WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 31ST MARCH – 6TH APRIL

Headline Of The Week

Online retailer Amazon has unveiled the Fire TV; a tiny set top box which will feature the ability to stream films, television and, most importantly for the sake of this article, games as well.

Priced at $99, the box runs on Android and offers 2GB of memory, a quad core processor and built in Wi-Fi (a $40 controller is sold separately). Executives at Amazon have hinted that it may be up to three times as powerful as rival devices such as Google’s Chromecast or Roku. The downside at the moment is that Amazon has yet to reveal any plans for release outside of the United States.

The Fire TV box is really very small indeed. Additional popcorn or big-ass TV not included in sale

The Fire TV box is really very small indeed. Additional popcorn or big-ass TV not included in sale

Several big name developers have pledged their support to the system, including TellTale Games who have confirmed that both The Walking Dead & The Wolf Among Us will be playable on the Fire TV. In total 95 games have thus been confirmed, ranging from free-to-play up to $10.

A separate announcement was also made that Metacritic scores for games will now appear on Amazon’s video game listings, offering users the chance to weigh up relatively pointless (and often times, paid for) opinions on products without having to leave the site.

In Other News…

The British Film Institute has unveiled the initial guidelines for the culture test that UK-based game developers will have to complete to apply for tax relief.

Split into four different sections (content, contribution, cultural hubs and personnel), projects submitted by developers need to accrue 16 out of a possible 31 points. If they succeed, then discounts of up to 25% on production expenditure are up for grabs.

Going by the guidelines, it seems that the majority of points will be awarded to projects where the content is inherently British. Maybe a reboot of The Getaway is in the works perhaps? You can read the full set of criteria here.

The tradition of making up fake headlines and inventing easter eggs for April Fools Day has become a regular fixture for the gaming industry, and as ever this year it was Google who were at the forefront of the jokes – putting Pokemon into its maps application on iOS and Android devices.

150 of the pocket monsters were placed around the map at famous locations including the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids Of Giza and Google’s own office in California to create a strangely compelling timesink.

Not every joke made was taken in good faith however; COO of EA Peter Moore apologized to Nintendo after a series of comments from the Frostbite engine Twitter account mocked the Wii U (which has received a lack of support from EA), with Moore calling the comments ‘unacceptable/stupid’.

Since when do game engines have access to a social media account?

The symphonic concert Video Games Live is making a welcome return to the UK in November 2014, with the first appearance in London for over six years.

Two dates have been announced; the Manchester O2 Apollo on Saturday 1st November, and the Hammersmith Apollo in the capital on Sunday 2nd November. Tickets are currently going for as little as £26, with VIP selections on offer for just over £100. The co-creator of VGL, Tommy Tallarico, has commented on his excitement to be returning to British shores:

“We’re thrilled and honored to be bringing VGL back to the UK…VGL is a one of a kind entertainment experience so we’ve always strived to let as many people across the globe experience it. Not only do we get to come back to London but we’re very excited to be performing in Manchester for the very first time.”

Glu are to cease services for all games currently utilizing their GameSpy Technology from May 31st 2014.

The move will affect multiplayer matchmaking & leaderboards on a fairly sizeable list of PC, console and mobile games. Whilst several more modern games that used the service including Borderlands, Civilization IV and Red Dead Redemption have since switched to other online servers, classic titles such as Battlefield 2142, Halo (PC) Quake II, III & IV and Titan Quest will no longer work online.

A more in-depth discussion of which games will go under can be found in this Reddit forum.

Sick of being spoon fed details about the latest versions of Super Smash Bros for the Wii U and 3DS? Nintendo have announced a Direct live stream for April 8th where new details, and hopefully a few more characters, will be revealed. At the very least I would expect that another third party character, similar to Mega Man, will be unveiled.

What's that? SNAKE IS CONFIRMED!?!?!?!?

What’s that? SNAKE IS CONFIRMED!?!?!?!?

You’ll be able to watch the action on the Nintendo Direct website from 11pm GMT.

Remember when Microsoft announced they were making a documentary about the infamous burial site of millions of copies of Atari’s E.T. game? The search can now finally go ahead as the New Mexico Enviornment Department has given the greenlight to a search effort, providing they are notified five days before any excavation begins and that all waste haulers are certified.

The documentary, which will feature exclusively on Xbox One & Xbox 360, is expected to premiere at some point later this year.

There was no change for the top three in the UK Game Sales Charts this week, with PS4 exclusive Infamous: Second Son holding sway at the summit. The only new entry of the week to crack the top 10 was the Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls expansion pack; Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright for the 3DS had to settle for 15th spot.

Meanwhile, the Xbox 360 Edition of Minecraft has now passed 12 million sales worldwide – meaning that it is closing in on lifetime sales for the much older PC version. That’s a lot of children with Xbox 360’s…

Top Ten For Week Ending 29th 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 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

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

6 – Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls (Blizzard Entertainment)*

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

8 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

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

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

(* signifies a new chart entry)

And Finally…

I’d be lying if I denied that I’ve seen one or two crap shark films in my time…in fact I’ve seen several! From Sharknado to Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus, there’s always a smile to be raised from seeing an enormous CGI shark devouring your favourite SyFy actors.

And now, DICE have decided that players of Battlefield 4 need to share the love as well; having hyped up a shark based Easter egg for a while, one chap on YouTube has found the fruit of their labors.
Players who have snapped up the Naval Strike DLC can find the megadolon on a map called ‘Parcel Storm’. When 10 players come together around a particular buoy out at sea, then Jaws’ steroid enhanced brother will leap majestically through the sky.

Will it be enough to appease angry punters who have found Battlefield 4 to be unplayable since launch? Probably not. At least the rest of us can have a chuckle. Your move, Titanfall…

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