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  • Feb 8th, 2019 @ 5:46am

    Unfortunately, Epic's idea of "competition" is hot garbage.

    Steam's popularity isn't just because of the games, but also because of the myriad features Valve has added to the storefront and client over the years to the point where there are numerous useful features you won't find on other clients. A small list, shall we?

    • One of the most feature-rich and open gaming storefronts. It has issues, but there are many more other storefronts on PC, console and mobile that are significantly worse.
    • A truckload of community features, including community forums for games, guides, sharing screenshots and videos, etc. (Did I mention it's a feature so useful that people playing games like Subnautica via the Epic client have to go to the Steam forums for support for their games?)
    • The Steam Workshop, which can act as an in-client mod library and as a means of allowing players to create in-game items that they can make money from.
    • Steam Big Picture, an alternative interface mainly for TV gaming.
    • Steam Input, first created for the Steam Controller, but now supports the Xbox 360/Xbox One controller, PS4 controller, Nintendo Switch Pro controller, and any generic xinput or directinput controller, allowing a jaw-dropping amount of control customizability, with a sheer number of features and versatility that makes it possible for control schemes that you simply can't achieve on any other platform.
    • And most recently, Valve investing in and developing a WINE-like compatibility layer for Linux that enables even the newest Windows-only games to run with minimal performance loss, which is an enormous feat for smashing Microsoft's effective monopoly over PC gaming, along with contributing to multi-platform technologies like Vulkan.

    By contrast, Epic's storefront is basically just a bare-bones client with just a crappy storefront, a friends list and a chat client, like almost every other "competing" store outside of Good Old Games, which made its own niche by focusing on making old games available and playable digitally on modern hardware and operating systems.

    Is Epic meaningfully competing in ways other than moneyhatting exclusives and the occasional free game? No - there's almost no interesting features to actually provide value and differentiation compared to Valve's client, for both the customer and developers. A bigger cut for developers isn't going to matter if people who would've bought a game on Steam won't buy it on Epic's storefront, and there is a big contingent of PC gamers who are only interested in what Steam has to offer.

    Epic are gambling on the possibility of leveraging the Fortnite playerbase - a playerbase that, for the most part, only cares about Fortnite and absolutely nothing else. It's also arguable that the 'curated' storefront is also a bad idea, as it significantly limits the number of indie games that can be published on the store, and there are a LOT of good indie games out there. Steam got rid of curation because they realized that they would rather let people decide what they want to buy rather than make assumptions about their customers, and focus on trying to make it easier for people to find stuff they might enjoy.

    In many ways, it can be argued that Epic are actually harming the PC space rather than enriching it by trying to take games away from Steam instead of competing in terms of actual value and features.

  • May 9th, 2018 @ 7:36am

    They say they will, but they probably won't.

    Nintendo's strategy for mobile so far has basically been smaller, simpler titles that don't really compare to their console offerings, and arguably act as advertisements for their console stuff. I don't see that changing, and rightfully so.

    Here's the thing - gaming on mobile devices is currently a garbage fire. There are good mobile games, sure, but they're a tiny percentage of a deluge of terrible games and games trying to milk as much money out of players as possible. Mobile gamers are downright hostile to the idea of any kind of up-front payment, they've been so conditioned to expect things for free that even extremely cheap expansions result in negative reviews and extreme hostility towards developers, as the developers of Monument Valley learned the hard way. And for your average indie developer, good luck with getting any kind of exposure or revenue when the market is inundated with crap.

    As well, touch-screen controls are dreadful for emulating traditional controls, nor do they provide the flexibility to match the amount of functionality traditional controllers provide. The vast majority of gaming genres are almost unplayable on mobile devices aside from the select few that work fine for touch controls, such as puzzle games, turn-based strategy and visual novels. And the vast majority of mobile gamers have no interest in getting a gamepad add-on for their mobile devices, and will turn up their noses at games that require one. The idea of playing anything that requires more complex controls than an NES game with a touch screen is utter madness - playing most SNES titles without the shoulder buttons is one thing, but the N64 or Gamecube? Absurd.

