The Merch is here (again)!

Alright, first on our list of big updates is for our Merch. Since this was the easiest to tackle and involves the least amount of work, surprisingly. Since we already had designs in hand, we were just looking around at what would be the best way to produce things. Most important to us was quality. The thing with print on demand stuff, and small batch printing, is that quality can vary wildly from vendor to vendor. So we tested out a couple and in the end decided that TeeSpring’s quality outweighed the potential shipping boons that Amazon would have offered. So our primary Merch outlet is going to be via TeeSpring.

Right now we only have clothing available. A good men’s tshirt, a comfy women’s tshirt, and a hoodie. We’re trying to keep the prices reasonable. Because they can quickly get out of hand when you start factoring in shipping. Thankfully, Teespring is a pretty big company now, and only charge $4 for shipping.

Right now we have some plans to add perhaps a coffee mug, and maybe some other stuff if we can find good places to make them. The problem always comes that for the coolest stuff you have to have a bunch made and then warehouse them. And I don’t think either Paul or I have the space or desire to do that, so it’s print on demand for the foreseeable future.

That being said, what would you like to see from us? More men’s options like Tank Tops? Socks? More women’s options like a v-neck, a more fitted tanktop, crazy leggings?

Think we should get some fun Professor Bananas stuff made?

Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to go check out the new Merch Page.

Our Triumphant Return!

It took us a lot longer than we wanted, but the podcast is finally back on schedule and fully in production once again. Only this time we have some new cards up our sleeves.

But, there is still a lot of work to do. So let’s peel back the curtain and talk about it.

First out the gate, we have a new editing process. This process allows us to post fully edited video versions of the podcast for the first time ever. So they’re going to go up on the YouTube channel one week after the podcast goes live to the normal audio feeds. We might tweak this schedule over time, but for right now I want to put some space between the two.

Next up is revamping the Patreon campaign a bit. We need a new intro video and some other things. So we will be working to polishing that up before we relaunch it. Feel free to sign up to pledge (assuming it lets you), we won’t be charging for a couple months to make it up to the people who gave us money for a couple months before we turned it off.

After that is figuring out what we want to do for our Merch store. We want to have shirts and some stuff available for the people who want it. The question is which company to go with for production. We want to be able to offer the best deal possible to you guys, while at the same time being able to generate a little bit of revenue to continue improving our product and expanding into new things.

It’s good to be back. But more than anything, we want to hear from you guys. What are you looking forward to the most from us? What would you like to see from us? Let us know in the comments below.

Whew! It's been a crazy few months.

And that's an understatement. I'm sure you guys are tired of hearing this by now, but things are starting to settle and fall into place. Kiddos are beginning to really find their sleep schedule, which means we're getting back on track to get this train rolling again soon.

So I kind of wanted to BS for a minute about some of the things I want to try and do here. One of the things I'm thinking about doing, is turning this little Friday blog thing into a video series. Little rambling youtube videos, possibly with images and footage thrown in too? I'm not sure how crazy they'll get, it will likely depend on the topic. It'll be interesting to experiment with at the very least. Hopefully you'll like it. And please let me know if there are any topics you'd like me to cover. They'll be little news related things and brief dives into topics.

In good news, I'm getting close to my personal milestone for being able to seriously tackle South Park. My goal is that if I can get time to work on getting my office and stuff set up for an hour or two each evening for a week... without the kiddos going too crazy... I'll start in on the game (and I'm planning to stream the whole thing if you want to join me). Right now, I'm hoping that day will be next Wednesday...

This is good news, because being able to focus on playing this game is what leads to the Podcast getting back underway. And let's admit it, we all want that to happen.

So yeah, that's where things stand at the moment. South Park kicking off next week (hopefully), I'll let you know on Twitter. Podcast returning soon. New YouTube thing coming soon. I'm excited. Hopefully you are too. See you soon.


For Better or Worse: Loot Boxes, and Their Effect on The Game Industry

Hey folks,

Paul here. Chop’s a little busy this week, so I’m filling in with something I want to make a thing on the blog, and the cast: For Better or Worse. In this edition, we’re going to look at “Loot Boxes” and how they’re affecting the industry.

Several years back, microtransactions cropped up, and eventually choked the cellular phone market for games. Then they leaked over into the console market either via DLC (more on this in a few) or straight up microtransactions for items in the Free to Play MMO market.

This gave way to the Pay to Win model for cellular and FTPMMO games, which was pretty heavily frowned upon by the general game buying public. Pay to Win gave the ability for those with large wallets (or not so large, tragically) to, quite literally, drop as much money as they wanted in order to get rewards to make the games easier. Either through equipment, or resources, or extra in-game currency. It made for an unfair advantage for those who were willing to spend money on the game beyond the initial purchase, or download.

DLC is another animal altogether, and I don’t know that it’s really fair to include it in the microtransactions that I listed above, but I do want to discuss it as they are (somewhat) similar. 

Let’s get the most infamous piece of DLC out of the way, and the most egregious offender: Horse Armor. In “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion”, Bethesda released a piece of cosmetic DLC for your in-game horse that gave it barding, and made it pretty.

That was it. That was the only function.

It cost you $2.

DLC has been around in one form or another, be it in-game items (Fallout 3, and New Vegas had a lot of these), mission packs, or even a full storyline for the game (hello again Fallout). It’s generally been well received, unless said DLC was locked on the disc at release date (Hello, CAPCOM).

Now to the heart of the matter: Are Loot Boxes better or worse for the industry?

Loot boxes, if you’re not familiar, are a way of dispensing new cosmetic designs, equipment, and in-game currency to the player. Overwatch’s loot box design, for example, is the primary way for a player to receive new skins, new in-game sprays, and player icons. Player’s can purchase skins with in-game currency, and can also purchase loot boxes with real money.

This seems like the norm nowadays, with companies adding loot box systems into one-time purchase games (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds), or free to play games (League of Legends, Dota 2). It’s not uncommon, and in the beginning, didn’t seem very harmful. You were 100% free to play however you wanted, and the in-game currency, or leveling up, won your loot boxes. You could kick a few dollars to the developer, and purchase the loot boxes, accessing cosmetics at a faster rate, but not unbalancing the game in any way.

Now we have loot boxes that offer up items that unbalance the game. New armor, weapons, or boosts, are available in loot boxes. Battlefront 2 has taken a LOT of heat for their loot box system that they tested in open beta. Star Cards offer up upgraded versions of basic stats and abilities for the multiplayer mode. They’re only available in random loot drops, which, on the surface, seems fine. The boxes are purchasable, which is the big issue that people have been giving EA heat over.

They’re theorizing that the boxes will be purchasable with real money, too, which would be a HUGE game balance issue. 

It may be that people are prematurely freaking out, but given EA’s track record, it’s entirely possible that they’re not.

EA and DICE have given assurances that they are definitely listening to the feedback and are looking into making the game as balanced as possible.

This is all for multiplayer, but what happens if single player games start implementing loot boxes?

Hello, Middle Earth: Shadow of War. Let’s chat about you for a few minutes. You’re a $60 game with a loot box model that allows players to drop money on top of the $60 they’ve already spent on you in order to unlock more powerful Uruks to command in a SINGLE. PLAYER. GAME.

Let that sink in for a minute.

There’s a pretty complex system of loot crates and upgrading in the game. There’s three different currencies, and four different categories (and some with subcategories) of loot crates. You can complete daily challenges to earn in-game currency for the crates (why does this feel like a freaking MMO in a single-player game?), or purchase bundles that package up a handful of the loot crates for you to open to receive better gear, or better Uruks.

There’s a huge write-up on Kotaku by Patricia Hernandez that goes very in-depth on the subject. Better than I can do so, but suffice to say I’m pretty negative on the topic, even if Patricia never felt that purchasing loot crates was necessary to progress in the game.

Like them or not, loot boxes have given the industry almost triple the value, and they’re likely here to stay. 

Total Biscuit also gave a pretty lengthy diatribe on the topic, check it out here.

I don’t support them in a single player game. I don’t support them in a balance-breaking fashion of giving people who pay a huge boost as opposed to people who do not. 

