Saturday, March 24, 2018

Who owns Who? PC Gaming Companies

The purpose of these info-graphics are to simplify the answer to that question for PC gamers - Who owns what?  For people that say they are going to boycott all EA games, that's going to include Pop Cap's Bejeweled, and Maxis The Sims games.  If you are boycotting Call of Duty, maybe you should lay off on the Starcraft and World or Warcraft.  Know where your money goes.

Here's an update to the 2013 infographic.  With the American economy bouncing back, as US companies reclaim some of its brand, though many scars were left behind.  Consolidation and belt tightning was a key part of the recovery.  China publisher Tencent puts their prints on many brand as a distributor.  French company Vivendi looses their grip on much of the industry.

FAQ:

















  • PC developers only listed, so many developers will be missing (such as Sony devs).
  • Must have developed a PC game in the last 5 years, some developers that made PC games, have converted to console/mobile market only.
  • Graphic based on ownership only, not publishing deals.
  • If parent company is in the name, it is not displayed, such as EA Sports, EA Canada, etc.
  • Services are selective, such as Pogo.
  • Display the current ownership between developers and their parent companies.  This does not cover the history, past buyouts, mergers, or closures.
  • Individual companies are not listed.
  • Flag represents the parent companies country.
infographic of major video game holders.  page 1 of 2


infographic of major video game holders.  page 2 of 2


  • Valve buys out Campo Santo - 2018
  • Bigben Interactive buys Cyanide Studio
  • Gas Powered Games will shutdown
  • Nordisk Film buys Avalanche
  • Microsoft buys Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Undead Labs, Compulsion Games, and opens The Initiative.
  • Paradox acquires Harebrained Schemes
  • Sumo Digital buys The Chinese Room & CCP Newcastle

Saturday, March 10, 2018

2018 PC Coop Games

Welcome the definitive listing of all the cooperative oriented PC video games for 2018!
This list will be continuously updated throughout the year.

Coop list for a different year 

The games on this list, must meet the following criteria:

  • PvE - Player vs Environment
  • Online, split screens limited
  • Available/announced for PC
  • Involve 2 or more human players
  • Players must work along a progressive storyline, campaign, or various goals
  • Generic RTS Skirmishes and Team based game types like CTF and Deathmatch are not included
  • No MMOs (game must have a conclusion or set goal)
  • Greenlight & Early Access games are generally not listed unless intent for release is stated
  • I'll be subjective with Survival/Horde modes as the genera has matured a bit. However, most are slapped-on after thoughts and not list worthy.
Shooter

State of Decay 2  - survival - 4 player
Metacritic - 69 ]
Open world, Survival RPG people v zombies.  Coop player in campaign is fairly limited to actions of primary player, more of a helping hand at most.

Far Cry 5 - 2 player
Metacritic - 79 ]
Entire campaign will be coop.

Vermintide 2 - 4 player
Metacritic - 82 ]
L4D in the Warhammer universe.  This time, its bigger, more open, more variation, and adds chaos along with the rats.

Strange Brigade  - 4 player
Metacritic - 76 ]
1930s pulp adventures shooting monsters.  A bit of Dead Island in a Indiana Jones inspired universe.  Defeat waves of baddies, to get to the boss dude.

OverKill's The Walking Dead - 4 player
[ Fall ]
Makers of Payday hit pay-dirt with this upcoming licensed shooter with the same winning formula of payday gameplay.  Perhaps its a Payday re-skinned in the Walking Dead Universe.

GTFO - 4 player
Horror coop from makers of Payday.

Earthfall - 4 player
Metacritic - 61 ]
L4D clone, with Aliens!


RPG


Dauntless - 4 player
action RPG, Compatible to Monster Hunter, with a difficulty spike like Dark Souls.  Its free to play, so this could translate to grind fest.

Pit People - tactical  aRPG - 2 player
Metacritic - 81 ]
"Battle in turn-based hexy combat, finding loot, and generally questing".  Has a cartoon humor approach with Castle Crashers art style.