    There's a reason why the Nintendo Switch is exploding in sales, aside from its exclusive content - it can do everything a regular console and a mobile device can do gaming-wise without compromise, being able to play games on a big screen or on the go.

    As a aspiring game developer, I don't see the point in developing for the mobile market. It's too risky, too inflexible to enable the sort of games I want to create, and its audience is toxic and demands everything for free (only to get sucked into free-to-play microtranscation scams).

    To me, despite the ridiculous amount of money going into it, mobile devices are still a novelty when it comes to gaming, not a serious platform for it. You may disagree, but that's how I feel. And that's not going to change without making some fundamental changes to both hardware and the ecosystem which likely won't happen in a long time.

  • Feb 21st, 2018 @ 3:14am

    To be fair, it does seem like the devs might fix this problem.

    The creative director for the game actually responded to a tweet by Hietanen about the ban, complimented him on his work and said he'll look into the issue.

    This might actually encourage the developers to implement a proper photo mode, since the concept is so popular in other games as of late.

  • Jul 28th, 2016 @ 8:22am

    The TPP won't be ratified in Australia, period.

    Glyn, I think you're neglecting to mention the political conditions here in Australia that would make it extremely difficult if not impossible for the TPP to be ratified. The government barely returned to power with literally just enough seats to claim majority government.

    But that's not the roadblock - it's the Senate. Despite the recent election being a double dissolution intended to rid the government of the crossbench senators (minor parties and independents). Labor and the Greens collectively have enough votes to be a serious blockade without crossbench support for any bill, and the government likely needs roughly 9 crossbench senators, with the two big blocs being the Nick Xenophon Team (decent bloke, somewhat protectionist and really hates gambling) and One Nation (aka Pauline Hanson's racist party, basically our Donald Trump on the racist side of things, the rich business side was Clive Palmer and he didn't last long), and while the crossbench generally hate each other and will be like herding cats (and the Liberals have absolutely no skill in senate negotiation as they have a "born to rule" mindset), they are generally protectionist and will happily take a sledgehammer to trade agreements, the TPP in particular will be the main target in their sights. And neither Labor nor the Greens will support it.

    In other words, even if the US and Japan ratify it, they've lost a vital part of the trade agreement by default, despite the US giving in to demands to limit pharma patent protection and bar Big Tobacco from using the ISDS provisions. I imagine some Republican senators really want to strangle Malcom Turnbull for potentially ruining everything.
  • Mar 20th, 2015 @ 2:43am

    Well, just don't expect 'proper' Nintendo games on smartphones. Or ports. Or old games.

    Sure, it's interesting that they're doing this, but Nintendo have openly stated with this announcement that a) all their smartphone games will be content produced exclusively for smartphones and designed around smartphones, and b) they will not port games made for handhelds/consoles to smartphones. Which will likely include virtual console games.

    So don't expect anything that you'd expect Nintendo to usually make, and expect these games to actively advertise Nintendo's hardware and the 'real' games on them. Which is a fairly sensible move, in my opinion. Nintendo should certainly not be trying to port over old games that were never designed for the limited interface of smartphones. Their smartphone efforts will likely be a 'third pillar' as a supplement to handhelds and consoles.

    And no, they're not developing content for PCs, that's just their new account system (to replace Nintendo Network accounts and Club Nintendo and basically merge them), which can be accessed via PC.
  • Feb 8th, 2015 @ 3:44am

    Actually, Nintendo are pretty much right this time around.

    Let's be frank, smartphones are pretty terrible gaming devices for anything that isn't designed around the use of a touch screen, and Nintendo knows that.

