Ah, so the hysteria begins as a major gaming company looks to increase revenue just as any company would. For many fans Valve’s recent introduction of paid mods has been acknowledged as the figurative end of days with heightened concerns over the seemingly more and more chopped up products that people get with DLC often being needed to experience a full game.
Though the current outrage comes from an inability to consider the exact intentions of what Valve is doing here. Many seem to suggest that the standard process of downloading any of the freely available mods independent of Valve is no more, but that is not the case. All current mods remain unaffected. Valve simply offers the opportunity for these mods to be monetized with the Steam Workshop.
(Note, opportunity; mods can still be offered for free even on the Steam Workshop.)
When gaining an understanding of the reasons behind the new addition to Steam, it becomes much more reasonable why it has been implemented in the first place — the biggest reason being incentive.
Modders have long created incredible projects with millions of users downloading mods for Steam games, but those developing these mods have done it for little reliable monetary gain. Sure, donations can offer some compensation, but the skills of some of these modders is clearly incredible. That type of money simply does not do a good enough job to create great, consistent mod teams who work independently from major companies to create significant additions to games.
Valve is creating a profit-driven, high-quality mod industry
If a modder can support themselves (or at least partially support themselves) based on the hard work they do to benefit the gaming community there is no adverse impact other than people needing to pay a few dollars for a reliable market to access custom content from.
This is exactly what Valve is offering and it should be seen as much as an opportunity for mod developers as it is a market for consumers. Modders can set their prices, track their revenue, and work as a team with Steam offering payment methods that accommodate multiple people.
The biggest problem with the current stance of the system is the lopsided revenue distribution with Valve taking the majority of all profits. The idea of giving modders a platform to support themselves and create bigger and better content is fantastic, but Valve’s being a bit too greedy when it leaves these modders with only a 25% return.
The current revenue going directly to the mod developers is not good enough for independent modders looking to support themselves.
Still, the more successful pieces of content should be profitable enough to bring dedicated workers to the field and even the possibility of devoted mod studios could come to fruition. Imagine high quality designers, audio specialists, and coders coming together to create small custom additions to games like Skyrim, Call of Duty, Borderlands, or Grand Theft Auto. Financial incentive is how you can make this happen.
The new Steam Workshop addition will create a professional environment and platform for modders and mod teams to monetize their work and create incentive for higher quality content to come as affordable mods from this point forward.
As an industry that has grossed roughly $20 billion on a yearly basis for almost the entirety of the last decade video games have come a long way over its sixty-year-long lifespan and the impact it has on Western culture is still growing rapidly today. After having to hurdle obstacles and other impediments, the progression of video games, and the value of the medium as an art, has begun a steady incline after the leveling of a helter-skelter history where “gaming” was seen as near-detrimental to the quality of American society. The anti-video game allegations throughout the 1990s and early 2000s marked as a major transitioning phase — and by the start of the 2010s, a major milestone — as the video game medium struggled to find its place as a validated form of regular entertainment.
It’s important to consider how the exact inception of video games back in the 1960s impacted the way they would be viewed by the people that were privileged enough to be the first to experience the first manipulation of a television picture. That begins with Ralph Baer, and the primarily science-oriented audience that witnessed firsthand the first major pillar of video games that everything has spawned from.
Relative to what the majority of people envision when thinking of video games, Ralph Baer’s work is extremely simple. The interaction was so basic that many would not even recognize it as a video game upon the initial look at the display of the early 60s. To most the concept was an interesting niche, and that mindset stayed that way for quite some time.
Most had not considered what Baer’s work would entail half a century later.
The majority of people who did take the initial dive into the home console market did not consider the first home console to be a revolutionary technology. The 1966 Magnavox console’s “gameplay” encompassed one to three on-screen white boxes that could be maneuvered around screen. Those who wanted to play would overlay a transparent plastic screen in front of the television display that the console was connected to.
To most people it was little more than a glorified electronic board-game entertainment device, but Baer understood the potential for it to expand beyond that, and in the following years soon after the ball began to roll on the creation of gaming. The public was largely apathetic towards the up and coming technology. The Odyssey was generally promoted as a fun learning device for kids, and was even considered a great tool for its educational purposes potential. The early advertisements promoted the home system as a “total play and learning experience for all ages.” However, it was the bonafide “geeks” of the time — especially in colleges and universities across North America — that had their interest piqued in seeing these ideas that Ralph Baer brought forth expanded upon.
