This Week In Gaming

ea polishing a turd

Hello again NAGautians, and thanks once again for validating my existence. The big news of the week was Bobby “The Overlord” Kotick finally making his gaming supremacy official, but we’ve already got that covered. So instead then I’m going to tell you about why analysts are saying the PS4 is going to get crushed at launch, why the Japanese hate indie games, show you pictures of animals with funny expressions and there’s even a special cameo by Tinfoil Hat Guy. All this and more hard-hitting journalism after the jump.

Console News

Nintendo has been praised for opening its doors to indie developers in the West, essentially allowing developers to self-publish for free – keeping all their revenue. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal (besides Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime saying Nintendo isn’t interested in partnering with “garage developers”), but new controversy has been sparked on the discovery that this same offer isn’t being extended in Japan.

In fact, Nintendo have said they are not accepting any Wii U game pitches from indie developers based in Japan. This seems a little odd for a console that’s struggling to stay above water largely due to its poor software line-up. A lot of industry people are advising everyone to stay their pitchforks for now however; as this certainly doesn’t mean Nintendo don’t have plans in the pipeline to open up indie development in the East. That being said, in the meantime Sony and Microsoft are both being praised for their indie support policies, and Nintendo really needs to be reminding people what they can offer right now.

Microsoft revealed their plans for indie publishing policy this week, and indie developers have been singing their praises. With the Xbox 360 not exactly being an indie favourite, Microsoft have made some key revisions for their next-gen hardware.

The key is that aspiring developers won’t need to buy a dev kit – development will happen on the console itself, something which CEO of Tiswaz Entertainment Kevin Dent says he “cannot stress enough how Microsoft has just lowered the barrier to entry developing on a console.”

One not-so-indie developer, Bungie founder Alex Seropian, called the new policy “a great move”. He went on to say, “It’s good for the industry, great for developers and most importantly will be a win for gamers.”

Other developers are a little more wary for the moment, citing the failure that was Xbox Live Indie Games – the last “self-publishing” platform Microsoft attempted. After a rather disastrous E3 showing for indies, Microsoft may have to deliver on their promises before everyone is willing to climb on board.

Skeptical cat requires more proof.
Skeptical cat requires more proof.

Despite Microsoft’s horrendous reveal and getting crushed by the PS4 at E3, one analyst believes that the policy revisions and DRM removal may have the Xbox One outperforming the PS4 at launch. Not just outperforming – but crushing it by as much as 3-to-1.

Robert W. Baird analyst Colin Sebastian claimed that Microsoft have a much larger launch supply, as much as a “2-3x unit advantage”.

As for the price, the analyst firm said that Microsoft is “working with channel partners to lessen the gap” between the prices on the PS4 and Xbox One. If what Sebastian said about supply is true, this could easily be something that happens. With the amount of demand, it’s hard to imagine both consoles won’t be selling out before Christmas.

As much as they’d like to narrow the price gap, Microsoft this week squashed rumours that they’d be offering Xbox Ones without the bundled Kinect.

Allegations had spread that the company was planning to do exactly that next year, but in a statement to Kotaku Microsoft said, “We have no plans to introduce an Xbox One without Kinect. We believe in Kinect and the value it brings to both games and entertainment, and believe $499 is a great value for what consumers receive with their Xbox One.”

No mention of the Xbox One “not functioning” without its camera buddy, but I’ll leave that one up to the conspiracy theorists.

"You called?"
“You called?”

Sources: CVG. NAG, Gamespot, CVG, Examiner, Kotaku

Gaming News

PC gamers are none too happy about being denied access to the glorious GTA V, myself included. So unhappy in fact that they’ve done what gamers do best – make a petition. Despite the online petition’s 100% failure rate, that hasn’t stopped a whopping 215,000 people from “signing” it.

Still, it’s hard to imagine Rockstar not wanting to bring the game to PC if it can be done so reasonably affordably. We got a sniff of that with a recent job listing calling for a graphics programmer to do PC conversions, which was swiftly removed when the media got hold of it. If the game does come to PC, can we please not pretend it was because of the petition?

