Hello again and welcome back to This Week in Gaming. I trust you all had an awesome Easter weekend, and gorged yourself on enough chocolate-fashioned-into-eggs to give yourself the truest of all miseries, the sugar-hangover. This week brought with it a ton of next-gen consoles news, a little bit of controversy, a dose of nostalgia for our senior readers and a few abandoned stories that didn’t quite fit in. Let’s get to it.
Gamestop have been running a couple of surveys, the first of which is showing that its customers are more likely to buy a PS4 in the next year than any other hardware. The next-gen console took the lead with 34 percent of the vote, with smartphones lagging behind at 23% and tablets nipping at mobiles’ heels with 22%.
GameStop CEO, Paul Raines, also had something to say about the Xbox 720, saying it is “a very hot device”. Raines says that Microsoft “are doing some really cool stuff” and that he is “eager to hear them start their announcements”. This is all rather strange since if you asked Microsoft the Xbox 720 doesn’t exist.
Speaking of the 720, some of Kotaku’s moles at Microsoft have said that the new console’s controller is pretty much the same as the old one. It’s a little smaller, but other than that the buttons, triggers and analogue sticks are all basically identical to the current-gen. This means that there are no new inputs such as touchpads or speakers. Pretty disappointing if it’s true, but nothing is confirmed at this point.
As for the PS4, developers are already playing around with the console’s new features. Tim Schafer (of Double Fine) said this week that he was impressed by Sony coming to him and asking what he wanted from the system, and that he already had some of his staff “playing with some of the new features to see what we can do with it”.
Even more enthusiastic about the console is creative director over at Quantic Dream David Cage, who said, “If I showed you what we’re doing with the PS4 you would be amazed. It’s really surprising. It’s another world.” It would appear that Sony’s more developer-focused approach to the design of the PS4 is really paying off, especially as the PS3 was often criticised as being very difficult to develop for.
Epic Games VP Mark Rein made waves this week when he compared the PS4 to a “really perfect gaming PC”. What made PC gamers get a little salty was his claim that “most PCs are running a 32-bit version of Windows”, something which certainly isn’t true for gamers. That being said (and I speak as a PC gamer, so no bias here), what he’s saying is true: knowing that every single console owner has access to that amount of memory is significant. Sure, the specs on a PS4 are probably equivalent to a mid-level gaming PC, but when you’re designing games you have to make fairly low estimates about what kind of hardware people are running. Working with relatively high-end specs that you know every single one of your consumers has access to means you can do some pretty exciting stuff.
DayZ creator Dean Hall says that if the standalone PC version of the once-upon-a-time Arma 2 mod is successful, then a next-gen console port is “almost certain”. He said that he’d actually spoken to Sony and that “they’re obviously interested”.
Xbox always online
Rumours have been scurrying around for a while now that the Nextbox is going to require an always-online internet connection, and reports this week lend more evidence to this rumour.
Sources from Kotaku have claimed that the console won’t run any games or apps unless it’s connected to the internet – at all. If you lose your connection while playing, you’ll get three minutes of gaming in before a “network troubleshooter” fires up and the game is suspended.
Microsoft themselves are keeping mum, saying that they “do not comment on rumours or speculation”. But things got a little more interesting when Microsoft’s creative director, Adam Orth, went on a crusade (managing to make himself look like a spectacular douchebag in the process). He tweeted, “Sorry, I don’t get the drama around having an ‘always online’ console. Every device now is ‘always on’. That’s the world we live in. #dealwithit.”
Bioware designer Manveer Heir pointed out the obvious – the disastrous launches for always-online titles such as Diablo III and SimCity. Orth responded by arrogantly dismissing anyone who didn’t live in an area where a constant, stable internet connection was all but guaranteed. He has since protected the account after the predictable backlash, but of course nothing is safe on the internet, and a screen capture of part of the exchange quickly became the most upvoted thing on Reddit. Check it out:
Whether or not the next-generation Xbox is going to be always-online (and these aggressive tweets certainly lend more evidence to that), are these people in the industry really this out of touch with their customers? Do they not know what the words “always online” are a volatile hate-fuel for video gamers everywhere? Making the next Xbox require a permanent online connection seems to be setting it up for failure before it’s even hit the shelves. It doesn’t matter what YOU think is awesome, it matters what the people buying your product think. Also, insulting your peers and customers and advising people to “Deal with it” is generally not a rock-solid marketing strategy.
