I have good news, and I have bad news. First, the good news: Microsoft has announced that a new Age of Empires game is coming in September! The bad news, however, is that it's probably not the game you were hoping for.
Windows 8 hasn't exactly been a stunning success. Fewer than 12 percent of PCs run Windows 8 or 8.1, compared with 47 percent for Windows 7 and 29 percent for XP. It's still more than Mac OS X and Vista combined, but that's small consolation. So we're already looking forward to Windows 9, which will hopefully continue the tradition—firmly entrenched in both Windows and Star Trek chronology—of coming out with something good every other try. (Galaxy Quest counts as one of the good Star Treks, by the way.)
Windows 9, codenamed Threshold, is still at least a year away. Sourcey-types peg it at April 2015, so there's plenty of time for Microsoft to release something that's fully baked to make up for the melange of awesome and not-awesome that is Windows 8. So with that, here are our demands for Windows 9.
Valve is nipping at your heels, Microsoft. It's time to pay attention to PC gamers again.
Microsoft's new CEO is a man named Satya Nadella, and if you don't follow tech news chances are you haven't heard of him until just now. He's been with the company for 22 years—almost half his life—and is the company's third CEO, following Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates.
It was a muted January for Steam's hardware stats, perhaps due to all of December's lovingly gifted Christmas RAM. There were minor gains in expected areas, and minor losses that chipped away at the lead configurations. So where last month, 19.97% of polled users ran Windows 8, this month, it's 21.31%. But while the numbers aren't earth shattering, there are plenty of trends to mull over.
Ooh, it's been a while since we last delved into the silicon minutia of Steam's Hardware Survey. As it's a new year, let's treat ourselves with a quick rundown of the recently released December stats. Through them, like hushed archaeologists on a giant mound of plastic, we can glimpse at the habits of the prehistoric gamers of that ancient era known as 2013.
Many will tell you that Project Spark is a more powerful version of the PS3's Little Big Planet. We know the truth, though: it's a cutesy Garry's Mod, and as such is far less likely to responsible for the likes of this. Or this.
In fact, if you're not using Windows 8, it will be responsible for very little - the game appearing exclusively on Microsoft's latter OS and XBONE console. If you are running that most tile-centric of systems, however, you'll be able to exercise the spark of creativity through a beta test that's now taking sign-ups.
I've always found it a bit weird that the ancient PC game publisher and OS manufacturer Microsoft - custodians of venerable series like Flight Simulator and Age of Empires - would let some new upstart company, the one responsible for the Xboxes and Zunes and tile-based operating systems, also be called Microsoft. Surely that's grounds for- wait, what do you mean they're the same Microsoft? How does that make any sense?
Oh, right, apparently the two Microsofts really are one and the same, meaning that the decline, neglect and - in the case of Games for Windows Live - open hostility to the PC as a platform was some bold form of marketing strategy. But now, Microsoft Studios VP Phil Spencer wants to reconcile the two images, and again start bringing their first-party games home.
Respawn Entertainment announced a March release date for its debut game not too long ago, but didn't go into more details than that. Would it be a timed exclusive for the upcoming Xbox One? How long would PC gamers have to wait? Would Respawn require Windows 8 for its robot battles? Thankfully, all of these issues have now been cleared up.
Skulls of the Shogun has been out on PC for a while now, but unless your computer has Windows 8 all up in its grill you won't have been able to play it, because reasons. Developer Borut Pfeifer recently admitted that the game's Windows 8 exclusivity was a "deal with the devil" and that he'd "go back in time and kick [himself] in the balls" if he could, but that dark chapter in the history of strategy games has finally come to a close. Skulls of the Shogun arrives on Steam next Monday, and Pfeifer's balls remain unkicked. Everybody wins!
It's here! The first Halo game to make its way to the hallowed PC platform since Halo 2! Well, to the PCs-running-Windows-8 platform, that is. Halo: Spartan Assault is now available, exclusively to Windows 8 gamers, to purchase via the Windows store. Since Vista exclusivity worked so well with Halo 2, we can only imagine that sales of Windows 8 are now gonna go through the freakin' roof.
