I’ve been reading the Beta previews on various sites, and am fully aware of the mixed reviews.
Nevertheless, as a member of the Press© it is my solemn duty to soldier on so you don’t have to. And not because I’m an irrational Fallout fanboy willing to settle for damn near anything post-apocalypse.
PAX Day Zero: Schmoozing
So, hey, I’m (hopefully) at PAX East!
I’m not sure yet what the internet situation is going be like, so you can expect either radio silence or frequent updates. Probably the former, let’s be honest. That said, I am fully prepared for the PAX schmoozing campaign:
Of course, if any developer scans the QR code the day I start reverse-pickpocketing these on their person, they’re going to see this post up top.
In which case… hello! Please send me all the review copies you have. Thank you.
With great reluctance and a heavy sense of resignation, I took GreenManGaming up on their 22% off coupon for Wildstar. Day One purchases are for chumps, and that goes doubly so for MMO releases, but… well, if all your friends are jumping off bridges, you might as well join them. Attempting to apply that game code resulted in this:
Repeated attempts eventually got through but we’ll see how it all goes down this weekend. Will my friends stick around in this game (not likely)? Will I find an agreeable method to fund my subscription entirely through in-game gold (possibly)? Will there be many, exhaustive posts detailing everything I find wrong with the game (indubitably)?
Still, this is what you guys pay me to do, so I will trooper on.
Subject: Hearthstone Beta Press™ Request
My name is nice try, NSA , aka Azuriel, and I run a gaming blog called In An Age (inanage.com) that has a focus on PC games. While the topic of my posts varies between what I’m playing, to game reviews, to MMO design critiques, I am especially passionate about my Beta Impression posts. I have wrote beta impressions about WoW expansions, Guild Wars 2, Darkfall, Card Hunter, and more. In fact, I just completed two more within the last week: Scrolls and SolForge.
I would be extremely honored if you allowed me to add Hearthstone to that list. By letting me in the Hearthstone beta. As a member of the Press™.
In return, I can promise you a minimum of one (1) brutally honest Beta Impression post, and possibly dozens more if the game is as amazing as it looks. In fact, since I would likely spend money in the store for the tournaments (as investigative journalism), you could almost say that I’m paying you for free advertising. Just think: a Hearthstone article by me could be seen by hundreds (!) of people! That’s a PR coup if I’ve ever seen one.
In any case, I want to thank you for your time, and stalwart support of the blogging community. Your willingness to give members of the Press™ (such as myself) beta keys is an inspiration to us all. Hopefully.
– don’t doxx me, bro (aka Azuriel)
P.S. If you ever need to fill a slot on a Press™ tour of Blizzard HQ or on the WoW dev team, I am available.
Steam Haul: Summer 2013
Someone asked me the other day what I picked up during the Summer Steam sale. So here’s the list:
- Don’t Starve (of course)
- Far Cry 3 + Blood Dragon DLC
- Surgeon Simulator 2013
- On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 4
- The Swapper
- Civ 5 (upgrade to Gold edition)
- Strike Suit Zero
- Dungeon of Dredmor (DLC)
- Rogue Legacy
- Just Cause (hey, it was $0.27)
- Sanctum 2
Altogether, that came to around $133.24. Is that a lot? Probably. Then again, that’s about the same price as Far Cry 3 and Civ 5 bought on Day 1. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
That, and Press™. In fact, couldn’t these just be considered business expenses? Hmm…
Ouch. WoW down another 1.3 million
As reported by MMO-Champion, the subscriber total was 8.3 million at the end of the quarter, a loss of 1.3 million subs since Q4 (which had its own 400k loss). For those keeping track at home, Blizzard had 9.1 million subs back on August 3rd, 2012, during an eight-month lull of zero content at the end of Cataclysm, i.e. pre-Mists of Pandaria. That is a net loss of 800k this expansion – with a 1.5 million sub rollercoaster in the middle – and the lowest subscriber count WoW has had since 2007.
By the way, RIP to MMOData.net, which has not made an update in nearly nine months now. How can we pontificate without graphs? Sigh.
I went and signed up to listen to the investor report as there was not a transcript available, wondering where MMO-Champ got the rest of those bullet points. Plus, you know, Press™:
To save yourself 38 minutes, just trust me when I confirm MMO-Champ got all the relevant information.
What did interest me though was hearing how ultra-conservative Activision Blizzard is. I mean, that sort of thing isn’t a particular trade secret, but when Bobby Kotick explained that the company wasn’t interested in the mobile sphere because the Top 10 titles change every year, I cocked an eyebrow. Call of Duty and WoW still have a lot of viable milking years ahead of them, but this is the same company that gushed about their $1 billion Skylanders franchise that didn’t even exist two years ago. If CoD: Ghost ends up pulling a Warfighter along with the further expected losses (their words) in WoW subs, you can almost imagine a scenario in which they conserve themselves right off a cliff by the end of this year.