A dose of nostalgia
This week was a good one for gamers who like to put their feet up, cradle a beer and tell anyone who’ll listen about “the good old days”. This is literally the only time you’ll ever get to say those words while still living with your parents.
Doom 4 has been announced to be actually in development again, following a “reboot” from publisher Bethesda. It’s been 5 years and we’re still yet to hear anything about it, but the game is reportedly “far from complete” after Bethesda rejected an earlier version that wasn’t up to scratch. Parent company to developer Id Software reportedly cancelled all their other projects (including Rage 2), and all the staff are now focused fully on Doom 4 development.
Hey, remember when Duke Nukem wasn’t terrible? Now you can relive those days while pooping, as Duke Nukem 2 (the 2D side scroller) marks its 20th anniversary with an iOS release. It’s been properly done and handled by 3D realms and Interceptor Entertainment, and delivers 32 levels of 2D action, complete with proper touch-screen controls, saving and new artwork.
Do you remember the Star Wars Jedi Knight games? Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy? Well you’re bad and you should feel bad, because they were sick. And now developer Raven is releasing the source code to the public, to do with as we wish. I really hope a hardcore modding community out there can take this and do something amazing with it, because these games were awesome and I bet they’d have a lot of interested people following the project. The multiplayer light-saber duals were particularly epic.
Odds and Ends
Back in December 2011 Epic Games revealed Fortnite, a PC-exclusive “co-op sandbox survival game” that we haven’t really seen much of since then. Now VP of the studio Mark Rein says that they pulled it from GDC at the last second because they “dint want to ruin people’s first impression” and that the title might be “the best thing they’ve ever done”. The developer now plans to give it a proper reveal with a very slow rollout.
Zombie game The War Z has been shrouded in controversy since its inception, being removed from Steam after a disastrous launch (where they were accused of false advertising and Steam had to offer refunds), being attacked by hackers, conducting some pretty shady business practices and just generally being kind of an awful game. Now this week the game’s forums were taken down after hackers managed to crack the databases and steal customer information such as passwords, IP addresses and e-mail addresses (but no credit card information). It all keeps going wrong for them, but you can’t but feel they kind of deserve it.
It’s that time of year again, when rumours about a new iPhone begin to service. Apple boasts a release schedule to rival the Call of Duty series, with sales figures equally as confusing. Sources are now reporting that the new model will be going into production in the second quarter of this year. I wonder what minor change they’ve incorporated this time? I am literally on the edge of my seat.
Best of NAG
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, originally thought to be some kind of elaborate April Fool’s joke, is in fact real and there’re screenshots to prove it. It looks like it’s going to be some kind of bizarre 80’s themed standalone title, check out the screenshots here.
While we’re on the subject of April Fool’s, if you can tolerate a shameless self-plug, earlier this week I highlighted some of the best from this year. The article hasn’t got as many views as that yawning baby hedgehog yet, so keep me employed by checking it out here.
Speaking of nostalgia, it looks like Activision might be giving us a King’s Quest reboot. Developer Replay Games reportedly tried to license the game from Activision, but they declined saying, “We’re going to do it ourselves.” Who knows, maybe we’ll start getting a new King’s Quest game every year.
So you may have heard that there is a particular event happening soon, one that may appear in particular to our geek culture. You may be confused that the event was announced less than a month before it’s happening. All these questions and doubts are spinning around in your head, but luckily NAG’s resident sleuth, BS-slayer and cat enthusiast Tarryn van der Byl has hilariously and informatively imparted her knowledge upon your unready, feeble minds. Have them blown here.
I realise by now it’s slowly dawning on you all that there is no sweet videos section. I know that’s the only reason you clicked here, and you’re angry and I’m sorry – there just weren’t that many sweet videos this week. Allow me to soothe some of your burning rage with this sweet Thief reboot trailer (that you may have already seen on NAG earlier this week, but is obviously worth a second look please don’t hurt me)
That’s it for this week, hope you all have a good (depressingly short) weekend.
Okay fine, I’m feeling guilty about the no videos thing. All I could find was Francis’ response to the always-online Xbox fiasco. If you don’t know who Francis is, he’s YouTube famous mostly for being very overweight and very angry. Highlights of the video include an axe and a flurry of offensive gestures. Oh, also if you’re offended by profanity you should absolutely not watch it. Enjoy.