Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with Scott Steinberg and talk about viral media marketing of games. But you might be wondering, who is this Scott guy? Scott Steinberg is CMO and publisher of DigitalTrends.com and managing director of Embassy Multimedia Consultants, which counsels game industry publishers, developers and investors worldwide. In addition Scott has written three books, Video Game Marketing and PR , The Video Game Style and Reference Manual , Get Rich Playing Games; he has been a correspondent for technology and videogames for over 400 outlets worldwide, including playboy, rolling stone, and the NY Times. In part one of this two part Robocast interview Scott talks to us about what viral media marketing is, its history in game marketing, and how marketing companies have taken a roll in viral media marketing of games.
Today EA and Bioware released a press statement to pat themselves on the back for the successful launch and mind blowing sales totalling 2 million units worldwide for the second installment in their space opera trilogy.
Given what a great game the first Mass Effect was this doesn’t really come as a surprise that Mass Effect 2 is doing so well at retail and ensures that we’ll be seeing Mass Effect 3 soon enough.
The full press release follows.
EDMONTON, Alberta, Jan 29, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — 40 perfect scores. 2 million units. One pop culture phenomenon. BioWare(TM), a division of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: ERTS), announced today that Mass Effect(TM) 2 has sold-in over two million units worldwide in its first week of release*. Lauded for its intense shooter gameplay and deep, hand-crafted story, Mass Effect 2 has earned an average review score of 96** — making it the second highest rated game of all time on the Xbox 360(R) platform***. Mass Effect 2 has earned 40 perfect scores, amassed over 30 editor’s choice awards and has donned the covers of 45 magazines worldwide. On launch day, the term “Mass Effect” was in the top 10 trending topics on Twitter and most searched on Google News. MSNBC.com said, “Mass Effect will go down as one of the most influential video game series of all-time.”
Dr. Ray Muzyka, co-founder, BioWare and Group General Manager of the RPG/MMO Group of EA said, “Mass Effect 2 is poised to be one of the biggest games of 2010. We could not be more proud of the game’s universal acclaim and early commercial success.”
Mass Effect 2 launched this week hot on the heels of BioWare’s Dragon Age: Origins, the studio’s dark fantasy RPG which shipped in fall 2009. Dragon Age: Origins has earned an average review score of 91****, making it the highest rated original intellectual property from EA in the last year. Mass Effect 2 follows in BioWare’s tradition of delivering excellence on every front: gameplay, story, character development and visuals. Mass Effect 2 is an epic shooter/RPG set in a vast universe filled with dangerous alien life and mysterious, uncharted planets. In Mass Effect 2, players step into the role of the heroic Commander Shepard, leading a crew of some of the most dangerous operatives from across the galaxy on a mission so challenging that it’s potentially suicidal. Featuring intense action, a rich storyline, space exploration and engaging character interaction, Mass Effect 2 delivers an unparalleled gaming experience.
Mass Effect 2 is available for the Xbox 360 videogame and entertainment system and the PC and is rated ‘M’ for Mature by the ESRB and ’18+’ by PEGI. For more information, follow the development team on Twitter at http://twitter.com/masseffect2 or visit http://masseffect.bioware.com/.
I haven’t picked the game up myself but some of our other RoboAwesome staff have and soon enough we should have a full review on the game. Although the proof is in the pudding on this one. Personally I was sold at the end of the first game.
Nintendo has finally brought their Japan-only RPG series, Glory of Heracles, to the States. Glory of Heracles (unrelated to the Japanese-only debut of the series many years ago) takes DS gamers through an epic adventure in the world of Greek mythology. Is Glory of Heracles your standard RPG affair, or does it break from the norm and deliver a unique and captivating role-playing experience?
As this game is based around the world of Greek mythology, players who aren’t into those ancient myths are likely to not know the significance of certain references. It doesn’t take away from the game experience — but it does help to have some background knowledge. So here we go.
Heracles (or Hercules) is the son of Zeus, head honcho of all the Greek gods and goddesses. There are several gods and goddesses in the Greek world: Hermes, Aphrodite, and Prometheus, to name a few. The gods and goddesses have their specific duties. For instance, Aphrodite is the goddess of love. The different types of gods and goddesses play a role in the game, but I’ll touch on that subject later.
The story in Glory of Heracles is mediocre at best, which is disappointing because of the potential of the Greek myths to be used in the game. The basic gist of things is that Heracles has lost his memory and finds himself washed up on the shores. He’s found by Leucos, a hero whose gender nobody is really sure of. Leucos and Heracles set off to Mount Olympus in order to try and restore Heracles’ memory. The pair of adventurers meet up with other immortals that join their party along the way, with up to five slots open for party members.
