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Activision decides not to bother with E3

E3_logo Games publisher Activision has revealed that it won’t be attending the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) this year. The company has released a statement to a number of sources that “After careful consideration, for business reasons Activision has decided not to participate in any official E3 activities.”

E3 is scheduled for July 15th and 17th at the LA Convention Centre, US.

Arguably, one publisher opting out of one conference isn’t a big deal, but E3 has been suffering a bit of an identity crisis since last year when its organisers chose to scale down the once gigantic spectacle into something more manageable and only open to those invited.

The fact that Activision’s Vivendi merger is about to make it into the biggest games publisher in the world makes this an even bigger blow for the event.

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May 2, 2008 in News and previews | Permalink | Comments (0)

Blizzard acquires from fansite, claims it’s not a confirmation of Diablo 3 (but it sooo is)

Diablologo A Diablo fansite, operating under the domain name has revealed that it is moving house to sell its space to Blizzard. A message from the site’s webmaster reads:

“A few months ago we were contacted by Blizzard in regards to the domain name. While they appreciate all the work that's been put into running this big Diablo fan community over the years, they still want the domain name. Hmm, I wonder why?”

The admin and Blizzard are keen to stress that this is not an outright confirmation of a Diablo 3 title. Blizzard apparently makes a habit of buying domains that may be prove handy.

But what is this, really, if not a sign that gears are beginning to turn behind the scenes? Blizzard is under absolutely no pressure to return to the Diablo franchise. After World of Warcraft, they could pitch absolutely ANYTHING and get funding for it. But Diablo has such a rich back-story and such a strong role in RPG gaming history that it couldn’t really fail, and there are so many fans out there who’d like to have it return.

This is probably not the start of something Diablo 3 related, but it may just be the start of the start of something Diablo 3 related. I’m not even sure what I’m talking about any more either. (via Videogamer)

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May 1, 2008 in PC games | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tabula Rasa offers free re-enlistment week for old players, starts May 5th


Poor old Tabular Rasa. It’s a tough world out there if you’re an MMO without the word 'Warcraft' in your name. And for all the experience behind it, Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa has been struggling to keep players interested.

However, since launch there have been 8 new content updates, new Alien-hybrid thingies and new tokens – surely enough for players to want a second peek at the action?

I played in the beta and although Garriott’s re-envisioned combat mechanic was reasonably interesting, the rest of it seemed like standard MMO fare with little else to separate it from the crowd. However, it is a real shame that competition struggles so much in the WoW era – really, do none of these games manage to better anything that Blizzard has done? Go on, give it another go... it's free after all.

Tabula Rasa (via Kotaku)

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April 30, 2008 in Online games | Permalink | Comments (0)

Team Fortress 2 Gold Rush Map and Medic Achievements now out in the wild, plus free-to-play weekend May 2nd – 4th

Tf2_medic_ubersaw In the biggest update since the Orange Box launch, Valve has announced that the new Gold Rush Map and Medic Achievements update is available to download. Like all other updates it is completely free – Valve believes in rewarding its regular players, not shafting them for micropayments, which is why their multiplayer games are among the best there are.

The Gold Rush map offers a whole new game mode. Attacking players must escort a mine cart, which helpfully spills health, to the defending players’ base. The more players that stand by it, the faster it goes, while the quicker the opposing team blows them into tiny bloody chunks, the slower it will advance. Extra control points along the way give the attacking team more of a chance and less of hike – the level is a pretty big one.

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April 30, 2008 in Online games, PC games | Permalink | Comments (0)

Rockstar North boss hits out at anti-video game critics ahead of GTA IV launch, claims they “fear” progress

Rockstarnorthlogo Proof that The Times does actually have a sympathetic ear for video gaming, it has published an interview with Leslie Benzies, president of Edinburgh-based Rockstar North. The ‘interview’ is kind of light on actual dialogue between the interviewer and interviewee, which would have made for an interesting read, but instead the writer opted to focus on how good Rockstar is at getting nasty things said about it by ratings boards, politicians and policemen.