However, I support loot boxes that change the cosmetics, or giving the players the option to purchase those cosmetics with IN GAME currency. That’s the thing, if you give the player the option to not pay at all, I’m fine with it. Let people who want to pay, pay for the cosmetic changes. Just don’t break the game balance. 

For Better or Worse, they’re here to stay. Especially when they’re making the industry so much damn money. 

A word and some merch!

Loaded Cart Gaming is over 2 years old now, which is pretty crazy. Paul and I never really had any idea where this road was going to take us when we got started. We knew we wanted to review and talk about games, but we didn't know what format that was going to take. The podcast was just kind of a random idea I had once upon a time ago while we were tossing ideas back and forth. 

I'm glad we went down that road, it's been a lot of fun. Personally I want to do a lot more. I really need to pick up the ball on the whole Download of the Month thing. I've been debating on some things to do with youtube, like maybe a weekly gaming news roundup. Maybe some more formalized reviews of the games we play. But those are all things on the horizon.

Things are going to get a nice little shakeup soon as my family welcomes in a couple of new members. I'm going to work to make sure to keep the blogs coming. I'm going to work with Paul to make sure we keep the podcast as close to schedule as possible. But there's no way to know what things are going to be like beforehand. 

But our audience is larger than it's ever been. We've been having more fun than we've ever had doing the podcast. And it's in large part due to all of you who hang out with us, and listen, and play games alongside us. Our shenanigans wouldn't be the same without you.

To kick off the future of Loaded Cart, we are proud to introduce our first piece of merch. It's a t-shirt with our banner logo. Available in 5 colors.  We hope to have more to come in the future. 

Thanks for being a part of this. I can't wait to see what year 3 holds!


The Cost of Cheating

When it comes to online games, there is a bizarrely hidden cost to people cheating. While it may seem totally harmless on the surface, companies have to waste resources and have personnel actively working on the problem players.

Two games brought this to light this week. First is the indie darling PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, who sent out a tweet saying that their cheat-busting methods have lead to the banning of more than 150,000 people. 8,000 of which were in the 24 hours prior to the tweet being posted. To put this in perspective, PUBG also recently boasted breaking 10 million players. So that means more than 1.5% of the total playerbase of the game has been banned for cheating. Which is nuts.

Next we have Overwatch, another immensely popular multiplayer game. The Game's Director released a video discussing players cheating and griefing in the game and telling players that combating these practices is hindering the development of the game. He talks about how they are working to combat toxic players and cheaters, and what players can do to help.

It sucks that resources have to be diverted for dealing with this stuff. It sucks that developers and companies have to go out of their way to curb bad behavior instead of improving their games. Some toxicity can be mitigated by other players, but a lot like road rage, some of it will happen whether people try to be helpful and nice or not. But cheating seems like an entirely different coin. Is there a way for a community to combat cheating? Or is the nature of exploiting these kinds of things such that it exists because there is a community there for it to antagonize?

What do you think? Have you ever dealt with someone cheating in a game you were a part of? Did you report it? Did anything happen? What's the most toxic player you've ever had to deal with? Let us know your comedy/horror stories in the comments below.


There's nothing going on this weekend that I find interesting, but the League of Legends World Championships begin next weekend. North America (USA! USA! USA!) is being represented by three really strong teams this year. For those that don't know, they use a weird "World Cup" style for the tournament where teams are randomly distributed into groups. They play the teams in their group. Then the top two teams from each group advance into a single elimination tournament.

Here's an awesome video explaining the whole format. It's a little complicated.

And here you can watch the official sorting/draw for the tournament if you want to hear about the teams and see all the pomp and circumstance.

We'll talk about this more next week. And I hope you'll help me cheer on all three North American Teams as they try to bring home our first world championship!

Shadow of War Just Can't Win...

Shadow of War has been in the news a lot lately. First it was the big reveal at E3 that got everyone excited about what looked to be a great sequel to an incredibly well received and underappreciated game (Shadow of Mordor).

Then came the Microtransactions. It came to light that the WB produced game would include a loot box mechanic that would allow players to buy things that directly impact the single player experience in the game. But that's not what we're going to talk about here, tune into the next podcast episode to hear about that one.

Now there's a big scandal surrounding the game and one of its bits of DLC. During the development of the game, a member of the studio passed away after a battle with cancer. Mike Forgey was one of the Executive Producers of Shadow of Mordor and was one of the driving forces behind the Shadow of War as well. In tribute to Forgey's contributions to the games, the studio made a special Orc names Forthog Orcslayer that can be unlocked via a DLC purchase. It will function a lot like the "Mysterious Stranger" of Fallout fame (if you aren't familiar, the Mysterious Stranger randomly shows up in combat and lends a helping hand). The DLC will cost $4.99 and is available for preorder now alongside the game itself. WB and Monolith both stated that all proceeds from the sale of the DLC will go to Mike's family.

This all sounds awesome right? Great for a studio to recognize one of their coworkers and help out his family in a time where things are probably very rough for them. But there was something about the announcement that bothered some fans of the game... "For every $4.99 Forthog Orcslayer purchase made in the U.S., WBIE will donate $3.50." 

Their reaction, understandably, was, "Wait... just purchases made in the US? And only $3.50 out of the $4.99? Where is the rest of the money going?" Which lead to people digging into the fine print of the announcement and the DLC itself. The first person to really shed light on this whole thing was Total Bisquit in this 20-minute YouTube discussion of the issue. And from there it has absolutely blown up and turned into a giant maelstrom of media anger.

You see, in the fine print there are a bunch of exceptions where NONE of the donations go to the family. Multiple states in the US won't legally allow donations in this manner, so they're exempted. And most of the rest of the world also won't count toward the total being donated to the family. 

This has forced Warner Brothers studio to come out and make statements that they would "not profit from the sale of this DLC." 

The problem is, due to a lot of the negative press surrounding the game and their microtransaction business practices, no one believes them. And this is a legitimate concern. Especially when it comes to alleged acts of charity at the hands of players purchasing things, the players, the customers, deserve to know where and how their money is going to be handled. There needs to be transparency here, not fine print. Which sucks. It sucks for players. It sucks for the family of Mike Forgey. It sucks for his friends at the studio that just want to honor the friend that they all lost far too early. This is not how they want to memorialize him. 

But what do you think? Do you think people should calm down and wait and see how things are handled? Do you think the pitchforks are warranted? Can you think of a better way to handle all of this? Agree with Total Bisquit? Let us know in the comments below.


This weekend we have the NA LCS Gauntlet. The 6th through 2nd place teams play to see who gets to potentially punch their ticket to the World Championship tournament. It kicks of Friday with Flyquest vs Team Dignitas. Then the winner of that series plays Counter Logic Gaming on Saturday... and then the winner of that series plays against Cloud9 on Sunday. All games begin at 3pm Eastern and all backs are against the wall. Lose and you are almost guaranteed to stay home.

You can find all the coverage details at the LoLeSports website.

Also this weekend, there's some playoff caliber esports games being played via the mobile MOBA Vainglory. Their big Vainglory 8 event is this weekend. The top 6 teams from Europe and the top 6 teams from North America collide in a huge event to determine who the best truly is. If you're curious about the game, and want to check it out, coverage options are available over on the Vainglory eSports website.

Paid Mods Arrive, Not with a Bang, but with a Whimper

So this week, Bethesda proudly trumpeted in the arrival of the Bethesda Creation Club, officially launching the Beta access for the program for Fallout 4. There are only a handful of mods available right now, but it should be enough to give us a rough idea of what to expect from the program.

So what is available for purchase? 

2 new armor types (that cannot be modified) (one is Chinese Stealth Armor from Fallout 3, the other is crossover armor from Prey), a modular backpack that offers various in-game buffs, 3 paint jobs for your Pip-Boy, 1 paint job for your power armor, 2 new weapons (pipe version of a shotgun, hand cranked gauss rifle), a furniture pack, and 2 new suits of power armor.

Most of these just magically appear in your inventory or become instantly available to craft via their various means. A couple of them, however, are only available through new quests. The Chinese Stealth Armor, the schematics for the gauss rifle, and both sets of power armor. 

