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 411mania » Games » Columns

Four Player Co-op 11.14.12: THQ, Halo 4, Silicon Knights, More
Posted by Stephen Randle on 11.14.2012

Todd Vote has joined the game.
Daniel Anderson has joined the game.
Dan Watson has joined the game.

Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Four Player Co-op, the party game with journalistic integrity. And to prove that, we even have a follow-up to a question we asked a few weeks ago. Remember how we talked about XBox Live Achievements, which included gifts for your birthday? Well, featured 4PC participant Todd Vote wants you all to know just exactly what present Microsoft got you. Todd?

I got an email detailing what my big birthday gift from Xbox Live was... It was so awesome... are you ready for it? Microsoft and Xbox Live gave me a grand total of 20 (yes, twenty) Microsoft Points. They really went all out, right?

Well, Microsoft is a tiny struggling company, you have to appreciate them giving what they can afford. It's the thought that counts, you know. And for being a good little news source, Todd gets some extra points to begin tonight's action. Come on, guess how many.

(Highlight if you need a hint: Twenty, you moron)

Start the game!

QUESTION ONE: Coming off their highly-anticipated release of WWE '13, not all is well for long-suffering THQ, which has delayed many of their upcoming titles, and spoken of their potential need for additional capital, which suggests that they may be up for sale in the very near future. Coincidentally, THQ stock plummeted 50% following this news going public. It's been rumoured for a long time, but is THQ's day in the sun finally over, and are you surprised given the huge success of titles such as the WWE and Saints Row franchises?

Todd Vote
I am a little surprised, considering Saints Row, WWE, and the Darksiders franchises are all big sellers. But outside of those, THQ is a dumping ground for less than great, pedestrian attempts to cash in on licensed products. Don't get me wrong, I do think that a company can be successful with licensed games, but not when you are just shoveling them out the door the way that THQ would tend to do. I truly hope that if THQ goes under, someone scoops up both Saints Row, and Darksiders. It is also my hope that they let Volition continue to do their thing with these two franchises.

Daniel Anderson
I have stopped being surprised at hearing when game companies start having trouble. THQ has been on the brink of going under for almost a year now. They have lost the UFC license and the uDraw was a failure that cost the company more then they wanted to admit. Given all this, how can anyone be surprised that the company is hurting?

Dan Watson
When you look at THQ and the many franchises they are attached to, it really makes you realize poorly they have managed their assets. Looking at WWE, Saints Row, along with a few of their other titles that have sold well, you would think they were making tons of money. Sadly decisions like U-Draw ruined this company financially. I'd bet we won't be discussing this company with the next generation.

Answers are overlapping all over the board, but I think I'm going to go with Dan, who covered both "mismanaging the profits from their highly touted franchises" and "uDraw was a catastrophe", plus he's willing to put a time limit on THQ's lifespan, so he'll take the lead with 431 points.

QUESTION TWO: And meanwhile, Activision reported third quarter profits of over 800 million dollars, which a yearly profit forecast, thanks to some games selling even better than expected, of over 4.6 billion dollars. I don't really have a question for this one, I just thought I'd throw the numbers out there and let you all go nuts over the obscene amounts of money that our friends at Activision brought in this year.

Todd Vote
I'm proud to say I have broken my Call of Duty habit, so that money isn't from me...Well, not all of it anyways.. I guess I did pick up Tony Hawk HD, but that's okay. Activision is really projected to make 4.6 billion dollars this year? Wow. Got to wonder if Vivendi is reconsidering that sale they were talking about earlier this year.. I mean, I don't think I would be wanting to sell of a portion of my company that is pulling 4.6 billion a year.

Daniel Anderson
More power to them. For all the crap they get (not that it isn't deserved), Activision distributes a lot of high selling games. Just this past year Activision has released Amazing Spiderman, Transformers Fall of Cybertron, Diablo 3, and (by the time this is up) Black Ops 2. Given those games released can you really say you are surprised at the insane amount of money they make?

Dan Watson
In the words of a good fake friend, Christian Bale, "Oh, Good For You." I am so tired of these mega companies releasing the same garbage titles and then crying that the industry is down while they make hundreds of millions of dollars. Try taking some of that money and fund the development of a new series or a new game just in general.

You know, in a year where so many gaming companies made cut backs or went out of business, it's easy to forget that the big guns of the industry are pretty much bringing in Olympic-sized swimming pools full of money on a monthly basis. Sure, they're horribly arrogant and probably evil on a level that would make Satan go "Whoa, dude, that's a little much", but that means nothing when you've got a World of Warcraft expansion in your back pocket. Daniel scoops up 1439 points for reminding us all of that little fact.

