Digital gaming sales hit record $61 billion in 2015: Report

Worldwide digital video game sales hit a record last year as the mobile market continued to rocket higher and hardcore gamers gravitated toward console downloads.

The market for digital games grew 8 percent from 2014 to $61 billion, according to a new report from gaming intelligence firm SuperData Research.

Downloads to consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation saw the biggest jump. Digital console game sales were up 34 percent last year, though the category remained relatively small at $4 billion.

At the same time, software sales at U.S. brick-and-mortar stores continued to fall, slipping 13 percent to $5.3 billion, according to NPD Group.

“Sales figures points toward a shift in the industry as more consumers have adopted digitally distributed games and free-to-play,” said SuperData CEO and founder Joost van Dreunen.

The market for tablet and smartphone titles surged 10 percent to $25.1 billion from the previous year.

The mobile space continues to be dominated by a handful of high earners. The top 10 games in the segment accounted for nearly a quarter of total revenue.

The big moneymaker in absolute dollar terms was PC-based gaming, which includes free-to-play titles, subscription-based games, social games like “Farmville,” and other downloads. Games on the platform pulled in $32 billion in 2015.

There were signs of weakness in the category, though. Social gaming was down marginally, and subscription-based titles slipped 4 percent as free-to-play games — which earn their developers money from premium in-game purchases — continued to dominate PC sales.

Riot Games’ “League of Legends” was the top dog among free-to-play games. The multiplayer online battle arena game earned $1.6 billion in revenues — seven times more than its closest competitor in the genre.

As for publishers, Activision was the top earner, with $2.9 billion across the digital console, mobile and PC platforms. Activision pushed further into the mobile space with its acquisition of King Digital in November.

Supercell, maker of the No. 1 mobile game “Clash of Clans,” came in second with $1.64 billion in sales, followed by Shenzhen, China-based Tencent, which purchased the small portion of Riot Games it did not already own last month and earned $1.62 billion in 2015.

Here are the top-selling digital games of 2015 by platform, as measured by SuperData Research (figures in millions):

Digital console

1. “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” (Activision, $355)

2. “FIFA 15” (Electronic Arts, $332)

3. “Grand Theft Auto V” (Take-Two Interactive, $322)

4. “Destiny” (Activision, $291)

5. “Call of Duty: Black Ops III” ()

6. “FIFA 16” (Electronic Arts, $212)

7. “Fallout 4” (Bethesda Softworks, $108)

8. “Star Wars Battlefront” (Electronic Arts, $106)

9. “Madden NFL 16” (Electronic Arts, $76)

10. “Madden NFL 15” (Electronic Arts, $73)

Digital PC

1. “League of Legends” (Tencent/Riot Games, $1,628)

2. “Crossfire” (SmileGate, $1,110)

3. “Dungeon Fighter Online” (Neople, $1,052)

4. “World of Warcraft” (Activision, $814)

5. “World of Tanks” (, $446)

6. “Lineage I” (NCSOFT Corporation, $339)

7. “Maplestory” (Nexon, $253)

8. “DOTA 2” (Valve Corporation, $238)

9. “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (Valve Corporation, $221)

10. “Grand Theft Auto V” (Take-Two Interactive, $205)


1. “Clash of Clans” (Supercell, $1,345)

2. “Game of War: Fire Age” (Machine Zone, $799)

3. “Puzzle & Dragons” (Gungho Online Ent. Inc, $729)

4. “Candy Crush Saga” (King Digital, $682)

5. “MonsterStrike” (Mixi, $674)

6. “Candy Crush Soda Saga” (King Digital, $518)

7. “Fantasy Westward Journey” (NetEase, $451)

8. “Colopl Rune Story” (COLOPL NI Inc, $356)

9. “Disney Tsum Tsum” (LINE Corp, $326)

10. “Boom Beach” (Supercell, $297)

How Blizzard turned a costly failure into the highly anticipated ‘Overwatch’

Blizzard Entertainment spent millions of dollars and more than five years designing a vast, ambitious video game only to realize that it wasn’t fun. The project, code-named Titan, “utterly, completely and miserably” failed, according to the guy who ran it, veteran designer Jeffrey Kaplan.

