NCsoft Unveils New ‘Wildstar’ Business Model

NCsoft is taking a new approach to one of its more popular games, the MMO title Wildstar. Rather than going with the usual approach for free-to-play and leaning heavily on microtransactions, there’s a new model in mind here.

Talking with Gamesindustry International, NCsoft’s Jeremy Gaffney explained, “Business models are a very polarizing thing. Some people love this model or hate that model, but if you look on forums you’ll see that people hate models a lot more than they love ’em. They’ve been burned before. They know the downside way more than they know the upside.”

With this new system, NCsoft is looking to take the best elements from subscriptions and micro-transactions and mesh them together into one well-operating system. “There’s two major options to play,” he said. “One is super simple: buy a box, and pay a subscription. There’s a class of player that likes that, because they know how much they’re paying, they know the playing field is level, and they can expect big updates. That’s the joy of the subscription model.”

The game will still provide an opportunity to play Wildstar for free, though that hasn’t been fleshed out just yet. Players will be able to earn C.R.E.D.D., or virtual tokens, either through real purchase or trading up with others at the ‘Commodities Exchange.’

“The job we have to do right is to make sure that gold enters the economy properly,” Gaffney said. “Not in an abusive fashion, not with exploits. The second thing is to make sure that there’s fun ways for gold to be spent… We have a couple of ways that gold enters and leaves the economy that aren’t normal with other games, so it’s going to make C.R.E.D.D. feel quite different to systems in other games. But I freely admit that we have to do our job well on that. If not, then people will opt to pay for a subscription instead.”

Source: GamesIndustry International

Xbox One Titles Revealed

In an effort to get some hype built up for the Xbox One leading into its presentation this week at Gamescom, Microsoft has unveiled a list of games coming to the next-generation machine. Though they aren’t all launch titles – some are due in 2014 – it’s an impressive list, with a number of surprising exclusives to go along with the multi-platform titles which will also appear on PlayStation 4. Here’s the list.


  • Below (Capy Games, Microsoft Studios)
  • Crimson Dragon (Grounding/Land Ho!, Microsoft Studios)
  • D4 (Access Games, Microsoft Studios)
  • Dead Rising 3 (Capcom Vancouver, Microsoft Studios)
  • Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved (Harmonix, Disney Interactive)
  • Forza Motorsport 5 (Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft Studios)
  • Halo Xbox One (343 Industries, Microsoft Studios)
  • Killer Instinct (Double Helix, Microsoft Studios)
  • Kinect Sports Rivals (Rare, Microsoft Studios)
  • LocoCycle (Twisted Pixel, Microsoft Studios)
  • Minecraft: Xbox One Edition (Mojang Studios, Microsoft Studios)
  • Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (PopCap Games, Electronic Arts)
  • Powerstar Golf (Zoe Mode, Microsoft Studios)
  • Project Spark (Microsoft Studios)
  • Quantum Break (Remedy, Microsoft Studios)
  • Ryse: Son of Rome (Crytek, Microsoft Studios)
  • Sunset Overdrive (Insomniac Games, Microsoft Studios)
  • Titanfall (Respawn Entertainment, Electronic Arts)
  • Zoo Tycoon (Frontier Developments Ltd., Microsoft Studios)

Exclusive Content or Timed Exclusive

  • Battlefield 4 (DICE, Electronic Arts)
  • Call of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward, Activision)
  • FIFA 14 (EA SPORTS, Electronic Arts)


  • Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag (Ubisoft, Ubisoft)
  • Destiny (Bungie, Activision)
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition (BioWare, Electronic Arts)
  • Dying Light (Techland, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • EA Sports UFC (EA SPORTS, Electronic Arts)
  • Final Fantasy XV (Square Enix, Square Enix)
  • Just Dance 2014 (Ubisoft Paris, Ubisoft)
  • Kingdom Hearts III (Square Enix 1st Production Department, Square Enix)
  • LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (TT Games, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • Mad Max (Avalanche Studios, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • Madden NFL 25 (EA SPORTS, Electronic Arts)
  • Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Kojima Productions, Konami)
  • Mirror’s Edge 2 (DICE, Electronic Arts)
  • NBA 2K14 (Visual Concepts, 2K Sports)
  • NBA LIVE 14 (EA SPORTS, Electronic Arts)
  • Need for Speed: Rivals (Ghost Games, Electronic Arts)
  • Skylanders: Swap Force (Vicarious Visions, Activision)
  • Star Wars Battlefront (DICE, Electronic Arts)
  • The Crew (Ivory Towers, Ubisoft)
  • The Elder Scrolls Online (ZeniMax Online Studios, Bethesda Softworks)
  • The Evil Within (Tango Gameworks, Bethesda Softworks)
  • The LEGO Movie Videogame (TT Games, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (CD Projekt RED, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment – North America)
  • Thief (Eidos Montreal, Square Enix)
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division (Massive Entertainment, Ubisoft)
  • Watch_Dogs (Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order (MachineGames, Bethesda Softworks)
  • Zumba Fitness: World Party (Zoë Mode, Majesco)

