WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 8TH – 14TH SEPTEMBER

Headline Of The Week

Microsoft are reportedly in talks with Mojang, the developers of sales juggernaut Minecraft, to buy the studio – and if the latest reports from Reuters are to be believed, the ballpark figure for the acquisition is an astonishing $2.5 BILLION.

ALL HAIL THE CATHEDRAL OF GREEN!

ALL HAIL THE CATHEDRAL OF GREEN!

If the rumors of the deal are true then this is strange news indeed, as Mojang’s founder Markus Persson has regularly criticized Microsoft in the past (going as far as claiming that the company were trying to ‘ruin the PC as an open platform’ with Windows 8) – and given Minecraft’s availability on virtual every system under the sun as well (except ironically on Windows Phones), you would suspect that any exclusivity for future content or a possible sequel would not go down well with those already infatuated with the game. More to the point, two billion dollars  is a simply ludicrous amount to splash out for a studio that, despite Minecraft’s enviable success, is essentially a one hit wonder.

The Reuters report claims that the deal could be completed as soon as Monday; so watch this space for one of the most expensive and odd deals in video game history to happen.

EDIT: As predicted, the deal has gone through at the reported price, with Mojang’s three founders stepping down to pursue other interests. A good summary of the deal can be found here.

In Other News

A small game called Destiny came out this week, and apparently it has made a fair of bit of money.

Publisher Activision (who have never been afraid to boast in the past with the Call Of Duty franchise in particular) claim that they have sold $500 million worth of copies to stores, essentially recouping the enormous advertising budget for the game, They also expect that Destiny will claim the titles of the most pre-ordered and best selling new franchise in gaming history, taking the record set by Watch_Dogs earlier this year, as well as the highest day one digital sales of a game.

I’ve put about 10 hours into the game so far on PS4, and I’m inclined to agree with much of the early launch reviews; the presentation is excellent but there’s a lack of depth to a great deal of anything you do…maybe I’m just too unfamilar with the flow of an MMO-type game.

The next gen release of Grand Theft Auto V has been dated for November 18th on PS4 and Xbox One, with the PC version to follow on January 27th 2015.

Alongside a trailer released on Friday, Rockstar Games have promised a number of improvements to the game including significant visual upgrades to draw distance and lighting, a new foliage system, more wildlife and over 100 new songs being added to the soundtrack – I’m still waiting on the return of a Vice City themed 80s station like they did for GTA IV and its DLC expansion packs.

The announcement makes November 18th one of the busiest release days in living memory for games – as it currently stands, GTA V would release against Dragon Age: Inquisition, Far Cry 4, LittleBigPlanet 3, Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor, Sonic Boom: Rise Of Lyric & the long delayed Wii U release of Watch_Dogs.

Nintendo have announced a Winter promotion by where if customers register a 2DS, 3DS or 3DS XL and a copy of either Super Smash Bros for 3DS or Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire with Club Nintendo before January 12th 2015, then they can download a free title from a choice of six games for free, including Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, Kirby: Triple Deluxe and The Legend Of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. Full details of the promotion can be found on the Nintendo website.

A demo of Super Smash Bros for 3DS will be available outside of Japan on September 19th, while Nintendo Platinum members will be given four eShop codes to access the demo early. The news was revealed during a eight hour livestream broadcast from Nintendo Treehouse. Several lucky gamers received copies early in Japan this week, fleshing out the full roster of characters.

The PS Vita has found its ‘niche as a specialist console ‘, according to UK Playstation managing director Fergal Gara. While the handheld has suffered from a lack of big name first party titles, the Vita is still in growth year-on-year and has been boosted by sales of the PS4, with which it shares the Remote Play feature allowing streaming on the move. In a interview with Eurogamer, Gara was optimistic about the handheld’s future

“It’s just found its niche. It’s not the biggest niche in the world, and we’ve been fairly open about talking about it entered a crowded landscape with many other devices providing some sort of handheld fulfillment…but for those who want that more specialist device and a more specialist experience, it does a damn good job, and therefore it trucks along quite nicely.”

In related news, sales of the PlayStation 4 in the UK have hit the one million mark after just 42 weeks on sale, making it the second fastest selling console in the UK behind the Nintendo Wii which required just 38 weeks back in 2007. In comparison, the PlayStation 3 took 46 weeks, the all conquering PlayStation 2 hit the mark after 50 weeks, and the Xbox 360 surprisingly needed 60 weeks to reach the magic number.

With the game having just gone gold, Evolution Studios have been outlining some of the details for the upcoming release of DriveClub/#DRIVECLUB/#DriveClub. The PS4 racer weighs in at a 17GB install, and the PS Plus version will be offered as a bonus game in addition to the normal two games offered by the service in October.

In addition, a selection of cars and tracks will be offered as free DLC each month between October and June 2015, with other updates including a dynamic weather system and photo mode to be thrown in at no additional charge as well. Season Pass holders will get access to new events and liveries each month as well, outlined in this handy diagram below

I've rarely seen a Season Pass outlined in much detail, so kudos to Evolution Studios

I’ve rarely seen a Season Pass outlined in much detail, so kudos to Evolution Studios

The price for the PC retail release of crowd funded project Elite Dangerous has been set at £39.99/$59.99/€49.99. Froniter Developments have also announced a ‘Mercenary Edition’ for all customers who pre-order the game (plus those who backed the game in its Alpha and Beta states) which will include new ships and an art book.

Elite Dangerous will be the fourth game in the classic franchise, which received over £1.7 million in funding on Kickstarter and will be surely trading blows with fellow crowd funded space trading/combat simulator Star Citizen over the coming years.

The Sims 4 became only the second PC-only game in the last two years to take the top spot on this UK Game Sales Charts this past week – the last game to achieve such a feat was Guild Wars II, in September 2011.

In additional sales news, if you want a flutter on what will be number one at Christmas, then UK bookies William Hill are already placing FIFA 15 as the solid favourite at 1/4, followed by Destiny (7/2) and Assassins Creed: Unity (7/1).

Top Ten For Week Ending 6th September 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)

1 – The Sims 4 (The Sims Studio)

2 – Watch_Dogs (Ubisoft Montreal)

3 – Metro Redux (4A Games)

4 – The Last Of Us: Remastered (Naughty Dog)

5 – Diablo III: Reaper Of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition (Blizzard Entertainment)

6 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

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

8 – Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (Popcap Games)

9 – Minecraft: PlayStation 3 Edition (4J Studios)

10 – Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North)

And Finally…

This month marks the 30th anniversary of Naughty Dog, creators of Crash Bandicoot, Jak & Daxter, Uncharted & The Last Of Us, and the company is to show off its history via a number of special events.

In addition to a selection of art shows in the US during October, the Art Of Naughty Dog artbook that I previously reported on back in April will be on sale from October 14th, and a full length anniversary video will be available online after it gets it’s premiere during special screenings in Los Angeles. To give you a taste of what to expect during the full video, here’s a teaser trailer:

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