WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 28TH JULY – 3RD AUGUST

Headline Of The Week

EA are teaming up with Microsoft to launch a subscription service for some of their biggest games exclusively on Xbox One, called ‘EA Access’. It will cost $29.99 per year (or $5 a month), and will let users download and play a selection of games for no additional cost; with the first titles being selected for a beta period are FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2 & Battlefield 4.

Truth be told, I reckon this would go down well with a lot of FIFA fans in particular - it's cheaper and you don't have to flog the disc each year for 50p

Truth be told, I reckon this would go down well with a lot of FIFA fans in particular – it’s cheaper and you don’t have to flog the disc each year for 50p

Subscribers will also have the opportunity to get to 10% discounts on digital EA content on Xbox One, as well as early access to upcoming titles including the latest versions of FIFA, Battlefield & the recently delayed Dragon Age: Inquisition. A similar plan will not be rolled out on the PS4 however, as Sony (who already offer games every month on their own PS Plus subscription plan) have distanced themselves from the initiative:

‘PlayStation Plus memberships are up more than 200% since the launch of PlayStation 4, which shows that gamers are looking for memberships that offer a multitude of services, across various devices, for one low price…we don’t think asking our fans to pay an additional $5 a month for this EA-specific program represents good value to the PlayStation gamer’ – A Playstation spokesperson speaking to Game Informer

I’m not sure that perhaps the irony of including Crysis 3 in their PS Plus offerings for August has dawned on Sony, but I digress – is this the sort of path that other big publishers such as Ubisoft and Capcom may end up following in the near future?

In Other News…

In further subscription news, the PlayStation Now beta has been opened up to all PS4 owners in North America having previously been open only to a few select PS3 users.

Games on offer to test out include God Of War: Ascension, Ratchet & Clank: Into The Nexus, Ultra Street Fighter IV & Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, but the service has hit early criticism for inflexible rental times, high levels of input lag and ludicrously expensive prices. Sony have said that the company is working on a general PS Now subscription option – which you might have expected to be in as standard. The service is due to be rolled out to European users around January 2015.

I reported back in January that China had lifted a fourteen year old ban of foreign games consoles being sold in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, and mentioned that it would be a story to follow with interest. Eight months later we have had the first major development in that area, as Microsoft have announced that the Xbox One will be the first of the consoles to launch in the country on September 23rd, after announcing a partnership with BesTV.

Consoles are expected to sell for about 3,699 RMB (£354), with games including Forza Motorsport 5 & Kinect Sports Rivals available at launch. The Chinese will also get a few additional perks not seen in other launch areas, including free access to English Premier League football matches for a year and free Xbox Live Gold until March 2015.

Whether or not the console (which is still too expensive for the majority of citizens in the poorer regions of China to comfortably purchase) will take off is another kettle of fish, but being the first to launch is undoubtedly a coup for Microsoft, as reflected by the comments of Devices and Studios corporate vice-president of marketing Yusuf Mehdi:

“We’re honoured that Xbox One is the first console approved for sale in China through the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. We’re dedicated to earning millions of fans in China by working with BesTV to deliver an all in one games and entertainment experience”

As it turns out, plenty of people wanted to play the recent beta for Destiny ­– 4,638,937 people to be precise, according to figures from Activision.

Hands up if you spent the beta dancing rather than shooting

Hands up if you spent the beta dancing rather than shooting

The beta lasted for 10 days on Playstation consoles following an exclusive deal that was announced at E3 2014, with Xbox owners getting five days of fun and games as well. The beta apparently broke new ground for a new video game IP, with developer Bungie calling the results ‘humbling’.

Destiny is one of the few next gen games not to have suffered a major delay (yet), and is set for release on September 9th 2014.

Watch_Dogs notched a sixth week at the top of the UK Game Sales Charts, in a period of seven days which can only be described as ‘drab and miserable’ – sales monitor Chart Track recorded that alongside no new releases, this week marked the lowest figure for revenue generated by game sales so far this year.

Smart money says that The Last Of Us Remastered will top the charts next week; it’s absolutely stunning in motion.

Top Ten For Week Ending 26th July 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)

1 – Watch_Dogs (Ubisoft Montreal)

2 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

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

4 – Sniper Elite 3 (Rebellion/505 Games)

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

6 – Minecraft: PS3 Edition (4J Studios)

7 – Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North)

8 – Titanfall (Respawn Entertainment/Bluepoint Games)

9 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

10 – Battlefield 4 (DICE)

And Finally…

Did you ever watch Digimon as a child? Well if you didn’t, don’t believe the naysayers who laughed it off as a simple cash-in on the craze that Pokemon Red & Blue and the subsequent Pokemon anime sparked off globally.

Sure, the Digimon card game was incomprehensible, but the anime was pretty damn cool (one of the monsters throws the sun at his enemies for gods sake) and we got some quite decent PS1 titles out of it to boot; namely the much loved Digimon World & Digimon Rumble Arena. Well the franchise has been back in the headlines this week after a 15 year anniversary event (as I read that sentence, I realize how old I’ve become!) – not only is the original series getting a direct sequel, but Namco Bandai are making a new Digimon fighter!

Entitled Digimon All Star Rumble, it is essentially going to be the third Rumble Arena game featuring characters from the multiple series of the show including Agumon and Gabumon, with gameplay very similar to that exhibited by Super Smash Bros. The game is set for release on PS3 and Xbox 360 in Fall 2014 – you can watch the first trailer via the video link below

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