Posts Tagged Blizzard
In Episode 51 hosts Andrew Eisen and E. Zachary Knight talk about the possible name of the next Xbox console from Microsoft, two studies about violent video games, Iron Man 3, the Diablo III gold duping exploit introduced in the last update to the game, and some other equally delightful topics related to video games. Download Episode 51 now: SuperPAC Episode 51 (1 hour, 15 minutes) 68.7 MB.
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Credits: The Super Podcast Action Committee is hosted by E. Zachary Knight and Andrew Eisen, and produced by James Fudge. Music in the show includes “Albino” by Brian Boyko and “Barroom Ballet” by Kevin MacLeod. Both are in the public domain and free to use. ECA bumper created by Andrew Eisen.
Originally Posted at Techdirt.
A couple of years ago, we highlighted a story that asked the question, “What if Microsoft Had To Approve Every App On Windows?” At the time, this was a purely hypothetical experiment to highlight some of the weaknesses inherent in a closed platform such as the iPhone. Little did we know at the time, such a scenario might be coming to pass. Microsoft has been talking up its latest operating system, Windows 8, for a while now trying to drum up excitement for its bold new look and direction. Yet, some game developers are taking a step back and looking at the broader direction Windows seems to be going here.
Gabe Newell is one of those developers. In an interview at the Casual Connect conference, he questioned the move to a more closed ecosystem for Windows 8.
In order for innovation to happen, a bunch of things that aren’t happening on closed platforms need to occur. Valve wouldn’t exist today without the PC, or Epic, or Zynga, or Google. They all wouldn’t have existed without the openness of the platform. There’s a strong tempation to close the platform, because they look at what they can accomplish when they limit the competitors’ access to the platform, and they say ‘That’s really exciting.’
We are looking at the platform and saying, ‘We’ve been a free rider, and we’ve been able to benefit from everything that went into PCs and the Internet, and we have to continue to figure out how there will be open platforms.’
Here Gabe states that many game companies, not just Valve, would not be in existence were it not for the openness of Windows in the past. Now that this openness is threatened, his company is looking at alternative operating systems. This is one of the drivers behind Valve’s recent push toward Linux compatibility.
The big problem that is holding back Linux is games. People don’t realize how critical games are in driving consumer purchasing behavior.
We want to make it as easy as possible for the 2,500 games on Steam to run on Linux as well. It’s a hedging strategy. I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space. I think we’ll lose some of the top-tier PC/OEMs, who will exit the market. I think margins will be destroyed for a bunch of people. If that’s true, then it will be good to have alternatives to hedge against that eventuality.
If you think about it, he is right. Take a look at the original marketplace for iPhone applications. When the iPhone App Store was released, it was a closed platform. If you weren’t approved by Apple you couldn’t release your app or game on it. Even with the presense of web apps and alternative app distribution through jailbreaking, the system remains essentially closed for the majority of iPhone users who are not aware of or don’t want to go through the trouble of using these alternative distribution channels. Can you image what the overall impact would be for something as widely adopted as Windows? Going back to that hypothetical question posted above, would Microsoft have approved Steam for release knowing it would compete directly with its own Games For Windows Live service?
Since Gabe raised this point, a couple of other developers have echoed his sentiment. In a tweet responding to Gabe’s “catastrophe” comment, Blizzard’s Rob Pardo stated, “not awesome for Blizzard either.” Rob later clarified the statement by tweeting, “Yeah… more trying to say that if everything comes to pass that Gabe said it wouldn’t be very good for us either.”
Next during a Reddit AMA, Notch responded to a question about the future of indie game development with the following:
I hope we can keep a lot of open and free platforms around. If Microsoft decides to lock down Windows 8, it would be very very bad for Indie games and competition in general.
If we can keep open platforms around, there’s going to be a lot of very interesting games in ten years, mixed in with the huge AAA games that we all love.
So not only is having a viable open platform ideal for large game companies such as Valve, but also the budding developers such as what Notch once was. If Windows were to close off in the same way that Apple has closed off the iPhone, many developers of not just games but other software may not be able to survive on the platform. Just as Valve is looking at moving to other platforms, those developers will follow suit. As more developers of games and software shift from Windows to other platforms, their users will potentially shift was well.
It will certainly be interesting to see where Microsoft takes Windows 8 in this regard. Is it willing to take a path so diametrically opposed to its own history and the growing desire of the public for more open platforms? As independent artists and developers continue producing and distributing their work outside gated pathways, can such a change be a viable business option?
Originally Published on Techdirt.
Ever since Blizzard created the massive hit that is World of Warcraft, it has decided that requiring gamers to be constantly connected to the internet while playing is a good thing. Unfortunately, things have not gone as smoothly as it had hoped. If you are familiar with recent events surrounding the release of Blizzard’s latest game Diablo 3, you may recall the Error 37 issue in which users who tried to connect to Blizzard’s servers on launch day were unable to due to the lack of infrastructure. Since then, it has had fewer issues, but still some users have difficulty staying connected to the servers while playing and thus risk losing progress that has not been saved. This has some people and groups upset.
Via Cinema Blend, we learn that one German consumer group has given Blizzard an ultimatum to change the Diablo 3 packaging to reflect the need for such a connection. The original report from the German site PC Games states:
Potential purchasers must know before purchase what are the requirements for the software to be used. Whether a permanent Internet connection, obligatory registration to an Internet platform including the related access to a game, or downloading additional software: all these things are essential information that the user much receive before purchase.
The primary complaint is that the requirement to create and log in to Blizzard’s Battle.net service in order to play is not clearly disclosed prior to purchase. Because of this requirement to be tethered to a constant internet connection, some people are having a number of issues, even when trying to play single player modes of the game. This consumer group has given Blizzard until July 27th to respond to the complaint. If Blizzard fails to respond or respond adequately, the group is prepared to pursue legal options against the company.
Unfortunately for gamers, many game companies are moving toward the use of this kind of “always-on” DRM. To those companies, it is a necessary part of the war on piracy. However, these DRM schemes are more often a nuisance for paying customers who have to deal with unexpected and even planned server outages. What makes these types of DRM more infuriating to consumers is the fact that it not only applies to the multiplayer portions, where you can understand a potential need for an internet connection, but also to single player portions that are typically done locally. There is never a reason to require that a gamer be connected to a server at all times when playing by themselves.
Hopefully as more consumer groups and consumers in general voice their dissatisfaction with such DRM schemes, more game developers will listen. We have seen many developers already making the stand that DRM is not useful or wanted. Those developers have found that treating fans with respect is a far more effective means of maximizing profits than any DRM scheme could ever be.