Fake Black Isle Studios Rattles Collection Tin
When Caspius.com last reported on the ostensible re-establishment of Black Isle Studios by the cash-strapped husk of Interplay, it was revealed that the entire enterprise was a farcical re-animation of the name alone. Essentially, none of the studio’s former talent had elected to return, and the studio itself no longer owned any of their well known gaming properties.
This week the “studio” has opted to go one worse by launching an opportunistic cash-grab, the likes of which would not even fly on Kickstarter. “Black Isle” have begun soliciting donations on their site in a Kickstarter inspired fashion, not for the purpose of developing a game which they will subsequently supply to backers, but rather for the purpose of essentially establishing the studio which Interplay had previously insinuated was already a reality. As of writing, “Black Isle Studios” appears to consist of a blue screen and four employees, the most senior of which was the guy who animated some talking heads on Fallout 2 – just to add that air of Authenticity.
“Black Isle” plans on using donator funds in order put the studio together, and then develop a game prototype for use in a proper Kickstarter initiative at a later date. This is the sort of malarkey(c) that would see them laughed out of any publisher meeting the world over, yet apparently the opportunistic weasels at [partially] reconstituted “Black Isle Studios” feel that it is perfectly acceptable to parasitically persist on the dime of any well meaning idiot silly enough to be ignorant of the fact that this so called “studio” is almost a uniformly different entity to the one that created some of the most well-loved WRPGs of the late 90s [now known as Obsidian Entertainment]. In terms of donator largesse, ten dollars will earn backers read-only access to the fake Black Isle forums, while twenty dollars will buy them full access to the fake Black Isle forums – and nothing more.
EA Turns Cloud Saves into Another Form of DRM
Maxis, the EA-owned studio behind SimCity and The Sims, has this week sought some extremely soft free publicity by hitting up Reddit to Q&A their somewhat confusingly named forthcoming title, SimCity. The SimCity title in question is not a re-release of the 1989 original, but rather a reboot of the franchise, which is perhaps reason enough for Maxis to attempt to reach out to gamers in an attempt to dispel any misconceptions. Their attempts to do so however, were met with disastrous results when they admitted to utilising some of the most needlessly punitive DRM to ever grace an EA title, with Reddit commenters quickly turning on the corporate shills. This led to SimCity making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
EA/Maxis has elected to utilise the Ubisoft method of always-on DRM, whereby players must log-in to a company server to even access their legally purchased entertainment software, and should they lose access to this server for more than several minutes at a time [due to a loss of their internet connection], then they will be ejected from the game and their progress will evaporate into the digital ether of the internet. This however, is but the first layer of the onion, as it were. That is to say that it would seem that EA no longer even trusts their consumers to retain possession of their own game-saves – as the one and only custodian of user save-data is set to be EA.
Ubisoft are no doubt currently applauding EA for managing to turn the holy grail of cloud-saving into a noose by which to shackle and strangle their paying customers, while customers are left facing the prospect of having both their purchased game and save-data vanish down the tubes when EA eventually decides to switch-off the servers. And thus have they achieved the corporate dream of turning a sixty dollar game purchase into a mere transitory lease of digital content.
Valve Pulls Game Because Developers Were Being Insufferable Dicks
Valve has once again demonstrated their commitment to the Steam community this week when they pulled a game for the lies and shabby conduct of its developers. When Hammerpoint Interactive’s War Z [a shameless imitation of the popular free DayZ mod for Arma 2] launched on the seventeenth of December, it came with a lot of big promises, including: servers that support one hundred players, private servers, multiple maps ranging between one-hundred and four-hundred square kilometers in size, and a point-based leveling system. It will probably not surprise readers to learn that there were no private servers, no leveling system, servers were only able to accommodate fifty players, and the game consisted of but a single map, which was 9.7417 square kilometers in size.
Hammerpoint Interactive’s fraudulent promises, while utterly damning, were but the mere tip of the iceberg of War Z‘s god-tier wretchedness. The game itself requires a fifteen dollar purchase, and yet customers quickly found that further purchases were essentially required to eke even the most basic level of functionality from the game. If gamers wish to possess an inventory worth a damn then it requires an additional purchase, and if they do not purchase a gun then they are practically as naked and vulnerable as a babe in the woods, and easy pickings for predatory players. Most damning however, is the fact that the game requires that the player pay forty cents for every immediate respawn, else wait [a frankly unbelievable] four hours to have another crack at the game! Moreover, as one final indication of software quality, the game was quickly found to feature a title-screen which plagiarises images from the Walking Dead television series.
All of the the issues discussed thus far were more than enough to get gamers riled up about the rank opportunism displayed by the studio, yet the situation did not truly spiral out of control until Hammerpoint Interactive began trying to stifle criticism of the game. It would be bad enough if Hammerpoint Interactive had just censored discussion on their own boards, yet these irredeemable fraudsters started banning customers from the War Z forums on Steam for the mere audacity of pointing out the discrepancies between the features promised and the game itself in their reviews and forum threads, as should have been their right. At this point there was scant other recourse but for Valve to step in and pull War Z from Steam, which is precisely what happened. In a statement Valve confirmed that War Z has been pulled until such a time as the game is able to meet Valve’s standards, and that anyone dissatisfied with the Steam version of the game is entitled to a full refund.