Headline Of The Week

Facebook is to purchase Oculus VR for $2 billion, in a deal which includes $400 million of cash and 23 million shares in the social networking site. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has hailed Oculus, who are currently working on the Oculus Rift VR headset, as the ‘social platform of the future’ (you can read the full statement here). The company will continue to work on the Rift at their headquarters in California.

The reaction to the deal has been…volatile.

The internet seems to have taken a mostly apocalyptic view of events; many early backers of the Oculus Rift (which was Kickstarted to the tune of $2.4 million) have expressed their disgust with Oculus for variously; killing virtual reality and the future of gaming, selling out, and making a mockery of crowd funding. The share price of Facebook took a nose dive after the announcement, dropping 6.9% by the end of day trading on Wednesday. And anyone hoping to play an official version of Minecraft on the Rift will be left extremely disappointed as creator Markus ‘Notch’ Persson cancelled the deal to bring the game to the hardware – amusingly taking to Twitter to express that ‘Facebook creeps me out’.

Facebook have flatly denied that they will rebrand the Rift or detract from its focus on gaming, and Oculus themselves have claimed that while the are surprised at just how negative the reaction has been, the benefits will be found in cheaper units and reduced delays of production. Chief technology officer John Carmack has remained optimistic about the deal claiming that Facebook’s vast financial resources will help to avoid ‘an embarrassing scaling crisis for VR’.

In Other News…

After being left off the table in last week’s Budget report, the European Commission has finally approved tax breaks for the UK video game industry. What a difference seven days makes, eh?

Having decided that the UK would not receive an unfair advantage over other European states, the Commission has given its blessing to a points-based cultural test originally proposed in 2012 that developers must undertake if they wish to receive relief on tax – more points will be awarded to developers who locate the majority of their resources in the UK, and to projects that are set in Europe or feature a prominently British story and/or cast. Studios can begin claiming for tax breaks on April 1st which should reduce production costs by up to 25%.

The decision brings a relatively successful end to a campaign that has been lobbying for over half a decade behind the headlines. The chief executive of UK trade body Tiga, Richard Wilson, has stated that the measures will ‘boost investment and enable the production of more British games’; estimating that an additional £188 million will be put into UK game development over the next five years.

Remember the Ouya microconsole? It’s still kicking about somewhere, occasionally making headlines for reasons of varying ineptitude. It’s now been confirmed that the requirement of developers to offer a free demo for all paid titles on the console (similar to Microsoft’s requirement that all titles on Xbox Live must have a free trial), one of the big selling points when the Ouya was being crowd-funded on Kickstarter, is to be scrapped by April. Oh.

Speaking at a panel at the Games Developer Conference, the head of Ouya developer relations Kellee Santiago had this to say:

“The requests were coming from them (developers) that it was restrictive for certain kinds of content that they were interested in bringing to Ouya…not every genre lends itself to having a demo or a tracked section or microtransactions”

On the plus side for the ailing Ouya, Double Fine’s Broken Age will be coming to the platform with six-month exclusivity for consoles – although if you can’t wait that long, it’ll be available on Steam.

A potential port of the multiple GOTY award winning The Last Of Us for the PS4 may be coming by the end of the year, if comments from one of Sony’s marketing managers are to be believed. Turkish Playstation spokesman Sercan Sulan has stated in interviews that while there is no news on a possible sequel for Naughty Dog’s adventure horror masterpiece, a PS4 version (both physical and on PSN, both featuring the DLC add-on Left Behind) will be released this summer.

For what it is worth, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe have rebuked the claims, commenting to Eurogamer that ‘At no time have we announced that The Last of Us is coming to PS4 and therefore, have nothing to say on the subject’. A possible port would make sense though – we’ve already seen an upgraded version of Tomb Raider brought to PS4 and Xbox One, and having a next-gen version of TLOU would help bulk out the PS4’s summer schedule of games.

The rumours come in a week that has seen another high profile departure from Naughty Dog – Justin Richmond, who was set to be the director of Uncharted 4¸ has left to join League Of Legends devs Riot Games.

Fresh from avoiding a hat-trick of victories for the ‘Worst Company In America’ award, in order to try and generate some goodwill towards its online marketplace Origin, EA are giving away free games in a new initiative called ‘On The House’.

From now up until May 8th 2014, you can pick up Dead Space absolutely free of charge, and the scheme suggests more games will be given away down the line. The original Dead Space is getting on in years now, but is still highly rated as one of the finer horror games of the last generation.

The PS4 exclusive Infamous: Second Son shot straight to the top of the UK Game Sales Charts this week – I guess everyone wanted the limited edition beanie hat (which is really comfy to wear).

Despite critical warnings regarding its potential short length, the multiplatform Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes was second in the charts, while the glorious HD remasters of Final Fantasy X/X-2 quietly placed in fourth.

Top Ten For Week Ending 22nd March 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)

1 – Infamous: Second Son (Sucker Punch)*

2 – Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (Kojima Productions)*

3 – Titanfall (Respawn Entertainment)

4 – Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD (Square Enix)*

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

6 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

7 – Dark Souls 2 (From Software)

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

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

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

(* signifies a new chart entry)

And Finally…

Nvidia have unveiled its newest high-end graphics card for PC’s, called the Titan Z.

Combining two GK110 GPU’s onto a single board, the Titan Z offers 12GB of GDDR5 memory and 5760 CUDA cores, resulting in a rating of eight teraflops. Nvidia is marketing the Titan Z as the ultimate graphics card for 5K resolution (5120×2700) and multi-monitor gaming, and is charging a pretty penny for the privilege – $3,000.

I’ll be very honest – despite my love of games, I know the square root of jack about computing and technical specifications, so I’m not exactly sure what I’ve quoted. All I know is that in my mind, you will need a miniature nuclear reactor to get the damn thing running!

If you can provide some form of power comparison, let me know in the comment section.


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