What’s Your Take on Free to Play Games?

Age of Empires Online

Free to play games are getting more and more common these days, but I’ve always been hesitant to check them out, mostly because if a game has the word “free” in it, my mind tends to lower my expectations significantly. I don’t know where this notion comes from, but I’ve been making an effort to try out the mass of free games that have flooded the market (except for TF2, I played that game for years before it became free).

To date I’ve tried the Battlefield game, APB Reloaded and Age of Empires Online, and a few buddies of mine have tried out the MMOs that have gone free like Dungeons and Dragons and Lord of the Rings Online. While the gameplay in these games are pretty good, I just can’t get into them, mostly because of their reliance on the microtransaction business model.

All of the games use it to varying degrees, but APB Reloaded and Battlefield are the two worst offenders in my mind, allowing players to purchase weapons for use in PvP combat. This might not make much of a difference in Battlefield, which is still and FPS and is mostly determined by skill, but APB is an MMO, so whoever has the best gear wins. Add that to the fact that the level system is so convoluted (I had to play for two days before I realized that I wasn’t even close to eligible to buy a weapon with in-game funds) and I got tired of the whole experience pretty fast. It was fun ripping around the city robbing store with friends, but the whole microtransaction aspect soured me on it.

I realize that this is just one example and most of the stuff you can buy with your money in other games are personal cosmetic things and the like, but I just can’t abide with the “whoever has the most money wins” method of play. I know some people don’t have an issue with this, but for me I can clearly identify which games are a shameless cash-grab.

Firefall is an upcoming free game that I’m greatly looking forward to though, mostly because the developers have stated that they want their game to be about skill, and the paid stuff will not affect PvP combat. To me, that’s the best way to go about these things. I’m wondering what you guys think about free to play games, though? Which ones have you played and did you enjoy them? What your take on microtransactions?

The GamerSushi Show, Ep 34: To Be Fair

A new challenger arrives: Episode 34 of the podcast, in which we repeat the phrase, “To Be Fair” quite a bit, even though we are usually anything but fair in these raucous casts which we pod. Also, sorry for Anthony’s robot voice. These things happen over the tubes.

As per usual, we bounce around along various topics, including but not quite limited to Team Bondi, Valve, GameFly’s PC rentals and a throwback to Metroid Prime. After that, we launch into a game of Fill in the Blank, where we vocabitate about next gen consoles, The Old Republic’s expected sales numbers and Bethesda claiming the word Scrolls.

We recorded this guy the day before Counter-Strike: GO was announced, so sadly there’s none of that on there. But next week! Oh, next week there will be counters struck, you guys.

So, listen to it. Give it mad ratings. <3. Continue reading The GamerSushi Show, Ep 34: To Be Fair

GamerSushi Asks: Origin Versus Steam?


In recent weeks, we’ve seen a bit of drama when it comes to the digital delivery of some of EA’s games. This has mainly occurred on Steam, where Crysis 2 was removed from Valve’s platform, and just this morning, Dragon Age 2. While there are a number of reasons for this, overall it stems from EA pushing their new content delivery system, Origin, as a competitor to Valve’s monopoly.

Here are some thoughts from EA CEO John Riccitiello about the future of Origin, given in a recent conference call with video game press.

“We’ve had a lot of inbound inquiry about getting on. I think forward-looking publishers really want their content on any and every platform possible. One more sale is better than not… We hope to be HBO meets Netflix for gaming. But we’re also very keen to have our content distributed to anywhere and everywhere gamers are.”

So while that does sound like they want to keep their future releases on platforms like Steam, it also sounds like they are setting up a rival system all the same. I’d bet that a big portion of their hopes hinge on The Old Republic and Battlefield 3.

As someone that hopes to play Battlefield 3 in the coming months, the idea of yet another content platform on my PC is kind of irksome at the moment, but I’m willing to see how it plays out. What are your thoughts? Is this like trying to take on iTunes in the music industry? What do you think of EA’s goals here?

Source – Gamasutra

Mitch Reminisces About Star Wars Galaxies

star wars galaxies shut down

One of the most important games of my youth was Star Wars Galaxies (when I say youth, I mean late teens, but stay with me), an MMO set in that galaxy far, far away. Produced by LucasArts and helmed by Sony Online Entertainment, the game originally started as a huge, unwieldy MMO where players could choose to become one of thirty-three (!) professions, combining the features of lower-tier classes to reach hybrid professions like Bounty Hunter or Bio-Engineer.

