Hello again my faithful Saturday morning minions, I trust you enjoyed your four day week. That was my gift to you. This week was a little news-narrow, in that it was largely dominated by a few big stories – but there were a lot of awesome videos released, and I’ve included all of them. Seriously, there’s like several hundred in here. Plus/minus a few hundred. Anyway, this week we’ll be discussing the dire straits the Wii U finds itself in and why, a few new titles to speculate on, a ridiculously stupid lawsuit, those videos I promised and some highlights from NAG you may have missed. All this and more (not really more, pretty much just that) after the jump.
Wii U Troubles
The big news this week is the Wii U – specifically just how terrible it’s doing. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has been talking a lot over the last couple of weeks about how he feels a lot of the poor sales is down to people not having a very good perception of the console. Think about that for a second – are your opinions of the Wii U positive or negative? For the majority of you (myself included) it’s probably the latter. And we’re the people who actually are interested in the industry, how is the general public going to feel about it?
According to Iwata, one of the biggest problems they’re having is with developers’ poor perceptions as well – without third-party software, the Wii U will be a failure. Apparently there is a “misconception” that the Wii U is just not powerful enough for what these developers want to be doing. Satoru does recognise that this “isn’t something that can happen overnight” and admits that it may seem a little unconvincing considering the Wii U’s poor sales.
Except then he says things like this: “Some developers say in interviews that Wii U has a different architecture from other consoles and that, when utilized in the right way, it can perform well.” Does that sound convincing to you? It gives me the impression you have to jump through a lot of hoops for a relatively mediocre result.
Things have gotten so bad; they’ve had to actually advertise to the people who already own a Wii U. This week, a message went out on the WiiConnect24 service reminding owners that the Wii U is “an all-new console, not just an upgrade”. This is one of the biggest problems they’re having, many people perceive the Wii U to be simply some kind of add-on, not a new console in itself. Perhaps they should have thought the name through a little better.
One of the biggest key’s to the original Wii’s success, as silly as it sounds now, was Wii Sports. The bundled game showed off the new and exciting controls in an admittedly fun way, and people got excited about it. Then came games like Super Smash Bros and Super Mario Galaxy to really drive sales. This is where the Wii U is falling short – where is the first-party software?
According to Iwata, the amount of resources and time required to complete the games was underestimated, and they thought it better to delay their release than risk damaging their brand with hastily finished games. Now that makes sense, kind of. The point is, sure you don’t want to release a crappy game, but not finishing them by now is seriously dropping the ball. You have a console that’s been out nearly 6 months, and no motivation for people to buy it. Nintendo was so focused on beating Xbox and PS4 to market, that they completely neglected to give people an actual reason to buy a Wii U, aside from the fact that it’s new and shiny. That is a pretty big fail on their part.
Things have gotten so bad that Amazon has cut the price of the basic Wii U model to only 149 British Pounds. For reference, that’s just barely over R2000, which is laughably low for a next-gen console. Nintendo have dug themselves into a pretty deep hole, and honestly it’s quite hard to imagine they’re going to recover.
Speaking of next-gen, Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian Entertainment is looking to get in on the action, putting out feelers for a level designer to help them “in creating a unique next generation game”.
There’s no word at all on what kind of game it’s going to be, although the ad does insist that any applicant must have “a love of role-playing and action games”. Go figure.
Another game on the horizon that we know nothing about is Tomb Raider reboot developer Crystal Dynamics’ next game, which will apparently be announced “soon”. This will be “a brand new AAA game” and is still “in the earliest stages of development. The smart money would say another Tomb Raider game, except it was confirmed last year that the studio will be “starting with a blank page” for their next game. So who knows? After playing Tomb Raider, which was excellent, I’m excited to see what these guys can come up with.
One mysterious title dominating the news this week is Call of Duty: Ghosts, which will apparently be premiering on May 21st at the next-gen Xbox reveal. We don’t know much about it yet, but there is a teaser trailer you can watch in the meantime.
The official release date is set for November 5 this year for all the major platforms, and in development for next-gen as well. Call of Duty developer Sledgehammer have said they’re not involved. Perhaps it’s Infinity Ward; Call of Duty 4 was awesome. Oh… wait. Nevermind.
If you want something a little different, Half-Life 2: Episode 1 mod Minerva has been released on Steam, for free. This popular mod landed a job at Valve for developer Adam Foster, and now it’s been beefed up into an enhanced version and distributed for free. Although, of course, you do actually have to own Episode 1 to play it. The blurb reads: “Minerva takes you to a remote island under the control of Combine forces. Something is going on here. Your goal is to uncover what that is and destroy it. Oh, yes– and try to survive.”
