PC Gamer
steam top sellers

Valve did a sneaky, small-but-significant thing recently: it expanded its "Top Sellers" list on Steam to include one hundred games. The sales leaderboard doesn't tell us exactly how many copies a game sold, but it gives us a vague idea of how well certain games are doing on Steam in a given moment.

It's an inherently misleading metric—take that as a disclaimer. Still, as we sit in the shadow of some of 2012's biggest releases, I'd like to take a crack at gleaning what we can from this moment in time.

2K's having a great end of the year.
The $50 pre-sale of XCOM is outselling everything but Borderlands 2 on Steam. We might be able to chalk that up to fairly generous pre-purchase incentives (which could include a free copy of Civ 5 if enough people pre-buy it). It might be mild evidence that demos still work, too. Borderlands 2's high concurrent user count over the past few days (reaching 123,758 last weekend) is also evidence that 2K will win the weeks connecting September and October on Steam.

Digital pre-orders are a thing.
XCOM isn't the only thing-you-can-buy-but-can't-play-yet doing well. Joining the unreleased are Dishonored at #7, War of the Roses at #12, Football Manager 2013 at #17, Company of Heroes 2 at #29, and Hitman Absolution at #51. Even though there's no chance of a game going out of stock, Steam users don't seem to mind putting money down in advance, especially if they're rewarded with bonus content or a small discount for doing so.

Where are the MMOs? Oh, right.
Zero MMOs appear in today's top 100. I might consider that unsurprising—we wouldn't expect too many people to be picking up competitors while Guild Wars 2 and Pandaria are drawing the attention, and neither are available on Steam. Still, it's a little surprising not to see RIFT ($10) or EVE Online: Inferno ($20) popping up anywhere.

Call of Duty remains a PC fixture.
The sense that Call of Duty remains a fixture for PC gamers is supported by SteamGraph data. Some form of Call of Duty make up 10 whole entries of the Steam's top 100. Many of those are map packs, but the performance of Call of Duty: Black Ops - Mac Edition (#41) is interesting to me. It released yesterday, September 27, and it's outperforming stuff like Civ V: GOTY and Natural Selection 2. Modern Warfare 3 is 50% off until October 1, and it's sitting comfortably at #5.

DayZ continues to have a long tail.
I don't think Arma 2: Combined Operations (what you need to play DayZ) has left the top ten of Steam's Top Sellers since it caught on in May and June. It seems to be outperforming other games that released in May and June like Sins: Rebellion (#56), Max Payne 3 (#76), Civ 5: Gods & Kings (#20), and Spec Ops: The Line (unlisted).

Below: the data, captured at 6:05 PM PDT. Ctrl + Fing encouraged.

Top Ten
Borderlands 2
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Total War Master Collection
Torchlight II
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
Carrier Command: Gaea Mission
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Arma 2: Combined Operations
Empire: Total War

Castle Crashers
War of the Roses
Borderlands 2 Season Pass
FTL: Faster Than Light
Cortex Command
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Football Manager 2013
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Dawnguard
Garry's Mod
Sid Meier's Civilization V - Gods 'n Kings
Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition
The Binding of Isaac
Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy
Left 4 Dead 2
Hell Year! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit

F1 2012
Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour
Rome: Total War - Gold
Company of Heroes 2
Total War Shogun 2 - Fall of the Samurai
Sid Meier's Civilization V
Counter-Strike: Source
Borderlands: Game of the Year
Worms Revolution
Total War Mega Pack
The Walking Dead
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 3: Chaos Pack
Call of Duty: Black Ops - Mac Edition
Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb
Portal 2
Sid Meier's Civilization V: Game of the Year
Total War: SHOGUN 2
The Sims 3
Counter-Strike Complete
Hearts of Iron 3 Collection
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition

Hitman: Absolution
Train Simulator 2013
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes
Medieval II Gold
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
Orcs Must Die! 2 - Family Ties Booster Pack
Call of Duty: Black Ops II
The Amazing Spider-Man
Orcs Must Die! 2
Saints Row: The Third
Dead Island: GOTY
Natural Selection 2
Orcs Must Die! 2 - Complete Pack
Half-Life 2
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Rome: Total War - Complete
The Orange Box
Borderlands 2 + Official Brady Guide
Batman: Arkham City GOTY
Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead
Grand Theft Auto IV
Endless Space
Killing Floor
Call of Duty: World at War
Max Payne 3
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
I Am Alive
Fallout 3: GOTY
Fallen Enchantress
Valve Complete Pack
Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition
Mount & Blade: Warband
New Star Soccer 5
Portal Bundle
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 2
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 Expansion
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare® 3 Collection 1
Arma 2
Might & Magic Heroes VI - Danse Macabre Adventure Pack
Magic: The Gathering - Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD
STAR WARS: Knights of the Old Republic II
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Planets Under Attack
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Age of Empires III: Complete Collection

