Game Buzz is a weekly opinion column designed to take an irreverent look at one of the biggest news stories to break in the past week. Every Friday evening we’ll be bringing you another slice of reaction to topical gaming news, and inviting you to agree, disagree, shout assent, vent rage, scream and complain to you heart’s delight. Following this week's unveiling of the Playstation Move, Jon and Matt combine forces to pen an open letter to the key figures in the development of upcoming motion control.
We've given Project Natal a pretty rough time over the last few weeks, questioning its purpose, its capabilities and the commitment to quality development of those involved in producing games for the platform but, whether you're slavering in anticipation or groaning with cynicism, one thing is for certain: the next generation of motion control is on its way. The unveiling of the Playstation Move (frankly a much simpler and more appropriate name) has finally given the PS3 contingent something to buzz about, with the promo videos looking impressive.
However, there are still some key things that we'd like to see and, rather than keep them to ourselves, we've decided to pen an open letter to the primary movers-and-shakers on both sides of the fence to explain ten of the top things we'd like to see. Here's our missive in full:
I walked into Gamestation today and, as a Wii owner, I thought I'd check to see if there were any games on offer that I might consider buying. Most other platforms have their big hitters powerfully arrayed on maximum display, with the odd little disappointment cowering away at the bottom of a bargain bin, but the Wii is different. I tried to find something worthwhile, I tried to strain my eyes to see past the dazzling screen of crap in front of me but, much like a magic eye picture, it was just a colourful mess that made absolutely no sense forcing me to squint really hard and give myself a migraine.
There is a reason for this: over 80% of the titles released for the Wii have been cynical cash-ins on trends that Nintendo have started themselves, exploited in a short amount of time for no money at all and rushed in and out of production faster than it takes Zero Punctuation's Yahtzee to have a w*nk. The advent of motion-control has guaranteed two things: a wider audience and developer laziness.
I alluded to this in my guest post for Cubed3 last month, noting that there are immense difficulties for third party developers for the Wii precisely because of the wider audience: how can you anticipate how well you're game is going to do if you have no real idea of who the hell you're aiming at? It's very easy to point out the must-own games on the Wii because (surprise, surprise!) they're pretty much all Nintendo titles, but then Nintendo's hallmark has always been creating games that might arguably be considered universal in their appeal. Unfortunately, the third party tactic seems to have been to chuck whatever they had lying around at the Wii and see which ones stuck, or simply attempt to copy Nintendo's painstaking R&D quality testing and lengthy game production with a quick, cheap rip-off.
With the Wii market saturated with so much shovelware, it's difficult for genuinely fine games to stand out. Swimming in a sea full of sh*t is difficult: it takes forever to get where your going, and in the end no-one wants to be around you anyway because you've emerged tainted, pungent and mucky and all of your hard work has been for nothing because now you're covered in the stuff and people can't tell the difference from your awesome self and pile of dung from whence you came.
In today’s news roundup, Project Natal finally gets its release date. Sony reveals its highest ever sales figures for the Playstation 3, which sold to the tune of almost 4 million over the 2009 Christmas period. And lastly, we take a look at the most over the top, insane, and over priced PC mouse ever invented – courtesy of MadCatz.
Microsoft have just announced the release date for their long awaited Project Natal system. According to a video on Microsoft’s CES 2010 Press Site, Natal should be hitting the shelves worldwide for ‘holiday 2010’. Speaking at the CES 2010 keynote address, Robbie Bach announced that the company believes ‘2010 is going to be the biggest year in Xbox history.’ However speculation continues over what price tag Microsoft are going to slap on their new piece of hardware, and whether the next generation of Xbox consoles will have Natal integrated into their systems if the 2010 launch proves to be a success.
This does sound a bit dubious when you consider that, much like the Nintendo Wii sensor, Natal will probably have to perch on top of your television to properly read the room. However if Microsoft are intending to test the waters and gauge how well Natal is going to sell, it seems odd that they would choose to do it at a time when the country is gripped by one of the worst economic recessions in living memory. [XboxBlips]
When it comes to Playstation 3 sales figures however, Sony bosses can only be crying ‘Recession? What Recession?’ as they managed to shift some 3.8 million consoles in the five weeks leading up to Christmas. This was a vast 76% increase compared with the same period last year, and makes this Sony’s most successful Christmas on record. Given that sales for the Nintendo Wii were also up a considerable amount over 2009’s festive season when compared with the previous year, perhaps Microsoft are right not to underestimated the strength of the market as they prepare to launch Project Natal later this year. [Play.Tm]
It looks some insane military prototype you’d normally see in a Hollywood film. However, Mad Catz’s new futuristic mouse is very real, and - for any nutter out there willing to fork out the money – is going to be released sometime this Spring. The company described their Cyborg R.A.T as so advanced it can be fully customized ‘for any grip preference’. Although the lowest spec model will set you back around £35, the top spec model (wireless, fully adjustable, 5600dpi laser, programmable, weight system) comes in at a ludicrous £100, which is great providing you're someone with money to burn. [Eurogamer]
Today’s news roundup sees Sony offer European gamers more choice when selecting a free game with their PSP Go, while Rockstar officially reveal Red Dead Redemption as hitting on April 27th, and Ubisoft announce 10 titles will be released to support Natal in the first few months after release, along with four or five titles with the PS3 wand motion-controller.
A while back, Sony revealed anyone purchasing a PSP Go in Europe, will additionally be offered a free copy of Gran Turismo PSP, probably to make up for the pointlessness of the machine. Well now it seems Sony have decided to throw in two extra game choices to sweeten the deal, and tempt others into a PSP Go purchase.
