Friday, April 29, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

Let's get this Round Up underway! All of the news and weird reviews of this week in video games, right here in an easy to digest format. Get those forks ready...

- With a sad face, I'm sorry to type that Lionhead Studios will be officially closing at the end of the day today. It was heavily speculated in early March that the Fable developer would be closing it's doors sometime this year. I don't think we expected it to be so soon, but studio closures tend to move faster then we anticipate. Fable Legends was shortly cancelled after the March announcement, and there's no word about what will happen to the property from here on out. Will there be future Fable titles? Or Black and White? Only Microsoft will know. To the faithful team at Lionhead, best of luck to you and your future careers. Thank you for turning the RPG world on it's axis.

- Who would have thought that YouTube would become grounds for the next battle of free speech and creative expression? A decade ago, we were still trying to figure out how YouTube would fit on the internet. "Why would people want to spend time watching videos online?" Game Critic Jim Sterling, is no stranger to the YouTube Content ID rules. He breaks them. A lot. And in all fairness, the Content ID rules have good intentions but they are royally jacked up. You could create every part of your video, the music, the sound effects, even develop a new lighting rig, and the Content ID filter could still peg your video a violating copyright. It's happened more times then I want to count with my podcast. But Sterling has come up with a masterful work-around and it's so genius, it's really funny. Give it a read. I'm waiting for his follow-up to see how well it's worked!

- Disney Concerts has announced that there will be a Kingdom Hearts concert series touring the world, starting in 2017. Oh. Sure. We can have a musical tour in every country, but we can't have Kingdom Hearts 3 yet? You're 11 years too slow.

- Atari has partnered with mobile game developer Spil Games, and Nolan Bushnell is already pitching ideas that we should see arrive by early 2017. The father of Atari and 73-year old gaming guru is ready to see his content back on the market, in a new way. I wonder what ideas he's been planning - a number of these, he claims, have been on his mind for over a decade. Atari is never out of the fold when it comes to gaming.

- The ESA's annual report on gaming habits of individuals and families was released earlier this morning. The 2016 edition can be viewed here; people on Reddit and Kotaku were able to locate it before the link was made public on the website. Some key takeaways: The average gamer age is 35, and 59% of the audience is male. 48% play games dedicated to social activity and 50% use their gaming consoles for watching movies. There's even a section on eSPorts and VR gaming. The ESA continues to get more progressive with their reports.

- And to keep this blog classy, we know Conan isn't great at video games, but he makes for an entertaining reviewer because of it. So when the 2 male leads for the movie 'Neighbors 2' want to play Mario Kart 8 with him, of course he'll do it. The twist was the loser of the race would have dicks drawn on their face. You can imagine what happens next...all in the name of entertainment, eh Conan?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

That Ratchet & Clank Movie is Coming Soon...As in Tomorrow

I bet you had no idea that the 'Ratchet & Clank' movie was releasing tomorrow in theaters across the U.S. Hell most of us had no inkling of it. Where did they run the advertisements? During weekday morning cartoons on Nickelodeon while most people were at work and/or school?

I am thoroughly perplexed on how this movie slipped through my radar without a single blip about the release date. The only mention I have about Ratchet & Clank was in 2014, when the film was under development. And that's it! I haven't seen a single news story or advertisement regarding the release of the film. Maybe the marketing budget went into post-production instead? I don't know. But the lack of knowledge about the film is going to really hurt their box office numbers.

If you have seen trailers for the movie on TV or your social media, then congrats. For some reason Facebook and Twitter's algorithms didn't feel my video game heavy line-up was worthy of advertising the movie to me. Or the distributor didn't invest in social media adverts. Which would have been dumb.

Even a quick glance at the movie's Facebook's kind of sad. Not even 100k Likes. Ouch. Looks like they went to WonderCon to promote the film and to a Google Kids thing in Mid-April. The release date wasn't announced on their Facebook until early April.

So what's the deal? What's the story? Who's in it? How much does it look like the games?

Images from the trailer are pretty darn nice. The characters look just like Ratchet & Clank from the games, in more fluid animated cut-scene form. The movie is about our two "heroes" who are trying to stop the evil Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in their galaxy. Ratchet & Clank join up with another team called The Galactic Rangers to help stop Drek. The basic "bad guy is bad, good guys must stop him" story that anyone can follow.
Voice over guru James Arnold Taylor takes on the roll of Ratchet (at least they kept the game voices involved), and is joined with Sylvester Stallone, Paul Giamatti, and John Goodman. Before you question the reasoning, Stallone did voice over for the movie Antz many years ago, so he is capable of such a task.

