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.
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.
I always tend to surprise myself when I consider that despite being a massive fan of the original Crash Bandicoot series, I never got into Naughty Dog’s next project on the PS2 – the Jak & Daxter series. I never noticed the games in the shops first time round, and by the time I had developed a slight interest, I had already played the Ratchet & Clank series to death, finding a new platforming hero in the process.
The clock has just hit 12:30 here, and I am currently sitting bored of dissertation work in a library. Time to get some news rounded up:
It’s surprising how quickly rumours can be confirmed nowadays – what was mere speculation hours ago has been confirmed as a legitimate project in the form of LittleBigPlanet Karting. Concrete details at the moment are pretty sparse, but it seems like it will be a PS3 only title under the helm of United Front Games (the minds behind ModNation Racing, another PS3 exclusive), and that their may be a Move-compatible wheel being made as well. As much as I don’t wish to be sceptical, it seems like a quick cash in: Mario Kart is undoubtedly the king of the genre, and slapping a karting label on a popular exclusive franchise such as LittleBigPlanet seems a bit lazy. It also disappoints me as it may well mean Naughty Dog will not give us UnKarted….
And in other PS3 news, I’m afraid that PSN is dead….but don’t despair, as the service is simply being renamed as SEN (Sony Entertainment Network) under a new firmware update for the console. Version 4.10 will also look to increase the speed of the internet browser facility that the PS3 offers.
Credit where credit is due – Activision sure know how to print money. They’ve done it on multiple occasions with the Call Of Duty and Guitar Hero franchises, and now it seems we have another cash cow to add to their collection in the form of the Skylander’s series. The toy/game hybrid which involves you buying real life character models to put into the game has been ridiculously successful and all but killed off Spyro The Dragon as a credible character (for which I will NEVER forgive Activision), and there’s now a sequel – Skylander’s Giants. The game will introduce eight new characters and feature forwards compatibility with the characters from the first game. Cool. If you want a proper Spyro game may I recommend the gold old days of Spyro 2 and Spyro 3?
FIFA 12’s reign of terror (or if you are a FIFA fan like me, reign of awesomeness) at the top of the UK Sales Chart is over. The footballing juggernaut has finally been displaced by Final Fantasy XIII-2 which debuted in the charts at the number one spot. The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection also debuted strongly at number two, while Soul Calibur V debuted at a disappointing number five. The rest of the top 10 is made up of the usual suspects, including Battlefield 3, FIFA 12 and Assassins Creed: Revelations.
The long awaited 1.4 patch of Skyrim is finally out for PC owners, and will be hitting Xbox Live today as well. Agonisingly for PS3 owners, the release date for that system has not yet been announced – and that’s the one that people will scrutinise as Bethesda have promised in earnest that it will remove the lag problem that has made the game unplayable for many PS3 owners. As for me, I’ll be able to enjoy finally being able to put weapons onto racks again on the Xbox 360 version.
Finally, a quick roundup of the titles that have come on sale this week. On the retail front, you can pick up The Darkness 2 & Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning for Xbox 360 and PS3, while the Jak & Daxter HD Collection is a PS3 exclusive. On the handheld front, Resident Evil Revelations has been released for the 3DS, and on the digital front you can pick up The Simpsons Arcade Game, Shank 2 and Gotham City Impostors.
That’s all the news for this week; before I go I would just like to point you in the direction of my Best Video Game Music series that I am slowly adding to, and towards the link for a weekly podcast I am doing with a good friend of mine, Callum Loughlin. Its free, so why not give it a listen? Otherwise, I wish you all good day.
(First published on Gamepad Magazine, 7th November 2010)
CRASH BANDICOOT (1996) – NAUGHTY DOG STUDIOS
I should make it aware at this point that Crash Bandicoot was the first video game I ever played. Therefore it seems only fitting that 13 years later, the adventures of the spinning orange marsupial forms the basis of my first review.
Crash Bandicoot was released at a strange time for platformers. The king of the hill at the time was undoubtedly Super Mario 64 on the N64 which had revolutionised platforming in 3D, and Crash was Sony’s attempt to at least emulate the success of the Italian plumber’s adventures. It was also unique because the only competition it had on its own console was Bubsy 3D, meaning that it was almost guaranteed sales.