Daily updates on video games and popular culture, along with Australia’s grooviest gaming podcast.

All good things…

Posted by Erin Marcon On Sunday 25 January 20154 Comments

The End

It’s the end of an era.

After five years of daily updates, the time is right to draw the curtain on The Black Panel and celebrate our achievements.

I’m proud of the work we’ve done and incredibly grateful to everyone who has visited the site to read a review, listen to a podcast or provide us with feedback. Your support has been invaluable.

My sincere gratitude to my editorial team of Karen Jacobson, Peter Nickless, Joel Guttenberg and Matt Hewson, whose contributions (both visible and behind the scenes) were the lifeblood of the site for so many years. Thanks too to David Walden who helped us launch The Black Panel way back in September 2009.

I also want to acknowledge everyone who has contributed on a freelance basis. The site has benefited greatly from the talents of Dylan Burns, Jennifer Christodoulou, Jamie Dalzell, Alaisdair Dewar, Stephen Foote, Chad Habel, Cha Holland, Jason Imms, Stevie McDonald, Adam Rorke and Zorine Te.

We’ve had the chance to run articles from some of the local scene’s most talented and enduring writers. We’ve also served as an incubator for some of the industry’s leading brands, with our writers going on to contribute to the likes of GameSpot, AusGamers, Games.on.net and Hyper.

Thank you also to the many publishers and developers who have granted us access to review code, provided us with interview opportunities and invited us to attend preview events throughout the country. You’ve been a pleasure to work with.

I hope everyone reading this will join us in a month or two for one last podcast to celebrate five years of gaming goodness.

In the meantime I encourage everyone to keep an eye out for a new project from the hardest working man in the business, Matt Hewson. He recently purchased www.player2.net.au and he’s already assembling a crack team of contributors.

I always planned for The Black Panel to be about sharing the experience of playing games rather than splitting hairs over whether one game was marginally better than another. I feel like we’ve been true to that philosophy and I’m glad we had a chance to share our thoughts with a wonderful audience.

Thank you.

Erin Marcon


Black Panel Podcast 77: Final Episode

Posted by Erin Marcon On Monday 11 May 2015Comments Off

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In this episode the gang say a fond farewell and predict how gaming’s biggest trends will play out over the next five years.


The Panellists: Erin Marcon (@ErinMarcon), Karen Jacobson (@KarenMJacobson), Peter Nickless and Joel Guttenberg (@JoelGuttenberg)

Music by Nathan Antony.

Elder Scrolls Online drops subscriptions, adds consoles

Posted by Stephen del Prado On Sunday 25 January 2015Comments Off
The heroes of Tamriel prepare to head out for bruch.

The heroes of Tamriel prepare to head out for brunch.

It was only a matter of time, if recent reports are anything to go by. With EB Games and other retailers pulling copies of The Elder Scrolls Online from shelves, speculation was rife that the disappointingly received MMORPG was finally moving to a free-to-play model. Bethesda Softworks has finally revealed that The Elder Scrolls Online is not only going free-to-play, but will also be available on PS4 and Xbox One worldwide on 9 June, the console release being consistent with the current PC release, which is good news for potential buyers.

Retitled The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unleashed, the removal of a traditional MMO subscription service doesn’t mean that Bethesda haven’t included alternate revenue streams in order for the title to continue receiving support and content. While all existing PC players will transition automatically to the new F2P system, anybody wishing to play this updated release on PC or console will still be required to purchase a copy at full retail price, much like the Guild Wars series. To complement this, Bethesda is also taking a cue from the model employed by Funcom with The Secret World by including a store which will sell cosmetic and ‘convenience’ items, as well as optional add-on content whilst still providing players who elect not to spend further access to regular content and gameplay updates.

But wait! There’s still more! ESO:TU will also include an optional subscription model dubbed ESO Plus which will provide players who front up a monthly fee with “a premium membership service, providing exclusive in-game bonuses, a monthly allotment of crowns to use in the store and access to all DLC game packs while a member.” PC players with active subscriptions by 17 March will automatically transition to the ESO Plus program.

With so many options to choose from, it seems as if Bethesda are catering to the widest audience possible, although how successful this move will be remains to be seen. History is encouraging however, as seen through the continued success of Lord of the Rings Online, The Old Republic, The Secret World and many other MMO’s after transitioning to a F2P model.

The Black List for 24.01.15

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Saturday 24 January 2015Comments Off

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It’s The Black List, your one stop shop for the stories published on the site this week.

SUNDAY JUST ANNOUNCED Forza Motorsport 6 > Driving games, like sports games, thrive on updated iterations and keeping current within the overall scene in which they are set. Forza has long been a quality franchise but has lived in the shadow of bigger games like Gran Turismo, and has been relatively hidden away with their Xbox exclusivity. After the higher than usual level of attention received by Forza 5 as an Xbone launch game, the new Forza Motorsport 6 is looking to reach further than ever before. READ MORE

MONDAY JUST ANNOUNCED Drift Mode > When it comes to separating us from our hard earned dollars, the power of nostalgia is all but unrivalled. This was demonstrated yet again in recent days as retro-themed racing extravaganza Drift Stage blew by its US $30,000 Kickstarter goal. According to the promotional material released by developer Super Systems Softworks the gameplay in Drift Stage was inspired by the likes of Outrun 2, Ridge Racer and Daytona USA. READ MORE

TUESDAY JUST ANNOUNCED Sid Meier’s Starships > Did you enjoy the world (or should that be universe) presented in last year’s strategy epic Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth? If you answered in the affirmative, you’ll surely welcome the news that 2K Games and Firaxis are returning to the setting for a second game. And you’ll even be able to take the action on the road! READ MORE

WEDNESDAY JUST ANNOUNCED Borderlands: The Handsome Collection > Sure, some of you are back at work already. Others may be contemplating heading back shortly. Children are being tortured with back-to-school advertisements. These are all surely signs that Christmas is well and truly over. But, if you were to think that, you’d be wrong. READ MORE

THURSDAY REVIEW PlayStation TV > A strange entry into the hardware landscape, the PlayStation TV doesn’t have a clear purpose in life. Its ability to stream PS4 games to another location in the house is perhaps its most appealing feature, especially for a family, but is hardly a “must have”. Playing Vita games on a big screen is another touted feature but its implementation is problematic. The PlayStation TV is sure to keep a very specific niche happy but for anyone else it is waste of money. READ MORE

FRIDAY SPECIAL Welcome Player 2: The Adventures of Hewson and Son > Quite a few years ago I came across a problem in my gaming life. That problem was that most of my friends didn’t actually like gaming that much. I mean sure they would enjoy the occasional drunken game of NBA Jam but none of them shared the passion like I did. This led to a shortage of players for multiplayer events and in the days of yore, a time before XBLA and PSN, I had almost no one to get a game with. READ MORE