Reviews for the movie are very light right now. They are so low that it doesn't have a Rotten Tomato reading up yet (with only 4 reviews in, and typically for a movie on wide release you see anywhere from 40-60 the days before). And the ones that have been posted seem to agree that the content is lacking. The story is too predictable and it's trying to capture the attention of kids at a time when there aren't as many kid-friendly movies out there - at least until Captain America is released next week. The reviews make the movie out that the biggest problem is that it doesn't feel like the video game: the action has been replaced with slap-stick to get a younger audience. Ratchet & Clank has always been an odd game. It reminds me a lot of Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon. Games that are for all ages and have a little bit of everything to interest the minds of kids and adults. Lighthearted, fun, full of action, and challenging.

We'll see what happens with the box office numbers. But I mostly want to know how they marketed this movie, if I'm only finding out about it's release the day before. o_O

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Want to Boycott Target? Then Add These Gaming Companies to Your List

This article on The Daily Beast popped up on my news feed this morning, and it is really funny. It's a list of all the things you would have to boycott if you are anti-transgender and support laws that discriminate against them, like which bathroom they can use. Because the world doesn't have anything more important to focus on, so let's talk about why a transgender man can't use a bathroom that coincides with the gender they identify with.

I'm more concerned about having to rush into a stall and there is no toilet paper, anywhere, then I am about an LGBT person sharing the same restroom as me. Who gives a flying flip? We all have to go, so let us go! Simple as that.

The list is based off the 2016 CEI (Corporate Equality Index) report created by the Human Rights Campaign, which businesses can opt into. It looks at multiple areas of the business to determine if they are on par with providing rights and benefits to everyone that walks through their door. That includes equal employment opportunities, health care, training, employee resources, etc. And there are a lot of companies on this list who hit the 90-100 mark (A's and perfect scores). Such as American Airlines and Sears. There are also gaming companies and social media outlets on the list to. I thought it would be amusing to point out those as well to kind of rub it in the face of the boycotters. Because hey...if you really want to be anti-transgender and not do business with people who support equal right, then you better get ready to dump your consoles and social media. You are going to be really bored.

On the list we have all versions of Sony. SCEA's point value is 80, which is on the low-end of the spectrum compared to the rest, but Sony Pictures, Sony Entertainment, and Sony Corp are earned a 100. They are ethnic, female, handicapped, multi-religion, LGBT friendly. So put away your PS4 and stop going to Sony movies.

That means your XBox 360 and XBoxOne as well. Microsoft has scored 100 for the past 2 years. Your Nintendo is still safe, since the list focuses on US companies. Though they would probably rank high as well.

Okay so half of your consoles are gone. You can still shop online, right? eBay is in the 100 range, and Amazon is at 85. And if Amazon is on the list at 85, you know Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, and Instagram are on there too, all scoring 100.

But wait...almost every major cable and internet provider in the country scored above 80, so you can't even use the internet! If you have Time Warner, Verizon, or AT&T then kiss the internet good bye. That includes mobile too with Sprint and T-Mobile. Which rules out some phones too. If you can't use the carrier, there's a good chance you can't use the phone either. Apple Inc. has scored 100 for the past 2 years as well.If you use Charter Communications? Well you are in luck. They scored a pitiful 10.

In fact, just get rid of your computer entirely. Cysco, Nvidia, AMD - every major computer manufacturer in the US ranks above 90. So goodbye to your computer!

So what's left for entertainment. Books! I stores can't be LGBT friendly, right? Barnes & Noble, one of the largest and last remaining book sellers available, scored 100 as well.

Moral of the story: progress is going to happen. If you want to be that jerk who feels they need to boycott everything because they don't agree with diversity and human rights/equality, go right ahead. Enjoy your un-fun life of no video games, cell phones, internet, movies, or books. The rest of us are perfectly happy supporting businesses that promote equality.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

State of Gaming Reviews?