So it's off to a slow start. But it does give some insight into what we should expect as far as values and prices for their paid mod services. Right now, on Steam, you can get 750 Creation Club Credits for $8. Pip-Boy paint jobs are 50 credits a pop. The Power Armor paint job is 100 credits. The new armors very in price from 250 credits for the horse armor (we will get to this in a minute) to 500 credits for the unmoddable Hellfire Power Armor. All of the initial offering comes in at a total of 3000 credits. Coincidentally, you can buy 3000 credits for $25. 

They are going to give everyone 100 credits for "free" to check out the service. But let's be honest here, there are only 2 things you can buy for those 100 credits right now. A paint job for your power armor, or 2 paint jobs for your Pip-Boy. So if you want anything of substance from the service, you're going to have to break out your wallet.

But there are two armor mods we need to talk about. The first is the Hellfire Power Armor. It's modeled after the Enclave's Hellfire armor from Fallout 3. It wasn't in Fallout 4 because the Enclave isn't in Fallout 4. But there is some controversy surrounding this particular mod in the Creation Club. Mainly, this mod is available for free, made by fans, and actually looks better outside of the Creation Club... but only if you're a PC Gamer. Seriously, take a look at this, it's a little nuts and has people worried about the nature of Bethesda's paid mod service.

And then, let's talk about the Horse Armor. When it comes to Bethesda and paid DLC, they will always be the butt of jokes about their Oblivion Horse Armor DLC... literally cosmetic horse armor you paid for for use in The Elder Scrolls 4. One of the power armor get ups they have available for $3 from the Creation Club is a suit of power armor that's been jury rigged with Giddy Up Buttercup toy ponies. Literal Horse Armor. A tongue-in-cheek reference to the past of Bethesda. But I'm going to go out on a rather sturdy limb here and say that this is an incredibly tone-deaf offering by Bethesda that only strengthens resentment from fans toward their paid mod programs (which Bethesda still claims isn't a paid mod program, btw). 

The problem is that it's not funny in the way Bethesda probably hopes that it is. People were literally already making horse armor jokes when Bethesda announced the Club (myself included) and now we are literally receiving affirmation that that's exactly what this program is for. A money grab from Bethesda with minimal effort from the company to squeeze as much life and money out of the same 2 games (Coming to Skyrim in September!) while dragging their heels on the next game that fans want. 

To make all of this even worse, the addition of the Creation Club actually breaks lots of free mods that people have been using for years now in some cases. It changes and forces the mod load order to be done alphabetically instead of however you have them configured. Anyone with significant experience modding Bethesda games knows that the order mods get loaded in can be EXTREMELY important. Mods will stop working, saves can be corrupted, and very bad things happen if you change and mess with the load orders... 

I know for me, I will be incredibly critical of Bethesda's next offering. I will not be pre-ordering it. I will not be purchasing a Season's Pass for DLC without them announcing what all the DLC will be. And I will be avoiding paid mods like the plague. But for any of that to happen, Bethesda has to actually announce a game first. November marks 6 years since the launch of Skyrim, and Bethesda says it is not working on the Elder Scrolls 6 and that the next Elder Scrolls game is still years away. We are waiting. 

Here's a video from a youtuber JuiceHead who bought all of the initial mod offerings to show them off, so you can check them out for yourselves.


Man, last week was interesting. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has a really interesting method for covering their games on stage. 70+ players is kind of nuts for one play area. The stage was divided interestingly so that teams could be clustered together. I highly recommend checking it out. And oh man, their trophies are hilarious. Bronze, Silver, and Gold Frying Pans. Brilliant.

This week though, we have the finals of the LCS Summer Split. And we get the matchup we deserve. #1 vs #2. Team SoloMid, who have literally played in every Split Final that has existed in the LCS. Which is nuts. They face off with relative newcomer the Immortals. It's their second year in the LCS. Last year they fell short in the Semi-Finals, this year they get a shot at the big trophy. I can't wait to see this showdown.

Sunday September 3rd @ 3pm - Team SoloMid vs Immortals - Hopefully this will start close to 3pm. See my post from last split complaining about how Riot puts the EU LCS playoffs first...

Coverage options can be found over on the LoLesports website.

The Problem with Preorders

This most recent fiasco of the Super Nintendo Classic Edition preorders sheds a light once again on the terrible problem we have in the gaming industry with preordering. It's a tradeoff we've dealt with for many years now, but it is changing drastically as physical media is slowly being phased out of the gaming industry in general.

So the first thing to say is that preorders are great for publishers and distributors. They are a great way to gauge how many physical copies of a game they need to send to each store requesting copies. But something curious happened a while ago. Several years ago, Gamestop started adopting a policy of basically only ordering a handful of extra copies of a new game beyond their preorder numbers. So it became a pretty common theme at Gamestop to walk into a store on release day, see a stack of games behind the counter, and if you asked to buy a copy of the game, you would be told that they didn't have any in stock. Despite the fact that you were looking at the game, they were sold out. All of those copies were preordered. Eventually, the "fixed" this by keeping the preorders under the counter or in the back so that you couldn't see them.

With games going more and more digital, even on consoles, these problems are becoming more and more rare. It's simple to go on Steam of the XBox Live store and buy a game on day one. They never run out of stock. But we've seen some big problems lately when it comes to hardware.

Poor Nintendo keeps getting hit by this. First was the NES/Famicom Classic. For some reason, Nintendo thought this would be just a little gimmick and only a few people would want one. They sold out nearly instantly. They sporatically got new shipments, but those also sold out nearly instantly. Eventually Nintendo opted to stop making the NES Classic, leaving TONS of customers who wanted the console out in the cold. And the reseller market has gone insane, with the $70 console selling for $300.

This repeated on a much larger scale with the Nintendo Switch. Although they've been plagued by component shortages (like Apple buying all of the NAND memory on the planet to begin production of their next iPhone), the demand for the Switch has far exceeded the expectations of Nintendo. 

And now there is the SNES Classic. The preorders happened in North America last week and sold out everywhere nearly instantly. Nintendo has admitted that they plan to make more of this model than they did the NES Classic. They also say that they limited the number of preorders so that they could have copies available in the stores on day one. So we will see if it ends up like preorders of old.

One of the ways this preorder culture has shifted with the onset of digital content is with the growth of Season Passes for DLC. But that's a topic we will cover on another blog entry.

So what do you think? Do you miss physical preorders? Do you still go to places like Gamestop for preorders? Or do you just get everything through Steam or the XBox/Playstation Stores? Do you use Amazon for your preorders? Do you think Nintendo is just unlucky, or are they being too conservative with customer demand for their products? Let us know in the comments below.


So before we get into the LCS playoffs, I want to tip you guys off on a major eSports event for PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds over in Germany at Gamescon. Solos took place on Wednesday, Third Person Duos on Thursday, First Person Duos today, and Squads takes place tomorrow. Here's some links to watch the VODs.

Day 1: Solo Championships
Day 2: Duos Championships (Third Person) - Part 2 - Part 3
Day 3: Duos Championships (First Person)
Day 4: Squads Championships

LCS Semifinals! Two big matchups today. Can Team Dignitas or the Immortals be the first team other than Cloud9, Team SoloMid, or Counter Logic Gaming to play in an NA LCS Finals? We will find out!

Saturday August 26th @ 3pm - Immortals vs Counter Logic Gaming - Can CLG ride the momentum from last week's victory and take down Immortals? Or can Immortals break into the finals for the first time in their organization's history?

Sunday August 27th @ 3pm - Team SoloMid vs Team Dignitas - Can anyone stop TSM at this point in the season? Or will they steamroll their way into the World Championships? Can Dig pull out their biggest upset, or will they crack under pressure?

All of the ways that both of these games can be seen can be found on the LoLeSports website.

The Future of VR?

One of the most interesting games developed for VR thus far is a game out of CCP Games as a weird tie-in to their big game EVE Online, EVE Valkyrie. If you're unfamiliar, it's a dogfighting game where you get to fly around a ship from the pilot's cockpit and go pew pew pew. The game is one of the BIG exclusive titles for the Oculus Rift. What I want to talk about today is the recent announcement by CCP that the first big expansion for EVE Valkyrie is coming in September, and with it comes... Non-VR support for the game.

So for the first time, people without VR will be able to pick up and play EVE Valkyrie. Obviously, this is a departure from the original concept of the game. But importantly, it opens the game up to being played by a wider audience. And this is the crux of the whole scene of VR right now. It's difficult to make it as a VR Exclusive title, simply because the majority of gamers do not own a VR setup. 

