Warhammer Online – last month and a half-Play for FREE!

The Ancient Gaming Noob

I mentioned previously that EA has announced Warhammer Online will be closing down on December 18th of this year.

As part of the run up (or down) to that terminal date, the WAR team has convinced somebody at EA to allow them to let everybody play for free for the last month and a half.  And by “everybody,” they mean everybody who ever had an account in good standing, which I gather meant that you were a paid subscriber.  From the official site:

A Parting Gift
Posted by From the Devs | 2013 Nov 02 04:00 -0400 GMT

Greetings Warhammer players,

Effective immediately we will be turning off the ability to apply one month subscriptions and game time codes to Warhammer Online accounts and removing the ability to open new Warhammer Online accounts.

To give Warhammer Online a proper sendoff we are opening the game to anyone free of…

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EA on Favoring the Xbox One Over PS4: “I’m Sure You’ll See” Programs That “Make Things Much More Balanced”


EA Labels President Frank Gibeau had already tackled the notion that the company is favoring the Xbox One over the PlayStation 4 by saying that they are “platform agnostic” and “we did tactical deals with both Sony and Microsoft throughout [the PS3/Xbox 360 generation].

In the newest issue of Edge Magazine, the subject of the Xbox One FIFA bundle and favoritism was brought up yet again, with Gibeau saying in response, “We’re not tilting Microsoft’s way, we are firm long-term supporters of Sony. I’m sure you’ll see tactical programs between us and Sony in the future that we haven’t announced, but will make things much more balanced.”

While we wait for those unannounced programs, EA will be taking advantage of the business models the PS4 and Xbox One offer, as Gibeau explained:

It won’t be about DLC any more, but rather subscriptions or F2P mechanics. Fortunately, we’ve already gone down that path with FIFA Ultimate Team, Battlefield Premium and some of the things we’ve done with Mass Effect. It’s not just DLC – we think of these as live services, so we give you microtransactions, free content, episodic stuff.

As for the prospects of a digital-only future, Frank believes it is possible, but “not probable.”



PlayStation 4 launch exclusives

Blacklight: Retribution

Also available on the PC, the free-to-play Blacklight: Retribution is a strong offering, boasting high levels of customisability and solid competitive sci-fi FPS action. The fact that it’s a free-to-play title means that it’s instantly going to appeal to those on a budget who may not be able to buy other games with the system.

FPS titles are always big hitters when it comes to sales, and having solid exclusives is of major importances, especially at launch. Sony has a couple up its sleeve alongside Blacklight, and although Halo is always going to be a dangerous foe when it comes to pulling in the FPS crowd, the PS4 does have some muscle in this regard, and Blacklight is part of that.

DC Universe Online

Already popular on the PS3, the free-to-play DC-themed MMO gives the PS4’s appeal two major boosts. One, it’s an MMO, which the Xbox One currently seems to lack, and two, it requires no PS Plus subscription to play. This unrestricted online play coupled with the allure of the DC license is sure to be a big hit with the masses. What’s more, if you’re an existing player, you can transition seamlessly to the new platform.


A definite crowd pleaser for any launch line up is a good racing title, and DriveClub looks like it’s going to tick all of those boxes. True, it’s going to face some seriously stiff competition from Forza, but until Gran Turismo does the rounds on Sony’s new console, DriveClub will have to fit the bill.

Coming from Evolution Studios, of MotorStorm fame, it stands a very good chance, boasting some great visuals, a promising fusion of arcade and sim play and a very heavy focus on social interaction, one of the key switch of the PS4’s ethos.

What’s more, DriveClub will also be offered to all PS4 owners in a free, limited version of the game that includes a limited selection of cars and tracks. Again, this free-to-play option will endear the PS4 to those on a budget, and DriveClub will be an unusually polished F2P title, being produced as a full, commercial title alongside the free version.

Killzone: Shadow Fall

Arguably the big one when it comes to the PS4’s exclusive launch line up, Killzone: Shadow Fall has a good portion of Sony’s hopes riding on it. It’s basically Sony’s answer to Halo, and it’s already established itself as a gritty, visually stunning FPS with a strong single-player and multiplayer pedigree.

