As part of its lengthy preparations to offer real-money gambling via its social games in the U.S., Zynga has taken the first step towards acquiring a Nevada gaming license, which would help pave the way towards giving American players a chance to give the company their money without getting virtual livestock in exchange.
They've comleted the step before paying off the mob, but there's still a long row to hoe. Zynga chief revenue officer Barry Cottle announced the filing in an official statement this evening.
"Zynga has filed its Application for a Preliminary Finding of Suitability from the Nevada Gaming Control Board. This filing continues our strategic effort to enter regulated RMG markets in a prudent way. We anticipate that the process will take approximately 12 to 18 months to complete. As we've said previously, the broader U.S. market is an opportunity that's further out on the horizon based on legislative developments, but we are preparing for a regulated market."
Zynga has already partnered with bwin.party to offer real-money gambling in the UK in the first half of next year.
It's long been my favorite area in Dragon Age II, a stupid name that embodies the worst in fantasy game lore-writing. My friends and I have taken to calling it "dorktown," and I can still quote the codex entry by heart.
"The foul miasma known as chokedamp clogs and swells in every corner of the Darktown."
Chokedamp! Good times.
I've already talked about how much I love the weapon-descriptions in the game, and this little chestnut in the "Badtown" description made me laugh.
Conscious shout-out to Dragon Age II? Accidental reference that just illustrates how bad the name "Darktown" really is? We may never know.
Zen Studios' hugely successful pinball simulation lands on its third console, the Wii U, later this month via the Wii U eShop. The game will incorporate features specific to the Wii U's GamePad, which includes controlling the plunger on the touchscreen, cycling through information displayed on the table's dot-matrix readout, rotating camera views and a free view control implemented by tilting the pad.
More importantly, Zen's licensed Marvel Comics tables will be available in addition to Zen's original library comprising favorites like Excalibur, Mars and Epic Quest. A news release mentioned all Marvel-themed tables except the recently released Civil War.
The platform itself is free to download, offering tables to try and purchase from there. Zen's original Marvel Pinball series (Spider-Man, Wolverine, Blade and Iron Man) will be offered as a group, as will the Avengers Chronicles table set and Vengeance and Virtue from 2011.
A Zen "classic pack" Tesla, El Dorado, V12 and Shaman wil be available, too. The following will be offered a la carte: Plants vs. Zombies, Excalibur, Earth Defense, Sorcerer's Lair, Paranormal, Mars, Epic Quest, Captain America and Fantastic Four.
I can't wait for Grand Theft Auto V to release. To the point that even a LEGO rendition of that first trailer sparks my excitement.
Now someone do one of the second trailer. No wait, Rockstar: just make another trailer. A new screenshot? A tiny announcement? Hello? Rockstar?
This Wednesday edition of Kotaku's The Moneysaver catches all the offers, promotions and bargains that can't wait until the weekend. The Midweek Moneysaver is brought to you by Dealzon.