Higher-placed executives killed Titan in early 2013, long before it was ready for the general public. Kaplan felt crushed.

But Blizzard didn’t fire him. It didn’t demote him. Instead, the Irvine company put him in charge of another huge project.

This one, called “Overwatch,” is due for release this spring. It’s an unusual new shooter game, with bright, natural settings and wide-eyed, emotive characters in a genre known more for militaristic virtual venues. It also veers from the cliched lone gunman to make team-based play integral.

And if it lives up to early reviews, it could serve as a textbook case in how a strong company culture can recover from a failure while using the misfire to its advantage.

Blizzard epitomizes the overused but always important proverb that “failure is learning,” said John Smedley, former chief executive of Sony Corp.’s online gaming unit. “‘Overwatch’ is a truly revolutionary game for the first-person shooter genre, and the foundation of Titan is exactly what led them there.”

Reviewers of an early version of “Overwatch” like it. Wired, Forbes and Kotaku reviewers said they were “impressed,” “enjoying the ride,” and “as excited about a new video game” as ever. Millions of other players also are beta-testing it.

“Overwatch” pits two six-player teams on a futuristic Earth in matches that resemble parts of well-known brands “Call of Duty,” “League of Legends” and “Madden NFL.” It’s about offense and defense, strategy and camaraderie, not a race to kill the most. Mixing the right set of sly assassins, freakish hulks and other characters, given the mission and opponent, is what makes the game special.

It’s too early to deem “Overwatch” a success. And Titan wasn’t nearly 25-year-old Blizzard’s only misstep. Remember “Starcraft: Ghosts”?

But no failure fell with quite the social-media-energized thud of Titan. Blizzard could swallow the cost, a fraction of nearly $600 million in operating income in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. What it feared was the damage to its sterling reputation.

Such a big failure might have led most wary corporate executives to quadruple-guess Kaplan. But Blizzard Chief Executive Mike Morhaime and Chief Development Officer Frank Pearce instead quickly tapped him to lead “Overwatch.” And they offered the perfect confidence booster.

“If you build it, they will come,” Morhaime told Kaplan.

The famous “Field of Dreams” quote, a movie Kaplan, 43, fondly remembers watching with his dad, was “as inspirational as it could get” for the senior vice president and “Overwatch” game director.

To the bosses, releasing a dud of a game would have been true failure and more costly. Having programmed games for much of their careers, Morhaime and Pearce respect the creative process more than “guys in suits” preoccupied by financial projections, Kaplan said. Their sympathy meant no one would be kicked to the curb.

Legacy then became a motivator too. Blizzard, a division of Santa Monica-based Activision Blizzard Inc., has a long record of producing blockbuster games, including “Starcraft II,” “World of Warcraft” and “Hearthstone.”

Proud legacy has its downsides. When the Titan project was launched in 2007, “World of Warcraft” was near peak popularity with more than 10 million paying subscribers, and a cocky Kaplan and his colleagues dismissed the challenges of recreating phenomenal success. Confidence became overconfidence, even arrogance.

But Blizzard raises a new flag outside headquarters for each game launch. Not doing so for Titan gut-checked Kaplan. With “Overwatch,” a humbler approach was called for.

“The goal was to redeem ourselves amongst our studio, among our peers,” Kaplan said.

This time, he kept the team small.

Titan numbered 150 workers. “Overwatch” has 80. Kaplan counts no magical number. Rather, he stayed tightknit enough to minimize bureaucracy and maximize individual creativity.

“You don’t want to create an army,” he said.

Another Titan lesson: Unshackle the team. The Titan crew was suffused with tension because of frustrating constraints, including most vividly a ban on virtual “flying cars.” Kaplan’s cheeky “Overwatch” response is the project’s lone arbitrary rule: Every car must fly.

That’s not to say there’s no regimen. All 80 people meet three times a week. To strengthen their common purpose, everyone plays “Overwatch” twice daily — in the morning and about 6 p.m. before going home. The next day, they regroup in small teams in their areas of expertise. Kaplan said high engagement is necessary to have people spot issues firsthand and inspire quick fixes.

