Hello again nerds, geeks, gamers and those so hipster you bootlegged Doom on a floppy while everyone else was playing the shareware. We’ve got a whole heap of console news this week, with a bit of game-related journalism just to bring balance to the force, a few outsiders you’ve probably never heard of too cool for the mainstream, the usual crop of videos and the best of NAG section which I use primarily to promote anything I’ve written. Hit that jump right now, or later, but do it at some point. Actually do it now. Do it.
Oh boy – here we go again. New reports allege that actually, you won’t need to be connected to the internet to play your games on Durango. This particular rumour has been back and forth, but apparently an official memo to Microsoft employees working on the console was leaked.
This memo states: “There are a number of scenarios that our users expect to work without an Internet connection, and those should ‘just work’ regardless of their current connection status. Those include, but are not limited to: playing a Blu-ray disc, watching live TV, and yes playing a single player game.”
It’s good news if it’s true, but with so much back and forth with these rumours, it’s very hard to really know anymore what’s real and what’s not. We’ll find out soon enough, with the official reveal happening on May 21st.
Microsoft has also announced that they will be attending Gamescom this year, after missing last year’s show. Their exhibition is called “Next chapter of Xbox gaming experiences”, so we should be seeing anything of the new console that has not yet been revealed – and hopefully some new titles will be announced as well.
Sony’s Playstation division has reported a bit of a rough year, with a drop in income of 180 million pounds. The company suffered a 12 percent loss in Playstation sales compared to last year, to the tune of about 7 billion dollars.
According to Sony, it’s mostly the Vita to blame, with poor sales and a big price cut in Japan. The PSP is also doing poorly; the decline in sales of the forgotten handheld was cited by Sony as contributing to the disappointing figures.
To put it in perspective, Sony is reporting combined PSP and Vita sales of five million units for the period – Sony initially forecast 16 million. By comparison, Nintendo has sold nearly 18 million units in the current year, which just shows what a bomb Vita has been.
On the positive side, things are looking really good for the PS4; Sony has managed to curry favour with a lot of fans while Microsoft rumours thus far have been seemingly all bad.
No doubt capitalising on this, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida said this week that Sony “never considered always online”. In an interview with Game Informer, Yoshida said, “Did we consider it [always-online]? No, we didn’t consider it. The main reason being that many countries don’t have robust internet connections.
“It makes sense for people to have internet connections to play online games, but for offline games there are many countries that we saw do not really have robust internet… We didn’t even consider that.” It’s probably true, but the elephant in the room of course is the pervasive rumour that Xbox will require an always-online connection (now of course alleged to be not true).
When Sony released the PS3, they spent a long time selling at a loss due to the enormous cost of developing and manufacturing the console. However, Sony CFO Masaru Kato has said this won’t be the case with the PS4.
“One thing I can say for the new platform, PS4, how it is different from past platforms, is that the amount of investment that goes into the basic architecture components [for the] hardware device is much lighter than the past platform,” he said.
He goes on to explain that the PS4 uses a core chipset, readily available and not having to be designed from scratch. The big difference, however, is the use of third parties to handle boring stuff like semiconductors and fabrications and other things I barely understand. Bottom line, it’s much cheaper.
I’ve been talking a lot lately about the Wii U, and more specifically that it’s in an awkward spot. News last week for the struggling console wasn’t good, and unfortunately this week it hasn’t gotten any better, with what looks like a lack of support from some major players in the industry.
EA has said that they’ll be developing most of their core titles using the new Frostbite 3 engine. Which, as it turns out, doesn’t run on the Wii U. Oops.
DICE technical director Johan Andersson said over Twitter, “[Frostbite 3] has never been running on Wii U. We did some tests with not too promising results with FB2 and chose not to go down that path.”
Frostbite 3 will be used for the next Mass Effect and Dragon Age games, as well as Battlefield 4 – which means it’s highly unlikely any of these games appear on the Wii U.
Just Cause 2 developer Chrisofer Sundberg directed criticism at Nintendo themselves, saying that they’re just too difficult to communicate with.
