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EA voted worst American company in 2013 photo
EA voted worst American company in 2013
by Jim Sterling

How time flies! In April of last year, Electronic Arts "won" the worst American company of 2012 award, beating out near-criminal banks and oil companies to achieve victory in The Consumerist's publicly voted poll. EA has now begun a streak, defending its title in 2013

EA took nearly 78% of the vote thanks to organized efforts from disgruntled gamers, becoming the first company ever to retain its title. Not even the RIAA could manage that! On its path to victory, the publisher stormed past such competitors as Bank of America, AT&T, and Walmart. 

Peter Moore tried to preempt the award last week, stating the company was being picked on by homophobes and those who were angry over Mass Effect 3. The Consumerist itself argued against such claims, writing that it won for its DLC practices, unreasonable prices, and lack of product support. The publication also stood by its poll results, and rebuked the idea that EA wasn't bad enough to be considered a competitor.

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12:45 PM on 04.05.2013

Aliens: Colonial Marines Wii U canceled

Those of you left caring may have noticed Aliens: Colonial Marines missed its Wii U release launch window. There's a very good reason for that -- SEGA finally decided to shoot the lame dog in the head, and has quietly cancele...

Jim Sterling



Microsoft man on always-online consoles: 'Deal with it' photo
Microsoft man on always-online consoles: 'Deal with it'
by Jim Sterling

[Update: Microsoft has since apologized for Orth's statements. Deal with it.]

Rumors that the Next Xbox will be restricted by the same always-online requirement that has crippled several major PC releases of late has not exactly been met with applause from prospective customers. One man, however -- Microsoft Studios creative director Adam Orth -- doesn't see why anybody could have an issue with a DRM Box. 

"Sorry, I don't get the drama around having an 'always on' console," Orth proclaimed on Twitter"Every device now is 'always on'. That's the world we live in. #dealwithit."

He followed his churlish contempt with some sarcastic false equivalence, glossing over the many stated problems with a potential always-on console to focus on a simplified -- utterly foolish -- set of comparisons.

"Sometimes the electricity goes out. I will not purchase a vacuum cleaner. The mobile reception in the area I live in is spotty and unreliable. I will not buy a mobile phone."

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10:30 AM on 04.02.2013

The War Z taken offline following security breach

It never ends for The War Z. While the controversial MMO was reinstated by Steam after addressing false advertising complaints, Hammerpoint's game is currently offline due to hackers making off with personal information. Acco...

Jim Sterling



Disney shuts down LucasArts photo
Disney shuts down LucasArts
by Jim Sterling

Disney has today announced that it's decided to close down LucasArts as a game studio, transitioning it into a "licensing model." This effectively means that LucasArts is dead, likely to exist as little more than a legacy name for externally developed Star Wars titles. A round of layoffs has been had as a result. 

"After evaluating our position in the games market, we've decided to shift LucasArts from an internal development to a licensing model, minimizing the company's risk while achieving a broader portfolio of quality Star Wars games," claims the company. "As a result of this change, we've had layoffs across the organization. We are incredibly appreciative and proud of the talented teams who have been developing our new titles."

R.I.P. LucasArts, and best wishes to those who have lost their jobs.

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Tomb Raider, Hitman, Sleeping Dogs all failed Square Enix photo
Tomb Raider, Hitman, Sleeping Dogs all failed Square Enix
by Jim Sterling

Despite each game clearing at least a million sales, Square Enix has revealed Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution and Sleeping Dogs all failed to meet their targets. This news comes on the same day the company projected a 13 billion yen loss and saw its president resign

Sleeping Dogs has sold an estimated 1.75 million copies to day, followed by Tomb Raider at 3.4 million and Hitman at 3.6 million. Square Enix blames these "slows sales" in part for its "extraordinary" financial losses this year. 

The company particularly points its finger at the North American market, claiming an "ineffective" sales force compared to Europe, where games performed two-thirds better. Another alleged problem is "price pressure," forcing Square Enix to spend more on such things as "price protection."

The publisher's report is yet more evidence of the so-called "AAA" market's downward spiral, where you can't even be considered a success in the face of selling millions of copies. This, along with Resident Evil 6 "failing" in spite of nearly five million sales and Dead Space 3 needing "five million" to survive, points to a market that's crashing and burning. 

Mainstream videogames have officially gone wrong. 

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6:41 AM on 03.26.2013

Yoichi Wada resigning as Square Enix president

Following in the footsteps of Electronic Arts' John Riccitiello, it seems Yoichi Wada will be the next executive taking the fall for a major game publisher's failings. Surrounded by talk of "extraordinary" financial losses, S...

