Plants vs Zombies: Game of the Year Is On the House

Subject: General Tech | December 3, 2017 - 04:22 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, origin, ea, popcap

Plants vs Zombies is now available “On the House” through Origin. This means that it’s free, forever, if you claim it onto your account while it’s still active. Think of it as a timed, 100%-off sale.

ea-2016-origin-on-the-house-logo.png

Plants vs Zombies is one of those games that was released more recently than I remembered. It apparently launched just before I went to teacher’s college. The game was re-released in 2015 as “Plants vs Zombies: Game of the Year Edition” with a little irony, being five years after the year that it would have been game of the year for.

The gameplay is simple, but cute. It’s a multi-lane tower defense where zombies try to eat you brains. You plant defenses to stop them. Each plant has its own power. The plot advances, and you get harder and harder zombies, different terrain, and so forth. Again, it’s a multi-lane tower defense game.

As an aside, am I the only one who thinks they missed an opportunity by not adding a daisy called “DayZee”?

Source: Origin

Podcast #476 - Scythe Coolers, Huawei MateBook E, EA for better or worse, and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2017 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: video, youtube, wolfenstein, vesa, scythe, phanteks, nvidia shield, nvidia, NVDIMM, micron, matebook, Huawei, fsp, ea, podcast

PC Perspective Podcast #476 - 11/16/17

Join us for discussion on Intel with AMD graphics, Raja's move to Intel, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:44:19

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
    1. 0:06:15 Podcast 475 Recap
  2. 0:37:30 AD BREAK HelloFresh
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  5. Closing/outro

Source:

A win for the rebels against EA's Empire

Subject: General Tech | November 14, 2017 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ea, Star Wars Battlefront 2

Loot boxes may look good on paper as a way to generate extra revenue from a game but in reality they are incredibly unpopular with those who buy games.  Originally EA had set the price of unlocking your first playable hero at 60,000 in game credits.  According to the math done in the article Slashdot linked to, that would entail around 40 hours of gameplay assuming you never used any for the various other unlocks EA charges credits for.  As EA limits the amount of credits you can earn at one time in arcade mode, most of those hours would need to be spent in multiplayer games as opposed to enjoying the game in peace and quiet.  Of course, you could always pay money for them, $450 or so would unlock a hero.

In this case EA actually listened to their prospective customers, dropping the credit requirements for heroes by 75%; the loot boxes remain of course.

xosshiwetigvxb9txevi.png

"Most importantly, Electronic Arts today announced that they are reducing the number of credits needed to unlock top characters in the game by 75 percent. Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader will now cost 15,000 credits. Emperor Palatine, Chewbacca and Leia Organa will now cost 10,000 and Iden will cost 5,000."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Slashdot

Star Wars as a service; EA's evisceration of Visceral

Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2017 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: Star Wars, visceral, ea, gaming, Ragtag

EA revealed something which those of us who follow the industry have known for sometime; they are not in the business of selling games, instead they offer 'games as a service'.  What that translates into is a business model that has no interest in selling a game that they cannot continue to milk income from for a long time after its release.  This specifically impacts single player games, as one cannot attempt to turn them into the next big eSports title and not many people are willing to shell out extra cash for horse armour.  That attitude created an incredibly unfriendly work environment and lead to issues with employee retention as well as resources for the development of the game.  EA responded to Kotaku, who researched the fall of Ragtag and Visceral with a statement containing absolutely nothing, which you can read here.

This is an example of the changing attitude of several large game development companies, who are not satisfied with the income from a games release nor additional income from DLC and who instead want every game they release to be a permanent source of income.  How exactly one is supposed to have the time to play one game for as long envision so and to keep purchasing new releases which are also intended to be continually played is unclear. 

Thankfully there are holdouts such as Paradox and Creative Assembly who find ways to extend the life of older games and make money at it; without the expectation that you buy a new game, along with DLC and add-ons every single year as well as continue to play last years model.

g10xbsnyzlhoxm0k9bwd.png

"The demos weren’t enough. Former Visceral employees don’t know when EA made the decision to shut down their studio, but on October 17, 2017, it became official. Visceral, which employed around 80 people, was no more."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: Kotaku

Syberia II Is "On The House"

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2017 - 09:57 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, microids, ea

I’m apparently about a month late on this one, but it’s better than never for those who, like me, missed the news the first time around. Syberia II is a point-and-click adventure title from 2004 and it is currently “On The House” through EA’s Origin service. These promotions would be the same as if EA had a timed, 100%-off sale: claim it before it’s over and it’s yours for free, permanently.

ea-2016-origin-on-the-house-logo.png

It might not be around for long, though. I’m guessing this deal is to promote the upcoming Syberia III, which was originally announced in 2009 and should launch in about a week or two (depending on your region). If this sort of game interests you in any way, and especially if you have an active Origin account, then it’s a good idea to add Syberia II to your games library, even if you don’t plan on installing it right away.

Source: EA (Origin)

Mass Effect 2 Is Now "On the House"

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2017 - 05:11 PM |
Tagged: mass effect, pc gaming, ea, origin

Just a few months out from Mass Effect: Andromeda, EA has put Mass Effect 2 into their “On the House” promotion. As usual, this is a temporary 100%-off sale; if you get it, then it’s yours. All you need to do is log in to the Origin store, browse the “On the House” sub-section of Free Games, and add it to your library. I’m sure EA would like you to install it and get hooked on the franchise as soon as possible, but you can just leave it there for a while if you’re busy at this point in life.

ea-2016-origin-on-the-house-logo.png

Mass Effect 2 is generally considered to be the best in the series, at least thus far, so it’s both nice and logical that EA would choose this one for the promotion. The first one had a few technical issues, and it was also the introduction to the series; the team could see what worked and what didn’t, and have the confidence to add new mechanics and so forth. Also, it was apparently designed to be welcoming to players who missed the first game.

