PC Gamer


Over the course of three years Kickstarter has played a more important role in the games industry than anyone could have anticipated. It s helped fund the development of tech which could change the world,  revitalised the independent development scene and attracted the biggest crowdfunding campaign in history. But is the dream already coming to a grinding halt?

According to data gathered by games consultancy firm Ico Partners (via Eurogamer), the total amount pledged to video game Kickstarter campaigns in 2014 will be less than half compared to 2013. While $58m was pledged to video game campaigns in 2013, only $13.5m has been pledged in the first half of 2014. That means an estimated total of $27m in 2014 if the pattern continues in the second half of the year.

Meanwhile, 446 Kickstarter campaigns were successful in 2013, compared to 175 in the first half of 2014. If the pattern continues then about 350 campaigns should prove successful in 2014 - a comparatively small decline, but a decline nonetheless.

It s an interesting pattern, but what's causing it? According to Ico Partners analyst Thomas Bidaux it s a combination of fewer big ticket campaigns, scepticism due to failed projects and, interestingly, the rise of Steam Early Access.

Bidaux says developers are turning to Early Access because the outlet requires less work compared to Kickstarter campaigns, which are becoming increasingly high maintenance as the market is flooded. Early Access also offers an ongoing funding stream so long as a studio can deliver an alpha build, whereas Kickstarter funding campaigns are limited to set periods.

Another cause for the decline is the absence of big name campaigns in 2014. Bidaux cites Torment, Mighty Number 9, Elite, Camelot Unchained, Dreamfall and Richard Garriott s Shroud of the Avatar as big 2013 campaigns, pointing out that there are few comparable projects in 2014.

And finally, consumers are starting to cotton on that a Kickstarter campaign is not a guarantee the game will actually ship. Following high-profile failures such as Clang and Yogscast, a Kickstarter pledge is no longer seen as a pre-order in disguise, but instead a gamble. Kickstarter updated its terms and conditions last month to address failed projects. 

PC Gamer


There s no lack of fresh takes on the roguelike genre at the moment. Joining the likes of Spelunky, FTL and Rogue Legacy is Subaeria, a puzzle platformer developed by Montreal studio Ilogika. Due mid-2015, the Orwell-inspired puzzle-platformer requires players to toy with AI in order to escape each of its levels unharmed. According to Ilogika, you ll need to control, trap, destroy and even make enemies fight each other , which is a different way of saying that you can t murder anything with your bare hands.

Along the way you ll unlock new abilities and characters which carry over to future game sessions even if you die. Apart from these RPG elements, Subaeria is fairly typical of the roguelike genre: there are no saves, and each of the game s labyrinths are procedurally generated.

Exploring the world of Subaeria appears to be one of the game's strongest aspects. The studio lists a variety of inspiration including Orwell, Huxley, Melville and, weirdly, Google executive Eric Schmidt. Subaeria "lets you explore a unique science fictional setting through multiple characters who are both the perpetrators and the victims of their world s injustice.

"As you discover the world of Subaeria, you ll peel back the layers of a society that is democratic in principle, but secretly controlled by shadowy multinationals and mysterious algorithms powering the status quo. A social and political fable for our times, the world of Subaeria will feel fresh and original, yet disturbingly familiar."

Subaeria is scheduled to release mid-2015.

PC Gamer

Steam regional pricing map

Article by Bo Moore

PC gamers love Steam for its convenience and its mod communities and its vast catalog. But above all, we love it for one thing: prices. Sales. Digital games don't carry the manufacturing and distribution overhead that plague physical discs, bringing prices down in the first place, and Steam Sales slash those prices even further. But there's one area of Steam's purview that's puzzling at best and downright frustrating at worst: how widely, and seemingly unfairly, game prices vary across the globe.

Western Europe just barely trails North America in representation of Steam's 100 million active users, representing 40% and 41% of Steam's global sales, respectively. But prices between these regions can vary with seemingly little consistency, even after accounting for exchange rates between the US Dollar, British Pound Sterling, and Euro. According to SteamPrices.com, there s a wide swath of games available for significantly cheaper prices in Western Europe. The chief offender on the "top rip-offs" chart: Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box, which retails for $19.99 in the US, 4.99 in the UK(~$8.08), and 5.99 in Europe(~$7.54). That's a -60% price discrepancy.

