Despite some controversy associated with Areal, a spiritual successor of sorts to the STALKER series, the Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign from West Games is a success, raising $64,291 with three days to go. West Games was asking for $50,000 initially and there was some doubt that it would raise it.
A Russian hacking group claimed responsibility for a recent attack on technology news site CNET. The group claimed that it stole usernames, encrypted passwords and emails for more than one million users. CNET said a representative from the group - which calls itself 'w0rm' - informed it about the hack via a Twitter conversation.
Russia's ratings agency that handles video games has given The Sims 4 an 18+ age rating due to the inclusion of same-sex relationships. The game violates a law that protects children from "information harmful to their health and development."
The Sims Russia Twitter account announced earlier this week that the game had earned the restrictive rating. Previous Sims games released in the region have all been rated T (Teen) or 12+ but a law passed in 2010 is the reason for the more restrictive rating.
The Voice of Russia reports that Russia may adopt stricter age restrictions for videogames and websites soon. One of the biggest online companies in the region, Mail.Ru, has already begun labeling its games voluntarily. The company has already labeled its games with age restrictions on three of its gaming web portals: Games Mail.Ru and Mini-games Mail.Ru as well as the gaming center for its users. The restrictions are based on ratings standards developed by Russian regulators and European counterpart PEGI.
Twenty-three-year-old Robin Ras, a Dutch game developer and owner of GamesOnly.com, has found a unique way of protesting Russian President Vladimir Putin's anti-gay policies. With the Winter Olympics in full swing at Sochi, Ras thought the best way to make a statement about the country's deplorable treatment of gays was to create a protest game.
On this week's show, hosts Andrew Eisen and E. Zachary Knight talk about last week's poll about the importance of Metacritic, critics not playing Beyond: Two Souls all the way to the end before writing a negative review, GOG.com giving way free games to furloughed government workers, Russia wanting more patriotic games, and a whole lot more. Download Episode 73 now: SuperPAC Episode 73 (1 hour, 3 minutes) 29.1 MB.
On August 1 Russia began using a new law designed to reduce online copyright infringement. Many called it Russia's version of SOPA, but the system is proving to be less draconian than many had first anticipated. The goal of the new law is to identify and block (at the ISP level) sites online that traffic in copyrighted material online such as movies, TV shows, music, video games, and more. As of this Thursday the system will have been in effect for three weeks, but the results might be considered surprising.
Russian distributor 1C-SoftClub was forced to halt sales of the WWII real-time strategy game Company of Heroes 2 after consumers complained about the portrayal of Russian forces in the game. After numerous player complaints about Russian forces being portrayed as having a ruthless leadership and taking liberties with history, the distributor decided to stop shipping the game to retailers, and reached out to publisher Sega. Sega said that it was looking into these concerns.
A video game recently debuted (July 11) at a Russian Orthodox youth festival in Moscow that encouraged players to kill members of the feminist punk-rock collective Pussy Riot. The game, "Don't Let Pussy Riot Into The Cathedral," lets players use an Orthodox cross to kill the women before they enter a domed white church. Throughout the game, Pussy Riot's "Punk Prayer For Putin," which was performed in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012 to protest the all powerful Russian leader, plays in the background.
Google and Russia's biggest search engine Yandex are voicing their opposition to a new bill that would block sites accused of hosting (in some way) copyrighted material. The new bill, which has already passed Russia's State Duma, is being called Russia's version of the Stop Online Piracy Act. The bill gives intellectual property holders the ability to sue a web site that they claim is hosting copyrighted materials. The accused site then has 72 hours to remove the offending material (without the option of reviewing the claim).
Security research firm Lookout has identified 32 separate apps on Google Play for Android devices that contain malware called BadNews, according to this BBC report. The BadNews malware has been known to steal cash by racking up charges from sending premium rate text messages. Lookout says that the malware can hide on a user's phone for weeks before being detected. As a general rule the BadNews malware targets Android phone owners in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and other countries in eastern Europe.
Confusion abounds on just who owns the right to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game franchise after BitComposer (who published the third title in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series Call of Pripyet), announced that it had acquired the license to the game franchise. The deal gives BitComposer exclusive worldwide rights to all video games carrying the STALKER name... or does it? There's some question as to whether the company actually owns the rights to the game, which was based loosely on the book series Roadside Picnic, or just the books.
