Indie Royale Bundle Launches with Quirky Pricing Scheme

Quirkypricing is obviously a commonplace phenomenon with indie games as a lot of them want great sales without selling their game for $0 and it is great exposure when your game is bundled along with heavy hitters of the indie scene. There’s also the question of alpha funding for many games (Project Zomboid comes to mind) (I jest) and these quirkily priced bundles are an excellent way to get some money before your game is finished. Wolfire Games’ initiative the widely known Humble Indie Bundle was one of the first game bundles to offer a unique Pay-What-You-Want scheme for buying a bunch of incredible games. Indiegames.com and indie digital distributor Desura took this idea a little further with their recently released Indie Royale Bundle.

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What is so unique about the Indie Royale Bundle? Straight from their mouths:-

[From a starting point of $1.99 for the first bundle], Indie Royale uses a unique new pricing mechanism. The total cost for the four-game bundle (which are worth over if $40 purchased separately) gradually increases as more bundles are bought, with early adopters guaranteed the best deals, and prices remaining competitive throughout.

There’s also a brilliant method that entices Samaritans who wish to help both the developers as well as other customers; if you buy the bundle at a higher price (say $50) then the effective price of the bundle comes down a few points:-

…those who choose to pay more than the current cost to support the indie developers and the people behind the bundle will appear on the front page of Indie Royale as part of a special section, with their name and URL called out specifically. In the process, they will drop the price of the game bundle for everyone else anywhere from several cents to multiple dollars! This pricing methodology will likely spawn unpredictable but entertaining results, and the creators of Indie Royale are looking forward to seeing the pricing trends that result.

The current bundle includes A.R.E.S. Extinction Agenda, Nimbus, Gemini Rue and Sanctum. Gemini Rue is supposedly an excellent point-and-click game that I am yet to play and since I have bought the bundle you may see a review of it soon enough! Moreover, new bundles will be released in a few days with different combinations of games to have fun with.

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As an addendum: the site works well with Indian debit cards! My purchase went through without routing over to VbV and I was the happy owner of four fun indie games.

Game4u to Hold Midnight Launch for Battlefield 3 in Mumbai, India

Update:Due to Battlefield 3 launch being delayed to October 28th, the midnight launch will happen at midnight on the 28th of October.

Battlefield 3, the latest game of Electronic Arts’  Battlefield  franchise is all set to launch in India on the 24th28th of October, 2011. In light of this, Game4u is set to hold a midnight launch in their retail store at Mega Mall, Oshiwara, Mumbai.

The launch is scheduled to happen on 24th October28th October early morning at 00:00 hours. The first customer to purchase Battlefield 3 will get a “First to Own” certificate from Game4u.

In addition to the certificate, the customer will also get a Razer Battlefield 3 Collector’s Edition Imperator mouse.

Razer BF3 Imperator Mouse

If you aren’t the lucky one to be the first in the line, then worry not! All customers who purchased Battlefield 3 during the midnight launch will enter a lucky draw with the following prizes up for grabs:

  • One Razer Battlefield 3 Edition Imperator mouse
  • Two Razer Battlefield 3 Edition Mouse pads
Battlefield  is the direct successor to the popular Battlefield 2, which was launched in 2005. Battlefield 3 features a single player, co-op and multi-player features with support for  up to  64 players on a single map on the PC version. Also included are vehicles and fighter jets.

So, if you’re an ardent Battlefield fan, head over to the Mega Mall and be part of the midnight launch! You just might end up winning some sweet goodies!

Diablo III Will Be Available for Free

Blizzcon, Blizzard’s annual convention showcasing their games franchises went into high gear yesterday over at the Anaheim  Convention  Center in California.

One of the highlights from yesterday’s keynote was that Blizzard announced that Diablo III will be available for free. Now before you jump up and down or question how the heck Blizzard can do that – there’s a catch.

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The catch is that Diablo III will be available for free for those who have signed up for the World of Warcraft Annual Pass. Quoting from Battle.net blog post:

Players who make a 12-month subscription commitment to World of Warcraft through the WoW Annual Pass will receive the following epic rewards:

  • Diablo III FREE   Download the digital version via Battle.net for free when the game launches early next year. This is the full game, not a trial edition.
  • Tyrael’s Charger WoW Flying Mount   Ride for the Archangel of Justice on all current and future characters on a single World of Warcraft account. Tyrael’s Charger will arrive via in-game mail with the upcoming launch of patch 4.3.
  • Access to the Next WoW Expansion Beta Test   Get a guaranteed spot in the beta test for the next World of Warcraft expansion (at a time to be announced in the future).
Seems like a pretty decent deal. But do remember – World of Warcraft is not free( fee is at $14.99 per month, the amount reduces if you pay for a higher period of time). And this deal isn’t for new customers – one of the prerequisites is that you need to have a fully registered member of World of Warcraft on or before October 18th.
Having said that, this is a very good deal for hardcore World of Warcraft fans and loyalists. Now whether they’ll have any time to spare for Diablo III and World of Warcraft remains to be seen.
Those interested can sign up for the Annual Pass over here.

