Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bethesda missed the window on Dawnguard for PC and PS3 players

The summer drought of games is ending soon. Both Darksiders II and Sleeping Dogs release in nearly two weeks, followed up by Transformers: Fall of Cybertron the week after. After that, it’s a cascade of games flowing all the way into December. So when will PC and PlayStation 3 players have the time to play Dawnguard? They won’t.

Dawnguard, the expansion for last year’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, adds additional content and quests along with an entirely new set of vampire-centric powers. Xbox 360 players have enjoyed the new content since June 26 thanks to Bethesda’s deal with Microsoft for a 30-day exclusive on the platform. But 30 days came and west last week, and there still hasn’t been an announcement or reveal of when this expansion will come for the other platforms. To put this in perspective, the last official number of Skyrim copies sold was 10 million, 59% of those the Xbox 360 version, while 27% of copies sold for the PlayStation 3, and 14% for the PC. That leaves 4.1 million potential players waiting for the expansion, during a time when games are slow and the addition to a one of last year’s hits would be welcome.

Will Dawnguard come to the PC and PlayStation 3 at all? It’s up in the air right now. Vice president of PR and marketing at Bethesda Softworks Pete Hines said in a recent twitter post, “We have not announced Dawnguard for any other platform, nor given a timeline for any such news. If we have news, I promise I'd tell you.” So it’s possible it might not something we see anytime soon, but then Bethesda updated the PC version of Skyrim on Steam with patch 1.7, adding a few bug fixes and stability issues. Could this patch be in preparation of Dawnguard? Road signs point to yes as Hines responded to an inquiry on twitter, saying, “Nothing has been said/announced about it. We should have info later this week.”

Even if Bethesda does confirm Dawnguard for PC and PlayStation 3 and gives a release date, it will have missed its mark. Take for example the last Bethesda published title that had an Xbox 360 timed exclusive addon, Fallout: New Vegas. Dead Money released for the Xbox 360 on December 21, 2010 and didn’t show up on the PC or PlayStation 3 until February 22, two months later. If the same rings true for Dawnguard, we’ll already be knee-deep in games vying for our attention.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Secret World review: the truth is out there, somewhere

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games are going through a bit of a renaissance right now. Recent releases show developers are searching for new ways for their game to stand out, focusing on a single aspect that bucks the trend. EnMasse did it with TERA, introducing a true action-based combat system that relied on the movement of the player and their position relative to the enemy. BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic brought story back to the RPG by, literally and figuratively, giving players a voice in the game, deciding how they approach each quest, and what the consequences of those choices will be. When looking at The Secret World, it doesn’t do any one thing drastically different from games before. Instead, it does many things just different enough you can’t quite compare it to any other game out there.