Razer reportedly took out this advert in the Wall Street Journal today. The site it links to, laid thick with nostalgia, rattles off a few minutes on the alleged sheep-think and closed systems of console gaming in a tone of synthesized reproach.
Why would Razer put this advert in the WSJ? No doubt that serious PC gamers lean toward the affluent – graphics cards be expensive, yo. But it’s also got the fingerprints of PR all over it: this isn’t just an advert in an obliging trade publication. This is an effort to make this A Serious Thing. What Razer, as a manufacturer of hi-spec, hi-end gaming peripherals stands to gain from such activity is obvious (yes, I have a Razer Copperhead).
As to what this actually is, well. The emphasis on inclusion and condemnation of proprietary platforms suggests to me that Razer might be about to make some serious moves into cloud delivery, or software-as-a-service. This is where the game itself is hosted on some mega-rig somewhere, and delivered to you over the internet. The benefits are obvious: no downloading, no patching, no idiosyncratic crashes. It also supports subscription models, which to me make a lot more sense in this piratical world. Not many people play games more than once, which is why there’s such a booming second-hand market. Furthermore, they’re pricey buggers and the spectre of buyer’s remorse can loom large even with a title you’re pretty certain about (hello, Limbo. And sorry).
I could, of course, be dead wrong, but OnLive will no doubt be watching very closely…
It occured to me last night that it would be strange for Razer, as hardware specialists, to move into software. Maybe not as strange as HP selling off their entire PC division, but hey. Kotaku thinks that Razer might be about to launch its Switchblade, a high-powered gaming netbook with modular keys. I kind of hope not. Two reasons:
1) I’ve long struggled with the concept of ‘gaming’ laptops. A gaming notebook seems an even less comprehensible value proposition. Why? Because you don’t need a mega powerful laptop to play World of Warcraft, and FPSes need a mouse. The online RPG and the multiplayer FPS market are by far the largest. I doubt you’d be able to play these games particularly well on such a tiny device (a big deal for the hyper-competitive FPS scene), but taking them mobile just fundamentally doesn’t make sense to me – it’s not like gamers seem to have a particularly big problem with staying at their home PC for hours on end, and laptops can play most online games just fine. Furthermore… tablets? No? If you’re going to land a bunch of money on a mobile device, chances are you’re thinking of a iPad instead. With that comes a host of high-quality games, some of which are hardly casual. It seems to me that market Razer are pursuing with the Switchblade is pretty much mythical – some sort of extreme 24/7 gamer who is also always on the move and has lots of money and doesn’t want a tablet and doesn’t have a laptop and demands hi-fidelity graphics… but doesn’t mind not being able to play them all that well. Hmmm.
2) It would be a waste of momentum. Razer have clearly ploughed some marketing spend into this and chosen to tap into and make public a current of thinking that’s close to gamers’ hearts. To fritter that away on promoting some new hardware – no matter what I might think about it – seems insensitive. It also doesn’t chime with the rhetoric being employed. I hope that they’re not going to squander this hype on something that falls far short of what they appear to be promising.
Shadow of the Colossus is the best game ever made. Still.
Released in late 2005, it was unlike anything else anyone had ever seen, and inexplicably remains unbeaten over half a decade later. I say inexplicably because to me, what sets it apart from the rest is quite obvious – and should, therefore, be easy enough to learn from. I suppose it is testament to Fumito Ueda and his studio Team ICO that they made it look so easy.
So, why is this game so great? All you do is ride around an immense, melancholic landscape that whispers vestiges of past civilizations and former glories, delving into the hidden corners of a forgotten world to rouse ancient titans with which to enter into frantic and desperate mortal combat in order to harvest their essences for a gnomic and menacing god with whom you have struck a devil’s deal to return your lost love to life, the morally questionable slaughter weighing heavier and heavier on you each time you draw more of your quarries’ blackened blood until you are fighting to stay who you once were lest your mission, finally successful, deliver your partner to life only to find her savior something wasted and corrupt and unrecognizable.
In case you didn’t already know, I’m a gamer. I click things on a screen – usually to kill other things, but sometimes to solve puzzles, pilot vehicles, explore ancient cave systems, or command troops (to kill things). Gaming is an interesting one. It’s the #1 entertainment source in the world, bringing in way more money than any film or music album, yet still remains curiously taboo and rife with stereotypes of the basement-dwelling loser. This is changing, albeit slowly, but things might now be hastened along.
There’s a growing trend for gamification, a gauche neologism that nonetheless seems to have wedged itself in the proverbial jaw of enterprise. Gamification aims to bring the long-employed tactic of incentives clicking and screaming into the connected, digital world. The idea is that if you create a multiplayer environment by overlaying a competitive reward scheme, usually at a micro level, you can turn users into competitors. The desire to best their peers then propels your activity forward on a wave of bragging rights and challenges.
Interestingly, gamification is being much-hailed by those who work in the HR industry, as experts on employee engagement – a sort of generalized measure of wellbeing, satisfaction and loyalty – claim that gamification is helping them in lots of tasks, from driving user adoption of enterprise management software right through to closing deals.
Meet Lara Croft, the original videogame pin-up. For too long the embarassing symbol of a desperately skewed userbase, Croft was sexualized to the point of parody. That picture I linked? Official art.
We’ve progressed/regressed(?) since that. Characters like Soul Calibur’s Ivy make Croft look positively modest. There are countless games that are simply about semi-naked or naked girls, from soft idiocy like Dead or Alive Extreme Volleyball to hundreds of knock-off hentai titles (NSFW). Yet Croft has never quite shaken off that stigma, despite her more recent games garnering some pretty favourable reviews.
EA just fired a massive broadside at Valve’s dominance of the gaming service platform. At least, that’s what most people believed earlier today when it emerged that the company – which has been slowly repairing its reputation for the last few years – no longer listed one of its flagship titles, Crysis 2, on Steam. Speculation waas rife that this meant EA were about to really start pushing their own platform, Origin.
Since then, EA has hotly denied that this was their doing, accusing Valve of delisting the game for breaching new regulations. Basically, it’s because Crytek has a deal with another download service. To make it extra-clear, EA claims Crysis 2′s removal from Steam “was not an EA decision or the result of any action by EA.”
That’s what 9to5 Mac want to know. Well, I suppose yes. But only in strictly technical terms. Graphical obsolescence is far more than just how shiny something can be rendered. It’s about accessibility, ease of coding, and… well, popularity.
So the PlayStation Network – PSN – has now been down for nearly a month. A quick background, first: at the beginning of April, the loosely-defined-but-potent online hacking group Anonymous took a few potshots at the PSN servers using a fairly primitive DDOS tool called the Low Orbit Ion Cannon. The software can be powerful, but against a mighty piece of engineering it was never likely to have much of an effect beyond making a few sites flicker under the load. Moreover, the attack was a simple revenge for a Sony lawsuit against hacker GeoHot, who had finally cracked the platform. So far, so impersonal.
Then a chap from Sony’s hosting provider spoke to Ars Technica, without permission from his superiors. He guessed, probably correctly at the time, that the hackers were ‘going to get bored’. And then he made a big mistake:
… The DDoS attacks have been underwhelming. The source characterized them more as an annoyance than an unstoppable force. They “annoyed our network engineers,” says the source, but are only of “medium strength.”