Xbox One. PS4. What effect will the poster children of E3 2013 have on the future of PC Gaming? Will new hardware architecture mean more high-profile PC ports or—dare we say it—PC-led titles that are ported for consoles afterwards? Are Microsoft's touted 15 exclusive launch titles going to be anything we'd even want in the first place? Will the pull of the indie scene be enough to turn gamers away from hardware manufacturers that shun them? We chew on this, and feed you our analysis like a mother bird to her chicks.
In a lengthy guest editorial at Kotaku, former EA CEO John Riccitiello wrote at length about what, in his view, the upcoming next generation of gaming consoles must deliver to succeed. The editorial was published before Microsoft's reveal of the Xbox One yesterday, which may require owners to check in to the Internet once every 24 hours.
Origin's latest beta update is primarily targeting "power gamers with muscular 64-bit systems". Which is an odd phrase, and not just because no regular person has said "power gamers" without being violently sick soon after. Muscular 64-bit systems? It's 2013: my calculator is basically running a 64-bit system. Although, in fairness, my calculator is just my regular desktop - so is in fact running the same system that Origin is also using. Touche, EA.
It isn't often we see the words "Origin" and "sale" next to each other, but this week is the exception: EA is running a week-long Player Appreciation Sale which discounts some pretty hefty games in the publisher's lineup—titans such as Mass Effect 3, Crysis 3, and Battlefield 3.
A security flaw has surfaced in the browser protocol Origin uses to launch games through custom links using the "origin:" structure. As Ars Technica reports, research group ReVuln demonstrates how a malicious program can be executed via a modified Origin link masquerading as a game launch.
Maxis seem confident that online queues and congestion of SimCity's launch will soon be a thing of the past. In the fourth update to the community, Senior VP Lucy Bradshaw reports that, thanks to an increase in servers and various fixes, they are now able to get "virtually everyone" into the game. Bradshaw also states that game crashes have been reduced by 92% from launch day.
Of course, if you were to take the glass-half-empty view, that means it's nearly a week after the game's launch and some players are still experiencing delays and crashes.
Update 2: The patch notes for SimCity's latest update reveals Maxis disabled Cheetah speed in an effort to combat server performance issues. Hit the jump for the notes and a response from EA regarding the change's duration.
Update: A new forum post from Maxis' community manager reveals that "non-critical" game features, including leaderboards, achievements and region filters, are to be disabled in an effort to reduce server load.
"We are continuing to do everything we can to address the server issues. In the meantime, so that we can give you as good an experience as possible, we are in the process of deploying a hotfix to all servers. This includes various improvements and also disables a few non-critical gameplay features (leaderboards, achievements and region filters). Disabling these features will in no way affect your core gameplay experience.
"We will continue to let you know as we have more information. We know it has been said before, but we do appreciate your patience as we complete this latest update. Getting you playing is our absolute highest priority."
Original story: Despite reassurances that Origin would be ready for SimCity's international launch, players are still experience connection troubles as the game releases in more countries worldwide. Following yesterday's Australian launch, players are reporting delays with Oceanic servers. In a statement on the SimCity Facebook page, EA say they hope to reduce server traffic by "aggressively undergoing maintenance on the servers and adding capacity to meet demand."
After last night's founding of the fledgling SimCity, EA's meticulous planning was put to the test as thousands of new resident's poured in, quickly jamming up the roads of the internet. Protesters quickly gathered around the town hall of Origin, but the damage was done - property prices were plummeting thanks to the Always-Online, er, factory? Okay, I'll admit that this wasn't the perfect analogy.
After the major connection queues experienced by US SimCity buyers last night, the Origin twitter account is attempting to reassure everyone that Thursday's international launch will be a smoother experience.
SimCity opened its doors at midnight to eager US mayors anticipating the city-management reboot, but like most other major online-based game launch windows, response and connectivity issues rapidly reared their ugly heads. The Origin servers shuddered beneath excess load as piles of players queued full downloads of the game's digital edition, as they inexplicably weren't given the option to pre-load files. Forum threads filled with complaints popped up like a line of apartment blocks, and in one such thread, Origin Global Community Manager Marcel Hatam says refund requests are available for those affected by launch problems.