On the other hand, many games are afforded no such price cut in non-US regions. The Sims 3, for example, currently retails at $19.99, 24.99, and 39.99—the UK and Euro prices are $40.59 (+103.05%!) and $51.63 (+158.28%!) when converted to USD, respectively. Similarly, though not nearly as extreme, indie games almost across the board retail slightly more expensively in the UK and EU than their US counterparts.

Indie publisher prices are more consistent than AAA

Steam regional prices - Indie Prices

So why the discrepancy? With digital games, isn't it reasonable to think that prices should be equivalent in different regions? Why does Europe sometimes get games on the cheap, but other times get stuck with a higher price point? And why is everything so fucking cheap in Russia and Brazil?

We tracked prices of both triple-A and indie games across a number of regions, then asked a number of indie publishers about their regional pricing methodology. (We asked some triple-A folks, too, but they weren't as talkative.) Here's what we discovered.

The power of Valve's suggested regional prices

Before the indie explosion of the last five or so years, game prices were determined by mighty publishers wielding extensive market research. We as gamers collectively accepted $60 as the price point for a AAA console game, and the PC equivalent usually followed suit. But as indies have grown in popularity, we now have a much broader array of price points at which games can be sold, and along with them a collective understanding and acceptance of how much content a $5, $10, $15, $20, (and so on) game will contain.

It is through these relatively arbitrary (but not random) personal feelings that most indie games are priced. Representatives from both Devolver Digital (the publisher behind games such as Hotline Miami and LUFTRAUSERS) and Tripwire Interactive (Killing Floor and Red Orchestra) reported that game prices are determined through an open and honest conversation with the developer, discussing what price point they "feel" is right for a game, usually leaning towards a higher price. (You can always lower a price later, but jacking it up after the fact would cause an uproar.)

The next step is determining the price for other regions. When you submit a game to Steam, Valve automatically suggests prices for local currencies in other regions. You have the option to change these numbers at will, but a suggestion is made. It's unclear how exactly these suggested prices are determined—likely a combination of current exchange rates, regional sales trends, and other factors. (Valve did not respond to our request for comment.)

"Valve has sold an awful lot of games," Tripwire Interactive Vice President Alan Wilson told PC Gamer. "Counter-Strike has done huge business across the globe, in every available marketplace, so they must have a metric shit-ton of empirical data. And if I know Valve, they will have experimented with the pricing. They like experimenting, they're willing to take the risk of experimenting to find out what works and what doesn't. So in those markets that we really don't know, I'm perfectly happy to take their suggestion."

Having said that, Wilson says his company does sometimes adjust the suggestions a bit—usually just for the Pound and the Euro. In those cases, they look at the current exchange rate and then ask 'does this feel right?'

Steam regional prices - GBP Historical Exchange Rate w.arrows

Exchange rate fluctuations can affect our view of how "fair" a game's price conversion is.

Assuming this logic is followed, you would assume that prices in the UK and Europe are roughly equivalent to their US counterpart. So then why are indie games—Tripwire, Double Fine, and Devolver Digital all reported this method for regional pricing—consistently more expensive than you would expect?

It boils down to two main factors. One: the price is 'locked in,' so to speak, at the current exchange rate when a game is submitted. In the past five years, the exchange rate between USD and GBP has fluctuated from one US Dollar being worth as much as 0.69 and as little as 0.58. Depending on how the market has changed since the game in question was submitted, its expected price may have changed a fair bit as well, while the price listed on Steam remains unchanged.

(It should be noted that prices can be updated at any time, in any region, but to manually update the price with every little exchange rate fluctuation would be both needlessly tedious and create an awkward situation where players might start trying to game the system waiting for exchange rates to change.)

Steam regional prices - GWBW PricesBut even so, games released just a few months ago carry higher-than-expected prices in other regions. Take Devolver Digital's recent release Gods Will Be Watching: US $9.99, UK 6.99, EU 8.99, which convert to $11.33 and $11.64, respectively. Now, this is only a dollar and change difference, but for a game released in 2014, you might expect something more like UK 5.99, EU 7.99, which would convert to $9.70 and $10.30 based on current exchange rates.

The answer lies in the second factor: VAT, or Value-Added Tax. European storefront prices—in this case, a price listed on Steam—include VAT, the European equivalent of sales tax. So while Americans (those not in Washington, at least—it's the only state that taxes digital goods on Steam) can pick up Gods Will Be Watching for a buck thirty or so cheaper, they can hardly fault Valve or Devolver for the UK/European Union wanting their cut.

On the next page: Down the rabbit hole of AAA game pricing.

