Friday, 26 November 2010

Choice Sucks

 

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fishWell it is the third day of the Steam Sales and I have already spend £8 pound on 10 games (the indie packs have been pretty awesome so far). And I got thinking about a conversation that I had with Hex about our younger gaming days. Back in the days when there weren’t 3 or 4 games released every week for every platform. Back when you had a game and you made it last because it might be a very good while before you could afford (or were given, oh how I looked forward to birthdays and Christmas) a new game.

Now that the games industry truly is an industry, there are dozens of publishers and hundreds of developers pushing out games on platforms as diverse as mobile phones and high end PC’s. It would seem that it is not just me that is thinking this, as you can see here.

Am I annoyed that I have all these great games to play? Ok no I am not, I am annoyed that in the last 2 to 3 years I wouldn’t get into double figures the number of games I have finished, and yet the good games keep coming. Now as I have said before, if I am not eating (ok sometimes while eating), sleeping, working or blogging, then I am gaming.

quake-live-betaThings are getting even worse for me when mmo’s like LOTRO and shooters like Quake are offering me gaming for free. Actually that's another point, multiplayer has now been shunted onto everything. So back in the good old days you could finish a game and then be done, now that is no longer an option. Take Red Dead Redemption for instance, I have finished that but haven’t even had a chance to touch the multiplayer, because I extended the game further with Undead Nightmare DLC (I am red-dead-redemption-undead-nightmarea sucker for zombies).

So having multiplayer and DLC for your great game is a fine idea and you could happily play one game for months, even years, if the damn games companies didn’t keep putting out games I really wanted to play.

I think that while more and more of us are gaming now, which is a great thing, but as more people put more money into gaming, the more games publishers will put games out. Maybe this is why we are seeing so many developers closing. There are too many games and while they are competing for a lot of consumer money, the vast majority of gamers can’t afford/won’t buy 3-4 games a month.

imagesGames like WoW and Call of Duty are statistical blips, but publishers are still seeing how much money they make and believe that it is possible to make as much money. I can see it reaching a saturation point where there are so many games being release and many just aren’t selling. That would be a shame but I think that is the way it is going.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Android gaming.

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hexI have had an android device now for some time and i have as yet found very few games for it that are good. let me quantify that first, my android device is a phone not a tablet and i imagine tablets are better for games. my device is a Samsung Galaxy Portal (called a Spica in the US) i have rooted it and am running a custom ‘turbo’ compiler so i have a darn fast device that can install all apps to an SD card, so space has not help back my need for gaming.

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So here are is a a quick roundup of the games that i have found that are worth checking out. all of these have been installed to my device from the Google marketplace so you should have no problem finding them.

Mobile MMO!

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Pocket legends is a true MMO for your phone, it looks a little like WoW and is at the moment in Beta (open and free to play) on my modified device it runs just about playable but i should imagine that on the faster android devices it is more fun and on a larger screen i should think it would be a great time waster but unfortunately its not much of a ‘real’ game and i can not imagine any WoW or LotRO players giving up their main game for it. saying that though it is in beta and as features are added (maybe even a PC client) i can see it improving with age.

Graphically speaking its very nice and have a definite WoW inspired look but for a low power device this woks well. the control system is a simple touch to move/loot/attack and the menu does a good job of not being overly intrusive to play. the game  runs well over 3g and wifi but is no fun at al over slower wireless connections.

Tower defence

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Robodefence is a very simple single player tower defence game where the aim is to stop robots getting in your base (very PvZ) you earn coin for kills and that coin buys you more turrets of differing class that can all be upgraded. the thing that makes this game outstanding is that after every match you can use points you earn to unlock better starting equipment as well as more advanced units for later in the match.

this game comes as both free (Lite) and paid versions, the paid version has many more options and levels. the full version is only $2.99 and its well worth it but struggles with custom firmware.

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Screenshot of Radiant

Radiant is a wonderful take on space invaders and it gets round graphical limitations by being a game made up of neon outlines  (I’m explaining that badly) its a simple shoot the bad guys game with power ups (progression through available weapons) its a long game compared to many of its type and has a pretty basic but well done story, there are  lite, regular and HD version’s on the market. the regular is $1.90 and worth every but of it, i would suggest looking at the HD version for larger screen devices (such as the Galaxy S)

Aliens, Farm animals and flying platforms?

