Hello once more NAGorians, and thanks for spending part of your weekend with us. This week we’ll discuss Microsoft pulling out all the stops on the Xbox One sales pitch, why a Brazilian PS4 is worth more than my car, Crytek’s social media faux pas, Activision’s mild-mannered trash-talking and Ubisoft’s plans for world domination. Then of course there’s gameplay videos, Bruce Wayne, stuff you can win and a healthy sprinkling of my self-indulgent monologues. Drama, intrigue and unchecked narcissism, all after the jump.
As the release of the next-gen consoles approaches, Microsoft is now touting a new feature of the Xbox One – the ability to increase performance over time.
According to VP of Xbox Phil Harrison, Microsoft can use the cloud to “add features, add functionality, and performance increases over time.” Phil thinks all that will “keep the platform very fresh over a long period of time.”
Mark Cerny of PS4, on the other hand, has said in the past that he is dubious about upgrading performance through the cloud. For my money, the real “performance upgrades” will come from the developers themselves, and what they can manage to squeeze out of the hardware. If you compare a release PS3 title to something like The Last of Us or GTA V, the difference is phenomenal.
Nintendo continues to find success with the 3DS where they can’t with the Wii U, as the global phenomenon Pokémon X&Y has sold 4 million units in just 2 days.
I don’t know what it is about Pokémon that makes normal, well-adjusted people into obsessive children’s-show-character-collectors, but I have multiple friends who bought a 3DS just for this game. If anyone can explain this departure from sanity to me, I’m all ears.
We like to think we get the short end of the stick here when it comes to consoles and games due to import fees, but this week I learned we have absolutely nothing on Brazil.
It was announced yesterday that a PS4 in Brazil will set you back a hilarious $1800. What? According to Sony, this is due to “importation taxes imposed by the local government.” Can you imagine paying R20,000 for a PS4?
If you like you can go for the more competitively priced Xbox One, which will only cost you a meagre $1,015. It’s still hilariously expensive, but why would an Xbox One be taxed less? What the hell, Brazil? Oh well, at least the games are cheap at only $82 apiece. Did I say cheap? Sorry, typo, I meant stupidly overpriced.
Crytek came under fire this week over a the Twitter hashtag #RyseFacts, which they used as a kind of trivia game to make a joke out of “crunching”, a term used in the industry to describe the period where developers work absurdly late hours in order to get a game finished before deadline.
Employing trivia such as “guess how many dinners we’ve had to serve to employees”, a lot of Twitter users (Twitterers? Tweeters?) lashed back, accusing Crytek of mistreating their employees. Hey, at least they got dinner.
Personally, I’m a little ambivalent about the whole thing. Many people I know have periods at work where they have to work insane hours in order to get a big project done; it’s something that’s expected of you, to be a team player. It depends entirely on the environment really – there’s a big difference between a taskmaster forcing devs to work late under fear of punishment or a group of motivated employees working hard to finish something they’re passionate about and want to be as good as it can be. What’s your take on the whole thing?
Speaking of Crytek, their free-to-play multiplayer shooter Warface will be going public as of next week Monday. The game has already exploded in Russia, with over 5 million users shooting each other’s faces off. That being said, every online game I’ve ever played seems to be 70% Russian; I guess that’s what happens when you combine incredible internet with rampant unemployment.
The browser-based title features a lot of co-op PvE gameplay, but if you’re anything like me you’ll be far more interested in jumping into the competitive PvP modes. A Crytek developed, online, competitive multiplayer FPS? I know how I’ll be dealing with the Monday blues.
When you think of EA’s DICE, it’s hard not to go immediately to Battlefield 4. However, the studio will be working on a game that’s possibly even more anticipated, Star Wars: Battlefront.
Talking to IGN, executive producer Patrick Bach (no relation) said that the expectations are “scary”, and detailed how DICE ended up with the license.
“We had a discussion at the office about what happened to Battlefront. You know, the old IP that someone else made that was a rip-off of Battlefield. Bastards! We should’ve made it. It was a competition of powers. We couldn’t do both at the same time.
“For some reason EA was negotiating with George Lucas as to who should make the new Star Wars games. And just a week later it was like, ‘Oh, by the way, that discussion you were having about Star Wars? Do you want to make it?’ ‘Well, yeah.'”
I feel like it’s in safe hands.
Diablo 3 expansion Reaper of Souls will be at Blizzcon, and not only that, it’ll be on a PS4. Blizzard is promising some sweet controls which make full use of the Dualshock 4, and feature single-player and same-screen co-op.
Honestly, I’m just excited for the death of the auction house, which I think will breathe new life into the game alongside the expansion.
GTA V took the sales crown away from Call of Duty this year, but Activision is confident they’re going to get it back. In a somewhat cheeky compliment, senior brand manager Kevin Flynn said, “Congratulations to the team at Rockstar for their success. We look forward to getting the record back before the next GTA title.”
CEO Eric Hirshberg is also confident, saying before GTA V’s release that there is “room for more than one successful blockbuster”, and “if people only have money for a few games, I like our chances that Call of Duty will be one of them.”
With Call of Duty breaking their own records every year, and Ghosts being an Infinity Ward title (generally agreed to be a notch above Treyarch’s offerings), it’ll be interesting to see if they can take the title back.
Ubisoft, on the other hand, is thinking a little further ahead with two big next-gen titles being delayed, Watch Dogs and The Crew.
Ubisoft defended this decision, saying that it’s the right one to make “both in terms of satisfaction for our fans and in terms of value creation for our shareholders”. According to the publisher, their long term goal is “to win the next generation”.
Final Fantasy, like Pokémon, is another one of those Japanese things I can’t bring myself to get excited about. Coincidentally, just like Pokémon, I’m in the minority. In that spirit then, Square Enix has released an 8-minute gameplay video for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, which I’ve linked below for everybody who sees what I don’t.
Call me old-fashioned, but I still find it kind of surreal that video games are now advertised on television. When a video game makes more money than Avatar, I guess you kind of have to accept that games are mainstream, pack up your lawn chair and let the kids play on your lawn. Batman: Arkham Origins releases in less than a week, and this is its very own TV commercial.
Microsoft have been making a big Xbox One push this week to try remind everyone they’re awesome and forget about all that nasty DRM business. In this five minute video, you can get the sales pitch on Kinect integration, cloud computing, SmartGlass and the console’s design.
Sony’s video for the week, on the other hand, is more Square Enix released gameplay footage, this time of fan favourite franchise Kingdom Hearts 3. Ironic seeing these two side-by-side, as Microsoft’s reveal was criticised for being too focused on the consoles non-gaming capabilities, while Sony did the exact opposite. Déjà vu, anyone?
Best of NAG
Resident indie reviewer Rogan Louwrens took Steam cheapie Legend of Dungeon for a spin this week. It’s a sidescrolling roguelike with rainbows and kittens. But is it any good? Find out right here.
Amidst all the next-gen hype, Valve dropped the bombshell that is the Steam Box, and more importantly, that wacky controller. This week I used my column space to talk about whether or not the unassuming living-room PC can take on the mighty consoles.
Beyond: Two Souls has some of the most mixed reviews of any big release I’ve seen in a while. The game has been both criticised and lauded for prioritising story over gameplay, and it’s a confusing and difficult game to score. See how Matthew Vice tackled it here.
It’s competition time on NAG! Who am I kidding, every week there’s awesome stuff being given away to loyal readers, and we’re not about to stop now. First of all you can get some high-tech accessories courtesy of Leitz by going right here, or I believe there’s still time to get your hands on one of FORTY Hearthstone beta keys. As someone hopelessly addicted already, I both recommend and discourage you from posting here.