Dead Space 3 Micro-Transactions Thwarted by Exploit

February 7, 2013 -

Update: A representative from Electronic Arts clarified with us that the resource-earning mechanic in our story is not some sort of glitch or exploit, and therefore they have no plans to issue a patch to fix "the problem." From the EA representative:

3 comments | Read more

Unitology in Dead Space Series Not a Jab at Scientology, Says Visceral

February 3, 2011 -

Did Visceral Games take a quiet shot at Scientology, or is the Dead Space series religion Unitology just a fake religion that only-coincidently sounds like the religion created by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard? There has been a lot of speculation about Unitology in the community, but Visceral Game's Creative Director, Wright Bagwell, says the parallels between the two are simply a coincidence.

Speaking to MTV Multiplayer, Bagwell described Unitology as a religion that was intended to represent what happens when a religion and its followers become fanatical in their beliefs.

9 comments | Read more

Editorial: Your Mom Hates Dead Space 2, But Who Cares?

February 3, 2011 -

In an editorial entitled "Your mom will hate 'Dead Space 2,' but does anyone care?," writer Tim Dunn ponders why EA's marketing department has used a technique usually used for teens and children for a mature rated game. Further, he wonders why EA would even think about using such a campaign when the Supreme Court is hearing a case about keeping ultra violent video games out of the hands of you children.

While his comments might seems a little overblown, he points out some valid concerns as well. He mentions mature games such as Heavy Rain and Red Dead Redemption, which carry a mature rating because they are telling stories and tackling topics that are geared towards adults. The Dead Space 2 campaign plays on "juvenile notions of maturity gamers have worked hard to change." In other words, the marketing for the game takes that fight a step back.

Here is more from Dunn:

EA: Dead Space Wasn't Banned in Germany, After All

December 17, 2008 -

From the Told Ya So Dept:

In the January issue of Game Informer there is an interview with EA's Glen Schofield, executive producer of Dead Space. Since the game shipped, Schofield has been upped to general manager of EA Redwood Shores.

The interview is worth reading for a couple of reasons. First, because Dead Space is a terrific game (although not selling especially well, unfortunately).

But what really caught our eye were Schofield's comments regarding supposed censorship of the game. GamePolitics readers may recall that we created a bit of a flap in September by calling B.S. on an EA community manager's claim that Dead Space had been banned in Germany, Japan and China (see: Dead Space Ban in Three Countries? We're Not Buying It).

That was then. This is now. Here's what Schofield told GI:

Game Informer: You had some problems with the game being banned in Germany, Japan and Korea.

Schofield: Germany finally came around, because the bottom line is that the take it into a whole context... At the end of the day, Germany said they would take the game untouched, which is fantastic. I was very surprised with Japan. In finding out exactly the reasons why, it kind of makes sense. There is a cultural difference dealing with the dead. They just had something that we could not overcome and we didn't want to compromise the game. Hell, [Takashi] Miike is the king of horror over there, and if you watch any of his films they are frickin' insane. So, for us to get banned, I was a bit surprised.

GP: So, as we speculated in September, there was never a Dead Space ban in Germany. As to the other countries, EA doesn't even sell boxed product in China due to piracy concerns. Note that the original EA claim involving China somehow morphed into a Korean ban, with no explanation. And, unfortunately, Schofield doesn't address Korea (or China) in his response to Game Informer's question.

Regarding Japan, as we reported in September, EA only sells PC titles there, not console games. There is a PC version of Dead Space, of course, so a Japanese ban is theoretically possible. But we question Schofield's sketchy explanation of "a cultural difference dealing with the dead." Lotsa dead people in the Resident Evil series, after all. Unfortunately, Game Informer did not push Schofield to elaborate.

What's most troubling in all of this is the suspicion that EA may have leaked the three-country ban rumor simply to create some pre-release buzz around Dead Space. As I have noted before, from his opening remarks at E3, Schofield hyped the game's level of violence. Sitting in the cheap seats, it seemed like the touting of the blood and gore was part of the Dead Space marketing plan. That's EA's choice, of course, and Dead Space surely wouldn't be the first game sold that way. But if the publisher - or its minions - then proceeded to put out an apocryphal story that the game had been banned, that's something entirely different. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in September, a pair of in-the-know types at EA failed to respond to my requests for clarification on the supposed Dead Space censorship.

