Wikipedia went black in protest of SOPA on Wednesday, and thousands of lazy students who are apparently unaware of Google cache cried out in dismay. As a former university essay grader, I'd like to note that while Wikipedia is a great source for gaining general knowledge or settling bets, it is not a valid academic source past the elementary school level. Go to the library, people—or just read The Weekly Dish instead. We're not a valid academic source either, but we're happy to help you procrastinate on your homework.
SOPA Blackout Causes Bill to Lose Support
Yesterday was marked as a day of protest against the SOPA and PIPA acts, pieces of anti-piracy legislation currently in the U.S. House and Senate that have the unfortunate side effect of seriously threatening freedom of speech and expression on the Internet. Not only Wikipedia, but thousands of other sites either went black or put up messages of protest against the bills, urging readers to call their elected representatives in opposition to the bill.
The protest seems to have gotten a significant number of Americans off their butts, as SOPA and PIPA supporters in Congress are dropping like flies. PIPA, the Senate's version of the bill, has now lost four of its co-sponsors, who have been convinced that the bill is a threat to freedom of speech. We haven't heard as much from the House, but more major technology companies have publicly expressed opposition to the bill, or at least (in the case of Electronic Arts) lack of open support. Even Microsoft came out against SOPA, which is rather surprising. Unfortunately, the Electronic Software Association still hasn't backed away from the bill, despite many of its prominent members deciding that SOPA support is bad for public relations. Let's see some of those companies putting their money where their mouth is and threatening to withdraw from the ESA, shall we?
BioShock: Infinite Implements 1999 Mode
Crotchety old gamers like your faithful Weekly Dish columnist have a tendency to talk about how they wish games would be more like they were in the good old days. Irrational Games has decided to throw us oldsters a bone in BioShock: Infinite, introducing what it calls "1999 Mode." It's basically an optional retro-hard mode for the game. Players in 1999 Mode will not be able to reassign specialization choices once they are made, and will not be able to use weapons for which they aren't specialized. They will need to manage ammunition and health more carefully, and will receive an actual Game Over screen when they die. Sounds like fun for players who enjoy an old school challenge.
These Are Not the Stock Options You're Looking For
Electronic Arts stock has gone down about 3% after a stock analyst from a major company expressed concerns over the performance of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Analyst Todd Mitchell stated that his company believed the game had sold below expectations and was worried about the potential for lasting subscriptions.
There have certainly been a few growing pains for SWTOR this week. Changes to a free-for-all PvP area in the game caused members of whichever faction (Republic or Imperial) had the highest population on a server to be able to exploit the area for an unintended amount of PvP Valor—not to mention allowing them to chain-kill whichever unfortunate members of the opposite faction happened to wander into the zone. As players had noted this problem on the game's public test server but it was allowed to go live anyway, BioWare is getting its first taste of massive PvP-related fan backlash. Welcome to the world of MMORPGs, Bio.
On top of PvP follies, the free month of play for gamers who bought the title on release is up this week. Some players discovered that they were unable to find an "unsubscribe" button on the game's subscription page, the news of which devolved into a massive conspiracy theory on various forums. Turns out it's been a glitch on some browsers for some time, it's just that nobody really noticed until they had a reason to unsubscribe. No massive cover-up is likely, though it would behoove the company to get that button fixed ASAP.
The big question here is whether it's possible to know how well Star Wars: The Old Republic will do in the long term. I'd say it's far too early at this point, as the game still has a healthy amount of players and good replay value for creating second or third characters. We'll have a better idea in a few months, when we see if BioWare can follow through on its promise to release compelling new content regularly, and whether the end-game can be beefed up enough to please picky MMORPG players. I wouldn't put a nail in the coffin of SWTOR just yet.
That's the most interesting news we've heard this week, although we're also fans of the new Skyrim mod that allows the player to replace its mount with an authentic-looking My Little Pony. Put your hooves in the air like you just don't care, and we'll see you in seven days!
Date: January 20, 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.*