The mysteries of AAA pricing

When it comes to pricing triple-A games across regions, there's very little rhyme or reason to explain why one region will be cheaper than the other. The biggest two factors I was able to find were that many Steam prices tend to follow their store-shelf retail counterpart, and that companies will tend to price for a single region first and then convert from there.

Most companies focus on the US market first and foremost,then deal with other regions secondarily, sometimes without much scrutiny. "We're heavily influenced by you goddam Americans," said Graeme Struthers of Devolver Digital, which has offices in both Texas and London, and publishes games from indie developers around the world. "For us it always filters back from the US dollar. That's always the starting and finishing point of that conversation."

In the past, this led to horrible methodology such as pricing a game "consistently" across regions—that is, pricing a $60, at 60 and 60, which ends up being terribly overpriced for the UK and EU. Things have mostly improved on that front, and it seems that most triple-A publishers—while they don't really have any consistency with OTHER publishers—are at least somewhat consistent within their own catalog.

The BioShock family from 2K Games, for example, are all priced at a 10/7/10 ratio between US/UK/EU (That is, BioShock and BioShock 2 are both priced at $20/ 14/ 20, with Infinite at $30/ 20/ 30, or the same ratio.)

Electronic Arts, on the other hand, mostly follows a 10/5/5 ratio, while Ubisoft is all over the board. Half the Tom Clancy series follows a 10/7/5 ratio while the other is 10/7/10, and the Assassin's Creed franchise is mostly split 10/7/7 and 10/5/5. In other words, who knows how they're doing things. (A Ubisoft representative was not available to comment.) 

Ubisoft's price conversions don't follow an obvious pattern

Steam regional prices - Ubisoft Prices

The one thing that is consistent across all publishers, developers, and price points—both triple-A and indie—is that games are cheaper in Russia. (As well as Brazil and other regions that have only recently been added to Steam.) Significantly cheaper. Like, 30% to 70% cheaper, across the board.

This is due, again, to a number of factors. The Russian ruble was only added as an accepted currency to Steam in 2011. Before that, purchases on the Russian Steam store had to be made via credit card in US dollars—credit cards are not as common in Russia, and the ones that do exist often weren't able to handle transactions in other currencies. After the Ruble was added, those with credit cards could start buying, but it wasn't until Valve added additional payment methods, such as setting up payment kiosks where funds could be added to a Steam wallet, that the service became a popular choice. What this means is that, up until the last two or three years, most Russian PC games were still purchased at brick-and-mortar stores, and historically Russian software was priced by the disc.

"A one disc game was $4. Two discs: $8, and the market simply wouldn't stand much more than that," Wilson said, joking how Tripwire's game Red Orchestra sold very well in the Russian territories since it's one of the few games where Russians get to shoot Germans. "We were aware that the Russian market was simply not willing to bear the prices we pay, so if we were going to sell successfully online, we had to compete with the existing retail market on store shelves. If the market has Red Orchestra at $8 on the shelf, you can't price it at $20 online."

Always cheaper in Russia

Steam regional prices - Russian Prices

This explanation applies to other recently-added regions and developing countries—the market simply cannot support the prices we pay for video games. Rather than lose sales to piracy, the logical move is to adjust prices to a level more affected by the market demand and sustainability than the direct exchange rate.

Russia also has a notorious reputation for software piracy—Russia pirated 63% of its software in 2011, as compared to 19% in the US and 26% in the UK, according to a global study—a figure which is echoed in other countries with developing economies. However, this may not have as much bearing on the country's low prices as you might think. According to Valve boss Gabe Newell, piracy is an issue of service, not pricing.

"The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work. It s by giving those people a service that s better than what they re receiving from the pirates," Newell said in a 2011 interview with GeekWire, noting at the time that, outside of Germany, Russia is Valve's largest continental European Market. "The people who are telling you that Russians pirate everything are the people who wait six months to localize their product into Russia."

Interestingly, the opposite effect seems to have happened in Japan. Steam prices are again affected by the brick-and-mortar shelf prices, but games on Steam—the few that even make it there in the first place—tend to be priced higher. PC gaming is extremely niche in Japan, but within that niche is a market of buyers willing to pay upwards of the Yen equivalent of $70 or $80 for a game. Many companies don't want their game on Steam, because they don't want to reduce the price to match the sale prices targeted at western gamers. The few games that do make it onto Steam then have their prices dictated by the store shelf prices—companies don't want their niche brick-and-mortar sales to be cut into by lower prices online.