Strategy

We were here Too - Puzzle
Metacritic - 71 ]
Communication-based, cooperative puzzle adventure.  A much better showing then its predecessor.

HackTag - 2  player
Metacritic - 73 ]
Monaco type gameplay, with heavy emphasis on stealth. One person hacks, while the other is in the field.

Simulator

Stardew Valley - farming simulator - 4 player
Metacritic - 89 ]
I keep saying when I retire from tech, I'll take up gardening.  This isn't what I meant.  I dont get it, but the smash hit gets coop over a year later.

No Man's Sky - 2 player
Metacritic - 61 ]
Same game, getting a new coop updated tacked onto it.

Bus Simulator 18 - 4 player
Metacritic - 67 ]
Drive your route and drive some more. Drive slowly..


Overcooked 2 - 4 player
Metacritic - 80 ]
Very similar to the original, with added online coop.  The game revolved simple cooking, cleaning around chaotic environments and poor team decision making.


Action

Sea of Thieves - 
Metacritic - 67 ]
Not quite like piloting a starship, here you work together to sail a ship and find piratey treasures n stuff.  A Thieving pirates life coop for all.  Taps on all the highlights of piracy  (treasure hunt, ship battles, romance)  in one nice little package.

God's Trigger - 2 player
Isometric, feel's a bit like Hotline Miami.  Story teams up an angel and demon (Judy) to defeat the 4 horsemen.

A Way Out - 2 player
Metacritic - 80 ]
From the makers of Brothers, expect a rich story based on an escape with creative coop components.  one license will yield a copy for your coop pal.

Metal Gear Survive
Metacritic - 56 ] 
Zombie survival.  Takes place in an alternative MG universe.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

2017 PC Coop Games

Welcome the definitive listing of all the cooperative oriented PC video games for 2017!
This list will be continuously updated throughout the year.

Coop list for a different year 

The games on this list, must meet the following criteria:

  • PvE - Player vs Environment
  • Online, no split screens
  • Available/announced for PC
  • Involve 2 or more human players
  • Players must work along a progressive storyline, campaign, or various goals
  • Generic RTS Skirmishes and Team based game types like CTF and Deathmatch are not included
  • No MMOs (game must have a conclusion or set goal)
  • Greenlight & Early Access games are generally not listed unless intent for release is stated
  • I'll be subjective with Survival/Horde modes as the genera has matured a bit. However, most are slapped-on after thoughts and not list worthy.

Shooter


Ghost Recon: Wildlands 4 player
Metacritic - 69 ]
Tom Clacy series returns with its signature open world tactical shooter; focusing on the drug war in modern day Bolivia. i.e. 'Merca vs drug cartels.

Dead Rising 4 - 4 player
Metacritic - 74 ]
Saints row goofiness with focus on zombies. Campaign mode is not coop.

Call of Duty: WWII - 4 player
Metacritic - 73 ]
Nazi Zombie make their return with horde/campaign elements; but the main campaign coop was dropped this time.

Destiny 2 - 3-6 player
Metacritic - 83 ]
Story, explorations, and mini object oriented missions sum up a nice mix of coop.  It does force to single play some before "unlocking" coop.


Fortnite: Save the World - Survival - 4 player
Video ]
Scavenge and craft weapons and traps by day, fight hordes and specials by night.  Artwork similar to Team Fortress 2.  From Epic Games.


RPG
Divinity: Origin Sin 2 - RPG - 4 player
Metacritic - 93 ]
Original Sin 1 won my coop award a few years back for finally delivering the coop isometric experience we wanted since Baulders Gate.  High expectations this time around, as with the costs of success.

The Escapists 2 - 4 player
Metacritic - 75 ]
8-bit prison break.

Strategy

We were Here - puzzle
[ Bad ]
Cashing in on the 'escape room' rage; this is an e version of clue collection and note comparison

Mass Effect Andromeda4 player
Metacritic - 72 ]
Horde mode

Simulator


Star Trek: Bridge Crew
Metacritic - 78 ]
Originally designed for VR, this now works for all platforms.  This is a  licensed version of the well loved Starship bridge sim.  A 2018 expansion adds TNG ship and crew to gameplay.  Exp also increased from 2 coop to 4 coop modes.