Never mind though because Benzies did have a few things to share about how he and the company see the controversies that swirl around nearly every game they produce. Lashing anti-video game critics, he said “There is a big fear factor here. It’s the coming of the railways, it’s Elvis shaking his hips. It’s cars going over 25 miles per hour and making people explode.”  

He also questions why games get different treatment to other media, observing “We wanted to make a horror game [Manhunt] that would scare you in the same way a film would. It doesn’t seem to me to be any worse than a film. If it’s a film or a book, you can do what you want. We seem to be in a different category.”

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April 28, 2008 in Console games | Permalink | Comments (13)

How much does it cost for TV psychologist to tell us there’s basically nothing wrong with games or the way we rate them? £275,000

Tanya_byron_budget UK Minister of State for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism Margaret Hodge has revealed how much the Byron Review cost the British Government - £275,000.

“The review has just ended and while accounting procedures are still to be completed, we estimate that a total of around £275,000 has been spent on the review, not including salaries and expenses of the civil servants on the Review’s secretariat,” Hodge wrote in response to the to an inquiry from parliament.

Byron’s report did actually seem to do a good job of tackling what it set out to do – take a balanced view of the internet and video games and how they affect our children. Needless to say, there wasn’t anything to seriously suggest that exposure to violent media really had much affect on children anyway. No one in the games industry should have much to whinge about though.

Continue reading "How much does it cost for TV psychologist to tell us there’s basically nothing wrong with games or the way we rate them? £275,000"

April 24, 2008 in News and previews | Permalink | Comments (0)

Video games are protecting children from the menace of evil TREES

Evil_tree The number of injuries sustained by children falling from trees has plummeted in recent years. The Times puts this down the fact that the “Xbox generation” of kids enjoys a life sedentary entertainment where shattered limbs and mouthfuls of broken teeth have no part to play.

But apparently this is a BAD THING. Usually newspapers and the rest of the mainstream media is obsessed with highlighting any potential damage a video game might do to a child’s fragile young mind but now, because games aren’t physically harming kids, we should be worried.

Children are now just as likely to injure themselves by falling out of bed as they are by putting their strength and agility to the test in the leafy heights of mother nature’s organic deathtraps living playgrounds. So councils and academics want things to change:

"We've got nothing against climbing trees, it can be a great way of kids learning to deal with risks,” says a spokesman from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. "We have asked ourselves whether it's better to break a wrist falling from a tree than developing Repetitive Strain Injury from playing computer games."

I dunno, is it?

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April 23, 2008 in Games | Permalink | Comments (0)

Games For Windows boss says PC is misunderstood, not dying

Gfwlogo So far this year, there’s been a lot of press centred around the state of the PC games industry. The strength of console sales combined with a few high profile PC developers choosing to focus efforts on the console market instead of their traditional PC territory has been taken as a portent of doom for the industry.

It’s not really hard to understand why – even ardent PC gamers are having a tough time with the increasing cost of hardware and comparing the sheer expense of maintaining a decent gaming PC puts even an overpriced console to shame. Meanwhile PC games seem to slump at retail and piracy runs rife.

Is the end truly nigh then? No it isn’t, not according to Kevin Unangst global director of Games For Windows.

“There is a mistaken perception that PC gaming is dying,” says Unganst “And I think that anyone who believes that is simply mistaken, and hasn't looked at the numbers.”

Encouraging sentiments, but basically what you’d expect the boss of Games For Windows to say, unless he’d been fired via text message right before the interview or something. So, what of the piracy, the poor retail sales, the lack of coherent PC games sales strategies from retailers?