"They want those $70, 80 dollar sales," said Esteban Salazar, a producer at Japanese developer Marvelous AQL. "It s very, very focused, laser targeted, towards the core group of a few thousand people that would buy, rather than a huge mass market audience like the store overseas."

Steam regional prices - Borderlands AU Prices

Compare this to the Australian market, where taxes keep the price of imported games locked in higher than their overseas counterparts. It's expensive to ship games to distribute games in Australia, and publishers have claimed in the past that selling new AAA games for less than $80 AUS would not be profitable. Publishers typically keep Steam prices even with retail prices, which means Australian Steam games almost always feel unfairly expensive to Australian PC gamers. Ubisoft recently offered the explanation that unlike Ubisoft US, Ubisoft Australia & NZ is a part of the European business group...We buy and sell product at euro-based cost of goods and royalties, as does UK, France and most of continental Europe.

On the next page: the increasingly digital future of game sales.

Steam Regional Pricing - Retail

Cutting the binds of retail

After spending weeks making spreadsheets charting the prices of hundreds of games, the biggest takeaway for me is that many companies—triple-A especially—have little discernible rhyme or reason when it comes to pricing other regions. Indies, with their "feeling-based" pricing systems and trust in Valve's pricing matrix tend to be both the most consistent and the most fair to consumers across all regions. Triple-A's, on the other hand, seem to still be pressured a fair bit by brick-and-mortar pricing. But as game sales shift more and more into the digital-only realm, I wouldn't be surprised to see Steam prices approach more normalized levels.

Changing exchange rates will always throw a monkey wrench in any attempt at global pricing normalization, and actively updating prices as currencies rise and fall in value would create far more chaos than it would be worth. But that doesn't mean leaving prices untouched for years as exchange rates fluctuate is a good idea. The only real solution is to price fairly as you go, using a combination of current exchange rates and market analysis, then perhaps revisiting outdated prices at regular intervals—maybe on a yearly basis, or at milestones such as when a new series entry is released, or when a price drop is set to be enacted.

Publishers should always be free to set their prices at whatever point they like, but I don't think it would be too much to ask for more consistency, or at least transparency about why some of their regional prices vary so dramatically. If anything changes the way publishers approach Steam in the near future, it will be the ever-increasing dominance of digital sales. As retails stores become less and less relevant for games, the prices set for physical discs—and the costs associated with producing or distributing them them—will hold less sway over what it costs to publish games all over the world. Game prices could look very different in five years.

But they'll probably still be incredibly cheap in Russia.

PC Gamer

Ryse: Son of Rome

Ryse: Son of Rome players earn gold in multiplayer action, when can then be spent on "booster packs" containing various sorts of in-game upgrades. In the original Xbox One release, gamers lacking the time and/or inclination to grind out the gold could opt to purchase it instead, but Crytek announced last week that PC players won't have that option—not because of any backlash against microtransactions, but simply because they were too much hassle.

The PC version of Ryse will still reward players with gold and its single-player equivalent of "Valor," both of which will be needed for booster packs and skill and execution upgrades, and all of the items that could previously be purchased via microtransaction will also still be in the game. But a Crytek rep said the studio's priority was to put as much of its effort as possible into developing the high-end technology of the PC edition of the game.

"It was to our benefit to trim away additional elements and just put all our energy into achieving the vision we had for Ryse on PC," a Crytek rep explained. "It enabled us to focus more of our time and energy on pushing the visual fidelity we were after with 4K. Enabling microtransactions for the PC version of Ryse would have taken additional time and we simply chose not to."

It's a bit on the vague side as explanations go, but it's hard not to draw the inference that Ryse didn't exactly set the microtransactional world on fire; after all, it's not often you'll see a developer leave money on the table, especially one with a recent history of financial troubles. Still, if it means a better experience on the PC, I'm not going to complain, even if I can no longer buy my way to the top.

Ryse: Son of Rome—which, for the record, we will be reviewing in the relatively near future—comes to the PC on October 10.

PC Gamer

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies is a feature-length documentary about "the vibrant global community of indie game creators." Production began in 2011, and a 2013 Kickstarter raised nearly $60,000 to help fund the project. Today the filmmakers released a brief look at what they've come up with so far, as they prepare to make a final push for post-production support.