Upon signing in, or creating, a PlayStation Network account on the Go by January 10th, players will be offered a choice between Gran Turismo PSP, Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines, or MotorStorm: Artic Edge. Considering the price of the PSP Go have been slashed in a few retailers to help shift some of the stock, a decent free game thrown in may give the final push needed for those unsure about getting one. [GamesIndustry]
A week ago Rockstar teased the official release date for Red Dead Redemption, claiming it will be sometime in April. Well, they haven’t let us down, as the trailer released yesterday reveals a release date of April 27th. Hopefully the game will prove better than average Red Dead Revolver, released in 2004. Sharing the same engine as Grand Theft Auto 4 is likely to ensure a decent effort. [1UP]
With Ubisoft already giving Project Natal their full backing, CEO Yves Guillemot has revealed 10 games are expected to come to Natal in the first six months of the products launch, along with four or five games coming for Sony’s wand earlier next year. Although Guillemot warns these are only the projected plans at the moment, and can therefore easily change in the next 12 months.
He also points out these games will only be including those that are motion-control only, and exclude “games that are supporting the new functions that those accessories will bring,” likely referring to titles that will have the option of using motion-control or not. With Microsoft’s and Sony’s decision to go Wii, it makes sense when Guillemot reveals these 10 Natal games and 4-5 PS3 wand games are strictly “casual games that we are doing on those two machines,” consisting of around “70 percent new property.” Keep your eyes peeled for Xbox Fit and PS3 Sports then. [Kotaku]
Today’s news roundup sees BioWare commit to the PS3 for future releases, Microsoft claim Natal may replace the need for your TV remote, and co-op and a new mode are teased for Splinter Cell: Conviction.
A few complainers criticize Dragon Age: Origins as having a few frame-rate issues when compared to its PC and Xbox 360 counterparts. But according to BioWare this shouldn’t be a problem in the future thanks to the familiarity gained with the machine through the development process, claiming more projects are on the way for Sony’s beast. BioWare teamed up with Edge of Reality for the project, who lent them valuable experience thanks to their previous work on the PS3 according to co-founder Greg Zeschuk.
“We have quite a few people working in-house as well,” said Zeschuk. “We think it's one of the key platforms, obviously, so we're definitely going to be doing PS3. You know, I can't say anything about Mass Effect in that regard but you know, I can definitely say... other things we do will definitely be on PS3.” Their newfound understanding of the PS3 is likely to prompt BioWare to bring many new releases over to Sony, rather than just the PC and 360. Finger crossed for Mass Effect PS3 owners. [JoyStiq]
With the Xbox 360’s stab at motion control, Project Natal, hitting late 2010, Microsoft claim you may no longer need your remote. Xbox Live GM Marc Whitten has plans to replace the need for a traditional TV remote, through implementing voice and gesture recognition, all through Project Natal.
Whitten even goes as far to state Natal “will be the largest leap of TV experience since the remote control,” suggesting it will be easier to manage than the increasingly fiddly remotes. Natal will boast the ability to recognise common, button-less input, with Whitten claiming “Laughter is an input, yelling at the TV when I know an answer on 'Jeopardy' is an input. Attention is an input. The number of people in the room at one time is an input.” How Microsoft develop this idea from here will be interesting to see. [YahooTech]
According to PC Zone magazine, Splinter Cell: Conviction is reportedly including co-op in some form, along with a new mode that will be revealed in the next issue. The co-op mode is likely referring to multiplayer co-op, which has previously appeared in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. What this new mode is however, we won’t know until its reveal next issue, unless someone else leaks it first, which they probably will. [CVG]
In Today’s news roundup BioWare tease a surprise Mass Effect 2 announcement is in store for next week, Mozilla FireFox will not be coming to the PS3 as rumours would appear to suggest, and Rare’s plans for a Natal release are cancelled.
Earlier this week BioWare hinted at big news concerning Dragon Age: Origins, revealed to be additional downloadable content. Now according to a tweet left by BioWare, Mass Effect 2 is set for a similar announcement. “Man, so much time tied up today in meetings and 'secret stuff' I didn't get any time with ME2 at all. = (" said BioWare in their Tweet. “Still with the coming surprise for next week on the ME2 website, I'm sure fans will forgive me for no update. Did I, Evil Chris Priestly, just drop a hint? Yes. Yes I did.” With no specifics on exactly what this reveal will be we can only speculate. But we’ll let you know as soon as we find out more. [CinemaBlend]
Rumours have been flying about recently, indicating Sony will be bringing Mozilla FireFox to the PS3, due to ongoing problems with their current web browser. PS3Center decided to find out how much truth these rumours contain, asking Mozilla directly if this was in their plans. Mozilla replied with a short and simple “Nope - not sure how that rumour got started but it's been keeping us busy all day.”
The rumour was fed to the public through an “insider,” who unfortunately has a history of being a little off the mark. The source previously claimed Sony would be revealing a PSP Go price cut, the PS3 Slim with a price cut on older models, new PSN, and firmware 3.0 at last years GamesCon. Considering he (or she?) only got two out of four right, s/he makes a rather poor mole. Especially when everyone on the planet knew of the PS3 Slim a long time before GamesCom. [PS3Center]
Rare were previously thought to be on track for a brand new game come next November, when Project Natal is rumoured for release. The aim was to have the product finished in under a year, but now it appears the game is no longer in development, being abandoned altogether. Given Director Bjorn Toft’s involvement with the game, it was largely believed the game would involve avatars in some way. The blame is placed on the “changing business environment” for the decision, but some good news has also been revealed. Toft has revealed Rare have been working on an undisclosed prototype for nearly a year now, although no details whatsoever have emerged to even suggest what this game is. Hopefully Rare can reveal more soon. [Split-Screen]
Today’s news roundup sees Project Natal set for November 2010 with a £50 (or less) price tag, EA announce their refocus on established money spinners, and Square Enix complete their assimilation of Eidos.