Three months later we find out that there was no German ban, Schofield doesn't address China/Korea at all, and the explanation for the alleged Japanese ban doesn't make a great deal of sense. What's a newsie to think?

Hey, don't get me wrong. Dead Space is a good game. It's the media manipulation expansion pack that we could do without.

UPDATE: In comments to this story, GP reader fug4z1 writes that Dead Space is not banned in Japan, either:

Just want to say that from personal experience, there was no Dead Space ban whatsoever in Japan, either official or "indirect" due to refusal to rate the game or whatever; both console and PC versions could be found in shops [in Akihabara, Tokyo] on the release day. There were even displays where you could play the game, both in-store and also just outside the store on the street (so potentially children could get their hands on this murder simulator -- the horror the horror, won't someone think of them etc). My PC version is labeled as "Asia-Pacific Edition" and there is no rating label or icons anywhere on the box. Last week in one of the imported game shops [again in Akiba] I noticed a printed [in English] label that was added on the display copy on the shelf, warning about the violence and blood in the game etc -- the game is still on sale as before. (Yawn.) By the way, on the weekend of the release, the game was even sold out in one of the shops. Now you can find it all over.

15 comments

TIME Names Top 10 Video Games of 2008

December 8, 2008 -

TIME has cranked out a feature which serves up Top 10 lists for just about everything you can think of (breakups, foot trends, open mic moments), including video games.

Lev Grossman penned TIME's list, which starts with GTA IV and ends with Spore. Here's what Grossman had to say about R*'s controversial, runaway hit:

It's ironic that GTA became a football in the debate over sex and violence in video games, because where it belongs is in the debate over whether video games count as art... It's a grade-A shoot-'em-up that doubles as an interactive novel and triples as a sly critique of American consumer culture.

Grossman's entire Top 10 list follows:

  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Braid (video at left)
  • Little Big Planet
  • Rock Band 2
  • Gears of War 2
  • Dead Space
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Hunted Forever (Flash)
  • Fieldrunners (iPhone app)
  • Spore
32 comments

EA: Dead Space Has Won "Over 11" Awards

October 14, 2008 -

Dead Space, EA's survival-horror game set in space, is launching today.

As GamePolitics has reported in the past, the game may or may not have been banned in Japan, Germany, China and South Korea (take your pick, since EA has chosen not to clarify this issue).

We note the following line from today's press release (full text after the jump):

The game has won over 11 awards...

So, 12 then? In that case, may I suggest that "a dozen awards" would sound more impressive? If the number is 13 or 14, "more than a dozen" would sound even better. 11 is just such an odd point to make that demarcation. Maybe I'm nitpicking, but I tend to do that more than 4 times per day.

GP: In regard to Dead Space, the whole was it or wasn't it banned situation was odd, to say the least. While my suspicion was - and is - that the undocumented "bannings" were hype, the game seems to be scoring well in reviews. GameSpot, for instance, gave the 360 version a 9.0, and EA lists glowing reviews from Game Informer and GamePro in its press release.

22 comments | Read more

A Week Later, Dead Space Ban Situation as Clear as Mud

September 12, 2008 -

It's been more than a week since the first wave of reports that Dead Space had been banned in Japan, China and Germany hit the web, yet publisher Electronic Arts has failed to provide a definitive answer as to exactly what's going on with the supposed censorship of the game.

That's unfortunate, since EA itself launched the story. The original report was set in motion by a pair of EA community managers for the sci-fi survival-horror game. Here at GamePolitics I have pointed out a number of reasons why the original ban report seemed questionable.

GameCyte now has a post in which Dead Space executive producer Glen Schofield (see him hyping the game's violence level at E3) says that the game has indeed been banned in Japan and "hints at difficulties in Germany and Korea as well..."

With all due respect to Schofield, I still have difficulty believing that the game has been banned in Japan, home of Resident Evil. I'd like to see an official announcement from EA and/or CERO, the Japanese rating organization. Moreover, as GP reported earlier this week, EA doesn't distribute console games in Japan, so only the PC version of Dead Space would potentially be at risk of a ban there.

