Thursday, March 04, 2010

A crazy week or so - your Veteran Gamer news update

A news post on all the stuff that has been going down. It has been a bizarre week (give or take a few days) for the games industry, so I figured I should probably write something about it. After this, I promise to deliver my Mass Effect posts along with a review (and a review of a little PS3 downloadable game called Blue Toad Investigations).

Starting with the AppoclayPS3 (kudos to whoever came up with that). If you missed this, for 24 hours every single fat PS3 bricked. As it turned out, it was to do with the internal clock, which got confused as it thought that 2010 was a leap year. Fortunately for PS3 owners and Sony, the problem resolved itself when a new day dawned. Clearly Sony had no idea to fix it: they provided virtually no updates on their twitter stream (never a good sign) and the fix was wait until the next day.

Then Valve took centre stage, hinting at two separate things. Firstly, a mysterious patch to Portal meant that if you picked up and walked around with the radio, you could pick up encrypted signals. Which, if you are far clever than me, lead you through some Morse code clues to a BBS (a bulletin board system). The other cool Valve related story is that Steam is coming to the Mac. Whilst it hasn't been announced, the pictures give a pretty clear story...

Since starting writing this and thanks to an internet failure, Portal 2 has actually been confirmed and it will have co-operative too. Stay tuned for more details.

Then things started to get nasty. Activision, publisher of the $1 billion grossing Modern Warfare 2, has sacked the two leads at Infinity Ward (the developers of Call of Duty), Jason West & Vince Zampella. As always happens when nobody knows anything, the internet went crazy. However, as the dust has settled details are emerging. More recently, the two ex-employees have filed a law suit against Activision.

The basis behind their case is that the reason they were fired was not actually strong enough to justify getting rid of them and instead was timed so they would not have to be paid royalties for Modern Warfare 2.

The other key aspect is West and Zampella challenging Activision regarding the ownership of the Call of Duty IP. If they are able to satisfy the court that they still own the IP, then they could stop Activision from releasing further Call of Duty titles until the matter has been resolved.

Some of the stuff in the court documents, if true, is very scary:

"Activision conducted the invesigation in a manner designed to maximize the inconvenience and anxiety it would cause West and Zampella. On little notice, Activision insisted on conducting interviews over the President's Day holiday weekend; West and Zampella were interrogated for over six hours in a windowless conference room..."

It goes on, that is the stuff of nightmares. Kotaku has posted the full script and it is a scary read. This cannot be allowed to go on, publishers cannot attack their staff like this. The IGDA (independent game developers association) is broadcasting its board meeting this time, hopefully they will discuss this and what they plan to do. You can watch it at next Friday.

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