Welcome back again to This Week In Gaming, where we’ll have a look at the some of the bigger stories of the last week we may not have covered, as well as highlighting some of the more exciting stuff we did. This week we have a round of sackings at Valve, some new details on upcoming titles, some game developers who could have done better, more next-gen news and a mixed bag of NAG highlights.
Trouble in Paradise
It came out on Thursday that Valve had dropped some pretty high profile employees – including Steam boss Jason Holtman, who’s been running the digital distribution platform for eight years.
Valve big cheese Gabe Newell said he won’t specify exactly who has left the company, for reasons he didn’t disclose. The weird thing about the dismissals is that they’re not exactly official – their names have just disappeared from the Valve website (only two sackings have actually been confirmed). Those two people are Bay Raitt, a modeler and animator who confirmed on his Facebook page, and hardware engineer Jeri Ellsworth, who tweeted that she has been fired.
Due to rampant speculation about what had happened, Newell issued a statement on it, something which he says “he doesn’t normally do”.
“There seems to be an unusual amount of speculation about some recent changes here, so I thought I’d take the unusual step of addressing them. No, we aren’t cancelling any projects. No, we aren’t changing any priorities or projects we’ve been discussing. No, this isn’t about Steam or Linux or hardware or [insert game here]. We’re not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn’t working here.”
It’s worth noting that none of the allegedly sacked individuals have actually been badmouthing the company, so there’s no reason to believe this wasn’t handled amicably.
In other Valve-related news, the Steam client can now be downloaded by the fourteen gamers who play on Linux. Steam for Linux has officially exited beta and has been released on the real world – and with it come some awesome specials which will run until next week Thursday. Some of the price-slashed products are Serious Sam 3, Trine 2, Counter Strike: Source and Half-Life.
Looking to the future
While last week we reported that analyst Doug Creutz had predicted a 2014 release for Bungie’s new IP, Destiny, his opinion has been changed after news broke that the studio is planning the game’s reveal for tomorrow.
“We had been expecting a 2014 ship date for the title, given management’s highly cautious 2013 guidance and the timing of the upcoming console cycle,” Creutz said in an investor note. “However, we think a reveal this early in the year indicates that the title may well ship during 2013.
“We also note that the game has been indicated to have some sort of ongoing digital revenue stream; whether this indicates a subscription or something else remains unclear.” Fans shouldn’t get too excited, however, as the release will likely be pretty late this year (if indeed this year at all).
Speaking of 2014 releases, writers of The Witcher 3 revealed some plot details earlier this week. Apparently we’ll be seeing more of some of the characters encountered in the previous game, but in a “different situation” than we saw in the second installment.
Geralt will also apparently be looking for an as-yet-unknown “long lost love”, which should guarantee some more pixellated nudity. He’ll also discover a “deep bond” with a character at the beginning of the game – no word yet on whether or not that’s some kind of innuendo.
We should have done better
After a truckload of hype, Medal of Honor: Warfighter ended up being, well, not that good. It’s critical and commercial failure led a lot of people to believe that perhaps people just aren’t that into the genre style they were going for – but chief creative director at EA Rich Hilleman doesn’t believe that’s the case.
According to Hilleman, it just wasn’t that well executed. “It’s much more that we had some things we should’ve done better,” he said. He went on to say that developer Danger Close was lacking some “high-quality talent”. Ouch.
On the other side of the coin, there’s a developer that should have done better, said they’d do better, and then just kinda shrugged and said, “Screw it.” I’m talking here about Tecmo Koei, Japanese developer of fighting game Dead or Alive 5. After being criticised for the previous game’s overly sexualised themes, the developer promised a “more mature look” for DOA5.
Then they realised their player base was really just in it for the boobs, and made it more ridiculously sexual than ever (and still tried to defend it). It seems now they’ve decided to drop the pretence altogether however, having just released a new patch which allows players to shake the characters’ boobs by shaking the controller. I wish I was kidding. But hey, you know, Japan.
More next-gen goodness
‘Tis the spoiler season, and it seems every week we get more details on what to expect from the next generation of consoles – and this week we got loads.
A while back we reported that the PS4 controller may have a “Share” button, which allows a player to record video and take screenshots of the game they’re currently playing and broadcast these over the internet. However, a new source claims that that button does not in fact exist, and that the PS4 controller will be roughly the same shape as the standard PS3 DualShock.
On the other side of the console war, the Nextbox is rumoured to have Kinect included – well, actually, the rumour is that the device won’t even function unless Kinect is plugged in. This does raise privacy issues for those who like to play their games naked and wearing party hats, which is most people, right? …Right?
Speaking of Nextbox issues, recently we heard that Microsoft’s next offering may have stringent DRM attached, such as always-on internet requirements and blocking the play of pre-owned games. However, GameStop has reported that their surveys show that 60% of their customer base wouldn’t be interested in buying a console that they can’t play second-hand games on. This is a pretty considerable number, but we also have to keep in mind the hundreds of thousands of people who were going to boycott Modern Warfare 2, which then went on to make more money than actually exists.
Moving away from the rumour mill, Epic Games boss Tim Sweeney has said that his studio can’t wait to release games for the new platforms. He also added that there will be a considerable improvement over the current generation, in light of fears that the technical specs of the next generation are conservative. He didn’t seem too excited about the Wii U, in that he didn’t mention it at all. Awkward.
Best of NAG
The highlights from NAG this week are somewhat of a mixed bag, but there’s plenty of cool stuff you may have missed out on while you were planning romantic dinners and such. Let’s dive in.
If you’re already missing that warm fuzzy feeling you had on Wednesday, why don’t you go back and check out NAG’s take on The 5 Hottest Video Game Romances. The best part is, there’re 6.
Perhaps you’re less of a dinner with candles and more of a give me something expensive kind of guy/girl – well you still have time to get in on NAG’s competition to win an oh-so-pwetty Razer Naga Epic MMO Gaming Mouse. Head on over for full details on the competition.
THQ is not having a great week (or indeed, a great year), as our local distributor SterKinekor Entertainment has said that all distribution of THQ games has been “put on hold”. This is hardly surprising considering the studio was broken down and auctioned off for parts.
Gas Powered Games, developer of Dungeon Siege, has managed to escape a similar demise as they’ve been picked up by World of Tanks creator Wargaming.net. As World of Tanks continues to grow and make the studio a ton of cash, it’s intriguing to see them branching out – this is definitely a developer to keep an eye on in the coming months.
Finally, we just might have gotten our first look at the new PS4 controller a few days ahead of schedule. Check it out here.
That’s all we have for this week, have an awesome weekend folks.