Shadow Fall will no doubt continue this legacy, and with Halo not showing up at the Xbox One’s launch, and Titanfall not due until 2014, it has its best chance yet of pulling in the FPS crowd early on. Sony loyalists may beg to differ, but the series has yet to really match Halo pound for pound, especially in the online arena, but we’ll have to see how Shadow Fall fares. One thing’s for sure, it’s one of the most attractive exclusives on either platform at the moment.


The other commercial big hitter of Sony’s launch line up, Knack is a new IP that features a golem made up of thousands of graphic hardware-challenging tiny bits and pieces. Able to change his shape and gain new abilities, Knack is a gaming hero designed to show off the hardware’s processing capabilities. 3D platformers also go hand-in-hand with console launches and exclusivity, and this makes Knack an intriguing prospect, in the upcoming launch window war.

Sony has a very succesful track record in the genre that Knack resides, with strong existing series like Ratchet and ClankJack and Daxter and Crash Bandicoot, so we expect Knack to easily follow suit.


Developed by Super Stardust HD creator, Housemarque, Resogun is a game some are saying is the most attractive of the PS4 launch line up. It’s an old-school Defender-style shooter that mixes impressive voxel visuals with a rotating game world to produce an eye-melting display of pyrotechnic destruction. It looks stunning, and it’ll also be available to PS Plus subscribers for free on launch.

Tiny Brains

A quirky co-op puzzler that features four super-powered lab animals, Tiny Brains is an interesting indie brain teaser that boasts a great art style and a strong social element that aims to bring strangers together to cooperate as a team.

Communication is the key element in this game, and if you’re going to progress, you’ll need to talk you your pal players to solves each challenge presented to you. Again, as with many games arriving on the PS4, this emphasises the console’s social features.


Another free-to-play title, and another online FPS for the platform, Warframe is already established on the PC, and when the PS4 arrives, it’ll be available on launch.

Warframe features next-gen co-operative and competitive online play with plenty of customisation and weapon creation tools. Clan support is a big focus, with customisable ‘dojos’, and there are elements of MMO included, such as AI pets, rare weapons mods and monthly content updates.

War Thunder

Yes, it’s yet another free-to-play title, meaning even PS4 owners who don’t buy any games with their units will certainly have plenty to hammer away at while they save up for other releases. War Thunder is, for all intents and purposes, a similar title to the hugely popular World of Tanks, except that it encompasses more unit types, including naval and air vehicles.

Massive battlefields and huge online multiplayer conflicts are the name of the day here, and the PS4 will get the exclusive console outing (it’s also out on PC and Mac, and is currently in open beta).


To say that the PlayStation 4’s launch line up is underwhelming isn’t that much of an exaggeration. While it has some undeniably impressive games on show, along with a healthy showing of free-to-play and indie-developed options, there’s a distinct lack of Sony stalwarts like God of WarLittle Big PlanetUncharted and so on. With the unit going head-to-head with the Xbox One, we expected more to be honest.

Some big franchises are coming next year, such as Infamous: Second Son, and other big releases like The Order: 1886 and Daylight will also arrive eventually, but when it comes to actual exclusive launch titles, the PS4 is nowhere near as impressive as we’d have hoped.

With the PS3 enjoying such a strong couple of years, this is both a surprise and to be expected. In one way, Sony has played its cards beefing up the PS3 with excellent titles such as The Last Of Us and God of War: Ascension, leaving little left for the PS4 launch window, but as much as we appreciate the continuing support for the PS3, it’s a shame that there are no bigger launch titles for the PS4, and with so much riding on the launch sales, it would make sense for Sony to really pull out the big guns.

Sony is clearly confident on the power of its new console, so much so it’s wiling to provide a selection of free games alongside the usual commercial titles, and this is a good thing. With actual console and game bundles still to be officially revealed in most regions, knowing that your new console will have games available for no extra cost will be a big factor in any decision, and here Sony has done a great job, even if the actual retail titles are lacking.



Free-to-play set to take off on consoles?

Chris Morris talks to devs about F2P and how it may actually be better suited to consoles than the PC

World of Tanks

Consoles, traditionally, have been centered around the traditional retail model. Pay for a game. Take it home. Enjoy. (And, lately, pay again for DLC.)

