Greetings NAGushis, and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. This time around we have EA killing it in the DLC market, the Oculus big cheese sending Apple to the burn unit, Ubisoft doing some ethically questionable marketing, Epic Games founder goes off at Microsoft, Far Cry Primal has gamers upset with some development shortcuts, Quantum Break‘s Creative Director talks PC port outrage and the truth behind the new Alan Wake trademark is revealed. All that, videos, and highlights from the week, after the jump.
EA makes a packet off “extra content”
Gamers may hate DLC and microtransactions, but it seems to be a publisher’s wet dream. EA’s CFO Blake Jorgensen revealed this week that his company pulls in a cool $1.3 billion every year off of stuff like season passes and map packs.
A lot of this reportedly comes from Ultimate Team, the microtransaction system built into sport franchises FIFA, Madden and NHL. Jorgensen credits the success to people liking to collect and trade, saying simply that players will “typically pay money to beat their friends”.
It’s a somewhat problematic statement in a world where “pay-to-win” microtransactions are seen as the worst thing since Missy Elliott’s music. As for DLC itself, it’s not likely to go anywhere considering this stuff makes up a significant part of EA’s digital revenue, which accounts for the majority of their total earnings.
Oculus founder delivers a sick burn to Apple
Apple annoys me. Not because their products are bad, but because their products are heinously expensive. So I couldn’t help but let loose a derisive snort when Palmer Luckey said this week that they would provide Mac support for the Rift if Apple “ever release a good computer”.
Ouch. Perhaps realised he’d just dropped a helluva soundbyte, as he clarified by pointing out the company’s lack of a system with a high-end GPU. Even the $6000 Mac Pro can’t touch the recommended specs, according to Luckey.
“So if they prioritize higher-end GPUs, like they used to for awhile back in the day, we’d love to support Mac. But right now, there’s just not a single machine out there that supports it. So even if we could support it on the software side, there’s just no audience of people that can run the vast majority of software out there.”
Eh, fair enough. If the top of the line Apple offering doesn’t have a GPU that can handle VR, there’s little point in trying to support it. One has to wonder if this particular shortcoming will push them into prioritising GPUs more than they do now, with VR being the latest hot thing and all.
Ubisoft employs some shady advertising tactics
We all know those quotes on video game boxes, DVD covers and books are not to be trusted, but Ubisoft have taken that to the next level with a new e-mail ad that went out this week.
Gamezone is not too impressed after they pasted a quote taken out of context, saying that The Division “blows Destiny out of the water”. The quote was actually referring to the numbers that The Division beta pulled in compared to Destiny, not exactly what’s being implied in the ad.
The other quote is “best new franchise”, credited to IGN. This again was taken out of context, referring to a quote from E3 2013 discussing the new franchises announced at the expo.
I’m sure this kind of thing is done all the time, but this particular ad does seem to take it a little too far. The Gamezone writer quote, Tatiana Morris, said that while Ubi did ask her permission to use the quote, they did not inform her “in what way” it would be used.
What do you all think? Is this a harmless marketing strategy, or a scummy manipulation?
Epic’s Tim Sweeney takes a shot at Microsoft
Sweeney was very vocal this week on Microsoft’s new Universal Windows Platform, a new initiative which basically locks developers into selling their game through the Windows Store if they want to have access to certain Windows features.
It’s a troubling move that many have hailed as an attempt to totally monopolise the PC gaming market – and not Microsoft’s first run-in with monopoly issues. Sweeney is spearheading the campaign against UWP, dropping some serious bombs on a company he’s worked closely with in the past.
“In my view, this is the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made,” Sweeney said.
“They’re curtailing users’ freedom to install full-featured PC software, and subverting the rights of developers and publishers to maintain a direct relationship with their customers.”
“It’s true that if you dig far enough into Microsoft’s settings-burying UI, you can find a way to install these apps by enabling side-loading,” Sweeney said. “But in turning this off by default, Microsoft is unfairly disadvantaging the competition. Bigger-picture, this is a feature Microsoft can revoke at any time using Windows 10’s forced-update process.”
