Monday, August 31, 2009

The Combobulater August 30th 2009

Hey Everyone,

This week sees Emeny flying solo since Quarter 4 is upon us and weekend work is going to start cutting into our time at home.

It's been a few weeks since we did a show though so I didn't want to leave you guys hanging. This week sees the Combobulater's debut 'community driven' podcast, where you guys have made the content!

The plan for this show has always been to get you guys involved as much as possible. This week I have taken a thread from our forum and discussed the content. Beltrad kicks off this discussion with some points raised regarding our recent hate on Activision.

Should we be worried about the RRP of games being pushed up? Is it fair to pay a little more for a triple A title and is this really any different from other industries?

How about the impact on Indie developers and other companies watching Activison take the lead in pushing up the RRP. Does Activision hold a responsibility to lead by example, and if they do are they setting the right one?

All of this and more is discussed on this week's podcast and can be found on our forums. Dive in and share your thoughts on this, and other topics and who time it could be YOU!!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Blizzard: Damned if they do and damned if they don't!

As the dust settle on Blizzcon 2009 I find myself tuning into a variety of podcasts and opinions in an effort to digest the splurge of info.

It's a shame, in my opinion, that a lot of the 'oomph' was taken out of the announcements with leaks splashing their speculation around the web a week or so in advance of the event. No real harm done I guess but if you're not actually at the event I think it's harder to get excited about something that you already kind of knew about.

Aside from that though there has been something else that has got my goat. Why do people throw up their arms and wail in protest to Blizzard lifting inspiration from other games?

It's a criticism that has been aimed at Blizzard so many times, even by our good selves on the show but when I sit and reflect on this I realised that it's really not fair at all to slate Blizzard for this trait.

Recent announcements include 'Guild Levelling' which will allow you to spec your guild in such a way that you can cater perks to suit your play style. Mass resurrections will make a 25man wipe in a dungeon much more manageable as your downtime is reduced. I'm sure there'll be perks for PvP players as well, but this idea of levelling your guild is apparently already done in titles such as Warhammer and DDO.

Lord of the Rings Online also has similar features in the way that the better standing your guild is on the server the more access you have to things like guild housing (something Blizzard are still resisting in WoW), so it's easy to say 'Blizzard has ripped this off'.

Achievements in WoW come as a direct result of the popular Microsoft Gamer points and Battlenet looks as though it has taken a big leaf out of Steams 'how to...' book.
Is any of this a bad thing though? Of course not!!

It would be absolutly nuts to blast Blizzard for taking what makes one game or service good and implementing it in their own way. Are the people that call out Blizzard on this really stupid enough to think that Bliz should simply watch other people enjoy the benefits of an idea or innovation?

It seems to me that Blizzard are pretty much damned if they do and damned if they don't. Imagine if Blizz didn't take on board successful features, how stagnant would WoW be now? Whether or not you personally enjoy the new features in WoW you must at least be able to see that Blizzard have succeeded in keeping their franchise a relevant gaming choice in a market that has suddenly got incredibly crowded.

If Blizzard were to rest on their laurels and simply assume that their game will stay in the front of the pack just by 'being' then WoW would very quickly be lost in the deluge of MMOs. As it stands Blizzard have a duty to see how other games enter the market and where it makes sense they should lift out successful innovations and turn their hand to them.

I think it's great that Blizzard respect their competitors (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery) and they have their heads screwed on when it comes to looking after their franchise and their service to the gaming community. That's what makes them Number 1. Anyone thinking that Blizzard do little to innovate and simply rob ideas from other developers would do well to find a cliff and test their weight against the pull of gravity!


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pay what you want...

Hey Guys,

Yesterday saw Eidos launch Championship Manager 2010 on their Champmanstore, but this is no ordinary launch!!
Taking inspiration from Radiohead, who released their album 'In rainbows' in 2007 as one of the first download models to try this approach; Eidos have released this game on a limited 'pay what you want' basis. General Manager Roy Meredith says,

“This is the best Championship Manager the studio has ever made and we want as many people as possible to try the full new game,”

I'm not sure how many of you out there will be leaping to take advantage of this particular deal but I was compelled to post about this and wonder how this is going to affect the industry.

Should this initative work out for Eidos (as apparently it did for Radiohead) then how will this shape future projects? In a world where Kotick is pushing for the RRP of games to be raised it is refreshing to see a company take a wholy different approach. Especially when considering the global recession we are in.

I think this is a smart move by Eidos and I applaud their bold venture into the murky waters of something new.

To be fair the Championship Manager series has played second fiddle to the 'Football Manager' games, with veterans of the football management sim following the staff that left Champ Man to make up the Sega team behind Football Manager (confusing eh!?). Launching the game at this 'pay what you want price' (ok, I should point out there is a minimum £2.50 transaction fee) will push the Champ Manager series into people's minds and grab their attention.

It will be interesting to watch this unfold. The game will go on general release come September 10th at the typical price of £24.99 in the shops. How many people who pre-order the game for just a few pence or pounds will determine just how much money this gamble will cost Eidos. Still, if you funnel your marketing expenses into this approach then how much difference is there really, and would you grab the headlines in quite the same way?

I for one am very likely to take them up on their offer and that's at least a penny more than they would have got out of me this year ;-)

If you're able and if you're interested I encourage you to go take a look. You have until September 10th to grab this deal. Watch this space for any news and opinon on how this goes, will any other company dare to take up some innovative way to sell their games?


Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Combobulater 8th August 2009

Greetings Combobulater fans,

The latest episode of the Combobulater has been released into the wild where we hope it will propagate and run free!

Join us this week as Burnsy explains why he sat through Watchman, twice! Emeny is fed up with LotrO but finding new life in WoW and Fat Princess may have been a sting on the wallet.
We're joined this week by Riknas, part of the Free to play Podcast on Virginworlds Riknas is setting up an ambitious project 'EndGrind' in an effort to catalogue and review the world of MMOs.
Exactly how long should you spend playing an MMO before you can apply a reasonable score, or offer a critique? Project EndGrind sets out to answer this tough question and is on the hunt for contributors. If you are a keen blogger and willing to dedicate yourself to offering your critical insight on an MMO of your choice (assuming it isn't already taken) then be sure to get in touch with Riknas.

We wrap up the show with a look at Kotick's latest comments that have incensed the Combobulater crew, and it would appear ars technica share our feelings (enjoy their art!). Are activision pushing their luck and just how much will the gaming community take before it wakes up and snaps back?

This crew hope it's sooner rather than later, especially knowing that the WoW community sit in the palm of Activision!!

Be sure to check out our forums which are coming to life, a big thanks to everyone that has posted so far.
Cheers for tuning in and be sure to share your thoughts.