The hot-topic for this blog over the past few years has been the ever-changing world of video game reviews. And pre-orders. Because pre-orders suck. With #GamerGate the journalism/game developer relationship was placed under a microscope and scrutinized. Are reviewers getting perks for giving a game a good score? Are they being told to favor one developer over another for a bigger kickback?

While #GamerGate has transformed into a misogynistic trend to hate on anyone who isn't a straight, white male in the game industry, it has brought more attention to gaming journalism. Sites like Kotaku began to change how they review their content to be more in-line with how games are released today, no longer favoring a point system. Points are arbitrary in reviews. Everyone has their own methods for looking at a product and there is no authority on monitoring the numbers so they are the same across the board. You may think the latest Call of Duty is an 8 but the next reviewer in their number system would only score it a 4. It leads to a lot of disparity between the reviewer, the developer, and the readers.

But do the developers have a right to fight back if their product gets a bad score?

A game that was recently released, Ashes of the Singularity, is getting kickback from Brad Wardell, the CEO of Stardock whom created the game. Ashes is getting fair reviews, roughly a 6 on Metacritic. A number of gaming review outlets are meshing with their opinions that the game is a good template, but the content is not there. Just "okay." Not great.

Wardell called out one reviewer in particular for GameSpot, Daniel Starkey. He's a freelance critic that gave the game a 4 out of 10. That's a low number by any standard.Wardell feels that the game is being targeted because Starkey and him have a past with #GamerGate. Starkey didn't agree with Wardell's opinions, and blocked him on Twitter. Wardell thinks that GameSpot knowingly set up Starkey with this game to review, in order to give him a bad name. He's gone as far as to send a letter to GameSpot to have the review pulled, and that his game deserves higher then a 4.

This isn't a question of whether or not the game is good. Does a developer have the right to make such a request and boast about their game, invalidating the opinions of others?

If this were a #GamerGate backlash between these two, I'd think that Starkey's review would have been more demeaning to Stardock. More venom. More disdain, less gaming talk. Because the review is on par with what everyone else has been saying about the game. A 4 might seem a bit low, but that's Starkey's choice. He even praised the graphics in the game! If you were really trying to take out a developer, you wouldn't say any nice things about their product.

Now I will admit that GameSpot putting Starkey on this assignment was a bad call. And doubly bad that Wardell wasn't more aware of who would be reviewing the game at GameSpot, given the issues in the past. But is Wardell in the right here? Is this a #GamerGate backlash? Or is it a CEO trying to use his power to pull a review that mimics what other reviewers are saying - this one just happened to be the lowest score coming from a critic that he has butted heads with in the past?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Sega Mega Drive Update!

Last week, Sega announced that they would be releasing content on Steam as part of their "classic game" pack. They sweetened the deal with more details about the launch of the updates new SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis Classics Hub, out on April 28.

"The new-look system is based on a bedroom of an early nineties SEGA fan with dynamic time-of-day conditions, retro SEGA paraphernalia, a shelf full of MEGA Drive games (including the ones you own) and of course a CRT TV! That’s not all, every single MEGA Drive game will now feature Steam Workshop support allowing you to share modified versions of your [favorite] retro SEGA titles!"

The new feature will also allow for saving at any point in the games, local co-op (where featured in the original game), full controller and keyboard support, and graphic enhancement filters.

How do you get it? Well if you own anything that's part of the Sega Mega Drive, starting from 2011, you get this update for free. From Sonic to Ecco the Dolphin, starting Thursday you can download the update on Steam and play with the new content. And that means more classic Sega games! They have been surveying customers for months trying to figure out which games would be included in the new collection, so expect player reaction to be swift this weekend on the results.

The modding part is what caught my attention. Typically with classic games, modding is a no-no, outside of porting it to a ROM so people can play it the game on PC. Other then, it's unheard of. But Sega is giving everyone full license to mod away on their retro games? I'm curious to see what people come up with for Sonic. You know that is going to be a giant mess of amazing.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Amazon U.K. Restricting Some Game Sales to Prime Only

Amazon is doing something screwy with their services in the U.K. Earlier this morning, select games were blocked from purchase and prompted the user to buy Prime instead in order to obtain said products. There may be more games on the list, but the ones that caught the most attention and still sell well are Grand Theft Auto V, Rainbow Six: Siege, and AssCreed: Syndicate. These games are exclusive to Prime members only.

What's the deal Amazon? Explain yourselves!

