Headline Of The Week

Rumour has it that if you say ‘Candy Crush’ three times in front of a mirror, a lawyer will appear behind you – King, the developer of the insanely popular casual hit Candy Crush Saga, have successfully trademarked the word ‘candy’ for use in games, games accessories and a number of merchandising items in both the United States and the EU. King has defended their move claiming that their IP is being constantly infringed by copycat apps (including Candy Casino Slots – Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land – which must be the longest/worst title ever bestowed upon a game) and has requested Apple to start taking down apps that prominently feature the word.

The situation has accelerated however as King have also filed a trademark dispute against the The Banner Saga (a turn based RPG funded by Kickstarter to the tune of $723,000 and developed by Stoic, a company of three employees who worked on Star Wars: The Old Republic), claiming that “The Banner Saga mark is confusingly and deceptively similar” to its own line of games…which it isn’t. The state of affairs has snowballed, with King claiming they are attempting to protect their IP rights and Stoic defending their own position:

“We won’t make a Viking saga without the word Saga, and we don’t appreciate anyone telling us we can’t. King.com claims they’re not attempting to prevent us from using The Banner Saga, and yet their legal opposition to our trademark filing remains.”

Fights over trademarks in the videogame industry are not uncommon; in recent years Bethesda and Mojang have come to blows over the use of the word ‘Scrolls, and the word ‘edge’ was infamously trademarked for over twenty years until a series of court rulings in 2010 overturned the situation.

In Other News…

It’s a case of ‘it never rains but it pours’ for Nintendo at the moment; following the announcements that it was drastically cutting its financial forecasts last week, $1.2 billion was wiped from the values of its shares on the stock market when trading opened on Monday morning.

Share prices reached a low point of $14.53 (the lowest figure seen since September, but still higher than the $11.39 that shares were valued at in February 2013 after poor launch sales for the Wii U), and have since risen back to a more respectable figure. For retrospective purposes, a year after the original Wii had been released Nintendo’s shares were worth $76.

For those unfamiliar with the stock market, when you see a dip like on the far right, its very bad news
For those unfamiliar with the stock market, when you see a sharp dip like on the far right, its very bad news (image courtesy of CVG.com)

If there is a positive to come out of this, the Wii U is currently experiencing price cuts from a handful of online retailers in the UK: both Argos and Amazon are selling the Premium Wii U (bundled with Nintendo Land) for £179.99, slashing £120 off of the original price. There are also sketchy rumors floating about that financial issues are spurning the development of a new budget console called the ‘Fusion’ – although I’m unwilling to comment on that until Nintendo themselves confirm it one way or another.

Despite receiving plenty of interest from the press, Valve are still having a hard time convincing everyone what the true benefit of its Steam Machine is. The steep pricing of some of the models shown off at CES has put many off, and Alienware (one of the companies producing a Steam Machine) haven’t helped by sending out conflicting messages about the potential for upgrading the machine. Initially, general manager Frank Azor commented that Alienware’s Steam Machine will not be upgradeable and that a new model would be released every year – but he then regressed on that statement, claiming that users WILL be able to customise the machine but that it would be difficult given the slimline profile of the machine and the lack of access to internal components.

The issue here is that Steam Machines are meant to bridge the gap between openly customisable PC’s and consoles designed for a lifespan of about five years; yearly upgrades would be ruinously expensive and highly impractical when a PC could do the same job (with more functionality to boot) for less money. With the additional news that SteamOS has now been updated to support dual booting and partitioning on standard PC’s so you can run a Windows OS alongside it more comfortably, Steam Machines are looking more undesirable each week.

In a bid to establish itself as one of the heavyweights of the MMORPG arena, Bethesda have recruited the likes of John Cleese and Bill Nighy to provide voices for some of the main characters in The Elder Scrolls Online.

The most recent Elder Scrolls games (the wonderful Oblivion and the superb Skyrim) have featured the vocal talents of individuals such as Sean Bean, Patrick Stewart and Max Von Syndow, but Bethesda are going all out with Online. Alongside comic actors Cleese and Nighy, you hear the tones of Jennifer Hale (FemShep and a billion other game heroines), Kate Beckinsdale (Underworld), Alfred Molina (Dr Octopus in Spiderman 2), Malcolm Macdowell, Michael Gambon (Dumbledore from Harry Potter) and Jim Ward (Krauser from Resident Evil 4) to name a few.

The Elder Scrolls Online will be available on PC and Mac on April 4th, with PS4 & Xbox One versions following in June.

Any slim hopes that Star Wars 1313 would come to fruition have been officially dashed; the registered trademark has been ‘abandoned’ by Disney thus ending the promise of one of the more interesting Star Wars projects of the last few years.

1313’s fate has been in the balance since LucasArts was purchased and subsequently shut down by Disney last year, even though it was claimed at the time that the purchase would not affect development of the bounty hunter adventure. The decision by Electronic Arts (who have an exclusive deal to develop ‘core’ Star Wars games including Battlefront) not to continue with the project was essentially the final nail in the coffin, but now 1313 is officially dead because “no Statement of Use or Extension Request [was] timely filed after Notice of Allowance was issued” on the trademark.

So with that out of the way, now we can all return to wondering if Star Wars will appear in Kingdom Hearts III

FIFA 14 has become the first game since The Last Of Us to score five consecutive weeks at the top of the UK Game Sales Charts, keeping Call Of Duty: Ghosts at bay. A recent influx of new PS4 stock means that Killzone: Shadowfall creeps up to sixth position, while the first new entry into the Top 40 this year, Mario Party: Island Tour debuted in 18th spot.

Top Ten For Week Ending 19th January 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)

1 –  FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

2 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

3 – Battlefield 4 (DICE)

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

5 – Lego Marvel Superheroes (Traveller’s Tales)

6 – Killzone: Shadowfall (Guerrilla Games)

7 – Need For Speed: Rivals (Ghost Games)

8 – Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (Mojang)

9 –   Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North)

10 – Aliens: Colonial Marines (Gearbox Software)

In bonus sales news, the Angry Birds franchise had now surpassed two billion downloads across all devices. So, on average that’s just under 30% of the population of the entire world who has played it. Kudos.

And Finally…

Stupidly Obvious Games Company Name Change Of The Week

In a bid to unify the brand across the world, Namco Bandai (Tekken, Soul Calibur, Tales Of Vesperia) have decided upon a radical new name – from April 1st 2014 the company will be known around the world as…Bandai Namco. Bet you didn’t see that coming did you? The logic behind it is that Namco Bandai is known as Bandai Namco in its base of operations of Japan, so the rest of the world should follow suit. And now you know.


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