Chris Livingston: Valve gets an F
Customer service is one of those things we consumers tend not to think about except when we really need it. Valve doesn't appear to be thinking about it much either, because they sure haven't been providing it. They've received an F in customer service from the Better Business Bureau. Their biggest issue appears to be not simply failing to resolve customers' complaints, but simply not responding to the complaints at all. As we can all attest, getting a shitty, useless answer to a complaint is the worst, but getting no answer at all is the worstest.
While the letter grades assigned by the BBB aren't an exact science, it's a still good indication that Valve is not providing the type of support they should, something Valve's Erik Johnson admitted when speaking with Kotaku. For a company that has something of a Vader-like chokehold on the PC games market, they need to do far better, and have stated they will try. Still, as Gandalf the Red said in the film Star Trek: The Prisoner of Mockingjay: "Do provide better customer service, or do not, Star-Lord. There is no try."
Tyler Wilde: A good gun
Surprise! I’ve been playing Battlefield Hardline all week, so my low is about that, too. It’s about how much better I got at it when I switched to the ACWR carbine, an exclusive pre-order/Deluxe Edition bonus gun. My apparent skill level jumped way up when I started using it, and that just shouldn’t happen. Progression is fine, but no gun (especially not one you have to buy specially) should be that much better.
Wes Fenlon: The dark shadow of Atari
Remember when Atari was a formative, pioneering force in the history of video games? Remember when Nolan Bushnell went and spent a bunch of money to make Chuck E. Cheese, for some weird reason? Whatever fond memories you have of the Atari brand now, the latest corporation to bear the name is doing its best to squander them. The company has more or less bullied game developer Jeff Minter into not releasing further ports of his game TxK, which means the PC version is on hold. Someone, somewhere, may have had a shred of goodwill left for Atari, but this will probably be the end of it.
Andy Kelly: Vive la revolution?
I spent a good while being a pretty vocal evangelist of VR tech. It comes in waves. Sometimes I’ll be sitting at my desk with the Rift on my head, reeling in my chair, thinking it’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to games. Then other times I’ll think it’s a stupid gimmick that’s doomed to fail. I can’t quite make my mind up.
HTC and Valve announced a partnership this month, unveiling their new Vive VR headset. It’s an impressive piece of kit, with specs that are slightly better than the Rift. Not only that, but they’ve promised it’ll be released before 2015 is out—something Oculus have been pretty tight-lipped about. To the casual observer, it could seem like Valve and HTC have left Oculus in the dust. But we’ll have to see what they’ve done with Facebook’s billions first.
Anyway, I’m currently in the negative camp, and I’m wondering if VR is the future. I’m playing a big, deep RPG at the moment for a review (look out for that next week), and it’s reminded me that sitting in a chair in front of a flat screen is probably still the best way to play games. As in proper sit-down-for-hours games. I’m totally entranced by this world, and they haven’t had to use fancypants VR tech to do it, just good writing and art. The Vive is cool, and Valve’s involvement is promising, but for me, for now, the VR bubble has burst.
Tom Marks: Twitch twitching out
We’ve been live streaming on our Twitch channel a lot more lately, fixing a schedule to do so three days a week (including today from 3-5pm PDT, come watch!) On Wednesday, just as I was about to go live with some Battlefield Hardline, all of Twitch came to a screeching halt. There wasn’t a single channel online. Total blackout. This went on for around half an hour before coming back up, and then went down for an hour or two more later in the day.
Besides my own disappointment at not being able to stream, it made me realize just how delicate a Twitch streamer’s livelihood is. It may seem weird to some, but there are people for whom streaming is the day job, supporting them and their families. When Twitch goes down it’s an annoyance for me, but it’s serious business for those who rely on that time as a paycheck. I have faith that Twitch understands this, but hope outages won’t start becoming a trend.
Phil Savage: We aren't Legion
The best way to describe CCP's Project Legion is conspicuous by its absence. Announced last year, Legion is the PC counterpart to Playstation 3's Dust 514. It's an FPS that ties into the Eve universe, allowing Eve Online players to hire fighters down on the surface of planets. When Andy saw a brief demo last year's Fanfest, it was clear the game was still early in development. This year, it received no mention beyond: "We have nothing new to announce".
The suggestion—backed up by the Eve Online keynote—is that CCP isn't ready to drop Dust. It sounds as if, rather than entirely rebuild the game for PC, the studio would rather improve the PS3 release and thus have closer parity between that and the eventual PC version. Maybe it's the right move, but I played Dust 514 when it launched and it was in dire need of significant work. There's a chance CCP can turn it around, but I'm skeptical. At this point, it seems more likely that Legion will be left in the dust.