QUESTION THREE: Here's an interesting promotion from Microsoft that requires your attention: they're offering free Microsoft points, up to 600, if you can play over 140 hours of Halo 4 multiplayer by the end of November. Todd, get back here and answer the question first. Given the steep time requirement involved (140 hours would be six hours a day from now until the end of the month), and the fact that there's an upper limit of 10 million MSP that will be given out in this promotion on a "first come, first served" basis (which means more than likely people will play a lot more than six hours a day so they ensure they cash in), I'm not sure how comfortable I am with this sort of promotion. What about you?

Todd Vote
I'm really not comfortable with a promotion like this. I mean seriously? Paying people to play games now? I think this is quite a bit different than the rewards program, or even the "My Achievements" rewards thing... This is encouraging you to spend six hours a day playing video games. That is not good for anybody. Don't get me wrong, I've had my sessions, and granted, some of them have far exceeded six hours, but they are few and far between. Besides, haven't we been treated to at least two separate stories this year about people dying in internet cafes and things like that after extensive gaming sessions? Is this really the time to be trying to get people to spend more time gaming? Does Microsoft make more money the more you play the game after your initial $60 purchase? I can't see any reason this is a necessary promotion for a game that is probably selling eleventy-billionth copy as I type this.

Daniel Anderson
I don't really see a problem with this. People are getting free points for playing games. Do I like the first come first serve aspect of it? Not really, but, other than giving everyone free points for meeting the play time requirements, what else can you do? Most of those people who will be getting the Microsoft Points will be the ones who would be spending the same amount of time playing Halo 4 with or without the promotion.

Dan Watson
I don't like this idea at all. Let's look at an average gamer and say they play Xbox between one and three hours a day. Three hours times the thirty days is only ninety hours. So, during the last weekend of the month when one or two people end up dying because 600mp is so important that they play for so many hours and forget about food and drink, Microsoft can try to explain why they set the hours mark so high. I could see if they said 100 hours, okay that's attainable over a normal playing period. 140 is impossible for most people without cutting out a job or school.

Todd and Dan come down on my side of the fence, for 3258 points, not because I think that Microsoft shouldn't give rewards for dedicated players, but the threshold of 140 hours in less than a month is way too high and encourages unhealthy behaviour. The sad part is, I want to be able to scoff at the idea that people could die playing Halo 4, but unfortunately, we do live in a world where that is not only possible, but happens way more than is strictly necessary.

QUESTION FOUR: An odd legal case in the states features developer Silicon Knights, creators of Too Human, being forced to destroy all unsold copies of any games they have created using the Unreal 3 engine, including several titles still in development, after it was revealed that they were using the engine without permission to create their games. They've also been forced to pay Epic Games, owners of the technology, over nine million dollars in damages. No word if the games have to be buried next to all those ET cartridges in the Arizona desert, but I assume they will be. It should be noted that this whole situation stemmed for Silicon Knights originally suing Epic Games over an alleged breach of licensing and this decision was rendered on a countersuit filed by Epic in response. So, is there some sort of lesson or moral we can learn from Silicon Knights?

Todd Vote
Um... yeah, don't sue someone for something when you are using that something illegally? Maybe not draw attention to your own illegal activities by trying to point out the "supposed" illegal activity of another? idiots.

Daniel Anderson
Don't try to blame others for your failures? Silicon Knights is fast going down in the books along with 38 Studios and THQ. A once promising game company that did something stupid that leads to their shutting down or being bought up by a larger company. Silicon Knights had a very promising future after Eternal Darkness came out, but then they couldn't follow their success. One hit is not enough to keep a company in business, especially a ten year old hit.

Dan Watson
There is a big lesson here, cover your ass before suing someone. This is extremely dumb on Silicon Knights' Part and makes the company look foolish for not double checking before filing suit. Just stupid.

I'm just curious, how did they manage to file the initial lawsuit without finding out whether they were actually legally using the engine in the first place? Did they hire their legal team at the mall, next to the Orange Julius?

BONUS QUESTION: It is my understanding that Black Friday is approaching quickly. Will you partake in the madness?

Todd Vote
Not personally no, but I do have a friend that partakes in the madness, so I am still able to get my hands on all the video game deals. It pays to have friends that are addicted to shopping, and love the madness that is Black Friday.

Daniel Anderson
Hell no. For the past 10 years I have worked in retail and had to be at stores early in the morning to "work" Black Friday. I still have to work that day, but I do not have to go into a store and deal with the increasingly crazy crowds and frenzied shoppers.

Dan Watson
I will not give up free food in order to freeze and save $40 off of an item. I will go out during the 8-10am area and pick up a few discounted game titles. Other than that, no thanks.

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