Tag Archives: EuroGamer

Quote of the Day – The Power Blocs Will Never Die

Break the power blocs down and they’ll only build themselves up again, he shrugs. It’s human nature.

The Mittani to EuroGamer, Inside EVE Online’s Game of Thrones

EuroGamer gets a good deal of deserved mocking from time to time due to their sacrificing quality/depth of reporting in order to keep up with the pace of news on the web and the need to be able to be first (example one and two), but they have a post up today about the EVE Online meta game titles Inside EVE Online’s Game of Thrones that makes up for some of their shortcomings.

Reinforcements bridge in

Blocs Battling at 6VDT-H back in 2013

The article runs through some of the realities of the big null sec power blocs and is a decent read if the topic interests you (certainly more so than that article in The Atlantic that ran along as though the CSM was central to the meta game), though you have to remember that the focus is just on one aspect of EVE Online.  Null sec is just a slice of the pie.  And yes, there is some smugness to be had for CFC pilots as the article displays a tone of exasperation when it comes to our traditional foes like Black Legion and NCDot.

There are a couple of takeaways from the article that are important to remember.  One is the social bonding aspect and how a lot of people run ops more for the people they play with than because EVE Online is full of fun and exciting game mechanics. (It is objectively a pretty poor game in the regard on many fronts.)  That one comes out pretty clearly in the article.

The other one is stated less directly, but it is one I have brought up before. And that is, in any game where being organized and working together brings advantage, groups that can do so in the long term will tend to dominate in the long term.  Such group will tend to adapt to change better and will continue to succeed, which leads to the quote at the top.  Making the game more difficult for the organized groups will tend to harm the less organized groups even more so.  History has born this out.

And if you’re dying for more on the topic, there is Sion’s presentation from Fanfest about diplomacy, coalitions, and the meta game, now up on YouTube.

Warlords of Draenor to be a $60 Expansion? And Something About Insta-90s

A controversial bit of information slipped out last week when Blizzard accidentally let the “boost to level 90” option show up in the in-game store at one point during patch day.  The error was quickly fixed, but the word was out.  WoW Insider had a screen shot indicating that Blizzard was not only officially on-board with insta-levels as a paid character service, but that the price to get to level 90 appeared to be $60.

The alleged price of level 90

The alleged price of level 90

There were discussions on various sites as to whether that price was right or not and whether it was too much or not enough.  Lots of theories were put up that seemed most based on who the assumed audience was for such a service really was.

My gut feeling on the price previously was that it had to be more than any current individual character service… so greater than $25… but less than the cost of the Warlords of Draenor expansion.  After all, if you made it more than the price of the expansion, which comes with an insta-90 character boost, why wouldn’t I just buy multiple copies of the expansion to boost multiple characters if the expansion costs less?  Since I assumed that the expansion would be the usual $40, I pegged the level boost at $35.

Over in the comment thread at Herding Cats I added in two additional thoughts:

Conspiracy theory: It will be $60 for exactly that reason, to push more WoD boxes to set an expansion sales record.

Fear: This is actually a signal that the expansion will be $60.

Today however, Blizzard has been over talking to EuroGamer about the price point, defending $60 for the insta-level 90 in terms of maintaining the value of leveling up yourself, and one of the first items put out there in the article is that the expansion itself will be $60. [Addendum: As noted in the comments below, EuroGamer has since deleted that from the article without any notice of a correction.  Because EuroGamer.]

And my initial response was, “Really? We’re going $60… the defacto price of a new AAA game… for an expansion now?”

See you guys in the fall?

Orc Chieftains don’t work cheap

The sad part is that I will pay the price anyway.  Heck, I was already toying with the idea of the collector’s edition and I never buy the collector’s edition.  But with past CE’s being double the price of the standard ($40/$80) I have to wonder if Blizzard is now going to go all the way to $120 for the CE, or just cap it at $99.99 to stay within the realm of sanity. (Said the guy who bought the EVE Online Second Decade Collector’s Edition.)

$60 for an expansion.

On the one hand, you can always argue that I will get at least as much entertainment value out of the expansion as I will from any new AAA game you care mention.  On the other hand, I am also paying that subscription fee every month to play, so it isn’t like I am not supporting Blizzard enough as it is.

You charge what you think the market will bear.  Of course, into the mix is the fact that expansions aren’t holding their price point nearly as long.  Burning Crusade was still $40 a year after it shipped.  Mists of Pandaria was on sale at half price a few months after it launched.  As I have been trained by Steam sales on this sort of thing, I now have to ask myself if I need the expansion on day one, or if I can wait… as I did with MoP… until the price comes down.