That’s a solid line-up for the new console. The Xbox One launches later this year.

Source: USgamer

GOG Opens Indie Developer Portal

Buying online games via Steam and Origin is convenient, but there are times when players will run into the problem of DRM, forcing them to maintain a consistent online connection in order to keep the game going. Good Old Games (GOG), however, has a new portal where developers don’t have to worry about that.

The company has launched a section on its page where developers can launch games without the need for DRM, while at the same time earning royalty advances and reaching out to a bigger audience. The arrangement calls for a 60/40 split, which will then revert to 70/30 after the amount that was advanced gets paid back. It’s not a bad deal, and developers would certainly benefit from GOG’s audience.


Source: TechCrunch

Kafkaesque Toilet Paper Ad

In one of the more bizarre commercials to hit the internet, a Charmin commercial that features blue and red animated bears has an interesting inclusion – a copy of Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. It’s a little strange, but it just might get your attention. Will it sell toilet paper? Perhaps not, but maybe more people will be reading Kafka, or at least talking about it.

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‘Thief’ Wants To Steal Your Attention

Square Enix has put a lot of attention into the next-gen reboot of its classic Thief series, giving you all sorts of cool abilities as you try to turn the tables on rich magnates and other evil-doers. The company has released a new trailer for the game, just in time for its presentation at Gamescom this week. It also unveiled a release date – February 25, 2014.

Thief 4 will release for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.


Hacker Hijacks Zuckerberg’s Facebook

Facebook user Khalil Shreateh has pulled off the kind of heist that fans of the film The Social Network might appreciate.  The Palestinian Facebook user apologized to Mark Zuckerberg over the weekend for gaining access to his Timeline – get this, on the founder’s Timeline — following countless attempts to submit a security flaw to the company’s white hat disclosure program, which encourages users to hack the network to expose bugs.

“Sorry for breaking your privacy… I had no other choice… after all the reports I sent to Facebook team.”

Shreateh accessed Zuck’s page by taking advantage of the exact glitch that he was reporting, a glitch that would allow any Facebook user to post on a stranger’s wall despite security settings designed to help users keep their pages private. As part of its white hat program, Facebook has a reward for hackers who manage to bypass their security system, hoping this will act as an incentive to report glitches rather than exploit them.

It doesn’t look like Shreateh will be getting rewarded though.

Before even officially reporting the bug, Shreateh successfully tested it by posting on the wall of Sarah Goodin, Zuckerberg’s former college classmate. He included a link to this post in the email, but a Facebook security employee who goes by Emrakul couldn’t see the post, since he wasn’t friends with Goodin.

Shreateh tried to explain in a follow up email to Emrakul that he could very well post to Zuckerberg’s wall if he wanted. He added that he wouldn’t, allegedly stating, “‘Cause I do respect people privacy.” His second email, however, received more crickets from the social site. So he proved his point in memorable fashion.

The exploited post got the attention of Ola Okelola, another Facebook security engineer. Okelola commented on the post, asking for more information on the bug. After a brief discussion, Shreateh’s Facebook account got suspended in what Facebook labeled “a precaution.” Shreateh then got an email explanation from another Facebook security engineer named Joshua on why he got the runaround, and why he wouldn’t get a $500 reward for his effort.

“Unfortunately your report to our Whitehat system did not have enough technical information for us to take action on it,” Joshua wrote. “We cannot respond to reports which do not contain enough detail to allow us to reproduce an issue.” He added that Facebook would “unfortunately not able to pay you for this vulnerability because your actions violated our Terms of Service.”

