Black Isle Is Back?
Remember Interplay? It's a company that made games once. Good games, too. Lately, however, Interplay has done very little but fight with Bethesda over the Fallout license. Now that the fallout over that lawsuit has settled (har har), Interplay appears to be making a bid for attention by resurrecting Black Isle studios. Black Isle is well-known and much-beloved by RPG fans, having developed classics like the first two Fallout games and Planescape: Torment.
There's only one problem here. As far as anybody knows, nobody from the original Black Isle is involved in this new Interplay division. Former Black Isle leaders like Chris Avellone and Brian Fargo have come out to say that neither they nor their new companies are involved in this resurrection. This new Black Isle appears to be Black Isle about as much as BioWare: Victory is BioWare or today's Atari is the Atari from the 1980's. In other words, the only thing that remains is the logo.
Farewell, Nintendo Power
Having grown up in a console-free household, my childhood was spent reading copies of EGM and PC Gamer. I know I was an anomaly, though, and that tons of little gamers lived on their subscription to Nintendo Power back in the day. Those gamers are now bidding a nostalgic farewell to the magazine, which is being discontinued by Future US, its current owner. While there's still some hope that Nintendo Power could show up in a digital format in the future, Nintendo appears uninterested in reviving the magazine itself. It seems we'll have to see what Future decides to do with the mag.
Ubisoft Still Confusing Re: Piracy
Ubisoft is well-known in the PC gaming world as having some of the most heavy-handed DRM (i.e. copy protection) around. The company maintains that its copy-protection schemes, like requiring special logins and always-on Internet connections for single-player games, have helped reduce piracy. At the same time, Ubi boss Yves Guillemot recently claimed (in an interview with GamesIndustry International) that Ubisoft sees a 93-95% piracy rate on its PC games.
Guillemot cited this figure while explaining why Ubisoft is comfortable moving to a free-to-play model for some of its games, as only about 5-7% of free-to-play customers spend money on a given game. Still, how can a company that claims its DRM stems piracy also claim a 93-95% piracy rate? Where does this figure come from? In what part of the world are the pirates located? How many of them wouldn't have been able to buy the game in the first place, since it wasn't sold in their region? If the percentage comes from counting torrent downloads, how does Ubisoft know that the pirated downloads translate to lost sales?
While you will never hear me defend game piracy (game companies deserve to be paid for their work!), I'm also not a fan of made-up numbers and faulty logic. Guillemot has a history of blaming piracy for any and all unpopular decisions made around Ubisoft's PC-bound titles, while the people who tend to suffer from those decisions most are Ubisoft's paying customers.
If Ubisoft is experimenting with the free-to-play model, that's fine, but let's be honest about the reasons why. Ubisoft wants to see if it can make more money from a small number of people paying for a game over time than from a large number of people paying a single one-time price for a game. Pirates never pay anything, and don't even enter into the equation.
Date: August 24, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*