Humble Bundle

Earlier this year, the head of independent developer Wolfire Games approached his friends and contacts in the games community with the idea that they should offer their games on a “pay what you want” basis. The Humble Indie Bundle, which included indie darling Gish and my beloved World of Goo, went on sale in May and, despite many people offering $0.01 for the collection, raised over $1.2 million (almost $400,000 of which went to charity). The sale was such a success they decided to try it all over again with the Humble Indie Bundle 2, which is available for the next few days.… Read the rest

Digitally Delivered

Since I spent the first half of 2010 doing my part to keep Bioware in business, I recently decided I could stand to play some smaller, but nonetheless worthwhile titles.  I have a running list in my head of all the creative and fun downloadable games I would like to play, and finally set aside the time to follow through on a few of them.

NyxQuest: Kindred Spirits

Spanish developer Over The Top Games could teach a master class on developing with the strengths of the Wii in mind (they could not, however, teach any kind of class on the English language).  … Read the rest

Numbers Are Fun – Back by Popular Demand

After a long hiatus I have once again been induced to write an update on the financial state of the video game industry. My plan is to divide this write up into two main “chapters.” This first one will cover the “hard” numbers: hardware unit sales and earnings reports. The second will cover the “soft” topic of average player profiles, including online connectivity, hours per day, tie ratio, etc. This section promises to be densely packed with numbers, but it should not require an MBA or a degree in statistics (at least it shouldn’t, since I have neither). Please note, I will cover software sales with the “soft” numbers, since it is not easy (possible?)… Read the rest

Review – Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars – The Director’s Cut

The Knights Templar were an order of Christian soldiers from western Europe who gathered substantial influence and wealth during the Crusades. Many were tortured and/or executed in France in the early 14th century, primarily because King Philip of France owed them money and felt it was more expedient to kill them and disband the order than it was to pay. Of course, he did this under the pretense that they were not in fact true Catholics but rather practitioners of any number of bizarre rituals. As a result of these probably false accusations, their previous military prowess and influence, and the massive fortune they acquired through donations and the early bank-like system they developed, the story of the Knights took on mythic proportions.… Read the rest

Review – Time Hollow

Adventure games exist on a spectrum from what are essentially puzzle games with characters (such as Zack and Wiki and possibly Professor Layton and the Mysterious Village) to games with little interaction that are basically interactive books (I would include an example here, but, at risk of blowing the punchline, the game I am reviewing is further on this side of the spectrum than anything else I have ever played). The interactivity in Time Hollow consists mostly of moving from area to area. Once you find the right location (park, school, home) events frequently set themselves in motion and you just have to tap the screen to advance the dialogue; sometimes you have to tap each character on screen to get him or her to speak.… Read the rest

2008 in Review Part 4

Games, I have always believed, would benefit from acceptance into mainstream culture: once the stigma that video games entertained only troglodytic nerds disappears, the scope of what games are allowed to be would increase. This has started to happen, as, despite the whining and hand wringing of those who want games to remain in their and only their basements, gaming has expanded over the past several years. Part of this has been in the form of non-gamers picking up controllers, but my bet is that most of it is ex-gamers picking them up again, or twenty-somethings not putting them down as they (we) age.… Read the rest

Video games vs. the Recession

As an investor, it is prudent to invest in a number of different instruments (stocks, bonds) and markets (the United States, emerging Asia) because the more diversity in a portfolio the more bad news it can withstand before being severely impaired. For examples, stocks do well during good economic times, while the more stable bonds will likely outperform in poor times. Holding both allows you to make money when all is right with the world and preserve much of your money should things start to turn south. However, in times of crisis, correlations go to one. This statement has an obvious truth to it, since, as we just witnessed, almost every market in the world goes down together when things get bad enough; almost nothing (most US government bonds performed well, but that is about it) escapes unscathed.… Read the rest

Review – Insecticide

DS Adventure-action hybrid Insecticide attracted some attention (on this site, if not from the videogame community as a whole) when the developer, Mike Levine, criticized negative reviews of the game for overlooking what he considered some of the game’s strengths. What are these supposed strengths? The game is in 3D and features voice acting. To me, the measure of a game isn’t the number of dimensions in which it resides, but how much fun it is to play, and whether I believe the developer tried to do something interesting or innovative.

The early criticisms, as well as Levine’s retort, turned on two key disagreements.… Read the rest

Review – Yakuza

As a fan of the Shenmue series I was induced to try Sega’s Yakuza (non-neutered Japanese name: Ryu go Gotaku, or Like a Dragon). Hardly a review was written that avoided comparing some aspect of the game or the game itself to Sega’s acclaimed series. If you have not already played them, I am here to tell you that these are drastically different games. While there are some cosmetic similarities, the crowd that adores Shenmue (at least those who do so for the same reasons I do) will not find a spiritual successor here. While both games are basically brawlers in an open world, with plenty of side quests and dark corners to explore, the heart of Ryo is absent from the muscular Kazuma.… Read the rest

Numbers are fun – November ‘Nihilation

There has been a lot of good sales news for the industry over the past month. Enough numbers have been released that PR people from all three console manufacturers are able to claim some victory. We have all grown accustomed to hearing that Nintendo’s grandparent-friendly hardware is setting the world ablaze, but recent information has shown that its competitors may be gearing up to offer a viable challenge. The biggest headline probably has to be the fact that Nintendo DS sales set the record for most systems ever purchased in a single week with 653,000. This, combined with 350,000 Wiis sold during the same period adds up to…a lot of stuff sold by Nintendo during Thanksgiving week.… Read the rest