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 Dishonored Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Arma 2: Combined Operations Empire: Total War
#11-25 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
#26-50 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 Terraria The Walking Dead Rocksmith 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 McPixel 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
#51-100 Hitman: Absolution Borderlands 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 SPORE 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 Counter-Strike 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.
Company of Heroes 2 has rolled out its tiered pre-order goals on Steam, each of which will unlock a new level of free stuff for everyone who shells out for the Eastern Front rumble. Just for pre-ordering, you're guaranteed beta access and two medium vehicle skins (one for the Russkies, and one for the Germans). Three more unlockable tiers will be added if enough people pre-order the game.
At the first reward tier (specific numbers for how many pre-orders are needed to unlock each one aren't given), everyone gets a German and a Soviet hat for Team Fortress 2. The second tier adds a free copy of Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 2's stand-alone Retribution expansion. The third and final tier unlocks an "In-Game currency gift to be used towards purchasing future content," an XP boost, a unit boost, and a new commander archetype.
This is the first we've heard of CoH2 having any sort of in-game currency system, and xp/unit boosts sound similar to the kinds of things you can buy in free-to-play multiplayer RTS games like Age of Empires Online. They're also reminiscent of the canceled Company of Heroes Online, and it would be unsurprising to find that some ideas from that project have been rolled into this sequel. It seems like a persistent commander leveling system in multiplayer has been all but confirmed.
Team Fortress 2 established itself as some of the best team-based shooting ever, but according to Lead Designer Robin Walker, PC Gaming's premier hat sim was also a test case for Valve's long-term survival. In an interview with Gamasutra, Walker revealed how the game's successful item economy doubled as an exploratory probe into MMO mechanics which Valve felt would factor into its livelihood going forward.
"Our secondary goal was to see if we could explore specific game and business design spaces that we felt were potentially a requirement for the long-term survival of our company," Walker said.
", MMOs were the dominant story in the industry, and one concern we had was that we might not be able to survive if we didn’t build one. We didn’t think we were ready to undertake that, but we did think that we might be able to build some pieces of one, learning enough so that if or when we did need to build one, we had less risk on the table. We decided that persistent item design and storage seemed like a reasonable amount of risk for us to bite off, and could be made to fit into TF2’s gameplay."
Valve's decision to turn Team Fortress 2 free-to-play last year also stemmed from monitoring ongoing MMO trends of shifting from subscriptions to microtransactional and pay-once models. "A couple of years later ... we were starting to feel the same way about microtransactions as we did initially about MMOs: that our company was at risk if we didn’t have internal experience and hard data on them," said Walker.
That most players I encounter during my rocket-spamming binges seem festooned head-to-toe with user-made badges, hats, facial hair, clothing, deodorant, and even spectral high-fives speaks volumes of Valve's favorable foray into MMO economics, a financial result Walker also acknowledged.
Halloween is one of the few events I forgive for being teased obnoxiously early by halfhearted grocery store decorations and late-night Elvira beer commercials. Similarly, you've probably noticed Team Fortress 2's Steam Workshop page populating with Halloween-themed items already. Valve extended an official call-out yesterday for entries and ratings to the shambling Scream Fortress 2 update.
Crafters have until October 1 to cram the Workshop full of hats, weapons, and...well, more hats celebrating summer's end with ghostly effects and loud wailing noises. "Scariness doesn't just happen, people," Valve chides. "It's serious business."
Established modding communities already jumped to the task - TF2Mods' nearly month-old Night of the Living Update packs almost 60 items so far - but I'm looking forward to individual efforts and killcams of players donning the best Halloween tributes in the best hat simulator around.
Today, 2K Games revealed XCOM: Enemy Unknown's system specs and a peculiarly designed pre-order deal on Steam. All of the pre-order rewards, which include a free copy of Civilization V, are not guaranteed: in a post yesterday, 2K said three tiers of incentives unlock as more pre-orders roll in, with purchasers receiving the accrued spoils on XCOM's October 9 release.