Mass Effect 3 to have multiplayer support, dubbed Galaxy Wars

Mass Effect 3, one of the most anticipated games of the year and sequel to the smash hit Mass Effect 2, has been confirmed to have multiplayer support.

The news was mentioned by Mass Effect series’ producer Casey Hudson via a tweet and posted on BioWare’s twitter account as well.

The multiplayer gameplay mechanics were mentioned in detail over at the Mass Effect forum. Summarizing them,

  • Multiplayer support will feature 4-player co-op gameplay
  • There will be no versus, deathmatch, PvP or any other kind of multiplayer
  • Multiplayer will not be part of the main campaign. It will be a bonusaddition and is known as Galaxy at War
  • At this moment, the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and the PC versions will feature multiplayer support. However, BioWare hasn’t mentioned if inter-system multi-player would be supported or not.
  • The multiplayer player campaign is being developed by a separate team BioWare Montreal while the core single-player game is being developed by BioWare Edmonton
  • Shepard, Liara, Garrus and other key characters will not part of the multiplayer campaign players will have to create custom characters. The custom characters can be of a race other than human.

You’d think people would be jumping up and down about this announcement, but fan reaction to this has been mixed. Going over through the reactions, it looks like most of the hardcore fans aren’t too happy with the announcement. One of the main things they cite is that the addition of multiplayer would be as a me-too addition, rather than it being deeply integrated. Some others feel that multiplayer addition would detract from the single-player experience. This announcement makes me wonder, though is this what DICE had been helping out BioWare with?

Personally, I’m not too concerned for now. I actually welcome the multiplayer addition would be great to kick off some co-op sessions with fellow techie-buzzer Kaushik after playing the main campaign. Time will tell, whether or not the addition is a good thing. For now, we’ll have to wait till more details trickle in.

Fellow Gamers Are Helping You Retain Your Legal Rights!

EA and Sony have become recipients of yet another slew of criticism for the addition of some unsavory legal clauses in their Terms of Service (ToS). When you agree upon these clauses (whenever the user clicks on the I agree to the terms and conditions’ checkbox), you are essentially waiving your rights to sue the company over any legal issue with the use of its products. This is obviously completely unacceptable!

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In the age of technology and considering that the products in question are digital distribution platforms, it seems completely cranky that the only way to get yourself released from these binding clauses is by sending snail mail with your dissent to the clause to the company’s headquarters! I mean, think about it, you buy the game online, download it from the net over wireless and you have to go out into the wild urban areas populated by terrifying cars and motorbikes just to send a piece of data to the company!

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A bunch of gamers from Chicago have made their website called Gamers Opt-Out that allows you to send the opt-out letter online, for free. Indeed, it will not cost you a penny to send the letters to the respective companies. Just fill up the online form and the good folks at Gamers Opt-Out will send the mail for you. The site primarily functions via the donations received by other gamers that help send the snail mail (it actually costs money! How strange!)

Jokes apart, I think the people here have shown the world that concerned gamers do exist. Mad props to them! (If you can, please donate to them!)

The Witcher 2 Version 2.0 Will Release With Major Changes

You have to hand it over to the guys over at CD Projekt RED (CDPR). They make brilliant games and they make sure that the customers who bought their games enjoy it for a while to come. With the original The Witcher, the Polish developer pushed a huge update that changed the game from a buggy and stunted experience to a fleshed out and stunning one for free with the Enhanced Edition. With their sequel, The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, CDPR has been releasing update upon update since the day of release. On the 29th of September, the 2.0 patch will be available for the game featuring a host of fixes and three new gaming modes for replayability and additional challenge!

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The three new modes for The Witcher 2 are Tutorial, Dark Mode and Arena. Most of it is self-explanatory, but I will write a couple of lines about each because we run a respectable blog here!

  • Tutorial: Considering how suddenly the game dropped you in the middle of a war camp and expected you to know everything implicitly (which was a good thing and a break from the norm of having a tedious tutorial mode), CDPR decided that a [perhaps] tedious tutorial was required. In this mode players rescue a knight called the Bastard of Bolton of Ironford while learning the basics of gameplay, swordplay and… alchemy-play.
  • Dark Mode: This is akin to the Hell Difficulty in Diablo II. Basically every foe in the game is extremely powerful and at times it feels like the game is cheating on you. However, there’s a sub-quest throughout the game outlining a dark legend and some powerful items of said legend are scattered throughout the realm for you to find and use. Sounds like fun!
  • Arena: What I found to be lacking in the original game was that while the combat brilliant, in my zeal I used to commit genocide of every foul thing present in an area and found monsters lacking after a while. The Arena pits Geralt of Rivia against an endless horde of monsters and thus try to quench my enormous bloodthirst.

So will you be re-installing The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings to install this update? I, for one, have not uninstalled the game yet.

