There are times when you just want to have a little
fun. Yes, there's no doubt that it's a blast to frag your
opponents in Battlefield 3 or send a flaming ball of plasma at a rival racer in
Blur. However, both of those require a commitment
that you're not always in the mood for.
Sometimes you just want to shoot stuff or in this case
infect the globe with a dastardly contagion.
A friend of mine reminded me of that the other day when he
sent me a link to the latest incarnation of the casual game, Infectionator 2 by
Infectionator 2 is just one of hundreds of casual web games
available from armorgames.com They have
a long history of showcasing addictive game experiences from independent
developers. Requiring little more than a browser and some time to
kill these creations can smooth over the doldrums.
I'm sure you're aware of the phenom, Angry Birds. Head over to Armor Games and play a few rounds
of Crush the Castle and you'll see more than a passing similarity. That's because the developers of Angry Birds
first tried out the concept with Crush the Castle.
Infectionator 2's premise is simple, infect the world with a
killer germ that can turn people into zombies.
As you progress you gain access to special items and zombie characters
that aid you in your quest to destroy civilization.
Points are earned for dispatching innocent citizens as well
as collecting gold dropped by the
recently departed. Bonuses are awarded
for achieving objectives as well providing critical resources to pursue your
research into even better mayhem.
Being a browser based game you shouldn't expect cutting edge
graphics or sound. In fact most games on
the Armor Games roster bear a strong resemblance to those great 8 bit arcade
games of old. Where Console and PC
gaming constantly reach for greater realism browser games focus on the gameplay. A point often lost on the big development
Games like Infectionator 2 are simple pastimes much like
those old arcade classics you may have lost all your quarters to in your
youth. It's no surprise then that many
of the titles in Armor Games repertoire borrow heavily from those coin operated
memories. Perhaps that's why casual
gaming has become so popular. Gaming doesn't
always have to be photorealistic or in strict harmony with the laws of physics
to be entertaining.
After all it's a game not a vocation. Give yourself permission to accomplish
absolutely nothing once in awhile.
With thousands of other teary eyed fans I watched the last
episode of Game On! Sunday night and continued watching until the end of the
Shut up and Play LAN party. When the studio lights finally went down with Semisonic's closing time still echoing from the speakers it felt like the loss
of a close friend.
There is no denying something about the show touched it's
fans. It was a feeling that supersedes
the standard TWIT fandom. To those who
were looking for the standard YouTube gamer fare or glossy cable shows it may
not have been all that intriguing. If
you were looking for multimillion dollar sets and ads from EA every 5 minutes you
were similarly disappointed.
Like all TWIT fare the show never took itself too seriously. Yes it had higher production value and
strayed from the TWIT formula of talking heads but it worked. Your hosts were not the standard bubbly
constructs of a G4 teleprompter. These
were gamers who cared as much about the subject as their audience.
I'm not sure if many of you out there watch the BBC series
Top Gear with any regularity but recently in the U.S. there's a new version
that airs on the History channel. I'm a
big fan of the BBC version but the History channel's version I can't
stand. Why? For the same reason I hate G4.
The BBC version of Top Gear is more honest. I genuinely believe that the show is hosted
by 3 guys of average intelligence who genuinely love all things
automotive. Even being British they're
easy to identify with which makes their program more relevant to my
The U.S. version is simply an overproduced copy of the BBC
version right down to the gags and format.
It's forced and doesn't feel genuine.
I don't believe for a minute, for example, that I have anything in
common with Tanner Foust. They're just not
genuine and seem more concerned with their next TV series than the content of
By the way in case you
ever see the word "plastic" in
one of my posts refer to the above example for my use of the term.
It's the same distinction between Game On! and G4. It felt genuine. That's also what tied the show into the rest
of the TWIT lineup. Most TWIT
programming is well produced but not to the point of losing the contributions
of the hosts. You may not agree but at
least you know where they stand.
By this point I think I've laid down the framework of why
the show touched a nerve with the TWIT audience. So why didn't it work?
There's a lot of debate about that but the reason that most
commonly comes to the forefront is fairly simple, money. Leo Laporte has been quoted more than once
as saying that the show was losing money. With a total loss of around $100,000 since its
start in January the show was never able to achieve the download numbers
necessary to draw the kind of advertiser money necessary to sustain its
production costs. Laporte was also
quoted as saying that no advertiser would commit to the show without a solid
50,000 weekly downloads of its podcast.
Game On! averaged 27,000.
podcasting the only reliable metric for viewership is downloads and
subscriptions to podcasts. Live viewers
and alternate delivery via channels like Youtube or Jusin.TV are helpful but
not specific enough to satisfy an advertiser's bean counters.