Action

Nine Parchments -  4 player
Metacritic - 68 ]
From thew makers of Trine; This is a Magicka clone without the keyboard mashing. More weight on aRPG with the wizard ’em up.

Styx: Shards of Darkness - 2 player
Metacritic - 72 ]
Stealth based coop with a twist; your a goblin assassin.


Guns of Icarus: Alliance -
Metacritic - 64 ]
Not to be confused with it Online namesake; this is a standalone of the same concept.  Work together to pilot and fight within a flying steampunk war-airship thing.

Hive Jump - 4 player
Run and Gun side scrolling shooter

Serious Sam’s Bogus Detour - 4/12 player
Metacritic - 76 ]
Top down shooter in the world of Serious Sam. Player limit dependent on story & horde mode.



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Scumbag microtransactions

In response to scummy tactics mobile market apps use to trick kids into clicking on micro-transactions. 

"The great mobile paidophile. Lays in wait for your children to microtransact."
 - GoodTeletubby & jamiemac2005

 Just remember kids, Apple skims some of that profit and does little to prevent the tactics.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2016 PC Coop Games

Welcome the definitive listing of all the cooperative oriented PC video games for 2016!
This list will be continuously updated throughout the year.

Coop list for a different year 

The games on this list, must meet the following criteria:

  • PvE - Player vs Environment
  • Online, no split screens
  • Available/announced for PC
  • Involve 2 or more human players
  • Players must work along a progressive storyline, campaign, or various goals
  • Generic RTS Skirmishes and Team based game types like CTF and Deathmatch are not included
  • No MMOs (game must have a conclusion or set goal)
  • Greenlight & Early Access games are generally not listed unless intent for release is stated
  • I'll be subjective with Survival/Horde modes as the genera has matured a bit. However, most are slapped-on after thoughts and not list worthy.

Shooter


Plant V Zombies 2: Garden Warfare
Metacritic - 82 ]
3rd person tower defense game similar to the last but more flushed out and perhaps less micro transactions.

Battleborn - 4 player - May
Metacritic - 69 | video ]
From the makers of Borderlands, its a 1st person PvE MOBA like game with a SP/coop story.


The Division - 4 player - March
Metacritic - 79 ]
Tom Clancy's open-world RPG shooter oriented around a pandemic in New York.


Killing Floor 2 - 6 player
Metacritic - 75 ]
Coop wave battles, with better graphics & more gore.  More sci-fi guns.

Shadow Warrior 2 - 4 player
Metacritic - 78 ]
I didn't play the original, but it looks a heck of a lot like a Painkiller game.

Homefront: The Revolution - 4 player
Metacritic - 54 ] 
A separate set of missions, separate from single player story. Picking from classes with different abilities, following little stories.

Gears of War 4 - 2 player
Metacritic - 86 ]
Action shooter bromance returns to PC. Oddly, coop is the big selling point for this series.

Space Hulk: Deathwing - 4 player
Metacritic - 58 ] 
Takes the Space Hulk concept of space marines wondering in a gothic space ships shooting space bugs, ala 1st person l4d.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - 2 player
Metacritic - 86 ]
DLC adds survival mode

RPG


Grim Dawn - aRPG
Metacritic - 83 ]
In developmeny forever, this will be released this year.

Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear - RPG - 6 player - Q1
Metacritic - 77 ]
An expansion for the Enhanced Baldurs Gate, takes place between 1 and 2 with option to carry over players from v1.ED.  25 hours of gameplay.

Moon Hunters - aRPG 4 player - Jan 2016
Metacritic - 62 ]
Procedurally generated pixalated Diablo clone.


Strategy

RollerCoaster Tycoon: World - 2 player - Q2
Metacritic - 43 ] 
Build a theme park with a friend. Details limited.