While the 1960s may have been the catalyst for the industry to begin moving forward, the 1970s were truly the time where the American public began to slowly take a minor interest in the hobby. The quality of video games began to explode as the technological limitations were lifted and the first popular game, Pong, was released. Made by Atari and more specifically attributed to Atari’s founder, Nolan Bushnell, Pong was the first game to bring structured multi-person gameplay that was easy to play, but challenging to master. This attitude helped video games flourish as those who played the game immediately looked to compete with whoever they played against.
Because of the refined structure in games, the general consensus towards them began to explode in popularity. In the late 1970s video games’ prevalence in arcades skyrocketed with kids and teenagers heading to them in droves with small communities surrounding each local arcade. This expansion of gaming from scientists and computer techs, to a much larger and younger demographic begins the first public support for gaming.
For a moment, it seemed that the support that the industry had gotten would be an immense blessing, but in reality it was a curse lurking underneath. The first and second generation of video games (1970-1977; 1977-1983) introduced some of the most iconic games of all time. Games like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Frogger, and many more created immense buzz in the market on home consoles like the Atari 2600. Profits were exploding, but very soon the market became saturated just as the news media was beginning its first somewhat respectable coverage towards the medium.
Competition had grown fast between game publishers, and investors saw the video game business as an untapped gold-mine with everyone suddenly heading there at once. Business executives in charge of publishing the games didn’t fully understand what creating a game required and simply demanded as many games to be released as they could get. These absurd demand requests hindered developers with stringent time schedules. Most game makers were no longer able to find the time to make something unique or interesting and instead recreated old games but with slightly different styles and concepts. After a short time of massive improvements with seemingly every game’s release being better than the last, consumers quickly noticed when the quality nose-dived and the entire industry was on the verge of total collapse.
Most major news-media outlets had concluded that the North American Video Game Crash of 1983 was the end of a fad; the end of a simple phase in American culture. For a few years they were right. Outside of the local arcades, home video game consoles were on a dramatic decline, and representation of gaming was fittingly non-existent. However, in 1985 a relatively new Japanese company, Nintendo, had nearly single-handedly saved the entire industry and began a rebirth of video games in the United States.
One of the biggest keys to this rebirth was just a single game character that is now intrinsically integrated into the American consciousness — Mario.
With the Mario games came a true gaming “franchise.” Mario wasn’t just a great game with a fun narrative, unknown secrets, and colorful visuals though. Mario was a character. He had a background, a recognizable look, and a mission . Nintendo’s creative director and game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto set the model for almost all future gaming franchises with these refined ideas for creating a long-standing game. The ability for gamers to identify with the game as the following of a character creates an endearment to the character. This leads to increased exposure in the media as such an identifiable character is more easily expressed and shared to those that had not yet even tried to play a video game. Games were seen as little more than entertaining ways for kids to waste time.
Games stayed as a this perceived campy form of entertainment for the following eight years after Mario’s release, but as a new graphical fidelity level is reached the realism that games shared with the real world became disconcerting to parents and led to one of the first major uproars against video games. Specifically, the game Doom (released in 1993) took the brunt of the attack against gaming. The gory visuals and graphic violence had many claiming children could be manipulated into becoming “mass murder” killing machines. Though gaming continued to flourish throughout the 1990s with the release of the PlayStation and Nintendo 64, the controversial undertones associated with video games were extraordinarily prominent in most reports associated with the medium.
Though reporters, journalists, and other talking heads on major network news channel painted a negative picture, the public was still captivated by video games, computers, and the new consoles . Amid the chaos of the new violence-inducing reputation video games had, the game developers and artists kept moving forward and another crucial step in games becoming a greater resemblance of the games today became prominent.
