It’s been a little slow in the news department lately but there are some interesting developments of late that are worthy of noting.
The most interesting development occurred rather recently and has further hampered console manufacturers and game publishers for implementing any kind of DRM or restrictions on their games for the next console cycle. Game publisher Electronic Arts has ceased the use of forcing gamers to enter a serial code to access online portions of their games. Such hits as the Dead Space series, Madden series, Mass Effect series and a stable of many other A+ titles required this code unlocking mechanism, touted by EA as “feature” and dubbed it the “Online Pass“. If you purchased a new title from EA then not to worry, the Online Pass security code was included. However if your game was a second-hand purchase or a rental, then this charade of a feature had to be purchased separately for an additional cost of $10. Clearly, EA was taking aim at those who primarily purchased their titles used, since EA apparently wasn’t happy with the 60 bucks a game they were clearing with every new game purchase so they decided along with micro-transactions, to add Online Passes to all their published games to milk even more money from the consumer. This “feature” has since been rescinded, and for good reason: EA states that the profit they were making on each online pass was potently overshadowed by the negativity associated with it and in turn, causing the publishing house to lose money by pushing would-be buyers away. If consumers want companies to listen to them, the only true way to get their attention is with your wallet. When a companies bottom-line is hurt by poor sales, then said company will definitely take notice. So what happens now to all those EA games you already own but might not have online passes to? Well, I can only attest to my personal experience so far but with Dead Space 2 I checked the Downloadable Content portion of the games menu and sure enough, the Online Pass was now available for free. I happily clicked away and now my copy of DS2 is multiplayer enabled, without an extra cent ever having to be spent. I assume other EA titles will follow similar procedure. With Microsoft’s huge about-face last week regarding their next-generation console’s policy reversal of mandatory online connectivity for “check-in’s” and lifting the restrictions on used games, it seems gaming companies and equally important, the hardware manufacturers finally realize that we are not sheep who will simply buy their product because the company says we should. Obviously, MS saw that their pre-orders for the Xbone were taking a massive hit and once again, gamers spoke out with their wallets and MS listened. Also, the constant non-stop stream of criticism from the online gaming community and via retail stores didn’t hurt either.
I have also been slowly playing my way thru Naughty Dog’s excellent new IP, “The Last of Us“. I just had my first encounter with the infected sub-species appropriately named “The Clicker”, for the eerie clicking noises it uses to find it’s prey. These baddies are without eyesight and use echolocation (think bats) to sniff you out. They are also extremely tough to kill, making your gunshot aim increasingly important. Right now, I’m about 3 1/2 hours into my journey but I only expect it to get much more difficult here on out. Speaking of Online Passes, SCEA is also requiring the use of serial codes to access the multiplayer portions of TLoU. I guess it’s a good thing I pre-ordered my copy a long time a go.
Last but not least, Sony still has a bevy of exclusives making it’s way to the PlayStation 3 this year in spite of the PS4 looming on the horizon. One such game that was revealed quite a long time a go is Until Dawn, a first/3rd person thriller based on every horror movie cliche in cinema. We haven’ heard as much as a peep from developer Supermassive Games about the current status of it’s game however Supermassive says the game is still in active development and coming out this fall. The PlayStation Move-powered title (yes, I believe the game does require Sony’s much maligned copycat motion control device to play but don’t quote me on that) puts you in control of several teenagers who take a holiday to a remote cabin in the woods (sound familiar yet?) when they are accosted by masked intruders looking to make their stay a living hell. The game definitely looks exciting and interesting enough, let’s just hope the game mechanics don’t follow the same cliches as it’s cinema counterparts. Check out the announcement trailer below from last years Gamescom convention: