Editorials/Columns


In recent years, there has been no shortage of game developers leaving PC exclusivity behind because of the threat of piracy. It’s not hard to see why, with overall PC game piracy rates north of 70% according to some estimates (and running even higher for some individual games), making it hard for even the biggest games to make money on the platform. Consider that Modern Warfare 2 was both the best-selling game of 2009 on consoles (pushing 11.86 million units worldwide) and the most-pirated game of 2009 on the PC (downloaded 4.1 million times from torrents, with legitimate saleslagging way behind“).

Yet the console market shouldn’t necessarily be any better. The Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 can all be hacked via hardware or software to run pirated copies of games downloaded from torrent sites. So why are download rates for the PC versions of such illegal torrents “often five or ten times higher than the console versions” according to a recent study?

(full article)


Much has been made of the “race to the bottom” pricingon the iPhone App Store, which makes it hard to sell a successful app for more than a dollar or two. But I didn’t really realize how pervasive this problem was until I downloaded The Incident, a simple survival-platformer game that involves dodging and climbing heaps of junk falling from the sky. While I enjoyed the old-school graphics and sound effects, I found the gameplay to be a little dull and shut it off (probably for good) after only half an hour of play. Despite the game’s $1.99 price on the App Store, I still went away from the experience feeling like I had been ripped off.

Believe me, I know how ridiculous it sounds to be complaining about the value of a game that sells for less than $2, especially when there are dozens of worse games retailing for $60 or more on store shelves right now. This kind of impulse purchase isn’t exactly going to put me in the poorhouse, after all. Furthermore, at an adjusted rate of $4/hour, I realize that my short experience with The Incident was a better value than many other things I could do with my time.

Despite this, I can’t help but feel disappointed and a bit regretful with my purchase. Part of the problem, of course, is the structure of the market itself. No matter how good a  game is on the App Store, chances are there’s a free alternative out there that approximates the experience relatively well, or at least provides a comparable distraction for less money. To overcome the huge perceived value gap between free products and even cheap products, the paid version has to be a whole lot better than anything that’s available for no cost.

(full article)


How long should a video game be, exactly? It’s an endlessly-debated topic that got more attention recently when dozens of game developers weighed in with their thoughts. The consensus opinion seems to be that dozens of hours of gameplay are not, in and of themselves, a requirement for a good game, and thus one deserving of your money. Many developers argued that shorter and smaller games like Braid, Portal and Limbo prove you can offer a wholly satisfying gaming experience within the span of only a few hours.

Curiously, Hello Games’ Sean Murray, one of the developers behind PlayStation Network (PSN) downloadable hit Joe Danger, was one of the few that disagreed, arguing that games can indeed feel too short if they’re not designed correctly. To Murray, games are “much more than a beginning, middle and end. It’s about experiences: Learning new skills, exploring, challenges and competition. The longer those last, the deeper the experience.”

(full article)


Cafe World had been sitting comfortably at around 20 million monthly users for the entire month of July. So it was a bit of a surprise when Facebook’s public statistics (as reported by AppData) showed the game’s user base shooting up 75% over a period of three days, to a high of over 35 million monthly players at the end of the month. The change wasn’t limited to Cafe World either — dozens of games saw stratospheric increases in the same period.

Facebook eventually confirmed to Inside Social Games that the sudden increases were due to a bug in their reporting. But this temporary problem highlights the risk of trusting Facebook to report on the success of its own games without independent verification.

(full article)


Without a doubt, Xbox Live Arcade’s Limbo is an instant classic. The reviews are near-unanimous in their praise. Limbo is “bleak and beautiful.” It’s “haunting.” It’s “elegant and minimalistic.” It’s “clever.” It’s “gorgeously constructed.” It “will stay with you for a very long time.” Some are already calling it “a masterpiece.” Others are breaking out the dreaded a-word: “Art.”

But there’s one other thing Limbo reviewers are almost equally unanimous about. Some seem almost reluctant to bring it up. Others seem proud that they were able to find some flaw to balance out an otherwise glowing review.

Regardless, the critical consensus seems to be that Limbo is excellent but, well… it’s kind of short.

(full article)


In this issue:

  • Do We Need Physical Conferences in a Digital World?
  • How the Spike TV Video Game Awards Are Hurting the Game Industry
  • News Bytes
  • Quote of the Moment
  • change

(full article)


The idea behind the next great experiment in reviving the American videogame magazine didn’t come from the board room of a powerhouse publishing giant. It wasn’t spun off from an existing lifestyle magazine or adapted from a successful Web property. It wasn’t the product of a focus group or a marketing survey or a know-nothing middle manager trying in vain to capture younger readers by focusing on a medium he knows nothing about.

Instead, Kill Screen magazine started out as the subject of idle chatter over Indian food.

(full article)


Only man himself can control his videogame news. You’re nothing!

In this issue:

  • Tony Hawk Looking for People to Play Tony Hawk: Ride With Him
  • Charity “Desert Bus” Drive Goes from “Hope” to Havoc
  • Actually, do you want to play with me?

(full article)


With 2009 coming to a close, we offer some odds on what the coming year will bring for the videogame industry.

  1. Nintendo Wii sales will decline year over year in North America.
  2. PlayStation 3 sales will increase year over year in North America.
  3. Rhythm-game sales will decline year over year.
  4. Industry-wide game sales will go up, year over year.
  5. At least one download-only release will be on the shortlist for the Game of the Year awards.
  6. No PS3 motion control or Natal-exclusive games will be on the shortlist for Game of the Year.
  7. The PSP Go will drop in price during the first half of the year.
  8. At least one new major console or portable system will be announced.
  9. Nintendo will announce a portable Virtual Console of Game Boy classics for the DSi.

(full article)


Covered in this issue:

  • Activision’s unorthodox early review access
  • On the spoke missing from IGN’s MusicHub
  • News bits

(full article)


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