Microsoft’s stab at the causal market just got a release date, with Project Natal scheduled to launch in November 2010. A behind-closed-doors tour of Microsoft’s UK publishers and studios gave the game away; also revealing fourteen titles will be available from launch, despite nothing being named. I just pray to Jesus Xbox 360 Fit won’t be one of them.
The motion-sensing camera looks set to release for just under £50 when sold on its own, with 5 million units planned to be made available by launch. Thanks to Dealspwner Chris for the tip-off! [MCVUK]
Following EA’s shock announcement of 1,500 job cuts to EA staff as part of their cost-restructuring plan, it appears we’ll see 50% less games from them in the next year. EA CEO John Riccitiello explains from now on they’ll be focusing on established titles; the kind that bring in a boatload of cash. 30 boxed titles are planned for release in the next fiscal year (April 2010 to March 2011), compared to almost 60 boxed titles last fiscal year. The decision to re-focus on established franchises comes as a blow, considering EA were actually starting to make some decent games for a change.
“Electronic Arts has a core slate of games label and sports franchises that we will iterate on an either annual or bi-annual basis” said Riccitiello, stating “all of them are selling or have sold in their most recent edition 2 million units or more.” Anything that doesn’t measure up won’t play a part in the company’s future according to the EA main man. This decision contradicts Riccitiello’s assurance just under a year ago that EA will be looking to support new IPs, on top of his advice that in the midst of an economic recession job cuts and reducing creative risk is “a recipe you would follow at your own peril.” Nice one Riccitiello, way to go back on your word. [MCVUK]
Square Enix is now officially part of Europe. I don’t mean they’ve joined the EU or anything; rather they’ve just successfully rebranded Eidos Interactive as Square Enix Europe, following their acquisition of Eidos’ last March. According to Square Enix Europe president and CEO Phil Rodgers “Today marks a major achievement towards the goals we announced in July and represents the creation of an efficient and powerful structure for game development and publishing.”
He goes onto to proclaim the greatness and diversity of “our exceptional gaming brands,” promising a formidable future product line-up. Square Enix’s acquisition couldn’t have come at a better time, with Batman: Arkham Asylum managing to shift over 2 million a month after launch. Games in the works from Eidos include Thief 4, Just cause 2 and Deus Ex. [1UP]
Today's news roundup sees the unfortunate cancellation of several Rare games to make way for Microsoft's upcoming Project Natal, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announce their plans to market the DSi XL as a spectator system, and the Wii's latest bizarre exclusive Baby and Me.
With Project Natal on the way, Microsoft are in the process of devoting as much manpower and time to the project as possible. This comes at a cost however, with reports stating the development of upcoming sequel to Rare’s Kameo: Elements of Power has been cancelled, in order to free up resources. According to sources Rare were also working on many other additions to their franchises, all suffering the same fate as Kameo 2.
Although no names were specified, these games may have been a new Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie, or even Killer Instinct. Rare’s dedication to Project Natal may be predominantly to blame, but considering the poor sales and mediocre reception of the original Kameo, it’s not too hard to understand their decision. [CVG]
Rather than follow the usual handheld pattern of smaller is better, Nintendo’s DSi XL would rather embrace the bigger is better stance. The handheld already boasts a screen ¾ of an inch larger than the original DSi, and according to Nintendo President Satoru Iwata, the viewing angle of the DSi XL has been altered to allow for better viewing as a spectator. “Nintendo DSi LL features not only bigger monitor screens,” said Iwata, “but an improved view angle on the screens to make it the first portable system that can be enjoyed with people surrounding the gamer.”
This method will apparently allow those surrounding the gamer to join in on the game, one way or another. Iwata cites Tomodachi Collection as a current example of a game that can benefit from multiple spectators. “Because communications and interactions with other family members and your friends are one of the key elements of the game, the fun aspect is intensified when other people can watch how you play in comparison with when you are playing by yourself.” said Iwata. So for any of you who like to play your handheld with a crowd behind you, the DSi XL is the machine for you. [Joystiq]
For those of you who have never enjoyed the exciting combination of babies and gaming now’s your chance. Nintendo have reported their latest Wii exclusive Baby and Me will give you the opportunity to place your Wii remote inside a baby, allowing you to enjoy all the sounds a baby makes, such as giggling, gurgling, burping and my personal favourite crying.
The sound is transmitted through the Wii Remote speaker, and can be taken care of by using the Wii Balance Board to “rock baby to sleep, burp baby, [and] teach baby to walk.” 10 “Baby Mode” games will be available, including “feed baby” and “send baby to sleep.” Keep your eyes peeled then baby fans for Baby and Me in the next month or so. [Aussie-Nintendo]
Today’s news sees Natal face a price point similar to that of a console, ShopTo point out everything isn’t turning up roses for the PSP Go, and Rocksteady explain Batman: Arkham Asylum’s combat system originally started out as a full rhythm action game.