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April 21, 2008 in PC games | Permalink | Comments (1)

Team Fortress 2 Medic achievements revealed, will spoil the game

Tf2_medicAs we’ve mentioned before, Valve is planning an update to Team Fortress 2 which will add an extra dimension to the Medic class along with a good reason to polish of medic gun skills and get back into healing for a living. Unlocking 36 achievements will earn you three new weapons which we outlined yesterday – now we also have the full rundown on the individual achievements themselves and, to be honest, I have my doubts.

Firstly let me clarify that Medic is my class of choice and so when this news came along, the first thing I thought was score! – it seemed directly tailored for my play style. But now that I’ve seen the actually achievements themselves, fears that this will basically spoil the game are seriously beginning to mount.

I won’t list the whole lot here because it would just go on forever – Destructoid has the whole shebang and with a very tidy little set of individual icons that frankly would take me an hour and half to replicate here, so go look at theirs for the full run down. Before you go though here’s a few examples.

Roughly a third are pretty easy – the kind of thing you’d expect like:

Preventive Medicine: Block the enemy from capturing a control point with an Uber-Charged teammate.

Or the ones that’ll build up over time like:

Grand Rounds: Heal 200 teammates after they've called for "Medic!"

And one’s where you’ll have a bit of fun:

Hypocritical Oath: Kill an enemy Spy that you have been healing.

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April 17, 2008 in Online games, PC games | Permalink | Comments (2)

EU gives up thumbs up to Activision-Blizzard merger – hail to our new publishing Overlords!


Emperor The European Commission has decided that the $18.9 billion merger between publishers Activision and Vivendi Games won’t “significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area or any substantial part of it". The new company will be called Activision-Blizzard.

This is an important milestone for the merger, which is expected to transform the former second and third largest publishers into one giant ruling entity. And you thought EA was bad. The deal hasn’t got the full go-ahead yet, but CEO Bobby Kotick is confident that it’s on track and will be concluded by June.

The EC’s report stated that competitors such as Electronic Arts and console manufacturers Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will help keep its corporate reach in check too.

Also considering the vertical business issues, the EC noted that Vivendi’s ownership of Universal Music Group would give it an advantage over music licensing deals, but the numerous other sources of potential game music made this less of an issue.

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April 17, 2008 in News and previews | Permalink | Comments (0)

More comparisons between gaming and smack: this time led by Dr Byron


I’ve never taken heroin. Even so, I’m pretty sure that gaming and class A drug abuse are very different things. Therefore it’s pretty odd that the two, err, ‘practises’ should come into close comparison on a TV show featuring Dr. Tanya Byron who so recently presented a very open and balanced review of the video games industry. It's not the first time such comparisons have been drawn, but at least last time it was just by a narrow minded old hack we could just take the piss out of.

Let’s not get over excited too quickly though: Byron does not DIRECTLY compare video game addiction with heroin addiction, but it was during the same program, ‘Am I Normal?’ which aired last night on BBC 2 (check it out here on iPlayer), that issues over heroin addiction along with video game addiction were discussed.

Arguably there’s not really a problem with that; there have been several reported cases of ‘addicted’ gamers causing harm to themselves by simply refusing to put down the mouse and keyboard and MMOs are normally to blame. I’ve personally met a few people online whose obsessions have seemed unhealthy – one guy I met playing World of Warcraft when it first launched who claimed to have taken psychological leave from his job just so he could play more. Can’t be sure he wasn’t fibbing, but he certainly played more than anyone with a job could possibly have done.

But on the other hand, as gaming gains a foothold in popular culture, is it really fair or wise, reasonable or responsible to use a prime time TV documentary to mix together graphic images of drug taking paraphernalia and video gaming? Not really.

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April 16, 2008 in Games | Permalink | Comments (0)

More Team Fortress 2 Medic weapon overhaul details – game breaker or much-needed overhaul?

Tf_screen Although the release of the new Team Fortress 2 Goldrush map and its new Payload game type has been pretty much set in stone for a while, the question of changes and extra achievements for the Medic class has been more of contentious issue. After all, in a game where balance is so finely tuned already, why rock the boat by adding a fresh layer of complexity?