Plague Inc: Evolved
Metacritic - 80 ]
Work together as the Plague to wipe out humanity

Thea: The Awakening - 2 player
Metacritic - 73 ]
2015 game that recently added coop to the non-linear campaign.  A survival 4X RPG roguelike with crafting and card combat

Action


Enter The Gungeon - aRPG/shooter - 2 player
Cute cartoony Isometric shooty fest.  Second player limited to a single character.
Metacritic - 84 ]

Ultimate Alliance 2
BAD
Older Marvel superhero game that never made it to the PC.  Port has been reported a down right the worst in recent memory.

Super Dungeon Bros - Action
BAD
Looks like a fantasy version of BroForce.  Cross Device gameplay (Xbox & PC)

Cobalt - platformer - 2 player
Metacritic - 69 ]
Notable as its from Mojang

Ghostbusters
Metacritic - 38 ] 
Isometric shooter takes place after the new movies.

Necropolis - 4 player
[ Metacritic - 59 | video ]
Rouglelike dungeon crawler made by the Shadowrun Devs.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutants in Manhattan - 4 player
Metacritic - 51 ] 
Continuing from the success of the retro transformers game using cell shading; We get a full campaign of TMNT as a throwback to the old coop arcade era.


Simulator


Trackmania Turbo - Driving Arcade - 2 player - Q1
Metacritic - 79 ]
2 players control same car.  Unclear if this is online or local only coop.

Survival

Don't Starve Together - Survival 4 player
Metacritic - 83 ]
Due to popular demand, developers add coop to the Don't Starve license.

Congo - Survival - 4 player
[ no review | video ]
Isometric survival game where you and friends scavenge for stuff in the jungle, fighting off demons that hate the light.

In the 2015 coop summary, I mentioned coop gaming was slipping into a slouch.  For 2016, the slip has become a landslide. AAA play it safe with well worked formulas (such as Gears of War 4, Grim Dawn, Baldur’s Gate expansion);  other AAA tack on Coop to a already srtong franchise (Tomb Raider); while the indies tire the field with 8 bit mundane crap.  Speaking of tired, I am damn tired of games stuck in early access, to the point I pulled about 10 of them from the list.  I'm done waiting one more year for these unfinished games that can not commit to a deadline. Needless to say, there was not much to get excited over coop gaming in 2016.  Hopefully this can only mean that we'll have less games, but of better quality for 2017.

9 Shooters avg 74.  A 2 point decrease, continuing the slide down.
4 RPGs, avg 70.  Breaks even with last year.
3 strategies, avg 65.  A drop of 15.

The Winners

Don't Starve Together
Indie dev Klei does the survival PvE genera proper.  Instead of tacking on a coop component that you could try and  play friendly, Don't Starve Together reinvents the original Don't Starve with strictly coop in mind.  The result, is a well thought out, clean, and wonderfully original feel to an otherwise washed out field of all the same.  It great to see that something that came by popular demand by their fans, were given such a warm response instead of a modded experience.  The other plus, the game gets regular enhancements after launch.

Plague Inc: Evolved
Running with the successes of the tablet game, Plague Inc for PC adds coop, where 2 viruses can work together to wipe out humanity.  Game adds additional gameplay elements to offset the extra player

Notables

Local Coop
When I started these lists, I had a strict online coop only requirement.  In part it was to exclude all those damn Lego games and help keep the list short.  The down side, I've missed out on some fantastic coop experiences.  True, couch coop tend to be platformers, but the genera has seen some really great content recently; thanks in part to indie developers.   Games like Child of Light, Never Alone, and Salt and Sanctuary are all artistic expressions of entertainment with all unique takes on the same genera.  Looking forward to more original local coop experiences.


The Losers

Nostalgic games based on movies
Ghostbusters - Ultimate Alliance 2
Crappy nostalgic movies will always make for crappy games.  Some place, some where, there is an executive that thinks that if you combine all that the right check boxes, such as a great IP , and coop, and explosion;. then you'll get a fantastic game.  Nope, you just get metacritc scores under 60.