I don’t actually need a level 90.  I will easily have three by the time the expansion hits.  Maybe they will throw something else in with the pre-order to sweeten the deal a bit.  Or maybe I can just think of it as buying the expansion and getting two-thirds off of my first insta-90. ($40 + $20)

What do you think?  $60 for an expansion?  Even with a level 90 boost?

As for selling the insta-level 90 for $60, I am somewhat indifferent.  It isn’t a service I expect to use… I cannot even decide what to do with the one I will get with WoD… and I find any argument about it being too expensive to be more foot stomping than anything else.  How much should a level 90 character cost?  It is a luxury item after all.  And anybody returning to the game who wants a level 90 will likely buy WoD to get one along with the new content.

And what happens when the price of the expansion comes down, as it inevitably will?  Eventually Warlords of Draenor will be $40 or $20 on sale and then will end up as part of the World of Warcraft Battle Chest.  What happens to insta-90s then?  Will Blizz remove the option from the expansion at some point?

I suppose we shall see how this plays out.

Addendum: I like where Ars Technica says “Only 67 cents a level” in their Economic Reality post.

Credulity Test – EuroGamer Edition

With DC Universe Online launching, EuroGamer seems to be trying to suck up to Sony in general and SOE in particular in the grand tradition of online gaming journalism.

I already quoted the gem from the first interview.

The second interview… well, calling it an interview stretches the term… it is more “Quotations from Chairman Smed”…  contains a look at what else might be coming out from SOE in the near future.  And while it galls me a bit that EG wants to play along so badly that they count FreeRealms on PS3 as a new title (wasn’t that supposed to ship concurrent with the Windows release originally?), for me the jaw dropper was this quote:

“And we haven’t announced a release date for it but you can expect it… We’re looking at late first-quarter, early second-quarter [2011].”

My first thought was “typo.”

Surely they meant 2012 at the earliest.

But, no, the title of the whole interview is “Expect PlanetSide Next Q1/Q2,” which I initially read as a date of “Next Q1/Q2” but which I realized really meant 2011… this year… since the title of the project is “PlanetSide Next.”

So somebody at EuroGamer thinks we’ll be playing PlanetSide Next by, say, the end of May.

Really?  They just took that statement and asked no questions?  Journalism at its finest.

This, for me, flies in the face of the marketing ramp time requirements to launch a new title. Not that I would be shouted down if I suggested that SOE isn’t the sharpest spoon in the drawer when it came to marketing.  But still, the SOE of the last five years has been more about announce and delay, hype and silence (think The Agency), and not about hitting very aggressive dates.

When do you think we’ll see PlanetSide Next?

EuroGamer: Darkfall Agent Provocateur?

By now you have certainly read about EuroGamer’s review of Darkfall which was riddled with hyperbole, inconsistencies, and factual errors.  You may have also seen Aventurine’s response and how solidly EuroGamer stood up to it, pointing out that the reviewer wasn’t actually a staff writer and offering to have somebody they, you know, actually trust re-review the game.

It seems a pretty cut and dried journalistic screw up.  A lone reviewer (how many hours did he play?) cuts corners and gets called out, end of story.

But to those of us who have experience in the shadow world of deception and conspiracies and who don’t take these things at face value, there is much more here than meets the eye.  This was quite clearly a false flag operation.

And what would Aventurine have to gain by such an operation?  Clearly, there are two obvious wins.

1. Further solidification of the of the Darkfall community

2. Inoculation against further negative reviews

For the first point, the Darkfall community has spent most of its time under siege.  Years of delays and being declared “vaporware” has driven the weaker members from the Darkfall flock and forged a small and dedicated fan base.  They have been the foot troops in the public relations war that Aventurine has waged… if somewhat haphazardly… for the last few years.  It is surprisingly easy to be fanatical in the name of a game that is not live yet.

But now Darkfall is real.  The game is live.  People are playing.  Aventurine has tried to keep the player base pure by creating a false shortage.  You cannot just pick up Darkfall off the shelf at Fry’s.  No, you must run the web gauntlet in order to obtain one of the rare spots in the game.

But this has not been enough.  There has been some unrest in the ranks.  The less hard core have managed to get into the game and have begun to express their dissatisfaction.  Aventurine has seen what happens when your hard core fans lose their edge.  They not doubt witnessed how so many of the “Warhammer Faithful” turned on the game after launch.

What they needed was an external crisis, an attack on the game, something they could use to rally the troops.

