In a conference call earlier this week about the Activision/Blizzard/Merger/thing, Activision CEO Robert Kotick dropped the quote from the first panel of the strip completely without irony. No doubt a phrase like that is "hot talk" for the financial set, but when they’re speaking within earshot of the community, they might want to be more choosy.
The real news for me yesterday was the Culdcept Saga demo. Me and no-one else.
Of course, I’m going to push this thing on you - it’s my way. The main thing I want to communicate is that before you give up on the game forever, you need to at least win one round. This can be done in twenty minutes on the demo version’s rudimentary board. I never really understood Settlers of Catan until I had won a game, it was just a tangle of free systems floating in solution. It wasn’t until those strange materials were dipped in pure victory that I began to see the illuminated routes and chains of behavior that gird its systemic loins. Culdcept is similar, in that it is a strategy game which is (at the same time) beholden to whimsical dice. You also have CCG-style deck building, elements, and… other stuff. But until you get some reinforcement, the game is just a boiling cauldron of Goddamned mystery. Also, completing games is how you get booster packs to expand your deck, a process that is just as addictive as you might imagine. The demo can also be played competitively, on one of two maps and with one of four decks. It’s a party game with considerably greater heft than the common button mashers and Reflex Olympics shit one finds elsewhere.
There is a lot going on in the most recent Dashboard Update, but the only thing I seem to see discussed by gamers in any detail is the week that Silver tier users must wait to get demos (like Culdcept Saga!!!). We’ve discussed this policy before. I understand absolutely why they do it, but if there were a museum devoted exclusively to terrible ideas, this one would feature prominently on the brochure.
It really pisses people off, and rhetorically it’s simply bad play. But because of how the tiers are structured, they don’t have a lot of wiggle room to implement features that have a lot of perceived value. For example, they could give Gold members a larger friends list, but the online features of the system apparently aren’t a strong inducement for Silvers. They could heap up some custom game content, but I’m sure they’d prefer to sell it, and Silver users don’t care because content like maps is irrelevant to them. It’s precisely because they cut out the heart of the experience and made it a premium service that they are experiencing these challenges.