"One of the many benefits of Amazon Prime is access to exclusive selection on a number of great products. Customers who are not Prime members can sign-up for a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, or they can purchase those items from a Marketplace seller."

Well that's not much of an explanation. Prime members with "exclusive" items have focused on free digital products: you can download books, movies, and tv shows for free, instead of paying for them. On occasion a mobile app is included. They have yet to expand the "exclusive" items to physical products. This may be their testing phase to see how well it works. But it does suck and would easily turn people away from Amazon purchases if they have to buy a membership in order to get GTA5. May as well go to your local gaming store and save the £79 Prime fee.

I don't imagine this is going to go over well, though. Item restrictions that require you to buy a membership is not a "perk," Amazon. It's just being greedy.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Weekly Link Round Up

It's been a long week, hasn't it? And it's only Thursday! Best get a round up in the works before it hits the weekend and time slips away.

It's the Weekly Link Round Up! What's been cooking in the video game crock-pot this time?

- Microsoft announced yesterday that it is stopping production of new XBox 360 units. They will continue to sell remaining inventory of the system, which is currently bundled with Forza: Horizon 2, for $199. Silver Lining: All 360 support will remain in tact. Gold Subscriptions, free games, hardware troubleshooting, you name it. There is no end date on this support, yet.

- Ever heard of Rambo: The Video Game? With the poor reception it received in early 2014, probably not. But silently behind the scenes, the developers were working hard on an expansion pack that no one expected to see! Over the years Reef, the developer, had went dark. No activity on their social media accounts until out of nowhere on Monday, they sprang back to life with news about Rambo. Maybe this was a marketing tactic? Or maybe the error of a young company? Now the internet is talking about it and people are going to buy the game again. Success, I guess?

- I'm kind of surprised that Curt Schilling continues to pop up in the news, but he seems to have trouble with keeping his mouth shut. Unless it's the subject of his gaming studio that went under, and is now under fraud investigation with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Schilling is a former baseball pitcher, turned business owner with a gaming studio called Green Monster Games, later named 38 Studios. He's been charged with abusing Massachusetts' tax credits to fund the studio and not paying employees. He recently had a gig on ESPN as an analyst, but foot in mouth syndrome seems to be a problem for this man. Given the recent stir on his social media now making national media news, you'll probably hear his name pop up more often. Get a brief history on his gaming debacle here.

- WhatCulture got a facelift! It looks crisper. Not exactly streamlined, but it's a new look. But that's not why we're posting this list of 14 Video Game Franchises That Will Never Die. We're posting because it's part of the Weekly Link Round Up tradition! You are sure to see the standard line-up on here, such as Sonic, Tomb Raider, and Grand Theft Auto. Even Pac-Man. Yes, the yellow dot continues to produce games exclusively for Nintendo. But his games are more of rehashing the same content in a different format. He's more of an iconic image, less of a game hog.

- In a surprise WTF moment, mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in a rampage and blamed it on video games, an Oslo court ruled in favor of Breivik, who was suing the government and claiming that his human rights had been violated in prison. Though he has a television and a gaming system, as all of the newspapers enjoy pointing out, he has been in isolation since being incarcerated in 2011. He is strip searched multiple times throughout the year, handcuffed often during the first few months in prison, and claims he received poor quality food and only plastic utensils. Somehow eating with a plastic fork is inhumane, but it's totally cool for kids to use them in school. With the ruling, some of the restrictions regarding his isolation will be lifted and he will be allowed to interact with other prisoners. I don't anticipate the plastic fork one to go away.

-  Let's bounce back to something fun again: here's a list of 13 Hilarious Anti-Piracy Traps in Video Games, courtesy of Inverse. The one for Game Dev Tycoon, a simulator where you create your own game company, is very meta. A number of these are legit and in game. I'm questioning the Pokemon: Red one since that's clearly a ROM of the game being used in this instance, and Nintendo rarely does something so cheeky, nor with their pre-N64 games. But The Sims 4 one is awesome. If you pirate that game and attempt to play it, the pixel nudity saved for the Sims when they get nude will start to grow and take over the entire game screen. I'd like to see someone try to play the game through that mess.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Video Game's Life After Java

Runescape, the free to play MMORPG that has hit the 15 year mark, is finally getting a graphics upgrade by moving away from Java and into NXT. No, not the Wrestling group. NXT is the client used to run Runescape, that was programed with C++ and was originally based off of HTML 5 coding. I could go into the details about what the new features are, such as increased draw distance, zooming out of the mini map, fog, water mapping, shading, full screen mode, but I think the image used in today's post speaks for itself.

