Good afternoon all; and welcome to the world of a post-E3 news update! I’m still bruised from when I flopped around the room following the Final Fantasy VII remake announcement…Apologies once again for a serious lack of output recently, but The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt continues to sap time out of my days with remarkable force. Anyway, the news!
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It’s been nigh-on impossible to escape the saga that has been the release of Batman: Arkham Knight this week. The final chapter in Rocksteady’s adventures with the Dark Knight has been one of the most anticipated games of the year, and early signs suggested that it was heading to glory with reviews in the highest echelon from several publications. The release of the PC port however has ensured that the game will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Continue reading WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 22ND-28TH JUNE→
After weeks without a single debilitating comment, Microsoft have returned to form by announcing and then quickly denying a development with it’s Xbox One(-Eighty) console.
On Wednesday it was suggested by Martin Fuller from the Xbox Advanced Technology Group that the console would no longer double up as a development kit as originally intended, before a spokesman rebuked the claims the next day (“We remain committed to ensuring the best possible solutions for developers and hobbyists to create games for Xbox One”), and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella reiterated the company’s support to its gaming division.
The relevance of the story was reinforced by a survey conducted at GDC Europe (Game Developers Conference) this week suggesting that on the console front, more developers prefer to use the architecture offered by Sony’s PS4 (25% compared to 13% for Xbox One). However, the survey also suggested that the influence of consoles is starting to wear thin on developers, with over 60% claiming to be working on PC and mobile platforms. From the survey, it was also decreed that Sweden is current premier hub for game development in Europe, with the UK and Germany not far behind. Continue reading WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 7TH – 13TH JULY→
If there is anything to take out of this week, it’s that we’ve all apparently been lied to. You don’t need to wait until June 9th for all the big E3 announcements, because the likes of Microsoft and Ubisoft have been spilling the beans on projects left, right and centre over the past seven days.
Let’s start with the big news from Microsoft – starting from June 9th in all markets, you will be able to purchase an Xbox One without a Kinect sensor for £349; a price cut of just under £70 from the original RRP. Whereas the Kinect had been placed as ‘an absolutely integral part of the Xbox One experience’ and was originally set to be a mandatory requirement, a dearth of games utilizing the system, negative consumer feedback and the fact that the move now puts Microsoft’s console on a level pricing field to the PlayStation 4 seems to have forced Microsoft’s hand yet again on the console – which has earned a reputation for u-turns in policy.
The other announcements from Microsoft this week also suggest that they are finally in tune with the modern gaming audience; namely the requirement to have an Xbox Live Gold account to use entertainment apps on Xbox 360 and Xbox One is to be dropped in June as well (meaning that services including Netflix which require their own subscription and simpler applications like Internet Explorer or Twitch, free to use on pretty much every other device in the world, are no longer behind a paywall). Consumers will still need a Gold account to get online multiplayer and Games With Gold, but even the latter has received some boosting news – the service will be coming to Xbox One in June, debuting with Max: Curse Of The Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault, while 360 owners will get Dark Souls, Charlie Murder & Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.
Oh yeah – and Halo 5: Guardians has been confirmed for an Autumn 2015 release.
The question is now then – are you more tempted to pick up an Xbox One?
Nintendo is to close down the Wi-Fi Connection services for all DS, DSi and Wii consoles on May 20th 2014.
The decision, which will affect all regions worldwide, means that online services including multiplayer, leaderboards and matchmaking will be permanently removed, although browser and shop functions (along with applications including YouTube and Netflix) will remain open. A full list of games that will be affected is available on Nintendo’s website, but among the biggest casualties are Mario Kart Wii, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and every Pokemon game from Diamond & Pearl through to Black 2 & White 2.
Nintendo have offered no comment on why the services are being shut down now, but common sense suggests that with the new versions of Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. in particular set for release on the Wii U this year, the Big N wants people to upgrade to the new versions, and removing online functionality acts as a cattle prod towards the new games. Besides, if truth be told the aging Wi-Fi Connection was awkward to use and inferior to both PSN and Xbox Live for content. Continue reading WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 24TH FEBRUARY – 2ND MARCH→
The PS Vita Slim is officially on its way to Europe on February 7th 2014, retailing for roughly £180. The slimline version of the Vita, which is lighter than a standard Vita and features a HD 5” LCD display rather than the original OLED screen, had previously only been available in Japan. For its European release, the Slim Vita will include a 1GB internal memory card and offer an additional hour of gameplay time between recharges, although we have been denied the variety of colours that Japan currently receives.
