A new project designed as a spiritual successor to the long running Castlevania series, Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night, has proved to be a hit on Kickstarter by raking in nearly $1.3 million in funding within a day (as of writing this article, the figure has risen to $2,223,566!). The game is the brainchild of Koji Igarashi, who in the past has worked as Assistant Producer on Symphony Of The Night and as Producer on several other games in the series.
Among the stretch goals that have been hit for the proposal (which was only looking for $500,000) are local co-operative gameplay, voice work from the legendary David Hayter, Speed & Boss Rush modes and in a first for Kickstarter, the option to receive the game in a physical disc format for PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Bloodstained is the second high profile game to receive press attention in recent weeks following Yooka-Laylee, and suggests a mini-renaissance for the crowdfunding initiative which has been largely quiet since Mighty No.9. Continue reading WEEKLY NEWS UPDATES FOR 4TH APRIL – 17TH MAY→
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.
The latest financial reports published by Nintendo suggest that despite having a number of critically acclaimed titles released in 2014 for the Wii U, uptake for the console is still below expectation. By the end of December 2014, after two years on the market 9.2 million Wii U’s have been sold worldwide – this compares to 18.5 million PlayStation 4’s sold and 10 million Xbox One’s shipped in half that time.
Perhaps more depressingly at the same point in its lifespan Nintendo’s previous console, the Wii, had sold an incredible 44 million units – although it is unfair to say that the Wii U is a failure by those standards (the astronomical sales of the Wii proving to be an a case of pushing the right technology at the right time), the fact that even big hitters such as Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros For Wii U haven’t accelerated sales will be a concern. On the handheld front, year-on-year sales of the 3DS have slowed down but it is expected that the release of the New 3DS/3DS XL outside of Japan will spur sales on again.
In the meantime, the Big N has launched a beta version of the Nintendo Creators Program to share advertising revenue generated by YouTube videos with the creators of the content. Users would require a Google & Paypal account, but will receive 60% of revenue from videos containing ‘Nintendo intellectual property’ – otherwise Nintendo take the full share of the profits.
You might remember in the last weekly news update, I was discussing how a number of games recently released had run into criticism for being extremely buggy; the most high profile case being Ubisoft Montreal’s Assassins Creed: Unity. In a rather drastic move Ubisoft have discontinued the Season Pass DLC for the game, offering one of a selection of five games for free after an open letter of apology to fans by CEO Yannis Mallet.
Anyone who purchased the season pass will now be gifted one of either Watch Dogs, Assassins Creed: Black Flag, Rayman Legends, Just Dance 2015, Far Cry 4 or the upcoming open world racer The Crew, while everyone who bought Unity will also be able to pick up the Dead Kings DLC for free. That’s a pretty sweet compromise for those who haven’t got Legends or Far Cry yet.
For reference, Mallet said the following in his open letter:
“Unfortunately, at launch, the overall quality of the game was diminished by bugs and unexpected technical issues…I want to sincerely apologize on behalf of Ubisoft and the entire Assassin’s Creed team. These problems took away from your enjoyment of the game, and kept many of you from experiencing the game at its fullest potential…We’ve been working hard to fix the problems players are reporting, and the patches we have released so far have resolved many of them”
Nintendo are to create a port of The Legend Of Zelda: Majora’s Mask for the 3DS. The original N64 title was released in 2000, and was hailed as one of the darker instalments in the long running franchise (with a child Link having to relive three days over and over again in order to prevent a creepy looking moon from crashing into the world) – now it will follow in the footsteps of bigger brother Ocarina Of Time in coming to Nintendo’s handheld platform with improved visuals and streamlined controls, set for release in Spring 2015.
A dedicated UK cultural centre for gaming is to open in Nottingham in 2015, at a projected cost of £2.5 million. Established by GameCity (who run an annual festival in the city), The National Videogame Arcade will open its doors in March; offering ‘a civic, cultural and academic space dedicated to the public’s relationship with videogames’.