This seems to be the future, make a good game with VR support, but also provide a way for people to play without it. Is this going to hurt adoption of VR? Would providing a way to play without VR potentially promote people toward picking up a headset and checking it out? I know I personally would love a VR headset, very specifically because of playing Elite: Dangerous.

But what about you? Do you think this compromise is the only way for VR to have a future? Do you think VR needs a huge exclusive title to get people to buy in? Do you want a VR headset? What would make you want to pick one up? Let us know in the comments below.


Playoffs are here! Teams battle for LCS Crown for the Summer Split and the right to represent North America at the World Championships. So far, only 3 teams have ever won the LCS. Team Solomid is in a strong position to win yet again. Cloud9 and Counter Logic Gaming aren't sitting too far behind. Immortals got a first round bye and might be the strongest team who's never won the LCS, with the best chance to break into the club. So here's the games for the weekend.

Saturday August 19th @ 3pm - Cloud9 vs Team Dignitas - On paper this is the closer matchup of the weekend. Dignitas is on a hot streak. Cloud9 looks to be in their normal playoff form. Can Dig pull off the upset, or will Cloud9 take their first steps in cementing yet another Championship game against Team SoloMid...

Sunday August 20th @ 3pm - Counter Logic Gaming vs Team Envy - Everyone expects CLG to easily win this matchup. They're working with a new jungler after some drama a few weeks ago, and this will be his first real stress-test on the big stage. Will he hold up? Can Envy finally pull out a win against a top 4 team? We will find out on Sunday.

As usual, all coverage options can be found over on the LoLeSports Website.

PS - Merch is coming soon! We hope to have a tshirt available within the next week or two. Stay tuned!

The Abuse of DMCA as a Negotiating Tactic

It's Friday again, so that means it's time for a blog! This week I want to talk to you about something that's been simmering for a few months, but I think is interesting to talk about. But beware, this can be a bit of a rabbit hole. I want to talk to you today about a game composer named Alex Mauer. While you may or may not recognize the name, you may have played some games that Alex has provided music for. Need For Speed: Undercover, Penny Arcade on a Rain Slick Precipice, Starr Mazer, River City Random: Underground, and a few others.

So this story really begins back in 2015, Imagos Softworks successfully funded a Kickstarter to make a retro R-Type style game called Starr Mazer. In the course of making the game, they hired Alex Mauer to provide some Chiptune music for the game. The contract was done as a work for hire and all rights and ownership of the music was retained by Imagos Softworks.

In 2016, Mauer had to take a medical leave of absence from her work with Imagos. Her work on Starr Mazer was left incomplete, and Mauer left her contracted position with Imagos. Imagos Softworks did not pay Mauer for the time missed at work and the unfulfilled portions of the contract. And this is where the weird rift begins.

Later in 2016, Imagos launches Starr Mazer: DSP on Steam, which makes use of Mauer's music since it is a continuation of the Starr Mazer franchise. 

In March of 2017, Mauer issues a DMCA takedown claim for Starr Mazer: DSP to Steam and gets the game pulled for using her music "without permission." (It's important to note, at this point, that Imagos does not require the permission of Mauer to use the music, since it owns the music as a part of the Work for Hire contract.)

Imagos appeals the takedown and provides the necessary documentation to Valve and the game gets reinstated. But in order to try and appease Mauer and her complaints, they remove all of Mauer's music from the game and work to replace it... so Mauer issues a second DMCA takedown for the game on Steam due to the game using her sound effects "without permission." (Also covered under Work for Hire contract.)

Imagos appeals this takedown too and gets the game reinstated. Again, they removed and replaced all of Mauer sound effects, at this point likely just trying to make the problem go away. So, of course, Mauer DMCA's the game again, this time claiming that while the assets weren't used, her sound files were still in the game and being distributed with the game.

Then things start to get weird. While Mauer has been claiming that the only reason she is sending these DMCA notices are that Imagos owes her money for the contracted work, she begins to issue DMCA takedowns for other game trailers that use her music: Potatoman Seeks the Troof, Legend of Dungeon, The Catastrophe at Catalina, A Death Road to Canada, and The Duck Game.

Then Mauer turned toward the Starr Mazer kickstarter page and issued DMCA Takedowns for the game's trailers. But then things get even more strange.

In an attempt to get Imagos to pay her the $10,000 she feels she is owed, despite not fulfilling her contract, Mauer begins to issue DMCA takedowns to YouTube content creators. (It's important to say here that Mauer *WAS* paid for her contracted work. She was simply not paid for the work she did not complete, and is seeking more money outside of the contract from Imagos for the work she had already completed.) So any gamers she could find who had Starr Mazer videos featuring her music were issued DMCA takedown notifications. Some of them multiple takedowns at a time. And if you know anything about the way YouTube works with its copyright strikes, if you get 3 copyright claims against your channel, your channel is done.

The only way to get these strikes removed is to contact the entity who make the claim and have them remove it. Many of these creators contacted Mauer, and were told various things, including something to the tune of, I will remove the strike if you complain to Imagos about this and get them to pay me. Essentially blackmailing YouTubers to try and get a company completely unrelated to them to pay her.

At some point in June, Mauer is banned from Steam Discussion Groups for harassing developers. 

Also in June, Imagos confirmed through their kickstarter that they had lost their publisher for Starr Mazer due to the antics of Mauer.

In July, Mauer attempts to use DMCA Takedowns to remove River City Ransom: Underground from Steam, but Valve rejects the initial claim due to the evidence provided by Mauer. Since this doesn't work, Mauer begins another campaign of DMCA Takedown notices against people playing River City Ransom Underground.

Star Mazer DSP gets its third DMCA claim on Steam overturned and returns to the platform. And Imagos' attorneys get a Temporary Restraining Order issued against Mauer to prevent her from issuing any further DMCA takedown claims against any works featuring Starr Mazer.

Mauer pivots and successfully gets River City Ransom Underground removed from Steam via DMCA. Thankfully, it has also been restored, making the decision to remove all of Mauer's work from the game as well.

So right now here is where things stand. Mauer is currently involved in a court case with Imagos Softworks. Imagos and their Lawyer have a GoFundMe page to help with the legal fees associated with the case. Mauer has fired her attorney. She's currently at a point where she is in the middle of a 30 day deadline to find new legal representation. The restraining order has been continued through the trial. 

All told, Mauer has had more than 100 YouTube videos removed and flagged for DMCA violations.  Which is insane. And it gets a little crazier, if it is proved that the DMCA claims were intentionally done in a fraudulent manner, that's more than 100 cases of perjury. So this could have huge legal ramifications and establish some important precedence for online content creation.

So what do you think here? Is this a blatant abuse of the DMCA system? Is it fair for YouTubers to get caught up in a legal dispute between a contractor and the company they work/worked for? Should there be legal recourse for the Content Creators for the claims made against them? Let us know in the comments below.

And... if you want to jump down the rabbit hole, I'm going to give you a bunch of links. It is a very interesting legal case and there is SO MUCH DRAMA surrounding the whole thing (I didn't even go into the whole thing where Mauer was committed - possibly involuntarily - for psychiatric evaluation):


LCS in on a one week break between the regular season and the playoffs for the Summer Split, so you'll get a break from that coverage for me. Which gives me a chance to highlight another esport... in this case, MOAR SMASH BROTHERS! There's a huge tournament this weekend coming out of the DC area called Super Smash Con. A lot of the big names will be there. And coverage will be a little spotty. 

You can find the full schedule over here. And from what I've been able to find you can watch some of the action over on the VG Boot Camp Twitch Channels (Channel 1 and Channel 2) throughout the weekend beginning around noon eastern on Friday. Additional coverage will be provided by MeleeEveryday.

Gaming Companies versus Streamers

Despite the slight delay, I have what I feel is an interesting topic of discussion for today. It oddly comes out of the Bungie camp, who recently announced that there would be some interesting limitations to the PC version of the upcoming MMO Shooter Destiny 2. So not only is the game coming out a month after the console version, which could be cause for red flags from some people that it will be your typical less-than-"ideal" PC port of a console game.

