The Problem with Viral Fundraisers

ice-bucket-challenge-headerYou have to have been under a rock to have not seen the latest fundraising campaign to take the world by storm. Everyone from the pop culture icons to athletes to random guys down the road from you have been posting videos of them doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The problem with the Ice Bucket Challenge is that many people seem to be missing the point of the Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s supposed to be a fundraiser for your national ALS society or fundraising group. However, many people are guilty of just dumping a bucket of water on their heads, posting the videos online and having a laugh for their 15 seconds of fame with complete disregard for the cause.

It’s not just the ice bucket challenge but the whole idea of needing a fundraising or awareness campaign to actually make headway for your charity is really sort of sad. And the biggest problem with viral campaigns is the sort of “slacktivism” that hides the real goal of the campaign.

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Can A New MOBA Compete in an Oversaturated Genre?

lol-vs-dota-mobas-collide-by-vitor-aizenThe International might be taking place right now and it is the biggest eSports tournament in history but it’s far from alone in the MOBA genre. While it’s big, Dota 2 only boasts 9 million monthly players to League of Legends’ 67 million people playing each month. While they’re two of the most popular games in the world, they’re far from the only MOBAs on the block.

Alongside League and Dota is an ever-expanding group of competitors in the MOBA sector. In the last year or so alone, we’ve seen alphas, betas and full releases of Smite, Dawngate, Heroes of the Storm, Infinite Crisis, Dead Island: Epidemic and more. That’s not included the recently announced MOBAs from Gearbox, Crytek and CD Projekt.

With so many MOBAs entering the market against dominating category leaders, do any of these new entries stand a chance and what, if anything, can they do to compete?

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How Steam is Striking Gold with the Summer Adventure

steam-summer-adventure-headerWhen Steam launched the 2014 edition of the Steam Summer Sale, it came with a new wrinkle that no one saw coming. No, I’m not talking about the four packs of Community Picks. This time out, Steam introduced the Summer Adventure to the sale. While it looks like a little competition between users for prizes, it’s actually another quiet way for Valve to make a few dollars more from Steam.

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Titanfall is Poised to Completely Change the FPS Genre

titanfall-header-largeWhen I was at Fan Expo last August, someone in line for the State of Gaming panel asked the group of us waiting where we thought the industry was headed. Increasing the quantity and quality of free-to-play games was a popular answer. More mobile games for core gamers was another answer. Motion controlled games on Kinect, Wii U and PS Eye finally becoming proper gaming was a less popular suggestion but it was made.

After some pondering, I realized that those answers weren’t wrong but I had a better one. While all those ideas might be right, I think Titanfall might be a harbinger for where the industry is headed. It has nothing to do with mechs or pretty graphics or third-party triple-A games going exclusive. It has everything to do with dropping the single-player campaign and launching a game with only multiplayer.

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Why I’m Boycotting the Sochi Olympics

sochi-olympic-boycott-headerThere was seldom a moment during the London Olympics that I was tuned away from live broadcasts, especially during handball. I was one of the two-thirds of Canadians who watched Sidney Crosby end the Vancouver Olympics with an overtime goal to win the men’s hockey gold medal.

This time, I won’t be watching. I don’t care if Patrick Chan sets another world record in figure skating or Canada plays Russia for the gold medal in a game that goes to overtime. I won’t be watching my Winter X-Games favourites, slopestyle and halfpipe, or the curlers from my hometown battle for gold.

While the Olympics are supposed to be about coming together, the spirit of unity, and a celebration of sport and national pride, none of that is on display in Sochi. The Russian government, Sochi Olympic organizing committee and the International Olympic Committee have created an Olympic games that does none of that and I want no part of these Olympics.

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It’s Not Free-to-Play but Mobile Gaming That Is Broken

dungeon-keeper-microtransactions-headerThe big story in the games news world right now is EA’s mobile release of Dungeon Keeper. The original Dungeon Keeper was released in 1997 and was an instant cult hit. Gamers loved it and game designers were influenced by it. Even today, Dungeon Keeper is often among the top sellers on GOG.com.

The mobile version of Dungeon Keeper pretends to pay homage to the cult classic and instead bastardizes it with the worst free-to-play microtransactions system that many people have seen. While we’re used to free-to-play cash grabs, this might be the most blatant attempt to stop gameplay at every possible turn to squeeze the player for more money.

I don’t think, however, that the problems with Dungeon Keeper Mobile aren’t a result of the free-to-play model. If you go looking for free-to-play games, not all of them are blatant cash grabs. However, when you look at it more closely, you find that so-called games designed to print are really a mobile gaming problem.

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The Economics of Steam Trading Cards and the Steam Wallet

steam-trading-cards-headerIt’s been six months since Steam introduced their Trading Cards. When they first launched, I was utterly confused as to why anyone would be interested in virtual trading cards that had no purpose and no value. It just seemed like a way for Valve to make some money that no one would buy into.

However, having just completed the Steam Holiday Sale, it’s readily apparent that Valve has hit a home run with the Trading Cards. It’s not just the transaction fees that are making Valve money. The spin-off effect from Trading Cards does just as much to make Steam even more profitable.

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