The GameLoading preview focuses on the "Train Jam," a game jam that took more than 100 developers on a 52-hour train ride from Chicago to San Francisco, intercut with brief snippets of commentary from developers including Rami Ismail, Mike Bithell, Davey Wreden, Steve Gaynor, Zoe Quinn, and John Romero. The results actually look quite professional as-is, but there's still a lot of work left to be done.

"Post-production is expensive. But without it, GameLoading would look like a parents' home movie," the new "Final Push" Kickstarter pitch states. It clarifies that the project is going to be finished regardless of how this new Kickstarter works out, but without the additional funds it won't have the level of polish the filmmakers are shooting for. "Editing takes months, then there's color grading to make each shot look great, computer graphics and titles, game footage, archival footage, music, sound mixing and a whole lot of other stuff needed to bring the film to cinema quality."

Reflecting the slightly different nature of this Kickstarter, the minimum pledge is $15, essentially the purchase price of the film. It's also about as risk-free as these things get: The "Risks and Challenges" section of the Kickstarter notes that production delays are possible, but filming is complete and the March 2015 release date should provide "ample time" to finish the job.

The GameLoading "Final Push" Kickstarter is live now and runs until October 22.

PC Gamer

Our review of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is already up, but that didn't stop Tyler and I from jumping on the LPC to massacre Sauron's army for ourselves. We played through the game's first mission before going on a murderous rampage across Mordor's muddy landscape. If you'd prefer a gameplay montage without the commentary, check out our LPC max settings video from last week.

PC Gamer

Attention New York area-dweller and/or person capable of teleportation: we re giving away two tickets to the ESL One New York next weekend, October 9-10. If you like Dota 2 and you ll be in the area to attend, we d love for you to win these.

The big prize is two premium tickets, valued at $270 each. Enter here. Eight teams will be competing for a more than $113,000 prize pool over two days in Madison Square Garden. We'll select winners early next week. We've also got a secondary prize of 10 ESL One New York t-shirts (shown below), so even if you won't be in town to watch some Dota, there's a secondary item to win.

eslOne pcGamer giveaway v2

PC Gamer

The Sims 4

[Update: Electronic Arts has confirmed that Sims can indeed meet their watery graves at your capricious hands. Yes!]

Remember how disappointed the murderous among you were to find out that the latest edition of The Sims wouldn't include pools, so the developers could focus on new features and technology instead? Prepare to be happy again—and get ready to go swimming/drowning.

Electronic Arts announced today that the first of three "major updates" to The Sims 4 is now live, enabling the ghosts of your dead Sims to return to the world of the living. Ghosts will have the same attributes they possessed before their unfortunate demise, as well as new behaviors that are based on how they died, and it might even be possible to resurrect them.

The update also adds new Star Wars costumes, including an X-Wing flight suit, Leia's robes (and buns, obviously), Darth Vader's armor, and a full-on Yoda get-up, as well as some small features requested by the community, like new eye colors, and a handful of minor bug fixes.

The second update, arriving in November, is the one a lot of you have been waiting for, as swimming pools will finally make their triumphant return to the game. It's unclear currently whether you'll definitely be able to do the cruel 'delete the steps' trick that leaves your Sim treading water until the inevitable happens, but we will of course keep you informed. The third update will follow in December, and will add new Career paths and rewards.

Given how much trouble EA went to explain why it couldn't include pools in The Sims 4, it's a little bit surprising to see them added so quickly post-launch. But who am I to complain about free stuff? Details on the November and December updates will be revealed closer to release, and as mentioned, all three will be entirely gratis through Origin.

PC Gamer

Best Keyboards - Corsair K70 1

Your keyboard is the first point of contact between you and your computer. It s how you communicate, how you tell your PC to do what you need it to do. For PC gamers, it s even more: the keyboard is your go-to tool for winning, fragging, conquering. It's the defining component of PC gaming, what separates it from being just another console. Most of the time, we don t want some proprietary gamepad—we want WASD.

The right gaming keyboard ultimately comes down to the right feel while you re playing. Membrane switches are familiar, but often spongy. Mechanical keyboards offer key switches that are responsive when typing or moving in a game, and feel good to push down. That feel is important, because the keyboard is the peripheral you ll spend the most time with at your PC, and it has to feel right.

The Corsair Vengeance K70 is our favorite gaming keyboard on the market today. It's reasonably priced for a mechanical keyboard, comes in a variety of Cherry MX switches, and a few extra touches, like an attachable wrist-rest, that we love.