Reiterating: We don't know what formula or data drives Steam's Top Sellers rankings. It's probably safest to consider them a representation of what games are selling well in one moment of time on Steam.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Captain of the Excelsior as of Star Trek VI I THINK YOU'LL FIND

I’m feeling pretty good, which is exactly the sort of thing one should never say in FTL. Doom, disaster and dismay inevitably looms, but having pulled my ship and my crew back from the brink of disaster at least I’ve got a war story out of it. Now, let’s see what’s out there in Sector 6 – this needs to go well, as I’m now just two sectors away from the final f(l)ight – presuming I survive that long.> (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Previously. Now:

Crew: 5Shields: 3Guns: 2 (only one of which can be used at once)Fuel: 5Hull: 1%Scrap: 2Location: Parked outside the exit from Sector 4Situation: desperate> (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Continuing my FTL journey into the heart of doomed space-darkness. Read the earlier installments here. >

Jump 1

A new sector! We’re down to 25% hull, still don’t have a proper gun and have spent all our money on repairs that didn’t last long. Damn, we’re in a tight spot. So do we exercise extreme caution or take big gambles in the hope of big pay-offs?

Here’s the first dilemma. We run into some rebels, who miraculously don’t attack us on sight. Wusses. Shall I demand surrender of their goods? You never know, maybe they’ll be afraid of men called Steven and just cough up without a fight. (more…)

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

beyond staring eyesWith two sectors survived, things don’t look to good for the good ship Moggy, crewed by two Engis and a human named after cats I have known. The hull’s taken a beating, we’ve almost no cash and we don’t yet have any upgrades to speak of. Meantime, our enemies forever snap at our heels, and the challenges we’ll face in this next, Zoltan-ruled sector will likely be stiffer than that we’ve yet faced. Anything could happen, though. After all, space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. It might even be big enough that I’ll find a gun in it somewhere. Oh, please dear lord let me find a gun.>


Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

Continuing my imperilled escapades in spaceship sim/roguelike FTL: Faster Than Light. With a crew named after cats I have know, I’ve survived the first sector but at the expense of 50% of my starship’s hull and I have no meaningful upgrades. No-one is dead, though. Repeat: no-one is dead. I’m going to keep on saying that, because it’s the only thing I’ve possibly got to brag about here.> (more…)

PC Gamer

Evan returns from the depths of space to join Tyler, Omri, and T.J. in discussing all things Project Eternity. Also kind of a lot of things are coming out right now, and we go over the big ones including Torchlight II, Borderlands 2, FTL, Black Mesa, and Mists of Pandaria. You'll also not just hear, but experience, updates on what's going on with BioWare and Bohemia, a new special segment in which T.J. administers shotgun blasts to the face to all of his coworkers, and extended FTL and XCOM discussion in Playlists.

All for the low, low price of absolutely nothing on this content-tastic episode, PC Gamer US Podcast 330: RPGs and Aliens!

Support the Bohemia guys currently incarcerated in Greece: www.helpivanmartin.org

Have a question, comment, complaint, or observation? Leave a voicemail: 1-877-404-1337 ext 724 or email the mp3 to pcgamerpodcast@gmail.com.

Subscribe to the podcast RSS feed.

Follow us on Twitter:
@ELahti (Evan Lahti)
@tyler_wilde (Tyler Wilde)
@omripetitte (Omri Petitte)
@AsaTJ (T.J. Hafer)
@belsaas (Erik Belsaas, podcast producer)
You Won't Survive FTL's Space Mission, But You'll Remember It I could have quit. I could have made my defeat happen quicker, less painfully. But cliche or not, the captain goes down with the ship. The rules don't change just because we're in space. So I watched my crew dutifully tend to my systems, keeping the ship running as best they could. We knew we weren't going anywhere: the FTL was disabled, and we had no drones, fuel or missiles to defend ourselves against the pirate ship's attack. Hell, we couldn't run away even if we wanted to.

The flames shred through my vessel, eventually overtaking the populated rooms, but it didn't matter. My men would burn, but there are worse ways to go than ablaze with the virtue of dedication. Of course I couldn't give up. Not when good men and women spent their last moments proudly showing me the honor of what it means to serve a ship. It wasn't something I understood before FTL: Faster Than Light, the spaceship roguelike by Subset Games where you command your own ship and its crew under a space exploration mission.

