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Tag: Gaming

RIFT is Going Free-To-Play

Posted by JenThorpe at 7:08 PM on May 14, 2013

RIFTTrion Worlds has announced that RIFT is going free-to-play as of June 12, 2013. This means that everyone who wants to play RIFT can download it, log in, and play all of the entire game without having to spend any money to do it. The free-to-play day coincides with the arrival of Update 2.3: Empyreal Assault.

Brand new players will have access to all of the content within the game (without having to put up with level restrictions). New players will start with 2 character slots and 3 bag slots. Veteran players (which means everyone who has purchased RIFT or Storm Legion) will keep everything that they have earned. In other words, this isn’t going to involve a “reset” that wipes out your progress.

Gamers who have been holding off on playing RIFT because they couldn’t afford a subscription will soon be able to start playing it for free. However, if you buy the game before June 12, you will get extra character slots, extra bag slots, and expansion souls.

There is going to be new stuff in the RIFT store, but according to the announcement, RIFT is not going to be a “pay-to-win” kind of game. The in-store items will be cool, but the best stuff will only be available to players who earn it in-game.

The subscription system is getting a new name. Subscribers will be known as “Patrons”. Those that subscribe and spend money on RIFT will get extra currency, bonus experience, bonus tokens, and much more. The main point is that you won’t have to spend money to play RIFT, (which makes it easier for your friends to check out the game and play with you).

Why are they going free-to-play? It seems that this is what players have been asking for.

angry birds friends

Many of us play Angry Birds, but are frustrated by the issues that arise when we change devices. There are options for getting around this. In fact, there are at least two backup and restore apps available in the Play store, both of which I have used. There are also options for doing a complete backup using a service like Carbon.

Now Rovio aims to solve this issue with a new Account feature built into the games. This allows the customer to log in and save progress, then log in on another device and resume play from the same spot. “Rovio Account lets you store your game progress and continue playing on another device” the company tells us.

There is a good chance you have not seen this feature yet, as the Finnish game maker explains — “Rovio Account is currently available in The Croods game globally, and in the classic Angry Birds game on iOS in Finland and Poland. We will gradually introduce Rovio Account into more areas in the future and also add new features”.

This will be a much welcome addition to the popular game franchise and will eliminate the need for third-party solutions, which work, but can be a hassle.

The Sims 4 Will be Single-Player Offline

Posted by JenThorpe at 3:56 PM on May 6, 2013

Sims4It looks like EA may have learned something from the SimCity fiasco! One of the many problems with the launch of SimCity was that players were having difficulty being able to access the game. This was, to make a long story short, due to problems that EA was slow to resolve regarding their servers. Many have said that things would have been so much better if SimCity could be played without having to be online.

Perhaps the frustrated cries of thousands of gamers have been heard by EA. They have announced that The Sims 4 will offer a “single-player offline experience”. The EA blog says:

The Sims 4 celebrates the heart and soul of the Sims themselves, giving players a deeper connection with the most expressive, surprising, and charming Sims ever in this single-player offline experience. The Sims 4 encourages players to personalize their world with new and intuitive tools while offering them the ability to effortlessly share their creativity with friends and fans.

I don’t have any details about exactly how the sharing ability will function. What I do understand is that The Sims 4 won’t require people to share anything at all with other players in order to access and play the game itself. Perhaps The Sims 4 will be able to avoid the problems that happened with SimCity.

Another interesting thing, at least to me, is that The Sims 4 is currently in development for both PC and Mac. As a gamer who uses a Mac, this makes me happy. Of course, we will all have to wait until The Sims 4 is released, sometime in 2014, before we can play it.

Even Pirates are Frustrated by Piracy

Posted by JenThorpe at 6:58 PM on April 29, 2013

Greenheart GamesGreenheart Games has done something unique, and fascinating, with the release of their brand new game. They released a cracked version of Game Dev Tycoon that contained something that the real version did not. The results show that even people who pirate software become frustrated when someone pirates from them.

Game Dev Tycoon is a Sim game where you run a game development company. The idea is to create some great games and make as much money as you can. The cracked version included in-game messages that were designed to look just like the regular ones. One such message reads:

Boss, it seems that while many players play our new game, they steal it by downloading a cracked version rather than buying it legally. If players don’t buy the games they like, we will sooner or later go bankrupt.

In the cracked version of the game, that is exactly what happens. Every time the player creates a good game, he or she finds that more people are pirating it than paying for it. They will, over time, go bankrupt as a result. Greenheart Games found a unique way to hold a mirror up to the nefarious and unfair behavior of people who choose to steal games instead of paying for them.