Yo dawg, we heard you like games... Yeah, so remember Project Spark, that "game-making game" that was so tantalizingly, so awkwardly revealed to us by Microsoft at this year's E3? Its website is now accepting sign-ups for beta, so get on over there if you're keen to craft some whimsy.
Hoorah! Skulls of the Shogun, the turn-based strategy saga of undead samurais, is finally coming to Steam. "But what about that Windows 8 exclusivity thing?" you may ask. Yeah, about that... 17-BIT's exclusivity agreement with Microsoft has panned out unspectacularly, and now the developer is glad to be breaking away from Windows 8.
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.
Vanguard Games and 343 Industries have announced the July release of Halo: Spartan Assault, a top-down shooter which takes place in the always-evolving Halo universe. Although the developer is highlighting the game's functionality on touch-based tablets and phones, it should work on any machine that runs Windows 8, including PCs.
You can't see my face right now, but it's contorted into an expression of bemused bewilderment. That's because of an interview by ShackNews with the excellently named Matt Booty, Microsoft's "general manager of Redmond Game Studios and Platforms". In it, he distances the company's Windows game strategy away from the perception of the "more traditional desktop PC game," heavily suggesting that the majority of the Xbox One's "15 exclusives" won't be arriving on Microsoft's other platform.
Microsoft announced on its blog today that Windows 8.1, previously called "Windows Blue," will release as a free update on the Windows Store, with a public preview coming June 26. According to the post, the update will help "deliver the experiences customers—both consumers and businesses alike—need and will just expect moving forward."
Imagine being Jake Kazdal. You're an industry veteran, with some two decades of development experience under your belt, and after stints with Sega in Japan and EA in Los Angeles you set up your own studio, 17-Bit. You begin work on your first project as an indie - a quirky turnbased tactics game with a supernatural samurai theme - and one of the biggest companies in the world loves it. They want an exclusive. You've never signed a contract so eagerly. And then you find out that the PC version of Skulls Of The Shogun is going to be exclusive to Windows 8 at launch.
17 Bit's turn based tactical game of undead samurai war, Skulls of the Shogun, is coming out on January 30, but only on Windows 8, Xbox Live Arcade, Windows Phone and Surface. Marsh has played it and he says it's ace, which makes it all the sadder to think of it trapped in the purgatorial wastes of the Windows 8 store while strategy gamers stuck on earlier operating systems miss out.
Anyway, enough griping. If you DO have Windows 8, and you like the idea of Advance Wars with analogue movement, undead warriors and lots of skull-hoarding then you should check out the Skulls of the Shogun site for more details, and catch a blast of SotS' affable charm in the latest trailer below. Skulls of the Shogun will cost $15 on Windows 8 and Surface, and $7 on Windows Phone, and supports cross-platform battles.
Razer were busy teasing this device as Project Fiona a year ago. It re-emerged from the obscurity of Razer's R&D shroud this week at CES this week with a new name and some new moves. The ungainly handlebar controllers that we saw a year ago are detachable, the base unit can slot into a keyboard to turn it into a more conventional desktop unit, or you can carry it around and use it as you would any touchscreen tablet.
It's also quite powerful. An Intel Core i7 chip, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, a solid state HDD and an NVIDIA GT 640M LE GPU should push decent framerates to the 10.1" 1366x768 screen. The downside? You'll need $1,299.99 to buy one. Razer are giving potential customers a chance to register interest on the Razer Edge site now alongside a video showing off the Edge in its various guises. Watch that and grab the full specs below.
A small number of Torchlight 2 players have found themselves at the bad end of the DRM stick. While the game's authentication system offers unlimited activations, if it detects "significant" changes to a system, it will ask for that copy to be reactivated. So far, so standard, but a number of posts on Runic's forums are claiming to be unable to complete this process.