The world is traversed via overworld, with certain points that aren’t overworld, such as towns, caves, temples, and forests. There are a good number of towns throughout the game, but hardly any of them are imaginative at all. They all contain your basic RPG places of interest: item, armor and weapon shops, an inn, and several NPCs that don’t effect the player whatsoever.
Combat in Glory of Heracles is pretty standard as well. Random encounters with enemies trigger the battle sequences, just like in your old NES copy of Dragon Warrior. There are practically no innovations with the combat — there are two rows for both the player’s party and the enemies’ party that effect the types of attacks that can be used, menus are the way of controlling what to do, party members can learn different skills, and the characters say pointless things such as “Take that!” when they strike an enemy. Even the magic system is incredibly basic. However, casting magic does give players the option of carrying out touch screen tasks to power up the magic attack. These tasks are things like moving the correct Roman numeral to its corresponding section, clicking on Roman numerals in their correct order, etc.
Throughout the overworld there are several temples dedicated to the gods — this is where the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology come into play. Players can travel to these temples and pray in front of the statues to unlock new magical abilities or skills. The magic and skills aren’t unlocked right then and there, though: players will have to level their characters up to the appropriate levels to actually unlock unlock them. Magic and skills acquired are relevant to whatever god or goddess that was prayed to.
Visually, Glory of Heracles isn’t anything to write home about. The world and its characters are presented in a 3D top down fashion. While most of the environments look pretty neat, characters models and enemies both in battle and out of battle look pixilated.
Glory of Heracles also sports a rather inconsistent soundtrack. Some tunes, such as the overworld theme, are really cool to listen to and set off sort of an “you’re going on an adventure!” feel. Others, however, are plain annoying. Number one offender: music in towns.
There’s nothing overly special about Glory of Heracles, other than the Greek mythological theme. Even with that, only players whose fancies are tickled by the thought of an adventure as Heracles will enjoy it. With a creative combat system and more intriguing story, Glory of Heracles really could have been a great RPG on the Nintendo DS.
[review title=”Glory of Heracles” pros=”Some people may totally dig all the Mythological themes.” cons=”Sub-par visuals, boring characters and lackluster combat drag the experience down.” verdict=”For what it is, Glory of Heracles is a decent RPG from Nintendo. However, it’s a straightforward RPG afair — you won’t find any innovations in the title.” score=71]
Out now for the XBOX Live Arcade and Playstation Network, Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgement is a turn based tactical role playing game developed by Konami and the successor to the earlier title Vandal Hearts for the Playstation.
This is Konami’s second action/adventure type development effort for the XBOX Live Arcade and Playstation Network platforms – the first being the mundane Zombie Apocalypse.
The first thing that caught my eye was the cover art and vibrant screen shots for Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgement. Sadly this would turn out to be the biggest irony of all when the games artwork revealed it’s ugly face to me.
I don’t mean to come down so hard and so sudden on Konami’s Vandal Hearts but the character artwork here just felt so uninspired and out of place. Over exaggerated and borderline super deformed characters serve as the set pieces in a story that tries to take itself seriously and what you end up with is an entirely uninteresting and forgettable experience.
The game utilizes a grid system for turn based tactical movement and combat similar to popular titles like the excellent Advanced Wars and Fire Emblem games on the Nintendo DS. Typical strategy RPG staples are present like area of attack, line of sight, and grid movement. If you’ve played any tactical RPG you already know what this is all about.
Further condemning this lackluster title is the dialogue which comes across as thin and cliche. Every bit of discussion I was furiously mashing the A button to try and quickly just get through all the conversations and cut straight to the meat of the game.
Part of the problem I have with Vandal Hearts: Flames of Judgement is this – I play XBOX Live Arcade titles for quick action and instant gratification. I can’t be bothered with slow moving stories and long drawn out gameplay like that featured in Vandal Hearts: FoJ. Especially for it’s steep asking price of 1200 points/$15 this just isn’t something I can sign off on.
I found a great demo for an upcoming FPS, Interstellar Marines: Bullseye created by Zero Point Software. Interstellar Marines is an indie title in development now, set in a realistic and un-predictable future where humanity is about to stumble on first contact. The demo, Bullseye is a series of arcade style weapons training missions built with the Unity game engine. Though the game is a browser based title, the graphics are definitely on par with PS3 and Xbox 360 in 1080i.
