Hello NAGessians, and a very happy long weekend to you all. I spent this iconic day in South African history playing video games in my underwear; it seemed like the right thing to do. I trust you’re all well rested and feeling swell, so start your second Saturday off right by catching up on everything you missed this week. Xbox One controversy, a zombie MOBA game, gamings rigs on the cheap and yes, another freakin’ Blacklist video. All of that and other things you need to know right after the jump.
While almost everyone applauded Microsoft from taking back all the restrictions on the Xbox One, there is at least one man who thinks it was a bad idea.
That man is Jesse Schell, a games designer and professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center.
Schell argues that the one mistake big companies make over and over is listening to their customers. He elaborates, “The problem is that the hardcore folks always want the same thing: ‘We want exactly what you gave us before, but it has to be completely different.’
“When you want to do something really different – the solution to the innovator’s dilemma – you can’t take your big brand and say it’s going to be completely different.”
I feel Schell may have missed the mark here. While I’m sure there’s a lot of truth in what he’s saying in general, it doesn’t seem to apply to Microsoft in this case. What exactly is “innovative” about taxing customers who want to buy pre-owned games? Or restricting how you share your games and your console? That’s not adding anything to the experience; it’s a benefit only to the company, not the customer.
As for always online, and I feel like a broken record here, you can still do everything you want to do. You can have all the features and social networking and whatever other crap you want to put in, it just has to alongside a bare-minimum offline mode that literally just lets you play games.
So while I’ll agree that sometimes listening to the knee-jerk reaction of your customers can be a bad thing, in this case I don’t think that applies.
Speaking of restrictions, it was confirmed this week that the Game DVR features on the Xbox One, that is the ability to record and stream gameplay video, will be available to exclusively to Xbox Live Gold members.
On the whole, this probably really isn’t a big deal. It’s not a feature that many people are really going to be all that bothered to use, but with a shaky public image it’s always risky for Microsoft to be talking about limitations on the Xbox One.
While the 3DS is continuing to keep Nintendo in the black, the Wii U has dropped profit expectations significantly with its poor sales.
Many have suggested the possibility of Nintendo taking some of its franchises to rival platforms, but CEO Satoru Iwata has ruled this out as a “short term fix”.
“I’m really responsible for the long-term future of Nintendo as well, so I would never think about providing our precious resources for other platforms at all,” he said.
For a long time the key to Nintendo’s success has been the quality of their first-party franchises; giving those up would be a risky move indeed, as it would give consumers very little incentive to purchase a Wii U.
Also, could you imagine playing Mario on a PS4? It just feels wrong.
There’s no doubt that the Wii U’s biggest obstacle thus far has been a poor software line-up, with Nintendo being slow to the party with their own titles and major publishers opting not to gamble on a struggling console.
However, Iwata believes that his company will be showing “Nintendo-like profits” by March next year, due to a strong line-up of upcoming titles which he says will “pleasantly surprise” consumers.
Is the Wii U on your radar right now, or are you waiting to get your hands on something next-gen later this year?
You know what we really need? Another DotA game. No scratch that – a ZOMBIE DotA game. That’s what Deep Silver is promising, with their upcoming MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena, aka DotA game) Dead Island: Epidemic.
It’s a free-to-play PC title set in the Dead Island world, and it’ll be revealed officially at Gamescom later this month. I’m a little ambiguous about this, as I’ve said before that I’m not sure how much room there is for multiple MOBA titles, but maybe they can do something different with it.
Bungie’s entirely online shooter Destiny looks set to be that next big franchise. However, online games have one big drawback – the people who play them.
As technical director Chris Butcher puts it, “If you look back at online multiplayer gaming for the last ten years I think the dominant thread has been adolescent males shooting each other in the face and squatting on each other’s corpses.”
Bungie hopes to counteract this issue with the various anti-trolling systems they’ll be putting into place. No details yet, but Butcher promises that the game will be designed in such a way as to encourage courteous behaviour and silence the trolls.
The aim isn’t to eliminate trolls (an impossible objective), but rather to prevent them from ruining the fun. Hopefully if whatever they have in mind is successful, it can get picked up by other developers in the future.
I’m intrigued by Destiny, but one game I’m really excited for is the new Wolfenstein: The New Order.
Senior designer on the project Andreas Ojerfors said they’re leaving the business side up to the publisher Bethesda, their only concern is “making a great game”.
This comes in the wake of Bethesda’s announced delay of the title, as the publisher feels the game needs a little more polish. Wolfenstein was once a dominant name in the FPS space, and Bethesda hopes to return it to its former glory.
Hey, who remembers Draw Something? Chances are you probably got addicted this game for a week or two, and chances are you probably haven’t played it in quite a while.
This is the story for most people, and this is the story of the riches-to-rags Zynga, once king of the social gaming world, now on a sharp decline into irrelevance. Zynga has announced that it’ll be shutting down Draw Something creator OMGPOP, after acquiring it for a whopping $180 million in March last year.
It’s a harsh lesson in the unpredictability of the social gaming market. A little over a year ago, Draw Something was sweeping the world and publishers were clamouring for a piece of all that potential profit. Now the game’s turnover can’t even sustain itself. Things are going from bad to worse for Zynga, and I’m starting to wonder if they’re ever going to be able to recover.
Does anyone even give a damn about Splinter Cell Blacklist anymore? I wish I was kidding, but there were TWO videos this week. There’s a non-zero chance that not a single person reading this actually wants to see a Blacklist video every damn week, but it’s become somewhat of a tradition and I can’t seem to stop myself.
The new in-thing is the developer diary, and even bonkers games like Saint’s Row IV aren’t immune to a trend. This behind-the-scenes clip has some of the team share their thoughts on crossing boundaries in the game’s story.
Co-op shooter Payday 2 releases this week on Steam, and I think it could be a refreshingly different FPS amongst all this modern warfare and zombie crap. This new gameplay video has the developers talk you through a typical bank heist.
If you’re a pauper like me, nothing excites you more than a free-to-play game (or sandwich). PlanetSide 2 won’t cost you a dime, and this new video from Sony Online Entertainment shows new game-world Hossin, a swampy, boggy and all-around crappy place to live.
Best of NAG
Speaking of being poor, first up in this week’s NAG spotlight is the latest instalment of Wesley Fick’s totally awesome System Builder’s Guide, this time focusing on the R4500-R8500 range. All you need to game on a budget can be found right here.
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing sounds like a terrible game. That has to be one of the worst, least inspired titles ever – possibly the actual worst. But can this dubious sounding RPG actually be good? Nic Simmonds took it for a spin to find out.
It’s unofficial Indie Week this week on NAG, so check out this indie showcase on the simple yet addictive Uberleben. I can’t tell you what that means or why I spent so long playing this game, but I can advise you not to click that link if you were hoping to be productive today.
What better way to celebrate Indie Week than with a list of the 5 best indies ever? Well, maybe not so much the best ever, but my own personal favourites. Considering FishGate 2013, did Fez make my list? You’ll have to click this green text to find out.