But where this announcement starts getting into interesting discussion territory is the fact that the game will intentionally hamstring streaming via programs like OBS and Xsplit, only allowing them to run under certain specific configurations and circumstances. Namely, "Game Capture" mode won't work at all. Instead, you'll have to do "Screen Capture" or "Window Capture" mode.

At the same time, external capture options (like streaming from a second computer) will work without issue. As will nVidia's Shadowplay, if you have a graphics card that supports it.

Oddly they're also cutting off third party overlays in Destiny 2. So chat programs like Discord and Mumble that occasionally have little popups to let you know who's talking (if you have them turned on), won't do that in Destiny 2. FRAPS and other framerate and statistical overlays are also "not compatible" with Destiny 2. 

The concern here on Bungie's part is that these third party applications "which repeatedly attempt to insert code into the Destiny 2 PC client may potentially impact game performance." But is that truly the case? Or is that just a fancy way of saying they're worried about people cheating?

And then I want to harken back to a slightly older story. Not terribly long ago, Atlas announced that gamers could NOT stream Persona 5 past a certain point in the game, because they didn't "want the experience to be spoiled for people who haven't played the game." They also had a whole bunch of other restrictions like not streaming major story spoilers. Seriously, the guidelines were absolutely insane. And worse, they threatened steamers with content strikes and account/channel suspensions if they did not comply.

After serious outcry from the gaming community, they backed off a little bit. Basically they just moved the date they don't want you streaming past in the game back a few months. They also apologized for coming across as threatening, claiming that they never intended to threaten people with copyright strikes. 

What do you think? Do you think it's fine for companies to hamstring people from streaming the way they want? Are hardcoded limitations fine? Are policies and threats fine? Should gamers and streamers be free to record or broadcast anything they want? Let us know your take in the comments below.


It's the last week of the Summer Split in the LCS and it promises to go out with an absolute bang. El Classico. Team SoloMid vs Counter Logic Gaming in a battle for the last playoff bye. Immortals have already punched their ticket into the second round of the playoffs, but this is a battle of the two biggest rivals in the LCS, on the big stage, with some pretty big stakes on the line. Last split CLG got knocked out in their wildcard game, so they want to avoid the wildcard round at all costs. The crowd should be super rowdy. This would be a great set of games to watch.

They play Sunday at 6pm Eastern over at LoLesports.

Microtransations Causing a Stir Again

It seems even the hottest game on the scene can't avoid a good microtransactions controversy. In preparation for their first big eSports event, Bluehole and Playerunknown have announced a special new loot crate into the Early Access game Battlegrounds in order to raise money for the tournament's prize pool. The crates contain purely cosmetic clothing items based on characters from the movie Battle Royale (the inspiration behind the game). 

But some of the game's community is rather unhappy about this turn toward the future. Not just because it's yet another paid game with impending microtransactions. But because one of the big promises from the developers was that there would be no microtransactions while the game was in Early Access. 

PlayerUnknown has been positioning this as a test for the future pay-to-open-crates system. And it's wrapped in the flag of filling the prize pool for their first big eSports tournament. But it definitely breaks the promise they made.

But what do you think? Do you think players are blowing this out of proportion? How should a developer handle a promise they've made to players when they need to break it? Are microtransactions for a game you pay for upfront crossing the line? Or is it okay if they're just cosmetic? Let us know in the comments below?


There are three teams slugging it out for the top two spots, and a handful of teams a couple games back that are looking to play the spoiler. There are a couple big matchups this week to be on the lookout for.

Saturday July 29th @ 3pm Eastern - Team Envy vs Counter Logic Gaming - Team Envy is sitting in a giant traffic jam for 4th place.  CLG is tied with Team SoloMid for second. CLG is trying to cement their first round bye in the playoffs. Can Envy play the spoiler this week? They get to play both second place teams this weekend, so it will be a great gauge of how playoff-ready the team truly is.

Saturday July 29th @ 6pm Eastern - Team Dignitas vs Immortals - Team Dignitas is in the dogpile for 4th place. Immortals is sitting in sole possession of first right now. And they need this win to stay there.

Sunday July 30th @ 6pm Eastern - Team SoloMid vs Team Envy - One of the last games of the week, Team SoloMid needs every win they can get to try and lock down their playoff bye. And Team Envy gets a second chance to spoil the party for one of the second place teams. 

You can catch all these games at Riot's LoL eSports website!

Razer going Public?

If things go as planned, peripheral company Razer will be holding an Initial Public Offering (IPO) sometime in October of this year. This is potentially a very interesting thing for a couple reasons, and will most certainly change the future of this company that most gamers are extremely fond of.

Over the years, I have personally owned a number of Razer products. My daily driver gaming mouse is the Razer Naga Right-Handed Limited Green Edition, which is just the right amount of amazingly obnoxious Razer Green. In the past I've used the first gen Naga, a Mamba, multiple Deathadders, and waaaaaaaay back in the day, a Boomslang. I rock a Razer mousepad (Vespula). And will whole-heartedly recommend a razor headset to people (seriously, if you need a decent gaming headset it's difficult to beat the Razer Kraken). I've tried the competitors from time to time, I've used my fair share of Logitech and Steelseries products, but I generally find myself coming back to Razer.

So the good thing for gamers is that if reports are to be correct, this could mean a HUGE influx of money into the company. Some predictions are estimating they will sell between $3 and 5 BILLION during their IPO. This allows them to invest in their Research and Development departments, and build up their manufacturing process to help deliver better products more efficiently and cheaply. But this is extra important for reasons that are a little scary from an outside perspective.

Razer hasn't turned a profit since 2014.

And this is where the concern comes in. The influx of money is good. But when you have to answer to shareholders, how long are you going to be able to operate at a loss before they demand changes? What corners will have to get cut to reduce costs? Will the premium quality gamers want and expect from Razer go away in the name of profits? 

Or will it push them into new markets we may not expect from Razer? They're already talking about making a cellphone... for gamers. Which kind of fits in line with expanding their offering of Laptops and other devices. So we can only wait and see.

What do you think of Razer? Do you own any of their stuff? Do you think this will be a good thing for the company? Or do you think this is the beginning of the death of Razer? Let us know in the comments below.


There are two clashes between top 4 teams this weekend. Both should be really promising. Right now there's a three-way tie for first, but that is definitely going to change this weekend.

Saturday, July 22nd @ 3pm Eastern - Team SoloMid vs Team Dignitas - TSM is on top of the pack tied for first right now. They actually have a better win loss record in individual games than the other two teams tied for the same series record as them. Dig is currently sitting right below the traffic jam on top and is just 2 games out of the top 3 with only 6 games left in the split. Beating TSM would be a huge feather for Dig to put in their hat as playoffs approach. Unfortunately for them, TSM seems to have found another gear coming out of Rift Rivals and won't settle for anything less than first place.

Sunday, July 23rd @ 6pm Eastern - Counter Logic Gaming vs Immortals - One must lose. Provided they both win their first game of the week, as they should, this game should kick one of these two teams out of first place. It should be a pretty great set of games.

When Bootlegging Gets Serious

As discussed a couple weeks ago, the biggest criticism facing Nintendo for the way they handled their NES Classic retro console was the short-sightedness of their production run and allegedly completely underestimating the desire people would have for their mini-emulator. And to make it all worse, when faced with this demand, Nintendo chose to stop making the console instead of ramping up production to meet it. So as consumers, if someone still really wants one, they have to turn to the re-sellers. And the markup is painful. As of the time of this writing, it's available from 3rd party sellers on Amazon for nearly $250. For a $60 console. Ouch.

But have no fear, the Chinese bootleg market is here to save the day! The weird bootleg trade around video games is nothing new. We can actually look back at the original NES to see the impact of bootleg cartridges. Bootleg consoles aren't anything new either. We've all seen the hilarious rip-off bootleg consoles, and heard the horror stories of people's parents or grandparents buying these online for christmas thinking they are "close enough." 

The difference here is that instead of the weird looks and bundling 5000 games on one console, they're actually trying to make something that looks and behaves almost exactly like the NES Classic. To the point where it's actually difficult to tell the difference unless you're looking for one. Externally, slight misalignments to the text on the front are one of the only clues that you might be dealing with a fake. They even go so far as to clone the UI of the thing to the point where only some fonts are slightly off. 

