Tag Archives: Forza Horizon 3

Achievements Unlocked, And Set To Change

Welcome, come inside, take your shoes off, slip on your comfy indoor footwear of choice and settle yourself in for another adventure with the Lost Spark Podcast as special guest James Thomas (@BigSheep) joins Antony and Darren once again to discuss Pizza, Circus tricks, Cinema silence, oh and of course, the reason we are all here – Video Games.

This week the debate gets interesting when James brings the news of an expected shake up of Xbox Live Achievements to the table and asks, are achievements in need of a change, are we happy with them as they are or even protective of the current ‘cheevo’ status quo and if we had the chance to make a change what could be done to improve a system loved by gamers worldwide? Is there any achievement in changing achievements? Continue reading

No Halo at E3 – Disappointing or Refreshing?

It’s episode 92 of the podcast and in addition, this edition marks the 2nd anniversary of the dawn of the Gamers of the Lost Spark. Join the guys as they celebrate this milestone with their unique look at the gaming news of the last 7 days.

In a week where Halo developers 343 Industries announced that there will be no Halo 6 at E3 or Gamescom, Antony and Darren discuss whether this is a bad thing or a good move for the Xbox team’s E3 presentation.

This can be argued both ways it seems with a reasonable case put forward that Halo is Xbox and Xbox is Halo, that the rolling out of a new and exciting Halo-centric announcement at the Xbox E3 conference is a tradition, a right of passage, the big thing that all the Xbox fans are excitedly waiting for during the other treats that are announced for the future of the platform and that a no show form the Halo franchise would leave a disappointing edge to the proceedings in June for Phil Spencer and the team. Continue reading

Halo 5’s Free DLC More Profitable Than It’s Paid DLC

Welcome to episode 91 of the Gamers of the Lost Spark podcast. Another delve into the underbelly of the gaming underworld’s news metaverse examining the stories, rumours and games of the last 7 days.

This week an interesting argument put forward by Michael Pachter (Pachter Factor) makes the point that there is a shift in the DLC model and that instead of DLC being slices of paid for additional goodness for the games we love, that in fact free DLC, apart from being most welcome by the gaming community – who doesn’t love free stuff? – can actually prove to be more profitable than paid DLC.

How can that work? is the resounding retort. Well, Mr Pachter goes on to explain this using 343 Industries Halo 5 as an example of where this model has been a success.

Halo 5 took a different approach to the more standard paid DLC model that we are used to these days. What the guys over at 343 Industries did was to make the first 6 months of DLC for the game free. That’s right, free and many people will know this having played one of the bigger hits over on Xbox One. So that’s fantastic, 6 months free DLC for the Halo 5 community, great move guys, much appreciated. Hold on though, is this just an incredible gesture of goodwill from developer / publisher to the gaming masses? I mean, what’s in it for them? Apart from the love and gratitude of the gamers of course – a commodity more precious than any currency. Oh hold on, yes, of course, back to the real world.

So the game is out there and the first 6 months DLC content is free to all players, yet Halo 5 made more money than any previous Halo game and this was due to the in game microtransactions. What happened in this case was, due to the DLC being free for all, Halo 5 kept more players playing the game than it had ever done before and in doing so, kept a bigger pool of customers enjoying the game who were then potential purchasers of in game microtransactions. The results from 343’s experience with this model indicate that more profit can be made by keeping more players involved in the game and so increasing the pool of potential (and real) microtransaction purchases than charging for separate iterations of DLC content.

Mr Pachter cites an approximate model of DLC purchase trends explaining that with each paid DLC drop there is also a drop in player take up, with the first DLC being the most popular at say 80% take up, the second being picked up with maybe 50% of those guys and the third DLC drop having the lowest purchase rate. It was this trend that paved the way for the ‘Season Pass’ that we have today, as the publishers looked for ways to stop that drop in take up of DLC over time by offering the lot at a discounted price.

This model only works for games that include DLC and have potential for communities to grow and thrive on their platforms. The type of games that are sure to be the focus of Microsoft’s recently announced ‘Games as a Service’ strategy, the most obvious being competitive FPS games like the Halo’s and the Titanfall’s, it would be more difficult to apply to other genres so we will probably not be getting single player campaign DLC for free anytime soon.

All said and done though, it’s an interesting idea that has already been used and turned a greater profit than the more traditional approach. Keeping all those players in there obviously reaps rewards while at the same time keeping those servers nice and busy with more players, in turn making the experience for the gamer more enjoyable for a longer period, potentially creating more fans who will be pre-ordering the next game.

Sound good? Or would you prefer the more traditional model? As always let us know what you think.

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There’s More To Gaming Than Just ‘Triple A’

In this weeks podcast we have all the usual fun frolics and frivolity as the guys discuss the week in gaming, what’s hot to play and everything in between. Hold on to your control pads gamers, it’s Episode 89 of the Lost Spark Podcast.