Microsoft is currently working out how much they want to charge us gamers for Natal. President of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division Robbie Bach suggests “people should expect that it will go through the usual price curve.” Meaning it will likely come out at a relatively expensive price point, and then slowly decrease as it gets older, mirroring that of a console. Natal may even come as part of a brand new version of the 360, being more expensive than the current models of course. Hopefully Microsoft can reveal more soon. [Gizmodo]
Although Sony claim the PSP Go is selling in line with their expectations, UK online retailer ShopTo take a less optimistic view. “PSP Go has seen a slow start for ShopTo and we have kept stock quite tight in consideration,” said CEO Igor Cipolletta. “We remained at the [recommended retail price] for PSP Go so that we can achieve the maximum margin considering that there will be no further software sales for this format for us as an e-tailer.” Cipolleta also points out that the PSP-3000 has not yet seen a significant rise in sales, despite what Sony may say.
The lack of bundles due to no physical software made it hard to move units. “Not being able to bundle the PSP Go with physical software or accessories means that the consumer offer is standard and then price becomes the key issue.” Instead Sony offered online incentives for the PSP Go, such as a voucher for Rock band Unplugged Lite and three free games for UMD owners. With retailers contradicting Sony’s claims, it’s probably safe to say things aren’t going as planned. [GamesIndustry]
Batman: Arkham Asylum may not feature rhythm action gaming, but it easily could of according to Rocksteady Studios. “Combat went through three distinct revisions - the first one being a full rhythm action game!” said Rocksteady. “The second one was prototyped in 2D, which popped up whenever you got into a fight, and involved coloured circles bashing into each other. This actually formed the basis of the final system.”
Rocksteady also claim to take part in some voice acting themselves. They point out when you first enter the penitentiary and are confronted with the cries and screams in the room full of lunatics; it’s a recording of the entire development team. Not on a night out I hope. [GameInformer]
In today’s news roundup we hear of Nintendo’s crushing defeat of Microsoft and Sony, and why the 7th generation console war has become a one horse race. We hear from Fable designer Peter Molyneux, who insists that he can’t deny or confirm Project Natal’s compatibility with Fable III or else he might get assassinated. Lastly, we bring you a piece of positive news (although some will no doubt find it negative ) from the world of online poker.
My how the tables have turned. It might be three years until game consoles evolve into the 8th generation, but according to Gamerthirst, nothing can stop the Nintendo Wii being crowned victor of the 7th generation console war. As of the beginning of July 2009, Wii sales stood at something like 52 million - more than double that of the PS3. Although Microsoft have done a little better, Nintendo are still outselling their Xbox 360 rivals by almost 22 million units…
Nintendo’s gamble with motion technology is clearly a major reason behind the huge success of the Wii. Although their console takes a fair amount of flak from hardcore gamers who condemn its mediocre graphics, Nintendo have still managed to make the Wii appeal to a far broader and more diverse demographic than either Microsoft or Sony.
Nintendo’s masterstroke had to be the Wii fit: a game which cunningly preyed upon those who lacked self esteem and capitalized on a society’s obsession with Size 0 and, as a consequence, won’t stop flying off the shelf. Just so you know my cynical view on the Nintendo Wii Fit was in now way influenced by the fact that the damn thing told me I was obese… [GamesThirst]
As Project Natal ebbs ever closer, Peter Molyneux – the designer behind the Fable series – has been dropping hints regarding Fable III’s compatibility with the new Xbox 360 technology. Indeed, Molyneux has something of a reputation for overhyping games currently in development as we all saw with regard to Fable back in 2004. After getting slightly carried away, Molyneux was forced to publicly apologize after Fable was released without many of the features he described during press interviews.
Although he insisted in an interview with Games kings that he would give it to them ‘absolutely straight’, Molyneux simply went on to say "I have not said that we're not going to have Natal in Fable III. All I have really said is it is a controller experience. That doesn't mean there isn't going to be Natal."
He then added ‘Obviously, what would probably happen if I started talking about this is you would see a little red dot appear moving on my forehead. And then as I would start to speak the words then there would be a shot, gunfire, and I would be assassinated.’ Although we live in hope (not so much that Molyneux would be assassinated, but rather, with regard to Fable 3 and project natal) we should perhaps take everything he says with a fairly hefty pinch of salt… [EuroGamer]
All the media ever seem to portray with regards to online gambling is the negative side. All you ever hear about are those poor people whose lives have been utterly consumed by their addition. People who have remortgaged their homes, who have sold their pets and, if they could, would probably sell their children for just one more go on Foxy Bingo. But is it all doom, gloom and ruined homes? Why do we never hear about the people who actually win?
Well the sad truth is that everyone enjoys reading about people who are worse off than themselves, but, in a piece of news which is really guaranteed to give you a lift on this wet and cloudy Monday afternoon, some lucky devil just won the Let ‘em Ride Jackpot and took home 26K!
This was after winning Let ‘Em Ride’s Poker jackpot which, according to Examiner.com, is won consistently by someone every two weeks. So if you fancy yourself as a bit of a card shark it might be worth checking out, however before you do, just let me pass on a pearl of wisdom I picked up from early morning guru and ex-gambling addict Jeremy Kyle…‘Only gamble what you can afford to lose.’ Cheers for that Jezza! [Examiner]
Today’s news roundup sees Beautiful Katamari demonstrate how Natal will work, Left 4 Dead 2 face a ban in the land down under, and Sony scrapping plans for a UMD transfer program to facilitate updating your original PSP library on the PSP Go.
The Tokyo game show gave some journalists the opportunity to try out Natal for themselves. Among them was 1UP, reporting their take on how Natal worked with Beautiful Katamari, the Namco Bandai game selected to demonstrate the technology. Those selected to try out the demo walked away with mostly positive impressions, but pointed out the control scheme was rather unexpected.
