Archive for the ‘Steam’ Category

Epic Games’ biggest PC game sale yet is a coupon frenzy, lasts until June 11

May 15th, 2020
Epic Games’ biggest PC game sale yet is a coupon frenzy, lasts until June 11

Enlarge (credit: Epic Games)

As longtime users of every PC gaming storefront imaginable, we have opinions about the good, the bad, and the ugly of Epic Games Store. High on our list of "good" is its frequent offers of free and heavily discounted games, and this week's new Mega Sale, going until June 11, is its biggest yet. (It's been met by a giveaway of Grand Theft Auto V, valid until May 21.)

Epic also announced plans this week to roll out a comprehensive, platform-agnostic toolset for game makers, complete with useful developer resources like cross-platform matchmaking tools and achievement systems—which will even work on PC ecosystems like Steam. While we're still waiting to see that whole system bear fruit—particularly in terms of achievements and friend lists, which still lag behind Steam's comparable services—we're hopeful that EGS might finally stand toe-to-toe with Steam in the near future, in terms of average features offered in a given game.

With that in mind, I've taken a moment to pluck out the most interesting discounts in this week's aggressive Mega Sale, along with notes about whether the EGS difference is worth the savings. Each entry includes a guess about if/when each game might eventually land on Steam, which is never guaranteed. EGS exclusivity agreements with game publishers typically expire after a year.

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Posted in Epic Games, epic games store, Gaming & Culture, Steam | Comments (0)

Trials of Mana demo taken down after crackers use it to enable piracy

April 29th, 2020
A sword-wielding video game character assumes a dramatic pose.

Enlarge / Artist's conception of Square Enix temporarily casting the Trials of Mana demo back into the void. (credit: Square Enix)

Square Enix has removed the demo version of Trials of Mana from Steam after hackers found a workaround that used the demo to gain access to the full version of the game.

"Due to unforeseen circumstances, we need to temporarily take the Trials of Mana Demo on Steam offline, we hope to have it back up again very soon," Square Enix wrote on the game's Steam Community. "Please rest assured, all progress made by those who have downloaded and played the demo will remain and be carried over when it's back online."

The workaround, as described in message board posts around the Internet, required downloading a copy of the Steam files distributed with a legitimate copy of Trials of Mana. Those files usually wouldn't work if loaded onto a Steam account that hasn't purchased the game. But by copying over a couple of files found in the "Paks" directory, users could essentially trick Steam into loading the full game through the free demo version associated with their account (though some users reported problems loading the "extra" chapter at the end of the game when using this method).

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Posted in Crackers, demo, denuvo, Gaming & Culture, Square Enix, Steam, trials of mana, workaround | Comments (0)

Ars analysis: ~80% of Steam games earn under $5K in first two weeks

April 7th, 2020

It has been roughly two years now since Valve shut off the source of Steam Spy's huge, randomly sampled sales estimates and promised a "more accurate and more useful" replacement to come. We got our first glimpse of what that replacement might entail today, as Valve gave a rare glimpse into its treasure trove of aggregate sales data across thousands of PC games.

The blog post sharing that data correctly points out that the raw number of games finding some minimum level of sales success on Steam has increased vastly since 2012 (when Valve launched Steam Greenlight and loosened its tight control of what games could appear on the storefront). But Valve's selective view of the data leaves out a huge mass of games that make less than $5,000 in their first two weeks on Steam's virtual shelves. An Ars analysis finds those titles have made up the vast majority of Steam releases for the last five years.

Filling in the holes

To get at that data for the charts above, we started with the graphs Valve itself provided in its blog post today. These lay out the number of games making over $5,000, $10,000, $50,000, $100,000, and $250,000 in their first two weeks, respectively, by release year. I used photo editing software to measure and convert the bars in those graphs into raw numbers, but the actual numbers may be off by a fraction of a percentage point from Valve's internal benchmarks (we didn't decipher the graphs for 2005 and 2006, when the total number of Steam releases was too small to draw much meaningful data).

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, sales, Steam, steam spy, Valve | Comments (0)

Steam’s new slew of 59 free demos is a perfect quarantine “game expo”

March 18th, 2020
Promotional image for Steam Game Festival.

Enlarge / The future of video game expos has arrived—and just in time, in case you (like many of us) are stuck at home for the foreseeable future. (credit: Valve)

For the second time in three months, Steam is hosting a virtual video game expo where users from around the world can download time-limited demos of unreleased games. This time, circumstances are wildly different.

