GameMaker Standard edition for free!

As many of you already know, GameMaker: Studio is a really interesting engine that allows amateur and experienced developers to create their own games without the need of being skilled programmers.

According to its creator YoYo Games, using this software is “80 percent faster than coding for native languages“, enabling people to “create fully functional prototypes in just a few hours, and a full game in just a matter of weeks“.

GameMaker: Studio comes in 4 versions: Free, Standard ($49.99), Professional ($99.99) and Studio Master ($799.99). However, until March 2nd the Standard edition (which includes unlimited resources) is free, and the upgrade to Professional only costs $35. You just need to download the Free version here, and follow the instructions that appear inside.

GameMaker sale

Some people use GameMaker: Studio for creating quick prototypes or trying a rough concept, while others take it one step further and build full-fledged games, ready to be marketed. Either you are curious about game development, need to test a great idea or are ready for start creating your own game, this sale is for you.

If you’re still hesitant, take a look at some of the best games built with GameMaker: Studio:

Nintendo’s first free-to-play experiments

Nintendo's RustyLately, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has been a lot in the news, be it to address the company’s surprising annual loss or to outline some of its next steps, including the much-commented possibility of expanding its business to smart devices. Everything had a refreshing honest approach:

The way people use their time, their lifestyles, who they are have changed. If we stay in one place, we will become outdated.

It is our intention to release some application on smart devices this year that is capable of attracting consumer attention and communicating the value of our entertainment offerings, so I would encourage you to see how our approach yields results.

Apparently, the moment of truth is here (or at least, part of it), as  Nintendo is starting to chart the free-to-play waters with Steel Diver: Sub Wars and Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball. Both of them are exclusive for the 3DS eShop.

  • Steel Diver: Sub Wars is a submarine-based first-person shooter.
Steel Diver: Sub Wars

Steel Diver: Sub Wars

Its free version offers a couple of submarines, some singleplayers and the multiplayer mode. Paying $10 unlocks the rest of the game. In other words, the Steel Diver: Sub Wars’ free-to-play approach looks a lot like a demo.

Steel Diver: Sub Wars' free-to-play approach

Steel Diver: Sub Wars‘ free-to-play approach

  • Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, in turn, is a collection of baseball-related minigames, and is scheduled for April (it was originally released in August for the Japanese market).
Rusty's Real Deal Baseball

Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball

The game comes with some free minigames, but additional ones must be unlocked by paying $4 for each of them. However, here the free-to-play approach comes with a tweak: the players can bribe the shop owner (Rusty) to get a real discount on each minigame.

(…) Players can purchase additional mini-games in a unique way: by haggling to lower the real-world price for each downloadable game. Additional games start at $4 apiece, but giving Rusty items or listening to his problems might improve his mood and motivate him to offer steep discounts.

Rusty's Real Deal Baseball's bargain system

Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball’s bargain system

In the year in which Sony and Microsoft have a lot of guaranteed press coverage because of their new consoles, Nintendo is doing a remarkable effort to stay relevant. Fortunately for us, so far every announcement seems to be part of a bigger strategy.

We’ll see how this attempt at free-to-play works for Nintendo. The good news is that, putting the monetization experiment aside, both games look fun.

Source: Gamasutra

Steam Dev Days talks are now online

Steam Dev Days

Remember the Steam Dev Days, the event held by Steam and aimed strictly to developers? Among other things, it was used for announcing changes to the upcoming exclusive hardware and for showing Steam’s global reach.

The only way to have the first-hand experience with Steam’s secrets was to be invited to their Seattle HQ. Luckily for the rest of us, now all the talks are available through a massive YouTube playlist.

Here’s Gabe Newell’s opening speech:

Source: Joystiq

Amazon acquires Double Helix, Killer Instinct developer

During the last years, Amazon has been giving strong signals of its gaming ambitions. It launched its own game studio back in 2012, consistently expanded the games catalogue for its Kindle Fire and now is going to launch its own Android microconsole this year, to compete against Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

Given that scenario, a studio purchase felt natural for Amazon, especially since offering exclusive titles can be a good deal for a console. However, when the acquisition news broke out yesterday, there was something unexpected: Amazon was buying Double Helix, the console-oriented studio that developed last year’s Killer Instinct (the fightning Xbox One exclusive). According to Amazon, it “acquired Double Helix as part of our ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers.”

