Tag Archives: Opinion

Will Wright’s HiveMind tied up in “atrocity” and “genocide” legal battle

Jawad Ansari (left) and Will Wright holding a hammer (right)

Just to be clear, before we move on, there are two Hive Minds. There’s “HiveMind”, which is the idea of developers harvesting your mobile and social data extensively to create a game that is specifically targeted at an individual user, and there’s “Hive Mind”, the actual company formed to exploit that idea commercially.

Now the former HiveMind (the idea) seems to be now tied up indefinitely with litigation involving the ex-CEO of the latter Hive Mind (the company).

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The many faces of X-Com

Images showing the different visual and gameplay stylings of eight different X-Com game titles.

The XCOM (or X-Com, if you prefer) series has gone through significant changes. Like the Alien(s) movies, it transforms genres practically every time it goes around.

Strangely, the much-delayed-and-maybe-possibly-doomed upcoming shooter edition may have more in common with the series’ roots than you think.

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It isn’t the zombies that you have to worry about

Incomplete and buggy as it is, DayZ (the terrifying zombie-survival modification for Arma 2: Combined Operations) is a superb and compelling piece of work, with more players trying to play than can comfortably be accommodated on its large list of hosted servers.

Now, you put a foot wrong and you can get pulled down by zombies in less time than it takes to tell. When one comes after you, it may bring more. Actually taking a shot at it will almost always bring more.

But it isn’t the zombies that you have to worry about.

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38 Studios and Big Huge Games. Sell 1.2 million, go broke.

A partial cover image of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, flanked by the logos of 38 Studios, and Big Huge Games.

38 Studios (and its subsidiary Big Huge Games – Rise of Nations), developers of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning (2012), has apparently effectively closed. Selling 1.2 million copies of the game across Steam, Origin, PS3 and Xbox 360 in 90 days just wasn’t enough to pay the bills (though it outperformed the expectations of publisher, Electronic Arts). The break-even point apparently was 3 million copies (or even more), according to Rhode Island Governor, Lincoln Chafee.

Everything seemed to be going well, with word that a bungled loan repayment had finally been made, it looked like 38 Studios would hang in there for another few months, and that the attention its woes brought to its game might spark enough sales to keep the lights on.

No such luck, apparently.

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DayZ Mod

Life expectancy: 28 minutes. The DayZ mod

The idea of the DayZ mod is simple enough. Take Arma 2: Combined Operations (Bohemia Interactive Studio, 2009) with its open-world, ground-pounding, all-weather, military simulation chops and refit it as a persistent world multiplayer zombie survival game.

Set in the mythical Eastern European country of Chernarus (where the primary Arma 2 campaign takes place), each player begins with a water bottle, a pistol, a little ammo, a couple tins of beans, a few medical supplies, a handful of flares, no clue and an average life-expectancy of about 28 minutes.

Map? Compass? How about a wristwatch? You don’t start with them. Unless you’re already familiar with the 225 square kilometres of Chernarus, you’ll be learning as you go. Even if you are, you’ll wish you had a map and a compass. Anything and everything beyond your paltry starting equipment, you’ll have to find.

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Diablo 3 – voting with your wallet

How does a games publisher determine the success of a product or a business model? Mostly, profit. In the business world, it is the only reliable measure of whether you’re making sound business decisions or not.

Activision-Blizzard wound up with more than 50 million reasons for thinking that the online-single-player game model is a good one – and that was before they even launched it.

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The financial GAAP

Financial reporting is a part of this complete breakfast.

Financial reporting from games-publishers often makes for interesting reading. Almost always, you’ll see things quoted like “non-GAAP earnings”, and “non-GAAP net sales” and so on, accompanied by some substantially large dollar figures.

So, what actually is GAAP reporting? Well, there are two major systems of financial reporting. One is the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), and the other is Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) which is used in the USA. GAAP is a collection of rules and principles about how a company reports its income, sales, losses, assets and overall financial operations.

The principles of GAAP are: regularity, consistency, sincerity, permanence of methods, non-compensation, prudence, continuity, periodicity, Full Disclosure/Materiality, and Utmost Good Faith.

So, what’s non-GAAP reporting? Well, non-GAAP reporting pretty much means that one or more of those principles isn’t being observed.

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