I was impressed by the level of depth in the demo and think it qualifies as a game in and of itself. With the realistic graphics, many levels, achievement unlocks, and attention to detail; I have to say it certainly beats out most of the payed games I have tried on Xbox Live Arcade recently. If your interested in learning more check out the press release and trailer below, or visit the Interstellar Marines website.
AAA Quality FPS Weapons Training in Your Browser
Zero Point Software proudly announces “Bullseye” the first free playable preview slice from Interstellar Marines, available now on InterstellarMarines.com
First playable preview slice from Interstellar Marines.
“Bullseye” is a playable preview introducing some of the weapon shooting mechanics from Interstellar Marines. In a series of advanced weapons training programs, ITO AI ‘SARA’ tests the capabilities of gamers, to calculate if they have what it takes to become an Interstellar Marine. “Bullseye” was released Friday the 22nd of January, and during the release-weekend, gamers have already completed more than 200.000 challenges.
Features in Bullseye.
• 21 challenges designed to test gamers to the extreme
• 16 skill levels improving your accuracy, reload speed and recoil
• Unlock silencer, red dot scope, effective range scope and flashlight
• Earn 17 unique completion achievements
• Earn Facebook “Bragging Rights”
• Compare highscores with other players
Play “Interstellar Marines: Bullseye” now!
Now if only every game developer would release demo games with as much depth and replay value . . . hell with any replay value. If your looking for a good way to pass the time and practice between your current FPS matches, go ahead and check the Interstellar Marines: Bullseye demo yourself.
Pokemon Gold, Silver and Crystal versions were released with much anticipation and were received with critical acclaim; many heralded the second generation Pokemon games as the best in the series. Now it’s 11 years later and Nintendo has finally remade these popular titles for the DS in the form of Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver, both of which are already available in Japan and will hit NA and EU regions in Spring of this year. Are these remakes straight forward reincarnations of the Gameboy and Gameboy Color classics, or have Nintendo added enough to the old Johto formula to make them feel fresh and new?
As we’ve come to expect from Pokemon and know from the older games, the narratives aren’t gripping or particularly interesting by any means. The basic rundown is that you, an average teenager with a spiffy hat who happens to live in a small town, have received a Pokemon from Johto’s resident Professor, Prof. Elm. With this Pokemon, Prof. Elm suggests you go on an adventure to collect the region’s eight gym badges to take the Pokemon League challenge.
Since HeartGold and SoulSilver are remakes, this means that every moment from the original hand held classics are still intact, except for a few subtle changes here and there. The starters? Cyndaquil, Totodile and Chikorita are all present. Your rival is still as insecure as ever. Does your mom still bug you about letting her save your money? Well, no. Aside from these things and the big changes we’ll get to later, you’ll be going from city to city leveling up your Pokemon, catching new ones to further strengthen your party, and tackle the next gym leader. Of course, this all sounds familiar; every Pokemon game runs off this idea. For people who are looking for the re-imagining of the Pokemon game play, they won’t be finding it here. What is present, however, are the greatest Pokemon remakes ever conceived.
My current play time on the Japanese SoulSilver is just over 16 hours, and I had just beaten the Pokemon League. So essentially, the game is only halfway done. Where the last few generations of Pokemon have baffled us by not including multiple regions, HeartGold and SoulSilver deliver. Upon completion of the Pokemon League, you’ll receive a ticket from Prof. Elm allowing you to travel by boat to the Kanto region. That’s right, the region where the original Pokemon games took place. This feature was in the original Gold, Silver and Crystal versions, so not incorporating it into these remakes would have been a poor move by Nintendo. The best part about adventuring through Kanto is collecting the original eight gym badges, and then traveling to Mount Silver to take on Red (Ash).
The Pokemon League and overall difficulty of each gym is basically the same as the original versions, just with a few new Pokemon types thrown in. I’ve noticed a few levels rising here and there though, such as with the first gym: the leader’s Pidgeotto is no longer a meager level nine, but a level 13. The gyms themselves have been remodeled to fit the more “modern” gym puzzles. I blasted through the Pokemon League with relative ease, save for Lance who is even tougher to take down now that Dragons have their own type. My highest level was a Typhlosion at 50, with my next highest being a 46 Lugia. The other three were a Noctowl at 41, a Gyarados at 43 and a Raikou at 42. So as you can probably tell, intense level grinding really isn’t necessary as long as you have a few consistently leveled Pokemon.
