Nov 282012

A couple a months ago, we covered a little mod called DayZ for the popular military simulator ArmA II.  The mod is a little buggy so a handful of rival developers jumped together and created War Z.

Wow, looks intense and awesome, right?  Not anymore, according to the player base.

It sounds like the developers of War Z might be taking the “make money and run” tactic soon, as disgruntled moderators who speak up are banned for false reasons and hidden fees start to surface.

One of the more interesting exerts from the post by the former moderator included the following tidbit:

So, since I didn’t sign any sort of NDA for those #$%!faces here are some interesting facts.

WarZ is a direct port over from War Inc. They literally took the game and added NPCs, made a large map, and changed around camera angles and gun settings while adding more functionality and switching over some things. ALL ART however was actually done in-house by their amazing ART team. (Those were the best guys to know, they were in touch more with the community than Kewk)

They randomly ban accounts that have a certain amount of time spent playing in-game, knowing they are hooked on the game so they re-buy the game.

Their anti-hack is actually functional but here’s the kicker..wanna know WHY their bans are TEMPORARY the first time around? 0.8% hacking? Try an EXTREMELY LARGE PORTION of the player base is hacking. If they banned everyone they’d have a mass refund issue on their hands, and no one to play their piss poor of an excuse game.

they plan to HALT DEVELOPMENT AND ABANDON THE GAME in SIX months if revenue is not enough for them (I.E. People are not buying GC and spending the fuck out of it) — take note, if they do not get ENOUGH revenue. They will have enough revenue to pay for the game development for over a year at this point in time already, but if they don’t get enough to give themselves regular raises they will stop making the game and shut down the servers and website.

I always thought it was interesting that more zombie games started showing up recently, but this seems like a pretty brazen attempt to extort a customer base into forking over more money to play what is essentially a rehashed zombie mod.  Granted, more people who play DayZ are finding themselves less worried about zombies and more about other in-game content, with many spin-off DayZ mods appearing, essentially turning DayZ back into ArmA II.

Even upon first glance, War Z’s pricing scheme seems kind of odd.

Hey, at least when you pay more for an MMO, you normally get a tangible collectible to go along with it.

Now that we’ve learned that War Z is basically a reskinned version of War Inc, a free-to-play MMO, the pricing structure similar to a F2P MMO makes more sense.  Heck, this price chart reminds me of Tribes Ascend.  Now that you see what you’re getting for your money, what would you have to fork out today if you wanted to play DayZ?

And that’s not even for DayZ. That’s for two other games, plus you get to play DayZ.

The levels of player reward versus payment of War Z reminds me of the dangerous line that most F2P games are walking, and that’s the finite line between “free to play” and “pay to win.”  The benefit of the in-game currency normally gives less-experienced players a chance to purchase over-powered weapons out of the gate rather than earning them through skill and persistence.  Games like Team Fortress 2 circumvent this issue by issuing new weapons randomly; you either get it or you don’t, and if you see something you want, feel free to go buy it for a dollar from their micro-transaction store.  I’ve inadvertently made purchases (using money or points accumulated through playing) in Team Fortress 2, League of Legends, and the very unfortunate Stronghold Kingdoms, and I can assure you I’m pretty terrible at those games and regret nothing about the experience.

But to throw $15 at a game that might ban me on principle alone, just to get me to buy back in?  That’s not “pay to win” anymore.  That’s just a con.  The best and worst upcoming trend in gaming now are indie developers.  Some are awesome.  Some extort you for money and lose sight of their original vision of making games for a living.  The hard part is that you can’t really know what you’re getting yourself into with a no-name developer.  Steam Green Light is getting some good publicity on user-rated content and games, but ripping people off and empty promises will keep games like Modern Warfare 3 and Halo 4 at the top of the charts, even if it’s the same content year after year.  Why?  Because it’s tried-and-true.  People know they’re getting polished content because they’re forking out $60 for a game that all of their friends have, and the reviews were glowing.