    Putting old Nintendo games on smartphones would be a terrible idea, because the lack of tactile buttons would make them virtually unplayable. Maybe the NES and Gameboy would be doable, but anything more would be pretty much out of the question. There are emulators of various consoles, but I'd be surprised if anyone actually used them for anything other than turn-based RPGs, because that's honestly really the only thing they're good for.

    Really, the lack of proper controls is pretty much the only thing preventing smartphones from becoming a legitimate gaming device. There are special controller add-ons, but those are a niche at best. And the app stores are terrible, not to mention the utterly unhealthy digital market on those things, it's either F2P, or 2-dollar apps at best.

    Nintendo's focus is entirely on its own hardware, and only its own hardware. Microsoft and Sony do the same thing, except they actually make smartphones while Nintendo doesn't. And Nintendo don't need to anything on smartphones, they'd rather release nothing at all rather than a compromised user experience that smartphone ports of their old games would bring.
  • Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:06pm

    (untitled comment)

    Well, it's a good thing the senate is practically rigged against the government. The opposition only needs Labor, the Greens and three more senators to shoot down anything that comes up to vote. If Palmer United or another three senators give the government the finger, the bill won't pass.

    Palmer United is basically a wild card, though, so who knows what Palmer himself will do. He's a populist, but he's also virtually impossible to predict. Though it's likely that more reliable senators like Xenophon will vote against the bill.
  • Mar 20th, 2014 @ 12:54am

    It's because Tony Abbot is a buffoon.

    That's the long and short of it, really. Labor was opposed to ISDS provision in trade agreements, but the recently-elected Coalition, who have embraced the "the free market can do no wrong" ideology, doesn't care.

    The new government's policies have been nothing but disaster since they came into power.
  • Aug 14th, 2013 @ 7:27am

    Re: Give Nintendo a break already

    Or they could not buy the game and simply get their fix from the demo. Seriously, dude, that's an actual problem with demoes. It's not as black and white as you make it sound. Nintendo have a legitimate reason for implementing the limit, and it's not nearly as bad as some of their other "slip-ups".

    And if need to boot up a demo more than 20-30 times to figure out if you actually like the game or not, you have to be incredibly indecisive.
  • Aug 14th, 2013 @ 3:28am

    I'm gonna have to play Devil's Advocate, here...

    There are many cases where people will simply play the demo over and over and get what they want out of it instead of buying the full game. Hell, demos in general are highly problematic, especially in this day and age. Extra Credits did an episode on demos highlighting the potential problems and why making a demo for a game is an extremely risky thing, especially if the demo is either bad or mediocre.

    It's not a pleasant reality, but Nintendo does have a perfectly valid reason for restricting the number of times you can start up a demo. It may not be the best solution, but all things considered, 20-30 start-ups is plenty, and if you want more than that, well, you've just made yourself an example of why it was done in the first place.
  • Jul 18th, 2013 @ 5:16pm

    (untitled comment)

    Obama is in a rock and a hard place right now, unfortunately. While it is true he could win considerable support by just killing the illegal NSA surveillance programs, he has made his position on the program quite clear, and it would be extremely difficult to walk that back without cutting deeply into what ability to govern he has left.
  • Jul 11th, 2013 @ 2:21am

    Michael Pachter has always been considered a complete joke of an analyst.

    I'm actually surprised to see his name outside of the gaming scene. He's the frequent target of mockery among gamers, as he's a complete idiot who has no idea what he's actually talking about, whenever he's not saying anything that isn't blatantly obvious.

    Nice to see that trend hasn't changed for any other field, then.
  • Dec 7th, 2012 @ 9:33am

    (untitled comment)

    There's a discussion on this over at Sonic Retro, and there's a theory that this is the work of youtube troll(s) rather than Sega themselves, especially since the claimant is using 'sega' with no caps, which is incredibly suspicious.
  • Nov 17th, 2012 @ 9:26am

    Anyone else see the irony in the Republicans effectively calling copyright, well, communist?

    Remember this old pic?

    Yeah, so deliciously ironic.

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