Hello again my supple young perusers of the internet, I trust you’ve all had a pleasant week; or at least managed to carry yourselves through to Friday without committing a homicide. Sit back, relax and soothe your sociopathic inclinations with some more Xbox controversy and other console newsery, me ranting about Australian sensitivity and Curiosity’s stupid prize and for dessert I’m going to indulge you with plenty of sweet, sweet videos; as well as some funny NAG stuff you may have missed while trying not to injure someone. Take a deep breath, and hit the jump.
In the wake of Microsoft’s disastrous Xbox reveal which allayed none of people’s fears over always-online requirements and used-game fees, an online campaign predictably popped up on the internet. Not so predictable, however, was the fact that this petition was aimed at Sony. Wait, what?
Rather than going after Microsoft, a campaign which spread quickly over NeoGAF, Reddit and Twitter instead focused its attention on the Playstation, begging Sony to do the right thing and not include any of the draconic measures found on the Xbox One.
This, to me, seems like really bad news for Microsoft. They have already been dismissed as a lost cause, and everyone instead looked to Sony as the Great Hope for Gaming Humanity. It would be foolish for Sony not to capitalise on such a failed Xbox reveal, and thus they did exactly that.
When the always-online fury was burning at its hottest, Sony said that they “didn’t even consider” always-online for the PS4. Now with everyone rolling their eyes at the multimedia-focused Xbox One reveal, Sony have come out and said that their console is “first and foremost a gaming console”.
Sony big cheese Kaz Hirai said, “Providing other non-game content is an area we will reveal and talk about in the coming months, but it’s first and foremost a video game console.” Translation: “We do have multimedia capabilities, but we’re not stupid enough to focus entirely on that and give the finger to our core audience.”
Of course, while Sony has said they won’t be blocking used games, this could be corporate doublespeak for “but we are going to charge you to play them”. So we’ll see just exactly how all this pans out in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has been trying to do a little damage control themselves. The Xbox man himself Larry Hryb has said that Microsoft “is listening” to concerns over DRM. Not the most reassuring statement, but I guess it’s something. Honestly, they’d have to start seriously considering relooking at some things at this point.
The numbers for the livestream have revealed to be 8 million viewers, making it “one of the top-most concurrent streamed events of all time”, apparently. When you factor in all the people who watched it after the fact, that is a frightening number of angry nerds.
Still on Microsoft and angry nerds, in one of the most stunningly dull pieces of news that is apparently still news, the Xbox maker has announced that the device and the bundled Kinect “can be turned completely off”. Well, that’s a real weight off my shoulders. Honestly, considering 99,7%  of the people concerned over this “privacy issue” willingly sign away rights to their personal data every time they accept the terms and conditions on their iTunes update or log into Facebook, you really think getting spied on through a Kinect camera is not high on their list of concerns. No one is really all that interested in seeing you play Call of Duty in your underwear.
While I’m on my soapbox, do people actually understand electricity? If you’re so paranoid about getting spied on you can turn everything off yourself – with the power switch. I hope you’re all really glad that Microsoft included that most vital of features, a power button. Wait a minute… I’m typing this on a laptop right now! With a webcam! BRB I need to fetch my tinfoil hat.
On a slightly more positive note, Microsoft has promised that the Xbox One will be getting plenty of support for indie games. There was speculation that the little guys had been abandoned after news spread that indie devs would not be able to self-publish and that their games would not be given their own section on the console’s digital marketplace.
However, Xbox boss Don Mattrick has said in an interview that “there’s no way we’re going to build a box that doesn’t support indie studios.”
Mattrick told of a plan to include an independent creator program which they will sponsor; details are still to come but Mattrick insists that indie development is something that is very important to them.
In spite of all the negativity surround Microsoft’s console at the moment, retailers in the UK are reporting a strong number of pre-orders thus far. Although, retailers also reported that the Xbox One reveal caused a bit of a surge in PS4 pre-orders as well. Go figure.
For a country that’s known for consisting of everything in the world that’s capable of killing you, Australia is definitely a little sensitive when it comes to video game content.
It’s well-known for strict ratings on games and sometimes outright bannings if a game is particularly violent, and now the banhammer has come down on a Dead island: Riptide TV advertisement.
In the ad, a couple commits suicide rather than get devoured by a horde of zombies, which the Australian Advertising Standards Board ruled as “a depiction of violence which is not justifiable even in the context of an advertisement for a computer game aimed at adults.”