It looks like Runescape got a really fantastic face lift.

The update was initially teased at Runefest 2014, with plans to work on a new client to bring the game into this decade. It looks like a brand new game. It's not, but it looks like it. Why am I talking about Runescape? A game I don't play or have affiliation with?

The upgrades to the game came to be after years of working with the player base and determining their needs, along with the needs of the game world, to improve the product. The developers understand the value of their players and want to provide them with a game that would last. Instead of sticking to what they know and letting Runescape die out over time, they looked to the future and how to enhance it now to ensure players will continue to experience the game for years to come.

And that's kind of awesome. I look back at the loads of MMO's I have played over the years and find so many of them lacked communication between the development group and the community. City of Heroes, APB, Conan - these games faltered by not providing flexibility to work outside of their box and listen to their players. Star Wars: The Old Republic is not far behind on the death list, though it has made a valiant attempt at being active with their community. Finally.

World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy 11and 14, and Runescape have lasted for so long because they work with their players to make a game fun for them, and fun for the developers. They found a balance to give players things they want that work with the game world, but not everything they think they need (otherwise AssCreed would have dragons). The games still provide fun, challenge, and fresh content. MMO developers, take note. Your audience matters. Listen to them! You don't have to add in dragons, but make note of your players' concerns.

Slight tangent there, but look! Runescape! It's pretty!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Game Developer Promoting "Crunch Time"

A few weeks ago I posted some news from the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) looking to review the negative effects of "crunch time" and implement changes to the industry to try and break this habit.

"Crunch Time" is typically referred to as a part of a game's development cycle where employees are expected to put excessive hours at work to ensure the product is released on time. This includes final renders of the game, removing bugs, and the like. It's so well known, the term is  in the dictionary.

Loads of people in the industry, who do not work in top-tier positions, feel "crunch time" is counter productive. A number of studies over the years have proven that any industry (not just gaming) where this type of attitude is promoted can deter production. Instead of making a better game, it can cause employees to falter at their responsibilities. Numbers range in productivity rate, but most studies seem to concur that an 8 hour work day shows a 16-20% increase in ability over a 9 hour day. As the work-day gets longer, the productive drops dramatically. The take-away from that is 8 hours is the max a person should work in a day. Any more and their productivity rate will fall.

The interview with Kate Edwards, the executive director of IGDA, showcased just how important the issue of "crunch time" was to the community. Not necessarily in punishments, but it is a start.

Alex St. John, who co-created Direct X at Microsoft and founded the game company WildTangent (which has produced advergames for Nike, Coke, and Ford), wrote a counter-article on VentureBeat.

Brace yourself. You're not going to like it.

I'll have to agree with Kotaku's initial reaction to the piece, that it reads more like someone is trying to be sarcastic, until you keep reading and realize that St. John actually believes the dribble he has written. He not only approves of "crunch time" but that it's required to make art - and video games are art. Therefore, "crunch time" is a necessary component of the development process. That's almost like saying "making clothes is art - so the use of child labor in third world countries to produce the items is required."

It doesn't help that the initial article, and his follow-up response on his website, calls out gaming employees as lazy Millennials who expect a living wage to work. That they don't earn it with hard work, like everyone else.

If you hear the pitchforks rising up, you would be right. Even as he tries to backtrack to clarify his statements, a number of industry employees and gamers themselves are not happy at St. John's comments. And the man is sticking by them!

It's one thing to have an opinion. I understand that this is a free country and people are allowed to believe in, or in this case be incredibly wrong, whatever they like. But in this instance, a man in a position of power thinks it's perfectly normal to tell underpaid, overworked employees to work even more hours, ignore their health, their family, their friends, their LIFE all for the sake of getting a game out on an artificial deadline. Why?

