The Fryer, Vol. 9
Valve announces Wii version of Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead will make full use of the Wii's unique controls.
Valve became the latest third-party developer to announce its support for the Nintendo Wii today, announcing a version of zombie first-person shooter Left 4 Dead would be coming to the system sometime in the fall.
"When we saw games like Dead Rising and Dead Space were coming to the Wii, we thought, 'Hey, we've got a game with "Dead" in the title...'" said Valve CEO Gabe Newell, drawing laughs from the assembled press during today's announcement. "Seriously, we think our unique survival horror experience is a perfect fit for the Wii's massive, massive base of consumers with money to spend."
While Newell said Valve is striving to make the Left 4 Dead experience "as authentic as possible" on the Wii, he did admit that the system's less-powerful hardware will necessitate some changes. Among the most noticeable is the removal of player-characters Zoe and Louis, transforming the game into a two-player adventure. "We believe the feeling of cooperation and camaraderie comes through just as well with the reduced character roster," Newell told the audience.
While local cooperative play won't be available, players that have swapped Friend Codes will be able to play through the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection, Newell explained. To make up for the Wii's lack of a voice chat feature, Newell promised a "context-sensitive menu" that can be used to send quick text messages such as "Oh no, a zombie" and "There's a zombie over there!" Newell also promised to take advantage of the Wii's unique features, with Balance Board support for "players that want to really run from the zombies" and the ability to replace the zombies with Miis, so players can "blow away their friends and family members with a shotgun." (Late update: A Nintendo spokesperson has told the Fryer that this last feature may not actually make it into the final game).
A brief demo of an early version of the Wii port showed some less-welcome changes to the game. Familiar areas that were crowded with dozens of zombies in the Xbox 360 and PC versions of Left 4 Dead seemed incredibly empty during the demo. At one point, when a massive Tank zombie came around a corner, the few other zombies on screen simply blinked out of existence. Later in the demo, a Boomer explosion attracted a horde of exactly three zombies shambling slowly down an alley. "Of course, this is still very early," Newell explained as he frantically shook the Remote to push a zombie away. "In the final game, we hope to double the size of this horde."
The fact sheet for the game also promised "10 exciting, zombie-killing mini-games" that were not mentioned or shown during the press conference.
Area man is the new publisher of Electronic Gaming Monthly
Many gamers and members of the game industry are still mourning the recent shuttering of Electronic Gaming Monthly after nearly 20 years of continuous publication. But one area resident is actually doing something about it, purchasing up the EGM brand from publisher Ziff Davis and taking the magazine in a bold new direction.
"Electronic Gaming Monthly has been an integral part of my gaming life since I was a young child," said Mike Cooper, 29, a former 7-11 cashier and EGM's new publisher. "We can't wait to restore this proud magazine to the central role it once occupied in the gaming space."
Calling initial advertiser, investor and newsstand interest "less than I was expecting," Cooper announced today that the new magazine would be available exclusively to subscribers at a cost of $30 a month, in order to cover substantial home publishing costs. Cooper also admitted he lacked the immediate funds to hire back any of the well-known EGM writers -- or any paid writers at all -- instead choosing to rely on the help of his "best buds" who are "pretty serious gamers" to produce most of the content.
A preview of the first issue, made available to the press as a stapled-together stack of Xerox copies, seemed to be culled together primarily from various online sources. GameSpot and IGN watermarks were visible on many screenshots, and a few references to online gaming sites remained in the copy. "We recommend that readers of the new EGM stay away from gaming Web sites, so they can capture that feeling of giddy anticipation by running to the mailbox every day just to see if their monthly dose of gaming information is finally here," Cooper said excitedly. "Sure, the information might be a little out of date, but you can't read the Internet on the toilet! Unless you have a laptop. Or a smartphone. Or an Amazon Kindle. Ore one of those cool new shower doors with the built-in computer monitor ... those look pretty cool..."
Financial details of the brand transfer were not made available to the press, but sources close to former EGM publisher Ziff Davis indicated a rather cheap acquisition. "Look, we've been trying to get rid of this thing for two years, and then UGO comes along and buys 1UP, and even they don't want EGM," said a management-level Ziff Davis source on the condition of anonymity. "Recently I'd been joking with my friends that if someone came along with five bucks, we'd give them the whole magazine. Imagine my surprise when almost that exact thing actually happened!"
Latest round of layoffs leaves only five employees at EA
Electronic Arts announced major layoffs today. Pictured are four of its five current employees.
There was more bad economic news for the game industry today as mega-publisher Electronic Arts announced layoffs for all but five of its best developers.
"Lower-than-expected revenue has forced us to take the drastic step of letting go of 99.6 percent of our employees," said EA CEO John Riccitiello in a conference call to investors. Riccitiello went on to explain that he would be staying on to oversee the new workforce of five veteran developers that's now in charge of all of EA's gaming franchises. "We believe this new, streamlined workforce will drastically lower our expenses and return us to the kind of record profitability it has enjoyed in years past."
Riccitiello stressed many times during the call that the reduced workforce would not lead to a reduction in the quality or timeliness of EA's releases. "I've looked at the schedule that [new head developer and sole employee of EA Sports] Jim [Sanders] put together for the year, and it seems very doable: NASCAR in May, Tiger Woods in June, Madden in July -- I mean, he's got an entire month to devote to each of these projects. It'll be fine!"
Besides the reduction in staff, Riccitiello also said the company's plan to focus on established franchises over new IPs would help profitability. "I won't lie to you; in this economy me and the guys feel much safer sticking with series that have proven track records, rather than rolling the dice with something we'd have to design from the ground up," he said. "The games you'll see coming out of the new EA might seem familiar, but trust me, every new release will have at least two new features to differentiate it from what has come before."
Fired employees expressed shock but also a measure of relief at the news of the sudden mass firings. "On the one hand, it sucks that I and pretty much everyone I know at EA don't have jobs anymore," said Sam Kennison, an art director who's been with the company for 15 years. "On the other hand, I've been working weekends and 20-hour days nonstop for the past year, and I'm about ready for a break. Maybe I'll finally take that vacation my wife's been bugging me about..."
Shares of Electronic Arts jumped 50 percent in late trading after Riccitiello's announcement.
Editor's note: These stories are 100 percent satire. Yes, Kyle Orland made it all up.