Smedley, the former Sony executive, said any organization could perfect their wares by matching Blizzard’s early-testing discipline.

Blizzard has lots of people “just like me and their other customers seeing this is fun and this isn’t,” Smedley said. “By the time we see it, it’s polished as heck.”

Support even came from way up top.

When Kaplan first pitched “Overwatch” to Activision Blizzard Chief Executive Bobby Kotick, he whizzed through slides depicting characters. He figured that Kotick, who had left game development for the C-suite early in his career, cared more for business-related elements.

But Kotick slowed him down, asking to again see images of Torbjörn, a thick-bearded Swedish engineer who forges hammers.

Kotick was floored: “These are the most compelling characters I’ve ever seen,” Kaplan recalled him saying. Since that day, Kotick has talked up the game and driven to Irvine to play it. To him, the past is the past.

The widespread corporate involvement builds on Blizzard’s long-employed “strike team,” a cross-section of employees who are top-notch players and get to test products. They remain important because they lack an emotional attachment to features.

Outside the game, Blizzard is creating social media posts, graphic novels and short animated videos to develop the “Overwatch” back story. Naturally, the title jumped from game to multimedia franchise. In addition, Kaplan could leverage other departments while keeping his corps small. The video production team, for one, has produced game ideas “just as much as” his team, he said. He lends developers to other projects and other directors return the favor.

Feedback also has come from new sources. “Overwatch” is the first game for which Blizzard created an internal online forum, allowing the entire studio to collaborate.

The collegial spirit has spread. Blizzard’s quality assurance testers focus on certain games but constitute a separate department. Kaplan, though, included the 14 “Overwatch” testers in his team meetings to the point where there was little separation.

So when quality assurance managers gave “Overwatch” testers cash to party, the testers organized an internal tournament for the game for the entire development team, buying pizza and beers for the championship.

The small act had big consequences. The tournament revealed design flaws and proved the game would be great for competitions. And Kaplan came away encouraged that the testers took on the culture of doing more with less.

Chris Metzen, Blizzard’s senior vice president for story and franchise development, said last month that the “Overwatch” approach re-instilled companywide “appreciation” for smaller projects. That’s a good thought to help Blizzard save face after Titan, but the 22-year Blizzard veteran insisted that there’s been remarkable “geeking out.”

“It’s the coolest time to be at this place,” Metzen said.

Free To Play: first impressions of Valve’s Dota 2 documentary

I visited Valve early last month, and while I was there I was treated to a world-first, last-minute screening of the first part of ‘Free To Play’, the Dota 2 documentary that the devs have been working on since prior to the first International tournament.

The version I saw was so raw it was being shown directly from the editing software, and there were a lot of first-pass effects that undoubtedly be finished by the time the film comes out. That said, I’m in a position to provide a sense of where Valve are going with it, as well as a few of my concerns over things it might be missing. I’m going to run through my first impressions below, but bear in mind that I will talk about a few specifics of what the movie covers – if you’d like to go in completely spoiler-free, consider this your warning.

They’re using lots of inventive ways to explain Dota 2, but could take this further

The film opens with a montage of people explaining Dota: its history, its popularity, and what you actually do in the game. It’s compared to basketball and chess, and at one point a speaker describing the game as branching network of decisions is accompanied by a diagram illustrating the kinds of choices players make over time. Interviewees range from pro players, community members like TobiWan, developers, and fans outside the games industry.

To illustrate the game, they’re using a mix of in-game footage, new Source Filmmaker animation work, off-screen footage from the International and other tournaments, and even parts of the Gamescom trailer from 2011. At the time I told Valve that I thought this approach was a little scattershot: if the film was your first introduction to the genre, it might be difficult to tell exactly which footage was from Dota 2 and which wasn’t. That said, it’s exciting and emphasises Dota’s legitimacy as a sport, which is important.

Their access to players and their families is really impressive

The bulk of what I saw was concerned with establishing the stakes leading up to the first International. In part this is handled as you’d expect: the history of competitive DotA is covered in order to set up the reveal of the tournament’s astonishing $1m prize pool, and there’s even a montage of shocked YouTube comments from the day the figure was announced.