Throughout the mid-late 1990s and the early 2000s games took on more in-depth stories that had gamers not only enjoying the game they were playing, but immersed in the universe associated with them. Games became a form of story telling, and the ability for game creators to convey meaningful messages grew exponentially over the 2000s decade. The start of contemporary game franchises began in the early 2000s with the releases of Halo: Combat Evolved, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto III, and the continuation of the Metal Gear series. These games all followed the same formula that Nintendo promoted in the mid 1980s with a recognizable character for players to identify with.
While the gaming community was still under represented in the media the sub-communities that expanded with the increased popularity of multiplayer gaming, created the feel of something greater with each person defending the console of their choice over the others and rivalries spawning between game developers and publishers again like they did during the early 1980s. However, this time the industry had learned from the past mistakes and the competition promoted rapidly improving game quality.
By the end of the decade video games were considered commonplace and normal in society. The media’s perception, while still sometimes skewed, now showcases games as beneficial to society and a vital asset to American culture. Business-wise, investors show a respect towards the critical consumer audience that follows the industry, and those business decisions have been rewarded.
From 2010-2015 American games have outsold the entirety of the film industry, and more impressively in 2013 one single game (Grand Theft Auto V) outsold the entire music industry of that year. The sheer prominence and rapid growth of video games, and the American culture’s infatuation with gaming had outlasted the negative claims throughout its history. From the beginnings as an interesting “toy” in the 1970s, to the dubbing as a fad in the 1980s, to the allegations of a danger to society in the 1990s;
the American culture’s perpetuance of games has helped the medium reach a more prestigious term of endearment — “art form.”
The Xbox One has gotten plenty of its own interesting arcade games like #IDARB, Valiant Hearts, Killer Instinct, and more, but the library on the Xbox 360 was extensive and the new console still has a long ways to go before it matches the game selection of its predecessor.
Games like Castle Crashers, Aegis Wing, Battlefield 1943, Bastion and so many more offer great experiences for a very reasonable price.
Day One Xbox One owners have seen the initially underwhelming selection of games evolve and expand rapidly — especially throughout Q4 of 2014.
Many IPs from the Xbox 360 have risen again on the One. Peggle 2, Trials Evolution, and Geometry Wars 3 have all stemmed from their past success on the 360.
This trend of importing the old IPs to the new generation will likely continue, but which games would you like to see the most on the Xbox One?
After so much promise from their new generation iteration of the NHL series, EA Sports ultimately failed to meet the expectations of NHL 15 for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
With major game modes like EA Sports Hockey League and GM Connected (Online Franchise) omitted from the game, EA produced an excellent game based on the gameplay, but left out the variety that kept NHL an exciting game for hockey fans.
Before the official reveal of the game modes just weeks before NHL 15’s release, this year’s game was shown to be incredibly promising after winning the E3 Critic Awards’ Sports Game of the Year.
The award to EA was certainly not understandable. The base of the game is fantastic as the visuals took an incredible jump from the previous generation games. Along with fantastic new commentary and smooth gameplay, it seemed NHL 15 was going to be the best upgrade to the series in a very long time.
But now that the core of the game is set, and the resources allocated to development should be able to handle the addition of the game modes and fine-tuning the rest of the game to make NHL 16 a worth-while product.
Here’s what needs to happen for NHL 16:
The return of EASHL and GM Connected. A club mode with all the features present in the last NHL game’s rendition present. EA Sports Hockey League and GM Connected are crucial components of the NHL series since their launches in NHL 09 and NHL 13 (respectively). The removal of these modes in NHL 15 was unacceptable for the majority of fans.
Implementation of EA’s “Game Face” technology with the NHL series would be greatly appreciated. The FIFA and Madden series have long incorporated the more personalized touch to their online game modes and its certainly time for NHL to do the same. While there was some customization to faces with scars, complexion modifications, and eye color offered to be edited and changed, NHL 15 removed the bulk of this customization and left players with a single list of preset faces.
More detailed customization of EASHL team logo and jersey designs. Since EASHL’s advent in 2008, virtually zero upgrades to team personalization have been added. Coming up on the seventh year later, there is little reason for such a meager assortment. With other games like GTA, and Call of Duty promoting very customizable (albeit small) options for gang symbols, weapon decals, and logos, NHL currently offers nothing that can be compared to the level of detail permitted in these other games.