The irony is apparent in the comments that the pirating players left in regards to this particular in-game difficulty. They were obviously frustrated. Greenheart Games has posted a few really telling comments on their blog. Keep in mind, the players who had this particular in-game problem were the ones who obtained pirated copies of Game Dev Tycoon.

I find this fascinating! As a former teacher, I am well aware the learning potential in experiencing something for yourself (rather than just reading about it). Those who felt frustrated by virtual players pirating their games will, hopefully, consider buying the next video game that interests them. Game Dev Tycoon sells for about $8.00 USD.

Layoffs and Reorganizing at Electronic Arts

Posted by JenThorpe at 9:52 PM on April 25, 2013

EA Logo Just when you think you’ve heard the last bit of bad news from Electronic Arts (EA), more is revealed. On March 18, 2013, CEO John Riccitello resigned from the company. His position was temporarily taken over by Chairman Larry Probst, who was a previous EA chief executive.

Riccitello’s resignation was probably not a huge surprise to many. EA has had a history of difficulties with their games. In June of 2012, Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) went “free to play”. Shortly after that, EA stopped reporting the number of subscribers the game had (which is never a good sign). Earlier this year, EA gained a lot of negative attention after the fiasco that followed the launch of SimCity. Many gamers were frustrated by the problems with the game, and felt that EA took too long before it acknowledged the problems or tried to fix them.

This month, EA announced that it will be retiring three of the games that are currently available through Facebook. Those games are: The Sims Social, SimCity Social, and Pet Society. They will be gone, forever, as of June 14, 2013. EA has been suggesting that players try out some of the Facebook games made by PopCap (which EA owns) instead.

Today, Kotaku reports that EA has done some layoffs, and is streamlining some of its divisions. Kotaku has published a memo from Larry Probst that was sent to workers while the layoffs were occurring. Here’s a piece of that memo that was released on the EA blog

In recent weeks, the executive team has been tasked with evaluating every area of our business to establish a clear set of priorities, and a more efficient organizational structure. This process has led to some difficult decisions about the number of people and locations needed to achieve our goals.

The workforce reductions which we communicated in the last two weeks represent the majority of our planned personnel actions. We are extremely grateful for the contributions made by each of these individuals – they will be missed by their colleagues and friends at EA.

Other portions of the memo note that Andrew Wilson will take on leadership at Origin (which EA owns). The Vancouver Sun reports that PopCap Vancouver and Quicklime Games studios are shutting down as part of the restructuring at EA. This resulted in some layoffs. Some PopCap Vancouver employees will be placed in jobs at other PopCap or EA studios.

Girl Scouts Encourage Female Gamers With New Patch

Posted by JenThorpe at 4:06 PM on April 18, 2013

Girl Scouts Greater Los Angeles LogoThe Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles (GSCLA) have teamed up with Women in Games International (WIGI) to make a brand new patch for Girl Scouts, according to GirlGamer It is going to be called the Creating Video Game Patch.

To earn it, girls will use Gamestar Mechanic which is both a game and a community that teachers kids the principles of game design and systems thinking. It does it in a fun way, which makes the process a lot more engaging for kids. Although it is intended for children ages 7 to 14, anyone can use Gamestar Mechanic to learn how to make a video game.

The purpose of the Girl Scout patch is to get young girls excited in technology and science, and also to let them know that they can have a career in the video game industry if they want to. It is to encourage young girls to get interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). These subjects are important for girls to learn if they are considering a career in the fields that use them – including gaming.

Personally, I find this idea to be absolutely wonderful! When I was a kid, I was told “girls don’t play video games” (but I never let opinion stop me from playing). Today, decades later, there are still people who insist upon expressing that same, outdated, opinion. There are women who are working in the video game industry, so things are starting to change. It would be wonderful for a generation of young girls to discover that they want to grow up to not only be a gamer, but also to be the one who creates the games.

EA is Retiring Some Facebook Games

Posted by JenThorpe at 8:41 PM on April 16, 2013

EA LogoGamers who got really attached to their Sims games on Facebook are in for some sad news. Electronic Arts (EA) has announced that it will be retiring some of its games that are currently accessible through Facebook. EA is encouraging gamers on Facebook to check out titles by PopCap, instead.

What games are being retired? The announcement by EA states that The Sims Social, SimCity Social, and Pet Society will go offline on June 14, 2013. The games will no longer be available for play after that date. Why is EA doing this? According to their announcement:

After millions of people initially logged in to play these games, the number of players and amount of activity has fallen off. For people who have seen other recent shutdowns of social games, perhaps this is not surprising.