Besides having a class progression system from hell that was completely skewed (if you didn’t play as a close-combat character you were doing it wrong), Galaxies was unique in that it allowed players to set up their own towns on one of the game’s many planets, establishing new cities away from ones that might be recognizable to Star Wars fans like Coronet or Mos Eisley. This was one of the cooler aspects of the game to me, one that allowed me and my friends and guild-mates to set up huge player-run cities complete with a guildhall and all other sorts of interesting buildings, like faction specific bunkers.

When it originally launched, Galaxies was notorious for being fairly buggy and even several years into the game’s lifespan, this continued to be the case. My friend (GamerSushi user The Nage) and I glitched our way through several of the game’s dungeons, running a two-man team on instances that were supposed to take upwards of ten people to complete. We completed the Corellian Corvette missions by activating specific consoles while we were dead, or running across electrified floors before the game realized what we were doing.

Continue reading Mitch Reminisces About Star Wars Galaxies

Star Wars: The Old Republic Has an Amazing Opening Cinematic

I know that I’ve been quite vocal in my condemnation of Star Wars: The Old Republic’s hype train and its constant parade of pre-rendered trailers and no solid release date. After three consecutive E3s of all show and no tell, I was starting to get a little ticked off at the constant stringing along that TOR is pulling. Of course, being a gamer, I am a fickle creature and the recently released opening cinematic for The Old Republic is nothing short of mind-blowing. It’s seriously everything I love about Star Wars, condensed into six minutes.

I’m looking forward to watching this video again when I boot up the game, whenever that is. Lucas Licensing should just contract Blur to make a Star Wars movie with BioWare as the writing staff, because every trailer they’ve made have been better than the games they’ve been associated with (case in point: Force Unleashed 2). What do you guys think of the opening cinematic for The Old Republic? Was this sick, or what?

Sony’s E3 2011 Briefing Round-Up

playstationMicrosoft’s E3 press conference came and went and it was quite the Kinect fest. With Nintendo making an apperance tomorrow, Sony was primed to steal the show on the first day of E3. Let’s break down their presser and see if they made Microsoft look like a bunch of chumps.

Details are after the jump!
Continue reading Sony’s E3 2011 Briefing Round-Up

Do Games get Announced too Early?

the old republic announced too early

I know this is a topic we’ve talked about on the podcast some, but you guys always seem reluctant to leave your thoughts on those. Perhaps it is because we are such cunning linguists and our arguments tear yours to shreds. Yeah, that’s what I’m going with.

In case you somehow forgot with all the incessant reminders on all of the gaming websites and Twitter and yes, even here, E3 2011 is next week and we’ll be seeing a few new games and a couple that we’ve been hearing about for what seems like forever. While Metal Gear Solid: Rising and The Last Guardian probably won’t be making an appearance, Star Wars: The Old Republic and the Tomb Raider reboot (just confirmed for a fall 2012 release) will be there, and we’ve been hearing about those games for a while. Star Wars: The Old Republic is particularly guilty in this regard, showing up to two consecutive E3s with only a fancy trailer. I’d hesitate to say that anything BioWare is a one-trick pony, but it’s certainly starting to look that way.

I hate to sound like I’m ragging on BioWare, who are obviously working very hard on their MMO, but if this game had been announced maybe two years ago as opposed to four, I wouldn’t have the same “hype fatigue” I’m experiencing now. I’m also apparently hurting for a Star Wars MMO, so there’s that too.

So what about you guys? What games have been announced a little too early for your taste? Any games at E3 2011 that you just want to stop hearing about? How far in advance of their release should games be announced?

Gamestradamus Predicts: E3 2011

Every now and then, we like to pay a little visit to our good friend, Gamestradamus, the Gaming Fortune Teller. Last year, we asked him his predictions about the Nintendo 3DS, which turned out to be largely true, minus a few small quibbles. Gamestradamus is different than the rest of us lowly gamers in that he is gifted with the ability to see into the great beyond, the ever-future, the swirling blender of time – and he can tell us bits of what he knows.

As the E3 fervor is getting ready to build into complete mania over the next few weeks, we thought we’d pay Gamestradamus a visit to glean his secrets before the rumors broke. What we found was shocking, titillating (tee hee) and worth reporting about here at GamerSushi. Beware, gents. Spoilers. Continue reading Gamestradamus Predicts: E3 2011

GamerSushi Asks: Would You Play an MMO Shooter?


