WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 30TH DECEMBER 2013 – 5TH JANUARY 2014

Headline Of The Week

The Xbox One could potentially have been released without a disc drive following criticism at its second reveal at E3 2013 – that’s according to an interview with Microsoft Studios head honcho Phil Spencer released this week. Speaking in Official Xbox Magazine, Spencer revealed:

“There was a real discussion about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console, but when you start looking at bandwidth and game size, it does create issues.”

This was in response to overwhelming criticism for the Xbox One’s ‘always online’ requirements which were quickly dropped. Can you imagine the sheer backlash there would have been if this particular u-turn had gone through as well?

In this scenario it appears Microsoft dodged a bullet – the last time a major console manufacturer released a purely digital console was when Sony unveiled the handheld PSPGo; which even by PSP standards flopped. But Spencer’s revelations have ignited the discussion once again of how long it will be until digital retail is the only way forward. Personally, I think the disc will be around for quite a while yet.

In Other News…

In additional Microsoft/Spencer news, the company is considering bringing a new interactive gameshow to the Xbox One similar to 1 vs. 100 which ran from 2009-2010 on Xbox Live. When asked on Twitter whether there was any hope for a revival of the game, Spencer replied “I think we will…1v100 was a success for us. Prob no 1v100 exactly”.

You could dance in the crowd as well by mashing the Y button - great stuff

You could dance in the crowd as well by mashing the Y button – great stuff

In case you never played it, 1 vs. 100 was a game that brought thousands of players across the world together as contestants on a general knowledge show, with one lucky gamer picked each round to go against a group of 100 other gamers for the chance to win Microsoft Points or Xbox Live Arcade games. At its peak, there were over 114,000 people playing simultaneously, earning it a world record for ‘most contestants in a game show’.

I was lucky enough to get into the mob of 100 on one occasion, and picked up Worms Armageddon and 160 MS Points for managing to survive into the last 30 odd contestants. Needless to say, I would be very much up for another season

The trio of Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics have been removed from GOG.com and Steam after the licenses for the game finally passed from original developer Interplay to Bethesda, who purchased the IP in 2007 for $5.75 million. Anyone who downloaded the games on GOG.com before December 31st 2013 (or like me picked them up for free in a recent giveaway on the service) can still install files and bonus content via their ‘My Games’ section on GOG.com accounts. Repsonding to fan queries on Twitter, Bethesda stated they are looking to get the games back on Steam at least shortly:

In related ‘games removed from digital distribution services’ news, a number of Marvel-licensed games including Deadpool and various Spiderman titles have been taken down from Steam, Xbox Live and PSN by Activision. No reason has yet been provided for the removal of the games.

In a week where both League Of Legends and EA’s digital distribution service Origin have been the victims of hacking attempts, World Of Warcraft has also been hit by a Trojan virus capable of stealing account information and passwords. The virus has been identified as being spread by a fake version of the ‘Curse Client’ on PC versions of the game, and marks the first malware attack on the game for several years.

Blizzard have sent instructions that players who have been affected by the Trojan should remove the client and run a scan through Malwarebytes (which I would also recommend downloading anyway to keep your computer safe), which should remove the problem. Users should also be aware of fake e-mails claiming to be from Blizzard.

The charity organization Child’s Play, which raises funds for games and toys for children in 90 hospitals worldwide through gaming activities, celebrated its 10th anniversary last year in record breaking fashion as end of year figures for donations revealed that $7.6 million has been raised. The total (supported in part by donations to the Humble Bundle service and organized gaming marathons) is more than was raised in the first six years the charity was operating. Commenting on their official website, Child’s Play thanked people for their efforts:

“(Our donations) come from the incredible community that makes the tag line “Gamers give back” an understatement. The community coming together for 10 years has now resulted in $25,196,670. We are humbled, proud, and overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you for making 2013 our best year yet”

In 2014 the charity aims to expand its activities to support children in domestic abuse centers.

Sales News Bonus Spectacular

All the end of year statistic reports for sales are now available, so I’ve bundled together the most interesting factoids.

First off, the charts for this week – 2013 began with FIFA 13 at the top of the UK Game Sales Charts; and it ended with bigger brother FIFA 14 ruling the roost. In total 24 different games topped the charts last year, and while FIFA and Call Of Duty were at the top for a combined quarter of the year, it was The Last Of Us which had the longest consecutive run at No.1 with six weeks in the quiet of summer.

Top Ten For Week Ending 29th December 2013 (from GFK/Chart-Track)

1 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

2 –  Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

3 – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Ubisoft Montreal)

4 – Battlefield 4 (DICE)

5 – Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North)

6 – Need For Speed: Rivals (Ghost Games)

7 – Lego Marvel Superheroes (Traveller’s Tales)

8 – Just Dance 2014 (Ubisoft)

9 –  Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (Mojang)

10 – Gran Turismo 6 (Polyphony Digital)

Not content with being the best selling game of the year, Grand Theft Auto V has also topped the charts as the UK’s top selling entertainment product of 2013. In a list compiled by the UK trade association ERA, Rockstar’s crime epic sold 3.67 million retail units to beat Bond film Skyfall to number one spot.

FIFA 14 squeezed into third place ahead of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and Call Of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4 and Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag were the other game entries in the Top 20.

Finally, the standalone alpha version of DayZ (originally a mod for Arma II) has shifted over 400,000 copies on Steam – which becomes even more impressive considering that this has been achieved throughout the busy Winter Sale period where DayZ was consistently the top selling item. Developers Bohemia Interactive have once again stressed that

“It is a work in progress and therefore contains a variety of bugs. We strongly advise you not to buy and play the game at this stage unless you clearly understand what Early Access means and are interested in participating in the ongoing development cycle.”

And Finally…

Missile Command is a memorable highlight of the arcade craze of the late 70s/early 80s often referred to as videogaming’s ‘Golden Age’. Tapping into Cold War fears, players had to defend six cities from an endless barrage of ballistic missiles. The classic has been ported from the arcade to many consoles over the years and even features as an Easter Egg on Youtube (open a video, click on the white around the video, and type ‘1980’) – but it is the original that holds the appeal for record breakers. In 1982, an American named Victor Ali set a new record of 80,364,995 points, thought to be unassailable. For nearly 30 years, it was.

Enter Victor Sandberg; a native of Sweden and the best Missile Command player on the planet.

The end of Sandberg's run, captured via TwitchTV

The end of Sandberg’s world record run, captured via TwitchTV. Yes, that is 71 hours, not minutes

On March 15th 2013, Sandberg set a new record of 81,796,035 points after nearly 56 hours of continuous play. Last Friday, he attempted to beat his own record and also crush the world record for game endurance by playing a scarcely believable 100 hours of gameplay on a single credit.

Sadly, the endurance run fell short – his efforts ended on December 30th after 71 hours and 41 minutes of continuous play That is just 19 minutes short of THREE FULL DAYS – I can barely stay awake for half of that time! On the upside, his new point’s record of 103,809,990 will likely never be beaten. Ever. Congratulations to Sandberg for a quite remarkable achievement.

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