Weekly News Blast!

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Another week of gaming news, delivered straight to your eyeballs…

It’s been a fairly busy week in the world of video games, so I have quite a bit to get through…

GTAVa

Grand Theft Auto V has now blasted through the 3 million sales barrier, putting it on track to become the best-selling video game of all time in the UK, as it once again reclaimed the top spot in the UK all-format charts from Europe’s biggest franchise, FIFA. If it does claim this particular piece of history, it will of course find itself in good company among the many other records that the game holds, including being the fastest selling video game in a 24 hour period, and the fastest entertainment IP to gross $1 billion, swiftly beating the record set by Marvel’s Avengers. There was more good news for Rockstar as its title won over Japanese gamers to record strong sales in the region, with the PS3 version debuting in second place in their all-format charts with sales of over 350,000 and the Xbox 360 version also entering the charts at ninth, with sales of over 25,000 copies. Remarkably, the combined sales of the two have already beaten the total lifetime sales of the games predecessor in Japan, and could perhaps indicate a shift in the attitudes of Japanese gamers towards Western developed properties. Only time will tell on this though.

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Speaking of sales, the top spot in the Japanese all-format chart was of course held by Nintendo’s Pokémon, which didn’t perform too badly in the UK either. Over the course of its opening weekend, combined sales figures for both the X and Y versions of the game amounted to an incredible 4 million copies, which ranks them as the fastest selling 3DS games released so far. This, of course, is helped by the first worldwide launch in the series’ history (and possibly the much maligned 2DS), but there can be no taking away from the impressive figures and just what it will mean to Nintendo, who are clearly enjoying this brief lull before the launch of the next-gen consoles.

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Staying on the subject of sales, it appears that Activision are looking to pull off the impossible by aiming to better the ludicrous sales figures of GTA V! Despite the IP suffering ever decreasing sales figures, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 has still managed to shift 3 million units in the UK alone, and whilst most will probably see that the series is in decline, Activision will hear nothing of the sort. Speaking to MCV, UK Senior Brand Manager, Kevin Flynn, said “We look forward to getting the record back before the next GTA title”. So at least they’re not being silly about it, as that will give them in the region of six years to do so. Now whilst Call of Duty: Ghosts is perhaps expected to be the lowest performer in the series, there are still numerous ways in which the title can be bought, and that will surely give them a much-needed boost. The solution to decreasing sales, as most companies seem to have settled on, is to encourage gamers to purchase the same game twice and Ghosts is no exception. For instance, it will be possible to buy digital copies of the game on both the Xbox 360 and the Xbox One for just £64.99, whilst a physical copy on the PS3 can be upgraded to a PS4 version for as little as £9.99. Now whilst it may be a tad cheeky to expect gamers to buy any game twice, I have a sneaking suspicion that this tactic might actually work, but again, only time will tell.

WD

There was some bad news for Ubisoft, and indeed for the many gamers anxiously anticipating the forthcoming Watch Dogs, as it was announced that the title would no longer be able to make its release date and had instead been pushed back into an early 2014 release window. The result of which, beyond the raft of irate gamers, was a substantial decrease in Ubisoft’s share price. According to Game Informer, share prices dived by 22% on the back of the announcement, leaving them trading at just $8.19. This was clearly not helped by the delay that met with next-gen off-road racer, The Crew, that fell back to beyond the start of the next financial year. Of course, it wasn’t entirely bad news for the company or its fans, as the current-gen versions of Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag had their release date brought forward to October 29th in the UK, and as it turns out, Michael Fassbender is still set to star in a film based on the best-selling gaming franchise – confirming script development is well underway. Happy days indeed for its fans!

DC

Contrarily, there was bad news yet again for Sony. Not only did they lose Watch Dogs from their launch line-up, but also their exclusive racer, Drive Club. Whilst rumours surrounded the title all week, Sony eventually confirmed that the game had slipped back into an early 2014 release window. The next-gen racer was scheduled to be given away free to Playstation Plus subscribers for their Instant Game Collection, but worry not, for Sony will still honour this when the game is finally released. This will surely be a blow to the Japanese giant though as they attempt to woo gamers away from Microsoft’s Xbox One, which will be well endowed with big name exclusive titles when it appears next month.

Aiding Sony’s cause in the UK, however, is Game. The retailer will begin a series of Playstation 4 lock-ins that will run from October 21st to November 17th throughout a total of sixty-two stores across the UK. The events are restricted to those over the age of sixteen and only limited places are available, but any one lucky enough to attend will find themselves in a position to try a variety of games, including FIFA 14 and Knack, before the console launches. A full list of participating stores can be found on the company’s website.

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A very quick note for fans of the Arkham series, a version of the upcoming Batman: Arkham Origins is making its way to iOS and Android formats, and best of all, it’s going to be free. The mobile version of the game also links to the full console version too, if players register both copies using their Warner Interactive ID, then some additional hidden items will unlock for them, making this a must have release for fans of the series. Batman: Arkham Origins will launch in all regions on Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and digital-dowload for PC on October 25th – bizarrely, it’s been delayed on Wii U and physical copy PC by one week in Europe.

Speaking of PC, there was news from the AMD front as their top-end graphics cards, the R9 290 and R9 290X, are set to launch later this month. The news became even sweeter when it was revealed that the website Videocardz rated the 290X as displaying as much as a six-percent performance improvement over Nvidia’s Titan GPU. As if that weren’t good enough, the feature went on to declare that AMD’s latest offerings were also very easy to overclock, leading to an even greater variance in performance between the two top cards. Worst of all for Nvidia though, I would also expect the R9 290X to be available at a substantially lower price too!

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Continuing with PC, it emerged in an interview between Phil Spencer and AusGamer that Microsoft has not entirely given up on the idea of cross-platform play. Whilst the company’s first attempt with the FPS Shadowrun wasn’t exactly a huge success, the technology that is now in place-particularly the cloud tech that Microsoft in delving into is re-opening that particular can of worms. As Spencer himself put it, the “connected ecosystem across all the different devices is definitely where I think the future of gaming is going”. Cross-platform play is a feature that gamers have been clamouring for since the Xbox 360 launched almost eight years ago, and it will no doubt please many to know that it is still a distinct possibility.

Sticking with the Xbox platform for this final piece of news, it has emerged that Microsoft’s Games with Gold feature is no longer to finish next month as was originally planned, due to the overwhelming success of the promotion, Microsoft has decided to keep it running for the foreseeable future on the Xbox 360. The company claim that gamers have racked up an astonishing 120 million hours of play time on GWG titles and surveys have naturally recorded an approval rating for the scheme near the 100% mark, of course, who could possibly find fault in freebies? Regardless, the plan is for the scheme to keep going for a little longer, thus allowing me to thankfully complete this news round-up with something positive.

Until next week.

 – James Paton. Follow him on Twitter @TheBlackPage81

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