The Bulletin


The Big Score

Grand Theft Auto hits it big and SimCity travels to the world of tomorrow.

By Sam Barsanti • September 23, 2013

The Bulletin is a roundup of a few game-related news stories from the previous week.

Grand Theft Auto V, a game about taking money from people, has taken all the money
Grand Theft Auto V

We don’t cover financial stuff at The Gameological Society often, but this is the sort of feel-good underdog story that everybody loves to hear about. Remember Grand Theft Auto V? According to Polygon, it made $800 million worldwide on the first day it was in stores, setting a new launch-day record for the series. Unless you’re reading this on a solid gold MacBook, it’s probably hard to imagine just how much money that really is. Let’s lay out some examples to help visualize it. With $800 million, you could buy 125,000,000 delicious chicken burritos from Qdoba. You could buy 800 copies of the million-dollar Saints Row IV special edition (giving you 800 trips into space, 800 Lamborghini Gallardos, and so on). According to Wikipedia, $800 million is more than the nominal GDP of Grenada. The point is, $800 million is a ridiculous amount of money for Grand Theft Auto V to have raked in after only one day.

Even more ridiculous is the news, as reported by Joystiq, that the game’s sales crossed the $1 billion mark on Thursday, breaking a record set by Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2, which took 12 days longer to reach $1 billion. If the game continues to sell at the rate of about $1 billion a week—and there’s no reason to think it won’t—it will pass the GDP of Iceland by the end of the year and make the developers at Rockstar enough money to build a house out of Lamborghini Gallardos. We can put any doubts about the possibility of Grand Theft Auto VI to rest.

Wii Sports coming to Wii U, but it’s not Wii Sports U
Wii Sports

Since its launch, the Wii U has struggled to replicate the cultural ubiquity of its predecessor. Some observers have attributed this to its lack of a Wii Sports-like experience—a game that is approachable and conveys what makes the system special to anyone who plays it. Now, Nintendo is set to bring the Wii U its very own Wii Sports-like experience, which is to say, Wii Sports is coming to the Wii U. The same Wii Sports. The one that was free with every Wii console. It wouldn’t be a Nintendo game if the company weren’t charging you for something old, so this new version of Wii Sports, dubbed Wii Sports Club, will not be free. As reported by Kotaku, each sport will be available separately as a $10 download, or you can rent 24 hours of access to all of them for $2. Wii Sports Club will also introduce online multiplayer to the series with a “club system” that allows you to register by “state or region” to compete in events and chat with other nearby players. The Wii Sports Club games will start coming to the Nintendo eShop on November 7 with tennis and bowling—aka, the best ones—arriving first. Boxing, baseball, and golf will be available at some point in the future.

Blizzard announces plan to shut down Diablo III auction house
Diablo III

It looks like some Diablo III players are going to need to get a real job. Last week, the developers at Blizzard announced they will be shutting down the game’s auction house, a system that allows users to sell in-game items for in-game gold and real out-of-game money. As explained on the company’s official site, Blizzard felt that the auction houses “undermines Diablo’s core gameplay: Kill monsters to get cool loot.” To that, I say: Duh. Diablo has always been about going into a dungeon and hacking at monsters until they spit out a better sword or a fancier pair of pants. When you give people the opportunity to bypass that monster-killing and buy that fancy pair of pants with real money, it defeats the purpose of killing virtual monsters in the first place. The auction houses won’t be closed down until March 18, 2014, so there’s still plenty of time to trick some poor sucker into paying way over market price for your level 45 Vengeful Skull Hammer (or some actual Diablo III item).

EA announces new expansion to take SimCity…TO THE FUTURE

Life hasn’t been easy for EA’s SimCity reboot. The internet connection-dependent game ran into crippling issues early on and endured mixed reviews. The best way to solve your problems is by using a time machine, which is why SimCity’s next big expansion pack is taking the urban-management sim into the future with Cities Of Tomorrow. As seen on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the expansion will allow you to turn your metropolis into a gleaming wonderland of idealism, full of shining white towers and probably a lot of chrome, or you can pack it full of bleak industrialism and neon-lined everything like the smog-filled hellhole from Blade Runner. You can also build super-tall skyscrapers called MegaTowers, in case you want to be the mayor of the sort of town where crime runs rampant on the streets and the only thing standing between your citizens and anarchy is a man named Judge Dredd. Cities Of Tomorrow will be available Nov. 12 for $30.

