Games Culture

Merry Christmas From GameHub! – and a note on the #Steampocalyse

A very Merry Christmas from everyone here at GameHub!

We wish all our users a peaceful and joyous family Christmas, whether your children are young or old. Remember that people around the world are unwrapping new games and consoles today, so online services such as Xbox Live, Steam and Playstation Network will be running very slowly under the weight of millions of new users. If things aren’t working out, leave it alone for a few hours and come back when the servers are less busy.

UPDATE: We have confirmed reports that something has gone really badly wrong with the PC game management system and online store Steam. Users are encouraged to not use the service at all until the engineers at Valve have got to the route of the issue. Though you may be nervous for your credit card security, credible sources believe the system has not been hacked, but is suffering from a technical problem related to account profiles. It’s Christmas folks! Something always goes wrong on Christmas!

Games Culture

Act Fast! Christos And The Community Are Giving Away Free Games for UK Families

It’s Christmas! And Christmas can be hard on the wallet, especially if you’ve got young ones around. Today, in celebration of the festive season, Christos Reid has rallied the gaming community to give the gift of gaming to families across the UK and around the world.

The list keeps on changing as new games are donated and picked up, with plenty of offerings suiting a variety of age groups. If you would like a game for your family this Christmas, get in touch with Christos by using his Twitter handle, @failnaut. If you are not confident with Twitter, contact us by email and we’ll gladly get in touch with Christos on your behalf. Act fast though, they are going, going, gone!

GameHub Concierge

GameHub Concierge: Which Wii?

My Son (6.5) is really keen to get a Wii – he started being helpful in August because he’d decided on his own that that was the way to get one for Christmas. I don’t know much about them – but if I do get one, do I need a Wii or a Wii U? And why is this one twice the price of this one? If I get the first, can I then buy older Wii games second hand for it? Or might I just as well, at that point, get a secondhand Wii? Any advice gratefully received. Thanks in advance.” via  Mumsnet

WiiU
Wii U

I rather admire the lad. Being helpful to his Mum and with clear goal in mind as to what he would like for Christmas, good for him! Confusion over the Wii and WiiU is a common problem. GameHub Concierge is donning its Santa hat and riding to the rescue!

GameHub Concierge:

“The Wii U and the Wii are actually two different consoles, something that Nintendo have not been very good at all at communicating to their customers. Even the gaming press were confused when it first came out! The WiiU, the new console, was launched in 2012, whilst the Wii is the old console originally launched in 2006. In tech speak, the WiiU is a whole “generation” more modern than the Wii. Without boring you with lots of nerdy numbers, the difference between the two devices is quite substantial. If this is your first Nintendo console for your home, I strongly recommend you go with the WiiU.

With a WiiU, you will get the WiiU Gamepad. This is a flat, Ipad-like controller with a camera, touchscreen and microphone, designed for games that don’t suit the physical “flail about” input method. This means that the WiiU is a far more versatile console than the Wii, suited to lots of different kinds of games.

The WiiU is also “backwards compatible” with the Wii, which also means that you will be able to play any games which say on the box that they are made for a Wii, including second-hand games. By contrast, the Wii would not able to play WiiU games, or use the WiiU Gamepad.

Wii
Wii

In the WiiU box you linked, you would get the console and gamepad, lots of cables and stands, and free game called Nintendo Land. To make the perfect present, I would recommend you get him another 1 or 2 games for variety. I can advise on what titles are currently popular, or, if you can tell me a little bit about your son’s preferences and interests, I can come up with a more tailored list of suggestions. And if you have any more questions, please ask and I will do my best to answer them!”

Got a question for the Concierge? Contact us.

Games Culture

A Pre-Christmas Treat – but perhaps it’s not such a good idea.

The nights are drawing in and it’s getting cold outside. Keeping  the kids entertained in November, whilst trying to keep back a bit of budget for all those lovely Christmas gifts, can be a tough balancing act. So, for the month of November, we are showcasing five slightly cheaper games so you can ensure everyone is having fun and still stay on budget in the run up to the big day.

This seems particularly apt this week, where it seems like every major game franchise is releasing a new iteration, from Fallout to Call of Duty to Tomb Raider. Games are at their most expensive on the pre-order stage and on Release Day, so it’s worth bearing in mind that the prices may drop substantially in just a few weeks from now if you are planning for multiple video-games to make an appearance in Santa’s Sack. Also worth remembering is that due to quirks in the way that games are made and released, a game on Release Day contains the least amount of content and the highest number of bugs it is likely to have in it’s lifetime. For die-hard fans, this is the pay-off of early adoption – they get to play the game first but are aware that it’s a Buyer Beware situation, with game-breaking glitches an ever present fear.

For younger players, these kinds of frustrating problems can cause serious disappointment and disillusion, as well as for parents who’ve hawked out all that hard earned money for a product that is not yet in it’s optimum condition. As time advances, error reports will be received by the game’s creators who will then implement permanent fixes known as “Patches” or temporary fixes known as “Hot-Fixes” which download over the internet to repair issues with the game. Usually all major issues are resolved within a few weeks of the game’s release. A “Day One Patch” may download over the internet and add itself to the game when it is played for the very first time.

Additional game content, such as more missions or weapons, will be created by the development studio and can be added to the game for free, or may be sold in digital bundles known as “paid DLC” (DownLoadable Content.) Usually this occurs a couple of months after the original game has been released for sale. This is value-added content and not the same as Patching, though we are seeing a trend of DLC being released for sale earlier and earlier, prompting push-back from gamers wanting to know why it was not included in the game when it was originally released for sale.

To see a rather good example of this kind of glitch-patching process happening in something akin to real time, take five minutes to enjoy this quick article on The Verge. It’s aimed at a game-playing audience, but with your new-found knowledge of terms such as Day One Patching, you’ll find it easy to understand. Nobody wants to stay stuck in a lift for the rest of their digital life! Note how the issue was not entirely resolved by the patch, which had to be downloaded and manually installed, with the issue of the non-opening doors resolved but the trade-off being the audio files containing the lift music no longer function. These kind of little hacks and compromises are par for the course when playing a game so close to it’s release date.

Bad experiences can spoil a player’s enjoyment of the game, which is doubly an issue if it was intended as a special gift. As the web’s first and only video-game advice service for parents, we try to look holistically at all aspects of the gaming experience that might be causing parents, teachers and guardians concerns, and a disappointing gift is upsetting for everyone involved, including the gift-giver. Our advice when buying a brand new game as a gift is to try to wait a 2-3 weeks after the release date, in order to allow time for these major bugs to be ironed out. If you are lucky, this sometimes corresponds to a slight drop in price, say 5-8% depending on the platform (eg. Xbox, Playstation, PC, etc) you are purchasing it for. If the child is a major fan of a particular game franchise and cannot be persuaded to wait, encourage them to moderate their expectations, and (because so many teachers have asked us to say this ) not to stay up all night playing with their new game when there is school in the morning!