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lolshin's blog

3:56 PM on 06.15.2011

On EA's Origin, Steam, and sensationalism in media.


Dear Jim (and subsequently, gamers everywhere),

I don't often disagree with you, but this time I fear you have been sucked into a vortex of sensationalism and mass hysteria, thus obscuring the ability to take an objective look at the situation at hand.

Please don't read a portion of this and immediately take to the comments in a cacophony of flametred. Unfortunately, sensationalism and irrationality are everywhere in today's media. To take a truly objective look at any given situation requires thought, analysis, and yes, quite a bit of explanation.

Valve requires Steam for all of it's own games. Even if you purchase a physical copy, Steam will be installed.

I won't get into this argument, but in order to qualify as sane, one must be able to freely admit that Steam is not perfect.

With that out of the way, we can move on:
There exists the argument, "I don't want to have yet another account for a game". At least for EA titles, this argument is *mostly* a moot point. If you have played an EA game within the past 5 years, whether it be on console or PC, you've almost certainly had to register with an email address and password. That is automatically your Origin account, if you so choose.

If you think that EA and other publishers having their own game stores means that PC gaming is obviously on it's way to blowing dong, you must also say that Android is already a symphonic skin-flautist based on the existence of the Amazon appstore. Should developers and publishers not be allowed to at least *try* to charge what they want for their products? Do they not have the right to update their own software on their own timeframe? Yes, Steam may have the best digital distribution guidelines for now, but there are still obvious boundaries and obstacles in place.

At this point, there are only three substantial usability arguments that remain. If you acquire a game from anywhere other than Steam, it is exceedingly easy to add it to your library. One downside of this is the lack of the "join friend in game" button. Even if you add a game to Steam as a shortcut, the shift+tab overlay still works, as does the identification of the game's title to your Steam friends. If someone is playing a non-steam game that you own, shoot them a Steam instant message and add each other to that game's friend list. The second usability argument is based around having to use "yet another website or client to obtain games". I would reckon that most of the people who frequent this site have more than one web browser installed on their computer. I would also say that most gamers, being tech savvy, have more than one media player installed (iTunes, Winamp, VLC, Windows Media Player, MediaMonkey, Songbird, etc.). You also probably have more than one instant communications client: multi-protocol IM (if you're smart), AIM, Yahoo, MSN, Skype, and so on. Many of you have also used Amazon's digital downloader! The more affluent game studios, like Blizzard, have their own software download clients. Unless the hard drive in your computer weighs in at a whopping 20 gigabytes, arguing about wasted space is just plain silly. The only real usability argument left is Steam's achievements. If you absolutely must have every achievement from every game you play on your PC displayed on your Steam-peen… well, you can see where I'm going with that one.

What this really comes down to is the developer and publisher's freedom in regards to their own product. We have all heard horror stories of Xbox updates being held or declined by Microsoft. Our automatic assumption is that because Steam is owned by Valve, nothing even remotely akin to the Xbox approval process happens on it. That assumption is utterly incorrect. Developers have to go through Valve's own approval process for every byte of software that is served on Steam. They also must let Valve take some of the revenue from the sale of their product. Valve takes all of the revenue when they put their own games on Steam.

Is there only one pizza chain? Only one bagel shop? The reason we can buy the same product in multiple locations is because to do so en masse from a single location is called a monopoly. Even though Valve is a terrific company with wonderful products, they still effectively (in market-share) have a monopoly on PC digital distribution. As it stands right now, Steam is the equivalent of the video game console for your computer.

Now to prove my point, once and for all:


"EA has denied any involvement in the removal of Crysis 2 from Steam, claiming that it was removed due to the violation of Steam's TOS. The violation apparently involves Crysis 2's involvement with another, unnamed digital distribution service."

If EA were to only offer their software in their own store, it would be a major cause for concern. Throughout this entire ordeal, Crysis 2 has still been available on a large number of services other than Steam. Even if they did willingly pull the software only from Steam, that in no way creates a monopoly. The only thing this statement can possibly affirm is the argument that EA (and other studios and publishers) should have their own method of digital distribution. PC gamers like the PC because it is open. Consoles require rigorous approval and licensing from the manufacturer. If we truly want the fastest updated, most content rich, and most innovative software on our PC's, should we not wholly embrace a direct connection to the very people who create it?   read

11:15 AM on 05.25.2010

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alan wake

is better than toast   read

7:36 PM on 02.28.2010

My rant: Is Sonic the new Mega Man? also: some other points, and cocks.