One studio with a less promising outlook is Eidos Montreal of Square Enix, whose head Stephane D’Astous resigned this week, citing the always-appropriate “irreconcilable differences”.

Laaame. Just once I want to see "assaulted co-workers with stapler".
Laaame. Just once I want to see “assaulted co-workers with stapler”.

In a statement, D’Astous said, “The lack of leadership, lack of courage and the lack of communication were so evident, that I wasn’t able to conduct my job correctly. I realised that our differences were irreconcilable, and that the best decision was unfortunately to part ways.”

Freshly resigned, D’Astous took the opportunity to flame his former company, saying that Square Enix “has some things to learn about how to sell their games”.

This statement is likely due to some strong titles of the last year not meeting expectations in terms of sales – such as Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs.

“We are in a situation that we have great games that could have sold more,” D’Astous said. “They need to attack that very, very seriously. Last year was supposed to be a home-run season, but we didn’t hit a single home run; maybe a double or a triple, but they weren’t home runs.”

You have to kind of agree with him – the publisher did put out some really great games, but doesn’t have the profits to show for it.

I'm particularly surprised by the Tomb Raider reboot, which I thought was awesome.
I’m particularly surprised by the Tomb Raider reboot, which I thought was awesome.

One publisher who’s managing to shift their games despite being universally despised is EA, who had the unfortunate honour of snagging the “Worst Company in America” title two years running. EA Labels president Frank Gibeau has said in a recent interview that the company is trying to change their business practices in response to the feedback.

He cites dropping their online passes for consoles as well as making The Sims 4 an offline experience (in response to the disastrous SimCity launch).

“And there’s much more to come. The point is we are listening, and we are changing.”

That’s nice and all, but their cause wasn’t exactly helped when they were ordered this week to pay over $11 million in damages to a Madden programmer for unpaid royalties.

According to his contract with EA, the developer of the 1968 game was due to be paid royalties not only on the original game, but any subsequent franchise titles as well. Royalties which obviously had not been paid to him. Oh dear, looks like EA will be going for the hat trick.

Sources: CVG, Develop, Polygon, VentureBeat, CVG


Splinter Cell Blacklist videos have become somewhat of a running joke in this series, I often like to comment that by the time the game comes out I won’t actually need to play it. But, I keep putting them in because they’re all actually pretty cool. The latest Ubisoft offering shows off the three playstyles of the game – Ghost, Panther and Assault.

I’ve mentioned that remaking old NES games seems to be the in thing at the moment, and developer WayForward is really going all out with their project, DuckTales: Remastered. The game will be coming to Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360 and PC as well. This week saw the release of an Art Design “Duckumentary” – check it out.

If Crytek is good at one thing, it’s hardware-melting graphics. Originally announced for Xbox 360, their Microsoft exclusive Ryse: Son of Rome was “re-revealed” at E3 to be an Xbox One exclusive, with Crytek no doubt squeezing everything they can out of the next-gen hardware. Take a look at this behind the scenes clip.

DICE’s Battlelog for the Battlefield series has had somewhat of a mixed reception since its implementation, with some finding the social and stat-tracking service to be a little clunky and in the way. The developer has put the service through a rather major overhaul, and revealed the changes this week with an accompanying video to show it off:

Best of NAG

Much like DotA games, it seems like Tower Defense games aren’t going anywhere. If they’re your thing, check out Nic Simmonds’ review of Anomaly 2, a tower defense game with a twist – and multiplayer.

Meanwhile, the development of NAG’s own indie title continues, with somewhat of a speedhump along the way. Find out why the original title wasn’t meant to be, and why the new title is 16 syllables.  It’s a courtroom drama without the courtroom.

Speaking of courtroom dramas, my column this week covered some of the dumbest, most frivolous and purely entertaining lawsuits to come out of the gaming industry, courtesy of our ever-litigious neighbours across the Atlantic. What do Gwen Stefani and Bobby Kotick have in common? Find out here.

And of course it’s the end of a month, which means a new issue of NAG. Find out why the August issue cover sent shivers of social anxiety down our spines, catch up on all things E3 and get up to speed on everything from murderous mech warriors to wise-cracking anti-heroes. Get all the details here.