Headline Of The Week

Back in 2010, a new service called OnLive was created that allowed gamers to instantly stream a collection of titles across a cloud service. It was poorly received and ignored by all, meaning that by August 2012 OnLive was dead in the water. Following nearly a year and a half of utter silence and new financial backing, the service has returned for another bite of the cherry with a new business model.

With a new companion service called CloudLift, for 10 quid a month users can stream games they already own and sync saves through devices with an internet browser – in theory allowing you to player quite demanding games on low performance machines. Aiming to provide 720p visuals and 60fps, CloudLift most prominently works with games bought on Steam, and OnLive have also signed deals with a number of publishers to promote their games on the platform. Existing subscription services will continue to run, as will any games that users purchased on the old doomed microconsole that OnLive distributed.

Never mind issues with content or streaming lag; the interface is pretty ugly IMO
Never mind issues with content or streaming lag; the OnLive interface is pretty ugly and basic IMO

Will the reboot work? Probably not; the subscription fee will immediately alienate many, especially since you have no access to games outside of the ones you already own (meaning that OnLive is vastly different from the library based services such as Spotify or Netflix that it is comparing itself to). Added to this, Sony has their Playstation Now service raring to go as a major competitor, not all Steam games support cloud saves (meaning that you would have to start over again everytime you play on the move), and the fact that Steam themselves want to stream games makes OnLive kind of redundant.

Streaming could well be the future, but methinks this is too fractured a plan to work out well.

In Other News…

It’s been a busy week for release date announcements, with both new projects coming to light and much anticipated games becoming more of a reality.

First off, UK based developers Rocksteady Studios revealed the final game in their Batman trilogy: Arkham Knight, which will be coming to both PS4 and Xbox One in 2014…which probably explains why they didn’t have the time to contribute towards the rushed Arkham Origins. Featuring a new environment larger than that on offer in Arkham City, the Dark Knight will be facing off against adversaries including the returning Scarecrow and players will also be able to drive the Batmobile for the first time in the Arkham series. The announcement came with a trailer which can only be described as ‘ace’, and you can watch it below.

The long awaited (and long delayed for that matter) Watch Dogs finally has a concrete release date of May 27th 2014. The date was revealed in a new trailer released this week fleshing out more of the story of protagonist Aiden Pearce, as he hunts revenge on those who killed his wife using the city of Chicago and its hackable systems to his advantage. Watch Dogs was originally intended to be a flagship release for next gen consoles last November, but was pushed back for more spit and polish

Ubisoft’s hack-em-up sandbox adventure will be coming to PS3, PS4, Xbox One and Xbox 360…but the future is looking bleak for Wii U owners who still do not have a release date, adding more fuel to the rumors that the version for Nintendo’s console has been cancelled outright.

Finally, the critically acclaimed masterpiece and GOTY contender that is Goat Simulator will be available on PC on the incredibly appropriate day of April 1st  for $9.99. One or more of the things said in that statement may be made up – I’ll let you decide. In any case, the comments left by the creator made me chuckle heartily:

“Goat Simulator is a small, broken and stupid game. It was made in a couple of weeks so don’t expect a game in the size and scope of GTA with goats. In fact, you’re better off not expecting anything at all actually. To be completely honest, it would be best if you’d spend your $10 on a hula hoop, a pile of bricks, or maybe a real-life goat” – Coffee Stain Studios

Mock them at your peril - simulator games sell much better than you would guess
Mock them at your peril – simulator games sell much better than you would guess

Achievements for all! According to reports on tech website The Verge, Microsoft is looking to bring the Xbox Live service to both iOS and Android devices.

While currently only Microsoft’s own consoles and Windows based devices support the online service, a job posting looking for individuals to ‘create a modern framework that is open-source, lightweight, extensible and scalable across various platforms including Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android’ suggests the desire to take it multiplatform. Microsoft also wants to ease restrictions and provide more useful tools for developers to get Xbox Live in their games.

