Big team fanboys, quitters and replays: Are EA Sports ‘in the game’?

Looking back at my school days, I recall many conversations with my friends whilst waiting for games to load from a humble cassette tape on the Commodore 64. One of those conversations stuck with me, when my friend announced that in the future there will be a gaming utopia where we will be able to play against people from all over the world, without ever leaving our computer screens.

Of course I scoffed at my friend, Dave, back then in the eighties. This was a time without mobile phones, never mind the internet as we know it. Thankfully I was wrong and he was a visionary, ahead of his time and that dream obviously became a reality. Here in 2011, people of all ages now play games together on a variety of consoles and computers, but there are still a few issues that frustrate all gamers in the online world.

Although the games from US Gold are nothing but a distant memory, each year, yet another set of sporting sequels will hit the shelves from the current champion of sporting games; EA Sports. We all know that certain aspects may have been tweaked, but it usually takes around two weeks for you to notice that, yet again, you have brought the same game as the year before. Complete with the same annoying problems still present, solely there to torment you for your stupidity.

When playing sport titles that offer a huge choice in teams or players to assume the identity of, it seems the majority of online gamers are almost zombie like in their character selections. For example when entering an online ranked match of FIFA, despite you selecting a championship or Div 2 side, your opponent will insist on playing with Barcelona or Man Utd.

Although I appreciate that it nice to play as the greatest teams in the world, the online gaming world quickly becomes quite boring when every game you seem to play includes the same two teams, especially considering the game itself takes great delight in boasting that it features 31 licensed leagues from 24 countries, as well as 39 national teams.

Here we go again…zzz… (more…)

UK game advertising: Our Super Bowl moment

Whilst watching the recent Champions league final, I must admit to being a little surprised at the heavy advertising of video-games, which even contained trailer premiers. Sure, video-games have come a long way and feature heavily in the mainstream of entertainment but this illustrated that gaming is now one of the top forms of entertainment.

For the first time, the UK experienced what is probably best described as a ‘Super Bowl’ moment, when a range of major brands chose to invest millions of pounds. Reports suggest that it was estimated that ITV made in excess of £8m in TV ad revenue during Europe’s biggest football night of the year, as some late spots in key breaks went for up to £300,000 for 30 seconds.

Saturday night prime time advertising space featured full trailers for Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and even Brink got a mention too. What is strangest about this aggressive video-game marketing technique is how unique this form of advanced advertising actually is, especially considering how seldom we see big budget adverts on our TV screens for even summer blockbuster movies 4-5 months before they are officially released. (more…)

The Wright Stuff and ‘Brain-dead computer nerds’

Over the last twelve months, there have been several instances of gaming being blamed for much of society’s problems. Instances such as the Alan Titchmarsh show or the Panorama special, Addicted to Games, where shows tried to belittle our hobby, so when The Wright Stuff announced plans to tackle the possibility of violence in video games being directly related for violent behaviour in the nations young, I feared this would be another unbalanced and ignorant attack on gaming.

I personally contacted the production company before it aired to advise that this subject has been covered many times in the mainstream media, but the majority have turned it into a witch hunt rather than taking a balanced look at gaming and the game industry. I thought that it is my duty as a gamer to help wherever I can to give another side of the argument.

For example, the argument that the average age of a gamer in the UK is actually 34-35, and are more likely to be a husband, one of many across the land who wait for the wife and kids to go to bed so they can stop up and play a game with their friends. This is a point that is often missed on such reports, so when they ask the usual multiple-choice questions between ad breaks, it might be enlightening for their viewers to find that the average age of a gamer is actually in that bracket, and that the fastest selling product in entertainment product in history, making $360 million in only 24 hours, was actually a game, not a film like Avatar.

I also urged that it would be quite refreshing and forward thinking for them to feature both sides of the argument, so asked them to read about the viewpoint from the gaming community and to take into account that video games now sell more than CD’s and DVD’s combined and bring a huge amount of money into the country, which is something for the country to be thankful for in the current economic climate.

