Tag Archives: Xbox One

Star Wars video game maker apologizes after uproar from fans

The company behind the new Star Wars video game has turned off a money-spinning part of it after an outcry from angry fans and scrutiny from regulators.

Gamers had complained in recent days that it takes huge amounts of time — or money — to unlock features in Star Wars Battlefront II. Regulators in Belgium, meanwhile, are looking at whether the game constitutes a form of gambling.

Some Star Wars fans who paid roughly $60 to buy Battlefront II were upset to find that optional charges built into the game can cost them hundreds more.

“We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases,” said Oskar Gabrielson, the general manager of the unit of gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA, Tech30) that developed Battlefront II. “We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning.”

Fans were angry because Battlefront II essentially gave players a choice. They could spend a huge number of hours collecting in-game credits to unlock new features and cooler characters, or pay real money to get them instantly.

In the gaming world, this is called “pay to win.” It’s not unusual, but the format has typically been used in mobile games that are free to download.

Some gamers calculated that it would take six years of playing two hours a day to unlock all the features in Battlefront II without handing over any real money. Paying for everything, meanwhile, would cost over $2,000.

“It’s a complete ripoff and the multiplayer is rigged for whoever is willing to spend more money,” one gamer said on Twitter last week. “It is designed to make you spend more money after buying.”

“We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages,” Gabrielson said. “And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right.”

Previously, the game developers had tried to placate fans by reducing the cost of unlocking “hero” characters by 75%.

The in-game purchases aren’t gone forever, though.

Gabrielson said they would return “at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game.”

His statement didn’t directly address the concerns of the Belgian Gaming Commission, which is investigating how players in Battlefront II and similar games are rewarded by unlocking “loot boxes.”

The idea is that players pay real money to unlock a virtual “loot box” without knowing what kind of reward is inside. They also don’t know how many boxes they might need to unlock in order to finish the game.

Peter Naessens, general director of the Belgian Gaming Commission, said the regulator is examining whether the rewards are allocated by chance, and whether this might constitute a form of gambling.

In Belgium, companies involved in gambling are required to have a license. Minors and people with gambling addiction problems are not allowed to play.

 

Electronic Arts has dismissed the idea that its game falls into that category, saying that the “mechanics of Star Wars Battlefront II are not gambling.”

“A player’s ability to succeed in the game is not dependent on purchasing [loot boxes],” it said in a statement. “Players can also earn [loot boxes] through playing the game and not spending any money at all.”

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New E3 Demo of Cuphead Fuses Retro Cartoons and Retro Games

Though we may not recognize it now, American animation during the dawn of the 20th century dramatically changed how people across the world view entertainment forever. Anthropomorphic object and exaggerated facial expressions were by no means new to the world of cartoons, but were given new life through frame-by-frame animated shorts by studios like Fleischer Studios. Many of these cartoons would later influence Japanese anime, upon which many modern video games draw for their own visual stylings.

Yet the earlier heydays of cartoonery are rarely explored by contemporary video games (save, perhaps, for Peacock from Lab Zero’s Skullgirls). Studio MDHR plans to do just that, though, with their upcoming run-and-gun platformer,Cuphead in Don’t Deal With the Devil. The project, which began in 2010, blends the surrealism of 1930s animation and the mayhem of classic arcade platformers like Metal Slug to create a game that stands out from the rest of the indie pack.

cuphead 2

Cuphead’s premise is simple: the titular Cuphead and his friend Mugman lose a bet with the Devil. They must pay off that debt by giving the game’s bosses the ol’ one-two. The game focuses mainly around these boss fights, as well as platforming sections, swarms of regular enemies, a weapons and ultimate ability mechanic, and secret area exploration.

As for those boss fights, Studio MDHR has stated that they plan to implement over 30 of them. If they reach that number, Cuphead will have surpassed Treasure’s Alien Soldier for the Guiness record of “most boss fights in a run-and-gun game.” Niche record, sure, but notable nonetheless.

Cuphead footage from E3 (via YouTube user Etalyx) gives us a glimpse into one of those boss fights, as well as some of its regular gameplay:

Studio MDHR is also committed to keeping the core fundamentals of both retro animation and retro gaming close toCuphead’s heart. The Mouldenhauer brothers of Studio MDHR have imbued Cuphead with the mechanical nuances and system esoterica that give old arcade games their rich texture. The game’s animations and music, meanwhile,attempt to replicate the same meticulous processes practiced by animators and composers nearly 100 years ago.

Cuphead is set to release some time in 2016 for Xbox One and PC. You can follow Studio MDHR’s Twitter here.

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