The heart of the film, however, are Valve’s interviews with players and the people around them. They didn’t just sit down players in front of a greenscreen and get a few soundbites: they followed players as far apart as North America, the Ukraine and Singapore, seemingly for weeks if not months. To give one example, the film covers not only Dendi’s homelife but his childhood and relationship with his parents and siblings. There’s also close attention paid to the attitude of different players’ families to their chosen sport and what success means to each of them. It’s affecting and, crucially, it’s very human – exactly what e-sport coverage needs to achieve to find a wider audience.

There’s also footage of Dendi dancing around during a school play. So you’ve got that to look forward to. The guy, unsurprisingly, can dance.

They could do more to explain what makes each player talented as an individual

My only reservation about the documentary’s depiction of pro players is that it tells the viewer that they’re very talented without really showing why that’s the case. I understand that not everybody is going to be able to look at a bit of Dota footage and figure out what makes someone skilled, but this is where a slower, more explanatory approach could be useful.

One of the things that makes the Daigo Third Strike comeback so legendary in the Street Fighter community is that even if you know nothing about SF it’s possible to watch that video and get that not only is this guy skilled, but that he’s skilled because he’s calm, accurate, and has masterful timing. Hopefully this is something that Valve will also factor in for Free To Play: don’t just describe Dendi as talented, describe him as creative.

It’s kind of heartbreaking when you know how it ends

There’s something strange about watching a sports movie when the tournament itself happened almost two years ago: particularly when you’re watching players talking about how important winning is to them when you know they’re going to lose. This isn’t a criticism of the documentary, and it won’t be relevant for every viewer, but Dota die-hards should expect a degree of cognitive dissonance.

Valve are taking this seriously

Valve do very little by halves, and their filmmaking crew treat Free To Play as their full-time job. They’ve got a dedicated editing suite set up, and I would be surprised if Valve don’t continue to produce movies after this. It’s definitely in-keeping with Valve’s general shift from developer to wide-ranging media company.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the film treats Dota 2 – and games in general – as if they’re worthy of coverage by default. No “it’s only a game, but…” or “look at this novelty sport.” The only doubt about gaming’s legitimacy on the competitive stage is expressed by parents, and it’s heavily contextualised. This is great for e-sports in general: it doesn’t ignore the fact that they’re still a relatively niche pursuit, but it never questions Dota’s right to be taken seriously or the enthusiasm of its fans. For that reason alone, I’m really excited to see how Valve’s first foray into filmmaking turns out.


Heroes of the Storm’ player threatens Blizzard Entertainment gaming company with AK-47, prosecutors say

Stephen Cebula was wrapped up in the online adventures of “Heroes of the Storm” when he apparently decided to deliver a message to his foes.

And that’s how the 28-year-old Sacramento gamer found himself facing federal charges Thursday of threatening to visit Blizzard Entertainment’s headquarters with an AK-47, according to a 33-page federal indictment.

In one threat, U.S. District Court records show, he wrote: “Careful Blizzard … I live in California and your headquarters is here in California … You keep silencing me in Heroes of the Storm and I may or may not pay you a visit with an AK 47 amongst some other ‘fun’ tools.”

Cebula, who was arrested July 12, told investigators he sent threats to the Irvine-based company and other players through his Facebook account because he wanted “to scare” them, FBI Special Agent Brady Cowan wrote in a federal criminal complaint.

Cebula said he looked up the gaming company’s address online and mentioned it in one of his threats “to give them a sinking feeling that they should be worried,” Cowan said.

Prosecutor say Cebula also wrote: “You keep silencing people in heroes of the storm and someone who may live in California might be inclined to ‘cause a disturbance’ at your headquarters in California with an AK47 and a few other ‘opportunistic tools’ … It would be a shame to [anger] the wrong person. Do you not agree blizzard?”

Cebula told federal investigators the term “opportunistic tools” was designed to “let their minds wander” and the reference to using an AK-47 was “because it seemed like the scariest weapon,” Cowan said.

If convicted, Cebula faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The Surprisingly Unsurprising Reason Why Men Choose Female Avatars in World of Warcraft

When men play female avatars in online games, they change the way they speak to conform to female stereotypes—but the way they move betrays their masquerade.