HeartGold and SoulSilver wouldn’t be so good if it wasn’t for the good number of new additions to the games. Cianwood City now has a Safari Zone, the Global Trading Network is in for Wifi trades and a new take on contests is present in the form of the Pokelethon. But the best new feature of all is that the first Pokemon in your party follows you around, ala Pikachu from Yellow version. Another cool little piece of information: When the Team Rocket Radio Tower event rolls around, you actually have to get the character outfitted in Team Rocket attire. It’s only for a few minutes, but it looks really cool.
Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver are looking to be great remakes of the original second generation Pokemon classics. The only problem I had wasn’t with the game play itself, but with the fact that the Japanese language barrier is hard to come across to a person unfamiliar with the language. Thankfully, these titles will be hitting NA and EU shelves in spring of 2010.
EA and Visceral Games upcoming action title Dante’s Inferno is adapted from parts of Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy – an old book written by an ancient dude.
With a name like The Divine Comedy one couldn’t blame you for thinking this was based on something totally different than what’s being represented in the demo (although it could be said that it’s similar to last summer’s feel good comedy starring Hugh Grant and Queen Latifa given that you’re made to suffer through hell).
The demo starts out with Dante fighting off waves of forgettable men garbed in potato sacks and wielding curved daggers. Clearly these fellows would prove no match for the chain-mailed, halberd wielding, Dante! After a few minutes of lackluster ass kicking Dante is stabbed in the back by an assassin and Death comes to claim him.
Refusing to be condemed to Death the protagonist decides instead that he’s going to atone for his sins and refuses to comply with Death’s wishes. None too happy for his foiled soul collecting efforts Death decides to give Dante a little trouble for his disobedience… and it doesn’t go well. Death gets killed (it can happen, I’ve seen it on Maury) and Dante begins his quest through hell to rescue his doomed lover, Beatrice.
To be honest the first 10 minutes of the demo I was really unimpressed. The graphics felt so uninspired and the backgrounds and locals so generic compared to some of the similar games in this genre – God of War,Ninja Gaiden, and Bayonetta.
Although I realize this is an early build of the game I was laughing to myself when my fight with Death encountered a game breaking bug that sent us spiraling into a black vortex of pixels. I’m sure this will be fixed by the time the game ships.
But once I played through the whole beginning of the demo again and this time finished the fight with Death I must admit that Dante’s Inferno began to get it’s demon claw into me. Boobs, cooler looking bad guys, and a design for hell that feels lifted out of a Bosch really captured my attention.
EA and Visceral have done a nice job crafting Dante’s Inferno. In alot of ways it feels like it was modeled after Prototype in the way the combat feels. The whole apocalyptic biblical thing has been cropping up recently with games like Bayonetta and Darksiders and although The Divine Comedy is a stuffy read I think the source material that’s been chosen here is prime for video games.
With the impending release of the next (and final) installment in the God of War trilogy, now is as good a time as ever to pick up God of War: Collection. Whether you are a hardcore fan who already bested Zeus back on the Playstation 2 or a newcomer this amped up port does not disappoint. For the latter’s sake, I will cover not only the new features included in the Playstation 3 version of the game, but I will also go through both games (God of War 1 & 2) as their own.
The first feature that was added to the games is the bumped up resolution. Though the graphic models themselves do not change, the resolution went from the former 480p, to the beautifully crisp 720p. The main thing that you’ll notice is that jaggies are practically non-existent. No matter the size of the television, you will instantly discern the superb job given to reduce any aliasing. Due to the heightened resolution, Kratos and his enemies have never looked better. Executed attacks are beautifully rendered, and the attention to detail within the world is thrown at you like never before. Unfortunately, the only content that did not get a resolution increase were the pre-rendered cut-scenes. The transition between in-game and cut-scene is very distinctive because of this, throwing at you a reminder of the visual progress the game has ascended to. Despite the dramatic resolution increase the game is able to run at an even higher framerate, rarely dropping below 60fps. Aside from these upgrades, the art direction is as beautiful as it always was, and has not aged whatsoever since its time.
The other newly introduced feature to the first two God of War games is the inclusion of trophies. For the $40 value, you are getting 2 platinum trophies. Though some of these are fun to collect, a handful are geared towards more hardcore players, requiring much more time, luck and skill. These harder trophies range anywhere from completing the game in under 5 hours, to completing the infamous “Challenge of the Titans”. Though these trophies may not concern all gamers, it definitely adds to the value of the collection.
Though not an upgrade the sound of God of War is nonetheless stunning. The music always seems to add to the atmosphere. Voice overs for all characters in the game are convincing, and particularly well done. The sound has definitely not withered with age when compared to any other current generation game.