Also in regard to Schofield's comments, what happened to the original claim of a Dead Space ban in China? Schofield doesn't even mention China. As in Japan, EA distributes no console games there, so at worst there might be a ban on the PC version. But we don't know. Does China even have a game content rating board? Doubtful. Previous bans have been handed down by government agencies such as the Ministry of Culture and the State General Administration of Press and Publication.

And now Germany has morphed from a ban to a hint of difficulties? As to Schofield's comment about a potential ban in Korea, that's a completely new one. Here's the quote from Schofield:

Glen Schofield: Australia is getting the full, complete version. No cuts. We’re not softening it for anybody. You know, I think a part of it was – he’s not a killer. He’s killing aliens and that’s why we thought for a while we’d get it through in Germany. And they were like ‘well, the fact that he can get dismembered pretty grotesquely is bad, so…’ We thought it was cool.

 

IGN: And Japan banned it?

 

Glen Schofield: Japan too. Korea thought they would get it, but we haven’t heard back yet.

As I see it, here are the possibilities:

  • Dead Space has been banned in Japan, China & Germany, as per original report
  • Dead Space has been banned in Japan and has "difficulties" in Germany & Korea, as per EA's Glen Schofield
  • Dead Space hasn't been banned anywhere; it's all hype

It's important to remember that EA could clear all of this up with a simple press release. If I spoke Japanese I'd contact CERO myself and ask about the supposed Japanese ban. Any volunteers?

42 comments

Pachter: Rumored Dead Space Ban "No Big Deal"

September 9, 2008 -

When a publicly traded U.S. company experiences what the Securities and Exchange Commission terms an "unscheduled material event" it is required to file a form 8-K in order to alert stockholders and the market at large.

For example, Electronic Arts filed an 8-K just yesterday to inform the market that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was slipping into 2009, with a resultant loss of significant expected 2008 income.

So, if the rumor that EA's upcoming Dead Space has been banned in three markets - China, Japan and Germany - is true, might that not trigger an 8-K disclosure as well? None has been forthcoming so far.

For the answer, GamePolitics turned to financial analyst extraordinaire Michale Pachter (left) of Wedbush-Morgan:

GP: If Dead Space was really banned in three major markets (Japan, China, Germany) as the rumor currently goes, wouldn’t that be a material event that EA would need to disclose to the stock market? Also – does EA sell console games in China? I thought no one did because of piracy issues.

PACHTER: Germany will allow the game with modifications.  Japan and China are essentially closed markets.  So really, no big deal. No consoles in China, yet

GP: Can you elaborate on what you mean by "closed market" in terms of Japan?

PACHTER: EA sells very little there, maybe $50 million per year, mostly PC games. I don't think it is that controversial.  [Dead Space] is a horror game, not the same as Manhunt.  The bans are from the usual suspects, not a big deal

GP: Thanks, Mike.

Although Pachter confirms that there are no console sales in China, Dead Space is scheduled to release on PC, so that's the version which EA would want to market in China and Japan. If the ban is real (still a pretty big "if" at this point), it likely involves the PC flavor of Dead Space in those markets.

Clearly, Pachter does not see this as a significant issue for EA, at least in the financial sense. Bans are always troubling, however, so we eagerly await EA's official word on this.

EA Hyped Dead Space Violence at E3

September 9, 2008 -

While mere gamer mortals wait to see whether the gaming gods at EA will deign to reveal whether or not the rumors that Dead Space has been banned in three countries are true, here's an interesting point.

Hyping the intense violence of Dead Space is clearly a large part of EA's marketing strategy for the game.

EA was upfront about the game's blood and gore factor at its E3 2008 press conference in Los Angeles. Very upfront. Check out G4TV's video feed of the event. Fast foward to 10:45. That's when Dead Space executive producer Glen Schofield walks onstage. Here's what he says about the violence:

For the past two-and-a-half years, my team and I have been creating a game that's a bit of a departure for EA. It's a very M-rated, sci-fi survival-horror game called Dead Space. [crowd cheers] That's what I like to hear...

 

Dead Space is the story of Isaac Clarke... we focused deeply on creating a rich story and pushed EXTREMELY hard on the horror elements. But we also innovated on our main gameplay features such as zero gravity...

 

And our core gameplay mechanic is - strategic dismemberment, which is a clinical term for you have to tear these creatures apart limb-by-limb in order to kill 'em...