This is the appeal of FTL: it provides you with the tools and context to tell compelling stories. Not in the way we might pat ourselves on the back for the authorship of awesome situations in open world games like Grand Theft Auto or Skyrim, but in a way that eludes the control of both player and creator. What happens in FTL is not wholly because of you, and not wholly because of the designer either thanks to levels and situations created on the fly.

Games have strict rules as to how they function and there's only so much you can mess with that, but there are too many variables and randomness in a roguelike to be able to easily account for all the fantastical things that might happen. There are only general rules of how things should work in the procedurally generated 'levels', but nothing is created in a specific way. And we have no indication of what the best course of action is in a given situation, or even how a lot of things function in the game. That's a staple to the roguelike genre, the need to demystify just about every aspect of a game as you play.

And so every game I've had in FTL was different, not just in how I might decide to play, but in what I find when I explore thanks to procedural generation. Maybe it's pirates this time. Maybe it's a distress signal. Maybe it's rebels. Maybe it's nothing at all. Maybe I have a certain upgrade or weapon, and maybe I don't. What do all these weapons and upgrades do, anyway? There are few guarantees in what to expect while playing, there's only the assurance of having more obstacles to overcome.

The roguelike's refusal to let you master it, refusal to let you fully know its secrets, is as utterly maddening as it is compelling. FTL, then, exists on possibility. What could happen out in space is a question that has captured our imagination for generations. Is this not the most appropriate thing for a game about space to embody? It's a marriage made in the cosmos, and I say this as seemingly the only nerd on earth that doesn't get a boner over space.

You're not playing to win, not entirely. You're playing for the chance to experience something new, to see what might happen this time, to learn something more about the system governing the game.

Nonetheless there's one commonality between all of the game's tales. Stories often end in tragedy, since FTL is a roguelike with a grueling difficulty that drives home the idea of space as an endless, inhospitable place where where we either die spectacular deaths worth recounting, or die sad, lonely deaths worth mourning. Nothing that gets in the way of a new game of FTL though. You'll have to get right back into the command center regularly. That's part of the fun.

You're not playing to win, not entirely. You're playing to experiencing something new, to see what might happen this time, to learn something more about the system governing the game. If we ever figure out reincarnation, I suspect we'd approach life much in the same way as we do roguelikes: finite experiences meant to teach us how to live life a little better next time around. Intangibility of how life works be damned, as it's no match for the good old human stubbornness to try and try again.

FTL reflects what draws us into space in the first place. Ambition. In the game, it manifests itself in the desire to see more of what's out there, to take risks and chances for supplies and resources, to overcome the odds the game puts you against. It's a good complement to reality, where there's a race to lay claim to hunks of space rock, where we want to know that our cunning engineering can let us tame the extreme conditions in space, and that though there's something bigger than all of us out there, it is nonetheless all within the realm of our understanding.

The writer Joan Didion once said that we tell ourselves stories in order to live. I'd like to add to that and say we live to try to make an imprint on the world, to be remembered, to defy the idea that our lives are insignificant. Whenever you hear about FTL, that's what you'll hear: stories. Maybe we can't game our mortality, both in FTL and in real life. But stories? Stories defy everything and live on.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alec Meer)

FTL: Faster Than Light is the spaceship management/roguelike hybrid that everyone in the world is playing right now, living and reliving endless numbers of doomed space crusades, disastrous journeys and euphoric tales. There are eight million stories in the naked universe. This will be just one of them.

These are the voyages of the starship Moggy, crewed by a brave band of humans and aliens named after cats that I have known. This was an egregious mistake, as seeing my childhood pets burned, asphyxiated and lasered to death almost immediately proved traumatic. Still, we exist not merely within a universe, but a multiverse. One crew of feline-named space travellers might meet their tragic doom, but perhaps, in a parallel existence, another band of desperate starfarers might just have succeeded… (Of course they didn’t. This is FTL. But the multiverse does at least allow for the story to be told anew).> (more…)

PC Gamer
pc gamer xcom names

There’s some Venn overlap between the fabulous FTL and upcoming XCOM: Enemy Unknown: in both, you can name your dudes. Names carry incredible meaning in these permadeathy games: they’re opportunities to imbue identity into the tiny digital people you’re pointing into certain doom.

Still, when we're asked what to call something, it's not uncommon for our minds to lock up. You sit there, hands hovering in front of an empty prompt, Ctrl + Fing your brain for the perfect nombre d’game that suits the character’s aptitudes or role. You crawl your mind for former classmates, footballers, and celebrities, trying to summon the perfect name. This is Naming Paralysis, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. I have it too.

To alleviate this condition, we’ve created The PC Gamer Character Name Repository, a shared Google Doc that we’d encourage you to throw XCOM and FTL-friendly names into. I’ve begun by contributing “Carl Winslow.”

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