An interesting point in the news (courtesy of wccftech) this week was made by Cliff Bleszinski (Cliffy B) of Unreal Tournament and Gears of War fame and more recently the co-founder of Boss Key Productions.

During industry conference Reboot Develop 2017, Cliff took to the stage and put forward his view that ‘AAA games’ cost too much to make and the development of such games are a ‘nearly unsustainable’ model, his reasoning behind this is based on a number of points including the fact that:

  • Customers can only afford a few $60 dollar games a year and this price is a high point for most consumers
  • Consumers have been burned with DLC / Bugs in their games
  • Player expectations are very high in terms of Graphics. feature sets and polish and quality

Citing Horizon Zero Dawn as an example, Cliff went on to posit that the seven year development cycle for a project like this can be undertaken and afforded by Sony with the reason that they can get so heavily invested in something like this is that they will be the ones profiting from the sale of their consoles, which a game like Horizon Zero Dawn is very likely to have a positive effect on.  So Sony – whom Horizon Zero Dawn’s Developer Guerrilla Games belong to – has two branches here, both the software and their hardware, with which they can recoup their investment and further to this make a profit.

In contrast to this he then made a comparison to the financial commitment that was made by Take-Two with regard to Bioshock Infinite where the outcome of overstretching to fulfill a AAA vision resulted in a number of lay offs over at Irrational Games.

A remedy for this, he suggested, would be the advent of the ‘AA game’. These games would be games that despite a restricted budget focused on what matters most, giving examples of his type of game being the likes of Rocket League by Psyonix and Digital Extreme’s Warframe adding also that digital only would also be a consideration for success.

So, have our expectations got out of hand, or is the amazing high standard and polish of the games we see nowadays simply a result of the evolution of technology and the desire of creators to improve, innovate and deliver that next big thing? Is it all simply about the bottom line (obviously to a great degree, it’s business), or is there something to be said for the ambition of developers and creators to express themselves and push the limits of the gaming medium via the technologically impressive consoles we use today?

Whether it’s gamer expectation, businesses pushing for profit or creators with the passion and determination to bring their ambitious gaming visions to the gaming community, it does look like there is a point here. No one likes to hear about studios closing, job cuts, or devs not getting paid for their hard work and if this can be avoided by simply scaling back ambition on a project and being more realistic in financial terms of what can be achieved then that’s great. Though conversely, it would definitely be a shame if the spectacle of the ‘AAA game’ was only within the reach of the hardware manufacturers.

Ultimately, if the costs of the AAA’s continue to get out of hand and cause businesses problems the amount made will dwindle as the lessons are learned.

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Can Microsoft Escape The Shadow of Sony’s Killer First Party Line-Up?

We’re back baby! After an unavoidable 2 week break the Sparks are back, bringing with them Episode 80 of their unique brand of pure podcast-tastic-ness.

This week the discussion turns to how well 2017 is shaping up for Sony and PS4. Not only with some fantastic existing releases coming in so early in the year but with platform exclusives coming down the line that have the guys very excited. WIth Resident Evil 7 in PSVR, Nioh garnering well deserved praise, Horizon Zero Dawn nearly upon us and many other exclusive titles (some being new IP’s) awaiting us down the road it is, once more, a great time to be a gamer.

If, that is, you own a PS4… Continue reading

Are EA Leaving Season Passes Behind?

Another week passes by and episode 76 of the Gamers of the Lost Spark podcast is here for your listening delights.  Among the games being played by the guys and stories of the drudgery of clearing away festive decorations, the guys discuss EA’s decision to leave out the Season Pass from Mass Effect Andromeda. This bucks a seemingly inescapable and obligatory trend that during the last few years felt as if its unwelcome presence was here to darken our gaming doorsteps permanently, costs layered on top of the price of a game has never been a welcomed concept in the community and the situation is made worse when the majority (not all) of season pass content is usually disappointing.  So could it be that this announcement could hail a time when the constant clamour for cash for content could be dwindling?

Of course, no Season Pass doesn’t necessarily mean no requests of cash for content, after all the game could just as easily have the same old DLC in there, just without the initial purchase choice to be made by the consumer.

It’s a hope that may be unlikely but not impossible that could 2017 be the year when EA lead by example by ditching the Season Pass concept but also changing their model to a path in which extra monetisation is gleaned from cosmetic DLC alone, keeping games and the gamers that love them less fragmented and more fun.

We can only hope.
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The 2016 Gamers of The Lost Spark New Year Special

Yep, it’s the end of our first full year of podcasting and so in true gaming pundit form, the Eye of Spark Towers shines out and focuses on the games of 2016 in our 2nd Game of the Year Extravaganza.

It’s gonna be captivating, even enrapture-vating!

