Another week’s worth of unadulterated gaming nonsense, brought to you in one bite sized chunk to ensure that the gamer on the go is still a gamer in the know. Now, with the horrifically cheesy introduction over, it’s on to the boring part… It’s your WEEKLY NEWS BLAST!
One of the best pieces of information that seeped out into the realm of public knowledge was the announcement that Blizzard’s excellent Diablo III (our review here) had shipped more than 14 million copies across both the PC and console platforms to prove that perhaps there still some hope for games in a market dominated by annual updates. The company has claimed a strong response to both the console versions and the changes that were made to the game, from a slightly lowered view-point to the removal of the PC version’s auction house. The popular dungeon crawler should see the release of its first expansion in March, though oddly, this only appears to be heading to PC and PS4.
On the subject of the PS4, Sony (along with Microsoft) have come to the rescue of Blockbuster customers to ensure that those who had pre-ordered their next-gen machines there would still be able to pick up their console of choice. Customers quick enough were able to fill out a form on Blockbuster’s website so that their details could be passed along to the relevant manufacturer. Apparently, the console that they had previously ordered will once again be made available to them, but it will have to be paid for at their local Argos store. Anyone who has done so, will – like myself – now be awaiting confirmation of this via email and, if all goes well, we won’t have to wait to much longer with the release dates fast approaching. It has also emerged that Blockbuster is set to shut down in the US with 300 stores and distribution centres set to close before Christmas, with only the franchise outlets surviving the cull. It is saddening to see, but not entirely unexpected given the company’s refusal to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing market.
Wondering why you should be interested in a next-gen console? Shame on you! However, if for some reason you feel that you need further convincing of their value, EA has been promoting the latest entry in the FIFA series, with producer Nick Channon speaking to MCV earlier in the week. Claiming that the potential for the game to grow presents an exciting challenge for his team, and not only that, but that this first iteration of the much-loved football game on the new consoles will not only eschew the usual sub-standard rush release that EA have done in the past, but rather deliver the best game that they have ever made. And whilst most developers spew rhetoric along the same lines, I for one am excited to see just how good this game really is. To read Mr Channon’s comments in full, head to http://www.mcvuk.com.
In response to the nonsensical “resolutiongate” scandal, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has come out fighting. In an interview with Revision 3 (reported by Eurogamer), he stated that gamers should be “looking at is what’s on-screen, with the controller in their hands, and play[ing] the game” rather than being obsessed with numbers that matter very little. Of course, if it helps, the native resolutions across the board will surely rise as developers learn to use the console more effectively. It is a learning process for them, and one that was not helped by the late arrival of their finalised Xbox One dev kits. This point was also reiterated by Crytek’s Patrick Esteves who discussed the value of a game’s artwork and the importance of the cloud. Citing an example good enough to excite even the surliest of gamers to TechRadar: “Maybe we can have ten thousand units on the screen. Ten thousand AI running around and fighting. That’s the dream. If you can do 60fps on 720p with ten thousand enemies, that’s awesome”. Indeed, it is.
Microsoft have struck a deal with Unity to ensure that every developer signed up to the company’s ID@Xbox program can collect their free Unity Pro tools early next year when the deal comes into effect, further enhancing Microsoft’s goal to make the Xbox One console a viable development platform for small independent studios. Probably an important acquisition given that the key exclusive titles on the console have now been confirmed as heading to PC too. Phil Spencer admitted that the company had neglected PC gamers for too long and that the platform was now once again an important part of the company’s strategy. At the moment though, only Titanfall and Project Spark are thus far confirmed to make the transition, with more surely to follow.
A slight change of topic from gaming, to Call of Duty, as publisher Activision boldly claim that the latest entry in the series managed to top $1 billion of sales on its opening day alone, but given that excitement for the series is beginning to dwindle – along with a relatively poor critical performance – this sounds especially unbelievable. Particularly when one considers that GTA V only managed a record-breaking $800 million on its launch day! Most other franchises (including Assassins Creed) have been seeing decreased sales in the run up to the next-gen hardware launches, so quite how Activision have managed to pull this off remains to be seen. According to the company, they also fully expect the next-gen version of the game to be the biggest selling title of their launch windows. This is partially backed up by the news that Ghosts is the most pre-ordered next-gen title thus far, though of course, evidently these would surely be people who have somehow neglected to see the game running yet! Videos of the title have emerged on the internet to show a surprising lack of progress, highlighting the antiquated nature of its developer’s tech, especially by comparison to the astounding beauty of Dice’s Battlefield 4. Sadly, the technical shortcomings and critical failure of the title will unlikely impede sales, not just yet anyway, though the future is just starting to look a little less rosy for Activision’s cash cow – it turns out that $1 billion figure is the quantity of the title shipped to retailers; Activision have been coy in revealing just how many copies were sold.
• A rare white Xbox One console was sold at auction to support GamesAid, the device – donated by a member of the Xbox team – was a huge success for the charity, raising a massive $5,000 to support UK-based children’s charities.
• Bloomberg has reported that potential Microsoft CEO, Stephen Elop, has claimed that he would be prepared to abandon Bing and even sell off the Xbox brand if he were to get the coveted job. Of course, this information didn’t come direct from him, but rather three anonymous sources to reek of a smear campaign against the current Nokia CEO – Microsoft responded by “appreciating Bloomberg’s departure into fiction”.
• Bungie have almost dismissed any chance of there being a PC version of its upcoming title, Destiny, by claiming that the company would be spread too thin and should concentrate on the platforms for which the title is currently scheduled.
• EA Canada has confirmed that the upcoming Playstation 4 and Xbox One fighter, UFC, will run in 1080p/30fps on both systems, claiming that running at 60fps as originally planned gave little benefit to the title.
• Sony are apparently working on their own VR headset to rival Oculus Rift, the patents for the device have been filed and if rumours are to be believed, the device has already been demonstrated to Sony employees.
• Nintendo have confirmed the launch of the Wii Mini in the US, with the console set to release in mid-November at a price of just $99.
• Sony have announced that sales for the Playstation 3 have now topped 80 million units worldwide, just two weeks after Microsoft had told us that the Xbox 360 had achieved the same milestone figure.
A last piece of news to delight fans of the Metal Gear series emerged, when it was announced that the upcoming title, Ground Zeroes, was set for release in spring 2014 on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The announcement also indicated that the new game would act as a prologue for the events set to take place in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, with series creator Hideo Kojima claiming that the power of the new Fox Engine would allow his team to “tell the new story in a new way”. Interestingly, pricing for the title was announced with current gen versions retailing for just £29.99 on disc and £19.99 for their digital versions, with downloadable copies of the next-gen versions selling for just £29.99. Clearly, addicts will no longer have to steal to purchase their Gear anymore, for now anyway.
Alas, there it is, another information overload for you all to take in and absorb before I return to hit you with another one next week! Au revoir.
– James Paton @TheBlackPage81