Ever since the wild success of WoW, MMOs have been the apple of every major publisher’s eye. They all want one, they’re all desperate to have one, but it turns out that making lightning strike twice is a bit trickier than anyone could have imagined. Note the sarcasm, there.

However, Paul Wedgewood, CEO of Splash Damage (currently working on the awesome-looking FPS Brink), feels that there is a large portion of the market untapped when it comes to MMOs. Specifically, he’s wondering why there aren’t any major MMO FPS games.

“You know, for a long time it hasn’t been technically feasible because you need super low latency connections for good shooter combat and that’s generally incompatible with 1000 people being on a server at the same time… But there are enough solutions around now so that it’s reasonably feasible. I know that there are some teams on the periphery working on ideas for this.”

So what do you guys think? I know we’ve got some WoW players here and more than our fair share of FPS gamers. Would you guys play an FPS MMO? Are we at the point where you think a good one is plausible? What do you think would make you take a peek? And is anyone excited about Brink? Go!

Source – CVG

Eclipsing the World (of Warcraft)

BlizzardIt’s hard to believe that anyone could try and out-do the mammoth MMO that is World of Warcraft, even Blizzard itself. But already Blizzard COO Paul Sams has been quoted, saying they are going to do just that with their new MMO codenamed “Titan”.

“I believe it’s the most ambitious thing we’ve ever attempted, and I feel like we have set our company up to succeed on that. We have some of our most talented and most experienced developers on that team. Many of the people that built World of Warcraft are full time on that other team.”

While this doesn’t spell the death of World of Warcraft it does lead to some questions as the highly experienced and talented staff that created the most successful MMO gears forwards on its new project. Sam’s also said that World of Warcraft still has an experienced staff watching over the game, just key members were moving on to the new project. The quote that really interests me is this next one… Continue reading Eclipsing the World (of Warcraft)

Rumor: Bungie’s Next Game is “Destiny”, a Sci-Fi MMO

Bungie Destiny

The rumor mill gets cranking once again about Bungie’s next game, which is certainly shaping up as very “MMO-like”. After Bungie writer Joseph Staten made a few cryptic comments about the nature of Bungie’s upcoming title at GDC Online, Kotaku comes along with an anonymous source who alleges that the Halo-creating studio is cooking up a sci-fi MMO for Activision codenamed “Destiny” or “Tiger”.

The unnamed ex-employee, who claims to have been laid off from Bungie at the behest of Activision along with 30 other workers (an allegation which Bungie quickly debunked), said that “Destiny” will be “WoW in space”, and will have “unique online connectivity and matchmaking technology”. This game is apparently a whole different type of enchilada as it runs on a new engine and doesn’t appear to be linked to previous Bungie intellectual properties in any way.

Seeing how all the rumors are stacking up, and given that Bungie protested just the layoff claim and not the MMO, it seems to me that the signs are pointing very specifically in one direction. What do you guys think about this whole to-do? Is Bungie actually working on a sci-fi MMO, or is this just some random troll out blowing smoke? What do you think Bungie’s next game is? Go!

Source – Kotaku, Bungie.net

What The Old Republic Needs to Do to Survive

As GamerSushi’s resident MMO player (that is to say, the person with the most experience), I believe it is my duty to try out BioWare’s upcoming Star Wars flavored offering, The Old Republic. While I don’t currently play any MMOs, I’ve made my history with that genre well known on this site, starting with Sony’s Star Wars Galaxies, then moving to World of Warcraft and trying City of Heroes and Champions Online in between.

Since I have such a breadth of knowledge about MMOs and what makes them tick, that means I’m well positioned to know that there are certain check-boxes that The Old Republic needs to cross off to be considered a “success” in this most competitive of arenas. While it isn’t going to unseat World of Warcraft, there are some very important features it needs to launch with in order to ensure that it lives past its first year. What are those things, you might be asking? Read on, and you’ll find out just what The Old Republic needs to do to stay afloat.
Continue reading What The Old Republic Needs to Do to Survive

GamerSushi Asks: Biggest Let Downs of 2010?

Final Fantasy 14

As the end of the year draws nigh, it’s only natural that every site in the world is going to come up with a series of “Best Of” lists regarding the nearly late but still great 2010. We try to vary things up around here when we can, but since there’s no news, you’ll probably be getting a few of these lists as we find them, because hey, we like to post. Sort of.