To move the ball around you simply hold your hands out in the direction you wish your ball to go, and holding your hands up in the air would flip the camera around. Aside from the unexpected control method Natal worked well, registering any directions and motion reasonably enough. Although the controls didn’t flow perfectly, it’s important to remember it was only a tech demo, and with a year or so until Natal’s release, they have plenty of time to nail the controls. [1UP]
If you’re Australian and love zombies then this news may come as a disappointment. Left 4 Dead 2 has essentially been banned In Australia, thanks to Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification refusal to rate L4D2. The OFLC arrived at their decision based on the fact they can’t rate a game higher than 15+. The “unrelenting violence, graphic depictions of blood and gore, and frequent and intense depictions of violence,” unfortunately deemed the game unsuitable for 15 year olds. OFLC’s report indicates a minority pushed for a rating the same as the original Left 4 Dead, “an MA 15+ classification with the customer advice of strong violence.”
Valve of course weren’t happy upon hearing the news, immediately appealing the decision. The appeal was officially made on the 23rd September, and considering the game is out in roughly 2 months a quick response can hopefully be made. Publisher EA spoke with GameSpot Australia regarding the news, claiming “EA believes that adults should have the right to make their own choices when it comes to the content they consume.” If worst comes to worst and the game is unrated yet again, Valve could always tone down the violence for the Australian edition of the title, so one way or another it's likely Australia will see L4D2 in some form. [ShackNews]
Sony’s plans of a UMD conversion program for the PSP Go have seemingly been scrapped. A SCEA spokesperson officially announced “we were evaluating a UMD conversion program, but due to legal and technical reasons we will not be offering the program at this time.” The announcement suggests the decision may be temporary, but still sounds unlikely given the complications. Sony aim to console European gamers by offering three free games to existing PSP owners. An offer that won’t extend to the rest of the world. The PSP Go is only out in a few days, currently without any way to update your original PSP library on the device. [Kotaku]
Today's news roundup sees three prominent game developers praise Natal at Tokyo Game Show, the PSP 3000 receiving a price cut in Japan, Modern Warfare 2 failing to make much of an impact at TGS, and the next Gears of War possibly seeing release on the next generation of consoles.
Following Microsoft’s announcement of more Project Natal related discussion, Hideo kojima (director of Metal Gear Series), Keiji Inafune (head of development at Capcom), and Toshihiro Nagoshi (producer of Yakuza and Monkey Ball Series), took the stage in a press conference dedicated to all things Natal. No games were revealed for the device, the conference was more focused on discussing what the Natal can do and its potential uses. In typical Hideo fashion, Kojima claimed Natal was so revolutionary it will change people’s lives.
Natal will even have power over the way people can develop their muscles according to Kojima, although this is likely to be in the same way Wii Fit can influence muscle development and fitness. The other developers were equally rapturous; with Inafune claiming Natal will be a new horizon for games, rejecting the idea of it being a fad. Natal would allow more emotional connection with gamers, thanks to its ability to read facial expressions. Nagoshi hailed it as the next step in gaming. Basically they praised the thing to the high heavens for an hour or so. Hopefully some solid gaming plans for the Natal will be announced within the next few months. [1UP]
With the PSP Go on the way, the original PSP may be in for a price cut; Japan is already headed for one at least. Sony announced at a Japanese press conference they intend to slash the price of the PSP-3000 to 16,800 yen (roughly £115). The move will come into effect this October, and so far only applies to Japan. The PSP 3000 isn’t that much more expensive in the UK, so a price seems unlikely for now. [Kotaku]
Modern Warfare 2 has the ability to draw gigantic crowds with eager fans clamouring to get a look here in the UK. In Japan it can barely excite 3 people. Square Enix are tasked with publishing Modern Warfare 2 in Japan, but despite the large area dedicated to the game at Tokyo Game Show, only a few people took notice.
Instead the Japanese crowd were checking out Final Fantasy XIII, Yakuza 4 and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. In all fairness though, the game wasn’t playable, leading the crowds away to something they can get their hands on. Just amusing considering if the same were available over here or the U.S.A fans would be tearing each other’s faces off just to get a look. [1UP]
Epic games President Michael Capps let slip during a Q&A session at Tokyo Game Show that the next Gears of War will only appear on the next generation of consoles. Epic has been busy working on Unreal Engine 4 during the past seven years in anticipation of the next round of consoles. “If there were a next Gears of War, that will be for the next console generation, whenever that is. If someone knows, please tell me! That's about four or five years away, I think” said Capps.
He later retracted his comments, claiming he “misspoke.” Capps explained he meant if a new Gears of War were to appear in the next four or five years, it will appear on current consoles. However if it was based on Unreal Engine 4, it will have to wait until the next generation. Considering the popularity of the Gears series it’s highly likely we’ll see a new Gears of War in the next four or five years on current consoles. [EuroGamer]
Today’s news roundup sees a rumoured takeover of EA by Microsoft, Project Natal receiving support from 12 major developers, the Wii receiving a price cut throughout the globe, and Splinter Cell: Conviction seeing a confirmed February release.
Rumours have been flying around suggesting a possible takeover of EA by Microsoft. The rumour may not even have an ounce of truth in it, but this hasn’t stopped driving up the stock of both companies. EA saw a rise of 5.24% in stock, while Microsoft saw a 0.9% increase. While the talk has been touted as “unsubstantiated chatter,” there’s no denying the plausibility of the rumour.