Tune down the jersey flutter. Adding the layered player models to the game looks fantastic upon first glance, but after repeated play, many gamers will notice the absurd amount that the jerseys dance with the nonexistent wind.
Slow down the dekes. The one-touch deking system is another great addition to the game to create smoother looking movement on the ice, but when players like Zac Rinaldo can seemingly cut and maneuver in the same vein as Vladimir Tarasenko there is a definite problem. Greater variation in how the “deking” stat is attributed to players is needed.
While there are certainly other issues and problems that fans can gripe about like there is every year, EA must take an intrinsic focus to ensure that the continuation of NHL on the new generation not only optimizes the bugs and minor issues, but also deliver on the players’ expectations for fleshed out variety of game modes and immediately noticeable improvements.
Universal apps are on the way and connecting all of Microsoft’s application to create a Windows 10 ecosystem that promotes a diverse library of software on Xbox Ones, PCs, and Windows Phones.
The looming plans to integrate all of the company’s platforms is already expected to help the app library grow and flourish, but with the similarities that the Xbox One has with the Metro OS on Windows 8, we may be in store to see a more fleshed out version of the Windows operating system on the home console in the near future as well.
It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that the Xbox division shook things up with their user interface. The Xbox 360 has had a multitude of looks and appearances — evolving over the years. From the early days of the 360’s blades to the “new Xbox experience” to the “metro” interface, Microsoft is no stranger to these major face-lifts.
The current Xbox One metro look is decent, but navigation without a kinect could be simplified and cleaned up. Windows 10 is designed for the “cloud-first world” and this gives Microsoft the opportunity to make a platform that is truly your one place for everything that they made seem their true desire among the console’s initial release.
Given the popularity of the kinect-less Xbox One right now, Microsoft may look to key on creating a better controller focused navigation system as the new windows converges everything.
Currently the interface is a bit more convoluted and it sometimes struggles to optimize multiple tasks together. Snapping is useful, but its flow of operation is inconsistent. Selecting things can sometimes cause unexpected errors and closure of whatever may be snapped.
The party system is vastly different than what it once was on the Xbox 360, and, by some accounts, worse than former console’s design. Microsoft had once overhauled their chat-room system before — adding parties in the first place on top of private-chats. We could see them do it again.
While Windows may be coming to the console in the future, don’t be expecting as much freedom as you’d get on a typical PC. Windows 10 will drive the system, but it won’t act and behave the same way users interact with the desktop operating system.
Big changes are to come soon, and the Xbox has vastly improved since its initial release in 2013, but what should be the one place for everything is still vastly under-optimized and trailing behind its main competitor in Sony’s Playstation 4.
Rest assured, Microsoft is improving and the gap between the consoles will begin to close — especially with their incredible black friday sales right now.
With Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare releasing just last week, the highly publicized release of Destiny back in September, and the popularity of Titanfall on the Xbox One, it seems nearly all shooters — especially first-person shooters — are following similar blue-prints to success.
Two generations ago it was Medal of Honor and Call of Duty leading the World War II trend, but now a fast-paced shooter with imaginative environments that also offers a great multiplayer to boot are becoming the hallmarks of the best games on the new generation.
The release of Titanfall brought a very quick and dynamic approach to traversal while also executing the core elements of a typical FPS. Though the game lacked a truly immersive story, the gameplay was — and still is — spectacular. Many similar gameplay qualities are seen in the new Call of Duty and other games outside the FPS genre are attempting to take a different approach to movement in general; see Sunset Overdrive.
And while it certainly isn’t a new specific setting, more games are looking towards more abstract worlds that grant the developers greater freedom in their approach to game design. This is a definite positive for the industry and giving devs more freedom will certainly lead to some incredible worlds to explore down the road.
Titanfall has been following this track, Advanced Warfare is now taking this track, and other games to come are bringing more complex environments and exotic stories to gaming as well. Quantum Break, Infamous, Sunset Overdrive, and even a game like The Order 1886 are also taking more liberties in their development with gameplay characteristics that make them truly stand our among the rest.
More freedom, more ideas, better games.
These trends look to be lasting long enough to alter the direction of other major developers and publishers as well.
Halo 5’s release next year could look to build on this recent trend by evolving their own style of play.