In a recent study reported in Information, Communication and Society, researchers created a custom-built quest in World of Warcraft—the popular online game where players can work together to slay dragons and discover magical treasures. The researchers recruited 375 World of Warcraft gamers and ran them through the quest in small groups. The quest took an average of 1.5 hours to complete, and every participant’s movement and chat were recorded and meticulously coded.

The researchers found that the men were more than three times as likely as the women to gender-switch (23 percent vs. 7 percent). When selecting female avatars, these men strongly preferred attractive avatars with traditional hairstyles—long, flowing locks as opposed to a pink mohawk. And their chat patterns shifted partway toward how the real women spoke: These men used more emotional phrases and more exclamation points than the men who did not gender-switch. In other words, these men created female avatars that were stereotypically beautiful and emotional.

Although the gender-switching men could partially talk the talk, they completely failed to walk the walk. The researchers found that all the men in their study moved around in a very different way than the women. The men moved backward more often, stayed farther away from groups, and jumped about twice as much as the women did. When it came to moving around, the men behaved similarly whether they gender-switched or not. So if you’re trying to figure out if that female Night Elf is really a man, focus on how they move around. As study author Mia Consalvo, a professor at Concordia University, says, “movement is less conscious than chat, so it can be an easier ‘tell’ for offline gender.”

It gets stranger. The lead author of the paper, Rosa Martey at Colorado State University, told me via email that “it’s not necessarily the case that men are trying to appear female when they use a female avatar. Our interviews did not suggest that those who switched were trying to ‘pretend’ to be women players.”

In fact, it’s all about the butts. Because players see their avatars from a third-person perspective from behind, men are confronted with whether they want to stare at a guy’s butt or a girl’s butt for 20 hours a week. Or as the study authors put it in more academic prose, gender-switching men “prefer the esthetics of watching a female avatar form.” This means that gender-switching men somehow end up adopting a few female speech patterns even though they had no intention of pretending to be a woman.

In my own research in virtual worlds and avatars, my colleagues and I have found that people will conform to the expectations of their avatars without consciously being aware of it. For example, we found that college students given subtly taller avatars will negotiate more aggressively in a bargaining task than students given shorter avatars. Of course, people can only conform to stereotypes that they know. Perhaps this is why we see gender-switching men conforming to stereotypes of how women talk, while not conforming to the more nuanced movement patterns.

The butt theory could also explain another consistently puzzling statistic: Why do men gender-bend so much more often than women? Given that most AAA video games and thus most of these female avatars are designed by men for a primarily male audience, gender-switching based on esthetics makes sense for male gamers. But because male avatars aren’t created by female designers for a female audience, women may not have the same incentive to gender-switch. (And no, the equivalent is not an obscenely muscular male avatar in a tank top holding a machine gun.

Virtual worlds are often thought of as places where we are free to play and reinvent ourselves, but game design and psychology often conspire to encourage us to enact and perpetuate offline stereotypes and the status quo. The most fascinating irony of our contemporary virtual worlds may be how little they actually allow us to play.

Son of world’s richest Chinese family causes Dota 2 commentator to cry and apologize

For Dota 2 fans in China, The International 2014 (TI4) is like their version of the FIFA World Cup. And we all know what it’s like staying up late to watch our favorite teams play, only to be met by horrible and completely inept commentators.

Now normally, we would just complain to ourselves. Some might even take it up on social media, but in the end nothing would happen. Well, that’s unless your name is Wang Sicong and your father is the richest person in China, in which case the commentator will end up crying and have to offer an apology on video.

Wang Sicong

Wang Sicong is like your normal Chinese Dota 2 fan. He loves his country, he loves the game, and he watches streams of TI4 matches in Seattle, despite the 15-hour time difference. Except he also happens to be the son of China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, and he was really pissed off with the commentary by two lovebirds, Mik and her boyfriend Xiao Tian. So he decided to take it up on Weibo:

Ouch. Even before this case, commentary from Mik and Xiao Tian was already met with ridicule by players, with some saying that Mik’s unique yell while casting could “make a dog deaf”. Double-ouch.