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106 Responses to “The Big Score”

  1. Sam_Barsanti says:

    Also, something Valve-related is happening in about an hour, and it’s probably going to rhyme with shmideo shmame shmonsole.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      Good.  I’ve been waiting for them to release a blideo blame blonsole for years now.
         I haven’t owned one since my Bloooper Blintendo.

    • PaganPoet says:

      Lydia’s shame tonsils?? Why is she so ashamed?

    • SamPlays says:

      Wow, a video game console that is meant to be played in your living room on your wall mounted HDTV. Let me pick my jaw off the floor. This is unprecedented. This is 21st century. This is incomparable. More importantly, why is Soupy staring at that SNES controller with the missing button? Sign me up for the revolution. 

    • PugsMalone says:

      You’d think that they’d finally announce Half-Life 3, what with Gordon Freeman free of his commitments for Breaking Bad.

    • O Superman says:

      Hmm, maybe this what that whole 77 Days thing has been about?

    • Fluka says:

      Aaaah, the PC Gaming Reckoning is upon us!!

      *Panics, drinks her kool-aid too early, gets drowsy and needs a nap.*

    • Simon Jones says:

      It’s awfully nice of Valve to release something that’ll make the Xbox One feel less embarassed about itself.

      Also something about this generations Dreamcast. And Linux.

    • The_Helmaroc_King says:

      I think they have three announcements planned, one per day.

      I think I’d be more interested in some kind of Steam-integrated video-casting more than a new console. Maybe there’s a market for a console/PC hybrid, but I’m less interested in buying a new PC than I am in using my current one.

    • GaryX says:

      Or operashion shism.

      Which basically just means “console.”

      But having their own unique “OS” makes more sense than Linux. By pushing it as more developing for a console, they’re likely to get more developers involved than just saying “Hey, please make Linux ports of your games, you guys.”

      • Fluka says:

        It sounds like it’s directly meant to be used on livingroom consoles, rather than on a PC?  (Actually, I wonder if it’s meant to run on a desktop computer at all?).  Will be curious to see A) how good the streaming feature is, B) what the “thousands” of games actually are…

        • GaryX says:

          Here’s my thinking copy and pasted from my Polygon comment:

          I have a feeling the OS push is so they can have their cake and eat it too. It’ll be a way for them to have a general target spec for developers to aim at (for a console) but allow anyone to download it. I bet this is just the infrastructure for the console. It’d be like if, instead of Games for Windows or whatever, you just downloaded the Xbox 360 OS and could boot it on your computer OR go out and buy an Xbox 360.

          It also allows them to talk to developers about developing for “SteamOS” rather than “Linux.” While it’s somewhat just semantics, I have a feeling the former is easier to convince devs of than the latter, especially if there’s going to be some kind of SteamOS certified hardware in the works.

          Anyways, I bet the other announcements go like this:

          2) SteamBox

          3) Half-Life 3/Source Engine 2

        • Fluka says:

          @GaryX:disqus That all sounds about right.  Given that they’ve already announced sharing, I don’t think that’s an extra announcement either.  I bet announcement 3 is either, as you say, Source 2, or (given that day three kind of looks like goggles) some kind of Oculus Rift support.

          Or it’s Half Life 3 and the end times truly are upon us.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          If the third one is HL3, I’m going to eat my shoe a la Werner Herzog.

        • stepped_pyramids says:

          As a current Steam Linux user, I’m over the fucking moon. And there’s been more and more stuff on almost a weekly basis for us.

        • Colliewest says:

          Half-Life 3. Only on SteamOS.

    • Fluka says:


      (Finally!  Stupid Xbox One *not* being a sandwich press…)

      • Citric says:

        Ever since I rigged up an “X-Toaster” for a high school French project, I’ve been disappointed that gaming and bread have been kept separate.

        (The X-Toaster did not actually run games, it instead was rigged to appear to run games, which was accomplished with a willing volunteer miming the motions and a VHS tape with footage of Chrono Cross. So basically it was only slightly more faked than an E3 press conference.)

