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Auspicious Timing

Looked at my email earlier today, and saw these three right in a row:

SteamTiming

While I neglected to unsubscribe from the Humble Monthly before and got burned a month or two back, the current offering is something I am interested in:

Raider1

The wishlist item on sale in Steam today? Hmm:

Raider2

Technically, the above Steam offering includes the Season Pass for the game, which includes DLC that adds ~3 hours to the story, some new game modes, more outfits/weapons, and so on. You can buy the Season Pass for $12 by itself, making the Steam bundle technically cost the same as the Humble Monthly… aside from the free mystery games, of course.

Looking back years from now, Steam is still going to be known as one of those transformative phenomenons that changed the way we bought and played games. But more and more, sites like Humble Bundle are going to deserve something more of a footnote on that same page of history.

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Home is Where My PC Is

And that’s moving today. Around three miles away, but still.

It’s a relatively inconvenient time though, with all the discounts and pre-expansion patches and such.

I was very, very tempted to pop the first of my nine WoW Tokens (purchased over a year ago) on Monday to ensure I wasn’t holding onto goods that would be deprecated. Then I thought through it rationally. “Okay… so I’d be spending a Token worth X amount to save… what? More than X amount?” A year of “lost” Garrison revenue has led me to believe price inflation would have rendered me non-competitive anyway, assuming I even had the time to spend dicking around the AH at the moment. Which I don’t.

Still, I will be in Legion. I haven’t decided if it will be right at the start, or later on like with Draenor.

Meanwhile, the Guild Wars 2 expansion is currently selling for $25 for another week or so. Although my attempts to get back into GW2 earlier this year didn’t go particularly well, I feel that part of that was due to the lack of buy-in. Not necessarily in forcing the feeling of investment per se, but knowing that next to none of the content I had access to would be new. Want to try the Revenant? Nope. See new zone? Denied. Living Story? Sorry, that’ll be a few thousand gems.

On the other hand, half off something I don’t ultimately end up using is 100% wasted. So we’ll see.

The last deal I wanted to mention was that current Humble Bundle in which they are selling Battleborn for basically $15. That’s gotta sting, yeah? From $60 to $15 in 2.5 months. I was tempted to pick it up… for Borderlands: the Pre-Sequel, not for Battleborn. On the other hand, I’ve mainlined Borderlands 2 to the degree that I’m not even sure I want to play that type of game anymore.

Hmm. Perhaps this move hasn’t impacted my purchasing decisions as much as I thought it has.

Game Collector

I think I just need to admit it: I no longer play games, I collect them.

There is no other explanation for what just transpired. Which was me buying the Humble Capcom Bundle, that included Resident Evil 4 & 5, Devil May Cry, and Remember Me. In my defense, it was the inclusion of Resident Evil 4 – which I have heard is one of the best in the series – and Remember Me that pushed me over the edge. In my prosecution, this was a few days after getting the Humble Weekly Bundle Valentine’s Day 2. For the pants. Or for Hatoful Boyfriend for $1. Your choice.

Indeed, the entire reason I am writing this post is as a distraction to not also pick up Grand Theft Auto 5 for ~$32. Granted, GTA 5 is on my 970 hit-list along with Far Cry 4, and this is an all-time low price. At the same time… I’m at 45 hours in Witcher 3 and I doubt even halfway done with the game. Then there’s Pillars of Eternity still languishing in my Steam account. And, you know, the literal library of other games that were purchased presumably for a reason. Don’t get me started on all those PS3 games on my shelf either.

This shit is the first-worldest of problems. And it has to get sorted out in the next three weeks because Fallout 4.

I don’t even know anymore.

Humble Bundle: Best Thing, or Worst for Indie?

Current Humble Bundle up is the Humble Indie Bundle 12, featuring:

  • SteamWorld Dig
  • Hammerwatch
  • Gunpoint
  • [BTA] Papers, Please
  • [BTA] LUFTRAUSERS
  • [BTA] Gone Home
  • [BTA] ???
  • [$10+] Prison Architect

Prison Architect by itself is a $29.99 Early Release game that has only ever hit $9.99 before… in Humble Bundle’s own store, in fact. So for the price of that one game, you get at least four other titles that have made some waves (i.e. Gaming Journalism™) in the indie scene: Gunpoint, Papers Please, LUFTRAUSERS, and Gone Home. Granted, most of these were topical back in 2013, but still, those four games were on my watch list (and I even bought two of them last year) without even considering Prison Architect.