The ongoing debate over the ethicality of microtransactions is hot enough to make the sun look like an ice cube, but it's difficult to overlook the financial benefits of prolonging a game beyond its launch content—just ask EA, which recently stated it's seeking to add purchaseable items in all of its games. Consumer concern is natural, but former Epic designer Cliff Bleszinski thinks wallets are a stronger measure of approval than complaints. In a lengthy blog article, he specifically brings up the business practices of EA and Valve, stating he's "tired" of the former taking the brunt of ire surrounding the subject.
MaLDo, creator of the exceptionally pretty Crysis 2 graphics update and spotter of Crysis 3's ropey optimisation issues, has released a new tool for Crytek's latest PC punisher. OnTheFly lets you easily tweak Crysis 3's CVAR values in-game with a single button press. New shortcuts let you hide the HUD, tweak Depth of Field, and load a selection of custom presets. It should be perfect for keeping your frame rate high while your rig's assaulted by the sheer graphical powerhouse that is the first level's moving ropes.
Despite having spent hours with Battlefield 3, my jet-setting career has been far from illustrious. A few minutes soaring high above the carnage below, an idle attempt to shoot something and, inevitably, a nose-first crash into a building while desperately hoping no-one was looking. Even with my gross incompetence, I'm looking forward to End Game's Air Superiority mode. The 12 vs. 12 dogfights look like just the intensive crash course in aerobatic aptitude that I need. In preparation for End Game's March release, DICE have unveiled the mode's very first screenshot.
Here is a statement that an EA executive has made about microtransactions, presumably without winking, smirking or collapsing onto the floor in a fit of hysterics: "Consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of the business."
Before I ride off on a custom-built jetpack fuelled by the internet's indignation, here are the details. The executive in question was Blake Jorgensen, EA's CFO. He was speaking the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, transcribed by Seeking Alpha, and revealing EA's plan to build microtransactions into all of their games.
We already knew that Crysis 3 wanted to punish PCs with its graphical clout, but on release players started to report serious framerate drops affecting even SLI'd GTX 680s. Have Crytek prettied the game to a point where high-end GPUs can't handle the show? Not quite.
The problem, it seems, is ropes.
Some weird cosmic alignment must be taking place today, because a number of EA games—including the sparkling Crysis 3 and pre-orders for SimCity—showed up on Ubisoft's Uplay store. It's no less strange on the digital shelves of EA's Origin, where Assassin's Creed III and Far Cry 3 sit prominently on the store's splash page. What's going on? As Ubisoft announces today in a press release, it's all part of expanding third-party support to bring titles from various developers.
Sure, you could configure Crysis 3 using the in-game options menu, but real pros update their volumetric water shadows in real time. EA has sent Gamefront a full list of the console commands available for the GPU-bothering FPS. The commands can be modified during singleplayer sessions by accessing the console - either through the tilde key in the US, or the collection of largely pointless punctuation in the same spot on Brit-based keyboards. (It's the key above Tab, wherever you happen to live.)
Tricksy modders have wrestled control of Battlefield: Bad Company 2's architecture from DICE's iron fist. Using... magic, probably, the community at Emulator Nexus have reverse engineered EA's servers, allowing support for custom matches that support modifications.
In layman's terms? Super powered helicopter rocket attacks are go.
Leaving no vacuum between the game's release and the first DLC plug, EA and Visceral announced today that Dead Space 3 Awakened will release on Origin next month for $10. There are no other details on the DLC except Executive Producer Steve Papoutsis' tease that we'll experience "some of the most disturbing content" we've ever seen in a Dead Space game. As it already sounds like an ESRB descriptor, we'll tentatively define "disturbing content" as Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Strong Language, and possibly Sudden Decapitation.
Watching this trailer for Battlefield 3's final DLC pack, End Game, you can see why many online shooters have started to replace the flag part of Capture the Flag with Intelligence, Bombs - really anything that isn't a flag. It does seem a little bit silly when you think about it.
The news that the PC version of Dead Space 3 would be a straight port from the consoles - lacking any fancy PC-specific bells 'n whistles - was not received warmly. Speaking to Shack News, Visceral Games' executive producer Steve Papoutsis talked about the backlash. Turns out he's a bit miffed.
"It's confusing to me that this question even comes up," Papoutsis said, when asked about the lack of PC optimisation. "It's by no means any less important to us; it gets a lot of attention. The PC is a very different platform. As developers, you want to deliver an experience that's as similar as possible on different platforms."