Should Xbox Live ever reach such a state, it would face competition from Google and Apple who provide similar services across smartphone and tablet devices.

Crowdfunding has become a very popular method for independent artisans to get their projects off the ground; be it books, music, films or video games. Now we have figures to prove this assumption – the funding website Kickstarter has passed $1,000,000,000 in total donations since it was founded in April 2009.

While the sizeable sum is newsworthy in itself, for my purposes it is intriguing to see that donations towards games make up over a fifth of that total. It’s true that there have been more than a fair share of turkeys come out of the system (only 35% of proposed games have received full funding), but wildly successful projects such as Double Fine’s Broken Age (which raised $3.3 million in a month) and Keiji Inafune’s spiritual successor to Mega Man, Mighty No.9, have done wonders to establish the legitimacy of the system.

But that’s enough on crowd funding for now – later on, we’ll see the potential pitfalls of getting people to stump up for development costs…

A film version of The Last Of Us is in the works, with a script penned by creative director Neil Druckmann. While various Naughty Dog staff including Druckmann and co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra will work as ‘creative architects’, the film will be overseen by Screen Gems with Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, Spiderman) signing on as well.

I’m in two minds about this; I would happily welcome more of The Last Of Us, but the game itself does an excellent job of cinematic storytelling and was motion captured to the extent of full acting anyway. Besides, there already is a superb film roughly similar to the setting and tone of The Last Of Us – it’s called Children Of Men. Go and watch it. Right now.

Recording the second highest first-week sales of a game in the UK this year (behind FIFA 14), Eidos Montreal’s reboot of Thief ‘stole’ the top of the UK Game Sales Chart this week.

In a busy week for new releases, Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare debuted in fourth place, Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2 sold enough for tenth spot, and PS3 exclusive Tales Of Syphonia: Chronicles was 13th.

Top Ten For Week Ending 1st March 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)

1 – Thief (Eidos Montreal)*

2 – The Lego Movie Videogame (Traveller’s Tales)

3 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

4 – Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare (Popcap Games)*

5 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

6 – Battlefield 4 (DICE)

7 – Lego Marvel Superheroes (Traveller’s Tales)

8 – Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (4J Studios)

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

10 – Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2 (MercurySteam)*

(* signifies a new chart entry)

And Finally…

The SNES & Mega Drive 2D brawler Shaq Fu has earned a high reputation as being one of gaming’s lowest points. I’ve never played it myself and maybe I never will – there is an organization dedicated to finding and destroying all copies of the game after all. That hasn’t stopped plans however for a sequel – SHAQ FU: A LEGEND REBORN. And the big man himself needs your help to fund it so they don’t ‘fu it up’. Get it?

The project brief (which you can see in full here) outlines the plan for the game, promising to be a modern day take on the classic Streets Of Rage style beat-em-up under the helm of Big Deez Prodcutions. The game could be half decent or another pile of crap, but right now the game itself doesn’t interest me – it’s the means of paying for it, linking back to the crowdfuding story from earlier. Most developers seek crowdfunding because they simply don’t have the personal assets to get the job done. Shaquille O’Neal on the other hand is a multi-millionaire, but Big Deez is still looking for $450,000. To try and tempt people, they are offering up ‘unprecedented access’ to the big man:

  • For $500, Shaq will follow you on Instagram. And ignore your pictures
  • For $600, Shaq will follow you on Twitter. And ignore your tweets
  • Stump up $3000, and you’ll get a training shoe
  • Find a spare $25,000 and you can have a meal with Shaq. But YOU have to pay for transport

It kind of smacks of desperation, and that’s not even the worst option. Pay $6,500 and you get the chance to work as a concept artist at Big Deez with the possibility of a future job at the company. While they might offer you a credit in the game, that’s tantamount to paying for an internship with no guaranteed employment at the end of it. In my opinion, this is the darker side of crowdfunding and while there is nothing in place to say that it is wrong, there is a sense of exploitation involved should you decide (foolishly) to invest.


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