Yep, Zynga still evil: With an IPO on the horizon, it has emerged that the management of Zynga attempted to strong-arm employees they felt were “undeserving” out of stock options. Part of the supposed motivation for this was the opportunity to offer those same options to new hires. Zynga’s dark lord Mark Pincus has reportedly denied the allegations, as he must, because as this episode makes clear, the moral sickness that underlies Zynga’s design philosophy is an expression of its leader’s ethics. Because the underlying principles are so disturbing, I can’t really envision wanting to work for Zynga in the first place. If this represents their loyalty to their employees, the prospect becomes even less attractive, particularly if stock options are part of the offer.
The decline of the handheld: A firm called Flurry released a report analyzing sales from mobile games and (some) handheld devices, concluding that mobile gaming revenue had exceeded that of the handhelds. The report isn’t perfect, but it underscores a trend that can hardly surprise anyone. Smartphones and tablets have become ubiquitous, the games they offer are inexpensive, easy impulse buys, and handhelds don’t bring enough unique value to the table. Granted, most of the games in that market are ones I would consider to be garbage. But, with low barriers and the sort of broad market that offers lots of space for niche games, mobile development for Android and iThings could start moving in very interesting directions soon. Personally I’m more interested in joining that market than buying a 3DS or Vita.
UbiSoft giving up on always-on? Alongside the news that the PC version of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations would be delayed, UbiSoft announced that the game would not feature their much-reviled “always-on” DRM. Hopefully this represents a move away from this odious authentication method, rather than a one-off experiment. I seem to recall that Heroes VI, although well-received overall, was dinged in many places because of the online requirement. Perhaps that influenced Ubi’s decision. Or, perhaps, they are trying to garner some goodwill as they attempt to transform Assassin’s Creed into an annualized franchise. I’m not sure the game can sustain that. The unique and fresh multiplayer saved Brotherhood, in my opinion, and without that hook I honestly can’t say I’d have liked it much. We’ll see how Revelations turns out.
I Read These Posts and So Should You:
Tom Auxier wishes fantasy wouldn’t be so damn grimdark all the time.
Mark Filipowich thinks videogame violence ends up being much more like The Transporter than Drive.
Jeremy Parish brings us a retrospective on Super Mario Bros. 2, the Mario game that started life as a platformer from another license. Despite these origins, Parish discusses how its mechanics and characters eventually melded into the larger Mario canon.
Kirk Battle argues that dissonance produces meaning in games.
Eric Schwarz examines the stellar design in the opening sequence of Morrowind.
Uncharted 3 – Well, I finished it, and I have to say it’s a much better game on the “Very Easy” difficulty, mostly because the gunfights are over faster.
Burnout Crash! – Have I mentioned that I like Burnout Crash! I like it a lot.