The first tier, the Elite Soldier pack, gussies up your squad with "several aesthetic upgrades to armor suits" using "a variety of colors and tints." You'll also nab a soldier sporting the classic flattop hairdo from the original XCOM.
Tier 2 inflates your overflowing Team Fortress 2 item backpack with a flattop hair-helmet (sans appropriate theme music, sadly), an "Area 451" Sectoid head-over, and a giant Vigilant pin.
The last tier keeps it simple: a free copy of Civilization V, which is giftable for those who already own it. As I write, the progress bar is at around 80 percent into the first tier.
2K has also revealed XCOM's system specs. In addition to packing in more tasty tactical treats for the PC version, XCOM's development team gratified the PC's "superior hardware" with increased detail depth and graphics power, but the below system requirements show support for a wide range of setups:
Minimum Requirements OS: Windows Vista Software: Steam Client Processor: 2 GHz Dual Core Memory: 2 GB RAM Hard Drive: 20 GB free Video Memory: 256 MB Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT/ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT or greater Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
Recommended Requirements OS: Windows 7 Processor: 2 GHz Dual Core (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or Athlon X2 2.7 GHz) Memory: 4 GB RAM Hard Drive: 20 GB free Video Memory: 512+ MB Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce 9000 series/ATI Radeon HD 3000 series or greater Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
Don't call it a comeback: T.J. is misguidedly given dominion over the podcast for a second week running as we discuss whether the new Black Isle Studios has anything to do with the old Black Isle Studios, what our plans are for the launch of Guild Wars 2, and whether we will actually see the World of Darkness MMO before the apocalypse. Plus, new DayZ storytime from Evan, T.J. proposes to Crusader Kings II, and Tyler asks new Associate Editor Omri Petitte what (railgun) is best in life?
Saddle up for the content-crammed extravaganza that is PC Gamer US Podcast 327: Pixel Blood
Have a question, comment, complaint, or observation? Leave a voicemail: 1-877-404-1337 ext 724 or email the mp3 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Saxxy Awards are back, giving budding film makers the opportunity to craft a masterpiece and win a Saxxy Award in Team Fortress 2. The winniest winner of the shortlist of category winners will be flown out to Valve for a sit down session with Valve's Source Filmmakers, which is a great prize because I don't know if you've ever tried it but flying is BRILLIANT. The Valve filmmaker folk are probably quite nice as well. Once there you'll have the chance to get your work "aired on GTTV's VGA preshow this December."
There are four categories, the most challenging of which is likely to be "Original Universe" which requires that all featured assets be custom made. There are other gongs available for best action, drama and comedy. All entries must be submitted between Nobember 1 and November 15. No sooner, no later.
That's one of a number of rules Valve have come up with to stop this thing getting out of hand and turning into a "who can make the best version of Homeward Bound using nothing but bits of the Pyro" competition, which nobody wants. NOBODY. Here are those rules.
Entries must be no longer than five minutes. Each entry must be at least 720p. All entries must be submitted using the Source Filmmaker's upload to YouTube™ and Steam Community menu option. Only entries submitted between Nov. 1, 12:00 AM and Nov. 15, 12:00 AM GMT will be considered. Voting begins Nov. 16. Winners, selected by Valve from the community-chosen nominees, will be announced by Dec. 31, 2012 All co-creators must be finalized by submission deadline to be considered. You are free to use any Valve IP. If you use any non-Valve IP, you must be the copyright owner or have explicit permission from the owner. Multiple submissions per person are fine. Submissions must be free of advertisements.
Find out more on the Team Fortress 2 site. Note that you're free to use any of Valve's IPs. It'll be interesting to see if we get many Dota 2 entries.
Valve has rolled out its final batch of reveals for the upcoming Steam Community revamp. Highlights include a Facebook-esque feed of your friends' activity, which will let you rate almost any tidbit of information that's caught in your radar screen and share it to various social media outlets. If you happened to be one of the first people to earn the "Pillar of the Steam Community" badge (an accolade that involves rating screenshots, recommending games, and other social actions on Ye Steam Community of Olde), you'll be getting two invites letting you past the velvet rope to be one of the first to check the new features out.
