10 February, 2014

Gaming Headlines: Dungeon Keeper/Flappy Bird…

Hi everybody. Welcome to Gaming Headlines, a look back at computer/video game stories from the past week that have caught my eye.

So there’s this new Dungeon Keeper out…
The big news this week was the release of Dungeon Keeper for iOS/Android. It’s not exactly unheard of for a video game company to annoy fans, but EA have turned it into an art form. They took popular 1990’s strategy game Dungeon Keeper, created a new instalment for smart phones/tablets and then released it as a “free to play” title.  When it arrived gamers were not happy and reviews were not good with the main problem being that whilst it was free to download, if you wanted to do anything it would cost you.

“Dungeon Keeper barely waits until the tutorial is over before making it very clear it’s free-to-play in name only. The rooms you task the imps with building all take time to excavate and you’ll quickly find that even the smallest can take several hours unless you spend gems to speed things up. And of course once you run out of gems your best way of getting more is to pay for them with real money (Only £69.99 for 14,000!)”

“This is shameful, and if anybody's proud of the horrible thing, they deserve nothing but scorn for being so pleased about actively contributing to the continued long-term harm such short-sighted and damaging games will do to this industry. This business model, built entirely on aggressively exploiting a bubble before it bursts, can bring nothing but illness toward an already unhealthy market”
The Escapist

EA pointed to 5 star reviews from users as proof that people liked the game. However (at least with the Android version) this is misleading. As reported here by USgamer whenever you go to make a in-app purchase you are prompted to rate the game. At this point the game makes the ludicrous claim that 5-Star reviews will help provide free updates. Furthermore there are only two options “1-4 Stars” or “5 Stars”, select the former and you are prompted to e-mail your feedback on how they can make the game a 5 star one. I suspect there were many a strongly worded e-mail sent off to that particular e-mail address.

An alternative to microtransactions
Whilst EA have their own ways of making money, Elite Systems (the company behind  the recently funded via Kickstarter  Bluetooth ZX Spectrum) have apparently found a different way of boosting their bank balance. Speaking about the recent Kickstarter campaign GamesIndustry International report that “the final hours were mired in controversy after it was claimed that many of the developers whose 8-bit games feature in the associated emulator app had never received agreed royalties”.

Elite Systems first brought Speccy games to the iOS appstore in 2010 via collections and in some cases standalone apps. Apparently these developers were offered 50% of the profit from each sale but have yet to receive a penny, whilst one developer is said to have never actually given permission to sell his games in the first place. Elite Systems are said to be planning to fix things within 28 days and for the moment have removed the apps from the store.

Meanwhile The Your Sinclair Rock’n’Roll Years have highlighted that this is not the first time something like this has happened with Elite Systems by posting a scan from a 1986 issue of Popular Computer Weekly here on their Facebook page.

The rise and fall of Flappy Bird
Also annoying people was iOS/Android game Flappy Bird. Released in May last year it suddenly shot up the charts this past week. Why everyone suddenly became aware of it is uncertain, though the USgamer review is probably right to suggest this YouTube video [not work safe] played a big part. Around the web criticisms included the difficulty, overly simple gameplay, pipe and floor graphics looking suspiciously similar to Super Mario World and general “why is this game doing so well, it’s rubbish?” type comments. I can’t say the game particularly bothered me. It was a free download after all. However by the end of the week the developer decided he’d had enough and removed the game (Twinfinite). Of course plenty of clones are still available…


TVii still not available in Europe and Oceania
It may have launched in the regions 437 days ago but Wii U owners in Europe and Oceania are still without the TVii service. The TVii page on the Nintendo Deutschland site reads:
“Wir entschuldigen uns dafür, dass es uns nicht gelungen ist, den Nintendo TVii-Service wie geplant 2013 in Europa zu veröffentlichen. Bitte achten Sie in der näheren Zukunft auf weitere Ankündigungen bezüglich Nintendo TVii!”.

Maybe there will be better news next week.

Amazon’s console starts to get interesting
Amazon recently announced plans to launch a games console priced under $300 “ offering the streaming and download of games, music, movies and TV content” . It held people’s attention for about 8 seconds before they shrugged and went back to whatever they were doing before. However this past week it was announced that they had purchased Double Helix Games (TechCrunch). Double Helix Games are the developer of the most recent Killer Instinct game and whilst that won’t be showing up on Amazon’s machine, it does seem the Kindle maker will be putting in a bit of effort when they launch their console.

Look it’s a new Mega Drive (kind of)
Finally here’s a picture of Mega Drive Megatron:
Yep this rather cool looking release from Takara Tomy/Sega has the Decepticon leader transform into a Mega Drive (known as a Genesis to North Americans and Wikipedia users). More pictures can be seen here on Seibertron.

Well that’s all for now. More waffle next week.

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