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Men vs Women in Halo 3 photo
Men vs Women in Halo 3

Study: Men who suck at Halo are more likely to treat women poorly online

Get good, scrubs
Jul 17
// Jed Whitaker
A new study's findings show that men who perform worse at Halo 3 treat their perceived female teammates worse than their male teammates.  The researchers observed 163 games of Halo 3 with 82 of the games having...
Socially Awkward Gamer photo
Socially Awkward Gamer

Videogames, porn, and seclusion: The downfall of men?

Do you know how to talk to women?
May 13
// Jed Whitaker
Phillip Zimbardo, a leading psychologist at Stanford University, has warned that men are facing a "crisis of masculinity" because of porn and videogame addiction. A study of 20,000 young men's gaming and porn habits was condu...
Sup Holmes photo
Sup Holmes

The Matrix Online, internet fury, and being an empathic robot with Eric Ford

Get to know the people who make great videogames
Apr 19
// Jonathan Holmes
[Sup Holmes is a weekly talk show for people that make great videogames. It airs live every Sunday at 4pm EST on YouTube, and can be found in Podcast form on Libsyn and iTunes.] Eric Ford was working in g...
Tower Unite Kickstarter photo
Tower Unite Kickstarter

Miss PlayStation Home? Check out the Tower Unite Kickstarter

No microtransactions
Apr 12
// Darren Nakamura
Hot off the heels of the death knell of PlayStation Home, this Kickstarter popped up. It's probably a coincidence, considering the team has been working on the similar GMod Tower for the past five years, but it seems fortuit...

Sup Holmes photo
Sup Holmes

'Hashtag activism' and other oxymorons with Social Justice Warriors' Eric Ford

Get to know the people who make great videogames
Apr 05
// Jonathan Holmes
[Update: Show's over folks! Thanks to everyone who tuned in. The rerun should be up soon. Here's a brief interview I did with Eric at PAX East 2015 to tied you over in the meantime.] Happy Easter everyone! Wait, was that off...
Social Justice Warriors photo
Social Justice Warriors

Did Social Justice Warriors Win PAX East?

Hard to tell the SJWs from the trolls sometimes...
Mar 11
// Jonathan Holmes
Mere seconds ago, I discovered that I am on the original list that inspired the development of a game called Social Justice Warriors. There is even an attack in the game based on some of the specific wording found ...
LyteShot Kickstarter photo
LyteShot Kickstarter

LyteShot Kickstarter aims to take gaming outside

New toy for the casual LARPer
Jan 12
// Darren Nakamura
Some recent Nintendo games have had little messages gently suggesting that the player take a break and go outside, but LyteShot wants to take that a step further. Built to take outside and play games in actual space with act...
BaZynga! photo

Zynga has lost half of its active users in the last year

And $61 million this first quarter (almost 69, nice)
Apr 25
// Steven Hansen
The bad news is that I'm sure they all moved on to play god damn Candy Crush. For now. Until some other bright casino game or reality show about a bad 90's rapper living in an Amish community wrangles their attention so they ...
Layoffs photo

Disney Interactive lays off 700 employees to 'double down on mobile'

Social gaming isn't what it used to be
Mar 06
// Jordan Devore
There was talk of significant layoffs at Disney Interactive last month and today was the day it went down: the company has laid off approximately 700 employees, amounting to 26 percent of its global workforce, reports The New...