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Abduction 2 is a great game where you use your phones magical movement sensors to guide an athletic jumping cow up a ladder of floating platforms to chase aliens who have abducted his farmyard brethren . yes i am serious and its excellent. the original game is free (barring a short story mode for a small fee) but the sequel propels what started as a bit of fun into the realms of serious fun with unlocks and  challenges, also there are hats.

that’s all folks.

there are other great games on the market (such as City Jump) but most are iPhone ports and flash games, there are few quality games that are Android exclusives, i would recommend the great site AppBrain for browsing the market as their rating system is very good as well as more reliable the the built in one.

AppBrain Best Android Apps

for anyone who does not know AppBrain is a website and phone app that lets you browse the market as well as queue up installations from your PC. its also a must have application/link for any serious android user.

as for android as a gaming platform? – i think its some way off being really worthwhile and until there is a unified minimum specification for our devices game developers will struggle. i think once the Samsung tablet really hits (a year after its release I’m guessing, when it becomes financially viable) the Ipad will dominate in this area but even Apple are having a tough time making it into a serious gaming device.

I hope this has been informative and useful to at least some of you.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Why do we blog?

 

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fishThis is something I have been wanting to articulate for a while, but haven’t been sure how to do so. I have been wondering why myself and my fellow bloggers, erm blog. So I am gonna try and explain why I blog, and then maybe speculate why others do.

So why do I blog? Unfortunately I don’t really have an answer for you. I have always loved gaming and have always had way too many opinions about it. However until recently I have never felt the need to write them down and publish them on the internet. I think the reason for this are twofold. One is that my spare time is fairly precious to me, and I would rather spend it gaming then writing about gaming.

The other reason ties a bit more into why we blog. Even if I have an amazing, novel, awesome idea, chances are someone has already put  a piece up on the internet saying the same thing, and probably doing it better than I could. I am a firm believer in that if you can think it/it can be done, then it is already on the internet.

So what changed, why did I start blogging. Well I have always enjoyed writing and as I said I am not exactly short on opinions. If I am being honest, I would say I was actually a little envious of my BFF Hex, who was already blogging. It just seemed like a cool think to do. So now I am doing it I like it, it feels like spewing my mind into a keyboard, it is fun and humm refreshing I guess is images (4)a good word for it.

My reasons for not blogging have not gone away, to the point where I actively sit down and make myself blog (my internet is down right now, otherwise I would be playing AoC). I just don’t worry about them anymore. I think my blogs are for me and anyone else who reads them is a bonus.

So why do I think people blog? I think some people do it because they feel the need to spread their ideas. They want the world to know what they think. I think some people blog because they love to write, and gaming (for instance, could be anything) is as good a topic as any, I am pretty sure that Hex falls into this category, though I am sure he would disagree. And finally there are, I believe, a few bloggers out there who want to become famous/get a job out of blogging. There is no shame in that and if they succeed fair play to them.

Now the question I am asking myself is that now I have started blogging, do I want to continue? Yeah I do, I love the almost confessional feeling blogging has. Heh I think it might just be good for my mental well being.

Though I do think Hank has a point.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Steam is making pc game retail sales evaporate?

 

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fishRecently Steam has come under a bit of flack from a couple of UK retail chains, stating that Steam is killing the PC retail market. Now I have a great deal of fondness for Steam, but this doesn’t stop me from seeing the flaws. And I believe one of the retail markets primary issues is that even if you go into their shop and buy a Steam game (for instance Supreme Commander 2), that when the person gets home to play it, they have to create a Steam account. It is a bit like buying a game in a shop, only being told that to play it you have to go into the rival, cooler game shop that is next to your house.

Now I can see there point, however there are two game shops in my local town (about 2ish miles post-118674-1267382566from where I live) Gamestation and Game. Gamestations section of PC games is laughable and Games is a bit better, but not by much. Oh I should also point out that both stores are owned by the same company. So even if I did want to buy a retail disc copy, I usually can’t find the game I would want in the shops anyway.