Several minutes of game play follow... Schofield returns to the stage at 16:05:

[crowd cheers] ...Thank you. Dead Space will be available on the 360, the PS3 and the PC on October 21st. Now we just showed you some action in our live demo. I'd like to leave you with a gameplay trailer that really sets the mood and tone of Dead Space. This trailer is made with 100% gameplay footage. And I hope you're all over 17 for this one. Thank you... [trailer starts up]

GameStop's product page for Dead Space also hypes the violence. The first two bullet points are:

  • Strategic dismemberment—Shear off limbs with powerful weapons as you carve a bloody path through the alien hordes. Find ways to neutralize attacking enemies effectively or they’ll keep coming at you. When ammo runs low, use telekinesis to pick up objects—even the enemies’ own arms and legs!—and fire them at anything that stands in your way.
  • Terror in the far reaches of space—A blood-curdling interactive horror experience features state-of-the art graphics and effects, a panic-inducing audio system, and a truly frightening atmosphere of death and despair.

So... do rumors of a ban help fuel the marketing of Dead Space as a "bad boy" of EA's gaming stable?

10 comments

Report: Dead Space Team Sticking to 3-Country Ban Claim

September 9, 2008 -

In Saturday's coverage GamePolitics questioned reported claims by a pair of community managers that EA's upcoming Dead Space has been banned in Japan, China and Germany.

Over at Ars Technica, Ben Kuchera writes that a Dead Space team member using the screen name isaacclarke has been insisting via Twitter that the ban is real. Ben posted screenshots of several recent tweets by Isaac, including one entered at 4:20pm PST Sunday:

I just confirmed with upper management that Dead Space is banned in Germany, China and Japan. Not a rumor, folks... It's true.

So, we'll see...

GP: Reader Flowerbed reminds us that "Isaac Clarke" is the name of the protagonist in Dead Space. Thanks, FB...

15 comments

Dead Space Ban in Three Countries? We're Not Buying It

September 6, 2008 -

Yesterday we mentioned a Destructoid report which said that EA's upcoming space-horror-survival title Dead Space had been banned in Germany, Japan and China. Destructoid sourced the info to Dead Space community manager Andrew Green.

Right away, the story didn't pass our smell test:

  • Germany, perhaps. They've been tough on game violence of late. But Japan? The home of Resident Evil?
  • Does EA even distribute console games in China (due to piracy concerns)?
  • No announcements from the individual censorship bodies of the three nations?
  • All three bans come in simultaneously?
  • Also of note, Australia's notoriously censorious OFLC cleared Dead Space with MA15+
  • And the BBFC, which banned Manhunt 2 in the U.K., cleared Dead Space with 18
  • No official press release from EA on the alleged bans?

GP immediately contacted EA, with distinctly unsatisfactory results. The top PR dog didn't respond to our e-mail. Later in the day we tracked down the EA guy who is handling Dead Space PR, and put the question to him in two e-mails and a live phone call. Never got an answer one way or the other. EA doesn't know if one of their high profile titles managed to get banned in three countries? Sorry, not buying that. Or, they know but aren't saying? Unacceptable.

GamePolitics reader Afirejar posted a comment to yesterday's story which argued that the supposed German ban was bogus:

I can confirm for a fact that Dead Space has not been banned in Germany. Under German law it's not possible to ban products before they are actually available. The game isn't out yet, so it can't be banned, it's that simple. It's just not possible under German law.

 

This seems to be nothing more than a marketing stunt, German gaming paper GameStar even has official word from EA, that it's a hoax. The USK ratings process isn't even finished yet.  (Sorry, German only)
 

Later, Videogaming247 cited a German language story by Eurogamer.de, which negates the report of a Dead Space ban in Germany:

Eurogamer.de’s scotched a report that said Dead Space had already been banned in Germany. Basically, it hasn’t.

 

The site’s spoken to EA Germany, and the game is still with the USK [ratings body], apparently, so no one knows yet if there are going to be any restrictions on the horror’s launch.

GP: It's time for EA to put an end to this nonsense. If there is a multi-country ban, gamers deserve to know about it. If there's not, gamers deserve to stop having their chains yanked...

UPDATE: Hey, I want to point out that I'm not faulting Destructoid here. They were not the only outlet reporting this, just the first. If the info is wrong, it seems that it somehow originated with the community managers of Dead Space.

