Morning Caffeinated! Blizzard, Bioware gone bad, Valve frustrated, and dying MMOs

By John Keefer, Sep 05, 2012 7:50am PDT

Good Morning, Shack. You may notice that your daily dose of gaming caffeine is a bit off the mark time-wise today and it is because I was doing some research late into the night regarding a topic that appeared in yesterday's column. I had queried readers about what studio they missed most, referring ideally to studios that had closed and no longer exist. One reader (EricZBA) commented, however, that he missed BioWare and Blizzard, noting that the companies aren't the same as the ones that brought us classics such as Knights of the Old Republic and Warcraft II.

It got me to thinking a bit about nostalgia. I am currently on an old-game kick right now and I am enjoying such games as Total Annihilation, Mass Effect, Fallout, Assassin's Creed and BioShock because they bring back fond memories of a simpler time in games. There was no "always on" DRM, or forced multiplayer. But are these memories keeping us from appreciating the offerings from these developers now? The foundation games that launched the popularity of BioWare and Blizzard (and continued their success) were not without their flaws. But as with many fond memories, we tend to gloss over the bad and remember the good.

You can theorize that once these companies became subsidiaries of corporate publishing monoliths like Electronic Arts and Activision that they lost their edge. I'll admit that I'm not a fan of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and others don't like World of Warcraft or Diablo 3, but by and large, I submit these companies have earned the right to make a game you consider a clunker every now and then. And to be honest, with the exception of SWTOR (although EA maintains it is still making money), just about every game produced by these two development powerhouses has been a commercial success. Whether we liked the game or not, there are people that still do, and if you got 10 hours out of a game you say you hated, you still probably got your money's worth.

I now submit a challenge: Name one company that you feel has gotten better over time, and then support your answer. It should make for an interesting discussion.

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Valve is jumping in to the hardware scene. Yeah, we've had hints of it for months, from Steam Box rumors to wearable computers. But the new job posting for an Industrial Designer is the first time Valve has public offered its disdain for the current state of the PC hardware scene, making special mention of the lack of mouse and keyboard innovation. Valve has never been complacent, but they also like playing things close to the vest, but it is be fun to speculate. What does Valve have up its sleeve, hmmm?

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And another MMO is scaling back. En Masse Entertainment announced that they are scaling back the number of servers for its MMO Tera from 11 to 3. That is a pretty significant consolidation. With high-profile MMOs such as The Secret World and Tera falling on their collective faces, and previously mentioned SWTOR performing well-below expectations, is the genre going the way of the adventure game? Can Guild Wars 2, or even Rift, save the MMO from the World of Warcraft behemoth? Maybe big budget is not the way to go with MMOs any more as it carries too many expectations. Are there any MMOs out there that aren't being talked about that deserve mention? I can't think of one.

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Random bits & Quick hits: Rovio is done with Angry Birds. Now they are into Bad Piggies. No slingshots? What are you doing, Rovio? ... Hideo Kojima is "sick & tired" of the constant questions about Project Ogre and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. The apparent ire could be a translation issue, but stop asking OK? You'll know when you see an ogre in the game. Metal Gear Shrek, anyone? ... The Resident Evil 6 demo is coming out in two weeks, but the rumblings I am hearing is that the game is a disaster. Andrew really didn't like it at E3. Could a demo salvage perception of the game? I'm sure Capcom hopes so.

Flashback: I was speaking on nostalgia at the beginning of the column and I told you what games I was playing again. If you could go back and play one game again as if it was new, what would it be and why would you recommend it.

Have a good hump day, Shackers.


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