I think these retail chains, who I think it is safe to say over the last few years have been fairly unconcerned about the pc market, have suddenly woken up to the fact that there is still money to be made off it, especially in digital sales. Now I believe at this time Steam has somewhere in the region of 80% of all digital games sales. So “Monopoly” the retailers cry, only there are half a dozen other services for digital downloads (impulse, Direct2Drive etc). The reason so many people use Steam is the same reason any other really good service gets used a lot, it is really good.

It is also in the last week that Microsoft have re-launched their Games for Windows Marketplace, apparently now with a similar number of games on it to Steam. Microsoft are going to have to work really hard to compete with Steam (and have some ridiculously cheap games) as Games for Windows has engendered a great deal of ill will in the PC community.

Games-for-Windows-MarketplaceNow I find it hard to sympathise with the retail chains that have lost the pc market business, as they have taken no steps at all to save it. However there is the one thing that bothers me about Steam and the slow death of the retail market. That the number of new PC gamers is going to slowly dry up. As you don’t see pc games in shops, they rarely pop up in mainstream media and I don’t see much being done to get to the none pc gaming public on the internet. Damn is it a strange fear to be an old man stuck with very few pc games to play, because only old men like me know they exist?

NB I am not quite an old man yet.

One True Cast– A kinship is born!

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That’s right your not reading anything wrong, the One True Cast (Podcast)  have whole heartedly jumped head first into starting a Kin in LotRO. We are known as….. (drum roll please)

Grand Order Of The Mad Badger

For anyone who wants an invite into our Kin we are on the [EN-RP] Laurelin server and my primary character is called ‘Lairdan’ and Mr Bad Panda is our glorious leader.

We have literally JUST set up the kin so we have no kin-hall yet but at these things become available to us we will invest in them. We will be encouraging player driven RP as well as Chicken related nonsense. This is a Social Kin and ANYONE of any level is welcome we will not be discriminating against free players or Hobbits so if your looking to hang out in a low-drama high chatter guild drop me a /tell in game.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Lord of Travel, online.

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hexWhen my mother watched the first Lord of the rings movie she complained that there was lots and lots of walking and very little of anything else. I’m not sure that many people would agree with this review of the movie however while finishing the ‘Volume 1’ quests i had this feeling for myself.

The book quests are wonderfully written and the instances are like scenes from a movie but there is a problem. A very big problem. the quests involve travelling between places in middle earth, talking to an NPC and then going back and given the size of middle earth this is a massive distance. I was fortunate to be accompanied by a hunter who had a substantial stack of travelling rations and more than a little patience so it was just an evening of play to travel back and forth but if i where riding this epic journey i would have more than likely been at this for many evenings of play.

Its not just that you have to travel that makes all this so irritating its that once you get to your destination there is a single click to activate the dialogue, then, back to the quest giver at the other side of the world.

when these quests where originally written they would have been part of the end-game and i assume that this strange postal questing was supposed to keep players occupied for some time as they had finished levelling it was just a good way to make them experience area’s of the game again but with a level 61 character who has better things to be doing its something of a nightmare that does little other than distract you for the more pressing matters over in Mirkwood.

i can not say i have enjoyed these quests and would not tell any player to look forward to them but i think if i had have finished them back before Moria was released then my feelings would have been far different and i may have enjoyed taking my time travelling back and forth.

I only hope that later this week when i get chance to get my teeth into volume two that this kind of thing does not plague me again.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Oh WoW I am back

 

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fishWell everyone seems to be writing about World of Warcraft lately I guess it is my turned to weigh in. I have just the week reactivated my account after the best part of 2 years on the wagon. In part I wanted to play because of the upcoming expansion, but also in part because of Lord of the Rings Online. Perhaps I better explain. I started a new LOTRO character, a rune keeper, which is a pretty fun dps/healer combo. And while the character was fun this doesn’t stop the problems I have with the game.

While LOTRO is a very polished game, it is, in my humble opinion, lacking in the strange and reindeermountfantastic. I can understand why this is, because it has to be faithful to its licence, whereas WoW isn’t really tied down by anything. To give you an example I met up with Lady Fleata’s character with my neglected level 71 druid. And lo and behold there she was, a tiny pink haired gnome sat at top a reindeer, red nose and all.