• Yesterday's release Far Cry 3 (PC download) is $39.99, free ship from GameFly. Elsewhere $50. [Dealzon]
• Best Buy special on select 360 Kinect games: Buy 1, get a $10 gift card; or buy 2, get a $30 gift card. Eight eligible titles, including Angry Birds Trilogy, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13, and Just Dance 4. [Dealzon]
• This week Toys 'R' Us has a "Buy 1, Get 1 50% Off" sale on video games and accessories. Excludes pre-order games, but it's an especially good deal for Wii U games since there aren't many discounts out there in individual titles. [Dealzon]
• Yesterday's release XCOM: Enemy Unknown - Slingshot (PC DLC) is $4.90 from Green Man Gaming. List price is $7. [Dealzon]
• FTL: Faster Than Light (PC download) is $5.99 from GOG.com, DRM free. [Dealzon]
• Dec. 20 release Company of Heroes 2 (PC download) is $42 from Green Man Gaming. List price is $60. [Dealzon]
• Jan. 15 release Sniper Ghost Warrior 2 (PC download) is $20.93 from Green Man Gaming. List price is $30. [Dealzon]
• Feb. 12 release Aliens: Colonial Marines (PC download) is $35 from Green Man Gaming. List price is $50. [Dealzon]
• Feb. 26 release Crysis 3: Hunter Edition (PC download) is $42 from Green Man Gaming. List price is $60. [Dealzon]
• Mar. 3 release South Park: The Stick of Truth (PC download) is $35 from Green Man Gaming. List price is $50. [Dealzon]
• Mar. 5 release Tomb Raider (PC download) is $31.50 from Green Man Gaming. Next best is $45. [Dealzon]
• FIFA Soccer 13 (360, PS3) is $39.99, free ship from Kmart. Amazon is price matching at $40, but after that next best is $48. [Dealzon]
• Medal of Honor: Warfighter (360, PS3) is $39.99, free ship from Kmart. Same price at Amazon and Target, but after that next best is $48. [Dealzon]
• Need for Speed Most Wanted (Xbox 360, PS3) is $29.99 + $2.50 shipping from Origin. Next best is $40. [Dealzon]
• Dead Island Game of the Year Edition (PC download) is $7 from Green Man Gaming. Next best is $20. [Dealzon]
• Total War Bundle (10 PC downloads) is $23.75 from Amazon. Individually $145. [Dealzon]
• Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 (360, PS3) is $39.99, free ship from Best Buy. Next best is $47. [Dealzon]
• Rocksmith (360, PS3) is $29.99, free ship from Amazon. Next best is $47. [Dealzon]
• Just Dance: Disney Party (360, Wii) is $19.99 from Amazon. Next best is $30. [Dealzon]
• Starhawk (PS3) is $18.60 from Amazon. Next best is $39. [Dealzon]
• Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Pre-Owned: 360, PS3) is $21.99, free ship from GameFly. Next best is $30. [Dealzon]
• Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 (Pre-Owned: 360) is $14.99, free ship from GameFly. Next best is $29. [Dealzon]
• Puss in Boots (360) is $9.99, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $16. [Dealzon]
• The Black Eyed Peas Experience (Wii) is $8.99, free ship from Amazon. Next best is $15. [Dealzon]
• F1 Race Stars (PC download) is $31.50 from Green Man Gaming. Next best is $45. [Dealzon]
• Iron Sky Invasion (PC download) is $28 from Green Man Gaming. List price is $40. [Dealzon]
• Sonic Action Pack (12 PC downloads) is $24.99 from Amazon. Individually $115. [Dealzon]
• Scribblenauts Unlimited (PC download) is $21 from Green Man Gaming. List price is $30. [Dealzon]
• Sega Action Only Pack (5 PC downloads) is $19.99 from Amazon. Individually $96. [Dealzon]
• Farming Simulator 2013 (PC download) is $19.19 from GameFly. List price is $30. [Dealzon]
• Sega Arcade Collection (5 PC downloads) is $14.99 from Amazon. Individually $60. [Dealzon]
• Confrontation (PC download) is $12.79 from GameFly. Next best is $28. [Dealzon]
• Deep Black Reloaded (PC download) is $10.50 from Green Man Gaming. Next best is $30. [Dealzon]
• Endless Space: Admiral Edition (PC download) is $10.50 from Green Man Gaming as a Deal of the Day. Next best is $30. [Dealzon]
• Alan Wake Franchise (PC download) is $10 from Steam. Next best is $35. [Dealzon]
