Friday, March 15, 2013

EA's sorry about SimCity, What's an OUYA? and more!


The Midagedgamer report for March 15, 2013

This week:

Ea apologizes for SimCity but no refunds!, New Borderlands 2 character coming, What's an OUYA? and more!

The big news out of EA this week?  If you found yourself looking at a blank dialog box instead of playing SimCity, EA's got a consolation prize for you.  They're going to offer you one of their downloadable games for free.  Watch your email March 18th for details on how and what you'll be getting for the frustration you suffered last week. 

SimCity developer Maxis' GM Lucy Bradshaw was quoted last Friday (March 8th) as saying the reason for the outage was.."a lot more people logged on than we expected.  More people played and played in ways we never saw in beta....OK, we agree that was dumb but we are committed to fixing it."
That's all very well and nice and it's refreshing to hear  an EA developer admitting the inadequacies of their beta programs.  But only time will tell if they've learned from their mistakes.  Time will also tell if the "free game" is salve for the wound or just a burnt offering.  Didn't see anything about a refund in there BTW.
The following  comments come from the referenced EA article...

"Why do I want another game to play on your obviously buggy and unreliable Origin service? Giving me another game that has a good chance of not working due to your servers isn't going to make me happy. Givi ng me an offline version of SimCity will

"Maybe you should think about NOT having this stupid Always Online DRM crap? Yeah? Might solve the problem of bad design and bad decisions on your part. "

236405_GameTap GameTap Games on Demand 120x90More Borderlands 2 DLC in the works and it appears we'll be getting a sixth playable character.  October saw the introduction of Gaige a female cyborg mechromancer which seems like a cross between a siren and a commando.  At last weekend's South by Southwest Gearbox hinted at a new character which appears to be focused on Melee combat much like Brick in the first game. 

These are DLC only, however, and not available to premium subscription members which makes me wonder what the point is of having it if I have to keep buying extra stuff?  I wonder if Gearbox is looking at Borderlands 2 like EA looks at Battlefield 3.  You know, a money machine?  If so it doesn't bode well for Borderlands 3...

Ah well, wait a year and you'll get it all for $60 on a Steam sale....

So are you one of those people looking to break out of the shackles of traditional console gaming with their high prices, subscription models and closed ecosystems?  Then OUYA may have your alternative.  OUYA is an Android based gaming console that will go for around $100 when it officially launches in June.  Funded by a successful Kickstarter project started by Julie Uhrman and Yves Behar back in August 2012 the project managed to attract 8.5 Million US. That was 8 times their target by the way.
The news this week was the announcement that Kickstarter backers can expect to see their new OUYA boxes show up by March 28th. 

What's significant about OUYA isn't just the migration of android based games from mobile devices to your HD TV.  It's the freedom afforded to developers to develop without the restrictions that come from other platforms like Xbox and Playstation.  OUYA claims that, "Anyone can make a game, every OUYA console is a developer kit.  No need to purchase a license or an expensive SDK.." 
The platform is more of a boon for indie game developers than even Valve's Steam can offer.  The question remains whether this will be the functional alternative to mainstream consoles or end up a hobbyist platform for the true believer.  If it becomes the Linux equivalent to Windows in the console gaming world the result will likely be less than revolutionary.

The other issue to consider is that with a few exceptions, Android based games are made for mobile devices with 4" screens.   That may not translate well to your 50" HDTV.   That is, unless you're ok with the bulk of your gaming looking like something from the original Sony Playstation.   Of course that can change with time but developers will need to ramp up their efforts if OUYA has any chance of being a force in the console market.

In the end if OUYA serves no other purpose than to soften the draconian licensing and development practices of the Sony and Microsoft's of the world that's a good thing.

If you've been wondering why Nvidia's been shut out of the next generation consoles your answer may finally be here.  In a nutshell, Sony and Microsoft are cheap and AMD is too.  Apparently Nvidia passed on the opportunity to be in the next generation of consoles because the big 2 weren't offering enough scratch for the effort. 
" (They) didn't want to do the business at the price those guys were willing to pay", Tony Tomasi Nvidia SVP of content

AMD came in cheaper so they got the gig.  Sony claims it wasn't about the technology just the price.   That's really all there is to it.

I guess it had something to do with the "support offline group play" feature that got a new phone from Samsung on the gaming news radar this week.  Yes the highly anticipated Samsung S4 has been officially announced.  It's a phone that lets you do things by waving your fingers at it.  It's set for release at the end of April.  Must be a slow news week...

That's it for this week.

                               
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