Hello all, I would say this is my first real post on the site, even though technically it was this beaut right here. I’ve actually been an avid fan of Dtoid since the Gerstmann shiz went down, but that’s besides the point. I came to talk about some blue dudes.

I’ve been playing quite a bit of Sonic CD and Mega Man X lately. These two games are pretty much polar opposites (we’ll get to that in a minute), but both are perfect examples of why I am excited for Sonic 4 (okay, cautiously excited) and Mega Man 10/X9 (?!?!).

Lets start with the hard one. We all know Sonic hasn’t been at his best this past decade. Many people discount the entire series, questioning if the original games were even that good. To these people I say, download an emulator and play Sonic CD. When you watch video of the game being played or watch a friend play it, the game actually looks randomly cobbled together. If you actually play the game, there are so many moments where you go, “oh yeah, now this makes sense”. Most importantly, take note of how fast the gameplay is. It’s not. It’s slow as hell in a ton of places, and is never actually speedy save for the sections of fast running and dodging and the occasional (and I mean occasional) speed loop or tube you can roll through.

Now, let’s bring Mega Man into the picture. Mega Man, like Sonic, had his period of shaky games, but it was much shorter. Mega Man is also more respected in hardcore gamer circles (I’m not saying that there are less Sonic fans, but that Mega Man would be rated higher by Dtoid users). When played back to back, It’s actually amazing how different the two games are. Mega Man exemplifies a hard platformer. Sonic, on the other hand, is often considered much easier. Sonic only has 2 “moves”, jumping and charging his roll (not counting invincibility or shoes etc.). Mega man has a gun, and then gets more powerful after every act. Even with these stark ideological differences, they bear one cool similarity; both games often appear arbitrary and incohesive to the outside observer, but their true brilliant mechanics are revealed when you sit down and actually play them. In other words, both games generate a lot of “a-ha!” moments. And this brings me to ‘the now’. There is no reason not to be excited for Mega Man 10. Capcom has been on fire lately, Mega Man 9 being one of the many titles that has the hardcore fanbase clamoring for more. Even the mention of a possibility of a new 16-bit Mega Man gets people all riled up (Mega Man X9, or X3-2, or X2-3, or how about Mega Man XX? Then after that we can get Mega Man XXX. I’m thinking, “Dead or Alive X Mega Man cross-universe promotion game”. Capcom, I hope you heard that.). Sega, on the other hand, had quite the decision on their hands. Try to put any faith they have left back into Sonic Team and hope for the best, or take the original guys from there (if there are even any left) and put them with another studio, but on a more “consultant” level. Thankfully, they chose the latter.

Dimps is the studio behind Sonic 4, and here’s why you should’ve jizzed your pants the first time you heard that: they made Sonic Advance. If you don’t know, Sonic Advance was the last great 2D Sonic game. A bit after Sonic Team started being retarded, Sega contracted Dimps to make a Sonic GBA game. Dimps put out a game that made it clear that they truly did understand what made Sonic so great in the first place--it’s not the speed, it’s the platforming. Most of the game is slow paced, just like the originals, and has just as many classic “a-ha!” moments. This is something that Sonic Team has completely lost sight of, and in the face of extreme criticism and lamentation from their fanbase, completely ignores. This is Sega saying to the hardcore community, “We know, it’s been rough. We’re sorry. We dumped that loser. Please, please take us back. Let us be your new Capcom; your bidding is our command.” Even though they’re basically on their knees and giving us what we’ve always been asking for, we still find room to hate. Sure, be skeptical. I am. But don’t prejudge the game when Dimps has no relation to any of the past fecal matter that has been the Sonic franchise. I’m optimistic. I’d love to see more similarities between the Mega Man and Sonic franchises: Sonic 4, Sonic 5, Sonic CD2 (?!?!). So yeah, that’s the rant that I just absolutely had to get out.


Cake   read

8:54 PM on 12.12.2009



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