But as a professional who knows how to deal with criticism, Mik responds in a standard fashion, saying that everyone should just respect each other:

Via her live broadcast, she also added:

Our commentary style is how it is. We’re not going to change because of some spoiled rich kid. If you don’t like it, just mute us, or switch commentary. I will give myself some self-criticism and provide even better commentary to everyone.

All is good, and Mik is clearly done with the topic. Or so we thought, until she took off her headset during a live broadcast and said to her partner: “is that Wang Sicong guy retarded or what?”

How do we know this? Because her microphone was still on. In fact, all of her viewers heard it as well, including Wang Sicong himself. Triple-ouch.

His response:

And you’re going to badmouth me on a live broadcast. Who the fuck are you trying to impress? I won’t say any more about the fact that you don’t understand Dota 2, but to display your lack of intelligence and manners on a live stream, stop losing face for China.

And of course, when someone screws up as royally as Mik did, especially when the other side is money-incarnate, you can bet there’s going to be a public apology involved.

Mik (left) and boyfriend Xiao Tian (right).

So there are two important lessons to be learned here:
First, ignore what anybody says online and learn to take criticism, because you can’t be liked by everyone. Second, make sure your microphone is muted.

Future expansions planned by Blizzard, from late 2003.

So my computer died yesterday, leaving me no choice but to dig up my old laptop as my newer one is currently on loan to my mom. What an ancient thing. 8 gig hard drive, Windows 98, and just enough RAM to have a PDF file and internet explorer working at once…with a wait time of about 30 seconds every time I change windows. Useless for everything except surfing the internet for help reviving my desktop PC. As I waited for replies on tech support forums, I dug around a bit and found an old folder filled with crap I saved from my old desktop. I had kept the stuff there to transfer to my new PC, but it looks like I didn’t care enough to go through with it.

Stuffed inside the folder were a crapload of documents and stuff pertaining to the World of Warcraft alpha and beta, back before I even cared about the game. I had been sent the stuff from my friend, who was in the friends-and-family beta that preceded the general closed beta in early 2004. Most of the documents were plastered with ‘2003’. A lot of them were boring, and I can’t remember reading any of them. Maybe I looked at a couple and decided it was boring crap.

However, nearly four years later, I had enough of a mind to peruse them all. A lot of PDF-format conversions of early Gamespy previews, patents Blizzard took out for WoW, and so forth. I did find, however, a list of ‘possible expansion sets’ that looks really interesting. Some of the stuff looks a bit off, especially some of Outland and Northrend, so Blizzard isn’t liable to stick to the rest of the plan down to the letter. But the quaint little PDF lists five expansion sets and the regions within. It goes as high as level 100. Nothing about it looks very official, though…it was nothing more than a wordpad document pasted into a PDF document, but I think it’s of Blizzardly origins. I assume no responsibility for your actions if this list spurs you to run to the nearest auction house and buy thousands of golds’ worth in armor so you can be ready for the Maelstrom.

Draenor Set

Azuremyst Isle – 1 to 10
Bloodmyrk Isle – 10 to 20

Eversong Forest – 1 to 10
Quel’thalas – 10 to 20
Hellfire Peninsula – 58 to 62
Zangarmarsh – 60 to 64
Terokkar Forest – 61 to 65
The Deadlands – 63 to 67
Nagrand – 64 to 68
Blade’s Edge Mountains – 66 to 70
Netherstorm – 67 to 70
Shadowmoon Valley – 69 to 70

Northrend Set

Borean Tundra – 67 to 70
Howling Fjord – 67 to 70
Dragonblight – 69 to 72
Grizzly Hills – 70 to 73
Crystalsong Forest – 72 to 75
Zul’drak – 73 to 76
Sholazar Basin – 75 to 79
Storm Peaks – 76 to 80
Icecrown Glacier – 78 to 80

Maelstrom Set

Gilneas – 77 to 80
Grim Batol – 78 to 81
Kul Tiras – 79 to 82
Kezan – 81 to 86
Tel Abim – 83 to 85
Zandalar – 84 to 87
Plunder Isle – 86 to 88
The Broken Isles – 87 to 90
The Maelstrom – 89 to 90

