Letting Off Some Steam
Valve have been positively crowing this week with news that they have experienced yet another record breaking year with their Steam digital download and DRM platform. 2011 has seen Steam’s unit sales increase by over 100% for the seventh year in a row, not a bad result in a year when EA attempted to take a chunk out of Valve’s business with their Origin digital distribution platform. Despite the loss of several big EA franchises, Valve has credited heavy hitters such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution as properties which have helped to grow their platform.
Valve’s Steam platform now plays host to 40,000,000 individual Steam accounts with access to 1,800 games. The current holiday season has for the first time seen Steam’s concurrent userbase rise above the 5,000,000 mark. It is currently unknown what Origin’s figures were for the holiday period, but one might well suppose that they were something less than this.
The Holiday Season Gives Nintendo Reason for Good Cheer
In a year that had initially heralded ill for Nintendo’s 3DS, the little system that could has managed to close out the year at the nice round figure of 4,000,000 units sold, and has come to regularly dominate weekly hardware charts. Nintendo has credited an early price-cut and the million-sellers Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 with buoying the 3DS to a tide of holiday sales.
Nintendo expects the 3DS’ good fortune to continue into the new year with the imminent release of installments in the Pokemon, Mario Party and Kid Icarus series, as well as the much anticipated Resident Evil Revelations and Metal Gear Solid 3D Snake Eater. While Nintendo’s holiday period results are heartening for portable gaming, one cannot help but think that the result would have been all the sweeter had Nintendo held off releasing their system until it was ready to go on sale.
Square Enix MMORPG, Wakfu, Goes into Open Beta
Square Enix will be looking to administer a Phoenix Down to their MMORPG division this year when Wakfu hits the market in February, but gamers so inclined can beat the rush by signing up for the open beta anon. This plucky little freemium RPG promises an “amazing” anime art style and twelve discrete character classes, while players rebuild a world lost to chaos through strategic combat, crafting and national politicking.
When Wakfu hits the market, it will do so as a free download; providing access to its basic gameplay components gratis to the common man – while those desiring a level playing field may pay $6.00 per month to access the game’s premium content. A microtransactions store will also be available for players to make cosmetic purchases. Judging by some of the positive buzz surrounding this quirky title, Square Enix may well have found their premiere MMORPG for the new decade.