Because keyboards are so subjective, we ve also also chosen the best alternatives in three categories: high-end, budget, and non-mechanical.

Testing gaming keyboards

We chose our favorite gaming keyboard by typing lots of words (and playing lots of games) on a wide selection of keyboards available today. We scoured message boards and customer reviews to develop an initial list of models, based on real-world feedback. Then we spent hands-on time with our list, testing each keyboard with day-to-day use on work machines, and playing FPS games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and RPGs such as Wasteland 2.

Page 1: Introduction to gaming keyboards
Page 2: The best gaming keyboard
Page 3: The best expensive, customizable keyboard
Page 4: The best budget mechanical keyboard
Page 5: The best cheap membrane gaming keyboard
Page 6: Wrapping up, competitors, and future testing

On the next page: the best gaming keyboard.

Best Keyboards - Corsair K70 2

The best gaming keyboard: Corsair Vengeance K70 (Cherry MX Brown)

Corsair s Vengeance line is a series of mechanical keyboards that are beautifully designed. The keys look—and feel—like they re floating, due to the open structure of the board s layout, and the base of the board includes lots of brushed aluminum. They keys themselves have a slightly textured, rubber feel, particularly on the spacebar and replaceable WASD keys (more on that later). The result is a keyboard that feels good on your fingertips.

We like the Corsair Vengeance K70 for its responsiveness, but also for its ergonomics. It includes a textured wrist rest that matches the feel of the space bar. In additional to the two feet stands near the back of the board, Corsair also includes stands near the front, which raises the keyboard significantly and makes typing and general use more ergonomically friendly. It s a nice touch, and one that the other keyboards we tested neglected.

Corsair s media keys don t require any external software, and we love the feel of the textured aluminum volume slider in the top right. Play/Pause, Stop, Forward, and Rewind all work natively with apps such as Spotify, Foobar2000, and iTunes. The system-wide mute button is big enough to find when you need it, but hard to hit accidentally.

Best Keyboards - Corsair K70 3

The K70s we tested all use red LEDs for backlighting. You can set three brightness levels with on-board controls, as well as changing lighting on an individual key level. The K70 s on-board memory remembers what you program, and it s a nice way to remember specific keybindings for games such as World of Warcraft or Elite: Dangerous.

The K70 we prefer uses Cherry MX Brown switches, which represent a middle ground in clickiness and smoothness. They re tactile, and you can feel them activating as you type words or dodge enemy attacks, but the click doesn t get in the way of actually putting in commands.

Your own personal feel might lean more toward a Corsair K70 with Cherry MX Reds, which are super smooth, or a Corsair K70 with Cherry MX Blues, which are loud and clacky. Corsair offers the K70 in all three versions, with only minor differences in price depending on retailer. Aside from the switches, all three boards are the same.

While Corsair recently released a new version of this keyboard called the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB, we still recommend the Vengeance K70. The new keyboard offers the same keyfeel, but augments it with full-color LEDs under each key. Those keys look really pretty, but the LED keyboard costs $170. $50 is more than we'd recommend spending on lights, even if they are fancy lights. The Corsair Vengeance K70 is a great value at around $120.

Best Keyboards - Corsair K70 4

For UK readers

You can grab the Corsair Vengeance K70 on Amazon for around  118, though the MX Blue and MX Red switches are  10-15 cheaper.

Page 1: Introduction to gaming keyboards

Page 2: The best gaming keyboard

Page 3: The best expensive, customizable keyboard

Page 4: The best budget mechanical keyboard

Page 5: The best cheap membrane gaming keyboard

Page 6: Wrapping up, competitors, and future testing

On the next page: the best high-end gaming keyboard

Best Keyboards - Wasd

The best expensive and customizable gaming keyboard: WASD V2 (Cherry MX Red)

WASD s keyboards are elegant, so much so that the WASD V2 is our keyboard of choice on the Large Pixel Collider. That elegance comes from the fact that the keyboard is fully customizable, and WASD gives you lots of options when you order.

The WASD V2 on the online store starts gloriously pristine, and it's up to you to fill in everything from key layout to printing.

You can pick whichever version of Cherry s switches you like, from standard clacky blues to smoother reds. WASD even offers less common variants, like the tactile bump of MX Clears or the super-click of MX Greens. If you want the feel but not the noise, you can add sound dampeners.

Finally, WASD lets you customize your keycap colors, including mix-and-match options. The choices are impressive, from the font used on your keys to using DVORAK instead of QWERTY, even down to what OS logo you want on your OS system key. If the online layout tool doesn't let you get fancy enough, you can even upload your own layout file to further customize the keyboard.

