Steam remains a player in the age of the Windows Store

Age of Empires 2 HD edition announced, will Rome onto Steam next month

Microsoft has announced Age of Empires 2 HD Edition, a re-release of the historic RTS exclusively for Steam.

The new version is due to launch worldwide on 9th April.

aoe2hd

Microsoft is going to be releasing a remastered Age of Empires 2 exclusively for Windows through Valve’s Steam distribution platform. For all of Gabe Newell’s recent pandering that Microsoft is moving in the wrong direction with Windows 8, Microsoft has not decided to make the upcoming re-release exclusive to the Windows Store on Windows 8. In fact, the company has even opted to replace their own Games for Windows technology with Steamworks integration.

What the next generation of video games needs to succeed

playstation 4 controller

Clifford Unchained – 4th and Inches for Sony

My biggest thing about this “Next Next Gen” is that the biggest winner will be the one who has several things going for them:

  • The games. It’s all about the games.
  • The ecosystem. Apple knows that Itunes and the App store are a HUGE factor in their success.
  • The ability to remain adaptable in a fast moving world. Fast title updates from developers. The “Minecraft test.” If the hardware is great and the system sound then the biggest deciding factor will be how much each console creator allows the community to take over in an organic fashion. It sounds like the Sharing feature is a great step. The next one? Indie games, mods, user levels…you know, the things that the PC is so darned good at.

This is exactly how the next generation console war will be won. Consoles can no longer rely solely on their first and third party games to “win the war.” Robust game libraries are a must, of course, but they must be combined with robust media ecosystems and more PC-like interaction models. Sony is certainly attempting to do this with the PlayStation 4.

Take the Xbox 360, which has remained the best selling console on a month-to-month basis for well over a year now. The Xbox is more than just a game console. It is a brand associated with media, from music to movies to games. Games and the operating system are updated on a frequent basis, in a fashion not so dissimilar from the PC updates consumers have come to expect. As a result of this evolution of the Xbox, Microsoft stands on a much stronger foundation than its competitors moving into the next generation.

Cliff Bleszinski on microtransactions

Clifford Unchained – Nickels, dimes, and quarters.

If you don’t like EA, don’t buy their games. If you don’t like their microtransactions, don’t spend money on them. It’s that simple. EA has many smart people working for them (Hi, Frank, JR, and Patrick!) and they wouldn’t attempt these things if they didn’t work. Turns out, they do. I assure you there are teams of analysts studying the numbers behind consumer behavior over there that are studying how you, the gamer, spends his hard earned cash.

If you’re currently raging about this on GAF, or on the IGN forums, or on Gamespot, guess what? You’re the vocal minority. Your average guy that buys just Madden and GTA every year doesn’t know, nor does he care. He has no problem throwing a few bucks more at a game because, hey, why not?

I’ve been making this very argument in support of free-to-play games and microtransactions from the very beginning. The proliferation of free-to-play games, post-release DLC and microtransactions across a wide swath of genres and franchises isn’t just a coincidence. This proliferation occurred because the model works.

Free-to-play games aren’t free-to-make. If gamers want  more quality free-to-play titles like League of Legends and Team Fortress 2, some gamers will have to ultimately dole out cash to ensure that happens.