In addition Sony have also announced the ‘Indie Mega Game Pack’, which offers a Vita and ten games (Alien Breed, Thomas Was Alone, Velocity Ultra, Men’s Room Mayhem, Coconut Dodge Revitalised, LIMBO, Hotline Miami, Total Recoil, Superfrog HD and Floating Cloud God Saves The Pilgrims HD) for £199. The other option is to get a Vita with a 4GB memory card and a PS Store voucher to download the 10 games for an additional £25.
The announcement is another bid by Sony to try and put a dent in the market share of the Nintendo 3DS, which was the best selling console in several parts of Europe (including the UK) last year. Will the cheaper price and generous range of games on offer tempt you into a purchase now?
The Xbox One could potentially have been released without a disc drive following criticism at its second reveal at E3 2013 – that’s according to an interview with Microsoft Studios head honcho Phil Spencer released this week. Speaking in Official Xbox Magazine, Spencer revealed:
“There was a real discussion about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console, but when you start looking at bandwidth and game size, it does create issues.”
This was in response to overwhelming criticism for the Xbox One’s ‘always online’ requirements which were quickly dropped. Can you imagine the sheer backlash there would have been if this particular u-turn had gone through as well?
In this scenario it appears Microsoft dodged a bullet – the last time a major console manufacturer released a purely digital console was when Sony unveiled the handheld PSPGo; which even by PSP standards flopped. But Spencer’s revelations have ignited the discussion once again of how long it will be until digital retail is the only way forward. Personally, I think the disc will be around for quite a while yet. Continue reading WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 30TH DECEMBER 2013 – 5TH JANUARY 2014→
The year of 2013 has been a busy one; between balancing the last year of my extended stay at University and finally entering the daily grind of the working world, time has gone by much quicker than I would have perhaps preferred. It’s important then to take the time for a brief retrospective, not only to supplement the lazy journalism that comes with the end of the year but because when I stop and think back, it has been another banner year for videogames. Continue reading Dazcooke’s Video Game Land Review Of 2013→
The Xbox One is finally here; and Microsoft decided to reach deep into its coffers to let the world know about it. To celebrate the release in 13 international markets, iconic locations including Times Square, the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Leicester Square in London were taken over by Microsoft with more green lighting, zombie cosplayers and unrecognizable celebrities than you could shake a…£429 console at, I guess. The launch parties even made the national news headlines here in the UK, which is no mean feat for an industry still treated somewhat with indifference by various news corporations.
The quoted figure from Microsoft is that over one million consoles have been sold ‘in under 24 hours’, making it the biggest launch of an Xbox console yet. It marks a pleasantly successful end of a troublesome inception for the Xbox One, and considering the sheer amount of negativity attached to the initial plans for online DRM and the sharing of games I would have thought Microsoft are pretty pleased with the reaction for the console, even if the critical reviews for launch titles including Forza Motorsport 5 and Dead Rising 3 have been largely average.
Since its public unveiling, Microsoft have been touting the Xbox One to be the ultimate all-in-one entertainment device…just like every console since the PS2 has also claimed. Nevertheless, this week they have confirmed which entertainment applications will be ready for you straight out of the box.
Every consumer market will have access to Xbox Fitness, Xbox Video, Xbox Music, Internet Explorer, Skype, SkyDrive andUpload (allowing users to upload gaming clips to Xbox.com). In-between the UK launch date of 22nd November and ‘Spring 2014’, we can expect the following applications to be added: 4oD, Amazon, blinkbox, Crackle, Demand 5, Eurosport, Machinima, MUZU TV, Netflix, NOW TV, TED, Twitch and Wuaki.tv. Noticeably, the BBC iPlayer, Sky Player and ITV Player which are all currently available on Xbox 360 will NOT be available during this time period. An Xbox Live Gold account will be required for these apps, and services such as Netflix also require their own fees and subscriptions.For what its worth, applications will also feature Achievements, but they will not count towards your individual Gamerscore.
Essentially, if you want a brand new entertainment device for your living room, right now you would be better off with a current console because they offer exactly the same services (minus sharing of gameplay footage) for a cheaper price.
Last Friday, I popped down to London with a few mates to attend my first video gaming exposition; the Eurogamer Expo, held inside Earl’s Court. After humble beginnings in the Docklands just six years ago, the Eurogamer Expo has grown to become one of the most important dates on the British gaming calendar – and this year was all the more significant as the public got their first hands-on experience with the new consoles from Sony and Microsoft, the PS4 and Xbox One.