They're starting to make their way to the west, and they're undercutting the massive price hikes of the resellers. This might lead to the prices of the legit ones to go through the roof. Or... it could cut the legs out from under the market and cause all prices to plummet. We won't know until months from now what kind of impact it will have on sales and prices of the NES Classic on Ebay and the like. But it does pose some interesting questions.

If you really wanted an NES Classic, and didn't want to spend $300 on one, would you be willing to spend less to get one of these knockoffs? We know this isn't legal, but do you think Nintendo should make a pathway for another hardware manufacturer to build these consoles? Should Nintendo make a licensing fee for the software for these retro consoles, passing the hardware costs they don't want to incur off onto a 3rd party, but properly compensating the people who made the games? Do you think these issues will come around again once Nintendo potentially stops building and selling the SNES Classic in 2018? Let us know in the comments below.


Before we get into the LCS, I want to let you guys know that one of the biggest fighting game related eSports events takes place this weekend. Street Fighter V, Super Smash Brothers (Melee and Wii U), Tekken 7, Guilty Gear Xrd: Rev 2, Injustice 2, King of Fighters XIV, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, and BlazBlue will have massive tournaments this weekend in Las Vegas. EVO 2017 is upon us. And you can find a handy schedule of all the crazy action this weekend over here (including all the places to watch it). I plan to watch this randomly throughout the weekend. To make it all even crazier, the finals of the Street Fighter V tournament will be shown on ESPN2. If you find yourself with some free time, check it out. Coverage starts Friday around 1pm Eastern on a number of Twitch Channels.

The LCS returns this weekend coming off of the back of the NA LCS kicking the crap out of the EU LCS at the first ever Rift Rivals event. So this week I want to focus on a basement team. Phoenix1 did an amazing job last year, finishing in the top 3. But so far this split they have not been firing on all cylinders. They were in last place 2 weeks ago... but swept the week before Rift Rivals... and went 4-2 at Rift Rivals, finishing with a better record than *ALL THREE* European teams. Can they ride that momentum coming back into the NA Split? Let's find out.

Saturday, July 15th @ 3pm Eastern - Team SoloMid vs Phoenix1 - They have an uphill battle right off of the bat. TSM won Rift Rivals for NA. They're also tied for second place and biting at the heels of Counter Logic Gaming. This is going to be a difficult series for Phoenix1 to win.

Sunday, July 16th @ 3pm Eastern - Team Dignitas vs Phoenix1 - Dignitas fell pretty hard the last couple weeks of the split. They were sitting in second place going into week 5, only to lose both of their matches in a pretty disappointing fashion. Can they turn it around against Phoenix1? It may not be as easy as might once have seemed.

As usual, information for where you can watch these games can be found over on the LoLeSports website.

A year of Pokemon Go

This weekend marks a pretty weird anniversary in the world of gaming. At this time last year, Niantic was breaking an absolutely ridiculous number of records for game downloads and active players. Millions and millions of gamers picked the game up for a dose of Pokemon nostalgia and the promises made by this absolutely ridiculous trailer.

But a lot of people quickly got bored by what little gameplay there was at the time and many people stopped playing. Moving at a GLACIAL pace, Niantic has slowly been working on building out and improving upon the original design, but is it enough to lure people back? Or has the damage been done? 

I've been playing since launch (today marks exactly 1 year since the game was available in the app store for me and I downloaded it while in the IKEA parking lot in Atlanta and played for the first time inside of IKEA), and I can definitely see more appeal to the game today than there originally was when it launched. For me the game fills a weird role. Part of it is the completionist and collecting aspect of wanting to "Finish the Pokedex." But a lot of it is just it serves as a companion app for the things I like to do around here anyway.

I try to take my daughter out to some of the local parks here and go hiking, to get her out in nature and do a bit of walking. Pop some incubators onto eggs and work on hatching new pokemon. One of the big weaknesses still present in the game is made evident on a lot of these walks, it really is balanced toward players in big cities. Stuff spawns at low rates out in nature (where historical cell phone usage is pretty low, what spawns are based on), so the opportunity to catch some of the harder to find pokemon just never happens for me.

In a year, I have still never seen a Porygon, Snorlax, Gyarados, Dragonite, or Lapras in the wild. In fact, last week was the first time I'd ever seen a Dratini (evolves into Dragonite) in the wild. Which is insane. But thankfully, since they added the Buddy system a few months ago, it made filling out the Pokedex a little easier. If I have a Dratini, I can set it as my buddy and walk with it. Every once in a while (based on distance) you will get another candy for that pokemon. It can take a LONG TIME, but you can grind out the evolutions once you have the base pokemon.

And then there were the gyms. They were incredibly hard to deal with unless you had a group of friends you were playing with *AND* exactly the right pokemon at the right power levels to maximize the reputation grind at the gyms to take out pokemon at the most efficient rates possible. It was tedious and boring. Enough so that it wasn't really worth bothering.

Well, back in June Niantic rolled out a massive rework of the entire gym system. You can get badges in game for the individual gyms. It's easier for gyms to turn over. It's easier to make coin in the game from the new gym system (even if it's capped at 50 gold per day), making it easier to actually play the game for free. They also added a new Raid battling system, that only has a select few pokemon in it, but can definitely help with those people needing Snorlax and Lapras, since you get a chance to catch the raid pokemon after your group beats it. And you will need a group to beat a lot of the raids. It's pretty easy to solo level 1 raids. Level 2 raids are tough, but can be beaten solo if you have the right pokemon. Level 3 and 4 are an entirely different story, and again shows where the game is entirely different for people playing in a big city versus more rural players like myself.

But, let's look at some of the things from that original trailer, and see what the game still lacks. Right off the bat, you might notice all the weird signs saying "wild pokemon X meters" with arrows pointing to where they are. That definitely doesn't exist and likely never will. The game launched with an awesome footsteps system where you could literally stalk down a wild pokemon in the wild... but it caused some massive bugs and broke... and they replaced the system. Now it will show you what Pokestop the pokemon are close to, helping you track them down that way. It would be great if a system like that would come back to the game, but I don't think it's even remotely something they're trying to do any more, simply based on the fact that they never even bothered to try and fix the one that broke in the first place.

Trading. Still no trading in the game. Most people think it's because they're trying to figure out a way to make it safe and prevent people from getting ripped off (there are kids who play the game, after all). There is also a popular opinion that Niantic missed the boat to start dabbling in trading in the game when they introduced evolution items with the Generation 2 pokemon. Start with simple trading of evolution items to iron out the kinks in the trading system before flipping the "trade pokemon" switch.

PVP Battles. Also still don't exist in the game. Gym battles are still the only way to fight someone else's pokemon in the game. Niantic has actually stated that this is something they're working on though, so hopefully it will come sometime in the next year of development. But there is definitely nothing like the crazy battle royale they show in the trailer (might be trying to represent a gym battle), or the 3v3 battle they seem to be showing at one point too.

Raid Battle vs MewTwo. This is the most promising thing here. Like I said earlier, they just put Raid Battles into the game. And there is a level of Raid that hasn't been seen in the game yet (level 5), which many people think is reserved for legendary pokemon like MewTwo. Niantic has also said that "This summer will be Legendary." Hinting that we will see the Level 5 Raids this summer. Many people think the first will be at the big Pokemon Go event Niantic is throwing in Chicago. But the framework is in place, we will have to see when they pull the trigger on this.

So based on the trailer I've seen, I'd give Pokemon Go's first year a solid C+. The game is fun for what it is. They are making improvements to the game, even if they are on a similar scale to tectonic plate movement. The new gym system and raids have been incredibly refreshing to the game, and should remain fun for a while (as long as you can find people for the higher end raids). And with the addition of Generation 2, if you stopped toward the end of last summer, there's a ton more pokemon to catch now. Niantic has promised a "major update" every Quarter to the game, so big things every 3-4 months. Let's see how they live up to that promise.

So I encourage you to check it out again, pick it up and try it for a couple weeks. Get out and walk in the park. Try to play and have fun. It may surprise you how far the game has come in a year. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the game and if you still play, or what it would take for you to consider jumping back in. 