This customization comes at a price, of course. The standard V2 retails for $150, and the price goes up as you make your changes. But you ll end up with a keyboard that s built to your tastes, and since the keyboard is the most personal of input devices, that s important.

For UK readers

WASD Keyboards can ship to the UK. It's expensive, but the pounds-to-dollars conversion works out in your favor. You can get a WASD keyboard for about  126.

On the next page: the best budget mechanical gaming keyboard.

Best Keyboards - Cm Rapid

The best mechanical gaming keyboard on a budget: CM Storm QuickFire Rapid

It s not the cheapest keyboard you can get, but Cooler Master s QuickFire Rapid is a fantastic mechanical gaming keyboard for the price. The tenkeyless version still uses full-size keys, and the Cherry MX Blue switches on the model in our office have a satisfying click when depressed. Most people prefer Blues for typing rather than gaming, but you can also get the keyboard with Brown or Red switches more ideal for gaming.

The entire board has a nice, solid, rubberized feel, with gives the keys a great texture. Media controls are activated through a function (Fn) key down on the right-hand side, but all work at an OS level. Like the Corsair K70, the Storm Rapid I doesn t require any additional software for its media functions or backlighting programming. We also really love the detachable USB Micro cable, which makes this a great keyboard for LAN gaming.

Cooler Master s backlighting is nice and bright, and the QuickFire Rapid  includes a few different modes to use it. You can control brightness through the function keys, or set an echo mode that lights each key as you press it. It doesn t make you a better gamer or typer, but it s a nice effect.

We wish the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid was a little more ergonomic—though it s the same size as the Corsair K70 (minus the tenkey side), the keyboard feels a little more crampy without a wrist rest. A gel rest solves most of those problems, but it s still an additional requirement, and while you can find the board for $70 at some retailers, it s still a lot of money to not include some basic comfort options.

For UK readers

We couldn't find CM Storm's QuickFire Rapid in stock online, but the more expensive model, the QuickFire TK, is available on Amazon. At a price of  75, we'd recommend the Corsair Vengeance K70 instead.

Page 1: Introduction to gaming keyboards
Page 2: The best gaming keyboard
Page 3: The best expensive, customizable keyboard
Page 4: The best budget mechanical keyboard
Page 5: The best cheap membrane gaming keyboard
Page 6: Wrapping up, competitors, and future testing

On the next page: the best membrane gaming keyboard.

Best Keyboards - Razer Mmo

The best (non-mechanical) gaming keyboard: Razer Anansi MMO

If you re not sold on mechanical switches for your gaming, you still have a lot of options for membrane keyboards. Our favorite for gaming is Razer s Anansi, which uses the exact same layout from Razer s Black Widow line, but without the clickity-clack that the Black Widow Ultimate is known for.

The Anansi includes five configurable keys on the left hand side, labeled M1 - M5, as well as seven additional media-like buttons below the spacebar that are easy to reach with your thumb. There are no dedicated media buttons, but you can control volume and playback through Function keys. Razer s software is easy to use for lighting and binding control, and will also play nicely if you use one of Razer s many gaming mice.

The Anansi is a great option if you want to stick with membranes, but we d urge you not to. For just $5 more, you can upgrade to the Cooler Master Rapid, and we truly believe that mechanical keys are more responsive and feel better to use. That said, it s nice to have options, and there are plenty on the membrane side.

For UK readers

The Razer Anansi is about  85 on Amazon, which is a ton of money to pay for a non-mechanical keyboard. We'd recommend spending a bit more for the Corsair Vengeance K70.

Page 1: Introduction to gaming keyboards
Page 2: The best gaming keyboard
Page 3: The best expensive, customizable keyboard
Page 4: The best budget mechanical keyboard
Page 5: The best cheap membrane gaming keyboard
Page 6: Wrapping up, competitors, and future testing

On the next page: wrapping up, competitors and future testing.

Best Keyboards - Corsair K70 1

Wrapping up: competitors and future testing

We put our hands on a whole bunch of gaming keyboards in the process of testing for this article. The Corsair Vengeance K70 came out on top, but here are some of the other keyboards we researched or tested before choosing our favorite.

Razer BlackWidow Ultimate: Razer premium keyboard is a nice full-sized board with extremely clacky keys, but doesn t offer much for ergonomic support. It s also premium priced, at $130, and includes no dedicated media keys. It s a well-loved board, however, and could make a great option if you don t like the K70.