As some Reddit commenters point out though, it is precisely bundles like this one that cement the “bundle or bust” mentality that surrounds indie games. I mean, let’s face it, I probably shouldn’t be buying any more games anyway, but it’s to the point these days that I don’t even bother checking Steam sales for most of these titles. If I hadn’t bought Gunpoint and Papers, Please last year, I could have gotten even more consumer surplus for that sweaty Hamilton. Which makes me think “maybe I should remove Transistor, Spelunky, Banished, Child of Light, and Ironclad Tactics from my Steam wishlist and wait for a bundle sale.”

Is that good for, well, anybody? I’ll save some dollars at the expense of being topical and relevant, perhaps. I suppose the creators of SteamWorld Dig and Hammerwatch get a win in the form of a “sale” that they would likely have never made otherwise. Who knows, maybe I’ll find those games super fun and end up eagerly awaiting their next release? Of course, by “eagerly awaiting” I likely mean eagerly waiting for the next bundle.

I Come Bearing Time-Sensitive Gifts

First, the US Playstation Store is having a “flash” sale on PS1 classics. There are 28 total games going for $0.99, but here are the ones I picked up:

  • Legend of Dragoon
  • Harvest Moon: Back to Nature
  • Wild ARMS
  • Wild ARMS 2

Given my pirating travails, I decided on principal to put my dollar(s) where my mouth was and purchase the above legitimately. Plus, since those four activated on the PSP, I got to test out whether it was a memory card issue or what. Turns out it might have been a memory card issue because they became corrupt files too. However, the eBay’d PSP came with a 4gb card that successfully transferred my legally-acquired goods so… yeah.

As for the rest of the games not listed, you might find something worth something. I hope you do, actually, because apparently the Playstation Store has a $5 minimum buy-in, so you can’t just pay your dollar; the rest will sit around as store credit for the next sale. Which is kind of good to know that they are willing/capable of putting those older games on sale in the first place. Alternatively, Twisted Metal: Black is pretty good if you enjoy the series at all, but I already own the actual game.

Second, there is a Humble Bundle going on featuring 2K games. What’s amusing about it is that someone fucked up which games get hidden behind the beat-the-average and flat-amount paywalls. At least, that is what I imagine is going on. For example, they put XCOM and Bioshock Infinite behind a $20+ lock… despite the fact that XCOM was like $3 in May and Bioshock Infinite was about $7.50 in March. Meanwhile, a cool Washington (that’s $1 USD for you foreigners) gets you Bioshock, Darkness 2, and more importantly The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. The beat-the-average is filled with filler that has likely filled your Steam library from a dozen similar sales already.

Now, perhaps The Bureau is as bad as they say (66 on Metacritic), but seeing as how it’s the only item on that list that I haven’t seen already in a bundle, I would say that it is worth the risk. I’m not usually so cavalier with my dolla dolla bills y’all, but the first step is recognizing how utterly insane I come across most of the time, and thus take steps to remedy the affliction. Unless the affliction is in fact buying games I likely will never play, in which case fuck that.

BM Steam?

So what are the odds that Steam is selling RPG Maker VXA for $17.50 (75% off) the same day that RPG Maker VXA is a part of the Weekly Humble Bundle (i.e. buy it for $1)?

Someone is a bastard and/or genius.

Someone is a bastard and/or genius.

I mean, it can’t be all just some amazing coincidence, right? And I would imagine that the Humble Bundles are, err, less nimble than Steam sales. Then again, maybe this is actually Good Guy Steam for letting us use RPG Maker VXA for free before deciding if one American dollar is worth the risk. Tough call.

On a related note, I was all set to plunk down some monies on the bundle before I realized that I already owned RPG Maker VXA. I’m not sure how, when, or why, but I do. Back in the day, I used a similar program on the PlayStation to start up what would inevitably be The One game that broke me into the industry. But after spending literally 15 hours coding item stats via controller (Stone Sword –> Iron Sword –> Steel Sword –> etc) I decided that my dreams were dumb.

I still have a lot of ideas, but they are tempered in the reality of getting other people to do them.

Good Guy EA?

What. What.

That's like... totally worth a dollar.

That’s like… totally worth a dollar.

Is EA about to discontinue Origin or something? Dead Space 3 for one dollar. You would be hard-pressed to find Mirror’s Edge on sale for $1, let alone a AAA (or at least BBB) game that just came out 6 months ago. And there are like six more games! Getting BF3 or Sims 3 for ~$5 is sort of a trap, considering how much important DLC is available, but good lord.