• Blades of Time: Limited Edition (PC download) is $9.52 from Green Man Gaming. Next best is $30. [Dealzon]
• Afterfall: InSanity (PC download) is $8.40 from Green Man Gaming. Next best is $20. [Dealzon]
• Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (PC download) is $7.49 from Steam. Next best is $10. [Dealzon]
• Total War Battles: Shogun (PC download) is $3.50 from Green Man Gaming. Next best is $5. [Dealzon]
• The First Templar (PC download) is $3.50 from Green Man Gaming. Next best is $5. [Dealzon]
• Sine Mora (PC download) is $3.39 from Steam. Next best is $10. [Dealzon]
• Mortal Kombat: Arcade Kollection (PC download) is $2.80 from Green Man Gaming. Next best is $10. [Dealzon]
• Nintendo 3DS XL bundle with Mario Kart 7 for $199.99 and comes with a $20 gift card from Best Buy. [Dealzon]
• Turtle Beach Ear Force XP500 Wireless Gaming Headset (Refurbished) is $149.95, free ship from eBay Deals. Next best is $166. [Dealzon]
• Nintendo 3DS consoles in various colors are $129.99 from Target, in stores only. Next best is $145. [Dealzon]
• Nintendo Wii console with Skylander Giants is $124.99, free ship from Toys 'R' Us. List price is $150. [Dealzon]
• Xbox 360 Live 12-Month Gold Membership is $39.99 from NewEgg. Next lowest is $48 at Amazon. [Dealzon]
• SteelSeries Spectrum 5xB Gaming Headset for Xbox 360 is $34.99, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $51. [Dealzon]
• Wii Remote (compatible with MotionPlus adapter), Nunchuck and Wrist Strap is $12.99, free ship from Buy.com. List price is $35. [Dealzon]
• EVGA GeForce GTX 570 HD 1280MB GDDR5 Dual PCIe Video Card is $199.99 after rebate, free ship from TigerDirect. Next best is $255. [Dealzon]
• OCZ 480GB Solid 3 SSD is $289.99 after rebate, free ship from TigerDirect. List price is $330. [Dealzon]
• Intel 60GB 520 Series Cherryville SSD is $84.99, free ship from NewEgg. Next best is $90. [Dealzon]
• Dell's 15.6-inch 1080p Vostro 3560 laptop with Ivy Bridge Quad Core i7-3632QM, 6GB RAM, 500GB HDD + 32GB mSSD, Radeon HD 7670M is $799, free ship from Dell Small Business. List price is $1,289. [Dealzon]
• Dell XPS 8500 Ivy Bridge Quad Core i5-3350P, GeForce GT 620, 8GB RAM, 2TB HDD, Windows 8 is $649.99, free ship from Dell Home. List price is $775. [Dealzon]
As always, smart gamers can find values any day of the week, so if you've run across a deal, share it with us in the comments.
Originally announced at E3 all the way back on June 15th, 2010, Animal Crossing on 3DS has been one of the most desired titles for Nintendo's handheld. Out in Japan since November 8th, Animal Crossing: New Leaf (as it's now known here) is selling monster numbers, and yet it got nary a mention in today's Nintendo Direct US. So the question arises: where's our damn Animal Crossing?
Why is Nintendo of America trying to deny us the sweet pleasure of candy colored mayoral duties—an experience one of our writers likened to "digital heroin?" Sure, we may have made a little fun of Tom Nook in the past, but that doesn't mean we deserve this evasiveness. Even Europe got a speculative Q2 2013 release date in their personalized Nintendo Direct. After all, Animal Crossing has sold well-to-excellent here in the past, breaking the million units barrier on both its GameCube and Wii incarnations.
But in the two years and counting since its announcement, Nintendo of America have been particularly parsimonious with their Animal Crossing 3DS info. The unplayable 2010 demo was followed by a trailer at E3 the following June, where it wasn't even brought up in their presentation (among the games that were mentioned: Tetris, Pac-Man, Driver: Renegade). Though during E3, the creator of Animal Crossing did tease very minimal, very vague information about what the next game would entail. Nintendo showed similar footage at a September 13th, 2011 conference. This year's E3 also brought no Animal Crossing news beyond Nintendo Land's "Sweet Day" segment.