Laporte took part in the chat room during the final show and
was present for the last Shut Up and Play Lan party afterward. During the show Laporte addressed fans about
the cancellation and defended the reasoning for it. Still, he made it clear that he was very
pleased with the show and that the only reason for cancellation was purely
Clinging to hope that Laporte would change his mind at the
last minute, enthusiastic fans clung to a twitter post by Laporte posted
shortly before Game On's airtime. It
said that if he could get 50,000 downloads he wouldn't cancel the show.
This sparked action by what is known as the "TWIT Army"
which is a group of TWIT supporters whose sheer numbers have been known to
crash websites if Laporte even hints at a recommendation. The "Army" mobilized Sunday night
to push the show's ITUNES download ranking from #79 to #2 in less than 8
At times it seemed Laporte was vacillating between saving
the show or allowing it to be cancelled.
One of the hosts, Brian Brushwood further stoked the fire by stating
he'd like to see the show go out as a top 10 then top 5 show on ITUNES. Brushwood apparently got his wish. It's likely Laporte was overwhelmed by the
response which likely caused the appearance of wavering.
Of course while well meaning the financial reality was
inescapable for Laporte. He admitted in
the chat room later that night that he loved the show and hated cancelling it
but had no choice. He went on to reveal
that he had actually had to utilize a credit line to make payroll for TWIT. He also commented that he had to do it to
save the TWIT network.
Still, rabid fans unaware of the admission continue to
promote the show's return even though the financial reality makes that outcome
doubtful at best. Laporte did express
his desire to continue the Lan party on a periodic basis saying that it cost
almost nothing since it wasn't a formal podcast and had low production costs.
When I dropped into the chat room during Monday's FourCast
live stream the topic of Game On! came up again and the out of context tweet by
Laporte from the night before was held up as proof that the show could be
Last night I saw Laporte showing all the signs of suffering
a painful blow. I believe he wanted Game
On! to succeed more than anyone. If there was a way he could have kept it going
I believe he would have. He appeared
genuinely saddened that he couldn't.
Fan support is critical to TWIT for any of its programming. in this case, however, expressing it in the mistaken belief that it
can change the fate of Game On! does more damage than good. At some point it becomes badgering, which
I've been attacked in the chat room multiple times for
trying to bring down the level of hysteria over Game On's demise. It's primarily by devoted fans who've
selectively picked information to support an unlikely hope of the show's
revival. Even Laporte showed some
irritation in the chat room over the assertions.
The bottom line is this.
I liked the show but it's not coming back anytime soon. The financials aren't there and a one day
movement won't change the bottom line .
It was simply too expensive for
the TWIT network to produce at this point.
Here's a little analogy...
I'd love to spend a week in Las Vegas and enjoy all it's got
to offer and I could... if I were willing to give up having somewhere to live,
a car to drive and food to eat after I got back home. It's the same with Game On! We all love it and want it to continue but
the people who pay the bills can't afford it.
If there's any advice I'd give to fans I'd simply suggest they
review all the available information before passing judgment on TWIT or Laporte
over Game On!
If the show does come back someday, I intend to be the first to publish an article
about it just as I did when the show started,
That's a promise...
As of April 5th, TWIT.TV's experimental gaming show hosted
by Veronica Belmont and Brian Brushwood has officially been cancelled. The shows fate was first revealed via Twitter from the gameon
Belmont Twitter feeds. Twit founder Leo Laporte answered queries
about the shows demise throughout the day on his TWIT.TV network stressing that
it was not the content but rather the profitability that brought about the decision.
As is policy for any new TWIT programming, shows have 12
weeks to meet their viewership goals or risk cancellation. While Game On! had strong numbers with an
average of 27000 viewers per episode it was unable to meet the 50,000 viewers
necessary to make it profitable.
In response to multiple queries from the chatroom (which is
omnipresent in all TWIT.TV productions ) before recording his Before you Buy podcast Leo
Laporte responded with the following when questioned about the show's cancellation.
"We lost more money in one week than in a year of any
other show" He later explained that
the "cost per episode was $7000" for talent and production
costs. Laporte also commented that TWIT
had "lost $100,000" on the show.
When questioned about the reasons he believed it failed,
Laporte's response was:"We didn't do a good job of promoting
it." He also went on to postulate
that the gaming podcast market was already saturated with little opportunity
for a new podcast to be profitable.
The 13th and final episode airs on TWIT.TV on Sunday April
8th with Al Lowe of Leisure Suit Larry fame the guest.