Saturday, December 14, 2013

Weekly Roundup: December 8-14, 2013

Holidays are around the corner and the award season is in full swing. When will the games industry get an awards ceremony akin to the Oscars? If last week's VGX show is any indication, not soon. Also this week, the NSA inspects our raid gear, YouTube cracks down on streamers, the Elder Scrolls online gets a release date, and society continues to reward idiocy!

VGX Awards Disappoint ...except for Telltale Games!
Last week I voiced my concerns that the VGX awards would slip into obscurity if the winners reflected the advertisers. Fortunately, this didn't happen and none of the winners were all that surprising. Sure, we may debate if Grand Theft Auto 5 is superior to Bioshock Infinite, but this conversation is a healthy debate about two great games (and not about how a clearly inferior title won). Unfortunately, almost everything else about the show was a disaster. Comedian/host Joel Mchale was flat when he wasn't being offensive and allegations that he was drunk by the end of the event are probably fictitious but wouldn't be shocking if true.

Among a series of tepid announcements, Telltale games was the lone standout announcing that they are working on games based on Game of Thrones and Borderlands. While I haven't quite latched on to the Telltale fan-train just yet, I recognize that they are highly respected and suspect that they will be able to apply their popular formula well to these great franchises.

All in all, the VGX was a colossal failure given that it is trying to establish itself as the premiere gaming awards ceremony.

Big Brother is Watching You Raid
As more information is coming to light in the wake of Edward Snowden's NSA whistleblowing spree, we discovered last week that top US and British security agencies have been infiltrating World of Warcraft guilds in an attempt to weed out potential terrorists. Although no one knows for sure if they have actually caught any bad guys through this methodology, it calls to question who you might be teaming up with to slay dragons. For their part, Blizzard has gone on record stating that these activities were done without their knowledge or consent. I wonder if it was policy for undercover agents to always roll a rogue? In any case, way to protect freedom by pissing on privacy NSA!

YouTube Crosses the Streams
Many live streamers found themselves struck with copyright violation notices as YouTube updated its automatic detection software in correspondence to recent policy changes. While this has, no doubt, caused some consternation, numerous game companies have vowed to assist streamers in getting these violations removed as soon as possible. Live streaming treads a grey area but is generally considered fair use. Most publishers and developers are usually pretty happy to have their stuff posted to YouTube because it represents free advertising and can provide a valuable metric for knowing how their products are being received by the public. I'm glad to see the offer of support from several major publishers as it provides further legitimacy to the whole streaming scene.

Elder Scrolls Online Release Dates
The Elder Scrolls Online promises to transfer the robust single player experiences of the venerable titular series to the arena of massively multiplayer gaming. I am dubious that this will be a successful transition that manages to maintain the epic heroic feeling while still providing a meaningful social experience. I guess I will find out come April 2014 when the game sees release. Bucking the established trend, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will have to wait until June to fulfill their destiny. Seriously though, I want this game to be successful as I am a huge Elder Scrolls fan but am expecting a mediocre cookie-cutter MMO that has nothing but a name to differentiate itself from so many others in the saturated market.

Buying a Picture on Ebay
Peter Clatworthy, 19, paid nearly $700 for a picture of an Xbox One on Ebay. Yep, you read that right, he bid for an item that was clearly indicated in the description as a picture and not an actual Xbox One. Proving that the world is willing to reward stupidity, Clatworthy is getting a full refund from Ebay and has actually been given a brand new Xbox One free-of-charge from a local retailer. Sigh.

BONUS: Free games that don't suck!
Just a quick note here. Good Old Games is running a holiday sale and is giving away free copies of the original two Fallout games and Fallout Tactics (at least for the next few hours). The only string attached being that you have to sign up for a free account (or have already opened one). GoG is a reputable digital store so go claim your free stuff while it's available!