The videogame market has been steadily slowing down this year, leaving EA perhaps a bit vulnerable. A takeover could put Microsoft firmly in control of the gaming market, with EA representing a 20% share in the publishing market and Microsoft taking 35% of hardware sales. Microsoft’s corporate PR manager David Dennis stepped in following these rumours announcing “there is no truth to this rumour, [Microsoft has] no plans to purchase EA.” [Reuters]
In a move to perhaps take some of the limelight off Sony at Tokyo Game Show, Microsoft announced just minutes before Sony began their press conference Project Natal development is currently taking place at 12 major third-party developers across the globe. The likes of Activision Blizzard, Bethesda, Capcom, Disney Interactive, Electronic Arts, Konami, MTV Games, Namco Bandai, Sega, Square Enix, THQ, and Ubisoft are currently involved with the project.
Don Mattrick, senior vice president for Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business, announced “The support of these creative partners testifies to the excitement that 'Project Natal' is generating among the most innovative minds in the industry.” No details on exactly what they’re working on, but Microsoft promised more will be announced later this week during TGS via a panel, featuring the likes of Hideo Kojima and Capcom's Keiji Inafune speculating on what they believe Natal can achieve. [1UP]
Following an endless source of rumours and hard evidence, Nintendo has officially announced a Wii price cut. The price will hit North America first with a $50 drop to $199.99. The price cut is set to hit on September 27th, with no changes to what you’ll get in the box. Analyst Jesse Divnich of Electronic Entertainment Design and Research speculated on the move, suggesting the decision was “not a reactive strategy towards the recent Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 price cuts, but rather a pre-emptive strategic decision.”
He also points out this move may be an attempt to take as much control of the causal market as possible before Microsoft and Sony can release their own motion controllers. As for the Brits, Nintendo UK announced a Wii price cut is set from October 2nd as well as “a new configuration of Wii hardware from 2nd October 2009 which will replace the current offering and will include the Wii console and Wii Sports with the new Wii Sports Resort game and Wii MotionPlus accessory.” No details on what the price will be yet, but this will surely be revealed soon. [Edge-Online]
Ubisoft’s very own Yves Guillemot recently announced fears of even more game delays, thanks to the overcrowded early 2010 season. Thankfully his fears did not include Splinter Cell: Conviction, as Ubisoft confirmed at the Tokyo Game Show that the title is still on track for a February release after already being delayed in 2009. Conviction was originally set for release way back in 2007, but after poor initial feedback, Ubisoft decided to take the time to build the game again from the ground up, pushing the game all the way back into 2010. [CVG]
Famitsu hails Gears of War while condemning King of Fighters in today’s news roundup. Also, Ballad of Gay Tony gets a confirmed release date, Project Natal is rumoured to be intergraded with a new 360, and Castle Crashers is confirmed for the PS3.
Famitsu magazine has slammed popular beat-em- up The King of Fighters XII, awarding a poor 22 points out of 40. Despite the low score they praised the visuals saying they “are a huge advance over previous games, making each character's charms really stand out”. In regards to the fighting they said “battles become tests of how well you can read your opponent, it's a great feeling when you connect with a critical counter or guard attack”.
So, with great visuals and combat why the low score? Apparently the lack of volume in the game was the main concern. One reviewer stated that apart from 1-on-1 play the game offers nothing else to do. Fewer characters, no story mode, and a poor single player experience made up the rest of the complaints. Famitsu instead gave their love to Gears of War 2, which is only hitting Japan on July 30th. One reviewer said “the fun, just like the violence, is even more dangerous than the previous game”, giving the game 38 out of 40. [1UP]
Rockstar announced that the Xbox 360 exclusive The Ballad of Gay Tony will be coming out (no pun intended) on October 29th for 1600 Microsoft points. The Grand Theft Auto 4 downloadable episode puts you in the role of Luis Lopez, who works for nightclub owner Tony Prince, also known as Gay Tony. Rockstar also confirmed the "Episodes From Liberty City" retail disc will be released on the same day, containing both DLC packs on the disc, and not requiring the original GTA4 disc to play. [Kotaku]
The growing belief that Natal will be a new console is now supported with supposedly damning evidence. Apparently Aptina has won the rights to be the supplier of “1.3-megapixel CMOS image sensors (CIS) for a new version of the Xbox 360 console under Microsoft's Project Natal technology”.
Also, according to DigiTimes sources in Taiwan indicate the new 360 will be released in the later half of 2010. This is pure speculation of course, but as time passes more evidence seems to indicate Natal may come built into the 360. Speculation remember! [DigiTimes]
Castle Crashers, the beat-em-up action game that won many best Xbox Live Arcade game awards has been confirmed for the PS3. Developers The Behemoth have not yet confirmed a release date, but as the PS3 version will be on display at Comic-Con tomorrow it couldn’t be too far off. [Gamestop]
Gears of War won’t be embracing Project Natal according to creator Cliff Bleszinski in today’s news roundup. Also, more details confirmed for Beatles Rock Band and a Boom Blox sequel could appear on other formats.
Microsoft’s Project Natal won’t be replacing traditional gaming according to Gears of War creator Cliff Bleszinski. Discussing Gears of War and Project Natal he said “if there's any future Gears products, it's not the kind of thing you tag onto a game like that, right?”
Bleszinski went on to praise the accuracy and potential of Project Natal, but said “Will it replace traditional gaming? No, but it's another amazing way that we can expand the gaming experience to a wider audience and enhance what's already there”. Although Gears of War may not embrace Project Natal, other big names currently are. Halo: Reach may be Natal-enabled, while the next instalment in the No More Heroes series may use Project Natal on the Xbox 360. [MajorNelson]
Harmonix have revealed more details regarding Beatles Rock Band. 8 more songs have been confirmed, including Yellow submarine, Within me without you, Revolution, and Sgt. Peppers lonely hearts club band, bringing the total of confirmed songs to 15. Harmonix shared more information about the three part vocal harmonies, allowing three people to take a mic at once.
