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This morning’s daily digest of gaming news from Guardian Liberty Voice is an odd mix. For starters, Amazon is being sued over making in-app purchases in children games too easy. XBox One is finally adding game trials and unlockable demos, as well as considering the increasing mobile nature of the world. EA also revealed the massive level of virtual destruction brought on by the players of the Battlefield Hardline beta. Lastly, a hands-on play through of Dragon Age: Inquisition by Polygon paints a very visceral and promising picture of what the upcoming title has in store. Here are the full details.
Amazon sued over in-app purchases in children games
Exploitative monetization of mobile games has been a big concern among gamers and journalists. Titles such as the recent Dungeon Keeper have shown just how bad the trend can get. However, there is an even lower level a company can sink to and Amazon has just reached it. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against the digital store for allowing in-app purchases in games and apps targeting children. They claim the company has unlawfully billed parents for millions of dollars, and some of the monetization interfaces were designed to allow for those accidents to occur. FTC has also sued Apple for similar reasons earlier this year, leading to an out of court settlement in which Apple agreed to refund $32.5 million to their customers.
XBox going mobile?
The newest Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has issued an open letter to all his employees and the public about the direction of the console brand. He recognized that today the world is “mobile-first” and that gaming proves the biggest digital life category. He defines mobile not so much by the devices, but by the experience of its users, predicting a continuing growth of the trend. While Microsoft has already dabbled in the mobile market with the Windows Phone and Surface tablets, this could also mean a mobile version of the XBox down the line such as a portable console akin to Sony’s Vita.
Xbox One introduces trials and unlockable demos
In related news, the XBox One is also growing its digital marketplace by adding trial support. The console already provided full games as well as standalone demos but, unlike its predecessor, it lacked the option to “unlock” demos into full gaming experience. The feature is important to many developers because getting the players hooked on a bit of gameplay and providing an easy way to transition and continue the experience into a full game can boost sales. In view of recent adverse actions with respect to in-game purchases, XBox will learn from Apple and Amazon by not making it too easy for kids to make in-game purchases without parental approval.
Battlefield Hardline looted more virtual currency than is in circulation
Several amusing stats about EA’s latest shooter have been released. For example, the players looted $9 trillion in the virtual world, about eight times more than is actually circulating in the U.S. They have destroyed almost 13 million vehicles and performed 300 thousand police interrogations. While most online games tend to be divided into numerous brief matches encouraging this sort of elaborate mayhem, the scale of the virtual destruction is nonetheless quite impressive.
Dragon Age: Inquisition hands-on
Polygon has reported a first-hand experience playing the upcoming Dragon Age title. Brian Crecente has described how well the game captured the feeling of a hunt, or death for death’s sake. He also explained that some massive creatures, such as the dragon, have separate hit points for different body parts, making the combat even more strategic. Fans will be happy to hear that the overhead tactical view from the first title is making a return as well. The gaming experience also provides a living, breathing world, encouraging exploration and adventuring. At the same time, like its predecessors, big emphasis on the parties and their inner dialogues still remains. Following Game of Thrones’ example, the game is not shy about killing off major characters either. If the showcased meaningful choices and combat complexity can live up to the expectations, the game definitely sounds very promising.
Gaming New Digest From Guardian Liberty Voice Commentary by Jakub Kasztalski