Trainfinity transforms tablets to train tracks

48-hour jam game needs to be in my life
Feb 21
// Conrad Zimmerman
Watch this. It's a teaser for Trainfinity, a game developed in 48 hours during the Nordic Game Jam last week. A local cooperative multiplayer game, tracks run in three lanes from one player's tablet to the next while trains ...
Zynga is not cool photo
Zynga is not cool

Zynga buys NaturalMotion for $527M, cuts workforce 15%

Jan 31
// Steven Hansen
Zynga has made its first big move under new CEO and former Microsoft head Don Mattrick, acquiring CSR Racing developer NaturalMotion for $527 million. The UK and US-based developer did well for itself with the mobile hit CSR ...
Xbox One photo
Xbox One

Microsoft's working on something similar to 1 vs 100

Jan 28
// Brett Makedonski
One of the most well-received experiments of the Xbox 360 era was the interactive adaption of popular gameshow 1 vs. 100. The social trivia experience is fondly remembered by most, and fans have expressed their interest in it...
Don Paccin photo
Don Paccin

Cave bringing a little RPG to their next shooter

Those are some creepy looking lightbulbs
Nov 10
// Wesley Ruscher
Best known for manic console arcade bullet-hell shooters, like Deathsmiles and Akai Katana, Cave is mixing up the formula slightly with their next mobile shmup release, Don Paccin. The vertical shooter, slated for both ...

The Crew seeks to redefine online racing

Aug 23 // Alessandro Fillari
The Crew: (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One [previewed])Developer: Ivory TowerPublisher: UbisoftRelease Date: Q1 2014 The Crew is an open-world driving game set across the United States. From the get go, players can freely explore the 2000-square-mile game space, take part in races and unique challenges, and meet other players online to either team up with or race against. Sectioned across five different zones -- from the West Coast, mountain states, Midwest, the East Coast, and the South -- players can race across a variety of different landscapes. In the process, you'll build up your own collection of vehicles, resources, and influence in the online space. Dubbed a "social action driving game" by the developers, the intent was to create a world that allowed for seamless online integration with other players around the world. When racing with other drivers, the player can choose to join up with new drivers and form their own crew to take on races and challenges, and pull together resources for body work and customization. While it's totally possible to play the game offline within single-player mode, doing so would mean missing out on a major part of The Crew's living and active game world. To help realize its vision for an open-world racer, Ivory Tower utilized the new next-gen technology and developed a graphics engine that minimizes loading and keeps things seamless. Players can fast travel across the map at anytime to meet up with friends and engage in active challenges, with little to no loading whatsoever. While in the map you can zoom in and out and analyze the different tracks located in the cities and countryside. You can also use this to observe races in progress and see what new challenges have popped up. [embed]260646:50182:0[/embed] Speaking with online producer Tristan Lefranc, the developers at Ivory Tower have been hard at work on The Crew for more than four years. While they've done some additional work on the Test Drive Unlimited series, this is the developer's first game built from the ground up. Their goals for this title were to craft a richly detailed game world, while designing the innovative networking systems that will bring players together. "We very much wanted to be able to make a racing game for everyone," LeFranc said while going over the car customization. "We believe that with the size of the world and the content we placed in it, there would be a variety of different play styles that we players could use." During my time playing, it was clear that the developers wanted both gear-heads and casual racing fans engaged. There's usually two schools of design when it comes to whom the developers are catering to. Arcade racers focus on over-the-top action with pick-up-and-play mechanics, while simulation racers emphasis realistic driving physics and fine tuning your vehicle. For The Crew, Ivory Tower is focused on delivering a title that blurs the lines