A new STALKER’s spawn is born. Or maybe it is just being fictitious?

Even today there are lots of individuals wishing to get a piece of STALKER‘s fame. Another attempt to exploit this topic is Areal, a game developed by West Games studio.

A couple of weeks ago an announcement of a new project was made; a game allegedly developed by creators of STALKER. Great news, isn’t it? However, this announcement was accompanied by few controversial points that darkened the joy in some way.

I won’t go into details, just want to point out some key moments of this story.

GMBox tried to collect as much info they could.

So, what do we know about Areal? The project got into the spotlight of gaming press by the end of June. On June 24 it started a Kickstarter campaign. It was claimed that West Games is comprised by the key developers from GSC Game World. Moreover, Areal’s game setting is obviously inspired by its famous ancestor: post-apocalyptic world, open-world shooter mechanics, mutants, etc.

Questionable matters came to light right from the beginning of the Kickstarter campaign. Seriously, the goal to collect $50,000 looks too humble for a triple A project which Areal tries to be. This amount may be enough for making a demo for investors, but not for an entire project.

A promotional video at the Kickstarter page contained snapshots taken from Unity’s tecnhical demo and STALKER‘s early builds. In addition, many Internet users recognized one promo art being taken from the cover of the book “Areal: State within a state” [rus. “Ареал: Государство в государстве”] by Sergey Tarmashev, but no references to the book, neither to its author were made.

UPDATE. Now it is officially confirmed that the game is developed on the basis of Sergey Tarmashev’s book.

1Areal’s promo art

2Front cover of Sergey Tarmashev’s book

3A screenshot from Areal

4A screenshot from technical demo of Unity 3d game engine

Anyway, the fundraising campaign started well and West Games managed to collect over $30k during first hours since its launch.

Then the other “people behind STALKER“, Vostok Games (Survarium) accused West Games of fraud and use of someone else’s materials, exploitation of STALKER‘s and GSC‘s names and a reputation parasitism.

I’m not going to take sides in this matter, but I think this moment is quite self-explanatory:

On Vostok’s claims that West Games is not comprised of true S.T.A.L.K.E.R creators, West Games’ Igor Buryak stated, “Oleg Yavorsky says we have no former GSC employees. He points out high staff turnover in GSC. Well, this wasn’t addressed to West Games. He can’t make such a statement because it would simply be a lie. Since we’re at the very beginning of our work we can’t (and should not) make our whole team public, because as soon as we do that they’ll get caught up in gossip and accusations made by our competitors.”

Dave Cook from VG247 has been monitoring the situation from its start.

He makes a reference to the statement of Vostok’s Oleg Yavorsky made in personal correspondence “I think instead of blaming press, the Areal guys should really be grateful for all the hype the press helped them make for their yet non-existing project. If they are accusing press of non-professionalism, the best favour you could do for them is simply stop writing about them”

Only time will tell who’s right, but, honestly, I can’t remember an honest project causing such amount of informational noise (except for GTA‘s Hot Coffee, of course :-)) All I can say is that the whole situation with West Games is generating more questions than giving the answers.

Changes to SMS laws will affect Russian gaming industry

Russian Parliament recently passed a law about SMS-spam and SMS-fraud. This law introduces a lot of much-needed changes into what many consider to be ‘gray area’ or even ‘fraud market’. Now SMS providers won’t be able to automatically charge you unless you explicitly agree to it via SMS of your own.

This law will also affect certain games in Russia, but, fortunately, not many. Five or six years ago SMS were the main source of payments in online gaming, but since then the share of SMS payments dropped to less than 5%. So some games might take a hit in their revenue, but it won’t be significant and probably won’t last as affected users will switch to credit cards and e-wallets.

Still, I’ve heard some SMS payment companies are now firing up to half of their staff.