Industry Pranks Gamers for April Fools'
Capcom pokes fun at its own sales tactics.
With the video game market dominated by grim-faced stoics staring down death and danger at every turn, it's easy to believe that the people who design and sell them are equally joyless. That image melts away when you see the crop of yuk-yuk worthy numbers on April Fools' Day.
Blizzard, the company behind "World of Warcraft" and "StarCraft," has never shied away from a good prank, and this year is no exception. For April Fools' Day, it plans (in jest) to add the "Warhound" unit to strategy game "Starcraft II."
This unit, a colossal robot, could easily break the delicate balance between the game's three playable factions, but Blizzard was quick to assuage fears. The company's rationale ranges from "robots are cool and the art is amazing" to "keep [players] from whining about them on the forums."
When questioned about how an enormous warbot makes sense for a faction that employs only biological units, Blizzard simply responds, "It's all very complicated, and it involves Ribosomes."
If fighting games are more your speed, Capcom has you covered. Well-known for releasing incremental updates to its games and charging full price for them, the Japanese developer has taken a potshot at itself. "Super Duper Street Fighter IV" promises to add "100% More Super!" to the latest entry in its acclaimed series.
Perhaps you'd rather prank your friends with retail-related high jinks. GOG (formerly Good Old Games, an online retailer that specializes in retro PC titles) presents an idea that both celebrates and pokes fun at the era of PC gaming before each game had to be a system-crushing powerhouse. [See also: The 10 Most Stunning Video Games]
GOG describes "The Retromator 4000" as "a universal nostalgifier." This app takes modern-day PC hits such as "The Witcher 2" and "Alan Wake," and offers two different modes to bring them back in time. "Retro-Mated" games add pixilated graphics, obtrusive menus and a limited color palette. "Text-Mated" games take the experience back even further, transforming even the most sophisticated modern adventure into a series of text prompts (like "Zork" or "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy").
In terms of retail jokes, CheapShark's entry takes the cake. The site hunts through various digital distribution services to find the best video game prices, and made a very unusual find this morning. Listed under the "Steam" download service, CheapShark advertises the long-awaited "Half-Life 2: Episode 3" for $29.99. While the link leads to a very realistic Steam page for the product, clicking on any button reveals the gag (as does a typo in the URL: "stteampowered").
These are some of the gaming industry's best pranks of 2013, but there are even more shenanigans to be found elsewhere. Check out your favorite company's site, and remember: If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.