Personally, I tried the first Mass Effect but had to reformat my PC before I got more than a couple hours into it, and I never really installed it again. This promotion might be a good excuse to get back into them if I can spare a little time, which, for Mass Effect, means quite a bit of actual time.

Source: EA (Origin)

Ubisoft Offers One Free New Game with Eligible Purchase

Subject: General Tech | November 26, 2016 - 06:49 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, ubisoft, ea, bethesda

The Ubisoft store is offering the standard edition of either The Division, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, Rainbow Six: Siege, or Far Cry Primal when you purchase (or pre-order) another, participating title. These other games aren’t just from Ubisoft, though. They also include new releases from EA, Bethesda, and SquareEnix, such as Battlefield 1 (which still requires Origin) and Skyrim: Special Edition.

ubisoft-2015-farcryprimal.jpg

This is interesting for two reasons. First, and most obvious, if you really want one of the four titles and one of the applicable ones, then it might be cheaper than buying them individually (although you should check for sales elsewhere first).

The second point regards how the various publishers are handling Steam’s dominance in the PC space. EA is now even participating their titles, which are not available on Valve’s service, in promotions from stores owned by other competitors. Meanwhile, it seems like Bethesda is happy putting their stock wherever, and they will even discount games by a third or a half if it aligns with a big Steam Sale. Then we get Ubisoft, who has their own store, but also lists on Steam and does fairly good sales there, too.

Anyway, the sale is running until the 27th. As I said earlier, though, be sure that any combination of game that interests you is actually cheaper than their respective sale price at competing stores before buying.

Source: Ubisoft

EA Continues to Give Away Battlefield 4 Expansion Packs

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2016 - 09:03 PM |
Tagged: ea, origin, pc gaming

EA's “On the House” promotion is basically a 100%-off sale, with the intent of periodically bringing you back to their store. Whatever you acquire is free forever, but you only have a handful of days to claim it. Even if you're not interested in downloading it at the moment, it's good to poke in, press download, and just not actually download it until later. Maybe you'll buy something, too, while you're there. Either way.

ea-2016-origin-on-the-house-logo.png

This time is Battlefield 4: Naval Strike. If you have Battlefield 4, but do not have the Premium subscription, then this is your chance to grab a portion of its exclusive content for free. As the name suggests, it includes four, navy-focused maps, a hovercraft, and a new game mode. If you've played 2142, you might remember the Titan mode, where you would capture missile launchers throughout the map to weaken a flying carrier, and eventually destroy it. Similar idea, but with an aircraft carrier.

Also, the Westwood-developed action RPG, Nox, is “On the House” as well.

Source: EA (Origin)

DigitalFoundry Shows Off Battlefield 1 Alpha PC Settings

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 7, 2016 - 10:13 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, GTX 1080, ea, dice, battlefield, battlefield 1

Battlefield 1 looks pretty good. To compare how it scales between its settings, DigitalFoundry took a short amount of video at 4K across all four, omnibus graphics settings: Low, Medium, High, and Ultra. These are, as should be expected for a high-end PC game, broken down into more specific categories, like lighting quality and texture filtering, but I can't blame them for not adding that many permutations to a single video. It would just be a mess.

The rendering itself doesn't change too much between settings to my eye. Higher quality settings draw more distant objects than lower ones, and increases range that level of detail falls off, too. About a third of the way into the video, they show a house from a moderate distance. The lowest quality version was almost completely devoid of shadowing and its windows would not even draw. The lighting then scaled up from there as the settings were moved progressively toward Ultra.

ea-2016-bfone-lowsettings-digitalfoundry.jpg

Image Credit: DigitalFoundry

While it's still Alpha-level code, a single GTX 1080 was getting between 50 and 60 FPS at 4K. This is a good range to be in for a G-Sync monitor, as the single-card machine doesn't need to deal with multi-GPU issues, like pacing and driver support.

Mirror's Edge: Catalyst DRM Rumors Are Wrong

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2016 - 08:42 PM |
Tagged: ea, dice, DRM, origin

GamersNexus wrote a piece that claimed Mirror's Edge: Catalyst has DRM that limits the number of hardware changes to four. According to an email from EA's press contact, it turns out that GamersNexus' article is not accurate. According to EA PR, if Origin detects five activations in a single day, the user will need to wait until 24 hours after their first activation to attempt again.

So you can change your hardware as many times as you want over the life of the game, just not more than four times in a single day, on a single account at least.

ea-2016-mirrorsedgecatalyst-error-gamersnexus-wrong.jpg

Image Credit: GamersNexus
This message didn't seem to say what they were implying it did. Turns out, it doesn't.

I decided to ask EA when I read the error message that GamersNexus posted -- the article's  interpretation didn't seem right. The wording was as follows: “Too many computers have accessed this account's version of Mirror's Edge(TM) Catalyst recently. Please try again later.” It seemed very odd to me that the wording “recently” and “Please try again later” would be attached to a permanent bricking of the game.

Again, it turns out that this is not the case, unless our press contact was not up to date about this specific title. As much as I dislike DRM, being a proponent of art preservation and archival, this part of Mirror's Edge's DRM should not affect the vast majority of users. This is something that should only affect people who are literally benchmarking a half-dozen (or so) graphics cards.

In short, it sounds like this is a non-issue after all.

Source: GamersNexus