between the action of arcade style racers in the vein of Burnout and Fuel and the attention to detail and planning that comes from racing sims like Gran Turismo. A key part of the player's experience with The Crew is customization. With dozens of brand named vehicles and vehicle types, such as compacts, convertibles, street racing vehicles, and off-road cars, the developers want players to find a car that suits them and their personality. To take things even further, every car in the game is fully customizable from the ground up. Your own custom vehicles will come in handy in the various missions and challenges across the U.S. These missions range from standard street and off-road racing, to the more peculiar stunt racing tasks like Follow the Line, and even time trial challenges against other players' scores. I spent much of my time in the mountain states and southern zones, where I took advantage of transforming my street-racing vehicle to a more off-road-friendly version to take on the challenges. I do have to say that I got kick out of seeing a muscle car being turned into a decked-out off-road vehicle with massive tires. An aspect of the game that was clear was its usability. The Crew is an easy game to get a handle of, as it seeks to bring in players of all interests. Controls are very smooth, and getting a feel of new cars comes very quickly. One element I particularly enjoyed was how it keeps players engaged and always in the action. With the exception of your map and car customizations, player/crew networking and communication is all done in real time and not in separate menus. Your character has the use of an in-game smartphone, which allows them to access your collection of vehicles on the fly. From the engine parts, chassis, tires, and the decal, you can stick with your favorite car for the long term or alter it in anyway you see fit. When completing missions, you're reward cash and a random vehicle part. At first it felt a bit overwhelming, but the car customization becomes much easier to handle once you've got a feel for the system. Changing a street-racing vehicle to a fully functional off-road vehicle is not only an effective strategy for some missions, but a necessity. Some challenges call for taking advantage of different car types during races, and mixing and matches parts is a vital strategy for winning.The developers wish to give the game somewhat of an MMO feel. Specifically in the sense of players having their own identity in the game space. This is not only reflected in the cars they drive, but the skills they employ. The Crew also introduces a perk and comfort system, which will give players an edge during challenges. When players complete missions, they'll come across NPC characters from different fields -- such as FBI agents, businessmen, and stuntmen -- that will offer their services to your crew in the form of perks and comforts. Perks allow for players to have various types of bonus abilities; such as easier police evasion, better braking, drifting, buffs to nitrous, etc. Comforts function somewhat like perks, but are far more specific. When completing challenges and missions, you'll gain points which can be used to spend on comforts that can lower costs of jail time, less expensive car customization, etc. More points that you put into a specific comfort, the more useful it will become. I came away largely impressed with Ubisoft's new racing title. I'm actually not too interested in the genre outside of a few exceptions, but this particular game managed to impress me in ways that I didn't expect. The Crew expresses a lot of thought in its design, and the sheer amount of content on offer is simply staggering. In a way, it feels like racing title that isn't afraid to walk ride that fine line between staying traditional, and knowing when to take an unorthodox approach for giving what players want. Currently, The Crew has been scheduled for a Q1 2014 release, and the developers at Ivory Tower still have much more fine tuning to complete. But judging from my time with the game, this ambitious and thoughtful racing title has got all the right moves.
The Crew preview photo
Social online action racing
Making its debut at E3 2013, The Crew is Ubisoft's attempt to create a new and fast-paced racer for the next-gen consoles. Although the publisher has definitely got some stiff competition from other racing titles, what separa...

