News: False Black Isle Studios Holds Out Cap For Alms

Fake Black Isle Studios Logo
If wishes were horses…

Fake Black Isle Studios Rattles Collection Tin

When 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 + People's Champ
Well, they sure are something.

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.

War Z + Walking Dead Plagiarism
If only they could have plagiarised some of the fun.

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.


  1. I was interested in the new SimCity game. Now my interest is gone completely. Thanks, EA. Thanks for fucking up again.

  2. The SimCity DLC story and the War Z pretty much shafting their customers are exactly why a giant change needs to happen. The fact that Valve pulled the game and offered refunds shows that they, as they always have, care about their customers. Hammerpoint, on the other hand, showed the exact opposite especially with 4 hour respawn time(it was an hour on release date, but they patched it to four) unless you want to pay up, along with the banning of people that happen to share their opinion on the game. What I really wish would happen is for Valve to come out and say that they would no longer even carry War Z.

  3. “We accidentally made the respawn of one hour FAR TOO SHORT. So now it is four. Happy patch day! We call this version 1.1.FUCKTHEUSERS.”

    But Big Rigs!

    EA has categorically ruined Maxis. When they got their greedy mitts on them back in the day, I was very worried. Over the years, those worries have proved true. Every SimCity since EA acquired them has been worse than those which were made by Maxis proper. In fact, SimCity 2000 still reigns as the finest SimCity game ever made.

    As for Fake Black Isle, every person who gives them money should have their head staved in with a cudgel. I’ve never seen such a craven attempt to generate revenue for nothing–not even here at, despite my very best efforts to come up with craven efforts to generate revenue for nothing. I’d be in awe if I weren’t so disgusted.

  4. @Lusi: I feel pretty much the same way about Electronic Bioturds. The change came on pretty damn suddenly…

    EA cannot have something nice without ruining it. They just can’t help themselves.

  5. I just came across this, and words don’t even…

    “– Update #2 — Why you shouldn’t donate.

    Something you should think about before donating or telling your friends to donate. You might be the cause of a small number of people sitting in their cramped, dark f****** shelter depressed because they’re not sitting in their cramped, dark f****** for real because the world didn’t really end.

    Got that? Some people won’t be happy you’re helping.

    So, if you have no compassion for those apocaleptics who want it all to come down around our ears (but not theirs), then you probably shouldn’t put in a contribution. But if those people, sitting in their ivory dungeons, annoy the hell out of you with their barrels of water, stacks of freeze dried, and smug attitudes, then maybe you should just empty the bank account on this project. Just to spite them.

    Create some apoplectic apocaleptics. (Yeah, try saying it out loud.)

  6. What the hell is that update supposed to mean?

    The differences between Valve and every single other video game company today are astounding. Especially for the corporations that grab up smaller companies, dismember all value from them, then feed like a tick off of the the hopes and dreams of their fans; or the companies that don’t actually exist but want your money for nothing anyway. Seriously, you’re not even selling anything, yet you want our money? When was this ever a business model?! It’s called being a THIEF… but I PREFER treasure hunter!

    @Caspius: I’ve never seen you attempt to generate revenue for nothing. You provide a few people with excellent news and entertainment all the time; that is most definitely something of worth. It just simply comes with a threat of unpleasant sexual experiences to those who have not yet mentally connected value received with value deserved. Nothing improper about that.

  7. @Matt: If you follow the link from the update and then view the embedded video it will assist the update in making a little more sense – though the message won’t be any more palatable.

  8. The more I read about the Black Isles “revival”, the more upset I am that people are stupid enough to give this project money.

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