I hope I’m getting Amazon Prime along with my new health plan

It’s worth noting that, even if it may look like a usual fighting retail game, Killer Instinct has a novel approach to free-to-play games, as it only offers one character for free. You can either play using that character forever, or you can spend around $5 for adding a new one.

So far, that strategy has been criticized by fans, but apparently also quite successful. Perhaps it’s precisely its popularity what triggered the need for a “jail” system. Given this precedent, it shouldn’t be surprising to see Amazon looking for new ways to monetize big scale games.

After yesterday’s announcement, Microsoft has confirmed that it will be working with a new “development partner” on Killer Instinct. Double Helix, in turn, had a platform game set to be published by Capcom this year, Strider (a reboot). I guess that project will remain unchanged (it’s probably in its final stage of development).

Amazon is well known for betting high when a business is attractive enough for its overall strategy. Combine that ambition with its experience in digital and retail services, and you have a strong contender for becoming one of the big players in the industry.

I don’t know how much time we’ll have to wait until seeing Double Helix’s new contributions, but I’m sure that Amazon will do its part to make 2014 a great year for gaming.

Sources: Polygon, Gamasutra

No more pre-order regret in Steam

During the last years the industry has had a pre-order fever, with many games offering exclusive content for players who purchased the game before its release (and before the reviews appeared).

That bonus material can take many forms: a multiplayer upgrade, extra challenges, an additional piece of story or simply new skins (the worst kind, in my opinion). Today you can pre-order games that don’t even exist!

However, sometimes a fan pre-orders a game just to regret later. It could happen for many reasons: the game previews look terrible, the anxiety goes away or the promised bonus content is modified, for example. As pre-orders are becoming a trend among publishers, also is asking for a refund among consumers.

1858192-walmart_batman

In response to that, now Steam lets you get a refund on your pre-order smoothly, without the need of opening a support ticket with Valve. The refund puts the money back in your Steam Wallet, so you can make the same mistake with another game.

steam-refund_614

Its competitor GOG’s refund policy, in turn, extends to 14 days after getting the game in case you just changed your mind and to 30 for technical issues.

In my case, I only pre-order a game when it comes with extraordinary additional content, as when buying The Bureau: XCOM Declassified in Steam got me all the previous XCOM installments, along with Spec Ops: The Line. As a matter of fact, I ended up playing more the other games than The Bureau… A considerable price discount can also help.

Perhaps it’s time to stop purchasing dull pre-orders, or to listen to those who advocate for abandoning them once and for all. Will they follow the same path as online passes?

Sources: The Escapist and Polygon

Apple to pay more than $30 million for kids’ in-app purchases

Apple has agreed to refund consumers for at least $32.5 million for in-app purchases made by kids without parental consent.

Under the terms of the settlement with the FTC, Apple failed to tell parents that, by entering their password, they open a 15-minute window in which children can purchase unlimitedly.

Besides, the original complaint alleges that Apple’s password screen doesn’t explain to the account holder that password entry will confirm a purchase.

Besides, according to the FTC report, “Apple also will be required to change its billing practices to ensure that it has obtained express, informed consent from consumers before charging them for items sold in mobile apps.”

Source: Inside Mobile Apps

Steam’s global domination

Steam

As we all know, Steam (Valve’s colossal digital store), is a couple of sales away to take full control of the world. In the meantime, we can take a look at how it’s doing right now, thanks to the data Valve has shared during its Steam Dev Days.

Europe and North America still dominate the market when it comes to buying PC games digitally, accounting for a combined 81 percent (40 and 41 percent, respectively) of Steam’s global revenue.

However, Russia and Brazil are far and away the fastest-growing markets for Steam software sales, with year-over-year growth rates of 128 percent and 75 percent (respectively).

“We are coming for you, wherever you are”

Fortunately, Sean Thompson provided a clearer data representation:

That global expansion growth explains that Steam will expand its current 5 currency options (U.S. dollars, British pounds, Russian rubles, Brazilian reais and euros) to 17, adding Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, The Phillipines, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Turkey, Ukraine and Norway to its portfolio.

Oh, and on a sidenote, Steam currently has 75 million active users, 10 million more than in last October. That’s… something.

Sources: Gamasutra, Joystiq, The Escapist