WEEKLY NEWS UPDATES FOR 9TH – 29TH MARCH

Afternoon all! The month of March has pretty hectic for me with extended work taking a toll, so apologies for the lack of news publication. Rather than create several smaller articles, I’ve bundled all the major headlines from the industry covering from the 8th-29th March into different sections below

Headlines For 23rd-29th March

The first British national center celebrating the history and culture of videogames has officially opened in Nottingham. The £2.5 million National Videogame Arcade was announced in October last year following the success of the annual Game City festival held in the Midlands, and is located in the creative quarter of the city, Hockley. The centre boats five floors, interactive exhibits and educational space for teaching.

For those who are interested in paying the Arcade a visit, day tickets are £8.50 for adults and £6.50 for concessions – full details of events can be found on their website here.

Don’t expect The Legend Of Zelda to appear on the Wii U this year – the series producer, Eiji Aonuma, has revealed in a development update video that the game has been delayed until 2016, and that it will not feature in Nintendo’s presentations at E3 in June. Aonuma stated the following in his update:

“In these last three months, as the team has experienced firsthand the freedom of exploration that hasn’t existed in any Zelda game to date, we have discovered several new possibilities for this game…We are no longer making our 2015 release our number one priority. Instead, our priority is to make it the most complete and ultimate Zelda game”

Can the Wii U hold on for another year without Zelda's timely influence?

Can the Wii U hold on for another year without Zelda’s timely influence?

In related delay news, Batman: Arkham Knight has been pushed back, but only by a few weeks. The PS4/Xbox One title from British developers Rocksteady will now launch worldwide on 23rd June 2015, rather than 2nd June – rumors are also circling that a collection featuring remastered versions of Arkham Asylum & City will also launch later this year, which might account for the slight delay

Sony have dropped the price of the PlayStation TV to £44.99 in the United Kingdom; having launched it just five months ago in November for £85.

The PS TV allows users to stream PS4 games between multiple televisions in your home, and can also play PS Vita, PSP and PS One classics via download – you will need to provide your own DualShock 3 or 4 controller however as one is not included in the console bundle.

In a move which further points to the practical application of Minecraft as an educational tool, more than 200 secondary schools and 30 libraries in Northern Ireland are to receive free copies of the game.

The scheme, organized by the Department Of Culture, Arts and Leisure, will supply versions of MinecraftEdu, a discounted version of the global juggernaut designed for classroom use that also features a hosting service so students can collaborate on projects.

A couple of eye-catching sales and deals are currently running which may be of interest to those who want to spend the upcoming Easter break playing games rather than camping in the rain:

– A number of 2K games including Evolve, Civilization: Beyond Earth and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel are currently discounted on the Humble Store, with the extra incentive that you will receive a free copy of Spec Ops: The Line with any purchase – this sale runs until Tuesday 31st March.

– Sony are running a Easter Sale across all platforms that will last until April 14th. Among the headline acts are Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes for £5.79, Rayman Legends for £12 and the PS3 exclusive Ni No Kuni: Wrath Of The White Witch for just £3.99.

– Finally, Microsoft have revealed the previously announced bonanza lineup for April’s Games With Gold, celebrating the download of over 100 million games through the service. Xbox One owners will receive Ubisoft’s highly rated Child Of Light and Pool Nation FX, while Xbox 360 owners will be able to pick up Gears Of War: Judgement, Terraria, Army Of Two: The Devil’s Cartel & Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag during the upcoming month.

Headlines For 16th-22nd March

In a move which has been a long-term point of focus for investors, Nintendo are finally entering into the mobile games market; establishing a partnership with fellow Japanese company DeNA to create titles based on Nintendo’s existing intellectual properties which will be released by the end of 2015. The Big N will in charge of game development, while mobile firm DeNA will provide back-end services and server support – as part of the deal Nintendo will also acquire 10% of DeNA.

During the same press conference that the partnership was announced at, President Satoru Iwata also made mention of a new ‘dedicated game system’ codenamed NX, as well as plans for a new membership service replacing the outgoing Club Nintendo that will cover 3DS, Wii U, smart devices and PC’s. Further details on the NX will be revealed next year, as in the meantime the Wii U continues to fall behind the sales pace set by the Xbox One and PS4.

