Scott Jennings

The Casual Gaming Market Goes Literally Insane

"Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it."

Kongregate, the home of about 3 million flash games, gets bought by Gamestop after realizing that literally no one is buying games in stores any more except for nine year olds that want the old hackable version of GTA San Andreas.  Playdom (which some of you may know chiefly for acquiring Raph Koster’s company, because you never admit to playing any Facebook games ever) gets bought by Disney for almost eight hundred million dollars. Zynga is acquired by the European Community in exchange for Mark Pincus being granted Slovenia as a feudal overlord, its people now subject to his every mad whim and forced to wear YoVille-branded jester hats on “casual Fridays“.

I may have made one of those news entries up. I think.

Well, That’s One Way To Fund Your Company

"Thanks for the shirt! I'm going to go run a game company now, or possibly become a Senator, in a state that may or may not be this one."

38 Studios moves a few miles down the road from Boston to Rhode Island thanks to a $75 million kickback.

Schilling said yesterday that his efforts to arrange assistance from Massachusetts met with seeming indifference. “It was very hard to get to anyone,’’ he said.

Keith Stokes, the executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp., told the Globe several weeks ago that his office was originally approached by Schilling’s company. “We weren’t pursuing 38,’’ Stokes said. “They came to us.’’

Yesterday, Stokes said the state would issue bonds to generate the $75 million, and Schilling’s company would receive the cash in stages as it added jobs and met predetermined goals.

Local developers react as if Curt Schilling signed with the Yankees.

Curt, we love our home state of Massachusetts. In the end, if you really move your company down to Pawtucket, it will be a loss for the Boston game community. If anyone on the talented 38 Studios team wants to stay in Massachusetts, where we play major-league ball, they’re more than welcome to join the team at Demiurge Studios, the state’s soon-to-be largest independent game studio.

And even local politicians got in the act.

A day after Schilling announced he was accepting a $75 million loan guarantee package to move his 38 Studios LLC to the Ocean State, politicians in Massachusetts and Rhode Island questioned whether the incentive deal was worth the price.

Former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a candidate for governor in Rhode Island, even questioned the validity of Schilling’s famous “bloody sock” tale in the 2004 Red Sox march toward a championship. Chafee later backtracked from his fake bloody-sock crack.

But Massachusetts officials weren’t reversing their call that Schilling was off-base for accusing Massachusetts of not doing enough to keep his budding Maynard-based firm in the Bay State.

“I think in the end he was, I think, hoping we would get in a bit of a bidding war with Rhode Island, and we weren’t prepared to do that,” Greg Bialecki, Gov. Deval Patrick’s economic czar, told the State House News Service.

No word on how this straight-up corporate welfare grab for taxpayer dollars meshes with Schilling’s long-rumored conservative political ambitions. If you’re wondering why this is relevant to this blog, Curt Schilling is responsible for bringing Advanced Squad Leader back into print! There may also be something involving dark elves.

Everquest II Joins The Free-To-Play Brigade

…with a new service called Everquest II Extended – a free-to-play version that will run alongside their subscription servers.

Extended is not a replacement to the live subscription service and while the game content is the same, access and restrictions are different between the two. Extended is a gameplay option targeted towards certain players who are willing to play within a limited feature-set service with additional content purchase and upgrade options, rather than pay for the full service via a standard monthly subscription. The live $15 EQII subscription service is unrestricted full access to the game world for those accounts in good standing, a valuable service, just as it has always been. The EverQuest II Extended service has restrictions based on your membership level. Limited access to the EQII Extended world and certain content is free, while other content, access, and items are available only for purchase.

Definitely seems to be a bandwagon effect happening.

RealID: Blizzard Heard You

Really.

We’ve been constantly monitoring the feedback you’ve given us, as well as internally discussing your concerns about the use of real names on our forums. As a result of those discussions, we’ve decided at this time that real names will not be required for posting on official Blizzard forums.

Blizzard taught us how to come together as a community to slay internet dragons. Sometimes, Blizzard doesn’t like what internet dragons we choose to slay.

Lissanna, commenter, WoW.com

So, initial WOOHOO rush aside, some comments:

  • Yes, this blog has been all WoW RealID all the time the past few days. I think it’s justified. This has been a pretty big deal. World of Warcraft is, by most metrics, one of the if not the largest MMO in the world, and has the most active community. When Blizzard decides to change the paradigm of how people play its games, from avatar to actual (which I still believe the primary goal of the RealID push to be), it’s a big deal.
  • Does this announcement mean that Blizzard suddenly discovered religion on privacy issues? Of course not. There’s still some not so minor quibbles with the in-game RealID implementation, the lack of any ability to opt out of publishing in-game character data, and a game client that isn’t shy about searching your PC looking for signs of misbehavior. Blizzard is still one of the worst offenders in the gaming industry in terms of abusing its users’ expectations of privacy. However, they also now know that their customers do not have an infinite patience for having their privacy stripped away. This is an important, and necessary achievement, before further progress can be made.
  • The debate by those in favor of Blizzard’s actions have been largely to the degree of “well, I don’t mind if my real name is out there, so what’s the big deal?” As noted by the fact that these blog posts are authored by Scott Jennings and not Lum the Gnome Warlock, I don’t particularly mind, either. However, I made that choice. One should not deny others the ability to make choices regarding their privacy simply because you did not find them necessary.
  • One undercurrent that has been unspoken by many of us, and commented on by the mass media, is that the reason this is such a problem is that gamer culture in general is a mean, ugly, misogynist cesspool. Removing anonymity won’t fix this. Honestly, I’m not sure what would. Consequences for one’s actions? Self-awareness within a tighter, smaller community? Giving me a shotgun? I’m not sure which solution would work but the fallout from this week shows one is definitely needed. To quote Simond from F13:

We won. For now. And all it took was threadnoughts on the official forums, every single mmo blog bar about two saying “This is a fucking terrible idea”, the mass media, a Penny Arcade comic, and the destruction of one CS minion’s life.

RealID: The Other Side

Just in case you think opinion is 100% against RealID, it’s not! It’s actually only 99% against. Here’s a writer who is representative of that 1%.

I do love how so many people are up in arms over this. And for what, exactly? All that’s going to happen is that your first and last name will be attached to what you write. If you can’t stand behind what you write online then perhaps you shouldn’t be writing it in the first place. You’re not exactly writing the Federalist Papers here, now are you?

Blizzard says it’s moving to the new system largely to clean up your wretched behavior. Sad but true. Perhaps if Blizzard didn’t have to spend all day long moderating its forums because so, so many of you decided it was acceptable to behave like blockheads while under the mask of anonymity then you wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. So in a sense it’s your own fault.

How many of you post photos of you and yours on Facebook for the whole world to see—unless, of course, you take the massively pro-active step of locking your account down? How many of you use FourSquare to broadcast your exact location to the world? What could be more of an invasion of privacy than telling people, “Hey, I’m right here”? How many of you use BitTorrent, downloading away to your heart’s content when your IP address is there for all to see, not to mention for people like the U.S. Copyright Group to see and round up into a lawsuit? How many of you use Gmail, the service that actively scans your e-mail to sell ads? If you were that concerned about privacy you’d set up your own mail server. But you don’t, of course. You only care about privacy when it’s convenient to do so. It’s only now that it involves the fact that you spend your free time casting spells that all of a sudden your “privacy” is at risk.

I have no time for selective outrage.

Hey Nicholas Deleon – I disagree with what you said.