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Sunday, October 6, 2013

This Week In Gaming: GTA Online Woes And The Worst DLC Of All Time

Welcome back fellow gamers. Below I’ve included some of the biggest stories in gaming that took place this week, September 30th-October 6th, 2013. As always, I offer my opinion along with links to the relevant source articles in case you want more info. Now, on to the stories!

Big Trouble In Little Los Santos

This week marked the debut of Rockstar’s ambitious new foray into online multiplayer: Grand Theft Auto Online which players who purchased Grand Theft Auto V receive free access to. Rockstar anticipated a bit of a rockylaunch and boy where they right. Millions of users trying to log in all at once took its toll on GTA Online’s servers with a vast majority of users being unable to get very far past the character creation screen.

After a day or so had passed and Rockstar had a chance to work out some of the kinks, many players still remained locked out of GTA Online mainly due to their inability to load up the mandatory tutorial racing mission which must first be completed before they can explore the rest of GTA Online’s world. Even worse, those who *did* manage to make it past the tutorial reported losing their characters and progress. As a precaution, Rockstar ended up disabling the game’s micro-transactions feature which allows users to purchase in-game cash for real-world money.

As of the time of this writing, GTA Online’s performance remains far from stable and many users are still complaining about lost characters and progress, many are unsurprisingly frustrated at having already poured many hours into GTA Online only to see all their hard work gone the next time they log in. Rockstar has released several patches and title updates to help deal with some of GTA Online’s more glaring issues but it’s still working on getting the issue of erased characters and game progress worked out.

I myself was only just able to get past the beginning tutorial mission yesterday evening and even afterwards still experienced my fair share of freezes and crashes. I’ll admit GTA Online is a lot of fun when it works as intended but until Rockstar gets all of the game’s issues sorted out once and for all, I’d say proceed with caution and at your own risk due to the erased characters issue.
For the most up-to-date info on how Rockstar is combating GTA Online’s issues, check out the game’s official support page

Original Source: Polygon

Back In My Day…

If you were to say the phrase “extra lives” to a typical gamer, they’d likely bring up fond memories of inputting specific button sequences into their favorite game’s start screen in order to receive an inordinate amount of lives. For all you whippersnappers out there, such rituals were called “cheat codes” and were one of the many fun little secrets a typical game had hidden away. Now Sega’s offering a similar incentive for fans of the upcoming Sonic: Lost Worlds…For a price.

Like most games, Sonic: Lost Worlds, which comes out later this month on both 3DS and WiiU, comes with a fair amount of bonus DLC content for those who decide to pre-order the game from specific vendors. Fans who decide to pre-order from online retailer Amazon get 25 extra lives. Yes, that’s right, 25 extra lives is the pre-order DLC content fans get for pre-ordering from Amazon.

It would seem the days of inputting cheat codes are well and truly dead. Why put in a hidden code to unlock lives when you can just charge players a buck or two instead? What am I talking about? Well, while the pre-order bonus on its own doesn’t seem too bad, Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, who covered the news for Kotaku, pointed out the slippery slope Sega has put itself on. Once Sonic: Lost Worlds is released, what’s stopping Sega from doing exactly what I mentioned earlier, putting the extra lives in as an optional DLC purchase? 

When many of Kotaku’s more vocal commenters accused Schreier of overreacting, he fired back with this rather eloquent post justifying who he feels these extra lives are “literally the worst DLC of all time”:

“Here, you're not paying for something trivial—you're paying for a core part of the game: the ability to try again once you've died. In any platformer, that's an integral part of the core design. Some platformers choose to challenge you by testing you over and over again until you figure out how to pull off a tricky jump or spin move; others give you more rope and let you challenge yourself to beat each level with more speed, or more completion, or whatever.

By offering extra lives as a preorder bonus (and presumably later for real cash, based on the "downloadable content" line), Sega is damaging the integrity of that core design. Even if they didn't intentionally make the game more difficult in order to get you to put in more money, they've ruined the ecosystem of lives in this game, which immediately makes it less satisfying and less desirable to play.”

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Schreier’s reasoning, none can deny that this is dangerous ground for Sega to be treading on. Many gamers like to joke about a day when getting any sort of in-game powerup from an extra life to a fireball to a fancy new sword will require an in-game micro-transaction but what Sega is doing with Sonic: Lost Worlds is making that absurd fantasy into slightly more of a scary reality. Here’s hoping other developers don’t follow suit.

Original Source: Kotaku

That’s it for this week folks. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @NateHohl and check out my other work at VGU.TV and The LongfellowBridge.  

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