Now, I’m not saying those are bad games.  I’m saying that there are some games out there that definitely deserve better treatment than they’re given. Conversely, there are some that are over-rated, and those developers probably know it, and are trying to cash in on their idea (original, stolen, or otherwise modified from something else).  Say, for instance, taking a F2P MMO and charging an up-front fee with pricing similar to a F2P MMO, then abandoning the game once you have the money.

In unrelated news, Arma III is still in development, and the official DayZ stand-alone client is due out in December.

Nov 182011

Suddenly, free-to-play games have just gone to a whole new level.

The hot online action of mechs blowing each other apart took a turn for the awesome with the announcement from Crytek and Piranha Games that MechWarrior Online will use CryENGINE3 to power the blistering battles of robotic mayhem.

From early information, it looks like the F2P model will probably be supported by supplementing your in-game income to purchase newer, more powerful parts to customize your mech to better suit your play style. Well, of course, that’s the entire point of free games. When Valve made Team Fortress 2 free-to-play, their income from the in-game store (The Mann-Conomy) increased five-fold. Could this be a precursor to higher-quality games coming to us for free? I sure hope so.

I’d suggest heading over to their site to register for an account now!

Dec 102010

Square Enix has always attempted to provide gamers with a quality experience. I’d say for about 95% of the time they have been right on the money. Final Fantasy XIV however has not quite been the huge success as many MMO gamers had hoped for. The Square Enix staff working on the game know this and have had the balls to admit that they put out an inferior product. Recently they’ve lifted the subscription usually associated with MMOs until they can fix some of the bugs keeping players from having fun.The first big November patch did exactly what was promised, which is rare in big business these days. Making the UI far more responsive and the combat a little more fluid. It was a great step in the right decision and even had me coming back to play. December has it’s own update lined up giving players a much needed search function in the market wards.

This morning I awoke and discovered some big news. Square has had a little bit of a shake up and is putting their best staff in the right places in an attempt to truly salvage the game. They released a statement outlining what they’ve done and what they plan to do. So far they’ve done what they promised so it might just work out for everyone. They also mention that FFXIV will be free to play until the game is as enjoyable  as they want it to be. Let’s hope they can pull it off. Here are the quotes.

Thank you for your continued interest in and support of FINAL FANTASY XIV.

While more than two months have passed since the official launch of FINAL FANTASY XIV service, we deeply regret that the game has yet to achieve the level of enjoyability that FINAL FANTASY fans have come to expect from the franchise, and for this we offer our sincerest of apologies.

After thorough deliberation on how to meet those expectations, it was decided that the most viable step was to approach improvements under new leadership and with a restructured team.

To realize this vision, and in doing so, provide our customers with a better game experience, we have assembled our company’s top talent and resources. Taking over the role of producer and director is Naoki Yoshida, a passionate individual for whom customer satisfaction has always taken top priority. Not only is he one of our Group’s most accomplished and experienced members, Naoki Yoshida is also a charismatic leader possessing the skill to bring together and effectively helm a team which encompasses a wide range of responsibilities. We also welcome several new leaders handpicked from other projects to work with the existing talent on FINAL FANTASY XIV.

We realize time is of the essence and are fully determined to provide our customers with quality service. It is because of this that we ask our customers to be patient until we are able to confidently present them with a concrete plan outlining FINAL FANTASY XIV’s new direction. The free trial period will be extended until that time.

Regarding the PlayStation 3, it is not our wish to release a simple conversion of the Windows version in its current state, but rather an update that includes all the improvements we have planned. For that reason, we have made the difficult decision to delay the release of the PlayStation 3 version beyond the originally announced date of March 2011.

The FINAL FANTASY XIV team is working hard to bring our customers an unparalleled adventure, and we ask for your continued understanding and support as we march ever diligently towards that goal.

President and CEO, Yoichi Wada

The development and management teams would like to make an announcement regarding personnel changes.

