WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 8TH – 14TH DECEMBER

Headline Of The Week

The Independent Games Developers Association (Tiga) has stated this week in an interview that video games deserve to be officially classified as ‘cultural products’ in the UK, alongside television, film and animation.

The CEO of Tiga, Dr Richard Wilson, commented that “recognizing games as cultural products would untie the red tape which unfairly prevents EU member state governments from supporting their national video game sectors” – video games are currently recognized as software under EU law, which resulted in a long drawn out process to get tax breaks for UK game companies (which was finally approved by the European Commission in March); the argument made by Tiga is that this would not have been the case had games enjoyed the same benefits as film or TV.

The latest financial analysis by Tiga would certainly suggest that such a move would be in the Government’s interests; estimating that video games generate up to £93 billion worldwide compared to $88.3 billion for films and a surprisingly low $15 billion for music. On a personal note, I think that to declare video games as cultural products is a perfectly logically decision – the impact they have on modern life, not only from a financial standpoint, means they deserve to be celebrated and remembered as much as the next number one single or box-office hit.

In Other News

It’s been a testing week to be a Square Enix fan, to say the least. After last week’s impressive troll announcement that a PC port of RPG classic Final Fantasy VII would be coming to PS4, the company has now announced that the much anticipated demo for Final Fantasy XIV will only be available to those who buy the Day One edition of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD – it will never be released as a standalone experience. This surely flies in the face of what a demo if meant to be…you know, increasing the exposure of a product for everyone? It also covertly suggests that Type-0 HD isn’t really going to sell on its own credentials.

I was probably going to pick this up due to its intriguingly adult approach for an FF game - but how many will buy just for a demo?

I was probably going to pick this up due to its intriguingly adult approach for an FF game – but how many will buy just for a demo?

It wasn’t all terrible news this week however, as at least Theatrhythm: Dragon Quest was confirmed for release on 3DS, and the PS4 release of Final Fantasy X/X2 HD (which I heartily appreciate given I never bought a PS3) will get a physical release in Spring 2015 for £35.

Ranking not too far behind Square Enix for annoying their fans this week was Sony, who have received heavy criticism for selling a selection of one hundred and ninety four 20th Anniversary Edition PS4’s for £19.94 (see what they did there?) at a small shop in London over the course of three days. The surprise nature of the sale has understandably generated a lot of anger, as fans anywhere outside of a simple commute to inner London were screwed and several of the consoles purchased at the super-low price are now opportunistically on auction for over £2000 on auction site Ebay.

The company has responded by making 800 consoles available to purchase online, of course for the full RRP of £399. If you want to pick one up then the process is horribly convuluted, but will at least run until the end of the week.

CD Projekt Red has announced a further delay for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, admitting that they set their planned release date of February 2015 (which was a first delayed date) too hastily. In an open letter, the developer has explained that the much anticipated title requires an additional 12 weeks of spit and polish, saying that:

“When we release the most important game in our studio’s history, we must be absolutely sure that we did everything we could to limit any bugs to a level that will allow you to enjoy the game thoroughly”.

The game will now be set for release on May 19th 2015; although the developer will still be providing 16 free DLC packs after release for all who purchase the game.

Microsoft is to start accepting Bitcoin, the virtual currency that no-one quite fully understands, for content purchases. The software giant has joined the likes of PayPal & travel company Expedia as companies who will accept the cash, generated by computing cryptography and overly complex mathematical equations, to pay for content such and games and applications for Windows devices or Xbox software. The current value of the currency is roughly £228 for each individual coin; but transactions can only be made on American accounts and must be in ‘fixed amounts’.

Sound the deal klaxons! Summon your favorite Steam sale YouTube videos! The Steam Holiday Sale will begin in earnest on the 18th December, running through to 2nd January 2015. The digital distribution service has also tried a new method of swapping Trading Cards items for games in the buildup to the sale, but this promotion was quickly taken down after Reddit users discovered an exploit.

If you want to pick up a belter of a deal in the meantime, then head over to Bundle Stars where you can pick up the Batman Arkham trilogy (Asylum, City and Origins) plus all the DLC for just £7.79 – the deal will be running until Tuesday, so snap it up now while you still can.

FIFA 15 has once again claimed the status of the best-selling game in the UK for the past seven days, pushing Call Of Duty Advanced Warfare down to second spot on the UK Game Sales Chart. Ubisoft’s open world racer The Crew debuted in sixth position, while Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham enjoyed a healthy jump of 14 spots to 5th after retailer discounts.

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

1 – FIFA 15 (EA Canada)

2 – Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Sledgehammer Games)

3 – Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North)

4 – Far Cry 4 (Ubisoft Montreal)

5 – Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham (Traveller’s Tales)

6 – The Crew (Ubisoft Montreal)*

7 – Assassin’s Creed: Unity (Ubisoft Montreal)

8 – Minecraft: Xbox Edition (4J Studios)

9 – Minecraft: Playstation Edition (4J Studios)

10 – DriveClub (Evolution Studios)

(* indicates a new release)

And Finally…

We end of a sad note this week; the creator of the first home console system, Ralph Baer, passed away on December 8th at the age of 92.

Baer invented the Odyssey console in 1972, which was swiftly licensed by electronics firm Magnavox and sold over 330,000 units in three years – a phenomenal figure in a time when video games began to find their feet in the modern world. One of the games that Baer programmed into the Odyssey’s motherboard, Tennis, is also often credited for providing the inspiration for Bushnell and Alcorn when they produced a small game called Pong a few months later…and we all know where that ended up going.

In 2006, Baer was awarded the National Medal Of Technology by then President George W. Bush, and for his contribution to the industry he has been affectionately referred to as ‘The Father Of Video Games’. He is survived by two sons, one daughter and four grandchildren.

He may not have be the first name that comes to mind when discussing the legends of video games, but his contributions as the forerunner will be remembered for many decades to come

He may not have be the first name that comes to mind when discussing the legends of video games, but his contributions as the forerunner will be remembered for many decades to come. R.I.P Ralph

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