Hello again everyone and welcome to the post-E3 This Week in Gaming. It’s the calm after the storm as everyone takes a well-deserved break after the biggest gaming showcase of the year. News this week was dominated by a certain console maker’s big announcement; we’ll discuss that as well as some other console happenings, a few gaming tidbits, a crop of new dev diary videos and, as usual, the weekly NAG highlights you don’t want to miss.
Microsoft dropped a bombshell this week, or rather, they dropped everything. Everything that everyone hated about the Xbox One was reversed – no DRM on used games or game sharing, no region locking, no online requirements – it’s all gone.
This seems like a good thing, but opinion on the internet is very divided. Sure, we’re essentially getting what we want, but it only adds to people’s general Microsoft distaste. Remember, just a week ago Microsoft claimed that the DRM was “built into the system” and it can’t “just be reversed”. Those kinds of statements look really silly now, and the internet never forgets.
The question is, is it too late? Sony bought a lot of good faith by essentially offering all of this from the get-go, coupled with the fact that they didn’t know what Microsoft was doing, so it wasn’t in an effort to show them up. Although, you can be sure they took advantage of it once the news broke.
In the long run, I imagine the Xbox One is going to sell more devices because of this decision. Sony is still the internet’s darling, but grudges don’t last forever and a lot of Xbox loyals are going to stick to their brand, now that there aren’t all those hoops to jump through.
Personally, it annoys me. Microsoft will spoonfeed you a mouthful of crap like “we’ve listened to complaints”. That’s interesting, because people have been complaining about always-online requirements ever since that was a thing. Did people forget SimCity happened? What about the Twitter fiasco with the Microsoft exec, who lost his job defending always-online?
And of course, everybody is a huge fan of DRM. Why wouldn’t we love paying full price for used games and not being able to share with our friends? Just a week ago, a Microsoft exec said that the backlash to the Xbox One policies “was expected”. This is why people are mad – Microsoft is trying to make themselves out to be a hero, reversing policies due to unhappy fans.
They knew the fans would be unhappy – what they didn’t count on was Sony absolutely crushing them at E3. This is a business decision, pure and simple. There’s nothing wrong with buying an Xbox One, and I’m absolutely not telling you not to, just know that these changes are certainly not “for the fans”.
Outspoken Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski echoes this sentiment, saying that “internet whining” had nothing to do with Microsoft’s decision, but rather that Sony “forced their hand”.
It seems to have worked to some extent, as Gamestop is no longer taking Xbox One Day One edition pre-orders. The company reports that this is due to “high demand”. After E3 pre-orders for the PS4 skyrocketed, so no doubt Microsoft’s policy revisions are going to have a similar effect.
Speaking of the PS4, a couple of big European retailers have listed a release date of November 13th for the device. However, Sony responded to this by saying that these are “purely speculative”, and Sony themselves can’t promise anything other than a “holiday 2013” window.
Amidst the console giants battling it out, the Wii U continues to struggle, and in true Japanese fashion Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has taken full responsibility. According to Iwata, consumers still don’t actually understand why they should be buying one, a misfortune he credits to their “relaxed” marketing.
He also spoke of their failings in terms of games, saying, “We have been unsuccessful in coming up with one single software with which people can understand, ‘OK, this is really different.”
This definitely seems to sum up the major issues the Wii U is having; hopefully them understanding the problem means they can fix it – multiple contenders is good for competition.
It was a price cut that resurrected the 3DS, but Iwata says that is “not an easy option”. According to the CEO, Nintendo went for a very aggressive price point to begin with, and haven’t left themselves a lot of room to move. If things continue this poorly, however, they almost certainly won’t have a choice.
The one console no one is talking about right now is Nvidia’s Shield, a handheld device due to release this month. It looks a bit like someone bolted a 5-inch screen to a Dualshock controller, but it may garner a little more interest now that Nvidia have cut the price from $350 to $300, following some feedback from potential customers. Is it something you might be interested in?
Does anyone remember the War Z? It was that heinously bad ripoff of Day Z that was pulled from Steam for being incomplete and terrible, and was later taken offline again due to a security breach. Well, it’s now been renamed Infestation: Survivor Stories, due to a copyright claim. This could be for ripping off the book and movie War Z, or the Day Z game, or for being a poorly hacked together piece of software masquerading as a game. This is essentially a public service announcement, so when this title shows up on Steam you’ll know to avoid it.
Moving on to a game that doesn’t suck, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag had a really good showing at E3, and it looks to be one of the best instalments in the series. Game director Ashraf Islamil revealed this week that Ubisoft had originally planned to have multiplayer naval battles, but these were scrapped early on.
He said that they “didn’t feel they could get it to a good enough level for this iteration”, which may imply that it’s something they’re considering for future titles.
Fallout fans who were hoping for some news at E3 or in the near future are setting themselves up for disappointment, as ZeniMax VP Pete Hines has said to not expect any information on a fourth game anytime soon. Any such expectation is, according to Pete, “really unrealistic”. Sorry guys.
The games industry has been criticised for not having enough original IP, especially big publishers like EA who rely on big blockbusters like Battlefield. However, the gaming giant has said they have many “completely new” IPs in development at its studios.
That being said, exec Patrick Soderlund insists that all EA cares about is that the games “feel new”, whether the IP is new or not is “less relevant”.
Watch_Dogs had a great showing at E3, managing to get the hype train rolling amidst all the console drama. A new video shows off some of the game’s multiplayer action:
Battlefield 4 is set to go head-to-head with Call of Duty: Ghosts, and you can bet DICE would just love to take the FPS crown from Activision. With the latest game they’re introducing a new spectator mode, which is broken down and detailed in this video.
One exciting new title to come out of E3 is Titanfall, brought to you Respawn Entertainment, founded by the guys who created the original Modern Warfare. Check out this behind the scenes look and see if it tickles your fancy:
While we’re doing the whole dev diary thing, check out this one for Assassin’s Creed 4, which made a huge splash (haha, get it, splash) at E3 with its swashbuckling piratey action.
Company of Heroes 2 has been pushing their game hard, especially the multiplayer aspect, which is of course the most important component of any self-respecting RTS. This new dev diary talks you through the finer details.
Best of NAG
The Xbox 180 this week was huge news, and you didn’t think that would get past all of us without someone climbing on a soapbox did you? Wesley Fick was the man for the job, check out his interesting discussion on the issues surrounding the policy changes here.
Last week while we were watching E3 coverage in our homes, Michael and Miklos were cruising around the actual event, camera in hand. Get a feel for the event with NAG’s E3 video adventure.
The only game to ever make me long for a PS3, The Last of Us, dropped last week to a positive critical reception. Matthew Vice put 20 hours into the game, and you can see if he agreed with the critics in his review.
My column this week was my own personal confessional; I poured my heart out just for you and you should totally go and read that. It would just be insensitive not to. Go now.