Jim Sterling

2:00 AM on 03.23.2013

Saints Row's success was invalidated by uDraw's failure

Poor, poor THQ. A series of catastrophic mistakes led to the 23-year-old company's closure earlier this year. Among the more notable mistakes was the uDraw tablet, originally released in 2010 exclusively on Wii where it becam...

Tony Ponce



SimCity can be played offline, according to anyone but EA photo
SimCity can be played offline, according to anyone but EA
by Jim Sterling

There is mounting evidence that, despite EA Maxis' claims to the contrary, SimCity is wholly capable of being played offline -- a capability that would have saved buyers a week of hassle and tons of creativity now lost to server issues.

Let's start with what the gamers have discovered. Lately, some modding has led to a fully playable offline debug version. Fancy that!

There's a snag, of course -- this bit of hackery is unable to save or load all your progress, since EA opted to control your data on its end. Still, the game is able to be taken fully offline for an indefinite period of time, putting paid to suggestions that online play was inseparably woven into the experience. 

Interestingly, this "debug mode" of the game still syncs with EA Maxis' servers, and can at least save road placements made outside of the normal boundaries of the game.

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Maxis has 'no intention' of making SimCity offline photo
Maxis has 'no intention' of making SimCity offline
by Jim Sterling

While SimCity's DRM-in-sheep's-clothing continues to cause playabilty issues, EA Maxis has declared its intent to keep the game tied to a server. The company will do "everything it can" to make your game playable, but that doesn't include the one thing that'd guarantee it.

"We have no intention of offlining SimCity any time soon," said EA Maxis' Lucy Bradshaw on Twitter"but we'll look into that as part of our earning back your trust efforts."

Last night, Bradshaw released an update claiming the problems with SimCity were "Almost behind us." Game crashes have apparently been reduced by 92% and 8 million gameplay hours have been logged by users.

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8:30 AM on 03.08.2013

No SimCity refunds on Origin

If you are one of the many who purchased SimCity this week and found yourself unable to play it, you may feel like you were gypped out of $60 and want your money back. Unfortunately, while physical retailers might do the hono...

Jim Sterling



PSN purchases will not carry over to PS4 (Update) photo
PSN purchases will not carry over to PS4 (Update)
by Jim Sterling

[Update: Sony has confirmed to Dale North that it has the ability to honor your PSN purchases through its cloud service. If it chooses to, it can give you everything back in streaming form. Of course, it's not said it will -- and if it doesn't after saying this, it'll open itself up to major criticism. Gotta hope Sony does the decent thing.

Right now, the line is that Sony remains undecided on the issue.]

In news that is sure to encourage grimacing and facepalming, Sony has confirmed purchases made on the PlayStation Network will not carry over from PS3 to PS4. Same goes for your game saves, too. For Christ's sake, Sony ... you just couldn't resist gunning for some bad PR. 

Shuhei Yoshida told a roundtable (including our own Dale North) the PS4's innards are too different from the PS3, and the company is trying to avoid draining the system's power with emulation. Although plans are being looked into to get PS3 games playable in some form on the system, it appears anything you do right now on the PS3 will remain bound there. 

Expect PS3 games to be available for streaming on the system at some point in time. Whether we'll be paying for the privilege or not remains to be seen. 

So ... great. Just great. Guess it was asking too much to get through the week without something like this.

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10:45 AM on 02.15.2013

Aliens: Colonial Marines 360 save wipe bug

Oh, Aliens: Colonial Marines could really use some bad press? Sure, why not? It's been such a long time since we heard anything negative about it. Try this one on for size -- players are reporting that Xbox 360 save files are...

Jim Sterling

11:45 AM on 02.12.2013

Aliens: Colonial Marines says hello, my honey

So yeah, Aliens: Colonial Marines is pretty glitchy, but considering the lack of entertainment value in every other facet of the game, I guess we have to take our laughs where we can get them. This, for the record, is worth a solid chuckle.  At least this game's proving itself fertile ground for video clips and .gif silliness!

Jim Sterling

8:00 AM on 02.12.2013

Aliens: Colonial Marines innovates with self-heal glass!

Aliens: Colonial Marines is a stinker, this much is true. However, it's not all bad. As the super-duper really-real canonical sequel to Aliens, Gearbox's outsourced labor of love is rewriting the script on a beloved movie fr...

Jim Sterling

6:15 PM on 02.07.2013

Ubisoft tries to explain Rayman Legends delay

So, Rayman Legends has been pushed back to September, and news of the delay just so happened to coincide with its multiplatform announcement. As many disappointed fans suspected, the two are entirely linked, with Ubisoft hold...

Jim Sterling