66 comments

Report: Dead Space Banned in Germany, China, Japan

September 5, 2008 -

Citing comments made by a Dead Space community manager, Destructoid reports that EA's upcoming sci-fi horror game has been banned in China, Japan and Germany:

We've also been told by Dead Space community manager Andrew Green that the title has been completely banned from the following countries: Germany, Japan, and China. That's right, there's just too much survival and way too much horror in Dead Space for these countries to handle. No word on whether EA has any plans to alter the game for a future release in those territories.

Oddly enough, in the U.K., the BBFC has rated Dead Space an 18, while quick-to-censor Australia has awarded it an MA15+. We're still checking with the ESRB, but GameStop's website is displaying an "M" on Dead Space packaging.

GP: I'm having a little trouble digesting this one. It's not hard to believe Germany would ban Dead Space, as they have been fairly quick on the censorship trigger of late. However, given that Japan is the home of Resident Evil, a ban on a survival horror game would be surprising. Also, I'm not even certain that EA distributes console titles in China, due to the piracy issues there. We have a request in to EA to confirm...

59 comments

Take Two Fires Back at EA

February 24, 2008 -

It looks as if this fight could get ugly... 

GamePolitics has just received a press release from Take Two Interactive in response to Electronic Arts' hostile takeover bid.

In the release, the Take Two board confirms EA's offer and pronounces it "inadequate in multiple respects and not in the best interests of Take-Two’s stockholders." From the release:
 

After careful evaluation, the Board has determined that EA's proposal substantially undervalues Take-Two’s robust and enviable stable of game franchises, exceptional creative talent and strong consumer loyalty. 

We believe EA's unsolicited offer is highly opportunistic and is attempting to take advantage of our upcoming release of Grand Theft Auto IV, one of the most valuable and durable franchises in the industry.


Take Two Executive Chairman Strauss Zelnick is quoted:
 

Electronic Arts’ proposal provides insufficient value to our shareholders and comes at absolutely the wrong time... Thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our creative and business teams, Take-Two has made enormous strides in the past 10 months toward our common goal of being the most creative, innovative and efficient company in our industry...

Given the great importance of the Grand Theft Auto IV launch to the value of Take-Two, the Board has determined that the only prudent and responsible course for our Company and its stockholders is to defer these discussions until immediately after Grand Theft Auto IV is released. 

Therefore, we offered to initiate discussions with EA on April 30th, 2008 (the day after Grand Theft Auto IV is scheduled to release).  We believe this offer demonstrated our commitment to pursuing all avenues to maximize stockholder value, while we believe that EA’s refusal to entertain this path is evidence of their desire to acquire Take-Two at a significant discount, whereas we believe this value rightly belongs to our stockholders.


Take Two also sent GamePolitics the text of a series of letters between Zelnick and EA CEO John Riccitiello:

 
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MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
NeenekoAh yes, because by building something nice they were just asking for people to come push them out. Consequences are protested all the time when other people are implementing them.04/17/2014 - 2:06pm
Matthew Wilsonok than they should not protest when the consequences of that choice occur.04/17/2014 - 1:06pm
NeenekoIf people want tall buildings, plenty of other cities with them. Part of freedom and markets is communities deciding what they do and do not want built in their collective space.04/17/2014 - 12:55pm
Sora-ChanI realize that they have ways getting around it, but one reason might be due to earthquakes.04/17/2014 - 4:42am
Matthew WilsonSF is a tech/ economic/ trade center it should be mostly tail building. this whole problem is because of the lack of tail buildings. How would having tail apartment buildings destroy SF? having tail buildings has not runed other cities around the US/world04/16/2014 - 10:51pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the issue is you can not build upwards anywhere in SF at the moment, and no you would not. You would bring prices to where they should have been before the market distortion. those prices are not economic or socially healthy.04/16/2014 - 10:46pm
ZippyDSMleeYou still wind up pushing people out of the non high rise aeras but tis least damage you can do all things considered.04/16/2014 - 10:26pm
ZippyDSMleeANd by mindlessly building upward you make it like every place else hurting property prices,ect,ect. You'll have to slowly segment the region into aeras where you will never build upward then alow some aeras to build upward.04/16/2014 - 10:25pm
 

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