Casual Game News

Free-to-play games under the regulatory microscope in Europe

Feb 28, 2014

The reaction to free-to-play games that monetize by the use of in-app purchases (or IAPs, for short) depends on where you ask about them. They’re a normal part of the gaming culture in Asia and looked upon with skepticism but warily accepted in North America.

In Europe, though, they’re now under the microscope. Eurogamer.net reported this morning that the European Commission is huddling with consumer protection groups in multiple nations to get some clarification on parts of the free-to-play model it finds troubling.

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The Commission’s concerns include protecting children from IAPs (and preventing them from bugging parents to buy for them), games that opt-in players for IAPs without their consent, free games that aren’t really free, and companies that don’t provide a way for players to contact them by email for customer service purposes.

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Notch confirms Warner Bros interest in Minecraft movie

Feb 28, 2014

Late Thursday evening, Markus "Notch" Persson confirmed on his Twitter account that he has been discussing a potential Minecraft film with Warner Brothers.

"Someone is trying leak the fact that we're working with Warner Brothers on a potential Minecraft Movie," Persson posted. "I wanted to be the leak!"

A movie about Minecraft? That'll never work!  Well I'm sure plenty of people said the same about a movie based on LEGO, and now Warner Bros. is currently sitting atop $275,000,000 (and climbing) following the The LEGO Movie's release, earlier in the month.

Details are still scarce, but Hollywood news and rumors website Deadline managed to confirm that Warner Bros. is putting The Lego Movie producer onboard for the Minecraft movie, and that it will be a live-action feature film.

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The news about the Warner Brothers deal comes days after Persson announced that Minecraft has surpassed 100 million registered users.

Don’t want to wait for a Minecraft movie? 2 Player Productions documentary Minecraft: The Story of Mojang is now available for free on YouTube. You can watch the whole thing in its entirety below:

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Introducing Rovio Jr: a new program for educational games

Feb 27, 2014

You might be able to indirectly learn something about physics by playing Angry Birds, but it’s not exactly a learning game. That doesn’t mean the company behind the unstoppable franchise can’t try something a little more high-minded, which is exactly what Rovio is gearing up to do – with the help of some third-party developers.

Rovio told PocketGamer that it is seeking educational games from other developers to publish as part of its new Rovio Jr line. The intended audience of these games would be kids from pre-school to middle school.

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Educational games can be a tricky field, but there’s definite truth in the idea that Rovio can aid developers by promoting their products through its already successful brands. Teaming up would certainly help solve the discovery problem facing smaller studios, particularly since educational titles need to catch the eyes of both children and parents.

In any case, we may not have to wait long to see an announcement about the first fruits of this new program. Rovio and PocketGamer are going to be holding Big Indie Pitch Jr at GDC next month, allowing developers to pitch games they think would be suited for the publishing initiative in person in San Francisco.

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The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is now in open beta

Feb 26, 2014

PC

Remember last month when we told you that the hilariously awesome The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot would be entering an open beta phase at the end of February? Well guess what? It’s officially the end of February now, and the outrageous fantasy battling game has officially started its open beta!

So not only can you get in on all of the fun multiplayer action right this very minute, but you’ll also get to do it with a brand new character who is making her debut in the world of Opulencia this week: the Runaway, who steals the show with her incredible speed and devastating axe attacks. In addition, five new Diamond packs are being made available for players to get a head start on playing the game, with the Runaway being used in the Attacker Pack, the Trio Combo, and the Ultimate Pack.

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And as if all of that wasn’t enough, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot open beta will also be bringing unlimited creative possibilities with its Open Creation tools, so you’ll be able to shape the kingdom of Opulencia to your liking over time. So what are you waiting for?! You can sign up for the open beta by clicking right over here!

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Indie is succeeding because AAA is failing us creatively, says Xbox co-creator Ed Fries

Feb 25, 2014

When it comes to video games, AAA console releases have really grown stagnant over the last decade. That’s one of the many reasons I’m so glad to be at Gamezebo, where we focus on the platforms that give developers the freedom to experiment instead of the latest cut-and-paste first person shooter.

As it turns out, Xbox co-creator Ed Fries seems to feel the same way about the current state of AAA games, and he’s ready to explain why, detailing the creativity-stifling environment that led to his 2004 resignation from Microsoft in a recent GamesIndustry interview.

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Rather than fostering new ideas, Fries suggests that AAA development is run too much like a business – focusing on quantity of dollars rather than quality of game. Instead of experimenting with little things, which Fries says sows the seeds of successful bigger projects down the road, the focus of the Xbox brand during his time there was to stick to what works and sell it better. “In a sense, I fundamentally didn't agree with that because I think the big things come from little things,” Fries told GamesIndustry.