Will we see wall-running and grinding for Master Chief or Agent Locke? Probably not, but perhaps a greater emphasis on the jet-pack will be incorporated into the campaign this time around to match the flow that other developers are taking.
Since Halo: Reach the series has been adding various alterations to how players can make their ways throughout the game with sprinting, jet packs, gravity lifts, and more vehicles in the multiplayer. It would make sense to see a bit more of it added into the story given this recent trend, but the overall multiplayer experience would be best to stay in tune with the likes of Halo 2 and 3.
Ensuring the multiplayer lives up to expectations is crucial and tinkering with the experience too much could lead to some less-than-happy fans. Given how crucial a solid multiplayer is now, the envisioning of a game with the aforementioned qualities along with a great multiplayer being the metaphorical cherry on top is the desire for a lot of the major developers right now — and that’s a great thing to see.
Some new playable gameplay was revealed at the NY Comic Con event Thursday, and Resident Evil Revelations 2 looks to continue to build off of the core of Revelations 1.
With the way Resident Evil games have been gravitating toward the action-shooter genre, it was refreshing to see a slower pace and a darker feel return to the series with Revelations 2.
Claire Redfield’s (joined by Moira Burton) return as a main character is looking promising. Her last full-game, Code Veronica was released nearly 15 years ago, and as her brother Chris has been evolving before our eyes, she has been for the most part out of the picture.
Claire and Moira’s characters alone helps bring back the classic feel, and while Claire is certainly a vet of the zombie infested world by now, she isn’t quite as physically intimidating as Chris. The character styles and backgrounds make them tough, but more vulnerable — and that adds to exemplifying the horror elements of the game.
Though it’s not just her character weaponry is limited this time around, and shooting is not as precise. You don’t feel like you can take on an entire horde at any moment. Claire takes just a moment to really steady her gun for an accurate shot.
For most of the game, it shares many general qualities with Resident Evil 4. The movement, arsenal, and pace of action are similar to that of the 2005 title.
While the available gameplay to preview is still limited, you may even have less ammo and weapons than Leon Kennedy did. The demo didn’t have a focus on the shooting elements — for the most part it set the tone of what to expect.
The release is still slated for “early 2015,” but with the remake of the original Resident Evil is coming next year as well, it seems all zombie-lovers will get their fix in the coming year.
Sunset overdrive is a very unique game out of all next-generation titles available right now. The one of a kind relaxed-chaos it brings is what may help the game flourish.
There’s really only one way too describe Sunset Overdrive. Fun.
And while that is certainly true the game is not an intense and highly focused game. It’s a very relaxed-fun. While the plot and actions players take within the game isn’t quite a peaceful style, the way the game plays is.
Do anything, be anyone — and do it grinding, climbing, hacking, slashing, and firing at the mutant infested world that is your playground.
The only game that is really comparable to Sunset Overdrive right now is Dead Rising 3, and while Dead Rising wasn’t a bad game by any means, Sunset Overdrive takes a similar core and enhances it in a variety of ways.
Dead Rising 3 had a relatively linear approach to traversing the game world, and with Sunset Overdrive the fast-paced grinding and jumping keep even something as simple as going from point “A” to point “B” a fun experience.
This approach to movement not only looks cool, but brings an element of gameplay not present in other currently available “next-gen” games. It’s reminiscent of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games, and the Jet Set Radio series as well. Throw in some guns, hack and slash weapons, crazy “amps,” and a highly customizable main character — Sunset Overdrive is just all kinds of awesome.
For casual gamers and those who want a game to just kick-back with, this upcoming Xbox One exclusive is one of the most promising games yet of this generation.
Let’s take a look at the best of the new-genertaion before Destiny and the Master Chief Collection dethrone them all in just a few weeks.
We’re closing in on a full year since the the release of the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, and almost two years since the WiiU’s release. With multiple developers planning on abandoning the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 next year, gamers should be ready and excited to fully immerse themselves within the new-generation.
Each console holds some charm with the exclusive games available to them right now. The Xbox One will be looking forward to an influx of exclusives coming soon, and the Playstation 4 will certainly benefit from the remakes and returning franchises to the platform. Even with its early struggles the WiiU has amassed a respectable library to choose from.
So what games are best on each system?