But firstly, in the spirit of the New Year descending upon us, here’s a brief retrospective and some offerings of thanks;

Since starting off in May 2015 the Sparks have grown considerably and we are really proud of what we have created, realising our ambition of creating a positive, energetic and objective look into the world of video games and associated technology through our eyes – gamer eyes.

We are absolutely delighted with the brand that we have created – just the two of us – and seeing the show reaching a wider audience over the last year and a half or so has been a real source of joy and excitement for us. It’s a real hard struggle to make a dream a reality especially when starting with nothing. Everything we have done has been voluntary and out of our spare time and with no commercial aid. We are formed on the basis of our iron gaming wills alone!

Special thanks must also, of course, go out to the fantastic James Thomas (@BIGsheep) for agreeing to guest on our show many moons ago now and for enjoying it so much that he has become a regular on the show. For all the appearances and all the input – Thanks James!

Of course, most importantly, we would like to thank You. Our listeners. For turning up, for listening in, for getting involved and helping us grow. Any venture of this type is nothing without an audience and so the biggest appreciation and thanks go to you. We will strive to continue to develop content for you to enjoy and trust us when we say it really is our pleasure to be out there for your listening pleasure. Thanks Guys!

This is our 75th Podcast and interestingly if you were insane enough to play them back in one ginormous playlist, it would run for… 181 hours!

That’s almost 7 and a half days worth of pure gaming chat, speculation and laughter encapsulating the last year and a half. It’s an achievement we are incredibly proud to look back on.

This week, Antony, James and Darren take the time to give the results of their top 3 games of the year after the difficult job of whittling down the many quality titles in what has been a solid year of gaming across the main platforms.

Tune in, not only hear the guys top 3 games of 2016 but also the results of these other challenging categories posed to the guys. Not an easy task and one which certainly caused a head scratch or two in the process of winner picking:

  • Honourable Mention
  • 2016 Missed Opportunity
  • Biggest Disappointment
  • Biggest High Point
  • 2017 Prediction

So, welcome one and all, join in the fun and take a listen and if you like what you hear, stick with us through 2017 – it’s gonna be one heck of a year!

Don’t forget If you would like to give us a rating or a review on iTunes then we have this handy link for you, click here to jump to iTunes review for the Lost Spark Podcast!

Will You Switch To Nintendo?

The big news this week on the Lost Spark Podcast is the reveal of the Nintendo Switch and so of course, your friendly neighbourhood Sparks’ dive into the announcement with gusto discussing thoughts on Nintendo’s reveal trailer, speculation of those questions that the reveal didn’t answer and everything we know so far about Nintendo’s latest tech.

Is portability the killer move for Nintendo with this new platform in an era where smartphones and tablets do have a chunk of the market? Or does the fully fleshed out, more rounded and complete gaming experience that the Switch will offer give it the edge in that area, or is this a niche of its own, becoming what the Vita or even indeed the Wii U portable screen should have been?
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Gears 4: A Triumphant Emergence – Is Playing Legacy Games A Prerequisite?

Gears of War 4 released last week to ‘Ultimate Edition’ players and Antony along with co-op partner Nicola (his wife) jumped into the campaign on day one. For anyone sitting on the fence or worrying that this once closed off storyline was getting a sub-standard sequel, fear not. Gears of War 4 ticks all of the boxes, well it actually sticks a frag grenade on the boxes and blows them out of the water!  Antony was happy to report that Gears of War 4 is not only a fitting continuation of the story, it could possibly be the BEST GEARS OF WAR GAME!

With the campaign finished, Antony, Nicola and Gears noob James are about to embark on the hours of fun that is Horde 3.0 – updates to come on next week’s podcast.

Amidst this rousing appreciation for Gears of War 4 from Antony (and the relief at this news from the other Sparks), a listener question prompts an interesting discussion centering upon whether a player would need to play all the games in a given series in order to enjoy the newest shiny instalment. The question posed was directly regarding Gears of War 4 but the Sparks opened this up generally assessing the need to play all instalments in any series to be able to feel part of a fully rounded gaming experience. From a business point of view, it makes sense that games should be designed to be jumped in at any time in a series to keep that cash coming in but does that apply to all, or any games? And could catering to the newcomer harvest resentment in the gamers who have been there for the long haul?
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PSVR Excitement Grows – Will You Be Batty for VR?

With a week and change until PlayStation VR is launched the Sparks are going PSVR crazy! In this week’s podcast excitement is building as Antony prepares his game space for VR and scours the Official PSVR FAQ for hints, tips and features to get him started on day one. Are you, like Antony, hoping to be one of the day one PSVR massive?

The VR desk has a bumper edition of PSVR news this week in preperation for the big day on October 13th and spirits are high until… Could there be a slight oversight that dulls teh celebratory speculations somewhere in the VR soup?

The answer to this and of course the rest of life’s great questions lies deep within the pod.

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