God of War has earned its place as a classic with hack n’ slash games, ensuring that the gameplay will never deteriorate with time. The control layout of God of War is simple: a light attack, a heavy attack, a dodge, a block and magic. You will be using all of these attacks in all sorts of combinations in order to execute your enemies quicker and more effectively. After you have rendered your opponent to a mere fraction of his full health, you will be able to execute a finisher. A mini cutscene will start up, in which Kratos creatively and brutally takes down his foe. You are incorporated in this, however, in that you must successfully press the buttons which appear on the screen in order for this execution to be completed. The bosses are quite a challenge, especially for those playing the game on titan or god difficulty. Reflexes and strategy play equal roles in these fights and don’t devolve into messy button mashing. Though the combat mechanics of the game are left untouched in this port, any adjustments to it would certainly have been for the worse.
God of War features numerous puzzles scattered throughout the course of the game, giving you a breather from all the fighting every once in awhile.
God of War: Collection makes for one of the best valued games on the market, combining an upgraded version of two of the best games ever made, with a low price of $40. This is a game that should be in every Ps3 owners library, delivering itself in all aspects.
Whether you want to be caught up in the canon of the story before God of War III releases, or you want to refresh yourselves after not playing the games for years, there has never been a better time than now to do so.
[review title=”” pros=”Revived classic with improved graphics, better framerate, added trophies, and same great brutal fun.” cons=”No extra gameplay added.” verdict=”God of War: Collection is a must buy for any fan of the series, whether you played the games back in their glory days or have yet to do so.” score=94]
So if you were unfortunate enough to miss the Spike TV’s Video Game Awards last December you have my deepest condolences. Not just because you missed a great program, but because you were unable to join the rest of us as our eyeballs were graced with the lovely images of Bungie’s premiere of Halo: Reach – the next installment to the already great series that introduced us to the Master Chief and many of the UNSC’s finest servicemen, as well gave us one of the most popular online multi-player games to date. The title sets the players down on Reach; the UNSC’s most fortified world after Earth, and the planet that serves as a primary military and intelligence hub. Not sounding too familiar? The planet isn’t mentioned too much in other Halo titles, but if you have read through some of the Halo novels you might have a bit more info on the planet where the strongest fighting force in the UNSC was created, the legendary Spartans.
Halo: Reach is a prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved, taking place on Reach as it is attacked by the Covenant right before Master Chief takes the Pillar of Autumn to the first Halo ring. Not too much has been revealed as to the gameplay mechanics but one could read into the trailer a bit and maybe see the possibility of team control functions, very contrary to all the one man firing squad games we have been given before with Halo titles.
The title is slated to release in Fall in 2010 and you can be sure that I will be keeping my ear to the ground, or more so keeping my eyes on the internet, for all the information that Bungie tosses out. But for now how about we just sit back and watch the trailer again, OK? Perfect! No more words…. Shh.. Just watch.
Paradox games revealed the trailer for Majesty2: Kingmaker today, the first expansion for Majesty2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim. After watching the trailer and reading the press release I went ahead and picked up the original Majesty2 and am pretty impressed so far. Check out the press release and trailer yourself though, and let me know if you spot any subliminal messages, I have a sneaky suspicion I didn’t have much choice in buying the game . . .
NEW YORK – January 25, 2010 – Not slowing down after an exciting week of announcements at the Paradox Interactive Convention, today Paradox Interactive reveals the first trailer for Majesty 2: Kingmaker. Offering fans a preview of what to expect from the first expansion to Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, witness the goblin invasion as the green menaces of the night terrorize the lands of Ardania.Featuring the brand new “Return of Grum-Gog” campaign, Majesty 2: Kingmaker will be available in Q1 2010 on all major digital distribution portals.Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim is available in retail and for digital download on all leading digital distribution platforms. For more information about Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, please visit http://www.majesty2.com and follow @pdxinteractive on Twitter.For all the latest Majesty 2 news and beyond, visit the recently redesigned www.paradoxplaza.comAbout Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim
Recruit the finest group of Heroes to rise up and take on the treacherous Villains of Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim. In the highly-anticipated sequel to the original Majesty, humor and charm merges with a fantasy landscape to offer a gameplay experience like never before. But beware! Grabbing control of your Heroes is not the easiest task, for they are just as likely to stop in for a beer at the local tavern as they are to fight monsters and undertake heroic quests. Return to the throne in Majesty 2: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim.
I must admit I didn’t see any obvious brainwashing in the press release. However I still haven’t figured out why I keep clucking like a chicken, it is probably un-related. . . but just to be safe I am looking for a Paradox Interactive beach towel. I don’t know how that is going to help me exactly, but I have a really good feeling about it.