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Satisfactory – Early Access Preview

Satisfactory – Early Access Preview

A couple of weeks after the Early Access launch of Satisfactory I was browsing my suggested video list clicking on some random gaming videos as we all do from time to time. I hate to say it but sometimes I’m a sucker for beatiful scenery regardless of the context of the game. The video I came across was one exploring some of the biomes of Satisfactory.

I was immidiately interested in the stark differences in the biomes and all the vivid colours. I’m not usually one for factory games but after some more investigation it was clear this seemed like much more than just a standard entry into the genre.

My original factory idea was far too small scale in the grand scheme of things.

Fast forward forty odd hours and I’ve really had a lot of fun with Satisfactory. Not only are the intracacies of factory efficiency an enjoyable addiction, but there is also an interesting and beautiful world to explore, strange aliens to fight, rare resources to hunt for and things to build that you never thought a factory game would need.

A good example of the fun I had would be once I unlocked the jump pads. I found myself working out the exact distance the pad would fire me so that I could chain them together and fire myself all over and around my factory. It’s testament to the game that players have the freedom to these kinds of things. I always viewed this genre as one that was quite rigid, this could be my inexperience talking however and Satisfactory is certainly doing it’s part to bring me around to factory games.

An early prototype of my preferred mode of transport (the jump pad).

In it’s current Early Access state, not all content is yet available for Satisfactory. The developers have decided on a monthly update schedule that adds new features and makes quality of play improvements, meaning there are almost always new things to tinker with and factory processes to update. There’s a handy roadmap over on the Satisfactory website that lays things out a little more.

I’m excited for the future developments of Satisfactory, not only for the crazy (and completely unnecessary) factory ideas I’ll come up with but also the world building, combat and exploration side of things. Satisfactory also has the potential to be regularly updated after release, either minecraft style by the developers or by modders, who I’m sure would have no problems creating some wacky idea for the game.

I’ve had fun with Satisfactory so far, who knew a factory game could be so much fun!

The PC Store Wars – What Next?

The PC Store Wars – What Next?

Earlier this week, I took at look at the current state of play with regards to The PC Store Wars. We’ve gone from a situation where, despite repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot, Valve have had little, to no, real competition in the online PC store space. Then, all of a sudden, Epic turned up with their own store. What happens now?

The Fortnite Effect

Epic made no bones about it when they launched their new store front. Their ability to launch it with such a developer friendly revenue split was thanks to the runaway success of Fortnite: Battle Royale. In 2018, the free-to-play title that was spun away from the premium (for now) Save the World variant, made upwards of $2.4 billion for Epic.

That’s right, analysts have calculated that one simple free-to-play game has made Epic more in one year than the GDP of several countries. Fortnite has had a drastic effect on the landscape of popular culture, let alone the game industry. It has been so successful, that Epic don’t even advertise it on their store. They just know people will have it, if they want it.

The phenomenal success means that Epic have a war chest, which means they can readily afford to take a hit on their revenue splits compared to the industry standard, thus enabling them to score exclusives like The Division 2 and Metro: Exodus.

What if the bubble pops? 

While the success of Fortnite so far can’t be denied, it isn’t the only free-to-play game making mega-bucks, let alone the only battle-royale title that is pulling in the money. DOTA2 is Valve’s own baby, while PUBG might be considered a has-been compared to Epic’s hit, but still pulls in over 800,000 users on an average weekday.

Looking at the Steam stats, there is one venerable oldie still standing tall. That, of course, is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Still going strong, this won’t trouble Fortnite in the revenue stakes, but shows that there is a healthy appetite among gamers for non-Fortnite games.

But might the bubble pop? EA and Respawn only released Apex Legends back on the 5th February, but has already knocked up over 25 million users. How many will stick around for the long haul, and turn into money makers for EA, we can only wait and see.

Those players though must be coming from somewhere. Yes, Fortnite has gang-buster player numbers, but something like Apex Legends would fit right in the wheelhouse of some of those users. It might not be a mass exodus, but if the Fortnite userbase crashes, or more importantly, those who are spending money on the game move on to something else, where will that leave Epic?

If there is a drastic drop in revenue from Fortnite, it won’t happen overnight. I fully expect Epic to have contingency plans already in hand, and will be playing the long-game, knowing they can build a loyal audience on their store moving forward.

Valve’s Resilience

 Valve might have made some self-inflicted wounds when it comes to Steam, but they’ve been at this game for a long time. They survived EA departing their store, and have stood firm in the face of Fortnite. Epic launching their own store is unlikely to scare Valve too much, indeed, it might force them to sit up and pay attention to events taking place beyond the end of their nose.

They will likely make more blunders, but with a strong user base (just look at the numbers playing DOTA2, CS:GO and PUBG), why should anyone expect a rival store to suddenly destroy the rolling monster.

Indie game developers might be unhappy with their revenue splits, but are they more likely to make strong sales figures on a platform not solely dominated by one hit? On a platform where they won’t run the potential risks of seeing their game given away, with an unknown reward at the end?

I can see Valve improving their revenue splits, and Ts and Cs for those selling on the platform, but I don’t envisage an immediate emptying of the store from regular big hitters like Sports Interactive, SCS Software or Paradox Interactive.