        • Mr. Glitch says:

          Well be disappointed no longer. I give you… the Nintoaster!

          Well, *a* nintoaster. 

        • signsofrain says:

          I love that video. It’s especially funny if you’ve ever seen any other technical instruction videos.  I’ve even gotten people who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in electronics or modding to watch all 33 minutes of it! I queue it up pretty often. I wish he’d do another long-form instructional video.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Going by the little symbols they have on the page:

      O , [O  ] , O + O

      Where the O is SteamOS, tomorrow is SteamOSBox, and the day afterward is “Yo dawg, I put your SteamOS in your SteamOS so you can Steam while you Steam!”

    • beema says:

      Steam OS… is everyone as non-plussed as I am? Who the hell cares?

      • GaryX says:

        I think there’s a good amount of potential, at least.

      • Simon Jones says:

        Aw. But who isn’t looking forward to a console that contains everything that was wrong with Xbone, except you need a PC to run it and an OS almost no one is going to develop for?

        Also, it’s Steam so you’re not allowed to complain about it because discounts or something and we’ll pretend GoG and Greenman don’t exist.

      • stepped_pyramids says:

        A prepackaged thing I can install on a premade console to put on my TV which can stream whatever the fuck from my hated Windows machine or play any of the Linux games I have? 

        Yes, please. Give to me.

  2. The_Helmaroc_King says:

    No-one likes a demonic rat race. “Buy this axe to hack at the demonic hordes, hack at the demonic hordes to pay for this axe.” All the while, the rich get richer. What happened to the middle-class demon hunters, Blizzard?!

    • Spacemonkey Mafia says:

      I was flipping through the Sotheby’s catalogue this weekend and saw a tripple-slotted Regia Purum ancestral Khopesh that I simply had to have.
         The missus said as long as we were looking, there were some fine Hudson school pieces that would pair well with our Remington bronze.
         I figure, well, what the hell, it’s been a good year, let’s just get both. 

  3. SamPlays says:

    Maybe with all that cash, Rockstar can finally build a structure to compete with PayPal’s floating city. Its values will run counter to the libertarian ideals of PayPal’s and will be ironically dubbed “Liberty City”. Mayhem will constitute roughly 75% of the GDP, followed by stunt jumps (17%), unintentional car accidents (5%) and superfluous side missions (3%).

  4. Aurora Boreanaz says:

    My take on the Diablo III auction house mess:

    Diablo II had a thriving black market for in-game items, sold on eBay and other sites, despite Blizzard’s attempts to reign it in.  Around 2004 I spent quite a few hours trying to treasure hunt for potential items to sell for real money (I was unemployed at the time). I purchased a few small-value items to help me with my own treasure hunting ability, but never found anything worth selling back.  (This was also several years after I’d already played through the main campaign and expansions.)

    With Diablo III, Blizzard decided to try and get a cut of the action by making the RMAH.  The two problems I ran into that turned my opinion from optimistic about possibly making some money back to total revulsion:

    1) Security and reliability of the Auction House were very shaky at first, with stories of people’s Battle.Net accounts being hacked almost instantly after game release (possibly due to the accounts being unknowingly compromised via WoW).  So just by linking a credit card to your account, you were risking fraud or identity theft.  (These rumors may have actually been false or inflated, but the damage was already done.)

    2) Blizzard set a minimum listing fee for all items (weapons, armor, etc) at $1.25.  (By comparison, you could usually find lower level items in Diablo II for $0.10 to $0.25 easily.)  That completely eliminated the ability for people to sell low-value
    items and still make a profit, as most non-Legendary or Set Items would
    never sell that high.  It’s like going to buy a soda from the store for $1.00, and finding out that tax and recycle fees make it cost $3.00 instead.  Why bother?

    I know there were a lot of people pissed about the RMAH idea from the very beginning, but I think if Blizzard had handled it better from the start it might have been worth it.  If someone is willing to pay for in-game items in free to play games via microtransactions, why not let players participate as well?

    • Drinking_with_Skeletons says:

      I agree with you that the AH was a good idea, in theory.  My perception was that people found the game to be too AH-oriented; players almost couldn’t succeed without using it.