Logitech G19s: The most expensive keyboard we tested, at an MSRP of $200. This membrane keyboard includes lots of dedicated keys and a micro-screen that can run system-monitoring apps or work with select games. The keys are far too spongy for our tastes, however, and the screen is not well supported by newer games.

Razer DeathStalker: The DeathStalker shares layouts with the BlackWidow and Anansi, but uses chiclet keys that feel more like a laptop or Mac keyboard. It s cheap, at $50, but most gamers won t enjoy the keys.

Roccat Ryos MK Pro: One of the most solidly built keyboards we ve used. The Ryos keys feel responsive and satisfying, and the MK Pro includes lots of configurable macro keys. The wristpad is not detatchable, however, which means this board will take a lot of space on your desk. It s also expensive, at $170.

Cooler Master Devastator: This low-end membrane keyboard has decent backlighting and dedicated media buttons, but no additional macro keys to program. It does come with a mouse and we like the price, but it s for budget-minded gamers only.

Corsair Vengeance K95: This expanded version of the K70 includes 18 additional macro keys, along with all of the other features from Corsair s smaller boards. It s nice if you need the additional control, but most gamers won t justify the higher price ($150).

Corsair Gaming K65 RGB: The tenkey-free version of the K70, along with Corsair s new multicolored backlighting options. It s exclusive to Best Buy and retails $100, but we prefer the volume dial instead of discreet buttons, and miss our tenkey pad.

Corsair Gaming K70 RGB: The same board as our Best Gaming Keyboard pick, but with Corsair s new multicolored backlighting switches. Impressive if you take the time to program fancy color options, but at an additional cost ($170).

SteelSeries 6G V2: We like the no-frills feel for the 6G V2, but prolonged use feels crampy without proper wrist support.

Logitech G710+ (Cherry MX Red): This is Logitech s premium mechanical keyboard, but its key layout feels more cramped than the rest of the competition. It s also one of the more expensive options, with an MSRP of $150.

Future testing

There are a few popular gaming keyboards we haven't had a chance to test yet, and there will always be new variants on the horizon. Most mechanical keyboards use the same keyswitches, with only small variants in layout and build quality and extra features. The Corsair Vengeance K70 is a safe buy, at this point, but we plan on checking out some of these other popular options in the future.
  • Ducky Shine 3
  • Filco Majestouch 2
  • Das Keyboard
  • Max Keyboard Nighthawk X8
  • QPAD MK80

Page 1: Introduction to gaming keyboards
Page 2: The best gaming keyboard
Page 3: The best expensive, customizable keyboard
Page 4: The best budget mechanical keyboard
Page 5: The best cheap membrane gaming keyboard
Page 6: Wrapping up, competitors, and future testing

PC Gamer

Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition

The Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition was announced in August, a good but not entirely surprising bit of news given the success of its enhanced Baldur's Gate predecessors. But in spite of that obvious progression and the hope it engenders for future Infinity Engine overhauls, Enhanced Editions of Icewind Dale 2 or Planescape: Torment aren't a sure thing.

The problem, Beamdog co-founder Trent Oster told RPGamer, is that Icewind Dale II is dramatically different from the first game, both inside and out. "If Icewind Dale is a brother or sister to the Baldur's Gate games in terms of code and gameplay differences, Icewind Dale II and Planescape: Torment are more like third cousins. You can see the lineage, but the changes are deep," he said.

"Icewind Dale II implemented the 3rd Edition rules and has a completely different UI scheme. We're really not sure how deep those changes run," Oster explained. "The move to 3rd Edition rules would invalidate all the character classes and require a pretty thorough rework of the entire game to bring in the features from our Infinity Plus Engine. At minimum, nightmares abound."

The original Icewind Dale uses AD&D Second Edition rules, as does Planescape: Torment. The Third Edition rule set, which actually dropped the "Advanced" designator, was released in 2000, the same year as Icewind Dale; Icewind Dale II came out in 2002.

It's far from a flat-out "no," and Oster said the team plans to dig deeper into the matter after the launch of Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition and the 1.3 update for the Baldur's Gate games, but "nightmares abound" isn't the sort of thing you want to hear regarding the likelihood of your favorite game being remade. On the slightly-brighter side, depending on how you view such a thing, Oster said the team still talks about Baldur's Gate III on a "pretty regular basis."


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