To cut a long story short, after the monumental bashing that the X-Bone has received over the past month, Microsoft has just announced a complete reversal of pretty much every decision they’ve ever made regarding their new flagship console. Under immense pressure from press outlets, forums, their fans and opponents, they’ve revised their previously-announced DRM, preowned game usage and online check-in policies for Xbox One.
Maxis has always been one of my favourite developers. The Sims, Sim Ant, Sim Farm – All incredibly innovative games, (aside perhaps for their titles,) and each one of them holding a special place in my cruel, twisted heart. However, the announcement that the new Sim City would require an always-on internet connection resulted in me raising my arms and screaming ‘UBISOFT!’
Of course, I then remembered it was actually being published by EA, but my reaction still stands.
As if the current Bundle In A Box: Deep Space wasn’t bright and lasery enough, ten new games have been added to the mountain. These include the critically acclaimed Squid Yes Not So Octopus, more popularly known as SYNSO and its follow up SYNSO: Squid Harder. In fact Rob Fearon’s complete ‘Bag Full of Wrong’ bundle has been added, making a bundle within a bundle and an unmissable collection of games.
The bundle starts at only $0.99 for the initial five games including the exclusive arena shooter Death Ray Manta which we previewed at the end of August. Even more games are available if you beat the average price paid (currently at $4.62) and unlockable extras such as artwork and storyboards are available for everyone after so many sales.
So far Deep space has sold a total of 2425 bundles and ends on September 28th. All games are DRM free and directly support charity and the Indie Dev Grant.
In an expansive interview on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Ubisoft’s director for online games, Stephanie Perotti revealed that the much-maligned (justly so) always-on DRM used by the company is no more. She told RPS:
We have listened to feedback, and since June last year our policy for all of PC games is that we only require a one-time online activation when you first install the game, and from then you are free to play the game offline.
This is very good news for all of us who want to play Ubisoft’s PC titles. The rest of the interview is well worth a read with details on piracy rates, DRM and how the company treat PC releases of their big franchises. Read it now.
Ubisoft’s ‘Always-On’ DRM has been a contentious subject since its first introduction. But in a recent stroke of genius picked up by Eurogamer, Ubisoft have announced that next week a number of their titles which require an always-on internet connection will be completely unavailable to their paying customers.
Stardock Software, perhaps most famous to the PC Gamer for publishing Sins of a Solar Empire and developing/publishing Galactic Civilisations is expanding, opening up a new games development studio. This really couldn’t come at a better time. With numerous developers jumping ship to the console crew, it’s great to see a quintessentially PC development outfit on the up, especially during the gloom of recession, providing 50 developers with a new place to go – given the number who’ve lost their jobs lately, such as the thousand or so from EA, they shouldn’t have a problem finding anyone.
The team is set to work on an “as-yet-unannounced RPG title”, which could be a breath of fresh air given the current diversity and ambition Stardock have shown with their current development and publishing history. Given Stardock’s emphasis on putting the customer first, the continued success of their publishing and development houses should hopefully demonstrate to other companies that their business model is a viable and profitable one, and one I truly hope they adopt.
Their current line-up is also expanding, with the new Sins of a Solar Empire expansion, Entrenchment set for release on February 11th, and if you can’t wait, pre-ordering gives you access to the beta via Impulse, Stardock’s highly rated, DRM light distribution platform (think Steam minus some of the restrictions – more on this in a day or two.) They’re also releasing the excellent looking Demigod, which you can again pre-order for Beta access.
Stardock is easily rising to the ranks of the PC gaming elite. Their refreshing attitude to business has paid off, and their expansion is set to put them on a path to continued greatness. They’re fast becoming one of the most important development and publishing outfits in the industry, and I cannot wait to see what they come up with next.
Expect a review of Ironclad/Stardock’s Sins of a Solar Empire mini-expansion within the next week or so.
Cliff Harris, more commonly known as Cliffski or Cliff is the person behind one man indie game studio Positech famous for such games as Kudos 2 and Democracy 2 amongst many others. I recently got the chance to quizz Cliff on his games, life as an indie game developer. We also talked about that ever controversial issue of Piracy and DRM.
Hit the jump to read the interview.