Anyway, Gamasutra has been doing a series of lists about 2010 in review, including this new one I enjoyed where they covered the year’s Top 5 Disappointments. The list covers everything from the giant cluster that was the Final Fantasy XIV launch through the removal of the Taliban in Medal of Honor. I suppose it could also be called the biggest fails of 2010, but hey, it’s their list. I think if I’m going over my list of disappointments, it would include Little Big Planet 2 getting moved to next year, and Microsoft’s focus on Kinect at E3.

So what about you guys? What were your top disappointments of 2010?

Source – Gamasutra

Today’s WTF: A Whole Decade of The Old Republic

The Old Republic

I think a few years back, if you told me I was going to get 10 solid years of the Knights of the Old Republic universe I would have either called you a liar or maybe pushed you into a pile of broken glass for the way you were taunting my gaming psyche. However, now that I know that the next entry into Bioware’s beloved Star Wars RPG franchise is actually going to be an MMO, that makes a little more sense. Sort of.

According to EA CFO Eric Brown, the gaming giant isn’t just hoping for something to come along and help them take a shot at WoW, but they also want a game that can be sustained for the better part of ten years. I’ll let him explain:

“We think we can run and operate a very successful and profitable MMO at different levels… The key thing here is to really perfect the product. We’re shooting for an extremely high quality game experience. We view this as a 10 year opportunity.”

Yikes. That’s a long time to stick on the same MMO. Obviously, the big dog on the block here is WoW, and if you’re wondering they are in the middle of their 7th year. I’d say it’s pretty ambitious to shoot for a new MMO in this market in general, but to hope that it has the same staying power as the PS2 seems more than a bit optimistic. Considering that the game is coming out in 2011, that means they could still be milking this thing in 2021. By then, “old” will be the most appropriate title imaginable. But hey, I’ve been wrong before.

What do you guys think? Am I being a Debbie Downer here?

Source – Eurogamer

Cataclysm is Not World of Warcraft’s First Disaster

Lord Kazzak

As you might be aware, things are changing in the world where war is the primary craft. With the release of Cataclysm, millions upon millions of WoW addicts will be fully engaged in their favorite/most hated past time and likely some who fell off the wagon will poke their goblin heads in again to see what all the fuss is about.

Not being an MMO player, I sometimes feel like I am missing out on something that I might enjoy. But then, I read an article like Wired’s list of the 7 Most Catastrophic World of Warcraft Moments and I’m sort of glad (and bemused) that I have not yet taken the plunge. As you would expect, in such a busy and interconnected landscape, things can sometimes go awry. My favorite entry on the list has to be the boss that escape it’s lair and had to be erased by Blizzard after wreaking havoc on a city. You literally can’t make stuff like that up.

Are there any other such glitches or unexpected disasters to befall other MMOs or even other games? Was anyone present for any of the entries on the list? Speak now!

GamerSushi Asks: Who’s Playing Cataclysm?

world of warcraft cataclysm

Last night, the evil dragon aspect Deathwing burst from the core of Azeroth, forever changing the face of the world that millions of people have been adventuring across for the past six years. After journeying to Outland and then to the frozen wasteland of Northrend, adventurers are called back to the main continents of the World of Warcraft to see how the Cataclysm has changed the planet.

As we all know, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm brings some big changes to “vanilla WoW”, as the base game is also known. The landscape, which had remained mostly static for the game’s lifetime, has been radically altered by an apocalyptic event. While the expansion does add a bunch of things under the hood, increases the level cap to 85 and re-tools a bunch of quests, this virtual face-lift is the most noticeable aspect of the the changes WoW has undergone.

While I’ve manage to avoid being sucked back into the hype, I know there’s a couple users here (like SK Beans and my friend The Nage) who are busy flying around Azeroth grinding out levels until they reach 85. Amazingly, someone has already reached the level cap for Cataclysm, so no pressure. If you’re playing Cataclysm, what are your impressions? Does it breath new life back into the World of Warcraft? What do you want to see from future expansions?

Crytek: Consoles Hold Back PC Gaming

Crytek Crysis

Fire in the hole!

For a company that hasn’t exactly made the best-shooter-ever-in-history, it seems that Crytek sure has a lot to say about the game industry these days. Earlier this year, they were waxing philosophical about Uncharted 2 and a few others. Now, the CEO, Cervat Yerli, is taking a few shots at consoles in general, essentially saying that the console market is keeping PC gaming from being all that it can be.

