The lead designer of space MMO "EVE Online" came by to show me the new expansion, and we talked about player scandals, the different issues dealing with the player-elected government, and how he just can't add pink elephants to the game. Read More...

Microsoft has released the first sales data for their experimental Community Games endeavor for Xbox 360, providing our first glimpse into gamers' buying habits.

The looming question before launching Community Games was pricing. Developers weren't sure how gamers would react and reacted by typically low-balling on price.

The best selling games so far, as released by Microsoft -- listed alongside their price:

1. Word Soup (400 MS Points / $5)
2. Golden Royal Blackjack (200 MS Points / $2.50)
3. Weapon of Choice (400 MS Points / $5)
4. Colosseum (800 MS Points / $10)
5. ZSX4 Guitarpocalypse (200 MS Points / $2.50)
6. Sin(Surfing) (200 MS Points / $2.50)
7. In the Pit (400 MS Points / $5)
8. Head Banger (200 MS Points / $2.50)
9. Snake360 (400 MS Points / $5)
10. Swords and Monsters (200 MS Points / $2.50)

While the list seems to shows gamers overwhelmingly preferred to experiment with games at 200 MS Points, logic dictates that's because most game were priced at 200 MS Points. But with "Word Soup" coming out at on top at a higher tier, and "Weapon of Choice" following close behind, there's an encouraging trend that high-priced games will be rewarded if they resonate with gamers. Even more interesting is "Colosseum" making it into the top 5 at $10!

We'll keep watching Community Games to see how it matures, but the signs so far are promising. What have you bought on the service so far?

At the Community Games launch party in San Francisco a few weeks ago, the most common question developers would ask me: what should my game cost?

There are several arguments to be made about price, especially given that Community Games is a new, untested service that runs parallel to Xbox Live Arcade.

I waited until ex-Insomniac Games employee Nathan Fouts decided on a price to ask him his thought process. Fouts now heads Mommy's Best Games and launched the "Contra"-like "Weapon of Choice" as a Community Game this week.

The price he chose; 400 points. But he wanted to charge more. Friends, family and Microsoft blocked him from doing so. Why? Read More...

For those of you who've played "Fable II," you know the game is about the choices you make. For the most part, you're in control of how you want your player to end up -- good or evil.

But there is one aspect beyond players' control... what happens when you unintentionally push the B button near loved ones.

Let me explain: In "Fable II," players can assign different magic abilities to the B button. Many players, myself included, went with a power called "Inferno," a spell that allows the player-character to shoot fire from his/her hands.

When in the towns, you can interact with people and perform expressions to amuse them, even drawing large crowds to you. But in doing so, it's also easy to accidentally hit the B button when navigating the menus. And whatever spell you've assigned to that B button -- well, you can guess what happens.

If you've had this problem too, you're not alone. There's a Facebook support group called the "Association of Accidental Arsonists." The description reads, "A support group for Fable II players who've set spouses, houses and mouses ablaze in err." Yesterday I found out who started this group. Read More...

I know "Spectrobes" is not made for me, but during a demo yesterday morning in San Francisco, I marveled at how many Internet features Disney is packing into their kid-targeted "Pokemon"-style game.

There's more in "Spectrobes 2: Beyond The Portal" than most hardcore DS games!

Let me explain some of what Disney is pulling off here:

* The ability to port creatures from the previous "Spectrobes," even though the original game was not designed for it
* Support for their cross-game social networking service DGamer
* Launching a massive "Spectrobes" website that's updated by users uploading their individual data directly through the DS
* Individual player achievements (called emblems) and community achievements (i.e. be part of the first 10,000 players to upload data at the game's release)
* Global (and local) Wi-Fi battles
* An online marketplace for "Spectrobe" creatures, where players set the value

That's quite a lot of tech going into what most of us would call a kids game, no? I wonder if many will end up using it, but Disney seemed confident they would.

Gamers are a vocal bunch, and Lionhead Studios' fans are no different.

Lionhead's senior community manager Sam Van Tilburgh, who's been with the company since "Fable," is the guy responsible for watching over the fanbase as "Fable II" nears.

And while others working on "Fable II" start to plan vacations, his responsibilities are ramping up because much of the community effect comes after launch.

"My crunch only gets worse," he told me at this year's PAX. "When the game comes out, people start playing it and then everyone's got an opinion! [Lionhead] said to me when I started, if you survive your first game as a community manager, you're in it for life. Ninety-five percent of community managers don't even survive the first game."

Well, he's still there. But that doesn't mean he has an easy gig.


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