[Organizational Changes to the Development Team]
To improve the service of FINAL FANTASY XIV, Square Enix has made the following changes to the development team:

Managerial Changes

Naoki Yoshida

Section Leader Changes

Assistant Director
Shintaro Tamai (FINAL FANTASY X, Front Mission 5: Scars of the War)

Lead Game Designer

Lead Combat System Designer
Akihiko Matsui (FINAL FANTASY XI)

Technical Advisor
Yoshihisa Hashimoto (Next Generation Game Engine Development)

Lead Programmer

Senior Concept Artist
Akihiko Yoshida (FINAL FANTASY XII, Vagrant Story)

Lead Artist

Lead UI Designer/Lead Web Designer
Hiroshi Minagawa (FINAL FANTASY XII, Vagrant Story)

These members will make up the development team’s new core-a core dedicated to ensuring we achieve a level of enjoyability that will more than satisfy our customers. Under a schedule of more frequent version updates, the new leaders and their respective sections will strive for continued improvements to FINAL FANTASY XIV service operation and development.

[Extension of the Free Trial Period]
As stated above, the newly restructured team’s top priority is to bring about improvements to the game’s enjoyability, and therefore we have decided to extend the free trial period until we can provide a plan that outlines a level of enjoyment that will satisfy both us and our customers. When we are confident that we have reached that goal, we will notify our customers immediately.

[Future Version Updates]
At present, the development team is putting the finishing touches on the previously announced version update, which is still slated for release in mid-December. In addition, there is one more version update scheduled for release before year’s end. Details on the content and dates of these updates will be released in the near future.

[Delay of the PlayStation 3 Version Release]
Although the release date for the PlayStation 3 version of the game was previously announced as late March of 2011, we regret to inform that this date has been changed.

The PlayStation 3 release will be delayed until we are confident that the game has reached the level of enjoyability and service befitting the FINAL FANTASY name for users on all supported platforms. We offer our sincerest apologies to any fans anticipating the PlayStation 3 release, and humbly ask for your continued patience and understanding as both the development team and Square Enix as a whole strive towards making FINAL FANTASY XIV a truly enjoyable and unforgettable adventure.

[New Development Team Policy]
I would like to take this opportunity to greet all of you—those currently playing FINAL FANTASY XIV, those who have taken a respite from playing, and those awaiting the PlayStation 3 release—and offer a brief word by way of an introduction.

No doubt there are very few, if any, among you who have ever heard the name Naoki Yoshida. To be sure, I have never been in the fore on any of the titles I have worked on in the past. I am, however, honored and privileged to work alongside many talented and inspiring colleagues, and with their support have enjoyed making games for a number of years. I am aware that a great many people will think the responsibility of leading FINAL FANTASY XIV is far too large a task for someone so unknown. After all, even my very best may seem no more than a drop in the bucket when considering the sheer scope of FINAL FANTASY XIV. But working together with me are the very talented and very capable development and management teams, whose dedication and motivation are unwavering. I would like to ask you to please put to rest uncertainties that you may have.

Now, more than ever, myself, the development team, and Square Enix as a whole, are committed to furthering our efforts to provide a quality service.

Everything we do will be for our players and customers.

FINAL FANTASY XIV Producer/Director, Naoki Yoshida

First of all, I would like to apologize for our inability to fully satisfy our users with the initial release of FINAL FANTASY XIV. I take full responsibility for the game’s current situation, and have therefore made the decision to step down from my role as producer. A number of concerns that have been voiced by users, such as the design of the user interface, availability of tutorials and game content, and battle system functionality, represent key issues that must be addressed. While improvements are already well underway in many areas, we were unfortunately not able to incorporate player feedback as quickly as we would have liked. We are aware, however, that in many cases, addressing these issues will call for a reworking of game elements. As these changes are our first priority, they will be commanding our full attention and efforts. It is to that end that we have put a new organizational structure into place for the development team. Under this new system, FINAL FANTASY XIV will see changes and additions in line with the desires and expectations of players. Though no longer producer, I will be continuing to support the development team in other capacities, and personally hope that you will continue your adventures in the realm of Eorzea.

Hiromichi Tanaka