Plane Set

Pandaria – 1 to 10
Hiji – 10 to 20

Wolfenhold – 1 to 10
Xorothian Plains – 10 to 20

The Green Lands – 88 to 91
The Dying Paradise – 91 to 94
The Emerald Nightmare – 94 to 97
The Eye of Ysera – 97 to 100

Deephome – 88 to 91
Skywall – 91 to 94
The Abyssal Maw – 94 to 97
The Firelands – 97 to 100

Legion Set

K’aresh – 96 to 99
Argus Meadowlands – 97 to 100
Mac’Aree – 99 to 100
Maw of Oblivion – 100+
The Burning Citadel – 100+++

I’m not sure what the plus signs indicate. I’m trying to get in touch with my friend (we had a falling-out a year and a half ago) to ascertain the origin of this strange little file.

The Voters Have Spoken: EA Is Your Worst Company In America For 2012!

Whether it’s on a console, a PC, a smartphone or tablet, hundreds of millions of people play video games every day. Yet most mainstream media covers the industry the same way it treats adult dodge ball leagues and cat fashion shows (both noble ventures, but neither of them multi-billion dollar industries). And the only time you hear legislators discuss video games is when some politician decries them as the death knell for all things righteous in the world (hint: they’re not). Now, after years of being ignored and relegated to steerage, game-players have voted to send a message to Electronic Arts and the gaming business as a whole: Stop treating your loyal customers like crap.

After more than 250,000 votes, Consumerist readers ultimately decided that the type of greed exhibited by EA, which is supposed to be making the world a more fun place, is worse than Bank of America’s avarice, which some would argue is the entire point of operating a bank.

To those who might sneer at something as “non-essential” as a video game company winning the Worst Company In America vote: It’s that exact kind of attitude that allows people to ignore the complaints as companies like EA to nickel and dime consumers to death.

For years, while movies and music became more affordable and publishers piled on bonus content — or multiple modes of delivery — as added value to entice customers to buy, video games have continued to be priced like premium goods.

There have even been numerous accusations that EA and its ilk deliberately hold back game content with the sole intent of charging a fee for it at a later date. It’s one thing to support a game with new content that is worth the price. It’s another to put out an inferior — and occasionally broken — product with the mindset of “ah, we’ll fix it later and make some money for doing so.”

New, independent game companies do pop up all the time, but the cost of entering the market has historically been too expensive, making these indie innovators prime targets for acquisition by mega-publishers like EA. Our hope is that the growth of app-based gaming and downloadable games will continue to make it easier for developers to get their products out without the backing of companies that don’t care a lick about the people who fork over their cash.

Oh well, Worst Company In America 2012 is officially in the books. All that’s left to do is send off the Golden Poo to EA.

Traditionally, the Poo has been delivered on its little red pillow. But this year, we’ll give EA three different color options for its pillow, though in the end it’s still the same old Poo.

Thanks again to everyone who voted. See you all again in about 49 weeks!

One Piece Get Up – All Dressrosa

It is not mine, I must mention that. I thought I would share with you as well though in case you haven’t seen it.

This is my favorite. this AMV encapsulated all of the inspiring things about OP. everything that makes this anime great is represented so well

That depended on the studio (if that’s the right term. Basically who animated the particular episode). There were a few studios back then that went off model almost constantly. I know one was famous for making the girls look like alien toothpick people. Like that scene in Thriller Bark with Robin Laying on the ground and basically not looking human anymore, and that studio was around for quite a while. In early episodes there was also a studio that gave Luffy enormous shoulders all the time, and just in general had a lot of bizarre anatomy moments. I remember 2 studios with quite a bit of fondness (If I had to name episodes they did, the One Where Luffy first used Gear 2 to curbstomp Blueno was one, and the Episode of the G8 arc where Chopper pretended to be a mad man kidnapping Nami and the nurse was another).

One stopped somewhere after Skypeia (the latter one), and the other stopped during Punk Hazard (the former one). We have some good studios now, I can think of two in particular that I like (there’s the one that appears occasionally mid episode like when Sabo destroyed the ring, but that one can be a hit or miss style-wise despite it’s stunning animation), but there aren’t as many that I hate now as there were back before the timeskip. There will surely be more in the future as well since studios will always change over time with a long running anime like One Piece.