But, alas, the money machines continue unabated.
Finally, I sort of chuckled at this part of the WoW presentation:
- There has been less engagement by casual players.
Well… yeah. What did they imagine would happen when you release
one of the most alt-unfriendly expansion in the history of the game? And then proceed to put everything behind a triple-gate of dailies and rep, all but remove leveling dungeons (only to put them back), and then essentially stop all production of 5m dungeons for the rest of the expansion? Oh, and don’t get me started on the continued embarrassment of no-pop servers languishing.
At this point, all I’m really interested in is Hearthstone (as hopefully a cheaper Magic: Online) and maybe Bungie’s new game; Titan has been too much of a cocktease for too long to even get a rise out of me anymore. Otherwise Activision-Blizzard might join the ranks of EA as a big-budget publisher who only produces one title that I am remotely interested in, with all the “risky” indie ventures soaking up the money I leave on the table.
And as Doone points out, that’s probably the best thing for everyone involved.
Keeping An Eye On
Posted by Azuriel
I am not usually someone who risks getting my hopes up for games that aren’t even in beta, but I have the occasional moments of weakness. Here are a few of the games I am keeping an eye on:
Sir, You Are Being Hunted.
Basically an indie procedurally-generated, open-world survival game where you are being hunted by British robots. Yes, really. As much as I like the premise though, this is the sort of game that is going to live and die on the player perception of how/if the robots “cheat.” Were you really engaging in risky behavior, or does the AI just sort of auto-spot you within 30 meters? Maybe it is fun either way, who knows. The game is supposedly going to be released in July 2013, aka two months from now, so we’ll see how it shakes out soon enough.
First-person free-running zombie survival game from Techland, aka makers of Dead Island. Whatever your opinion is on zombies
it’s wrong, a lot of Mirror’s Edge comparisons are being thrown around, which automatically makes it potentially moreawesome. Some of the news sites are looking at this as a potential disaster given that its from the makers of Dead Island, but as you know, I enjoyed the original quite a bit. More of that in more open environments, please.
Incidentally, I have not picked up Dead Island: Riptide yet (with it’s 63 Metacritic score), but supposedly that game was made by a different team than the original. One bitten, twice zombie… or something. In any case, I wasn’t bitten. Dying Light appears to be a “hopeful” 2014 release.
The last time I talked about Hex, they were fast approaching their $300,000 Kickstarter goal. As of the time of this writing, they are sitting a $1.3 million, or more than 400% funded. The average backer spent just shy of $160. Me? I only paid $85.
My concerns about how TCGs naturally (and insidiously) combine both P2W and gamble boxes hasn’t really changed. What has changed is where exactly I place Cryptozoic on my internal Nefarious Scale, which ranges from indie all the way up to EA.
Cryptozoic is here to make money, no doubt, but their communication and outright concessions throughout the 18 Kickstarter updates has been downright refreshing. For example, their $250 Pro Player tier granted 1 free booster draft for life, which sold out in a week or less. Meanwhile, the other $250 tiers had bonuses tied to the PvE portion of the game, which is less of a value even if you planned to only play PvE (you can use PvP cards in PvE but not vice versa).
Solution? Every $250 tier now grants a free booster draft per week for 1 year.
Now, that could be construed as cynical marketing given that the Pro Player tier was sold out but the other $250 tiers were not – what better way to convince late-comers to boost their pledges than virtually increase the most popular tier? And, of course, it costs nothing to make all manners of promises in a Kickstarter campaign. At this point though, I want to believe. Just look at this:
“Prizes” probably won’t be booster packs, so I’m not getting my hopes up about that part. But put that aside for a moment: this is asynchronous player-generated content to the max. Can you see it in your mind? Browsing your collection, building decks that you think will be useful in assaulting these keeps. And then turning around and brainstorming decks to stymie and frustrate the worms that dare defy the sanctity of your realm? Shit, I would do this all day long for free! Er… well, I guess I’m quite literally paying Cryptozoic to create content for other people, but that’s okay too.
In any case, this is quite literally the first Kickstarter I have ever pledged towards, and jumping right in at $85 given my mercilessly frugal gaming habits is pretty crazy. Dropping $10 for a beta invite probably should have sufficed. But, well, sometimes you have to put on your Press™ Pants and go full gonzo. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself. The Hex beta starts in September 2013.
Please don’t be bad. Please don’t be bad. Please don’t be bad.
Posted in Commentary
Tags: Dying Light, Gonzo, Hex, KAEO, Keep An Eye On, Kickstarter, Press, Sir You Are Being Hunted