Richard Garriott to produce Facebook social games
The eccentric creator of the Ultima series and failed MMORPG Tabula Rasa has made his triumphant return to gaming with Portalarium, a new social games company. This new venture is currently focused on a facebook plugin allowing a future range of flash titles to be played from within Facebook, Myspace and popular mobile devices. The success of social titles such as the inane yet addictive Farmville suggests that there's a huge (and constantly expanding) market for social games, though only a quarter of gamers are willing to pay for premium content. Garriott is delighted by the change of pace, saying:
"This really takes me back to my roots in the game business – small development teams, low barriers to entry, affordable budgets for quality projects, and unlimited new interactive frontiers to explore together with our customers."
Portalarium will be expanding into science, health and educational applications as well as social games, and has recently completed their first online title: Sweet @$! Poker. It's not exactly the genre-reinventing masterpiece I would have expected from such an "unlimited new interactive frontier"- but hey, we've all got to start somewhere. We'll keep you informed about Garriott's upcoming projects as and when they're announced. [Gamesindustry.biz]
Midway Games removed from XBLA
Eagle-eyed gamers may have noticed that Midway's lineup of downloadable titles has disappeared from Xbox Live Marketplace. In a recent twitter post, 'Major' Nelson confirmed this, stating:
"Some XBLA titles are no longer available for purchase from Xbox Live Arcade due to publisher evolving rights and permissions."
"If you purchased any of those titles... you will still be able to play them or re-download 'em. And no, it's not Game Room related,"
Warner Bros now owns most of Midway's assets since the ailing company filed for bankruptcy early last year, and it's clear that the rights to the XBLA titles are still in contention.
Cyberball, Defender, Paperboy, Rootbeer Tapper, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3, Robotron, Joust, Gauntlet and Smash TV have been affected by this copyright snafu. To be honest, I doubt that too many gamers will miss them, but it's always sad to see classic retro titles disappear.
PC Assassin's Creed 2 demands constant net connection
The long-running battle between publishers and pirates has escalated with the announcement of arguably the most invasive DRM yet. According to CVG, The PC version of Assassin's Creed 2 requires players to be constantly logged in to the Ubisoft servers during singleplayer- and will instantly exit the game without saving if the connection is lost for any reason. This results in losing any and all progress since the last checkpoint, even if the connection is interrupted for a moment.
This nasty piece of DRM will likely create massive massive resentment against the company; after all, no-one has a perfect internet connection. However, there is a silver lining: saved games can be stored on the Ubisoft servers allowing players to continue their games from work, their laptops or even on holiday. In the grand scheme of things, this style of DRM might be a step in the right direction (since it doesn't require installation of invasive software etc), but Ubi will have to work out a less horrendous way of dealing with patchy net connecions and momentary network lapses.