Greetings NAGinis, and thanks for coming back for This Week In Gaming. I’m trying a new formatting this week, to separate the stories better and make everything flow a little more nicely. Let me know what you think. In the news we have the Wii U’s swan song, an exciting new venture from a much loved online platform, EA trying to get into gamer’s good books, news on Titanfall 2, Sony attempting a big dick move and our first look in a long time at the Xbox One’s actual sales figures. All that and the usual videos and highlights from the week, after the jump.
The waning Wii U
GDC has released its industry report, granting insight into what platforms developers are focusing their attention on. It’s good news for the neglected PC crew, as 52 percent of devs surveyed were looking to serve the keyboard bandits.
This is in line with a SuperData report that showed PC to be the top earner in 2015, followed by mobile games. The trend holds here too, with mobile taking second spot amongst the devs and the PS4 and Xbone following behind.
The real tragedy is the Wii U however, which managed a paltry 5% of developer interest. It’s no secret that third-party studios can’t afford to get involved with the dying console, but in a survey such as this which includes small-time players 5% is not all that encouraging.
This situation is no doubt exacerbated with the upcoming release of the NX, as the feeling is strong that in spite of what they say Nintendo will be cutting their losses with the U and moving on to more capable hardware.
GOG dips its toe into early access
Now usually when someone mentions Early Access, they have to give me a trigger warning. Classically, to me, Early Access has been an unmitigated disaster, with developers who don’t deserve your money taking it and then failing to deliver on promises either due to incompetence or poor ethics.
It’s a crappy model, and I pretty much hate everything about it. But, all that being said, I do hate GOG’s a little less.
Introducing their new “games in development” store, GOG has attempted to mitigate some of the problems that have plagued this payment model in the past. Most notably, games now all come with a 14-day, “no questions asked’ refund policy. Which is definitely long enough for you to decide if you’ve been conned into buying a buggy mess and want to take your 8 dollars elsewhere.
Another nifty feature is the ability to rollback patches. If the latest patch turns your once beloved half-finished game into a half-finished turd, you can simply go back to an old version until the devs figure out what the hell they did.
MD Piotr Karwowski said of the new service that they’re going to be picky with what they put in the store, saying it’s all about “quality over quantity”.
“We look at many factors when making the final call, things like the development roadmap, what the game offers to players in its current state, the developer’s track record or experience where applicable and so on.”
I can’t say it’s turned me around on the idea, but this does seem like the best implementation I’ve seen of it thus far.
EA hopes to “regain PC gamers’ trust”
Well, where have we heard this before?
Last week we had the EA CEO sing the praises of his own company, detailing how it was undeserving of its running title of Worst Company In America.
Now this week we get Origin’s senior marketing director Peter O’Reilly, who said the company is looking to get PC gamers back in their camp. He didn’t, however, mention any particular reasons this trust might have been lost.
Instead, he focused on the positive. “Over the last couple of years we have focused on ensuring a great play experience from launch and bringing players a better experience on Origin with programs like the Great Game Guarantee [EA’s return policy for Origin games], On the House, and now Origin Access. We’re excited about the progress we’ve made, but are always pushing ourselves to innovate on behalf of players.”
Bleh. It’s the same kind of tune the CEO was singing last week, and it seems kind of gross to me. With the kind of reputation they have, I’d like to see them taking a little responsibility for all the crap they’ve pulled, rather than just try and convince me how great they are.
It’s not that these things aren’t appreciated, they are, but an old game for free every month isn’t enough to placate those who bought into user nightmares like SimCity. It’s the basics EA has to deliver on to regain trust, the fluff can come later.
Titanfall 2 is coming, and it looks good
Well, that’s according to a somewhat biased EA CEO Andrew Wilson. He may not be my favourite person in the world, but I do have a big old mancrush on Vince Zampella, head of Respawn Entertainment.
Wilson says he’s seen the sequel and it “looks fantastic”, adding that he has “great faith in Respawn to build a spectacular game”. Well Wilson, so do I.
I’m particularly excited for this, because the first Titanfall was fantastic – but it had issues. The single-player campaign was, honestly, a joke, and the game would have been better off without it. Whether or not this was crammed in as it’s something that’s expected, or whether they were rushing to get the game done in time for the Xbox One release, I’m not sure.
That said, the gameplay was fluid, original and engaging, and the support for the game post-release was better than I’ve seen in a long time. I’m pretty intrigued to see what a studio like Respawn can do with an already great IP now that they’ve had some experience with it.
Sony doesn’t want us to have nice things
In a move that’s honestly pretty douchey, Sony is trying their darndest to trademark “Let’s Play”. The term, popularised by various YouTube personalities and streamers has been used for years to describe people playing through games for entertainment.
Luckily, the US Patent Office denied the claim because it clashes with something called “LP LET’Z PLAY”, apparently. Of course, there’s a far more legitimate reason it shouldn’t be allowed – it’s a commonly used generic term amongst gamers.
The Patent Office was made aware of this fact by one McArthur Law Firm, who sent a letter of protest detailing exactly what all of us already know. The office responded by rejecting Sony’s claim once again, this time going so far as to cite the /r/letsplay subreddit as evidence.
This is good for gamers, but it looks particularly bad for Sony. Trying to copyright a term that belongs to the community is a dick move, and an unnecessary one at that. Why not copyright something unique to your brand? Poor form, Sony.
EA outs Xbox One’s sales
Microsoft have been keeping mum about the sales of their console, no doubt because it’s being pretty clearly outperformed by the PS4, whose sales Sony has had no qualms about shouting from the rooftops.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, a blunder from EA’s Blake Jorgensen has outed them. In a financial call, the executive commented on the impressive install base of next-gen console users, a combined 55 million between PS4 and Xbox One!
Even the standard grade Maths guys can figure this one out – with a total of 55 million, and PS4’s published sales numbers of just under 36 million, that puts Xbox One trailing at 19 million. Oops, Blake is going to have a couple of strongly worded e-mails to deal with this weekend.
This means that Sony is rocking nearly double the sales of its closest competitor – not a bad place to find oneself.
RTS has been a little neglected of late, so it’s nice to see the in-development Ashes of the Singularity getting attention. Check it out:
Yakuza 6 looks… interesting. In this next clip, you can check out the entire Japanese demo. You won’t understand a word, but it probably won’t matter.
Torment: Tides of Numenera looks very, very cool. The first two minutes of gameplay can probably convince you of that.
Did you love Rollercoaster Tycoon? Of course you did. So you might also like Planet Coaster.
Best of NAG
Let’s start strong with the month’s final instalment of Wesley Fick’s System Builder’s Guide. This is the hardware porn edition – the R25,000 to R35,000 range.
Next up, check out Miklos’ thoughts on Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak.
It’s a review double-down, with Matthew Fick’s look at Resident Evil 0 HD Remaster. Is this a remaster that’s actually worth getting?
Finally, check out my column for the week – a personal look at my recent rediscovery of my love of gaming.