The biggest difference with today's launch of the Steam Game Festival: Spring Edition has little to do with the implementation itself. Like the offer we saw in December, which was attached to a livestreamed Game Awards presentation, users can head to Steam right now and download a bunch of demos of games that are not officially available for purchase. Only this time, the count has grown significantly to 59 games (the list is below).

What's different is how these games are sorted and why that is the case. Most of these game demos were prepared for presentations at the developer-centric Game Developers Conference 2020, which was supposed to take place in San Francisco through this week. That expo, like many others, was summarily postponed last month in the face of mounting pressure from health experts and city and state officials. As a result, you'll notice designations for most of the games such as "Indie Megabooth," "Wings Fund," "Indie MIX," and "Day of the Devs," which are organizations that typically present new and independent video game demos at GDC-affiliated events.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Steam, the game awards | Comments (0)

Valve: Half-Life: Alyx is “not the end” of the franchise

March 4th, 2020

Still happy to have any excuse to post this video.

Ah, it seems like just yesterday that we were celebrating the ten-year anniversary of Half-Life 2: Episode 3's original announcement. But now, as we approach 14 years since the promise of a Half-Life that has the number "3" in the title, the impending release of the VR-exclusive prequel Half-Life: Alyx has proven Valve hasn't totally forgotten about the franchise.

What does all the work on Alyx mean for the long-delayed vision of an honest-to-goodness Half-Life 3? Game Informer put that very question to Valve's Robin Walker in a recent interview, and the answer, though vague, is the clearest indication in years that Valve hasn't given up on the idea of an honest "threequel."

Half-Life means a lot to us, and it's been incredibly rewarding to refamiliarize ourselves with its characters, setting, and mechanics. There are Half-Life: Alyx team members who have been at Valve since Half-Life 2, and quite a few who go back to the original Half-Life. There are also people on the team for whom Half-Life: Alyx is their first time working on this series at all—and many of them certainly hope it's not the last. We absolutely see Half-Life: Alyx as our return to this world, not the end of it.

Walker's discussion of the current makeup of the Half-Life: Alyx team is important to note here. Long-time Half-Life writer Marc Laidlaw left the company in 2016 (before sharing a potential Half-Life 3 plot summary on his blog), followed the next year by the departure of series scribes Erik Wolpaw and Chet Faliszek. Animator Doug Wood, designer/writer Marc Laidlaw, and Senior Engineer Ken Birdwell also left the company in 2016, rounding out a handful of other notable departures since the last time Valve worked on a Half-Life game.

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Half-Life 3, Steam, Valve | Comments (0)

RIP Stadia? Nvidia’s newly launched cloud-gaming service is (mostly) a stunner

February 4th, 2020
RIP Stadia? Nvidia’s newly launched cloud-gaming service is (mostly) a stunner

Enlarge

Imagine it: a video game streaming service that lets you log on to the cloud, access games you already own on multiple storefronts (including free-to-play fare), and play them on any Windows, Mac, or Android device. You'd need nothing more than a broadband connection. You'd get snappy, low-latency performance, including tolerable stats on your router's 5Ghz wireless band. And you could access all of this for free.

All of this was what we had hoped to get out of Google Stadia, which arrived in November with promises of a tantalizing "Netflix for games" model. But that streaming service's launch was immediately hobbled with device restrictions, pricing confusion, and a terribly limited (and closed) games library. Instead, the above description comes courtesy of an utter surprise, launching today in both free and paid tiers: Nvidia's GeForce Now.

After a months-long closed beta, GeForce Now opens to the public sometime today (perhaps the moment this article goes live). Download its app on a supported device, then hook up your preferred control method (gamepad, mouse+keyboard) and connect to one of Nvidia's servers. You'll boot into a virtualized Windows PC on the cloud, which then loads one of "hundreds" of supported games as sold by Steam, Epic Games Store, Battle.net, uPlay, the Bethesda Launcher, and Origin. From there, the server's gameplay feed and your button presses go back and forth so that your low-powered device can stream high-end 3D video games.

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Posted in Battle.Net, cloud gaming, ea origin, epic games store, game streaming, Gaming & Culture, GeForce Now, google stadia, NVIDIA, nvidia geforce now, Steam, uplay | Comments (0)

Rocket League is dropping Mac, Linux because of crazy-low player counts [Updated]

January 23rd, 2020
Screenshot of video game Rocket League.

