Last week, Valve Software has started the preorder for the Orange Box on Steam, letting gamers buy 5 games – Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2:Episode Two, Team Fortress 2 and Portal – for around $44.95. More importantly (for this website at least), preorders of the Orange Box would also allow players to pre-load Team Fortress 2 earlier, participating on a beta release cycle set to start later today at an unknown time.
Of course, a beta release so later – the game is set for a release early next month – is more of a demo than anything, meant more for gameplay tweaking and the correction of small bugs than a full-fledged beta test. From the little I’ve seen online, people are already on an uproar about the long-awaited game; let’s see how well its online presence develops over the week…
One week after the release of the Enemy Territory: Quake Wars demo, how well did it fair against the current online behemoths?
The Enemy Territory: Quake Wars demo is now out, featuring the map “Valley” (the same map used on the second phase of the public beta test).
Watching how beta game releases perform online is a more-or-less accurate way to determine how the actual retail game will fair online, at least on the first month or so. Unfortunately ET:QW isn’t listed on the GameSpy stats page yet, so no numbers are available. Hopefully they’ll get it there soon, as they probably have the protocol already figured out from the beta.
QuakeCon 2007 – id Software’s annual gaming convention – is just wrapping up, and one of the biggest news coming out of there this year (and there were plenty!) is that most of their game catalog – from Comander Keen and up to Doom 3 – is now available for purchase on Valve Software’s Steam platform. There are some huge discounts on it too, including the id Super Pack, where you get everything for $62.95 (for a limited time). The games have also been updated to run under modern operating systems.
The quasi-public beta for Enemy Territory: Quake Wars has started. While I usually try to refrain from posting information about small, limited betas (this one is limited to 60,000 users, with distribution taking place over 5 days), there’s some statistical information on the developer’s blog which can be interesting.
Like I said on my preview a few months ago, I believe the biggest tipping point for gaming this year will be the release of Enemy Territory:Quake Wars, Unreal Tournament 3, and to a lesser extent, Team Fortress 2 (which is also a multiplayer game offering class-based teamplay, but in a league of its own).
Yesterday we got another step closer to the race start, with the announcement of the first details on the public beta test of Enemy Territory:Quake Wars. Basically, it will start soon, it will be open for everybody, and 60,000 keys will be distributed, with a few spots reserved for FilePlanet subscribers.
Okey, the website is not exactly broken, but the content is. The content is not broken anymore.
On February 6th, some major issue hit GameSpy‘s website – specifically, its SQL server. As a result, their stats page is not working anymore; the main stats page haven’t been updated since that day, and the specific game pages (for example, Half-Life 2) only say “error: Couldn’t connect to SQL Server!”.
I have just finished moving the website, from the old location (on a sub website of mine) to the new one, complete with a domain of its own. Everything seems to be working fine right now, but if you notice something strange, you know what’s going on. I’ll do a few more tests later to find out if there’s any rough edge that needs to be fixed.
This month’s PC Gamer (#170, UK) has the subtitle of “2007: The Future of PC Gaming” and is, according to them, “a preview of what’s to come, what has just been and where we might be going”. And, somewhere in the middle of that all, there’s a small contribution by the Online Gaming Zeitgeist, so if you’re one of those strange people who like to look at lines going up and down and who think geek statistics are sexy, and you live in England, it might be a good idea to pick this one up. Also, by “this month” I mean January (the February issue is already out, I think, because the press community lives in the future). Or you can view some discussion about this issue of the magazine on their official forum.
Maybe because of that, two websites linked to this page recently so I thought I’d mention them back. One is well-known Kotaku, on a post that discusses the effects of the Steam downtime (some of the comments on that page are just gold), and the other one is GameSetWatch, a pretty cool gaming discussion blog that I regret not knowing about until today.
And last but not least, there’s always The Steam Review, who covers distribution trends on the industry, specially related to the Steam platform. This is actually the website that inspired me to make the Online Gaming Zeitgeist more than a simple hack of a subsite (creating the blog and doing the specific analysis from time to time), and it was a real pleasure to also be mentioned on his website a couple of times – for example, on the recent analysis on the efficiency of free weekends. Thanks Tom.