This weekend is a cool one for League of Legends. It's the first "Rift Rivals" event. It pits the top 3 teams from the Spring Split from North America and Europe against each other. It started on Wednesday, but there should be some great games today and through the weekend. Seriously, hard to go wrong with any of these games. Right now they're playing all the teams from the other region to see who's the best team this weekend. After today, the NA team with the best record will face off against the EU team with the best record in a best of 5 to see which region is the best right now! 

If you want to catch the end of the group play-ins, they start at 11am eastern Friday and run until probably 5pmish.

But the big series to watch will be tomorrow's finals. Where the best of these 6 teams square off to represent North America vs Europe for all the bragging rights.

It starts at noon eastern on Saturday and will be a pretty intense best of 5. And you can catch it all on the LoLesports website.

Nintendo's Retro Mini Consoles, Round 2

So one of the biggest bits of news to come out over the past week was the announcement from Nintendo that they were going to be releasing the Super Nintendo Classic later this year, just in time for the holiday season. So what do we know so far?

It will be available on September 29, 2017. Preorders have begun in a lot of places around the world. At the time of writing, preorders have NOT begun in the US. But preorders elsewhere in the world have ALREADY sold out.

It will retail for $80. If you can manage to get one at retail, the MSRP will be $80. If the Nintendo Classic edition is any indicator though, once it sells out, you can expect to pay 3-4 times that to people re-selling the console. (At the time of writing, the price of the NES Classic being resold on Amazon is between $200-225 for a $60 console.)

It comes with 2 controllers. This may not seem like a huge deal, and is probably the reason why this one is more expensive than the first Classic reissue. But it means you can play multiplayer right out of the gate without having to make an additional purchase. Nintendo has also said the cables for these controllers will be longer than the ones sold for the NES Classic, one of the biggest criticisms for the first attempt.

It comes with 21 games. It's not the 30 that the NES Classic came with, but arguably these games are higher quality and will provide more playtime than their 8-bit brethren. The biggest selling point for a lot of people is that they are including Starfox 2 with the system. It's a game that was finished back in the day, but never got released because it was finished right at the cusp of the N64 launch and the move away from the SNES and into the world of 3D. Which is a pretty cool idea of something to do. Importantly, I think that there aren't any weak games in this lineup. Everyone you expect to be there are there: Mario, Donkey Kong, Kirby, Samus, Mega Man, the Belmonts, Street Fighter, F-Zero, Final Fantasy 3 (really 6), Secret of Mana, Super Mario RPG, Earthbound, etc. I look at the list and the only game that I wouldn't be excited to play again is Super Punchout. While there are a bunch of games you can wish had also been included, the lineup they secured is pretty strong.

It will be available until the end of 2017. The biggest gripe most people had with the NES Classic was availability. After selling out almost immediately, they only randomly appeared in stores. And then one day they were just gone. Right off the bat this time, Nintendo has said they only plan to have the console available through the end of the year. So we know what to expect. They also say that basically aren't prepared to comment about any availability after the end of the year, so there's a change they might extend the run, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Speaking of availability, they will be shipping at least twice the number of SNES as they did the NES. We know this because Nintendo is reportedly shipping 160k systems to France for the September 29th launch. By comparison, they only sent 84k of the NES systems to France for the entirety of the throwback console's run. 

So what do you think about the SNES Classic? Do you want one? Would you rather Nintendo get off of their asses and get the Virtual Console out for the Switch? Would you rather see Nintendo do something like the new Sega Forever thing? Let us know in the comments below.


Friday and Saturday are absolutely STACKED with potentially good games. There are 5 teams crammed up into the top 4 places in the standings as we hit the halfway point of the LCS Summer Split. And all 5 of those teams face off in one way or another over the next couple days.

Friday June 30th @ 6pm Eastern - Cloud 9 vs Team SoloMid - Top two from last split. Rematch from the Spring Split Finals. TSM is tied for 2nd and Cloud 9 is only a game back. Seriously two of the best teams in the league with an absolute monster matchup in the midlane between Bjergsen and Jensen.

Saturday July 1st @ 3pm Eastern - Team SoloMid vs Immortals - The top two going into the weekend in a pretty epic clash. Are the Immortals for real, or is it all just hype? This will be a good test for them.

Saturday July 1st @ 3pm Eastern - Counter Logic Gaming vs Cloud 9 - Cloud 9 gets to play both teams tied for 2nd place this weekend. It gives them a great chance to catch up. But if they drop both games, it could be a disaster of a weekend for them. CLG looks to show that they really are all on the same page and ramping up to take North America to Worlds.

As always, you can find coverage of these games on LoL Esports.

Preserving the Legacy of Video Games

Sega has announced something in the wake of E3 that really interests me and I think is a very important step for the future of video games (and preserving the games of the past). Sega has announced something they're calling "Sega Forever" which I think is a step in an amazingly good direction for game and the people who love them.

With Sega Forever, Sega is porting a lot of their OLD games from their catalogs to mobile phones. They say they will have games from all of their systems over time, from the never-released-in-the-west SG-1000 to the ill-fated Dreamcast. They're also making them free for now, and supporting the program through advertising revenue within the app. Reportedly, you'll also be able to pay a one-time fee to turn off the ads (and enable local saves). These games will feature both on-screen controls and controller support for both iOS and Android. 

So the initial offering from Sega is only a handful of games: Altered Beast, Comix Zone, Kid Chameleon, Phantasy Star II, and Sonic the Hedgehog. In addition, Sega has committed to adding a new game to the platform every 2 weeks. Allegedly, they have *THREE YEARS* worth of games approved for the program and in the works. So, if done right, this could be a really great thing. There have been some hints at future titles too: Jet Set Radio, Revenge of Shinobi, and Girl's Gaiden (a SG-1000 game that never made it to the west, which is an awesome sign that we might be getting some games we've never been able to play before). 

So personally, I feel like this can be nothing but a good thing for preserving the history of video games. Anyone to take a look at the world of emulation knows that there is a HUGE desire for people to play older games. Whether it's games they loved as a kid, or trying out games they'd always heard about, but never had a chance to play. But Emulators have always been a massive legal grey area, and actually illegal if you don't own a physical copy of the game you're emulating.

There are companies actively working against the tides of time. Good Old Games is an amazing example of someone working to make older computer games available to play on modern systems. Which I highly encourage you all to go check out and find some of the old games you love and play them again.

But what roles should the developers themselves have in wanting to preserve their own legacies?

I know Paul and I have ragged on Bethesda for releasing 3873615976 versions of Skyrim, but how many fans of Skyrim have ever played any of the other Elder Scrolls games? Oblivion, probably. But that game is now more than 10 years old. It came out for the 360 and PS3, so it is still potentially accessible. But what about Morrowind? That game is 15 years old and was on the original XBox. How many people still have one of those kicking around? Yes, they're available for PC and are on Steam, but for the more casual fans who may be curious about the rest of the series, they may not go that route.

But what about even earlier Elder Scrolls games? Arena? Daggerfall? Redguard? Battlespire?! The later two are available on Good Old Games, but Arena and Daggerfall? They take a little more work to find. They were released for free by Bethesda in celebration for the 10th and 15th anniversaries of the Elder Scrolls series. (If you're interested, you can find Arena right over here, and Daggerfall right over here.)

But what about making them more accessible? We know that nearly 10 years ago, John Carmack got Fallout 3 working on the iPhone. To the point that Bethesda/Zenimax were debating on whether or not to move forward to releasing the game on the platform. This is important to note because Fallout 3 uses the same engine as the 3D Elder Scrolls games, and was released 2 years after Oblivion. Meaning *EVERYTHING* before Skyrim could easily be run by a modern cellphone/tablet. And hell, we know the Switch runs an nVidia Tegra chip (found in many Android tablets), and Skyrim is going to run on that. 

I would love to see the whole Elder Scrolls series available for iOS/Android. Especially with controller support. I would love to play through those games again, not to mention introducing them to a whole new audience of gamers.

How about you? Are there any old games you think might make a good addition to the mobile ecosystem of games? Would you love to see an official Nintendo "Forever" collection for your phone? Let us know in the comments below.


There are three teams tied at the top of the standings right now in the LCS. And they have a couple big clashes this weekend!