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If you promise Steam keys, you’d better have Steam keys

Feb 24, 2014

By now, it’s no longer a secret that Valve is thinking about killing off Steam Greenlight. Until it actually disappears though, it’s still fertile ground for stories like the one you’re about to read. Call it a tale of how social media can be a double-edged sword when trying to drum up support for your indie game.

The game in question is called Zombies. The period is actually part of the name (hey, it did the job for fun.), though there are no actual zombies in it. Plus it’s changing to Corporate Lifestyle Simulator anyway.

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Like many indie games, this pixelated action-shooter is a part of bundle deals on several popular sites. Some of them promised that buyers would receive Steam keys for the game if/when it was greenlit (or greenlighted, as I never know which way is proper) – a common though not universal feature of these bundles.

The game was greenlit, but there was a bit of a catch: as explained by NeoGAF user chubigans, the developer had no intention of giving bundle buyers Steam keys, regardless of what the deals stated. At issue was his feeling that he should receive the customer data for everyone who purchased his game, unwilling to hand over “thousands of keys” to the bundle sites.

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SpeedRunners update adds level editor, Steam Workshop support

Feb 22, 2014

PC

On Thursday, Tiny Build Games' SpeedRunners received a substantial update that integrated Steam Workshop support and unlocked a level editor within the game. The announcement post explains that players who participated in beta testing the level editor will be able to instantly upload their locally-stored levels to the Workshop. As of this writing, there are over 70 user-made levels for players to download and check out.

SpeedRunners is a 2D multiplayer platformer where players race one another in an attempt to reach the finish line as quickly as possible. The game is currently in Early Access and available on Steam for $9.99.

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To develop SpeedRunners, Tiny Build Games teamed up with DoubleDutch Games, who developed the original SpeedRunner, which can be played on the DoubleDutch Games website for free. Previously, Tiny Build Games developed No Time To Explain, which received a level editor of its own, last year.

Read the announcement post in its entirety on the SpeedRunners' Steam Community profile.

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Steam Greenlight approves another 50, Galactic Princess included

Feb 22, 2014

The latest batch of games approved through Steam Greenlight was announced on Wednesday. Fifty titles were chosen, including Lost Decade Game's A Wizard's Lizard, Rat King Entertainment's Tri, and Cecly's Galactic Princess. Some of these titles have already been released on other platforms or storefronts and are just now making their way onto Steam, while others are still in development. Galactic Princess, for example, is just over a week into its Kickstarter campaign.

"These titles were selected on the same criteria we have been using in the past: Votes in Greenlight give us a hugely valuable point of data in gauging community interest along with external factors such as press reviews, crowd-funding successes, performance on other similar platforms, and awards and contests to help form a more complete picture of community interest in each title," Valve community spokesperson Alden Kroll explained in the announcement post.

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You can use that very same link to the announcement post to view the complete list of all fifty games that made the cut this time around. And when you’re done doing that, why not pick out a few of your favorites and get to gaming?

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Free Games and Sales: Numerity, Antichamber and more!

Feb 21, 2014

Don’t you just hate it when some days you have a whole bunch of errands to run, when all you really want to do is stay in bed and browse all the latest free games and sales going on around the internet? Take right now for instance: I’m long overdue for a haircut, and I’ve been putting off going to the DMV for a solid two months now. So what am I doing instead? Stocking up on more games at almost next-to-nothing prices!

In fact, if buying new games at incredible deals were daily errands in their own right, then I would get more accomplished each day than you could ever imagine! First I would hit up the iOS App Store and download a few premium games I missed out on for absolutely nothing. Then I would scoop up the latest Humble Indie Bundle before circling back to Gamezebo for a few more last minute deals there as well. Talk about being a productive adult member of society!

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And as always, if there were any other deals I may have missed while I was “waiting in line at the DMV,” then be sure to let us all know about them down in the replies!

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From Dialysis to Development: Quest for Infamy's 12 Year Journey

Feb 21, 2014

Steven Alexander has faced a lot.

Twelve years ago he had just returned to school after some time trying his hand at a musical career, touring northeastern New York. At that time he fell repeatedly ill and on New Year's Eve of 2002 he was taken to the hospital.

“I got dragged to the hospital ER where they told me my kidneys had failed and I would need to start dialysis immediately,” he explained during our interview. “So this completely changed my world.”

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About then he and his soon-to-be business partner Shawn Mills, from Australia, got the idea to start making video games. To that end, they started Infamous Adventures, a studio inspired by the work of Roberta Williams' King's Quest series and Lori Ann and Corey Cole’s Quest for Glory. There was just one problem; neither of them knew the first damn thing about making video games.

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