Meanwhile, however, Japan has been drinking in that precious info. Let me count the ways. New footage and a confirmation that the game (known by then as Animal Crossing: Jump Out in Japan) was "on track" for a Fall release in their April 20th Nintendo Direct. Two minutes of new footage at a June 22nd press conference (just 11 days after Reggie Fils-Aime told us it was "in development," and two weeks after leaving it off their upcoming 3DS slate).
Japan's August 29th Direct broadcast had a taste of gameplay and new features. Then, on top of that, Japan's October 5th Nintendo Direct was 47 minutes of straight Animal Crossing goodness. Devotion to Animal Crossing can be powerful, to put it lightly, and yet America was quietly told to sit in the other room while the adults discussed Bells and Dr. Shrunk.
The dawn finally appeared to break on August 29th, when Nintendo of America tweeted that Animal Crossing was coming to 3DS "during the first half of 2013." In yet another Nintendo Direct on October 25th, Reggie announced not only a new name for the game—Animal Crossing: New Leaf—but confirmed the vague release window of "early next year" (and presented over five minutes of gameplay). In a Q&A later that day Nintendo President Satoru Iwata also referenced plans to eschew paid DLC for New Leaf. Sure, the release was still several months away, but at least you could see the finish line.
Which brings us to today where, as I mentioned, we got nothing. Zip, nada, zilch. Perhaps this means that the "early next year" no longer stands. Maybe that New Leaf is being pushed beyond even Europe's "Q2 2013." With unit sales already cresting over 1,000,000 in Japan (and 3DS sales seeing an accompanying spike), what exactly is Nintendo of America waiting for? We reached out to Nintendo with this question. Fittingly, there was no answer.
Remember Brink? I initially looked forward to that game because it promised me a parkour competitive shooter, and that idea seemed awesome.
Alas, that wasn't what the game gave me. Not a good one, anyway. This Mirror's Edge inspired server mod for TF2, though? Looks like it might just pull it off.
The developer, explaining how the mod works:
While in Parkour Fortress, speed, timing, and precision are used to the player's advantage (or in some cases, disadvantage) to pull off stunts and tricks while keeping momentum, and either reach the end of the course or to bring all of the flags to one location, thus winning the round.
It's perfect because, any time I play as the scout, I'm mostly doing it for the thrill. His pace and speed are really something else. And this mod looks like it takes advantage of that.
Nothing deleted from Twitter is ever deleted on time, and sometime between Monday and Tuesday, a disillusioned former Madden developer figured that out. By then, his unvarnished rant tossed a dripping slab of red meat to Madden's many Internet enemies, and it didn't win the author much support from his old friends.
"Delete your tweets while you can, only a few have read so far," one of A.J. Dembroski's followers said while this was still mostly someone venting understandable disillusionment about what he once considered a dream job. It then became a general condemnation of his former employer, and an attack on a producer—by name—who is still on the team.
Dembroski seemed to recognize the consequences of going off as a loose cannon in an insular development community in which he's had one job. In one tweet (the full thread is in this post at Pastapadre, who broke the story) he acknowledges, "I might end up driving [a] taxi again the rest of my life."
But that kind of career-suicide ideation usually teases some kind of bigtime whistleblowing, and what Dembroski ended up alleging is nothing that I haven't read in forum threads and comments for the past six years. Here's the best of what we got, the stuff that actually may have some weight because it comes from a guy who was on the project:
• The game is regurgitated design-by-numbers pabulum, optimized to pursue Call of Duty profit.
• New features came up short thanks to incompetent designers.
• Consumers are lied to by a publisher that neither knows nor cares for the art of making a video game.
Well, where haven't I heard that before? About any sports video game? We wanted to know more. On Monday, another writer here went to Dembroski and I sought out folks I knew either on the current Madden team or with connections to the old one. Nobody wanted to touch this in any kind of depth, Dembroski included.
It goes without saying EA Sports doesn't want to talk about it officially; I couldn't even get them to send me a no-comment. It stands to reason, as they don't want what a former colleague described as "an entry-level grunt guy" to force the company to respond to criticism. Not surprisingly, the producer named in his rant also declined to go on or off-the-record with me.
