Headline Of The Week
Reports earlier this week suggest that YouTube (and thus by extension, Google) are planning to buy the game-streaming company Twitch for a tasty $1,000,000,000. That is all cash up front by the way.
The popularity of Twitch has grown exponentially over the past few years as streaming footage and commentary from games has become a viable way of making a living – indeed, the userbase has swelled from 3.2 million in 2011 to over 45 million people last year. Most recently, both Sony and Microsoft have integrated Twitch streaming into their next gen hardware, and almost every major e-Sports competition is broadcast live on the service.
For getting its foot wedged firmly in the door of the gaming industry, a mere $1 billion must seem like a bargain for Google. The deal is far from settled at the moment though; by owning the two largest online video distributors in the world Google would have a lot to answer for with regards to competitive practices, and it remains to be seen if Google’s more strict approach to copyright would be inflammatory to the carefree attitude to content that Twitch users currently display.
In Other News…
Formerly troubled UK retailer GAME has announced plans to float on the London Stock Exchange in a move valued at approximately £400 million. It marks an astonishing recovery for the company, which twice entered administration in 2012 before being saved by Opcapita.
The CEO of GAME, Martyn Gibbs, had the following to say on the news:
“GAME has built a strong platform with the continued support of its store and central teams, its supplier partners and its customers….A public listing will support our long-term strategy as we develop our digital offering in all our channels. GAME’s stores, online and mobile channels are an influential and cost-effective route to market for our supplier partners. Gamers can get advice, try new games, trade-in and buy exclusive content with us. With 16 million reward programme members, we are building a valuable community of gamers across the UK and Spain”
The Wii U exclusive crossover of Dynasty Warriors and The Legend Of Zelda, Hyrule Warriors, is set for release in Japan on August 14th. It has also been confirmed that Impa will make her debut as a playable character, and that the Wii U Gamepad will be utilized for a two player mode – making this the first multiplayer Zelda experience since Four Swords Adventure.
Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu has reported that the game is over 70% complete, and that Tecmo Koei chief Yoichi Erikawa has high hopes that the game will shift over one million units worldwide
Harmonix’s effort to Kickstart a PS3/PS4 version of its cult 2003 favorite Amplitude has reached its funding goal, passing the milestone of $775,000 in the final hours of fundraising. The final total stands at $844,127 ($7,500 of which was donated by Ratchet & Clank devs Insomniac Games) – a figure which by Harmonix’s own account is still less than half of the funds that will be required to bring the game to the market.
The success of the campaign does mean however that backers will be treated to four player local multiplayer and online modes. Musical acts confirmed to be in the game include Anamanaguchi, Freezepop, Jim Guthrie and Kasson Crooker, who provided music for Harmonix’s other early PS2 title Frequency.
After what seems like a lifetime of delays, Watch_Dogs is almost out. And despite the hype train going into overdrive, you might have wondered why you haven’t seen any reviews yet for what is one of the most anticipated games in years. Well that’s because Ubisoft have placed an embargo on reviews until the day of the its release: May 27th 2014.
For anyone familiar with reviewing practices, holding back on the release of critical opinions is a worrying sign. Generally, the more upbeat a developer is about it’s game, the quicker it will allow reviews to come out – just look at the high scores Mario Kart 8 received a full two weeks before release. The fact that Ubisoft is waiting until release for Watch_Dogs therefore either suggests it simply isn’t the title that the hype has built it to be, or that they are supremely confident. We will know either way by Tuesday.
By returning to the top spot of the UK Game Sales Charts this week, FIFA 14 has broken a sixteen year record. It’s return to the summit means that EA’s latest installment of the long running football franchise has now spent a combined twelve weeks at Number One, nudging past the old master FIFA: Road To World Cup 98.
Elsewhere, 3DS title Kirby Triple Deluxe debuted in 16th spot, and the retail PS3 version of Minecraft snuck in ahead of its Xbox 360 counterpart.
Top Ten For Week Ending 17th May 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)
1 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)
2 – Titanfall (Respawn Entertainment/Bluepoint Games)
3 – Minecraft: PS3 Edition (4J Studios)*
4 – Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (4J Studios)
5 – 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil (EA Canada)
6 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)
7 – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Beenox Interactive)
8 – The Lego Movie Videogame (Traveller’s Tales)
9 – Battlefield 4 (DICE Studios)
10 – Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North)
(* indicates a new entry)
In my youth, I couldn’t readily afford to go out and purchase every new game that hit the stores – mainly because my pocket money had gone on sweets, and I had no concept of saving for bigger purchases. You can perhaps understand then why I love picking up gaming magazines; the news of upcoming games, and in the case of Official Playstation Magazine actually getting to play snippets of the hottest new titles via demo discs, was a great thrill. Thus I’ve always had a soft spot for gaming mags, and whenever there is a organized focus to preserving old copies it makes me smile.
The oldest of all the gaming magazines is Computer And Video Games, first published in 1981 for just 75p running a cover story about Space Invaders. But even this venerable old stallion hasn’t been able to weather the passing of time, and the magazine now faces closure. CVG became a online-only publication in 2004, and was briefly brought back as a printed bi-monthly publication in 2008 before being cancelled a year later. Now, Future Publishing is considering either closing or selling off the brand, as it divides it’s advertising funds amongst its gaming magazine portfolio which also includes GamesRadar and PC Gamer.
CVG won’t be disappearing completely; the website of the same name has been running since 1999. However the traditional/hipster part of me will be sad to see the original publication die out – in this modern day when anyone (myself included) can be a videogame critic through the internet, opinions can become somewhat diluted and I always felt that magazines had an important role in providing a definitive opinion on matters. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to spend the rest of the day flicking through my old copies of OPM…