In a first for the series up to three different colored lines run across the vocal tracks, requiring each person to sing their designated part, creating the harmony effect the Beatles are famous for. Anyone not up to scratch can try the vocal practice mode, allowing you to isolate and practice a specific point in the song. If you can’t sing to begin with then this isn’t likely you to do you much good, but helpful nonetheless. [1UP]
Boom Blox is considered one of the best third party games on the Wii, and with two games already out, a third seems entirely possible. Head of EA Bright Light Harvey Elliott announced in regards to a sequel “I wouldn't say never. I really wouldn't. We've really enjoyed making it. This one does have a lot of new features over the last one. I'd want there to be a step again. I want to make sure that what we do steps it up again”.
Boom Blox is currently exclusive to the Wii, but likely to appear on other formats, despite what EA say. “Why I think Boom Blox has really worked is that it captured the spirit of the Wii” said Elliot. “It's about the motion control, it's about throwing a ball or throwing an object. I can't imagine that on other devices at the moment”. He also goes on to add "never say never". Considering the PS3 and Xbox 360 are getting motion control in the near future Boom Blox appearing elsewhere hardly seems outside the realms of possibility. [VideoGamer]
Microsoft’s Phil Spencer announces more hardware innovations will be coming to Xbox 360 in the next few years in today’s news roundup. Also, NPD shows gaming is in decline, Lego Indiana Jones does a Little Big Planet, and Swedish metal band Opeth confirm Saints row for the PSP!
Phil Spencer announced Microsoft have several planned hardware innovations that could potentially rule out the possibility of a next-generation Xbox 360, Project Natal being just one of these. “It's not about trying to sell consumers a new piece of hardware at the wrong time, it's about evolving the platform continuously” according to Spencer, using hardware related items to do this. Speculation has pointed towards a new peripheral in the works, but nothing can be confirmed until Microsoft feels ready. [OXM]
Little Big Planet was praised for its in-depth level creation, and the variety in level design it offered players. The ability to construct levels however you want seems to be appealing, as Lego Indiana Jones 2: The Adventure Continues has included level creation tools this time around.
Allowing two players to create levels simultaneously through co-op play, it should be relatively straight forward, the complexity of level design being a point of criticism of Little Big Planet. Lego Indiana Jones will be swinging in shops this November. [Joystiq]
NPD has revealed June showed much better software and hardware sales in comparison to a rather weak May. May showed an overall decrease in console sales, and only four titles sold more than 200,000 units. In June the DS showed easily the biggest increase in hardware terms, selling 133,000 more systems in June than May, with sale totals twice the amount of the next biggest selling console, the Wii.
The PS3 had its best month sales wise since March, selling 164,700 systems. Despite these positive sales, comparing sales to last year shows a rather bleak future. NPD analyst Anita Frazier wrote “the video games industry realized a significant decline when compared to June 2008, the fourth consecutive month of year-over-year declines”, adding “this level of decline is certainly going to cause some pain and reflection in the industry”. Sales are now more affected on a monthly basis, with big games now having a much bigger effect on console sales, Prototype and UFC an example of this in June. [1UP]
Progressive metal band Opeth has announced on their website the PSP will be getting Saints Row, before anyone in the gaming world even had a clue. Scandinavian metal bands are unlikely to be your first choice for the latest gaming news, but in this case you should probably take their word.
Posting on their website “We may not like playing video games all that much but we do like it when our music is featured on them! Makes us a bit proud even when it's a game as big as Saints Row for the PSP”, going on to confirm a release date of March 2010. [Kotaku]
Project Natal looks set to be the future of office equipment in Thursday’s news roundup, while Sony is cracking down on PlayStation Home abusers. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 gets an online mode, and Tony Hawk Ride gets a sequel, even though the first game hasn’t even been completed yet!
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates has revealed he intends to do a lot more with Project Natal than previously speculated. Project Natal was initially seen as an Xbox 360 peripheral, but Gates explains it's meant “for media consumption as a whole”, going on to explain it’s ability to connect to PCs.
Gates hopes to see Project Natal as a mainstay in offices around the world, with connection to Windows PCs allowing “for interacting in terms of meetings, and collaboration, and communication”.
The main aim of Project Natal on the 360 is the ability to control games utilizing your whole body, and Microsoft have shown how this can apply to PCs, browsing menus using only hand gestures. The technology is still being developed, but if everything goes according to plan Microsoft may just revolutionize the way we use computers. [Cnet]
Anyone on PlayStation Home frequently asking others for their PSN identification and password, may find themselves penalised by Sony. PlayStation Home community manager CydoniaX announced on the official forums “As many of you are already aware, there are members of our community who are requesting your PSN identification and password to grant select items in Home”.
She reminds users that the home staff will never ask for passwords or personal details, and any members violating the terms of service will be handled accordingly. You have been warned. [1UP]
Famitsu magazine have confirmed that Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 will feature an online co-op mode, although this won’t be part of the main game. Referred to as “team mission”, the mode allows you to select from a variety of missions that must be completed as a pair, either with a second player online, or a CPU-controlled ally. Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 will be hitting the PS3 in Japan on October 2nd, with more details as they become available. [1UP]
Despite not even having Tony Hawk Ride on the shelves, Robomodo has already expressed their interest in developing a sequel. Studio president Josh Tsui reported although they’re focused on getting Tony Hawk Ride finished, they are brainstorming ideas and continuously writing up game proposals for a new game.