But the rise of mobile has made free-to-play titles one of the fastest growing segments of the industry. And Microsoft and Sony are attempting to position their current and next generation systems to capitalize on this growing segment.

So far, for Microsoft at least, there has been a definite learning curve.

Wargaming.net, which is currently in the midst of a public beta for its World of Tanks on Xbox Live, made waves last month when its outspoken CEO Victor Kislyi called the quality assurance and certification processes for the Xbox 360 “totally unacceptable“.

“Since these are dedicated gaming systems, you’re more predisposed to try something, whereas when you’re on the PC, you might get distracted by, say, Facebook or something”

SOE’s John Smedley

Some news sites ran with that sound byte to imply Wargaming was fed up with the console manufacturer. However, Kislyi was making a larger point – and the team that’s working directly on World of Tanks for Xbox 360 says that while there have certainly been hiccups, Microsoft has been working hard to accommodate the free-to-play gaming giant.

“I’d be lying if I said this is clear and precise,” says Denny Thorley, head of Wargaming’s Chicago-based studio and former president of Day 1 Studios. “What we’re trying to do is something Microsoft hasn’t attempted to do before, but they’ve been terrific partners in trying to be flexible where they can.”

For instance, he notes, incremental changes to the game are now being certified faster than they have previously – as testers are already familiar with the game.

While Microsoft is working through some issues, Sony has a bit more history in the space. Its Sony Online Entertainment unit has been the internal torchbearer for free-to-play games – and it has seen notable success.

“The single fastest growing segment of our business is DC Universe Online on the PS3,” says John Smedley, president of SOE. “70 percent of our revenue [on that game] comes from the PS3 and 70 percent of our players come from the PS3.”

Because the company has been offering deep free-to-play experiences longer, it also has worked out a system to more quickly approve updates – something that could aid it in the next generation.

“One of the advantages we have had is we were the first with Free Realms,” says Smedley. “With that, we’ve helped the QA group set up the system. What happened is there’s a trust level that builds up. They do certain checks every time – but over time, if you don’t screw up, they start to trust your [internal] QA.”

Consoles, he says, actually have some notable advantages over the PC when it comes to free-to-play. There’s consistently stable hardware and software and the installed base is constantly growing. Most importantly, though, the barrier to microtranscation purchases is lower.

“There’s a higher likelihood of having a payment system on file,” he says. “And since these are dedicated gaming systems, you’re more predisposed to try something, whereas when you’re on the PC, you might get distracted by, say, Facebook or something.”

When it comes to monetization of free-to-play titles, Microsoft and Sony approach things differently. While both take a cut of microtransaction sales, Microsoft gets two bites at the pie, since players hoping to play World of Tanks for more than a one-week trial must be Xbox Live Gold members.

(Wargaming, Thorley notes, will not begin monetizing the game until it is out of its beta period – something that will happen “real soon now”.)

“They’re looking at what we’re doing on the [Xbox] 360 to understand all the issues and I’m convinced it will get easier and easier on the next platform”

Wargaming’s Denny Thorley

While the console audience is certainly vast, not all free-to-play game makers are interested in pursuing that audience. Kabam, for instance, says there are no plans to work on a console version of any of its games at this point.

“Sure, there are games you absolutely want to play on the console, but there are plenty that people want to play with convenience [in mind],” says Chris Carvalho, Chief Operating Officer of Kabam. “They want to play in the living room or the kitchen or wherever. … There’s a huge growth factor in the table market – and consumers are saying loudly that they want the convenience.”

The factor that’s driving that decision is less about the longer certification process – and more about growth forecasts of platforms. Juniper Research estimates there will be 64.1 billion games downloaded to tablets and smartphones in 2017, which is more than triple the 21 billion downloaded last year.

Those are impressive numbers, to be sure. But it’s certainly too early to count out consoles. Both Microsoft and Sony have shown in their pre-launch maneuvering that they plan an all out war against each other – and other platforms – to retain their strength in the gaming world.

“They are a very sharp group of people and are clearly paying attention to the questions we ask – which usually begin ‘why can’t we?’,” says Thorley. “They’re looking at what we’re doing on the [Xbox] 360 to understand all the issues and I’m convinced it will get easier and easier on the next platform.”