While some hay is being made over the United Nations' International Telecommunication Union meeting in Dubai in December, most believe it is much ado about nothing. The way the Internet is regulated internationally will face a review in December, but the United States is already pointing out a number of changes that it will absolutely not allow under any circumstances. The regulations under review are from 1988.
According to a new report from research firm DFC Intelligence, the Russian game market will reach $1.5 billion by 2016. The data comes from a new report on what the firm calls "the fastest growing PC online market." According to the report, "The Game Market in Russia," the market for Russian games was about $500 million in 2011, and is expected to grow at an annual rate of about 15 percent to $1.5 billion by 2016. This growth, they say, is being driven by the free-to-play model.
A state-sponsored Russian news program does its best to tie a recent terrorist attack to the "No Russian" level in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The Domodedovo Airport in Moscow was the scene of a suicide bombing attack this week that killed dozens of people and injured nearly 200. Looking for the cause of the bombing, Russia Today goes out of its way to blame Activision's Modern Warfare 2 for the actions of the terrorists.
While the report does not emphatically blame Modern Warfare 2 as the cause, reports for the news outlet examine the scenes from the "No Russian" mission and try to draw some parallels to the "all-to-real" violence this week. The report talks about the "American-made" game, its popularity and sales figures and the similarities to the events.
Russia's leading Internet companies are asking the government to target users committing piracy and not the providers that give them the bandwidth or services. Five companies including Yandex and Google Russia, believe that individuals should "take more responsibility for what they are uploading" and ultimately be held responsible for it. Companies say that monitoring everything that is uploaded is an impossible task. While the companies are talking about piracy, what they really mean is users sharing content that might violate a copyright like videos uploaded to YouTube.
"The problem of responsibility for sharing copyrighted content isn't new," Ekaterina Fadeeva, director of Yandex.ru's legal department, told RT. "As it hasn't been decided on the legislative level, the courts have become decisive in such cases. But that's not the right path."
According to Konstantin Popov of the Russian Association of Developers of Interactive Technology (RADIT), the Russian game industry reached $820 million last year, despite a 40 percent decline in its most profitable sector - PC games he also says that his organization is working with the Russian government to get game makers incentives and inclusion in a new tech-focused development in Moscow.
Speaking in Cologne, Germany RADIT's Konstantin Popov said that Russian developers are slowly moving away from the traditional focus on PC games because other sectors are picking up. That PC games market had declined by 40 percent, while consoles rose by 15 percent, casual by 30 percent and mobile by 10 percent. Online gaming seemed to get the biggest bump in 2009, growing by some 70 percent. Interestingly retail sales and PC games remain the focus despite changes in sales across different platforms. Traditional Brick and mortar sales accounted for $500 million of the $820 million market value, while PC games still constitute 80 percent of the market.
The Russian government has drafted a commercially successful local game developer in order to create videogames that would promote patriotism and serve up the “historic truth” of the country’s past endeavors.
Russia’s Communications ministry and 1C, developer of games such as IL-2 Sturmovik and Red Orchestra, are already working on six flight simulator games, according to Russian website RiaNovosti. The main goal of the games would be to “to create low-cost educational and professional simulators for pilots, promote Russian information technology abroad, and increase Russia's hi-tech exports.”
A budget of 720.0 million rubles (approximately $24.0 million U.S.) would be required to back the full project, of which the government would contribute 500.0 million rubles (approximately $16.6 million U.S.) and 1C 200.0 million rubles (approximately $6.7 million U.S.). The remaining 20.0 million rubles would come from “the government of Russia's Khanty-Mansiysk region.”
A terrible story emerging from Russia details the story of a 14-year old boy reacting to having his videogame privileges revoked by killing his sleeping father with two blows to the head from a sledge hammer.
The events took place in the Russian town of Tuapse just after midnight on April 12, reports a story on News.com.au. The boy’s parents had taken his keyboard away from him in order to curb his computer game playing, but after the killing, “the boy's frightened mother gave him the keyboard back and the boy played computer games for several more hours until he fell asleep.”
Once the boy fell asleep, his mother called relatives, who, in turn, called police. The boy is old enough to be charged with murder under Russian law.
|Via Kotaku, Thanks Andrew|
The Russian government is apparently not a fan of how the country is represented in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, as all copies of the console version of the game have been recalled from stores.
Infinity Ward has also released a patch for the Russian PC version of the game which will remove the “airport” mission from the game entirely reports HellForge, citing a Russian gaming website. The mission in question features a civilian slaughter carried out at the behest of a Russian terrorist named Makarov.