“It's just a matter of timing. With Tony Hawk: Ride finishing up, we have to think about the sequel to the game and where that fits into our schedules” says Josh. Tony Hawk Ride will be skating into stores October 13th, with Tony Hawk Ride 2, 3, 4 and 5 already in the works by that stage. [IndustryGamers]
This Tuesday sees some great gaming news. Girls now make up more of the gaming population, the PS3 may be able to once again play PS2 games and Nintendo's plan for world dominance moves further ahead.
Nintendo’s effort to further better our lives through the Wii and the DS has brought about a welcome change in gaming; female participation! Thanks to games such as Wii Fit, everyone’s Mum and even their Mum own a Nintendo Wii. The Gamer Segmentation 2009 report carried out by the NPD group has found the amount of females making up the game market has increased, from 23% in 2008 to 28% in 2009 in the console gaming category.
This increase is largely credited to Nintendo, with their emphasis on games devoted to life-skills and self-improvement. The gamer segmentation report indicates these games provide a gateway for females into other games, increasing the size of the core gaming market. The gaming industry has latched onto this dedicating more games solely to the female market, which is still rapidly expanding. Next on the Wii -Wii Birth: How to care for and raise your baby. [1UP]
Bungie president Harold Ryan has recently expressed his interest in enabling Halo to work with Microsoft’s motion-based control system Project Natal. Bungie, who are currently working on Halo: Reach, to be released in 2010, have been keen to incorporate Project Natal as a control system. The details on how this will work remain to be seen. [Gamespy]
One of the biggest complaints aimed at the PS3 is its inability to play any of the hundreds of games released for the PS2. The PS2 contained a core chip known as the ‘Emotion Engine’ and Sony have now apparently got the technology required to emulate this engine using the PS3 hardware. Thus allowing backwards compatibility and saving us all room under our televisions. Rumors also suggest rather than releasing this emulator in the form of a downloadable update, Sony are holding off to release the rumored PS3 Slim with full-backwards compatibility. [Siliconera]
Wedbush Morgan has released a report examining the state of the videogame industry. The report speculates that were the Wii able to support HD technology by the end of next year, it could ruin Sony and Microsoft’s chance of a comeback. The report goes on to say that Nintendo could potentially wait until the cost of building a console with similar specifications to the Xbox 360 is low enough, then they could release it at around $199.
The console should at least include backwards compatibility with Wii games, also including a hard drive as well as additional functionality and features. If Nintendo can achieve this it will allow them to port a lot of existing 360 games onto their console. If Nintendo could obtain licenses such as GTA this would convince consumers “that it would be the last console they would ever need to purchase”. [VG427]
Blowing worms up using virtually every weapon that has ever existed never gets old. Probably why Team 17 has seen fit to release Worms 2: Armageddon again on Xbox Live Arcade. Released on the 1st of July for 800 Microsoft points (equivalent to around £6.80) you can once again destroy armies of worms using guns, bombs and even exploding sheep. [1UP]
As the week draws to a close, the internet is abuzz with rumours about a new Xbox 360 launching next year, tweaked and equipped with their motion-sensing camera, Project Natal. Also, Activision cast doubt on their support of Sony’s Playstation 3. And Xbox Live Silver subscribers can upgrade to Gold for £1!
Since it’s unveiling at E3 2009, Project Natal has stirred up countless rumours, notably that a new Xbox 360 with beefed-up hardware would be released alongside the motion-sensing camera in 2010.
Microsoft denied these rumours, but today, Microsoft’s boss, Steve Ballmer, claimed a new Xbox 360 with Project Natal built-in would release next year, to coincide with the peripheral’s release. Microsoft have since denied Ballmer’s announcement, but it seems like they’re covering their tracks to prevent any stolen thunder! [Eurogamer]
CEO of Activision, Bobby Kotick, has cast doubt over his company’s support of Sony’s Playstation 3, citing the console’s lagging sales and expensive budget. Considering Activision produce the likes of Guitar Hero and Call of Duty, the current-generation heavy-hitters, Sony should be worried. [Joystiq]
For a limited-time only, Silver subscribers to Xbox Live can enjoy the upgraded benefits of Gold for a month, for the cut-down price of £1! Available to purchase on the 360 dashboard, it’s an obvious attempt from Microsoft to hook fence-sitters to hop on over to Gold!
Xbox Live Gold subscribers can play online multiplayer, unavailable to Silver, and receive demos and the like earlier. [GamerCenterOnline]
According to Play.com, Sony’s premier racing-game, Gran Turismo 5, will be released in November of this year. GT5 has been in development for almost four years, although Sony has yet to confirm whether the release date is real or not.
The development team for GT5 have claimed they could release the game whenever they liked, considering the groundwork had already been laid with Gran Turismo Prologue, released in 2007. If GT5 were to release in November, it would come hot on the heels of its Microsoft rival, Forza Motorsport, whose third instalment releases in October. [VG247]
John Schappert, Corporate VP for Microsoft, has announced he’s leaving the software giant to return to EA, two years after leaving them. Schappert oversaw the Xbox 360 division’s LIVE and software services, masterminding the release of the New Xbox Experience late last year.
Scraper’s departure mirrors that of former Microsoft exec, Peter Moore, who also left them to join EA. Schappert, however, joined Microsoft in 2007 from EA, where he built EA Tiburon, developers of the Madden franchise. [1UP]