This is not to say Dembroski didn't raise anything worth discussing or anything indefensible on its face. I was especially interested in a side conversation that cropped up about the scouting system in Madden's Franchise mode. Dembroski suggested that a better system had been squashed for bad reasons. I was also interested in the alternate visions alluded to for Connected Careers, the new suite that unites Franchise and the game's old Superstar modes. "There were four designers on [Connected Careers] ... 3 of them competent," he Tweeted. "The incompetent one undid most of what we did and fucked it all up." He also said that NBA Live, which again canceled its game right before release, has a great development team and that in two years will be a good game. If it was scuttled this year because of money and corporate meddling, heck yes we want to know more about that.
Maybe somewhere in there we could get a more concrete look at what I think is really sports development's biggest creative problem: the unavoidable corrosion that comes from having a tremendously expensive license on your game, the one that makes so many gamers care so deeply that they view internal bickering as rip-the-lid-off revelations. The NFL license on Madden is both the reason this was a dream job and the reason it was so disillusioning. That deal is rumored to be second only to the NFL's broadcast contracts. It's nice to talk about creative independence and integrity, but let's not pretend support for Madden NFL comes from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Dembroski's rant is only a service to pissed-off gamers in that it gives an authoritative endorsement of their discontent. In everything else it's a creative dispute in which the losing party took his case to the public. And they didn't get any evidence to work with. And even some otherwise sympathetic to Dembroski's frustration are unhappy at being caught in its blast. "Do you honestly think we want shit thrown at our face?" said one. "Of course we have frustrations, but what he did was extremely unprofessional."
Dembroski, as I understand it, ascended to his job through his hard work, dedication to the game and visibility in the Madden community. He was with the studio for two years. He seems to still be coming to this from the perspective of a gamer, which is great advocacy but a formula for a fast burnout. That makes the meltdown sad. It and the reaction to it highlights the way in which we're also unable to reconcile our unlimited expectations of a video game with the realities of how it is actually made inside a year's deadline set, by contract, by the league licensing it.
"I am fucking myself, but I've shipped 2 Maddens. I'm credited on 4," he wrote. "[I'll] have a legacy."
Even after it's deleted.
I've picked so many locks in so many video games. In sewers beneath medieval castles, in cyberpunk prisons, in futuristic alleyways and warehouses, in banks and embassies and spaceships. I've seen so many video game lockpicking minigames I could spit.
I've balanced tumblers and teased open locks.
I've broken thousands of precious lockpicks, which are often difficult to replace.
I thought I'd seen every kind of lock the virtual world could throw at me. And so when I fired up Assassin's Creed III and quickly found myself faced with yet another type of lockpicking minigame, I immediately blanched. Really? Yet another video game developer wants to take a shot at this?
And yet... I've found that I love picking locks in Assassin's Creed III. Connor isn't the most sophisticated lockpicker around, but that's actually what makes it great. Check it out:
That's me picking a lock in New York. (And of course, note the bizarre, looping audio in the background). Picking locks in ACIII works in three stages. First you turn your left thumbstick to find the tension angle until it clicks, then you twist the right thumbstick until the raking angle clicks. Crucially, you have to hold the left thumbstick in place while you turn the right one.
It takes me a little while to pick this one—some of the chests take a long time. That's actually also an important part of why it's fun. You have to hold your thumbs in weird positions while feeling out the angles of the lock.
Now here's the most important part, the coup de grace: Once you've got your tension and raking angles in place, you hold both thumbsticks steady and jam the right trigger until Connor breaks the lock. It's awesome.
I never knew how physically satisfying lockpicking could feel on a video game controller, but I love this. Compared to the average finicky lockpicking game, where you usually have to feather the thumbstick carefully and, say, press the A button at the exact right moment, Assassin's Creed III's lockpicking is a terrific amalgamation of careful dexterity and brute force.
All this time, I guess I just wanted to have the opportunity to obliterate every video game lock I come across. Who knew?