Hey, does anyone remember Peter Molyneux? In case you’ve forgotten, he used to make games, hype them beyond what is realistically possible, and then disappoint everyone. Occasionally some of them were actually good. Anyway, despite turning his game design skills to turning manual labour into an MMO, he says he’s quite interested in the next-gen stuff as well. He said this week that he’s “definitely not saying no” to developing on the consoles.
While we’re on the topic of manual labour MMOs, Molyneux’s Curiosity cube is finally nearing completion. Apparently we’re down to 50 layers, with 270 having been destroyed so far. Over 5 million people have cooperated in a chipping away process that would have taken one person 806 years.
Oh, and remember that hype we were talking about? Well, as to what’s in the cube, Molyneux says this: “The answer to what’s inside is as interesting as the journey to the centre. What’s in there is as experimental and thought-provoking as the whole game. It is definitely life-changing, by any measure, and it’s only possible into today’s world.” Yeaaah, so a free copy of Godus and a t-shirt then?
So apparently, Sega and Gearbox are being sued by a whole bunch of people – for false advertising. This is due to the fact that the final product of the game Aliens: Colonial Marines didn’t quite match up with fan expectations, based on what they’d seen at events such as E3 and PAX.
Let’s just get one thing straight here: this is stupid. Even if the game was a little disappointing for some (and Gear president Randy Pitchford has said the complaints are fair), it is not grounds for a lawsuit. The litigation culture in the United States has spiralled ridiculously out of control. This is simply a bunch of bored individuals who want to hit the lawsuit lottery, by managing to get a big settlement out of these companies based on some trivial complaint.
Sega and Gearbox don’t seem too worried about it, saying that it is basically without merit. In a comment to Kotaku, SEGA said, SEGA cannot comment on specifics of ongoing litigation, but we are confident that the lawsuit is without merit and we will defend it vigorously.”
We can’t have developers and publishers afraid to show off work-in-progress games because they’re afraid of a ridiculous lawsuit from an entitled teenager. I really hope this gets squashed. Quickly.
The Elder Scrolls Online is an upcoming MMO based on the popular gameworld being developed by Zenimax. In a new video, the developer shows off some of the story central to the game. Enjoy.
The totally surprising Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon launched on Wednesday, alongside a host of videos. What was originally thought to be an April’s Fool’s joke turned out to be a bona fide game which came out of nowhere. If you somehow haven’t got a glimpse of this 80’s themed gunfire extravaganza, check out the launch trailer:
If that wasn’t quite enough electric dinosaur for you, feast on this lengthy runthrough of the opening mission.
Controversial title Remember Me (controversial in the fact that publishers are stupid and thought a female protagonist was a big no-no) got an interesting developer diary this week – creative director Jean-Maxime Moris will talk you through the game’s central themes.
Okay, that’s enough talking. Let’s see some people getting shot in the face, with Insomniac Games’ new gameplay trailer for the long overdue action title, Fuse.
Finally, Ubisoft have unleashed yet another Splinter Cell Blacklist trailer – I think at this point there are more Blacklist videos than extras on the Lord of the Rings DVD boxsets. Anyway, if you aren’t feeling like you’ve already played through this game several times, cast your wearied eyes upon the way in which the game is “redefining multiplayer action”.
Best of NAG
It was a quiet one on NAG Online this week, having a weekend right in the middle of a work-week will do that to you. Some of my favourite happenings on the site this week were some hilarious news articles, such as:
These idiots who went online to complain about their “bugged” game – a version of the game that was only bugged if you pirated it. The best part of this “bug” is that in the game you play a game developer, and your cash gets drained as people continuously pirate your game. Oh the delicious irony.
Another one which I found amusing was one of the strangest things I’ve seen in some time – purchasers of Dead Island: Riptide got a copy of Dark Souls instead. I bet someone got fired over that, although admittedly they’d be better off sticking with Dark Souls.
While we’re on the subject of Deep Silver, Matthew Vice reviewed one of their lesser-known titles, a spin-off of one of his favourite RPG series, the Sacred franchise. Head over here to see if this one makes the grade.
If you’ve made it with me this far, congratulations, my three minute attention span definitely could not have performed as admirably. Since I still have your attention, go on and read my column for the week, where I stir up a little bit of controversy by slamming movie adaptations of video games.