EA Also Inserts Class-Action Lawsuit Prevention Clause in Origin’s EULA

In all honesty, Sony’s lawsuit prevention clause in its PlayStation Network Terms of Service (ToS) is quite fancy. If you agree to section 15 of its new ToS, you are essentially waiving your right to a class-action lawsuit against Sony Network Entertainment International, LLC (SNEI) and in effect you are giving the gaming giant free reign to do whatever it wishes to do with your account and registered games.

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Electronic Arts (EA), the gargantuan beast of gaming decided that Sony’s ToS change is pioneering and went about copying that to its own End User License Agreement (EULA) for the Origin digital distribution store that it operates. If you accept these terms of service, you will be denied the right to sue and bring the company to trial by jury. Only individual cases will be considered against the giant.

By accepting these terms, you and EA expressly waive the right to a trial by jury or to participate in a class action.
YOU UNDERSTAND THAT BY THIS PROVISION, YOU AND EA ARE FOREGOING THE RIGHT TO SUE IN COURT AND HAVE A JURY TRIAL.
YOU AND EA AGREE THAT EACH MAY BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THE OTHER ONLY IN YOUR OR ITS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY, AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING.

One can opt out of both of these binders by submitting a written application to the company, but why is that even necessary when these clauses can be done away with entirely?

It is rather sad to see that these pinnacles of the industry put forth these gags against the civil voice instead of making sure that the service they provide is hassle-free and fair for both the users as well as the developers.

Dota 2 Beta Will Not Have an NDA With Testers

IceFrog, the developer of the upcoming tower defense game Dota 2 is a real cool guy. Not only does he make some really fantastic mods (the original Dota to be precise), but he makes changes to beta plans to make them accessible to all the gamers clawing to get at the video game.

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Originally, Dota 2 was supposed to stay in beta for over a year with all the participants agreeing to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA). This means that the beta players cannot share information about the game to anyone outside the beta slot. So extremely fun games would be played and recorded, but they could never be shared with the outside world for an entire year. Considering that the original mod found acceptance in the entire community due to the recorded games and screenshots that were shared amongst players, this was not a very good idea. In fact as IceFrog himself says:-

So we decided our original plan was dumb.

So now, the beta is no longer under purview of the NDA, and the Dota 2 team will be adding more players to its closed beta test.

But there’ll be no restrictions on what players can do with it they can release screenshots, make movies, shoutcast matches, write guides, publicly make fun of our HUD, or anything else their hearts desire. While they do that, we’ll be shipping regular updates with more heroes, new features we’ve been working on, and improvements on the existing content as we get more and more feedback.

So, do you want in on the up and coming tower defense game? Just sign in on this web page with your Steam credentials to be added to the list!

Diablo III Release Date Pushed to “Early 2012”

I cannot decide if this is good news or bad news. The good news part is wholly selfish, because I have tons of work throughout the rest of the year. The bad news part is that the Mayan apocalypse might occur and we will all die before Diablo III releases. Sad smile

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There is as yet no word on exactly why the release date was pushed to early 2012. Maybe the closed beta that is proceeding right now may have turned up some issues that need ironing out and the employees want to chill during Christmas before sorting it out. There may be family feuds that have to be settled in closed beta PvP (Player vs. Player) matches. Blizzard might be building another secret cow level. Who knows? The fact is that while many fans might be disheartened by this, it is only fair that the game gets a beautiful bug-free release after years of development, as Blizzard’s President Mike Morhaime says-

With every game we make, the temptation is always very strong to launch as soon as possible. However, we didn’t put so many years of work into Diablo III to release a game that was almost ready. The beta test is going very well, and we look forward to making the most of the extra time we’re taking to deliver an experience that lives up to our vision for the game and the expectations of our players. Next year is going to be an incredibly busy one for Blizzard, and we hope an incredibly fun one for Blizzard gamers.

So… neutral news. But it does give you time enough to exercise those finger muscles and prepare them for the torture of the Mouse Click.

Square Enix Announces Several Classic jRPGs for iOS and Android

By several classic jRPGsI actually mean Chrono Trigger, which is worth more than a cartload of its kin, even though there are quite a few other amazing retro Japanese RPGs (jRPGs) that are being released by Square Enix for Apple’s and Google’s mobile platforms. Showing off their upcoming games’ slide at the Tokyo Game Show (TGS), Square Enix showed off Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy Legends, Itadaki Street and Dragon Quest Monsters that will be available on their app marketplace for Android, with the imaginative and interesting name of Square Enix Marketplace. While there is the very correct concern over why a new marketplace app is needed when the Android Marketplace works well enough, they are secondary to the fact that Square Enix is releasing Chrono Trigger and a free download of a marketplace app is forgiven when the prize is so brilliant. (A similar kind of logic is applied to the Amazon Marketplace app by me and several others one downloads it to get the free app of the day every day)

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Square Enix also announced three brand new games developed for the mobile platforms Chaos Rings 2, Diffusion Million Arthur and Demon’s Score. The company also showed Final Fantasy 1, 2 and Crystal Defenders for the Android Marketplace in a sizzle reel. This is shaping up to be a pretty good year for mobile RPG lovers!