By posting on Zuckerberg’s wall, Shreateh also violated Facebook’s responsible disclosure policy which prohibits people who discover bugs to take advantage of them and demonstrate the bugs on people’s accounts without their permission.

“The more important issue here is with how the bug was demonstrated using the accounts of real people without their permission,” explained Facebook’s Matt Jones on the site Hacker News.

“Exploiting bugs to impact real users is not acceptable behavior for a white hat. We allow researchers to create test accounts here to help facilitate responsible research and testing. In this case, the researcher used the bug he discovered to post on the timelines of multiple users without their consent,” Jones said.

Facebook declined to comment further. And according to Jones, the hoopla may have been all for not, the bug was apparently fixed on Thursday.

Oh, and here’s how he did it.

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Source: Mashable

Killing Zombies With Style

Warner Bros.’ Dying Light is getting a major push heading into its Gamescom presentation this week. The first person action-adventure, currently in development at Techland (the same team behind the Dead Island games), features stunning visuals as well as gameplay that combines slick parkour maneuvers with visceral action.

To get the buzz going, WB worked with Ayzenberg on this12-minute gameplay demonstration, giving a taste of what could set this game apart.

Dying Light releases in 2014 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.

Sony Partners With Viacom On Streaming TV

Sony has reached a deal with Viacom Inc., the media giant whose channels include MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, that could give Sony the jump on the streaming TV market. The companies are planning a pay-TV service that is likely to be streamed across Sony devices, which could very well include PlayStation 4 when it launches later this year.

This marks the first time a company has gone specifically after a pay-TV service, though it carries other streaming apps such as Netflix and Amazon, which are available on both PlayStation 3 and PS Vita now.

The parties made no comment, but more may be unveiled this week during the company’s press conference leading into Gamescom in Germany.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Retail Game Sales Fall Again

Retail video game sales last month in the U.S. sank by 19 percent compared to July 2012, as has been widely expected. The anticipation for new consoles is strongly impacting hardware sales, to the extent that hardware sales dropped 34 percent from last year to total only $99.4 million for the month. Software sales alone dropped 19 percent, while accessories only fell 3 percent.

The only bright spot, such as it was, came with sales of Nintendo 3DS, the only platform to show growth over July of last year. The console was helped by the strong performance of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which took the overall number five best-selling position among software titles for the period.

“July 2013 was another positive month for 3DS software sales, with strong double-digit growth in both units and dollars,” said NPD’s Liam Callahan. “Besides launches like Shin Megami Tensei IV, growth was driven by continued success from games that have launched over the past few months like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.”

The top selling game overall for the month was NCAA Football 14, with Minecraft for the Xbox 360 in second place, and The Last of Us in third.

Source: NPD

New iOS App Guidelines

With an influx of kid-related and gambling programs making the round on Apple’s app store, many users have been wondering if there could be a loss of real-time money as a result. Fortunately, that’s not the case, as Apple recently revised its rules for both kinds of apps through a special update.

The following updates apply when it comes to gambling apps, according to the company:

“20.5 Apps that offer real money gaming (e.g. sports betting, poker, casino games, horse racing) must have necessary licensing and permissions in the locations where the App is used, must be restricted to those locations, and must be free on the App Store

20.6 Apps that use IAP to purchase credit or currency to use in conjunction with real money gaming will be rejected”

Meanwhile, when it comes to kids’ apps, these policies were put into effect to coincide with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA for short…

“17.3 Apps may ask for date of birth (or use other age-gating mechanisms) only for the purpose of complying with applicable children’s privacy statutes, but must include some useful functionality or entertainment value regardless of the user’s age

17.4 Apps that collect, transmit, or have the capability to share personal information (e.g. name, address, email, location, photos, videos, drawings, persistent identifiers, the ability to chat, or other personal data) from a minor must comply with applicable children’s privacy statutes.”

Also, all kid’s apps must now restrict behavioral advertising (which is defined as advertising shown that’s based on the user’s activities within an app), and all kid’s apps must explicitly ask for parental permission before the user can make in-app purchases. That last one will certainly affect those games that have sold in-game items to kids too young to understand they were spending money. Apple no doubt hopes to prevent such embarrassing incidents.

Source: TUAW