People who create video games are doing more then "moving a mouse." The concept art, the hundreds of thousands of hours spent coding, building models and wire-frames, rending the content; working in the game industry is not a George Jetson job where you click a button, and you make a sprocket appear out of a machine. In game design, the computers do not do all of the work. You have to tell the machine what to do, how to do it, and then code it all to make it happen. That takes an immense amount of resources, mentally and physically. And when you push your workforce beyond their 40 hour limit, it's asking for trouble.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with an employee asking for a living wage - i.e. they want the ability to feed, cloth, and house themselves just like everyone else in the world. They chose to work in video games because they have a passion for it. They shouldn't be treated less-then human, made to work half their life in an office for a wage below their worth.

To argue otherwise shows how out of touch St. John is with the rest of the industry.

If you take the time to read the articles, the irony is so mind numbing you have to wonder if St. John is playing a practical joke on everyone. In the development of Direct X, St. John burned himself out for months during "crunch time."

'He would pass out at his keyboard and straggle into morning meetings with key marks on his face. Worked sucked everything out of him; his marriage disintegrated. In 1997, he succeeded in getting himself fired, as he tells it, “and walked out of Microsoft feeling 100 lbs. lighter." '

And this happened again and again when he was in programming positions until he founded his own company...and then proceeded to ask his staff to undergo the "crunch time" ritual. You'd think he would be against "crunch time" but you'd be wrong. It's also amusing that St. John mentions that if people don't like how "crunch time" works, up and quit Microsoft and go start your own company, like Zynga (btw, none of the founders worked for Microsoft.) News Flash: Not everyone wants to run their own company. Some people want to focus on the line art, or want to code. They would rather work as part of the team environment, not the head of the team. And that's okay!

It's a sad look into the ethos of the gaming development industry. "It's art!" and "You should be grateful you can be in game design" are the type of scare tactics that keep employees working longer hours with little pay (sometimes no overtime pay if the stats from the IGDA are any indication).

The bottom line is that "crunch time" is worker exploitation for something that can easily be avoided. Release dates can be changed. Moderating schedules to ensure an optimized workforce can be built. Blaming employees for being lazy and not invested in the product is a cop-out. Asking people to work a lifestyle that doesn't compensate them is corruption and profiteering on an inhumane level.

Monday, April 18, 2016

How Latency is Harming the Future of Online Gaming

Today is my birthday. And it seems fitting that today we talk about latency and how it's killing online gaming. Because as one gets older, we get slower. Like our internet connections seem to be. Get it?

VentureBeat wrote up an in-depth article on how latency is turning gamers away. But it's not just gamers that are experiencing latency and lag. If you ever watch a video on YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu, download a file for work, or send an e-mail you have probably experienced some form of lag. In gaming terms, lag is the delay between the reactions of the player and what they see on screen with the server. It is typically caused by high latency, but can also be due to the processing power of the computer or the servers that are not able to keep up with the high work load. Latency is the time interval between the action and the response. The higher the latency, the longer it takes to respond.

All of this leads to a really bad time if you're on the internet and it's taking, what feels like forever, for a webpage to load. One of the easiest fixes is to upgrade your hardware. But we all know that's not a permanent solution. You can have a top of the line PC and still run into latency and lag. From the developers end, the cause can be lack of servers to keep up with the player demand, high player load on a server, players with slower PC's causing more energy to be used to process the game, low peering, or not distributing server load to multiple servers/vendors. It could also be the fault of your internet provider: some are notorious for throttling speeds even when you're paying top dollar for the best package available. Combined it spells trouble for online games that require user interaction to stay afloat. Even load times that take 2 seconds longer then their atypical set-up can cause an 87% abandon rate among users. You don't want users to abandon your game!

So the question is, how do we solve this problem? A lot of it is out of our hands, and we have to beg and plead with our ISP's to give us the speeds we are paying for. In the U.S. the highest speed available is 12.6. Which is pretty pitiful given how many other countries in Europe and Asia (including the Middle East) kick our butts on the speed, and price (in South Korea for 20mb/s you only pay an average of $30 a month). Until Google Fiber is everywhere (they seem to be the only ones to offer good speeds at a fair price), we're stuck. So it's up to the devs to save us! More servers, lower server caps; simple fixes that could mean the world to reducing latency for gamers. They cost extra money, but could retain tens of thousands of users who don't abandon the game due to low speed. The initial costs are worth it to retain an active player base.

Spend your lunch break reading the VentureBeat article. It doesn't provide all of the solutions, but it is a start and something devs need to be aware of as more game content moves online.