Re-edited console versions of the game, once given the go ahead by Russian censors, could be introduced to stores within a month.
If you're into the back-in-the-day arcade scene, Offworld has a nice report on the Soviet Arcade Games Museum located at Moscow State Technical University:
Art Lebedev's design studio... has given the museum a full website makeover, complete with a growing collection of its games recreated and playable online.
Of the collection, the most playable is Sea Battle (...dig the fantastically ambient faint whirr of its machinery as you play, and its rustically smudged viewfinder), but there's also the Street Racer-esque game Magistral... [and others]
The only thing it currently lacks is a full English translation... but presumably they're being added over time, as the museum itself continues to restore and collect more historical information on each game...
GP: I took the virtual version of Sea Battle out for a spin. It was very much like a torpedo game that I recall playing on the boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ as a kid. The online periscope view wasn't quite right, but that can probably be tweeked.
THANKS TO: Jake of 8bitjoystick for the tip!
On Wednesday game publishers' lobbying group ESA issued a press release praising members of the bipartisan Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus for singling out Spain, Canada, Mexico, Russia and China as anti-piracy priorities for 2009.
ESA CEO Michael Gallagher praised the IAPC in a press release:
We thank the Caucus for this year issuing a challenge to Canada and Mexico to pass additional legislative protections – such as prohibitions on ‘mod chips’ and other circumvention devices that are used to play pirated games – and to follow through with greater enforcement and border controls.
We also thank the Caucus for highlighting the severe problems that exist for our industry and other copyright industries in Spain. Online and peer-to-peer piracy are rampant and virtually unchecked in Spain and in other major European markets...
But Nick Farrell of the U.K.-based Inquirer, doesn't think much of the caucus, implying that the senators and representatives on the IAPC have been lobbied by the RIAA and other IP rights holders. Farrell writes:
The RIAA has got its tame politicians in the US congress to rail at other nations that don't hold such a jack-booted attitude toward copyright infringement as the Land of the Free...
[IAPC] singled out Baidu, China's largest Internet search engine, as being "responsible for the vast majority of illegal music downloading in China." That's interesting, because Baidu does the same thing as Google which, as a powerful US company, the music industry has not dared to denounce...
It seems almost as though the entertainment mafiaa would like the US to mount a cross-border raid into Canada over its perceived lack of draconian copyright enforcement and wants the US to treat its NATO ally Spain as a pariah for having the temerity to say that peer-to-peer file sharing over the Internet isn't a crime.
Moscow-based 1C (IL-2 Sturmovik, Theater of War) is holding a press event in San Francisco next month - at the Russian Consulate.
The news arrived this morning by way of a save-the-date e-mail. Unfortunately, I can't attend. But it would be fascinating to check the consulate out and maybe slip away from the game previews and swipe a few secrets.
The invite promises "authentic Russian cuisine and Vodka all night long." With so much vodka, how are the game journalists supposed to remember the titles they've been shown?
It's bad enough that rogue CIA agent Harold Nicholson (left) sold out his country for money. But it's simply unconscionable that Nicholson dragged his son into his traitorous world.
The New York Times reports that the FBI has charged Nicholson and his 24-year-old son Nathan with espionage.
From his jail cell, the elder Nicholson allegedly recruited his son to make contact with his former Russian handlers:
Prosecutors said Nathan Nicholson, a former Army paratrooper, had returned from his visits with the Russians with at least $35,000 in cash, some of it in a PlayStation video game case.
The money was intended in part to settle a “pension” that Harold Nicholson said was owed him from his days as a C.I.A. spy for the Russians before his arrest in 1996, the prosecutors said.
While the traditional video game industry view portrays game software pirates as criminals, Jason Holtman of Valve has a different view.
Speaking this week at the Game Business Law Summit at Southern Methodist University Law School, Holtman described pirates as potential customers.
GameDaily reports on Holtman's remarks:
There's a big business feeling that there's piracy. [But the truth is] Pirates are underserved customers. .. When you think about it that way, you think, 'Oh my gosh, I can do some interesting things and make some interesting money off of it.'
[At Valve] we take all of our games day-and-date to Russia. The reason people pirated things in Russia is because Russians are reading magazines and watching television -- they say 'Man, I want to play that game so bad,' but the publishers respond 'you can play that game in six months...maybe.'
We found that our piracy rates dropped off significantly [by releasing in Russia]... [There are] tons of undiscovered customers...