Well, after a few direction changes, some doubts and a lot of testing, it looks like the new Medic achievements and weapons are ready for roll-out. The achievements are currently unknown, but the weapons have been revealed as the Blutsauger, the Critzcrieg and the Ubersaw.

Each one comes with a new advantage, balanced out by a disadvantage. The Blutsauger replaces the normal needle gun. It will suck away enemy health adding it to your own, to make it into the best weapon for beating a strategic defence. Eat that, pyro. What you lose is any chance of getting a critical hit with it. To unlock it you’ll need to earn 12 of the 36 achievements.

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April 16, 2008 in PC games | Permalink | Comments (0)

Infogrames to become Atari?

Infogrames_logo Infogrames CEO David Gardner has said that he would consider dropping the company name to put all its weight behind the Atari brand.

Speaking to, he said “I'd like to consider that; I think that would be the final mark of the transformation from Infogrames to Atari."

Along with Gardner, formerly an executive VP at Electronic Arts, Infogrames has recently added ex-Sony man Phil Harrison into the brilliantly titled role of Directeur Général Délégué, so it’s looking for a major shakeup to breath fresh life into its dwindling business.

“We like to think of Infogrames, instead of being the tired, old company, we like to think of it as the best-funded, best-branded, most energetic start-up in the history of computer gaming," added Gardner.

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April 15, 2008 in News and previews | Permalink | Comments (0)

Interplay officially planning Fallout MMO and return of other classic series

Interplay_website It has been rumoured for a while, it has even been confirmed officially, but now Interplay is definitely back, baby, and firing off important sounding press releases to financial types. Check it out:

“2007 set the foundation for our growth strategy. Going forward, we have the vision, unique intellectual property, and low debt and operational costs to help us pursue financing for our various projects,” said Interplay Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Herve Caen.

Heck, there’s enough buzzwords in there to make any sound minded venture capitalist erupt in fountain of investmentgasms.

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April 10, 2008 in Games, Online games | Permalink | Comments (1)

Rubbish game has rubbish ads banned in UK - Kane & Lynch related

Kl_header As you may gather from the header, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Kane & Lynch. I find its immature storyline and archaic gameplay style astonishingly dull and seriously offensive to us modern gamers.

Well, it’s yet more bad news for Eidos – apart from the sales figures mind you, as incredibly enough people are STILL stupid enough to pick up a copy – as the Advertising Standards Authority has banned UK television and print ads for the title.

It took a mere 26 complaints to force ASA’s hand, stating that “The majority of the complainants believed (the) ad was offensive, because it included shocking images, which condoned violence, particularly towards women.”

If you’ve seen either ad, you’ll see their point, as it is a pretty graphic advertisement indeed. One of those created to cause a little disruption rather than show what the games all about. Though why it’s taken this long after the games release to make the final decision beggars belief. Either way, the games crap.

Source: Eurogamer

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April 9, 2008 in Games | Permalink | Comments (0)

Is WoW over the hill? THQ man reckons so

Wowlogo_1_1Speaking at Gamers Day in San Francisco last week, THQ’s Jack Sorenson stuck his neck out to comment on World of Warcraft:

I wish I could see the numbers, but my guess is that it probably already has peaked” Sorenson told Eurogamer.

In context, this is not likely to be a kind of ‘yah boo sucks to Wow’ kind of a statement, more a kind of a collective sigh of relief from every other MMO maker in the world who would very much like to have their shot at making online worlds without Blizzard’s behemoth pissing all over their barbeque.

Although the height of WoW’s fame may indeed be passing, that’s not to suggest that other devs and publishers haven’t learned a lot from the event:

That’s certainly one thing that World of Warcraft’s proved: not only do you have to do it well, it has to be great from day one. There’s not a tolerance like there used to be, when Ultima came out…”

Furthermore, even if Sorenson’s statement proves correct, Blizzard has undoubtedly got a few more tricks up its sleeve that will coax recovering WoW addicts like myself to fall back off the wagon. But at least it might give someone else a shot at the MMO big time. Can’t wait to see what they come up with. Just keep it the hell away from me, that shit’s dangerous.

