiveness between the console providers has never been more fierce, so as consumers, the theory goes that we all win.

I plan on doing some live streaming around the launch weekends, so if you’re interested in that sort of thing, make sure you’re following me on Twitter.

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Games

The Nightjar

To colleagues or anyone else who might be traveling in the near future and would enjoy a good and somewhat unusual game on their iOS device: try The Nightjar.

It’s a rather different audio-only experience. The only video components are your controls. Headphones required. :)

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Games

The First Xbox One TV Ad

Not a mention of the fact that it’s a game console.

The Xbox One is Microsoft’s play for the post-PC world. Now we just need to see if they can convince people that it’s worth $500.