Four months have passed, maybe it’s time to update the blog once more. And maybe it’s fine to resume some series neglected for too long like the one about the market of computer Web browsers. The last post on the topic dates back to 2009, and in just six years the situation changed so radically to seem like belonging to another age. And as a matter of fact we are in a completely different age, with many unknowns and a factual observation which is worth being highlighted above anything else: Firefox is a browser unavoidably doomed to oblivion, and it’s all Mozilla’s fault.
Five years after the last post about the topic, the state of the everlasting commercial and technological war between gaming consoles couldn’t be more different: the machine which seemed to be done (PS3) recovered brilliantly, the Nintendo battleship is living a new difficult moment in its troubled history and the eighth generation of home console has been finally deployed in full with the PS4 and Xbox One debut. But the market is pretty different compared to the past as well, while everyone’s expectations - for publishers, analysts and players - have grown a ton.
UPDATE (09/14/2012): The guide has been updated after Blizzard decided to let everyone access the Diablo III Starter Edition. Furthermore, I have verified without doubt that the extreme and casual slowdowns I talk about in the post are ascribable to the software configuration used to test the game and not to the game itself (or to my hardware, luckily).
Yeah, I now, I’m late as usual: Diablo III was released two months ago, and I have already talked enough about the almost complete failure of the launch period. So why devoting a post to the demo version of the game when almost everyone has already read, seen and done what there was to read, see and do in the cursed lands of Sanctuary? For two reasons, the first of which is that after having extensively played the Starter Edition I have a weight on my chest that I need to let go.
From the mist of the video gaming past a genre thought extinct returns, thanks to a title provided with “an oldschool heart but a modern execution“: the genre is the grid-based dungeon crawlers one, the game which brings it to the present is Legend of Grimrock made by Finnish developer Almost Human. LoG has been released starting from April 11 on the software house site, Steam and on GOG.com, and in this last case the release is particularly important because it matches the renewal of the gaming digital delivery “alternative” service for PC.
Even though it has partially overcome its original mission to be the cornerstone of legal retrogaming on PC, GOG.com (formerly Good Old Games) continues to delight old gamers’ taste (and even the new ones tired of the usual FPSes or the dumb casual games for smartphones) by releasing true gems of the past equipped with compatibility fixes for the latest Windows OSes. During the last days the digital store has practically ran wild in that regard delivering the first two chapters of the Thief series and announcing the coming of the historical Full Motion Video horrors made by Trilobyte.
Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies and their noxious inclination to spoil the day for PC gamers are steadily at the focus of the gaming debate, and almost everyone takes for granted the fact that it’s a contemporary issue not concerning games of the past at all. Nothing more wrong: maybe some years ago (or many years ago) they were more trivially called “copy protection”, but DRM restrictions continue to do harm even among people that engage in the noble art of retrogaming or are interested to digital contents preservation.
The latest weeks have probably been among the most turbulent ones in the brief history of Good Old Games: the retrogaming store has caused controversy, released “new” classic titles of the PC gaming past and has preannounced an important novelty for the product type that will soon be available on its virtual shelves. The digital delivery service created by the Polish publisher CD Projekt is in a sense victim of its own success, and of the ample trust granted by its users as an alternative channel for on-line videogame purchases.
Replying to the speculations of analyst Mike Hickey, which forecasted the marketing of a cheaper PlayStation 3 edition without the costly embedded Blu-ray drive, Sony was resolute in specifying that the simple idea would be absurd and would kill “the backbone” of the console because games are built just upon the BD format. “Blu-ray will always be part of PS3“, Sony says, but the market environment and the slow, too much slow growth of high definition disks sales allow to easily predict the fact that within the years to come such model will be only valid for the videogames of the Japanese console and very little more.
Links & Suggestions # 7: videogame birthdays, pirates, industry assholes, nanometers and super-consoles
If technology is inclined to constantly project itself onward leaving very few room for remembering products that were so popular just some time before, Jake Gyllenhaal acting as the Prince of Persia is convincing as a cactus in a melodrama. If Doom is an historic videogame that deserves to be remembered for its birthday, pirates once again prove to be the only ones capable of saving the media world from the current DRM madness. And if the reading of this paragraph has a meaning for you then I would suggest to make an appointment with a psychiatrist, but a good one. Or the reading of a good grammar book. I am dispensed from the second, at least
The worldwide recession is getting worse, wasting economies and laying off employees that will find themselves with no salary hence without money to spend in home entertainment. In such a scenario what was a balance leaning between hope and pessimism turns in a sword of Damocles dangerously close to deadly hit Sony’s Blu-ray, that maybe will get through this Christmas but could not be able to see the dawn of the next one.
He is a long-time supporter of the utter uselessness of intrusive protection technologies against videogaming piracy, and now Brad Wardell, Stardock’s CEO, takes up the challenge turned to him by the industry by working on a minimal security system that could be good for the labels and at the same time would satisfy the users’ need to not to be pointed out as pirates dangerous for society and business.
Can a multimillionaire industry rely on stupid asses insomuch that there isn’t the awareness of being on the edge of extinction? Of course. Can a sovereign state blur with the organized crime to such a degree that you can’t possibly understand anything of that nation without knowing in details the history of crime through time too? Absolutely. Can George Lucas reduce himself to endlessly recycle an old character because he’s painfully short of ideas? Hum…
Electronic Arts, the videogames multinational dedicated to the production of endless sequels and to the havoc of creative energies within the small and talented software houses, has once again been able to break up a potential masterpiece and to change it into a chance for controversy, criticism and furious debate about the usual copy protections useful only for losing customers.
Even if it’s technologically way ahead of any state of the art console, PC videogaming is often viewed as an industry in an identity crisis, on the edge of failure and suffering of ancient and purulent evils like piracy and selling of counterfeit media. In response of this unfavorable view - what is more contradicted by facts - the software house Stardock has brought a “Bill” of fundamental “Rights” for who plays on PC, a desirable behavioral handbook for videogames producers.
Yet another case of stating the obvious by the majors: the statistical analyses on downloads of In Rainbows, the last album of the English band Radiohead which so much has been and continue to be talked about demonstrate the very strong trend among the users to download contents from file sharing, independently by the availability of legal alternatives even at zero price.
The most important cultural institute of the USA returns to deal with two of the hot topics of archiving and preservation of contents in digital format, namely the anti-copy and anti-user technologies best known as Digital Rights Management (DRM) measures and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), the States law on copyright that makes illegal the circumvention technologies of the above said DRM.