Aiming to provide a gaming equivalent of the BFI (British Film Institute), the project is set to cover four floors and 33,000sq ft, hosting interactive quarterly exhibitions and providing facilities for education on game development in conjunction with Nottingham Trent University. The Arcade will also be the new home of thousands of items from the National Video Game Archive, looking to celebrate the UK’s illustrious history in the industry. Ian Livingstone CBE (the co-founder of Games Workshop who will sit on the Arcade’s advisory board) had the following to say regarding the project:
“For the millions of people who love them, it’s only natural that videogames should have their own, permanent cultural home…just as fine art enjoys the National Gallery, performance has the National Theatre, and film and music have many permanent spaces that celebrate them – it’s fantastic news that GameCity are pioneering this vital and much needed new space.
“Videogames have an important role to play in our economy, our education policies and our cultural lives – so whilst it’s taken a long time to arrive, I can’t wait to visit the first ever National Videogame Arcade’
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.
For the second year in a row, Nintendo is to again forgo a traditional presentation at E3 2014 in favour of a digital broadcast. Alongside the Nintendo Direct stream dated for the 10th June (the day after Sony, Microsoft, EA and Ubisoft’s presentations), there will be an invitational Super Smash Bros for Wii U & 3DS tournament between 16 ‘skilled’ (and totally not pre-selected) players at the Nokia Theatre in LA, and footage of the latest games will be broadcast by Nintendo Treehouse live and unedited from the booths on the showfloor.
In related Nintendo news, they really, really want you to buy the upcoming Mario Kart 8 – if you live in Europe and buy the latest installment of the kart racer, by registering your copy of MK8 on the Club Nintendo website before July 31st then you can get a digital download of The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD for free. You could also pick from one of either NintendoLand, New Super Mario Bros U, Game & Wario, Pikmin 3, Sonic: Lost World, The Wonderful 101, Wii U Party, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate or Mario & Sonic At The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games…but you’d be an idiot to turn down Wind Waker HD. Continue reading WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 28TH APRIL – 4TH MAY→
Rumour has it that if you say ‘Candy Crush’ three times in front of a mirror, a lawyer will appear behind you – King, the developer of the insanely popular casual hit Candy Crush Saga, have successfully trademarked the word ‘candy’ for use in games, games accessories and a number of merchandising items in both the United States and the EU. King has defended their move claiming that their IP is being constantly infringed by copycat apps (including Candy Casino Slots – Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land – which must be the longest/worst title ever bestowed upon a game) and has requested Apple to start taking down apps that prominently feature the word.
The situation has accelerated however as King have also filed a trademark dispute against the The Banner Saga (a turn based RPG funded by Kickstarter to the tune of $723,000 and developed by Stoic, a company of three employees who worked on Star Wars: The Old Republic), claiming that “The Banner Saga mark is confusingly and deceptively similar” to its own line of games…which it isn’t. The state of affairs has snowballed, with King claiming they are attempting to protect their IP rights and Stoic defending their own position:
“We won’t make a Viking saga without the word Saga, and we don’t appreciate anyone telling us we can’t. King.com claims they’re not attempting to prevent us from using The Banner Saga, and yet their legal opposition to our trademark filing remains.”
Fights over trademarks in the videogame industry are not uncommon; in recent years Bethesda and Mojang have come to blows over the use of the word ‘Scrolls, and the word ‘edge’ was infamously trademarked for over twenty years until a series of court rulings in 2010 overturned the situation. Continue reading WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 20TH – 26TH JANUARY→
Apple has been ordered to refund at least $32.5 million in the next year to parents whose children have made in-app purchases without their consent. The decision, courtesy of the US Federal Trade Commission, also advises that the company alters its procedures (including the App Store’s policy that lets users enter their passwords once for a single purchase then continue to buy things during a fifteen minute period) to make it more difficult for children to engage in micro-transactions.
In-app purchases are (depressingly) big business, contributing heavily to the $10 billion worth of revenue raised for developers via the App Store in 2013. In the most extreme cases a single transaction has cost anywhere up to $70, and some parents complained that their little ones had cleared spent well beyond $2000 on a game. Personally, I feel that a lot of the blame lies with the parents failing to observe the content or practices of the games their children are playing, but there is little doubt that some developers have deliberately cashed in.