The rest of us aren't being left out in the cold darkness of the present, though. We can admire the future ourselves with the live web version of the Team Fortress 2 game hub, and discuss the upcoming changes in the Community Beta group. Let the world know if you would describe this new coat of paint as "nifty," or you'd rather have less social media applesauce in your games distribution peanut butter.
Are you ready to FIGHT? Are you ready to SCRAP until every ROBOT you see is SMASHED INTO A PILE OF ASSORTED BITS OF CASE AND WIRING AND OILY BITS OF COLD MECHANICAL SOUL that is conveniently for the purposes of this sentence ALSO called SCRAP?
Of course you are! It's MANN VS MACHINE TIME AND...oh, hang on.
IN AN ESTIMATED 32 MINUTES, IT IS MANN VS MACHINE TIME!
Yes, the latest patch for Team Fortress 2 is out - and it's a popular one. I've been trying to get into a game for the last hour and a half, and have yet to actually manage it thanks to full-to-bursting servers and connection errors after patiently queuing up like some kind of polite, quiet person. I was originally planning to bring a quick hands-on verdict of a round or two. Instead, all I can say is that the matchmaking screen is very calm and soothing, and a credit to menu screens everywhere.
It will of course settle down once the entire internet has stopped hammering it, and in the meantime you can read the player guide right here to see the robots you'll be fighting and how the character upgrade system will work. The most surprising thing though is the addition of "Mann Up" tickets for an extra fee. You don't have to buy these to play, but they do buy you access to special servers where rare items can be found. Tickets are only used up on completion of a successful mission though, so you don't have to worry about wasting one on a bad team. There's also a progress tracking element involved, but as far as I can tell it looks like it's a similar deal to the existing crates - an option if you want to fast-track your collection of weird and wonderful gubbins, but by no means mandatory.
There are three MvM maps, Decoy, Coal Town and Mannworks, each with three "Missions" - one Normal difficulty and two Advanced for each. Unlike regular Team Fortress, you earn money for kills, which can be spent on character upgrades that last the duration of the match, with the addition of canteens for instant mid-game power-ups like a five second Ubercharge.
I'm looking forward to trying it all out.
Please would everyone else stop connecting for a few minutes so that I can.
The final reveal leading up to the launch of Team Fortress 2's co-op vs homicidal robots mode, Mann vs Machine, gives us a glimpse at a clockwork armful of new achievements, and details how you'll be able to earn some epic, new cosmetic items. For a small fee.
The big reveal here is the new "Mann Up Mode," which will pit you against the mechanical hordes on an "Official Mann Co." server with a chance to earn the new rewards, which largely seem to run along the theme of strapping broken robot parts to yourself and your guns. To be eligible for these (cosmetic only) drops, you'll need to buy Tour of Duty tickets for 99 cents each. Each ticket will allow you to complete a mission toward completing a Tour of Duty badge: a new item that levels up with you and grants you a random rare every time you level it up. Each level of your Tour of Duty badge will require you to complete a set of fixed MvM missions, at the cost of one ticket each. Tickets are only expended on a victory, so succumbing to horrible, metal death won't "eat your quarters" like the arcade games of yore.
Also available for $2 are Squad Surplus Vouchers, expended at the end of any given (successful) mission in MvM that give everyone on your team an item drop. If you're rolling with a full team of six that each bought one, you're all getting six drops if you win.
All of this aside, Mann Up mode can be completely ignored. You can still play MvM on non-Mann Co. servers and earn random drops over time, just like in TF2's competitive modes. All you'll be missing out on are chances at the new cosmetic gear and leveling up your Tour of Duty badge. You can read more in the official FAQ. We're still sorely lacking in an ETA for Mann vs Machine beyond "Today," so keep an eye out. The machines should be marching soon, and we plan to meet them. With bullets.