Over on ihobo.com and on gamesbrief.com, my counter-argument to Nicholas Lovell’s claims that the pricing of PC games will trend towards zero. Here’s an extract:
What a AAA fixed price game can deliver to players is (potentially, at least) a substantially deeper game experience than is possible in free-to-play, where getting a minimum viable product to market is a near-requirement, preventing the inclusion of more advanced features of the game world. If something like Grand Theft Auto IV or Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag had been financed on a free-to-play model, they would have been impossible – only the economics of fixed price premium console games justifies the astronomical development budgets. This isn’t even an exceptional case: look at cinema. Digital distribution has reduced the marginal cost in the film industry in just the same way as it has in games, but people still go to the movies and pay a fixed price to do so. This is because blockbuster movies – just like blockbuster games – are made on a high budget in order to ensure that cachet attaches to the resulting brand.
You’re welcome to comment in either place – it’s likely to be a noisy discussion on the Gamesbrief site, but a more quiet, intimate affair on ihobo.com I should think.
So why put up the Kult: Heretic Kingdoms post-mortem now, nine years after the game? Well it gives me great pleasure to announce that after an epic quest in the world of games publishing, a sequel is finally arriving! The new game, Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms, will be released later this year as confirmed today by a press release by the publisher bitComposer.
The new game is developed by Games Farm (the new face of the original game’s development team) with game design, narrative design, and dialogue scripts by International Hobo. The Shadows website for the game is already up, and includes a teaser trailer for the game – check it out!
I recently played The Fullbright Company's Gone Home, an interesting but rather expensive addition to the growing ranks of artgames. Frankly, I did not enjoy finishing it at all, and begged for it to be over as soon as possible. Once it was completed, however, I relaxed and played it again several more times, which I found rather more pleasant, although seeing how the game had been put together left me feeling it was less than it could have been. I began to query my experiences in order to disentangle the strange contradiction of a company making the kind of game that I dearly want to be made, but that I could not enjoy in its intended form. I wanted to know what made my first experience of it so unpleasant, and why it never quite worked for me as a narrative. This investigation turned out to shed light on some wider issues of interest.
Although this piece is about this particular artgame, it's also more about the what the concept of 'genre fiction' means when we import it into games. You can read the entirety of Gone Home and the Constraint of Genre over at ihobo.com.
Tale of Tales latest offering, Luxuria Superbia, could be the most sensual experience ever to offer itself up as something to be played. Prepare for an extraordinary ride that answers the question: what if Georgia O'Keefe and Claude Monet had a videogame love-child?
Allegedly, these are (or could be) the oldest gaming tokens ever found. Not that I like to pour cold water, but these tokens are no older than the dice found in the Burnt City excavations from Iran and I'm not sure what the case for them being gaming tokens rests upon since they are much more elaborate than any other Bronze Age game pieces found thus far. I'm open to the possibility, but cautious about jumping to conclusions...
Finally committed to my AAA game for the Summer, and it is Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. As I write, I’m just deciding whether to play in English or Japanese.
First impressions? The box is pleasantly austere, as is becoming traditional for computer RPGs these days. But why is “Ni No Kuni” not translated into English? “Second Country” would be a literal translation, but “Second Realm”, “Second World”, or even “The Other World” would work too. Presumably "Another World" was excluded owing to the 1991 game. Odd to leave the title in Japanese, though, unless they’re expecting to sell only to anime fans…