It think it is that sense of weird and wonderful that first drew me into the game all those years ago, and I suspect it is what will draw me back in. Of all the mmo’s I have tried, it is the one that is unafraid of being silly. lotro_moria_logo

Now WoW is still not a perfect game and I think I will definitely have to set myself up on a different server, as the one I am on at the moment (Aerie Peak EU) seems to be over run with arsehole 12 year olds (this never used to bother me when we ran our own guild). So when Cataclysm is launched, I intend to se myself up as a Hordie on an role-play server (both LOTRO and Conan have shown me the joy of RP servers) and see how I go. Blizzard are making promises of a remade world, quests and all, to level in, and I am eager to re-explore familiar paths.

Will I stick with WoW long term? Humm I am not sure. I love the worlds that Blizzard create, but don’t have any particular desire to get back into end game raiding. Still the road from 1 to 85 is a good chunk of time, so I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Old is the new new

 

fishBeing a pc gamer is amazing, because seemingly unlike other platforms, old games aren’t forgotten, they are embrace. Now if you look online you will find many beloved games from the past on steam and Good Old Games, a service that  has had great success making old games work on new computers.

Now aside from the PC having probably the largest number of available games of any platform ever, some companies are taking there old games even further. It has recently been announce that EA intend to retool Battlefield 2 to making it a free browser based game that offers micro transactions. This is not the first time EA have taken a paid for game and made it free, as they did this with Battle Forge. Now EA are not the first company to do this, as THQ has turned excellent RTS Company of Heroes into a free to play game to.

I think that this is potentially a massive money making idea. It is interesting that when we think of micro transactions, we often think of mmo’s. However EA have actually turned out to be something of pioneers. They have not been 100% successful, however instead of just pulling away from the less popular pc game types like sports and arcade racing game, they have created free to play versions. Admittedly there pricing models have been a bit to much in some casesgog-good-old-games-logo, but they haven’t just abandoned the platform like some others. 

The PC offers the freedom to make these kinds of decisions and the games history on offer to make it possible.  It is with a smile, that I noticed that the consoles have recently been charging for games that no longer work on current consoles, such as Dreamcast games and original Xbox games. Humm I am forced to wonder if when the next round of consoles are released will they be reselling the popular games again.

Sorry just a little rang about the joy of being a pc gamer.

Divinity 2: Divine?

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Divinity 2: Ego Draconis Revisited




Divinty 1With the launch of Divinity 2: The Dragon Knight Saga  this month, I decided to reinstall my year old copy of Divinity 2: Ego Draconis. When I last played this game I was astounded by the graphics, the humorous conversational choices and decent voice acting, vast story lines and impressive skill set. But only a few niggles really spoiled it for me, the largest of them being the awful graphical glitch that kinda looked like the game was trying to catch up with my frame rates every few seconds, a 1-2 second stall and jump forwards(I’ve later found that with a new GFX card and drivers this still happens now and then), the other being the Goddess awful memory leak.

These still seems to happen but can be worked around by alt+tabbing out and Divinty 2CTRL/Del to processes and increasing the priority to HIGH this seems to eradicate the leak. I’ve played for hours with no memory leak at all. The graphical glitch seems to sort itself out after i reinstall my graphics card drivers (GTX 460) which I’m not not sure what the issue is as I have to do the same (Reinstall my GFX Drivers) to get LotRO to detect my Dx11 card options. So not sure if its a driver / win 7 compatibility issue or not.



So I’ve been playing this again for the last few days. We think its been patched since I last played as these problems seem to be more minor than they were last and easily sorted.

Divinty 3I tried very very hard to love this game and did so for the first part (no dragon form) the game play, stories and infinite skill set, I just love it. But with the various niggles it was 2 patches away from being my perfect game. I toiled with these issues and after 17 hours or so and dragon form + battle tower achieved, I was too frustrated and the sudden change in game play was a little too much for me especially the OUCH! invisible wall, go that way, OUCH! another invisible wall what the hell. I gave up, after an hour or so.