According to Sundberg, his studio has Wii U dev kits “that just collected dust”. He also said of Nintendo, “You never quite know who to contact.”
This is pretty surprising considering just last week Nintendo was talking about working on the poor perceptions people have – responding to developers trying to make games for your console seems like a good place to start.
E3 is on the horizon, and EA is promising to make it worth your time with a “great reveal”. With the next-gen consoles looming, EA is promising to release 11 major titles in 2014. At the event we’ll be seeing new offerings from both DICE and Bioware, along with demonstrations of Frostbite 3 and next-generation sports engine.
Meanwhile, next week Wednesday holds a big reveal for the Gran Turismo franchise, where creator Kazunori Yamauchi will be talking about what the future holds for the premier racing series.
Previously just a rumour, the 15th anniversary event will be taking place at Silverstone Circuit, supported by some big names such as Audi, BMW, Ford and Mercedes-Benz, who’ll be showing off a range of vehicles, old and new. Check out the promotional video:
In the past few years we’ve seen free-to-play games based on microtransactions become a big business model in the industry, but Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has said he doesn’t think we’ll be seeing any more innovations in payment for the next-generation.
Kotick says his company approaches any new business model with scepticism – it needs to be sustainable in the long term. However, Kotick said, “I think we’re seeing a lot of exciting new ways for customers to pay for their experiences, there are a lot of new ways for us to monetize our content, but I can’t say that you’re going to see any dramatic shifts in the way things are monetized on consoles.”
Speaking of taking all my money, Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon voice actor Michael Biehn said that there’s a sequel on the cards. Speaking of creative director Dean Evans, Biehn said, “He was pretty jacked up. He was going into a meeting today. I think he wants to turn it into some sort of franchise. He’s got a sequel in mind.”
As much as people like to rag on Windows 8, Microsoft claims they’ve sold over 100 million licenses for it to date. This could have something to do with forcing it down anyone buying a new laptop’s throat, but that’s just speculation.
It’s also been confirmed that an update for Windows 8 will be released later this year, codenamed Windows Blue. If we’re lucky, we might just get a Start button and a way to shut down in less than 6 clicks.
If you read my column a couple of weeks ago, you’ll know exactly how I feel about video game movies (Spoiler: all of them suck).
That being said, I always maintain a glimmer of hope. The kind of spoke that burns a little brighter when John Carpenter says he’d be interested in doing a Dead Space movie.
The horror legend said, “I maintain that Dead Space would just make a great movie because you have these people coming onto an abandoned, shut-down space ship and they have to start it up and something’s on board. It’s just great stuff. I would love to make Dead Space, I’ll tell you that right now.”
Can someone get a studio on this? Preferably one with lots and lots of money.
Fighting game fan favourite Dead or Alive is releasing its 5th instalment (Ultimate!) later this year, for PS3 and Xbox 360.
The franchise is known for its technical gameplay, respect for women and boob physics. Don’t take my word for it though; watch these scantily clad women kick the crap out of each other:
Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag will be releasing with the PS4, and this new video provides commentary on what Ubisoft have managed to achieve with the next-gen hardware. Plus, you’ll get a glimpse of what exactly to expect:
On a slightly more ridiculous front, a new Saint’s Row 4 video, complete with developer commentary, has made its way onto the world wide web. If you watch it for only one reason, watch it for the dubstep gun.
Best of NAG
This week saw the combination of NAG’s funniest game reviewer with Ubisoft’s funniest game, in Tarryn’s review of the confusing-but-actually-quite-good Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon. Pink explosions and less pink witticisms ensue.
On a less colourful note, Bethesda announced a new Wolfenstein game, with what looks to be a decidedly futuristic spin. Warren Spector sparked some debate as to whether the world actually needs or wants another Wolfenstein game, which continued into the comments. Go over there now and weigh in.
Speaking of debate, that was the name of the game in my column this week, where I forecast a Wii U disaster the likes of which Michael Bay couldn’t even conceive of. A lively discussion followed in the comments, and we want to know what you think as well. Yes you, reclined way back in that armchair. Pull yourself up for 40 seconds and contribute, would ya?