With Club Nintendo shutting down, the company has also now added a selection of digital games which can be purchased with Stars (the term used for membership balance) before 30th September – the full list can be seen here.

Microsoft are set to allow users who have pirated copies of Windows 7, 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1 to upgrade to Windows 10 for free when the new OS releases later this year. The unexpected news was confirmed by a spokesperson from the company who stated that ‘we believe customers over time will realize the value of properly licensing Windows and we will make it easy for them to move to legitimate copies’ – it is a potentially shrewd move as Microsoft continues to ramp up its efforts to ensure the uptake of Windows 10 is far greater than that of its predecessor.

Windows 10 is set to launch in over 190 countries worldwide, and will feature a heavy emphasis on integration with Xbox devices.

The Office Of National Statistics is to include gaming subscriptions in the Government’s consumer price index for the first time.

Subscriptions to services like Xbox Live, Spotify and Netlfix are accepted now as modern 'must have' items

Subscriptions to services like Xbox Live, Spotify and Netlfix are accepted now as modern ‘must have’ items

‘Online console computer games subscriptions’ such as Xbox Live and PlayStation Plus are among thirteen new items added to the index for 2015 including mobile phone chargers, headphones and e-cigarettes. They will be monitored by the ONS as part of monthly checks to judge the rate of inflation in the UK as well as consumer spending habits.

In related news, a UK beta programme for PlayStation Now is due to open for PlayStation Plus users in the coming weeks, with games including Uncharted 2: Among Thieves & God Of War Ascension among the titles that will be available to stream

The Final Fantasy concert Final Symphony is to return to the UK for one night only later this year.

The London Symphony Orchestra will be performing at the Barbican Theatre on September 12th, with new arrangements of music from Final Fantasy V, VIII, IX and XIII and legendary series composer Nobuo Uematsu in attendance. Tickets went on sale recently ranging from £30-65 so get them booked quickly – the recently released album of the first Final Symphony entered the top 10 of the UK Classical Album Charts.

Headlines For 9th-15th March

Delays have become pretty commonplace now in the games industry with several big budget games in the past few years missing deadlines or failing to materialize for long periods of time (here’s looking at you, The Last Guardian…), and the first major game to be pushed back to 2016 has been Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Announced on the PlayStation Blog, Naughty Dog outlined the reasons for holding the game back:

“After spending so many years with Nathan Drake, he means a lot to the team, and telling the climactic chapter of his adventures is a task we don’t take lightly – this game deserves every bit of the attention to detail, precise pacing, and nuanced storytelling Naughty Dog is known for…Giving us a few extra months will make certain that Uncharted 4 not only meets the team’s high standards but the high standards that gamers have come to expect from a Naughty Dog title”

The much maligned Destiny managed to surprise everyone by walking out of the 2015 BAFTA Game Awards with the gong for ‘Best Game’. Mobile title Monument Valley was the only multiple winner picking up awards for Best Handheld & Best British Game, while Ashley Johnson was named Best Performer for the second year in a row for her work as Ellie in The Last Of Us: Left Behind.

The full list of winners can be seen here.

Johnson, who beat the likes of Melissa Hutchinson & Troy Baker for Best Performer, delivered an emotional speech at the ceremony

Johnson, who beat the likes of Melissa Hutchinson & Troy Baker for Best Performer, delivered an emotional speech at the ceremony

In a bid to stop the scourge of coin sellers online, EA have introduced price ranges to FIFA Ultimate Team – a move that has generated much anger amongst players for wiping thousands or even millions off the value of certain items. All FUT items are now limited by a high and low price range that dictates their potential value, whereas beforehand cheaters would be able to generate high levels of coins (the currency of FUT items) by setting up bots to acquire high price, low quality items.

EA have also stated that the transfer market will remain inaccessible from FIFA web and companion applications – since its introduction as a DLC mode in FIFA 09, Ultimate Team has become the most popular aspect of the series. I bloody hate it and stick to Manager Mode instead.

Finally, the BBC is set to show a ninety-minute feature length drama focusing on the people behind the creation of Grand Theft Auto, as part of its ‘Make It Digital’ initiative designed to get more interest in coding and technology amongst young folk. Details on whether the show will be focusing on DMA Design and the original GTA games or Rockstar and GTA III onwards have yet to be confirmed, but the show will appear on BBC Two when it broadcasts.

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