Sweeney goes on to call Microsoft an “embarrassment”, lambasting the underperforming Windows Store and calling for a mutiny. “In my view, if Microsoft does not commit to opening PC UWP up in the manner described here, then PC UWP can, should, must and will, die as a result of industry backlash.“
Microsoft responded, insisting that UWP is a “fully open ecosystem”. Guess we’ll have to wait to see how this unfolds, but I can’t help but feel like ultimately it’s going to be gamers getting shafted by corporate greed. Again.
Far Cry Primal plagiarises itself
There was a bit of a hoopla this week when it was discovered that the map in Far Cry Primal is almost identical in layout to the map used in Far Cry 4, with the terrain itself completely different, of course.
Placed side by side it’s relatively clear that this is a bit of a recycle job, but reactions are mixed. Some gamers say the map is different enough they can’t tell the difference so it doesn’t really matter, while others are quick to call the whole thing a rush-job at best or lazy development at worst.
I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t necessarily want to grab my pitchfork and say this is another attempt to rush a game out the door with as many shortcuts as possible, but it does leave me with an uncomfortable feeling nonetheless. No matter what way you slice it, not starting from scratch and building a new world that matches your vision points to a certain lack of passion to me. It’s undoubtedly a shortcut, and as much as Primal’s map may differ, it was still created within the confines of a pre-existing blueprint.
Quantum Break’s Creative Director confused over reaction to PC release
You may remember a couple of weeks back when QB was announced for PC alongside Xbox One, a lot of fans took their pitchforks to Twitter to moan at Xbox boss Phil Spencer about losing exclusivity. It was an odd response, and QB’s writer and director Sam Lake said in an interview this week that he didn’t quite get it.
“I do understand people being passionate, and feeling ownership on their preferred platform. I do understand that. At the same time, as the maker of a game like this, we just hope we can get as many people to enjoy it as possible. From my perspective, adding another option of playing the game, it’s all positive.”
“It was in the discussions for a long while, and we were also rooting for it,” Lake said.
“We do have a lot of fans on the PC side, and going back in Remedy history, PC’s always been part of it. We’re really happy to get an Alan Wake PC version out there as well. But obviously because they’re business oriented decisions, you can’t talk about them until the final agreement has been set. I was really happy to get that to be a part of this.”
I think we can all agree the outrage makes no sense, right? It’s everything wrong with platform rivalry in gaming, and hopefully we can chalk this up to a vocal minority and get on with enjoying games.
No new Alan Wake game, trademark was for a video series
Last month somebody spotted a trademark application for “Alan Wake’s Return”, which had fans foaming at the mouth for a possible sequel.
Remedy shot those hopes and dreams in the face this week however, clarifying that the trademark is for an in-game live-action video series. Nothing more on that though, not now anyway.
Writer Sam Lake went on to say that there’s no news on a sequel for now, and while it’s a possibility at some point a “lot needs to click into place for anything to happen”. So we can all pack up our tinfoil hats for now.
Total War: Warhammer is launching on the 28th of April; here’s 12 minutes of some humans getting stomped.
Next up is RollerCoaster Tycoon World, showing off its capabilities for user-generated content. Looking sweet.
One of the WipEout creators is working on a new game called Table Top Racing: World Tour. This is a new trailer, and it looks pretty sweet – reminds me of Revolt, if anyone remembers that game.
Let’s finish strong, with yet another utterly insane Super Mario Maker video. This one is so tough creator CarlSagan42 wasn’t even sure it could be done, until he did it after 15 hours of trying.
Best of NAG
It’s game reviews as far as the eye can see, the mouse can scroll. Here’s Rick taking on the controversial Street Fighter V, Miklos having a look at unique shooter SUPERHOT and Matt Fick has a stab at The Division beta.
After that, see Tarryn van der Byl have zero remorse after committing a heinous genocide in No Man’s Sky.
Wallow in adult misery with me as I discuss the perils of proper gaming as fully grown human.
Finally, our Overlord himself has a go with the CM Storm Sentinel III (it’s a mouse).