At the time I paid for £29.99 and thought that was a hefty sum for a game that was frustrating buggy and I had tried so hard to overcome them.

Divinty 4This time around after sorting my two most irritating, game breaking glitches, the game is a delight to play and I very thoroughly this time did alot more quests, secrets, side quests and the mind reading that I had skipped previously. I’ve spent twice as much time going from first steps to gaining my own Battle Tower and Dragon Form, this time around, and Walkthru in hand, I persevered with the invisible walls and anti-dragon zones.


The Dragon part ain’t too bad, but still frustrating with the invisible walls and the flying fortresses bit seem overly harsh and overly difficult. but preserve I shall and see if I can get thru the game further.
Divinty 6I have yet to buy Divinity 2: The Dragon Knight Saga, which by all accounts is Ego Draconis reloaded with Flames of Vengeance  expansion tacked on. So its a good time to get reacquainted with the Ego Draconis the original and when/if The Dragon Knight Saga comes on sale on Steam get that and see the difference between the two.

I’ve learned my lesson well, games that appear on steam, appear on steam sale very soon after.

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Friday, 5 November 2010

WoW – Cataclysm.

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hexWorld of Warcraft has plagued my existence since its inception. I am an avid social gamer but I never took to WoW, in fact i think that its epic success has help back MMO’s in some substantial ways. remember if your game is not like WoW then its going to fail, but if your game is allot like WoW then its going to fail. so you can imagine my surprise when i sat down to write a blog about a game that i just don’t care about and have actively avoided.

The upcoming expansion, cataclysm, is going to be a very important moment in WoW history. Most WoW players i know felt that ‘Wrath’ was a let down and added very little content of any substance there where also many people complaining that they has waited so long for it that it was never going to love up to expectations.

Many WoW players are now veterans and have a second game (LotRO and WAR are the two that spring to mind) some have gone one step further and consider Warcraft to be the second game while they focus on newer titles. With the current trends of F2P price models not only being a great success with existing players but actually attracting new players WoW is at a point where it must step up its game.

With the resources and time that Blizzard have at their disposal I cant help but think that Cataclysm will in fact surprise everyone by actually living up to expectations.

I would even so as far as to say that components originally intended for ‘Wrath’ where held back so they could be part of Cataclysm (blizzard almost defiantly plan far far far ahead). If Cataclysm does not serve to retain and attract players then all that revenue that blizzard have is at risk and with this much money at risk there will be some serious research and thought in this product – for everyone involved its time to take some well thought out risks to make the game stand out to all the other WoW-style games. make then feel dated by offering something  better in every way.

Will it make me want to play? – No. I will no doubt pick it up when its cheap just so i can see ‘the state of the game’ for blogging and Podcasting but no matter how good they make it you have to have an interest for it to attract you.

Quest Hard Audio Blog– Need a wee?

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This week we talk in some depth about F2P, the future of WoW and our distain for Cryptic Studio’s. maybe we are bias here bit we just love the fact that subscriptions are looking like they are an old idea so hail! in with the new!.
There where some audio issues this episode so please excuse for less than smooth edits.

Get us over at: http://www.QuestHard.com
Our RSS is here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/QuestHard
Get an MP3 Here: http://m.podshow.com/media/25548/episodes/255992/questhard-255992-11-05-2010.mp3

Hex Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Hexdsl
Fish on Twitter: http://twitter.com/hangmansj0e
Fleata on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mmo_meanderer

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Gamer tunes?

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hexI love music, I am one of those people that finds music a defining aspect when it comes to mood, atmosphere and relaxation. I love Dio, CCR, Whitesnake, Dylan,  and so many more artists but I also love video games, especially social ones. why do the games i play have such poor sound tracks (granted this is not the case 100% of the time and depends on your tastes in music) I love guild wars but the wonderful instrumentals of Jeremy Soule (is that how you spell that) just don’t ‘do it’ for me, i like to blaze through the PvP arenas with some Kansas blasting out of my stereo.

Turning game music off has become something of a habit for my, i think the more you like music and the more you are dedicated to a genre or style the less game music appeals to you. everyone i know who likes music in MMO’s is not a ‘serious’ music fan.

