It's almost August, which means only one more month for those of you in school to cram in some vacation gaming time. I suppose you could also go outside, but that's where the bears live. Better to play it safe, and play the upcoming Kinectimals Now With Bears instead. Not only does it have a hilarious title, Kinectimals bears want to be your friend instead of knocking over your car to get at the delicious sandwiches inside. Anyhow, on to this week's industry insanity!
GameStop Stiffs Bored Employee
We all have a story about encountering a game store employee who was lying down on the job, but a couple of guys from New York appear to have taken that a step too far. After Tweeting a picture of himself planking across two store displays, a GameStop employee and his picture-taking friend found themselves fired last week. For those of you who have better things to do with your time than follow stupid fads, planking is the act of lying face down in an unusual place and posting a picture of the act on the Internet. Apparently the GameStop brass weren't amused by this stunt, and gave a 5-year employee the heave-ho over it.
Besides giving me a platform for a horrible pun in the title, this story serves as yet another illustration of the pitfalls of Web 2.0. Always practice safe social networking, folks, and also consider not putting your feet on the merchandise.
EA Shuts Off the Valve
There's a storm brewing in PC gaming land, where Valve's Steam service rules the kingdom with its huge share of the digital distribution market. With a history of wanting control over the online experience of its customers, it's not surprising that EA has recently launched its own digital download service, Origin. It's also not surprising that EA and Valve have started butting heads over Steam's policies and requirements.
It started last month when Crysis 2 disappeared from Steam with no explanation. When asked for comment, EA simply said that it hadn't made the choice to remove the game, but that Valve had taken it down. Valve offered no comment. This week, on the same day that EA put the first major DLC offering for Dragon Age 2 on the market, Dragon Age 2 also vanished from Steam.
Since it's possible for customers to buy Dragon Age 2 DLC for their Steam version of the game without going through Steam, there's speculation that Dragon Age 2 was pulled for violating Steam's recently-altered DLC policies. If we're to believe EA (and I'm never sure we should), Valve has been removing the games without a great deal of contact or consultation. However, it doesn't seem like EA is making a great deal of effort to work out its issues over Steam, either. While it's true that customers who can't purchase EA games via Steam might choose to download them on Origin instead, giving EA a full share of the profit, it's also possible that those customers might shrug and decide not to buy a game if it's not on Steam. It seems like a silly chance to take on both sides when EA and Valve could instead sit down and hash things out, meaning more profits for everybody involved.
3DS Suddenly Becomes Affordable
Sorry, I didn't have any bad puns for the title of this story. On Wednesday, Nintendo officially announced that the 3DS will be selling for the recommended price of $170 in the United States as of August 12. That's a gigantic price drop from its launch price of $250, and industry gossips are abuzz about what this price drop means.
Nintendo has always admitted that it gave the 3DS a high initial price because of the huge amount of interest that the console generated before launch. Without a killer launch lineup, however, that strategy seems to have backfired, and the announcement of the $250 PS Vita took even more wind out of Nintendo's sales. Now Ninty is playing hardball, aiming to attract shoppers this holiday season with a price that's significantly lower than its main competition's.
Such a large, rapid price drop carries a risk, however. Third-party developers could take this as a sign that Nintendo doesn't have enough faith in the 3DS, leading to even more in-development 3DS games being canceled. Still, with titles like Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 coming out this fall, I'm putting my money on a good holiday season for the 3DS. What do you think? Will this price drop be good for the 3DS, or is Nintendo setting itself up to lose the handheld wars to the PS Vita?
By Becky Cunningham
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*