Big Fest photo
Big Fest

Big Fest on Vita lets you deal with real unsigned bands

Become the world's greatest music promoter
Aug 20
// Darren Nakamura
At its gamescom press conference, Sony unveiled a new IP for PlayStation Vita called Big Fest. In the free-to-play simulator, players manage a music festival with the aim to become the world's greatest music promoter. The rea...
Rockman Xover OST photo
Rockman Xover OST

Download Rockman Xover's free but hilariously short OST

Ironically, the music is not bad
Jul 27
// Tony Ponce
I think I've said all that really needs to be said about Capcom's free-to-play abomination that is Rockman Xover. But in all fairness, I have not personally played the game and thus can't judge the accuracy of others' damning...
Rockman Xover not dead photo
Rockman Xover not dead

Rockman Xover may see an international release after all

Capcom considering bringing it to North America and Europe
Jul 26
// Chris Carter
Remember Rockman Xover? That one mobile game that almost plays itself, and features a heavy dose of microtransactions and social support? That thing pretty much all of you do not want may actually be coming overseas at some p...
Star Ocean photo
Star Ocean

Star Ocean social RPG in the works for iOS and Android

Jul 21
// Kyle MacGregor
Square Enix is taking one of its venerable franchises in a new direction with Star Ocean: Material Trader. A social role-playing game, the forthcoming title will eschew the series' traditional roots in favor of a card-based e...
Firefly Online photo
Firefly Online