This was amazing. Maaaan this reminded me of how much of a baddass cyborg Franky is….Toei may be cheaping out on us, but we gotta give them props for at least bringing that sheer awesomeness of Franky to a whole new light.

Would’ve been nice to include a few Sanji moments. Sadly, there’s nothing too exciting to add from the Brook/Nami/Chopper side of things–even Brook’s final attack on Jora was made more light-hearted than it was in the manga.

This is the type of AMV that changes ones soul. existential thoughts and major life decisions are to be had after feasting ones eyes upon magnificence such as this. I doubt anyone who has doubts about one piece would question it’s sheer awesome beauty after they witness something as unquestionably great as Get Up.

There are some AMVs that overuse it for sure, but One Piece has too many scenes with low framerates, so it removes any sense of fluidity when you go from a scene like Rebecca crying or Zoro’s haki to a bunch of marines or a family member taking a step. There were also a few moments where you slowed down the video just slightly to intensify the scene or fit the beat of the song, but it came out choppy. Interpolation can help you increase the framerate in those scenes, and even throughout the entire AMV if you felt like it.

All in all, this was really satisfying to watch. I don’t watch very many AMVs, or really watch much anime for that matter, but this definitely convinced me that AMVs can be well worth the watch.

Mass Effect 3: Citadel DLC Hannah Shepard

That was great. My favorite Spacer moment was in ME2. Not long after the start of the game, you get a email from your mom pissed at you for having to find out second hand that her son/daughter was alive.

Their parents might be alive, but probably have no clue who you are. It’d actually be pretty cool if you were contacted by someone who thinks they might be your parents though.

Colonist Shepards had all their family and friend’s killed by slavers.

I really love this. I wish there were some dialogue options for Shepard to make it so he/she doesn’t sound so distant. In this video it sounds like she has no idea why on earth her mother of all people would want to talk to her. And is just trying to figure out what she wants. I get that Shepard is a hardened war hero but come on. An “It’s really good to hear from you” or an “I love you mom” wouldn’t go amiss from Shepard.

Some people just aren’t that emotional with family. It doesn’t mean they don’t love them just as much. I can see that happening with Shepard. I always got the impression from that conversation that Shepard was surprised to hear from her mum, happy about it, but a little uncomfortable with all the (justifiable!) emotion. I still loved it, gave me the feels. 🙂

One I thing would have loved in ME3 is delving more into Shepard’s PTSD. I understand what they were trying to do with the forest and the kid but it wasn’t enough. People forget that Shepard has been soldier for 14 or 15 years and she or he has seen a lot of shit in that time. Shepard’s not ok.

The beginning of my Shep’s story is largely irrelevant, but what I like is starting as a paragon and slowly moving towards renegade. In ME1 it’s easy to be a hero, but as the horrors of war and the loss of friends takes its toll Shep moves further and further into the red. The ambiguity of right and wrong and who the bad buy is in ME2 is another factor.

Dying can take its toll on anyone.

The ambiguity of two drove my Shepard renegade, renegade enough to give TIM the Collector base because it seemed to offer the best chance at overall victory. My Shepard thought of the Illusive man as a kindred spirit, one who understood where no other leaders did that shit was about to go down, and go down hard.

Then three came, and TIM turned uber evil, and Cerberus decided it wanted to kill everything. My Shepard had an epiphany: that was the road he’d started going down. That was his endgame.

From then on in, Shepard saved everyone and anyone he could, no matter the personal risk. He wouldn’t let the galaxy become numbers.

My first Shep was Earthborn, Sole Survivor. Growing up had been a rough a experience for him. He had resolved to do good and to help others. When his plan had gone south, and Shep was the only one to survive the Thresher Maws, he blamed himself, and continued to push to do better. That made the dreams Shepard has in ME3 make so much more sense. Deep depression, wracked with guilt, fighting to make a difference. He’d already saved so much. But it was never good enough for him.

it states in the game that she turned it down because they were offering it to her as a token “thank you” to Shepard, who was hardly rewarded before his/her untimely death.

In fact, I think it’s kind of funny that they never even threw Captain at Shepard.