Indeed, Valve haven’t even turned their back on game development like many people cry out. No, we are unlikely to ever see Half-Life rise from the grave, but DOTA2 and CS:GO are still very much supported, while something like Artefact is sure to undergo changes to push it to rival the Hearthstone’s of the world. That isn’t to forget In the Valley of the Gods.

Closing Thoughts

Competition is ultimately good for business, and good for consumers. Maybe not in every instance, as the splits between Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney’s upcoming venture are sure to show. But rival stores like Steam, Epic, Origin and Uplay should only drive companies to offer better user experiences, with better deals for the developers who sell through them.

Steam won’t be going anywhere soon, and Epic have the might of Fortnite to keep them going. The nature of some games becoming exclusives to Epic is frustrating for some, but what harm is there in buying Metro from another store (or even somewhere like Game or Amazon), while The Division will route its online component through Uplay.

People aren’t losing out at the moment with this shakeup to the PC landscape, and I think in the long-run, we will see benefits to these changes.

Unreal Tournament 3 – Now with Steam Functionality!

Unreal Tournament 3 – Now with Steam Functionality!

ut3steamthumb

After yesterday’s farce (whether by accident or design) over the Gears of War .exe expiry, this comes as a very welcome change. You can now add your Unreal Tournament 3 keys to Steam, in preparation for a major update. I may take every opportunity I can to demonstrate just how shallow the Epic business model is, but I cannot deny that this was a good move, especially in the wake of yesterday’s controversy, so I guess apologies are in order towards Cliffy B and crew if they maintain smart moves like this.

We at The Reticule are unashamed Steamophiles. We love Steam to bits really, and it’s basically thanks to Steam communities that we met and created the site. But what I’d really like to know is, what do you guys think about Steam, and moves like this? Do you find Steam to be as intuitive and useful as we do? Or is it unecessary bloat distracting you from your games? Do you feel annoyed that Epic are perhaps forcing you to use it after you bought it in the knowledge that it wasn’t on Steam?

As a slight aside, incase people are confused, I, Greg Wild, am infact Stalins Ghost. Sorry for any confusion there guys! :)

Epic Fail! Gears of War Expires

Epic Fail! Gears of War Expires

Keep it up and you're going to need that gun Cliffy.

Phill: Own Gears of War? Not any more: The exe files for Gears of War have expired today. That means that without hacking the date and time of your computer, you cannot play Gears of War on your PC from today, until Epic release the (inevitable) patch. Similarly, the setup.exe goes dead on the 22nd of February. So, as Stalin says below, when you bought the PC version of Gears of War, you were essentially buying a demo, only it’s much, much worse than something like an issue with reinstalls and the like, just because it utterly destroys any futureproofing you thought your game had. Hell, I still play games from 10 years ago; surely something that’s only a year or two old should last a little longer?

While Cliffy ‘PC is full of pirates, Dude Huge, I invented chainsaws on guns, Clifford’ B has made faux pas in the past in relation to Epic’s relationship with the PC audience, this really is a big kick in the teeth. Even when it gets fixed, the intention will still be there that they didn’t think people would want to play their game pretty soon after it was released. That shows a disregard for both their product and their audience. Astonishing, really.

Forceful retirement is never pretty.

Greg: Epic just cannot get it right can they? Or do they even want to? They create a multi-million dollar franchise, and seem to be determined to keep it from the grubby mits of PC Gamers. Even when they actually give us the game, we’re only allowed to play it for a little while according to beleagured gamers on the Epic forums. We can play it – but only when Cliffy B gives us his good graces to do so. Maybe they even consider the PC version a demo – you can play it for so long. Then you have to buy a 360.

The long catalogue of PC Gamer baiting measures by Epic just don’t seem to end do they? We made Epic. Unreal. Unreal Tournament. Unreal Tournament 2003/4. We bought them by the bucketload, and now what? Tossed aside while Billy G flashes with nipple tassles with Dollar Bills attached to the ends.

I’m sure they’ll release a patch re-enabling it. But how many people in the time it takes for it to release are going to download hacked ones? And what’s the point? Those who already pirated it won’t have this issue? They’ve already got the game. It’s only those who bought it who are going to wake up to find their game not running. This is by far, the stupidist move in Epic’s increasingly long history of screwing the PC Gamer over, whether intentional or not.

Congratulations Cliffy. You’ve given us and a thousand other sites another reason to display that oh-so-flattering pic with the Gear Gun again. Bask in it mate. Bask in it.

Chris: I have tried this out myself, and through the following images you can see that what is happening over on the Epic Games forums can be reproduced. This was a totally new install of Gears of War, and issues such as this are totally unacceptable. Epic have made a big blunder here, if they don’t take action soon then this will escalate further and further.

Check out the message I got when i tried to load the game, and the message you get when looking at the certificate for WarGame-G4WLive:

Message when trying to launch game
Out of date certificate

(Click on the images to get a bigger picture.)

Update: Epic have stated on their forums that “We have been notified of the issue and are working with Microsoft to get it resolved. Sorry for any problems related to this.” Guess it’s all being sorted then.