Aim to misbehave: Firefly Online announced at Comic-Con

Someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill 'em right back!
Jul 18
// Darren Nakamura
At San Diego Comic-Con, Fox Digital Entertainment has announced Firefly Online, coupling it with the teaser video above. It is being described as a "multi-user, social online roleplaying game," and will be available for Andr...
Zynga photo

Don Mattrick negotiated to buy Zynga while at Microsoft

Reportedly, that is
Jul 08
// Jordan Devore
Today is Don Mattrick's first full day at Zynga as the company's new CEO. Wow, yeah, that's still weird to say. Speaking of the former president of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, here's a curious tidbit: acco...
Zynga photo

Zynga shutting down Draw Something developer OMGPOP

More layoff news
Jun 04
// Jordan Devore
It came out this week that social gaming giant Zynga had laid off 520 employees (approximately 18 percent of its global workforce), which ended up meaning full office closures in some cases. Joining the shutdowns in New York,...
Zynga photo

Major layoffs happening at Zynga

Approximately 18 percent of staff cut
Jun 03
// Abel Girmay
Sad news been handed down to many employees of the massive social game developer Zynga, as the company is reportedly cutting loose 520 staff members. That's around 18 percent of the company workforce. As part of the cuts, the...

Review: Plants vs. Zombies Adventures

May 20 // Chris Carter
Plants vs. Zombies Adventures (Facebook)Developer: PopCapPublisher: PopCapRelease: May 20, 2013MSRP: Free (with microtransactions) The first thing you might notice about Adventures is that it features a city-building aspect, albeit on a very small scale. You'll start off in your tiny town, with one house to your name, as you wait at intervals for the house to "fill up" with Coins, so you can buy plants on go on missions.Yep, right away the game introduces an "energy" mechanic that so many of us loathe in social games -- but I'll explain why it isn't the worst thing the world in a moment. As you start to complete each set of stages, you'll unlock more quadrants in your town to expand upon, and thus, more room for buildings, which means more Coins, and so on. Your hub world basically serves as your interactive zen garden, as it hosts everything you'll need to actually keep playing the game. You'll grow plants here (for a Coin fee), and each plant has a waiting time (from one minute to over an hour) depending on how strong it is. The good news is for the most part, the bulk of the plants you'll need (the standard Peashooter, the long range Aspearagus and the sun garnering Sunflowers) only take a few minutes tops to grow, and cost a minimal amount of coins. This could just be a time sink that influences you to make real world purchases to keep playing, but Adventures actually lets you do a few things that keep the fun going outside of decorating your town. Mostly, you have the option to defend your houses from invading zombies, as well as visit other friend's towns and invade them with your own chosen set of enemies. While you ultimately still have to wait a while to earn Coins to buy plants to actually go on missions, you can mess around on these side excursions as you wait, which helps. Okay, so you hate the idea of tending to a town -- what about actually playing the game? Adventures is not a classic PvZ experience -- it plays out more like a classic isometric tower defense "world tour," as you progress level by level, unlocking new plants as you tend to your town meta-game. It's more simplistic in the sense that you can't create "mazes" and only set plants beside roads, but there's still a decent amount of strategy to it. Plus, the basic PvZ experience is still present, in that you need to build Sunflowers to earn Sun currency to place more plants on the map. Specifically, you cannot bring more than five of each plant type with you, and you can only bring six plants total -- so in a sense, the game forces you to pick the optimal loadout for each map. It's a double-edged sword, as it offers a neat way to challenge you, but can feel restrictive. The layouts for each stage tend to showcase a decent amount of variety at first, but after a while, some of the stages tend to blend together. Where the game's strategy element really shines though is through the use of "sprays," enacted by clicking on certain objects in combat. It sounds like a small addition, but the ability to both spray your own plants to power them up or spray enemies to freeze them for a few seconds is huge. At the cost of 25 sun, you have the power to do either function, and it can absolutely make or break a run. Many times I've stopped an enemy right at a choke-point at the exact right moment, or failed to boost a plant that had an enemy go just out of their range, only to lose the round. While placing towers in the right areas is still a major part of the strategy, there is a twitch element to it, and I really like that -- it also allows you to do something when you've already planted everything, which keeps you in the action. There are microtransactions, but I haven't really felt like they were necessary, and I never once hit a pay-wall in all of my travels. The major issue instead is wait-walling (massive amounts of wait-walling if you just want to do missions, as most of you will), as you have to wait to earn Coins, wait for plants to grow, and repeat the process as you run out of towers to place. Zombucks (earned through beating levels, they allow you to fix up your town and invade others), Coins (earned through farming buildings, which buys you plants), and Gems, which are the strictly real-money currency that can be used to buy either of the former currencies. Although Adventures sleazily tries to get you to buy and spend gems at every turn, even going so far as allowing you to buy "that one last extra difference making plant" in the middle of a stage -- again, they're not really required for the most part, as you can still get through the game with a solid mix of basic plants, and a few advanced ones. In what could have been a really annoying sleazy addition, you need to seek the help of friends to enter the next world (thus propagating the cult-like "conversion" factor that hurts the integrity of many social games) -- but thankfully, you can pay a nominal Zombucks fee to just skip the process entirely, making friends a mostly optional endeavor. Plants vs. Zombies Adventures is fairly inoffensive fun, and serves as the appetizer to PvZ 2's main course. The implementation of sprays makes combat a bit more interactive, and there's a decent variety of plants to keep your strategy liquid. It could stand to implement a more forgiving energy mechanic, but unlike many other social games, it at least gives you something to do while you wait.
PvZ Adventures review photo
It's not PvZ 2, but it's a decent romp
The Plants vs. Zombies IP is a particularly interesting case. After creating one of the biggest casual hits of all time in 2009, Popcap kind of just sat on the property, keeping quiet about future plans despite its popularity...