Enlarge (credit: Epic Games)

For anyone who clings to Linux or MacOS as a preferred gaming platform, Epic Games and Psyonix offered a rare kind of bad news on Thursday. The companies confirmed that their mega-hit game Rocket League would no longer receive updates for either platform following a "final" patch for all non-Windows versions on PC coming in "early March."

This "end-of-life" version of Rocket League on Linux and MacOS will still function in a wholly offline state, and affected players will be able to access whatever cosmetics and add-ons they'd previously earned through the game's economy system (but no more new ones). Additionally, those platforms will be able to use Steam Workshop content, but only if it's downloaded and applied to the game before the March patch goes live.

Otherwise, if any function in the game connects even in the slightest to the Internet—from item shops to matchmaking to private matches to friends lists—it will stop working once the March patch goes live, and any future modes, maps, or other game-changing content won't come to their platforms, either.

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Posted in Epic Games, Gaming & Culture, linux, MacOS, rocket league, Steam | Comments (0)

Every classic Half-Life game is now free on Steam

January 21st, 2020
Completely free... for now.

Enlarge / Completely free... for now. (credit: Valve / Sam Machkovech)

As Valve gears up for the launch of its first official Half-Life game in 13 years, the developer has given fans a big freebie to tide them over while they wait for March 2020: every previous official Half-Life game for free.

On Tuesday, Valve announced that both Half-Life and Half-Life 2, and each expansion pack and episode published directly by the game maker, would be free for all Steam users for a limited time. As of press time, this offer appears to be a temporary unlock of the games until the VR-only adventure game Half-Life Alyx launches in roughly two months; their free availability will likely expire after HL:A launches. Click the announcement link to check out the eligible game selection (though it doesn't link to the eligible HL1 expansion packs, which you can find here).

Fans may very well want to connect the plot dots between the biggest Half-Life adventures ahead of HL:A's launch. Valve has announced that the new VR-only game is a "prequel" that takes place between the events of Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2, while its developers have suggested in interviews that the new game is "the next part" of the series. Hence, you may want to brush up on every tidbit, should the new game contain any continuation of what was left unfinished in Half-Life 2: Episode 2. (Reminder: HL:A is not free as part of this promotion. The new game does come for free with the purchase of any part of the Valve Index VR system.)

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, Half-Life, half-life alyx, Steam, Valve, valve index | Comments (0)

Some Stadia games cost more than their downloadable counterparts

December 6th, 2019

Since back in June, Google has been telling us that the publisher-set prices for games on its Stadia streaming service would be "competitive... to what you would see on other platforms." While that's been true of the vast majority of games on the service, fans were surprised to find a Stadia price premium for yesterday's launch of Darksiders Genesis.

The new action-adventure title is currently on sale for $40 on Stadia, compared to a $30 price on other PC platforms (including Steam, GOG, and the Humble Store). Steam players could get an even better deal with a pre-order price of $25.50 for the game. Console versions, which aren't due until next February, are currently listed at the higher $40 price point on various digital and retail storefronts.

A spokesperson for THQ told Polygon that "THQ doesn’t comment on their price policy."

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Posted in Gaming & Culture, google, price, stadia, Steam | Comments (0)

Valve appears to be working on a “Steam Cloud Gaming” service

November 7th, 2019
Valve appears to be working on a “Steam Cloud Gaming” service

(credit: Aurich Lawson)

Valve seems to be planning to follow the likes of Microsoft and Google into the realm of cloud gaming, if JavaScript code buried on the company's Steamworks Partner site is any indication.

Yesterday, Steam Database noticed an update to the JavaScript file that manages the online form for new partners signing the Steam Distribution Agreement. That update makes repeated reference to a "Steam Cloud Gaming Addendum" that needs to be signed before continuing.

The JavaScript code places the "Steam Cloud Gaming Addendum" on the same level as similar legal agreements for existing Steam programs governing Steam PC Cafes and Steam Wallet Code Resellers. Spot checks by Steam developers who spoke to Ars Technica didn't show any new cloud gaming-related language in the Distribution Agreement text itself, but the JavaScript code does make reference to an InviteID, suggesting Valve might be actively inviting select developers to prepare for the feature at the moment.

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Posted in cloud gaming, Gaming & Culture, Steam, Steam Cloud, Valve | Comments (0)