I have written about this before, but the more i see MMO’s like GW2 and TOR being advertised the more i notice the classical vein of notes in the background. who can’t a developer just ‘man up’ and give me soundtrack with some meat!

Games that are based around music such as Guitar Hero or Rockband do give me the fix my gaming wants but i am not talking about these games, i am talking about games with story where music could be used to enhance the experience. In rhythm games music IS the experience.

To be honest i am expecting most people reading this to disagree with me. but i really want to play an MMO where i leave the music on because its kick ass! 

Holidaying in a game

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fishWhy do we game? I think there are several reasons for this, but I think one of the main one is the stories games create for us. It is like going on vacation and when you come home you have all these anecdotes, about that museum you went to or that nice restaurant you found. Well I think gaming works in a similar way (without all the annoying travelling bit). As gamers we have all these memories of places and environments, just because these places don’t really exist doesn’t make the memories any less valid.

So we create these little stories in our mind about the cool stuff that we got up to, whether it iso_counter-strike_source killing a raid boss, getting an awesome kill in multiplayer or saving the world. To give you an example I will tell you a tale of the greatest Counterstrike round I ever played (note I am not that great at Counterstrike). I took down 1 with my pistol, emptied most of my AK ammo into the second and I only had 6 rounds left when I killed the third and won the round. Now that was years ago and I still remember how awesome it felt.

This might be why multiplayer games, and particularly games like the Sims and Minecraft are so popular. They give you tools to create stories that are more personal and individual. You only have to mention Minecraft to Hex, as I know for a fact that he now has dozens of Minecraft stories. These are events that he will remember for ever and they are unique to him (within reason).

3628519757_600e654732_oNow all games to vary extent create stories like these, and ok maybe at best you can only share them with other gamers, but they are still cool. And to take this further, when people might criticise me for playing too many games, I am force to wonder what interesting memories they are forming each and every day.

I can look back over my gaming history albertsquare460and think of hundreds of cool gaming memories. Can someone who watches Eastenders and Coronation Street religiously really say the same?  I am going to ask you now, if you had to pick your favourite gaming anecdote, what would it be? Lets hear your most cherished gaming story.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

I know I am a gamer because i read it somewhere

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fishWhat is a gamer? It is a question that has been bothering me for quite some time now. What with everyone and their mom's now owning a Wii, and the spread of Facebook games like famville.Now are to to consider every person who puts on the Wii at Christmas and occasionally plays the odd game of Bejewelled at gamer?

As you will probably have guessed by now, I think the answer to that is no. So what do I think a wii-partygamer is? Well I have an idea of how to define us. I think it is safe to say that if you are reading this, you are a gamer. To explain further I would describe anyone who regularly reads/watches gaming news as a gamer.

Taking me for instance. I would describe myself as a gamer as I subscribe to a gaming magazine, I check out Kotaku and massively on a nearly daily basis and listen to one or two gaming podcasts (yes I know, if you write blogs about games then you are definitely a gamer). So anyone like me who has an active interest in gaming 31817_logonews and development, whether online or offline, would count.

So by my definition any person who sees a TV advert for a game and decides to buy it, doesn’t count, and neither do people who buy games that are recommended to them by gamers. So if you take my definition as gospel (obviously you don’t have to), I am forced to wonder how many of us “gamers” there are. For instance World of Warcraft spouts some pretty impressive subscriber numbers, now if you were to apply my definition to its subscribers, how many gamers would you get? I would be surprised if it was above 30% (rough guess based on personal experience).

So how many gamers do i think are out there? Humm I think 50 million world wide is probably really over estimating it. Now that might seem like a big number, but if you take it as starcraft-2-logoa percentage of the world population it is a pretty small chunk of the population. Maybe this is why, as Hex’s recent blog about development costs, game making can still be considered risky business.

Starcraft 2, for example, sold phenomenally well, and i think it is safe to say the majority of copes went to gamers (by my definition), and that only sold 3 millionish copies. If a movie cost as much to make as Starcraft 2 and did so poorly at box office it would be seen as a huge failure.

It just occurred to me I am beginning to ramble, so i will end now with this. Gamers be nice to each other, we are a rarer breed than you may think.