Gaming Today

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April 9, 2008 in Online games | Permalink | Comments (0)

Mass Effect PC gets a new HUD, slight delay


Although it was originally slated for May, BioWare has announced that its superb Xbox 360 Sci-Fi RPG will be just a little late in making its crossing to the PC. Europeans gamers will be able to pick it up from the 6th June instead.

To make up for its tardiness, Bioware released a selection of new screenies, which detail the redesigned Heads Up Display. Not usually something to get allt hat excited about, but the game’s interesting hybrid of turn-based and FPS combat means that a well designed HUD becomes all the more important.

If you’re worried that it looks a little, let’s say, busy, fret no. This will be hidden in most of the rest of the game. You simply hit the space bar to bring it up before you orchestrate a series of team and special abilities.

Certainly looks like a bit of an improvement on the slightly clunky Xbox 360 version. Should be interesting to see if the redesign makes it back to Mass Effect 2 whenever that comes out.


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April 9, 2008 in PC games | Permalink | Comments (0)

Gerstmann speaks on his firing - refuses to comment further

Gerstmann_gamespot Well it seems that the whole Gerstmann/Gamespot has finally come its natural conclusion. In an interview with GamesRadar, Gerstmann has been talking about his unceremonious departure from Gamespot after 11 years of service.

Speaking on potential jobs after his spectacular departure, Gertsmann almost finally admitted that his termination wasn’t quite as amicable as we’d been led to believe. “Well, it was really kind of weird, because I was fired, and kind of went home, decided to sit on the couch and just mope for a while I guess, because, you know, it's a pretty soul crushing thing to have happen, to lose your job.”

Sadly he’s reluctant to let on too many details due to the entire legal situation, so chances are this is just about as much as we’re even likely to know. But at least we’re finally firmly aware that this split wasn’t quite as safe and simple as Gamespot would have us believe.

Source: GamesRadar

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April 7, 2008 in Games | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nokia N-Gage back from the dead and better than ever

Ngage_2 After a longer-than-expected wait, Nokia N Series owners can at last get their fingers around Nokia’s new N-Gage site.

N-Gage no longer represents bloody terrible handset design, but pioneering new mobile gaming software. You can download it to your PC by hitting the N-Gage website, or you can go direct via your handset to the mobile site (

Gameloft, EA and Glu Mobile are all signed up to the platform already but more will be joining soon. At the moment, most of the games are still ‘Coming Soon’, but up to 30 games have been promised by the middle of the year.

N-Gage is currently compatible with Nokia N81, N81 8GB, N82, N95 and N95 8GB phones

Tech Digest, Pocket Gamer

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April 4, 2008 in Handheld games | Permalink | Comments (0)

Only two levels to ship with Battlefield Heroes

Battlefield_heroes_screen1 Buried within a recent interview, Ben Cousins, senior producer on Battlefield Heroes has revealed that the game will ship with just a paltry couple of maps to play on.

It’s hard to really whinge about this, seeing as the core game is designed to be freely available to download – so essentially you’re getting more than you actually pay for. EA’s money making strategy on the game is two-fold: first it’ll be earning revenue form in-game ads, and it’ll also be garnering cash from in-game micro-transactions for things like player skins, weapons and now most likely maps.

Cousins outlines the other logic behind it too: “What we did is, we come to this from two angle,” he said. “The first one is that in every Battlefield game, we bust our asses making 50 maps, and then within six months of the game being released, everyone's playing two maps. The two best maps. So, we just decided to make just the two best maps, and not the other kind of maps.”

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April 3, 2008 in Online games, PC games | Permalink | Comments (0)