So the masters at Aventurine contrived to have a major European (because they view that as their base) gaming site, EuroGamer, to give them not just a low score, but a low score based on a review written as though it were meant specifically to incite the Darkfall player community.

Did Aventurine attempt to refute anything said in the EuroGamer review?

No, they just trotted out some server logs (which they control) that indicated the reviewer spent approximately two hours playing the game, and that most of that time was spent in the character creator.  The errors did not matter.  The community would take care of that.  Aventurine just needed to sew the seeds of doubt.  EuroGamer responded that the reviewer says he spent about 9 hours playing the game, but then the review itself talks about how the game progresses after the 10 hour mark, creating a huge credibility gap.  Was it around 2, almost 9, or more than 10?

And so the Darkfall community has been up in arms, united (as Aventurine planned) in the face of this outrageous attack on their game.

The second point, while a bit more subtle, is no less important.  With this review, EuroGamer has effectively inoculated Darkfall against further such reviews.  The EuroGamer piece was so palpably bad that people who do not play Darkfall have called them out on it.  It was so over the line that it does not matter what sort of review Darkfall gets from anybody going forward.  Certainly a good review would help them, but anything negative will be now be dismissed as more bias, and half-hearted bias at that, since nobody will write anything down at the level of this obvious shot at Darkfall.

Anything negative will be shrugged off as “another EuroGamer” by the core Darkfall fanbase and any other review will probably look good compared to the EuroGamer review for the mildly disinterested people outside of the community.  Of course the Darkfall haters will pick up on any new negative review, but they will likely have supported the EuroGamer review themselves, and are thus discredited as biased.

So Aventurine’s operation appears to have been a success.  Only the details of the actual operation, secret by necessity, remain in doubt.

Was Ed Zitron Aventurine’s inside man or just a patsy?  Did he act alone?  Or was it somebody at EuroGamer pulling the strings?

Certainly EuroGamer and Aventurine both act like they want you to believe this “lone reviewer” theory.

But there is much to suggest EuroGamer complicity if not outright control of the whole process..  A conspiracy there could have easily pushed Mr. Zitron in the right direction, given him the editorial attitude of the organization, pressured him with aggressive deadlines, and even edited his review and screen shots to maximize the anger of the Darkfall community.  It seems unlikely that Mr. Zitron could have manipulated his editors in that direction.  And you can see the way that EuroGamer hung him out to dry.  He wasn’t a staff writer.  We’ll get somebody we trust to re-review the game.  We’ll make this right!

And of course EuroGamer benefits from all of this controversy, maybe even more so than Aventurine.  All those page views.  All those unique visitors.  The big boost to their page rank.  On a site that is obviously financed, at least in part, by ad revenue, these are all the right moves.  All they had to do was hire somebody from the outside who would do their dirty work for them, somebody expendable to the organization.

And so much the better if the person in question has a history of negative reviews.  Somebody you can trust to make a scene. Somebody whose Wikipedia page was deleted for being pretty much at attack on him and his character.

All we need is a smoking gun.  A way to link the conspirators together.

Yes, we have this picture of three EuroGamer editors being hauled in by the local police for littering during the “Athens Event.”

Taken into custody

They are dressed like game magazine editors...

And then there is Mr. Zitron’s work with the “Free Play for Moria” committee and its alleged connections to NC Soft which needs to be explored.

threevaga

Mr. Zitron seated on the left with fellow committee members

And if you go look at the list of anagrams that can be made from the name “Aventurine” you will see “Van Uterine,” which turns out to be one of the online handles used by a highly placed member of the EuroGamer staff.  (Plus the fact that the word “urine” is right there in Aventurine’s name!  Hah!  Darkfall, however, only comes up with “Lard Flak.”  I am not yet sure if that is significant.)

Quite clearly there is more going on here than a simple bad review!

There are those who will say I am seeing things that are not there.  But this has to be a setup!  Can’t you see that the government is reading your mail nearly everybody in this cabal got exactly what they wanted.

Aventurine got community cohesion and protection from further negative reviews. (And who knows, maybe even a follow up good review from EuroGamer… anything higher than a 6 would be a reason to declare total victory.)

EuroGamer got some Euros from all that traffic and got to wash its hands of the review at the same time.

Even Mr. Zitron got a public platform from which to rant and a bit of internet fame… something he probably thought he wanted until it was too late.

We have to work on this!  We must find the evidence to crack this conspiracy!  I already have a message in to Dave Emory on this.  We need somebody with Dave’s body of work and experience helping us smoke out the real story!

This is what real bloggers are about!

(And if you believe I am serious about this, I know where you can get a good car on Craig’s List for cheap as well!)