Friday June 23rd @ 6pm - Immortals vs Counter Logic Gaming - This match up has been being hyped all week. Look at the hype! This should be a great matchup to open the weekend's game. Only one can stay on top.

Saturday June 24th @ 6pm - Immortals vs Dignitas - Dignitas is the 3rd team tied for first. So we should get a feel for how all three stack up after this weekend.

Team SoloMid is knocking on the door though, and have 2 matches this weekend they should easily walk away with. So we could see even more of a traffic jam at the top by the end of the week.


Steam Greenlight is Officially Dead

It quietly happened earlier in the week, but Valve has officially killed off Steam Greenlight. We talked in an earlier post about the "Steam Direct" program that was being drafted to replace it, and the day has finally come that the switch has been flipped.

So some of the details that were up in the air have fully been hammered out. And here's the new and updated list of requirements for a developer to release a game via Steam Direct:

  1. Digital paperwork. We need to know about the person and/or company that we will be doing business with. So the digital paperwork includes all the expected information such as company name, address, and contact information. There is also a brief tax and identity verification process that a developer will need to go through once to get set up.
  2. The app fee. There is now a $100 recoupable app fee for each application to release on Steam. Steamworks developers will pay this fee once as part of the initial paperwork, which will unlock the first appID. Once all the paperwork has been completed, and the developer is set up in Steamworks, additional appIDs may be purchased for $100 each. This fee for each appID is returned in the payment period after that game has at least $1,000 in Steam store or in-app purchases.
  3. Review processes. Building a release pipeline to support thousands of developers and millions of customers is a delicate balance. We specifically don't want an onerous and detailed certification process that makes it difficult for developers to release games, but we also want some level of confidence that games are configured correctly and aren't going to do unexpected things to customers' computers. So we have a couple of brief review periods where our team plays each game to check that it is configured correctly, matches the description provided on the store page, and doesn't contain malicious content. These processes shouldn't take more than a day or two unless we find something configured incorrectly or problematic.

So the big deal is that second bit. They finally settled on the cost of entry into the program. Apparently they were originally considering a $500 fee, but feedback from their developer community pushed that number even lower. So they've settled on $100 to get a game put on Steam.

I think this is a great barrier for entry. It's low enough that an indie studio can easily budget this in. But it is high enough that it will keep someone from just putting any pile of crap on the store. Combined, with the review process highlighted in part 3, this can only be better for the gaming community at large.

Another interesting thing, at the time that they are making this switch, there were 3400 games pending approval in the prior Greenlight program. They've accelerated the acception process where they could, and this final class of Greenlight games have been Greenlit. Anything that failed to meet the minimum criteria (like not having enough voter data), is eligible to submit through the new Steam Direct program.

If you want to learn more about the process, or are interested in getting involved to get a game onto Steam, you can find out more info over here.

So what do you think about all of this? Do you look forward to seeing more indie content on the Steam store? Let us know in the comments below.


Sunday June 18th @ 6pm - FlyQuest vs Cloud9 - It's their first matchup of this split. Both teams are under-performing, but it's still really fun to see Hai and company play against their old team. I can't pick a team to cheer for, but I suspect that Cloud9 is favored to win here. 

As usual, this can be found at Riot's LoLeSports website.

I also want to take a moment to recommend another potential eSport to check out. SSB64 is throwing their big annual tournament this weekend SNOSA 3. If you want some fast paced and crazy Smash Brother's 64 action, this is the place to catch it this weekend. You can find out more information on the tournament itself over here. And I expect coverage to be on the official SSB64 Twitch Channel, which you can find at the link.

E3 2016 - One Year Later

So E3 begins this weekend, kicking off on Saturday at Noon Pacific (3pm Eastern) with the big Press Conference from Electronic Arts. But today I want to take a look back at the things Paul and I were hyped about and excited by from last year's event and see what has come out and what we might hear more about this year.

Mass Effect Andromeda - I almost feel bad talking about this one. It's one of the few that have actually made it to release. But I think we all know about the crazy issues they've had since launch. Which is a shame, because the game looked so promising and good. Hopefully Bioware can recover from this and it doesn't spell the end of the Mass Effect Franchise.

Visceral's Unnamed Star Wars Game - One of the most welcome surprises from last year was a tiny clip of an Unnamed game Visceral is working on for the Star Wars universe. This is something we *REALLY* want to hear and see more about this year. If I'm going to be honest though, I don't expect this game to come out for another 2-3 years.

Prey - Another game that actually has seen the light of day since E3. I don't feel like it's lived up to the hype of its E3 Trailer. Seriously, this thing looked amazing. I'm not sure where things went wrong, it seems like a decent game, just not something that blows your socks off.

Elder Scrolls Legends - Bethesda enter the Collectable Card Game arena. I played in the Beta and the game was decent. A mix of Magic: The Gathering mechanics with some of the simplicity of Hearthstone, all with the flavor of the Elder Scrolls universe. It just launched and went live, and is completely free to play. So go check it out if card games are your thing.

Sea of Thieves Still one of the games I'm most looking forward to. It's currently in a long-running series of "Technical Alpha Testing" as they add more features and polish to the game. I can't wait to see the updates Rare has for us surrounding this game on Sunday's Microsoft press conference.

We Happy Few - This game is currently in Early Access on Steam. It's been there since shortly after last year's E3. I wonder if we will hear and see more of this title? I wouldn't be surprised if we don't, but would definitely like to see more from this incredibly interesting looking game.

State of Decay 2 - Another one that's not out yet. The official website still says it will be released in 2017, so expect an update to this one at E3... unless something has gone horribly wrong.

South Park: The Fractured, But Whole - Speaking of things going horribly wrong. This game had hit so many delays... it's currently slated for an October release, so again I expect to see big coverage on the E3 stage. We will find out on Monday.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands - Another one that hit its mark and got released. Oddly, I've heard almost nothing about the game since it came out. I have no idea if it met the expectations given by the stage gameplay trailer. The only review I've really seen of it is Yahtzee's, so take it with something of a grain of salt.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare - Go figure the Call of Duty game that we found the most interesting ends up being one of the "worst performing" Call of Duty games in history. There've been a couple months where Black Ops 2 outsold Infinite Warfare... which is a shame.

Days Gone - This was one of the highlights of E3 2016, and it's already shaping up to be one of the most looked-forward-to updates this year as well. It's due out by the end of the year, so expect it to get a much bigger focus by Sony. They've already said it's coming, so we look forward to hearing and seeing more Monday Night.

Detroit: Become Human - Another amazing looking surprise from the Sony camp. Still due in 2017, so expect more teasers for this one. It almost won a couple awards at E3 last year (losing out to Horizon: Zero Dawn), so they know they have something going for them here.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild - Arguably the best game released so far this year. It's also the only game I've ever heard of that has outsold the console it's played on. Seriously, more copies of BotW have been sold for the Switch than there have been Switch sales. It's absolutely insane how much Nintendo hit this one out of the park. It's literally the only thing I personally want to play for the Switch... but it's not big enough for me to want to buy a Switch to play it. (Bring over that Seiken Densetsu anniversary edition, Nintendo!)

So yeah, we've seen a good chunk of things. Of the stuff we were excited by, we're basically right at 50% for seeing them released. Mass Effect, Prey, Elder Scrolls: Legends, Ghost Recon, Call of Duty, and Zelda have been released (6 games). Visceral's Star Wars, Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2, South Park, Days Gone, and Detroit have not (6 games). And We Happy Few is in Early Access... the weird limbo in between.

What are you looking forward to seeing at E3? Is there a game you're waiting to hear more about? Do you just want to be surprised by something new? Let us know in the comments below.


As we swing into the second week of the LCS, I've got another two games for you.

Friday June 9th @ 6pm Eastern - Phoenix1 vs Cloud9 - A battle of what were 2 of the top 3 teams from last split. They both should be poised to end up in the top 3 again. Just a matchup of two really good teams.

Sunday June 11th @ 6pm Eastern - Counter Logic Gaming vs Team SoloMid - El Classico. I will never not recommend watching this matchup. I may not be a big fan of either team, but this is a grudge match. The teams hate each other. There generally tend to be crazy bets on the line. The crowds go absolutely nuts for this matchup. It just makes for a great thing to watch.

Hit up the LoL eSports site for the best places to catch these matchups.