WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 17TH – 23RD MARCH

Headline Of The Week

Sony have unveiled Project Morpheus; a virtual reality headset that will work in tandem with the PS4. Speaking at the Games Developer Conference (GDC), Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida revealed that the company has been working on the device for three years, and showcased the device playing a first person version of God Of War 3.

While Project Morpheus will not be the final version of the headset, it is already compatible with both the Dualshock 4 and PS Move controllers, and boasts a 5 inch panel display with HD graphics and 3D audio support. Interestingly, the headset can also mirror its display onto a TV allowing for spectators to watch the action – which they will have to do, because at the moment only one headset per console is supported. Sony have also mused the application of Project Morpheus outside of games, including using the headset to engage in virtual tourism for example.

Development kits for the headset are still a work in progress, and nothing has been said regarding price or potential release dates. Personally, I still see the application of virtual reality as a gimmick that has been tried before (notably by Sega in the mid-90s) and will probably fail again, but between this and the Occulus Rift (set for commercial release later this year at under $300) it suggests one of the directions the new generation of consoles may take.

If Project Morpheus doesn’t take your fancy though, maybe this will – an upcoming firmware update for the PS4 will allow users to dim the light emitted from the light bar at the rear of the Dualshock 4 controller. You won’t be able to turn it off completely though.

In Other News…

Tax cuts for the development of video games in the UK have been passed by once again in the latest Budget report from Chancellor George Osborne this week. Although last year a scheme was proposed by where developers could submit to a points-based test for tax relief eligibility, the plan was foiled by the European Commission.  Whilst film and TV currently enjoy the benefits of tax relief in Britain, video games have been thus denied the same treatment; which is odd considering the spectacular growth of the industry over the past decade.

The CEO of UKIE (UK Interactive Entertainment) Jo Twist has called the situation ‘frustrating’, and offered her opinions on the matter in an interview with GamesIndustry International:

“Whilst there was not any announcement about the European Commission’s decision in this year’s budget, we continue to be confident that our case is strong and that we will receive word from the EC soon. We know that the Treasury and other UK government departments have worked hard to convince Europe of the case for UK Games Tax Relief, and we will continue to do everything we can to help push tax relief over the finishing line and get this vital scheme in place for UK developers as soon as possible”

In a move that truly marks the end of an era, Activision have announced that all DLC for Guitar Hero, Band Hero & DJ Hero will be pulled from sale on April 1st 2014. Online servers for the games will remain in place, and any previously purchased DLC will be unaffected. In a move of good will, a selection of DLC will be discounted through from now through to the end of March.

The news comes a surprisingly long time after the Hero franchise’s closest (and superior in my opinion) competitor, Rock Band, stopped offering new DLC in 2012 (although this DLC is still available). Once upon a time the Hero games were among the most profitable in the world (Guitar Hero III generated over $800 million in sales including peripherals), but a serious glut of games that would make even the yearly instalments of Call Of Duty blush between 2007 and 2011 meant that Activision disbanded the series, claiming that they ‘simply cannot make these games profitable given the current market’.

I for one hope that the music genre will be revived in some form, albeit less of a cash cow, on the Xbox One/PS4; especially DJ Hero which I felt had plenty of untapped potential.

Ever wondered how much money Minecraft is bringing home for its creators Mojang? Well, the figure quoted by the Wall Street Journal suggests that sales of the indie juggernaut have generated $128 million in net income; 38% of which was generated by PC versions of the game and a further 30% by PS3 and Xbox 360 editions. The pocket edition of Minecraft for mobile and tablet devices make up the rest.

A reminder that these figures come from a game which is now five years old. I really couldn’t care for Minecraft personally, but kudos to the thirty-six staff at Mojang for their continued success.

The Xbox One was given a significant boost by Titanfall this week – sales of Microsoft’s console rose in the UK by a staggering 96% as Respawn Entertainment’s shooter secured the biggest launch of the year yet. EA are already locked in for a sequel it seems.

No less impressive was Dark Souls 2 debuting at No.2 with a 20% rise in launch sales over its predecessor. Yoshi’s New Island on the other hand only sold enough for 12th spot in the charts.

Top Ten For Week Ending 15th March 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)

1 – Titanfall (Respawn Entertainment)*

2 – Dark Souls 2 (From Software)*

3 – South Park: The Stick Of Truth (Obsidian Entertainment)

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

5 – Thief (Eidos Montreal)

6 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

7 – Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare (Popcap Games)

8 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

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

10 – Battlefield 4 (DICE)

(* signifies a new chart entry)

And Finally…

In this time of brand new games for relatively new consoles, it might seem strange that a remake of a seventeen year old game has piqued my interest so much. But New & Tasty: Abe’s Oddysee has done just that – and Just Add Water’s remake of the beloved PlayStation platformer is looking better with each passing trailer.

The remake doesn’t have a set release date yet, but it is coming to PS3, PS4, Steam and the Wii U. Excitingly, Oddworld creator Lorne Lanning has suggested that he would only need roughly 250,000 copies of New & Tasty to sell in order to fund a remake of Abe’s Exoddus. Should it pass half a million, we might even be getting a brand new Oddworld game!

You can check out the latest trailer below. All hail the Shrykull!

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