Here’s Yerli’s stance on the matter:

As long as the current console generation exists and as long as we keep pushing the PC as well, the more difficult it will be to really get the benefit of both… PC is easily a generation ahead right now. With 360 and PS3, we believe the quality of the games beyond Crysis 2 and other CryEngine developments will be pretty much limited to what their creative expressions is, what the content is. You won’t be able to squeeze more juice from these rocks…

Until the PC market creates comparable revenues, companies are not going to spend enough on the PC SKU of a game.

Honestly, it seems strange to me to blame consoles for being wildly successful compared to PC endeavors. To me, that puts the onus back on PC developers to up the game in a major way. So what do you guys think? Agree/disagree? Is the console generation holding back PC gaming? And if it is, does it even matter until the PC market can show competitive sales?

Source – PCGamer

Is a Grief-Free Online Environment Really Possible?

Counter StrikeGrowing up surrounded by my brother and a mess of loud and sometimes obnoxious friends, I was no stranger when it came to gaming and trash talking. Whether we were swapping one-shot kills in Goldeneye, making fun of each others’ created characters in Wrestlemania 2000 or swapping insults during bouts of Bushido Blade, the smack we talked ran freely like milk and honey in the Promised Land. In my mind, this was just the way gaming was: friendly, fun and all in good sport. We dished out only what we could take, and only occasionally did the bad blood spill over into the real world, and usually it was the other way around.

My first extended stint into online gaming came with my late discovery of Counter-Strike my freshman year of college. What started as something just for pure fun soon grew into a relatively serious hobby. It was only when I dived in more deeply that I saw the gritty underbelly of the online world: griefing, racism, verbal threats and rage. Continue reading Is a Grief-Free Online Environment Really Possible?

The Generation’s Biggest Flops and Fails

Red Ring of Death

Every generation has its own ups and downs. Each console and PC era is like a little roller coaster ride full of great games and disappointing ones. Ideally, with each new generation we’d see the peaks get higher and higher, but it only makes sense, then, that the drops would be lower and perhaps more full of fail.

That’s why GamesRadar has put together a list of the Top 13 Failures of this Generation, and it is a sad but mostly true account of the more head-turning moments of the last few years. Obviously, it’s got to have the dreaded Red Ring of Death on it, as well as APB, the failed MMO. Of course, the list was also going to need to touch on the Wii’s horrid online play, and the lack of all the promised console MMOs, each one biting the dust in turn. I wouldn’t have included Alpha Protocol on the list, but then again, I didn’t realize it had been in development for 5 years.

What really surprised me actually is just how many of the fails on here come from the XBox 360 (faceplates, the hard drives with only half the space, Too Human, etc.), but really it shouldn’t have caught me off guard. Microsoft had a ridiculously rough start, and one only wonders if they’re repeating themselves with Kinect. One other addition I would make would be DRM attempts for PC games.

So what do you guys think? What would you consider to be the biggest failures of the last few years, on both console and PC? Do you agree/disagree with anything on the list in particular?

Source – GamesRadar

Today’s WTF: Virtual MMO Real Estate SOLD for $335,000

Club Neverdie Entropia

Some people may have too much time on their hands. Some may have too much money. Some guys, like Jon Jacobs, have a little bit of both; or at least now he does. Jon Jacobs sold his in-game property for a whopping $335,000 dollars. The property was in the Swedish-made MMORPG Entropia Universe3, a game which looks like a clash of Second Life and Star Wars Galaxies where avatars can go around and do pretty much anything.

The property is one which Jacobs had been managing for over 5 years. Jacobs bought Club Neverdie in 2005, taking out a $100,000 mortgage on his home. The club sits on an asteroid around Entropia’s first planet, Planet Calypso. Club Neverdie hosts in-game shopping, clubbing with live DJs, hunting, real cash prizes and more. The thing about Entropia Universe is that it runs off a real cash economy, where players can buy in-game currency (PED – Project Entropia Dollars) with real money and then redeem it back into real world funds at a fixed exchange rate. Jacobs’ business brought him an annual income of around $200,000 a year, allowing him to live comfortably with his family. Pretty sweet set up – he even has his own theme song.

The sale of the property netted him just over half a million in cash, with the largest chunk being sold to an avatar named John Foma Kalun, who paid $335,000 for it. This tops the previous largest virtual transaction, which was the sale of the Crystal Palace Space Station for $330,000 back in 2009.

So who’s the guy who deals out $335,000 big ones for fake real estate? A man named Yan Panasjuk, who had this to say for himself… Continue reading Today’s WTF: Virtual MMO Real Estate SOLD for $335,000