      This had two major effects:

      1)  The poor drop rate, which was the big cause of the AH focus, could be viewed as a symptom.  That is, Blizzard was intentionally throttling drop rates to drive business at their AH, where not only would they generate profit but would be able to post items they conjured at will without having put in any effort.  Whether this is true or not will likely never be known, but the perception was enough to engender a lot of distrust and anger towards Blizzard.

      2)  The economy fluctuated wildly.  In Diablo II, there was more going on than simply buying items; players cobbled together a thriving economy using specific items as currency (the Stone of Jordan being perhaps the most famous) which kept prices stable.  For reasons I won’t pretend to understand, Blizzard’s controlled environment led to hyperinflation on some servers (primarily for the gold-based AH) which meant that many players simply couldn’t afford to use the AH.  However, since it was all but required to obtain good equipment…

  5. Raging Bear says:

    Dammit, Nintendo.

  6. Spacemonkey Mafia says:

    Man, I would love a Mega City 1 mod or expansion for Sim City.  Gotta buttress those walls to the Cursed Earth, less the muties or Angel Gang get in.
       How are you going to rebuild after that last Block War took out Enid Blyton Block?
       Will you appease the citizens by putting in an Otto Sumps’ Ugly Clinic, or an Aggro Dome?
       And when you get tired of your city, send in the Dark Judges or East Meg One missiles.

  7. GaryX says:

    Dorkly had a graphic breakdown of stuff that costs more than what GTA V made:

    • SamPlays says:

      I’m sorry but no seven paintings are ever worth ~$700 million. That’s just hype and branding run amok.

  8. ItsTheShadsy says:

    Okay, so a digital rental model isn’t a bad idea by any stretch. But I don’t understand why it’s being applied to such a low-price game. Parceling out access to a bigger $20 or $30 title makes sense, but I can’t imagine anyone would pay $2-a-day for a game that costs only $10 for total access to the full product.

    • Aurora Boreanaz says:

      Read that again, though.  They’re saying $10 PER SPORT.

      In other words, screw you, Nintendo.

      • ItsTheShadsy says:

        Oh whoops okay. In that case the rental model actually makes more sense then.

        • Aurora Boreanaz says:

          IMHO, neither option makes sense because it’s bloody WII SPORTS.  But yeah, a one day rental is much better in that case.

        • ItsTheShadsy says:

          @AuroraBoreanaz:disqus Yeah, it would seem to me that anyone who purchased a Wii U with interest in Wii Sports would want to own it… it’s an okay model but it just doesn’t seem like the right game for it.

      • Roswulf says:

        Think of it as a public service- now that you have to pay for it separately, nobody will ever be tricked into spending twenty minutes playing WiiSports Golf again

      • evanwaters says:

         This honestly strikes me as the worst decision they’ve made with the WiiU so far.

        The big problems with the console are 1) the tablet gimmick doesn’t obviously introduce new play possibilities the way motion control did, and 2) they were really weirdly low key about marketing the thing and never actually sold us on the idea of it. (Also a weak launch slate.)

        This is the first really objectively boneheaded decision, though. Who would do this?

    • Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

      “each sport will be available separately as a $10 download, or you can rent 24 hours of access to all of them for $2.”

      EACH sport is $10 (so like $40? not sure how many sports are included), or all the sports for $2 for a day.  Probably good for parties.

      edit: though back in the day, I can remember parents who would NEVER buy VHS tapes but let kids rent like crazy, so they’d end up renting the same movie over and over to the point that it would have been much cheaper to buy it. Never underestimate the things a tired parent will pay for.

      • TaumpyTearrs says:

        I made my parents rent me Gobots vs. the Rocklords so many times as a kid the damn tape nearly broke. Man, my older brother hated that shit. EVERY time it was my turn to pick the movie rental that was it, for probably nearly a solid year.

    • stepped_pyramids says:

      I would maybe pay $10 for Wii Tennis, but no way I’d pay a red cent for the others.

      Especially considering that Wii Sports is the best-selling game of all time and you could get the disc in a Cracker Jack box.

  9. His_Space_Holiness says:

    I’m just glad that GTAV finally came out so that I won’t be as utterly bombarded with ads for it every time I walk down the street. I don’t have anything against the game itself, but damn, a lot of that $800 million is going to go to making back the marketing budget.

    Of course, they’ll just be replaced by some other damn thing. It’s the circle of annoying life.