Yeah, yeah, I know EA is handing out the first hit for practically free just to rope more people into the Origin client. But then again, A) EA is giving their share of the money to charity (they aren’t even listed as an option, actually), and B) most of the games have Steam codes in addition to the Origin codes. So you could technically sell your extra codes to other people, if they couldn’t afford to purchase the bundle themselves for one dollar.

If this is somehow the new face of EA evil… well, we’re doing pretty good for ourselves.

Great Timing

When I originally saw the MMO-Champion post about free SWTOR beta keys, I was excited. And, hey, I actually got a key! Oh… what? It’s a key to enter the drawing for a chance at downloading and playing a 20+ gig client for more than a day 1.5 weeks from now? Wow. I am still trying to imagine a scenario in which downloading a 20 gig game to play for 24 hours or less is not a thinly-veiled “fuck you.” I do not suffer under bandwidth caps, but there is absolutely a cap on my attention span and tolerance for bullshit.

That was a week ago. Last night at 3:23 am, I get the email talking about how I was magically selected for the upcoming weekend beta. I quickly click the link in the email, because apparently the speed at which you click determines the duration of the cock-tease. Fantastic, there is an error. Apparently SWTOR wants everyone who registered before a certain date to reset their passwords. I press the password reset button and wait for the email. And wait. And wait. It arrives at 4:29 am, having taken the equivalent of Pony Express speeds through the Internet tubes, about fifteen minutes after I went to sleep.

Today, I finally reset the password, and attempt to log on to redeem my weekend beta code.

Couldn't they spend, say, $5 million of that $300 million making a goddamn website that works?

Gee whiz, guys. With how concerned EA/Bioware is with a smooth launch, one would assume their goddamn website would be able to handle the traffic generated by the miserly metering of beta codes a week ago.

But you know what? I’m over it. If you notice down at the lower right of the screenshot, there is a Steam notification that Aquaira finished downloading. Aquaria and Crayon Physics Delux and Darwinia and other indie titles for $3.53 care of the latest Humble Bundle that went up today. Not to mention the next Indie Royale bundle will be going up on Friday, along with the inevitable Steam sales over Thanksgiving.

When I quit WoW, I was somewhat concerned about what I would do with all the time freed up by no longer doing daily quests, running heroics, playing the AH and so on. After all, when you averaged the ~7700 hours out it was in the neighborhood of 5 hours a day (albeit most of that encompassed when I was unemployed). What I discovered is that time gets filled up no matter what I do – there is never a time when I am bored for lack of games to play, blogs to read, or things to do. And so I am wondering if I will even have the time or inclination to fit in mediocre MMO gameplay propped up by social strings and glue anymore. Having friends is great; making friends is an awkward pain in the ass.

And unless/until SWTOR starts impressing me a lot more than it currently is, I may stick to the vastly cheaper, and amusingly better quality indie gameplay.

Humble Bundle

Somewhat inspired by this post over at Life is a Mind Bending Puzzle I decided to go ahead and check out the Humble Bundle for myself. These are real screenshots:

At this point, I feel a little guilty. So:

Fine.

Some notes:

  • As mpb mentioned, the entire interface is incredibly slick. These guys should be in the Internet Checkout Design business, because damn near everyone else is stuck in the goddamn Medieval Age when it comes to making it difficult to give them money.
  • Also as mentioned, I felt incredibly guilty for entering $0.01 even though I was legitimately interested in testing out if they would allow it. The picture was amusing, but I was more affected by the throwaway “It appears you have no heart! Please prove you really are human” captcha line. Clever, Humble Bumble, clever indeed.
  • The very fact that you had to enter at least $0.01 with your credit card information is intriguing to me, psychologically. These Humble Bundles would probably not work as well if they were legitimately free, as in not having to enter any information at all. Once you have mentally committed to purchasing something and entering in you credit card info, the actually dollar amount is a fairly trivial concern. This is the reason I believe not many MMO companies have bothered trying out $13/month or $8/month or “non-standard” monthly fee amounts – even though supply/demand economic theory dictates that going from $15/month –> $12/month should bring in X amount of new subscribers, you aren’t likely to capture a lot of new players in practice. Plus, if you charge less than $15/month, then you project the fact that your game isn’t worth a “normal” subscription amount to customers.
  • The above makes me curious as what would happen to a FP2 game if it suddenly required a one-time $0.01 payment of their customers to continue playing. That obviously contradicts the “FP2” part, but it would also prove that perhaps the appeal of F2P isn’t the price-point, but rather the lack of a need to enter credit card information.