Xbox One – Titanfall
An incredible unique approach to the FPS genre, Titanfall brought the Xbox One its first must-have game. The revolution it has brought to terrain traversal can not be downplayed. Though it lacked a true story to play through, the gameplay in the multiplayer steers clear of growing too repetitive and Respawn’s utilization of Microsoft’s servers create a reliable multiplayer that rarely has its service interrupted. With the twists that Respawn instilled over the core FPS gameplay and online-centric experience, Titanfall is surely the best game on Xbox One right now.
WiiU – Mario Kart 8
With 2.82 million copies sold in its first month available, it would be a crime to not consider Mario Kart 8 the WiiU’s best game. Many would call it the console’s most important game. Over three times as many consoles were sold within the fiscal quarter that Mario Kart 8 was released (relative to the same quarter of the previous year). The sales are with good reason though. The 1080p; 60 FPS gameplay along with the new additions such as anti-gravity transitions the game brings the core experience new life while maintaining the classic feel.
Playstation 4 – The Last of Us: Remastered
The Last of Us was already an incredible game on the Playstation 3, but when players were able to get their hands on the ‘remastered’ version, there was good reason to get excited for the adventure again. The dark and grim setting is brought to life with remarkable visual upgrades. Naughty Dog’s inclusion of a photo-mode helps players appreciate the scenery even more. While the world alone is something to marvel at, the narrative that occurs within takes players on an incredible journey despite the game not being initially designed for the new-generation of consoles.
It’s only $8.99 a month and gives you some of the best shows, movies, and documentaries. With nearly 30 million customers, you’re bound to know at least one person who uses Netflix, but as the new generation of consoles focuses more and more on digitally downloaded games, is now the perfect time for a videogame “Netflix” to arise?
Currently the only popular videogame rental service, Gamefly, requires you to play with the physical disc, while also limiting the amount of games you can possess at one time. It’s not a particularly bad deal, but it is a far cry from the convenience and practicality of a digital focused service like Netflix or Hulu Plus.
Onlive has attempted the streaming approach with relatively disappointing results. Their pricing plan was ideal at $14.99 a month, and their selection of games was solid as well, but the latency was far too significant for the average gamer to handle.
The $14.99 a month price point seems very reasonable and should be where the company who inevitably will attempt a gaming subscription service should aim.
But right now it seems a streaming game service is out of the question — unless one of the big three game companies’ server capacity is truly up to one of the biggest tests you could imagine.
But you don’t necessarily need to stream the games. You just need to be able to play them within a time frame quicker than the week it takes for gamefly to deliver. The next logical conclusion would be to simply download each game one at a time and store them on your hard drive until your subscription to the service ends.
One of the greatest concerns for a user would be their internet service struggling to keep up with the large downloads. With most videogames being as large as 40 or even 50 GB, a high quality internet connection would be a must to give users a streamlined experience. This puts a major hole in the idea of a videogame “Netflix,” but it doesn’t entirely deter the idea.
For movies that stream through Netflix, or any streaming service for that matter, you receive content that is instantly processed and enjoyed. Videogames are certainly different. With their inclusion of a single player story that can last for multiple days, and a multiplayer gamemode that lasts for as long as the player enjoys it, the amount of content received through a single game download is much greater than that of a movie. Waiting an hour or two for a game to download becomes a lot more reasonable when you look at the content you receive.
If a service like this were to form, it would likely start with either Microsoft or Sony. The Playstation 4 is experimenting with Playstation Now, which streams games to the console and shows similarities to the Netflix model. The Xbox One continues to grow their ‘Azure’ servers system, and seems more prepared in regards to their server capacity. With Microsoft’s focus on digital gaming and the introduction of EA Access, it may be best for the videgame “Netflix” to begin on Xbox One.
So yes, a videogame “Netflix” can work, but it would need a different approach and a lot of commitment on the part of what ever company is up to the task.
Most would say a streaming/on-demand gaming subscription service likely won’t fully develop into a feasible, easy-to-use product for some time, but with the love of Netflix so prominent and the greater focus on digitally downloaded games this generation (EA Access, Playstation Now, etc.), it shouldn’t be a surprise if it comes sooner than you might expect.