GREE layoffs photo
GREE layoffs

Layoffs hit GREE offices in San Francisco

Mobile and social game company lays off 30 employees
May 11
// Kyle MacGregor
Japanese mobile and social game publisher GREE has laid off roughly 30 people at its San Francisco offices, GamesIndustry reports. "We have recently aligned GREE's US studio to focus on creating the next generation of mobile ...

Preview: Plants vs. Zombies Adventures

May 10 // Chris Carter
Plants vs. Zombies Adventures (Facebook)Developer: PopCapPublisher: PopCapRelease: May 20, 2013MSRP: Free (with microtransactions) Adventures has a pretty straight-forward setup: you'll have access to your own town (much like FarmVille -- wait, where are you going?), which you'll manage and build, and there's an opportunity to go on "Road Trips" which are essentially missions. As you take on more and more missions, you'll unlock new areas (and thus, more plants, content, buildings, and quests) in your town. Sound simple enough? Missions themselves are a tad different than the core game. Instead of an intimate grid-based setting, they take place on an isometric-style map, and feel like more of a traditional tower defense experience. Each plant has a different attack radius or ability just like in the core Plants vs. Zombies, and for the most part it plays out in the same way despite the change in view. Sunflowers still earn you sun, plants still need a certain amount of sun to build, and so on. There are a decent number of new plants -- some of which may make it into Plants vs. Zombies 2. One major change I actually enjoyed more in Adventures is the new spray mechanic. Using increments of 25 sun, you can choose to either increase the range (or use a hidden ability) of one of your plants, or freeze an enemy zombie for a few seconds. It adds a lot of strategy and can easily mean the difference between a win or a loss, even later in the game. While most social games would enact a paywall fairly early, these sprays help break down that wall and add more of a skill element to the experience, which is welcome. But of course, this is a social game, and you can't just go willy nilly and do missions all the time. The way PopCap "gets you" is by requiring players to go back to their home base of operations to create more plants. For instance, in order to use standard Peashooters and Sunflowers, you have to grow them at your home plot (it takes 60 seconds for standard plants to grow), and each plant costs a certain amount of Coins. So how do you earn Coins? By gathering them at structures in your town, which refill at periodic times (on average, they run on a two-hour timer). Normally this would result in a paywall of some sort, but I haven't experienced a hard paywall yet in many hours of play. Plants vs. Zombies Adventures has a lot to do, which is partially overwhelming, but it also (mostly) alleviates the annoying "wait-wall" (energy mechanic) found in most Facebook or social games -- depending on how enjoyable you find the other activities in the game. When you're waiting on Coins for missions, you can spruce up your town, invade other towns, defend your property from encroaching zombies, or do quests, like creating a certain amount of plants, or upgrading buildings. While a lot of people will most likely want to just go out and do missions all the time (you can't), at least there's some sort of option here. For instance, at one point where I'd normally have to wait an hour or so to earn more Coins to buy plants, I invaded a friend's town and stole Coins from his settlement, giving me enough money to do a few more missions while my Coin cache went back to normal. In order to actually do all of these things, you'll need to utilize three forms of currency -- Zombucks (earned through beating levels, they allow you to fix up your town and invade others), Coins (earned through farming buildings, which buys you plants), and Gems, which are the strictly real-money currency that can be used to buy either of the former currencies. To elaborate, Zombucks are the bread and butter of building a better town. You'll be able to clear out debris -- and thus, plots for buildings -- erect more coin-gathering buildings, and so on. Again, Coins are the lifeblood of actually playing the game, because without them, you can't buy plants, and as a result can't actually embark on missions. Coins follow the typical FarmVille-esque "wait then harvest" scheme, but it's a lot less sleazy and more upfront. Every few hours, your buildings will generate enough coins to handle a massive amount of stages -- at least five in the early game. Depending on your tastes, Plants vs. Zombies Adventures may be up your alley. The good news is while there is some form of an energy mechanic, there's a lot to do while you're waiting. Stay tuned for our full review shortly after launch, which is currently slated for May 20.
Plants vs. Zombies photo
A more traditional tower defense on Facebook
Well, Plants vs. Zombies Adventures certainly came out of nowhere. Many people feared it was actually the rumored Plants vs. Zombies 2, but alas, this is a completely separate project held entirely within Facebook. I can't ta...

Rockman Xover photo
Rockman Xover

Rockman Xover shows off Arcade Man footage

In other news, the game is still Rockman Xover
May 09
// Chris Carter
The strangely popular iOS abomination Rockman Xover is still getting new content, despite the fact that the localization is on hold. Specifically, the retro themed Arcade Man is now a part of the game, compliments of the Meg...

EA scrapping The Sims Social, SimCity Social

Oh, and Pet Society ... ha ha
Apr 15
// Jim Sterling
The Sims Social is being scrapped by Electronic Arts, along with fellow Facebook games SimCity Social and Pet Society. In the case of SimCity, this will be a case of a game shutting down less than a year after launch. That wh...
Namco Bandai photo
Namco Bandai

Namco opening new studios in Vancouver, Singapore

Some positive news!
Apr 11
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
It seems like we've been hearing nothing but studio closers happening left and right. Well there's some good news in this field as Namco Bandai is opening up a new studio in Vancouver, Canada. The British Columbia Ministry of...

Zynga: Tablets are becoming the ultimate game platform

Farmville dev praises your iPads and your Samsung Notethinkers
Mar 18
// Jim Sterling
Console fans will protest, PC fans will bellow in outrage, but Farmville developer Zynga believes tablet devices are on track to become the ultimate platform for gaming experiences. According to games president Steve Chi...
Zynga silliness photo
Zynga silliness

Zynga: Copying games is no big deal, don't worry about it

Who has time to be creative when you are providing a "service"?
Mar 12
// Tony Ponce
"Zynga is often accused of copying games, which is mostly true." Those were the words spoken by Dan Porter, General Manager of Zynga New York. It's no secret to anyone with the capacity for rational thought that the social ga...

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