EA Games - Gears of War 4
EA's insistance to keep games out of Steam, has left PC gamers wondering if the game ever came out.  Gear's was a fun series, and its great it returned to the PC.  But who knew?  Because it never showed up on the most popular PC marketplace.

2015 Coop Summary

While 2014 was a stellar year for coop gaming, 2015 slipped into a slouch.  Many games were criticized heavily for failing to innovate, move a series forward, and provide sufficient content with the time of release (blame DLC folks).   An amazing 35 games were defaulted to 2016 mostly due to games stuck in early access hell.  Indie games are now set to a higher level of expectations, while money-grabs become apparent from both indie and established developers.

For the full 2015 List

8 shooter avg rating 76.  A 1 point decrease from 2014.
7 rpgs avg rating 62.  A significant drop, with a 15 rank dragging it down; 70 if omitting.
3 strategies, 80 average; an increase of 10.


The Winners:

Grand Theft Auto V  - The wait for PC gamers is unfortunate, but was was well worth it, as GTA delivers a very new enhanced experience to PC gamers and a next gen release for consoles.  PC gamers get to bypass all the coop woes of the original release and receive a fuller experience; avoiding the common complaint among games these days.  The result is an amazing sandbox coop experience with multiple gaming options and  a huge modding community to shake up the core ideas.  Its everything one can expect for coop gamers looking for a great sandbox experience.

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes - This game gets the surprise of the year award as it encourages communication & teamwork while delivering a steady amount of pressure.  The game feels more like a college psych test, but as long as its entertaining, it'll get my vote.  A great party game.

Notable mentions:

Starcraft 2:Legacy of the Void - The final release of Starcraft 2 gets a notable mention for finally giving RTS coop players some attention.  Although not a new idea, this is a first for the Starcraft universe, breaking coop players out of the skirmish against AI setting into real campaigns and hero upgrades.

Rainbow 6 Siege - was a mixed bag.  It suffered from the shallow experience themed complaint, however it did provide a solid experience for what it delivered.  If anything it may have given credit for a new SWAT game which is really the game FPS coop players would like to see.

Warhammer: End Times - Vermintide - This game channels the short intensity of Left 4 Dead series and places it in the Fantasy Warhammer universe.  Though panned as just another coop shooter with some license attached; whats notable is that it received the highest rating for all the coop shooters.  Shortcomings aside, it sounds like the devs continue to support the game after release.

The Losers:

Early Access
Early access is the practice of releasing a release candidate, unfinished product for a fee (often full price) to the Steam Store.  Although there are a few exceptions to this; early access is the worst thing we have seen in the industry since DLCs.  35 games on the coop list had to be shifted to 2016, many of which were shifted from the 2014 list.  Its becoming a blatant money grab; where a developer has no accountability for the quality of their product.  Early access saturates the market with mediocre, buggy PC stereotypes.

Trine 3 - Trine was one of those indie success stories a few years back delivering an awesome coop platforming experience.  With its 3rd release though it became clear the developers had run dry of ideas and motivation; resulting in falling from the graces of its fanbase.

Overlord: Fellowship of Evil - In all my years of writing these articles, I have never seen a 15 metacritic rating.  And to boot, this was no indie title, but rather makers of the excellent Overlord series.  May this be a lesson, don't expand you IP to a already over saturated aRPG realm when you still have plenty of room to expand and improve your flagship IP.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

The List - November 2015

PC games worthy of mention for this month, ordered by my interest. (Monthly US releases are only estimated, game may end up all hype and really suck).  

After a longer then usual mull in summer gaming; we jump right into the heart of Christmas season.

Fallout 4 - RPG
All new stories and graphics with some tweaks to leveling.  Just enough changes to be new, while little enough to wreck the formula.



StarWars: Battlefront - Online Shooter
Classic era Star Wars rolled into the usual Battlefield like gameplay.

Age of Empires II HD: The African Kingdoms Expansion - RTS
All new races for the ancient AoE2 license.

Call of Duty: Black ops 3 - shooter
The Crysis like power suit finds its way to the Call of Duty series.  Expect the usual big budget elements to the game, with some additional coop campaign elements.