Despite no reply from the show’s makers, I remained hopeful, until of course, the show was aired. To be fair to Matthew Wright, he began by trying to show both sides of the story but he was quickly shot down in flames by Anne Diamond, who confessed to having already written an article on the subject for the Daily Mail, before saying with alarming conviction:

Look at the crimes that we’re beginning to witness now. The drive-by shootings; common in America, almost and beginning here.”

Matthew Wright asks:

Weren’t they common before games?”

Game expert, and sometimes Daily Mail writer, Anne Diamond.

I’m not sure about that” says Anne, “We seem to be seeing more of it. We’re seeing kids with an arsenal of weapons under their bed, then something snaps and they go into their old school and shoot it up. We do tend to be seeing crimes that are the things that are happening in video games.” (more…)

GAME begins trial of errors with pre-owned pre-orders

Retailer GAME have started to offer online pre-orders on pre-owned games, in what appears to be a rather desperate move. It’s a move that is sure to anger both gaming publishers and developers in yet another short-sighted move from the struggling high street store.

The idea behind this unusual concept is that games are being offered from one week after their official release date and promised savings of up to £21 under the recommended retail price, but they seem oblivious to the fact the majority of savvy gamers do not spend over fifty pounds on a game in the first place.

The pre-owned market has never been popular in the gaming industry as the people involved with creating a game see nothing of the revenue, which gave birth to the inevitable online pass; a thorn in the side of many a gamer in the last 12 months.

The games currently being trialled on the new scheme are

  • Virtua Tennis 4
  • Dragon Age II
  • Homefront
  • Fight Night Champion
  • WWE All-Stars
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters
  • Shift II Unleashed
  • Virtua Tennis 4
  • Crysis 2

The idea is that it will work the same as any other pre-order service, but a closer look at this offer reveals that the deal is not as good as it may appear. Let’s start by looking at the future release of Homefront,  available to pre-order brand new and delivered to your door on the day of release for £32.85 from Simply Games. However using the new offer from GAME you could wait for a week and have a pre-owned version for and pay an extra pound for the privilege at £33.99.

Homefront cheaper new than pre-owned at GAME (more…)

Microsoft reveals top Xbox Live games of 2010

Microsoft’s Larry Hyrb (or Major Nelson as most of us know him) last week published the most popular titles on Xbox Live for 2010. The lists do not appear to be recorded from total downloads but when the actual downloads are at their highest in their first week. So the lists below are based on unique users playing whilst connected to Live in the first week of release, and both Arcade and Indie titles are based on week one downloads.

It’s a little predictable to see the ubiquitous COD franchise and Halo Reach dominating the top two places but the great thing about these lists are the hidden gems that can be found on the Arcade and Indie Titles.

Call of Duty: Black Ops has seen over 1.1 trillion shots fired on Xbox live according to the recent release from Treyarch.

Black Ops the most played game on Xbox live, here is the science bit. (more…)

Call of Duty vs. Battlefield: Let the battle commence.

There are many people out there who simply don’t have enough time or money to play every new game out there and find themselves buying one or two games a year. Just like ladies of a certain age will buy one album a year that was spoon-fed them from a local commercial radio station.

This very often means that the occasional gamer will pick up the latest instalment of Call Of Duty every year without fail and get increasingly frustrated with getting their ass handed to them on a regular basis by people who live on the game and are more concerned with personal glory and being ten times prestige in some insane and pointless willy-waving contest. Critics will tell you there are many problems with CoD: Black Ops but one of the biggest for me is the amount of idiots that you find online, and don’t get me started on camping! The biggest problem for those who some might call “Noobs” is the lack of community as it seems to be dominated by smack talking types with a win at all costs attitude.

The amount of tantrums heard on the mic by people shouting at other members of a team for not having the same class as the rest of the team is tragic and quite laughable at times, let’s be honest; it’s a game to kick back and relax to at the end of a hard day and not to be taking so seriously. However for people that feel this way, do not worry as Battlefield Bad Company 2 is a fantastic alternative and something that may have been overlooked by a few of you but offers more rewards as well as better value DLC! (more…)