    • Simon Jones says:

      Hey there, Watch Dogs. It looks like we’re going to be hearing a lot about you.

    • Fluka says:

      Hey, Gameological gets super-gangly Stephen Merchant ads for the moment, at least!

    • Citric says:

      I actually didn’t mind how inescapable GTAV ads were, because at least they had a decent art style and some craft there. I’m dreading the CoD: Ghost Dog campaign that’s surely coming, since CoD campaigns aren’t very visually compelling, going by the past at least.

    • HobbesMkii says:

      I’ve read they spent more than the cost of the game development itself to market the thing. Wikipedia has estimates of the cost of development being anywhere from $140 million to $265 million. 

      • TaumpyTearrs says:

        This stuff is always so bizarre to me. SO you have one of the best-selling, most famous game franchises of all time, and its basically a guarantee that all you have to do is release the damn thing and sell a million copies. Obviously, you should spend $100+ million marketing it to people who already intend to buy it.

        Games that actually need advertising and promotion don’t get the budget for it, because they aren’t known and successful qualities. But a game like GTA V that has had millions of fans waiting for YEARS to line up and purchase it, after months of endless coverage and previews, would have sold nearly as many copies with NO advertising. And then the few people who didn’t know it was coming out would probably just buy it the first time they noticed it in a store. I’d say some eye-catching displays or demos in-store would sell the game to the minority that haven’t been following it for months.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          There’s an old adage among marketing and advertising execs that illustrates the whole industry’s approach: “I know half my budget is worthless, I just don’t know which half.”

    • beema says:

      They are still bombarding the TV. I have that damn song stuck in my head

  10. Brian Rose says:

    Goes to show you can make a lot of money by robbing random people in the streets and stealing their cars.

  11. Hey there Animal Crossing: New Leaf gang, how’s your turnips? Laid out enough cash for 41 stacks, so hoping to make out alright.  Had 91 this morning and 131 this afternoon, so looks like I’m on a rollercoaster week.

  12. SisterMaryFrancis says:

    Finished GTA V’s story friday night (78% complete overall). Did anyone who finished the story find it, I don’t know, kind of lacking? I liked the ending, but I really wanted more heists or missions along those lines. All I seem to have now are the stranger gathering missions and I don’t see them giving me some massive payoff. I might have to put the game down until GTA Online starts up.

    • SamPlays says:

      Don’t worry, everyone agrees and someone will invariably point out that every GTA story has been lacking except for Vice City, which really tapped into the hubris and psychopathic nature of its protagonist. Or something, something Burt Ward.

    • GaryX says:

      Wait a week or so and the hype will inevitably turn into the backlash and then in about a month it will all settle and probably be like “Hey this was good! But yeah the story was kind of lacking.”

  13. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    A friend just walked past and glanced at the screenshot up top of the guys in the jumpsuits.

    him “you reading about a breaking bad game?”
    me “there’s a breaking bad game?”
    him “yeah? cool.”

    It took me a second to realize each of us thought we were asking a question and neither of us actually had any information to share.  This is how rumors get started.  Anyway, that made me realize how much I would hate the very idea of a breaking bad game. 

    Ok, that’s all I had to say.

    • SamPlays says:

      I’m sure there’ll be an iOS Excel spreadsheet simulator based on the financial management of Los Pollos Hermanos.

      • Shain Eighmey says:

        Meth Tycoon! I’d buy it. 

      • evanwaters says:

        Wouldn’t it just be that drug dealer game that showed up on graphing calculators?

        (Why has that never been ported?)

        • TaumpyTearrs says:

          Oh man, memories of wasted class time flooding back… at our school we also had a couple variations of the drug dealer game, including a pimp game and a killer redneck game. Who the hell actually took the time to program those things in the first place? Its like playground limerics, little pieces of kid-culture that seem to exist everywhere without ever having a specific creator.

  14. Merve says:

    Gameological in real life news:
    The other day, without thinking, I told one of my friends, “Whoa, slow down there, Hitler.” I think I need to abandon the Internet.

  15. stepped_pyramids says:

    Come on, don’t italicize Wikipedia.

  16. Randy Miller III says:

    Wii Sports Resort is still loads of fun, especially table tennis.