A quick glance through the EA website shows that there are several other Sims games available. There are some for iPad, iPhone, Android, or Kindle Fire. Unlike the ones on Facebook that are being retired, it looks like very few of the Sims games that are offered through the EA website are free to play.

Why is EA suggesting players check the games from PopCap? It makes more sense if you know that EA acquired PopCap in 2011. Specifically, EA would like the gamers who are sad about the loss of the games that will be retired to try Bejeweled Blitz, Solitaire Blitz, and Plants vs. Zombies Adventures. These titles will be available through Facebook. The announcement from EA says that the company will be making a “special offer” to help players make a smooth transition to PopCap.

Alas, your Sims and Pet Sims will soon disappear, forever. Perhaps shiny jewels and creepy zombies will help you to get over that loss.

CEO John Riccitello Resigns from EA

Posted by JenThorpe at 6:03 PM on March 18, 2013

EA LogoIt’s official. The CEO of Electronic Arts, John Riccitiello, has resigned. Personally, I’m not very surprised by this news considering the problems that EA has experienced. In his place, for now, will be Chairman Larry Probst, who is a previous EA chief executive, while the board searches for a permanent replacement.

According to the Wall Street Journal, EA’s shares have fallen nearly two-thirds since John Riccitiello was named CEO of Electronic Arts in 2007. In a letter that John Riccitiello sent to employees, he acknowledges that the company has fallen below expectations and takes responsibility for it. Part of the letter said:

My decision to leave EA is really about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year. It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable.

EA, as you know, is the company that makes the SimCity game that has frustrated so many gamers recently. To make a long story short, it is clear that the company failed to anticipate the server instability issues that it faced after the game went live. It didn’t help that it took a very long time before EA acknowledged the problems or tried to fix them.

Players became more frustrated when they tried to return the malfunctioning game and discovered that EA was refusing to accept returns. Eventually, EA offered “something for your trouble” to the disgruntled players it managed to alienate – a free PC download of a game from the EA portfolio. I’m not sure that was enough.

Previously, EA, (which owns Bioware) had problems attracting and keeping players interested in the Star Wars The Old Republic game, which was intended to be a competitor for Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. According to The Wall Street Journal, SWTOR cost “hundred of millions of dollars to make over the five years” it was created.

In June of 2012, the game went free to play up to level 15. EA charged players for certain items within the game. The company stopped reporting the number of subscribers the game had, and that is never a sign that things are going well.

EA Offers “Something For Your Trouble”

Posted by JenThorpe at 10:25 PM on March 8, 2013

EA LogoSimCity has been mentioned quite a bit in blogs, news articles, and various forms of social media recently – for all the wrong reasons. EA, the makers of the game, have done an excellent job of finding ways to frustrate potential players. I haven’t seen this much complaining about a game since the launch of Diablo III (which didn’t have nearly as many problems as SimCity has).

The situation is a quick study in how to completely alienate your customers. Create a game that requires you to be online in order to play it, and there will be people who loudly voice their opinion that they want to be able to play the game without having to connect to the internet. You know, like they could with previous versions of SimCity.

Follow that with serious server instability issues, and you will quickly frustrate the players that were willing to play the game online. The longer this goes on, unfixed, the more frustrated and angry players are going to get. Eventually, people got fed up and tried to return the game, only to learn that EA was refusing to accept any returns on SimCity. Its an effective way to decimate the amount of customers who once were loyal to EA, as well as to discourage new players from considering the purchase of one of their games.

Today, it appears that EA has become aware of the negative publicity regarding SimCity that is spiraling across the internet. The company will be offering “something for your trouble”. EA is offering a free PC download game from the EA portfolio as a peace offering. Their blog says:

And to get us back in your good graces, we’re going to offer you a free PC download game from the EA portfolio. On March 18, SimCity players who have activated their game will receive an email telling them how to redeem their free game.

The question is, will this freebie be enough to encourage frustrated gamers to stick with EA (and potentially buy another game from them, someday)? Is it enough to make you decide to “hang in there” as SimCity gets updated throughout the weekend?

Monster MVP Carbon headphones

Posted by Alan at 7:33 AM on March 4, 2013

monster logoMonster is known for its audio cables, but the company produces other products as well. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show Product Manager Elbert Lee dropped by TPN to talk a bit about it.

The company has partnered with Electronic Arts (EA), the popular game manufacturer. Monster is producing new high-end caming headphones like the MVP Carbon, which is EA-branded and powered by Monster. The new headphones come in both black and white colors and are for more than just gaming — you can easily use it for Skype, Music and more. The MVP Carbon is even so flexible that it can be folded up. The cable and mic are also removable. It has debuted at $269 retail.

Interview by Nick DiMeo of F5 Live and Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine

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