The marketing people over at Dead Island just can’t seem to catch a break. Their Zombie Bait Edition dismembered torso statuette sparked controversy for being offensive, and now their advertising has been pulled as well. Is Australia being oversensitive, or are they justified here? Have a look at the trailer and let me know what you think in the comments.
Double Fine have had some success with Kickstarter, and by success I mean they destroyed expectations and inspired a huge amount of developers to get involved with crowd-funding.
Now the developer has launched another Kickstarter for a “turn-based tactics” game called Massive Chalice, and is looking to raise $725,000 by the end of June. At the time of writing, they’re already close to $500,000 so they should have no problem reaching that goal.
Here’s a brief description of the game, taken from the official page:
“As an immortal King or Queen, you must unite your kingdom under a powerful dynasty, eliminate the demonic threat, and reforge the Massive Chalice!
“The game is structured into two main layers: strategy and tactics. In the strategy layer, you oversee your kingdom, arrange royal marriages, conduct research, and make the far-reaching decisions that will determine the fate of your legacy.
“In the tactics layer, you fight brutal turn-based battles to defend your kingdom using small squads of customizable heroes.”
If you’re interested in getting involved, head on over to the Kickstarter page here.
The other thing that happened this week is that the Curiosity cube was finally destroyed. Peter Molyneux’s “experiment”/game was finally completed, and as is always the case with this kind of thing, the winner made an account an hour before and coolly collected the prize.
That prize being the ability to be the “God” in 22Cans next game, Godus. Now this prize has been met with some mixed reaction from the internet. Some people think it’s pretty cool, some… not so much.
Personally, I think its garbage. The problem isn’t the prize, but more Molyneux’s perpetual hyperbole. In the weeks leading up to the completion of the cube, we were told the prize would be “life-changing”. He hyped it up so much that I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but having some kind of limited control over an indie game definitely wasn’t it.
The thing is, the game has to be fun because the game has to make money. You can’t just throw fireballs at people and, in Molyneux’s words, “blow up Canada”. Molyneux himself said that the control will only be within reason, and it will also be time-limited to somewhere between a few months and a year.
Sure, it’ll be kind of fun – but not life-changing. You also get a small share in the profits, but I imagine it isn’t going to be all that much – this is an indie game for mobile platforms, not the next Call of Duty. Honestly, I can only speak for myself, but I’m a busy person and this prize really doesn’t interest me at all. I’ll take the money though.
If you have an opinion please share it in the comments, I’m interested to hear what you all think of it.
Lesser known PC and PS3 title Payday is getting a sequel, this time coming to Xbox 360 as well. The game lets you join up with friends and rob banks in a multiplayer environment. This gameplay video looks pretty cool, check it out:
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic was a fan favourite, and the game has now been converted into an iPad game so you can role-play your favourite character while pooping. The video below shows the first thirty minutes of gameplay, so get some food or something and settle in.
Heading into the mainstream, a new Company of Heroes 2 video was released this week, cheekily titled “Above the Battlefield.” The video urges you to take command and elevate your game “above the battlefield”, “before you play the next big FPS”. Okay, okay, we get it, Battlefield 4, don’t hit us over the head with it.
I’ve been a little hard on Nintendo’s Wii U lately, so I’m showing it a little love this week with this new Sonic Lost World reveal trailer. And even I have to say, it looks pretty damn sweet.
Best of NAG
So I learned something interesting this week – I learned that my entire life, I’ve been playing Monopoly wrong. Now I’m not quite convinced this is actually true, it feels like some kind of retroactive rules change was made when no one was looking to make us all look like idiots. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go on and have your mind blown here.
Speaking of conspiracy theories, adding further evidence to my theory that Wesley Fick is a no-sleep Daywalker, the tireless writer made an early-morning trip to my hometown in order to get a really, really cheap Wii U. Read about his adventure into the heart of the Eastern Cape here.
You may have noticed that the news for the last two weeks has been dominated by the next-gen console war, specifically the Xbox One. My column for the week was no different, where I climbed atop my soapbox to rant about how the industry in general couldn’t market ice to Eskimos. Check it out.
Last, but most certainly not least, it’s the best time of the month. Not only is everyone getting paid, they’re getting something sweet to spend their money on – the June issue of NAG. This month is all things XCOM and more, so head over here now to get a breakdown on what’s in this month’s mag. Or, better yet, go breathe some real-world air and pick it up now. It’s good for you.