Welcome again to This Week in Gaming, where we’ll be having a look at what’s been making jaws drop and tails wag. Doing the rounds this week are all things Activision, studio buyouts (or lack thereof), highlights from the DICE 2013 summit, some PS4 news hot off the rumour mill and more sweet, sweet videos.
All things Activision
The company everybody loves to hate (especially leading man Bobby Kotick) has been dominating the news this week.
The company had a huge year in 2012, raking in a tidy $4.86 billion, up from $4.76 billion the previous year. These figures make it “the best performance in its history”, with most of the money bags being filled by the Call of Duty and Skylanders franchises.
In their continued efforts to shoehorn a military shooter into each calendar year, Activision has confirmed that a new Call of Duty game will be coming in 2013. As an expert deductionist and pattern observer I can tell you that this will be a Modern Warfare title. Hey as long as you keep buying ‘em, Kotick’ll keep shipping ‘em. The Call of Duty golden goose has been whipped so hard in the last five years I wouldn’t be surprised if PETA is planning a protest.
You know what’s not coming in 2013? Bungie’s new game. Destiny. That’s not a definite, but in a recent financial meeting Bungie’s title wasn’t included in 2013’s earning plans. It’s rather astonishing that the company can poop out a Call of Duty title every November, but may not manage to deliver Destiny on time.
Studio buyouts (or lack thereof)
Indie developer Mojang, the studio that gave the world Minecraft, have said they’re not looking to sell themselves off just yet. According to co-founder Carl Manneh, they have “more money than they need”, and have rejected offers from almost every major game company in the world. “More money than they need” is $240 million in 2012, not bad for a developer with only 25 people on the books.
On the opposite end of the scale we have Darksiders II developer Vigil Games, who came out of the THQ auction with exactly zero bids. Crytek expressed surprise over this, perhaps ironically since they didn’t bid on them either. However, with Crytek USA absorbing a decent chunk of Vigil’s staff, might we be seeing a Darksiders title in Crytek’s future? Don’t count on it, says Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli, who said that a Darksiders sequel “doesn’t fit with our strategy.”
PS4 rumours and Vita woes
Last week we heard that the Playstation 4 may be announced on the 20th of February, and may be hitting shelves as early as this year. Unfortunately, for Europe (and thus, us), it looks like that release date is going to be pushed back to “early 2014″.
The other rumour circulating this week is the supposed yen price of the PS4 upon launch, about R3,800 in Third World money. However, that’s just an exchange rate, the actual price would be somewhere close to R5,000 – which still isn’t bad compared to the launch price of the PS3. Just remember, this is a rumour.
Finally, I couldn’t let another week slip past without an underhanded jab at the Vita. Sony’s latest excuse for the ”slow penetration of the Vita” (their words) is the lack of product promotion. Sony CFO Masaru Kato said, ”Now one thing clear for us that in terms of profitability, we have to do a better job in promoting the PlayStation Vita mobile product.” I’m sure that’s the problem.
Dice 2013 highlights
Gabe Newell isn’t one to mince words, and likes to say clever (and controversial) things in public places. Public places such as the DICE 2013 Summit in Las Vegas, where Valve’s big cheese complained about next-gen consoles – specifically that the transitioning between consoles is bad for gaming.
Gabe noted that PCs are soon going to be occupying living rooms – they’re becoming quiet, compact and cool-running; the only place they haven’t advanced very much is input. Gabe noted that a lot of his championing of the PC platform has to do with “trying to get away from these really disruptive console transitions where everything that customers and software developers invest in gets rebooted and then we all have to start over.”
Valve also had some big news for the DICE Summit: the developer will be working with J.J. Abrams (Lost, Star Trek movie, Disney’s Star Wars) to create either a Portal movie or Half-Life movie. Yay, yay, whatever – let’s get real here for a second. First of all, where the hell is my Episode 3, Gabe? Second, why are people letting J.J Abrams make awesome movies? Lost was a non-cohesive, incoherent mess. Super 8 was terrible, as was Cloverfield. Star Trek was meh. This guy made Felicity! Felicity! Let’s just move on.
In last week’s This Week In Gaming, we spoke about Visceral Games’ announcement that Dead Space 3 for PC would be straight port from console, and the executive producer’s defensive remarks that they were “allowing” PC owners to control the game with a mouse and keyboard.
Bastion developer Supergiant Games co-founder Amir Rao has taken pity on us hunchbacked monitor-squinters, saying that ports can be more than the disappointing and cynical products they usually are. “What fans really want is for you to put the same creative energy that went into making the original game into reimagining it,” Rao said. Hear hear, Sir.
New games, new videos
The most exciting news on NAG this week was the announcement of two new major titles, as well as two new videos for upcoming games.
First up we have the announcement of The Witcher 3 – I have mixed feelings about this since I loved The Witcher 2, but got my ass handed to me on medium difficulty five minutes in.
Titled The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, CD Projekt Red’s newest instalment in the franchise is aimed for a 2014 release on PC and “high-end platforms” (read: next-gen consoles). The game will be built on REDengine 3, allowing it to be a truly open-world game, a world which the developer claims will be thirty times larger than The Witcher 2, or bigger than Skyrim.
And guess what? I have a video for this one too:
Ubisoft have decided they also like making money, and taking notes from Activision have announced they plan to release another Assassin’s Creed title, likely within the next year.
The new game will feature a new protagonist and historical setting, which may come as a surprise as the franchise tended to stick with one hero for at least a few titles. However, the development will not be handled by the same people who did Assassin’s Creed 3. No video for this one yet.
There is however a new video for the upcoming God of War: Ascension – this one was a pretty big deal, being aired for the first time during the Super Bowl. Do you know how much it costs to advertise during the Super Bowl? Me neither and I’m too lazy to Google it, but it’s safe to say it’s more than anything you’ve ever bought. Combined. Check out if it was worth it:
Finally we have new gameplay footage from the only game that’s ever made me really want a console, The Last of Us. The video introduces new mechanics such as the crafting system to MacGyver yourself a nifty weapon, as well as new enemy types – including “the Clicker”, a blind zombie that uses echo-location to find you. Go ahead and look over your shoulder, I did. Click click.