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Here is what has been making news: New Releases, Warface, Killer Instinct: Season 2, Duke Nukem, The Last of Us, Titanfall, Developer Tax Breaks, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Oculus and Minecraft, Halo, DriveClub, Alien: Isolation.
March 30th – April 5th
Monday, March 31st
Secret Ponchos will be available for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PS4.
Unrest will be available for the PC.
Super Robot Taisen OG: Dark Prison will be available for the PS3.
Soul Sacrifice Delta will be available for the PS Vita.
Age of Wonders III will be available for the PC.
Driveclub will be available for the PS4.
Shovel Knight will be available for the 3DS, Wii U and PC.
Tuesday, April 1st
Goat Simulator will be available for the PC.
Batman: Arkham Origins Black Gate Deluxe Edition will be available for the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U and PC.
MLB 14 The Show will be available for the PS3 and PS Vita.
Ragnarok Odyssey ACE will be available for the PS3 and PS Vita.
Mercenary Kings will be available for the PS4.
Deus EX: The Fall will be available for the PC.
Wednesday, April 2nd
Mario Golf World Tour will be available (in UK) for the PS3, PS4 and PS Vita.
Thursday, April 3rd
Call of Duty: Ghosts – Devastation DLC will be available for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Just Dance Wii U will be available for the Wii U.
Don Bradman Cricket 14 will be available for the Xbox 360, PS4, PS4 and PC.
Warhammer 40,000: Storm of Vengence will be available for the PC.
Friday, April 4th
Elder Scrolls Online will be available for the Xbox One, PS4, PC and MAC.
Dynasty Warriors 8: Extreme Legends will be available for the PS3, PS4 and PS Vita.
Making History: The Great War will be available for the PC and MAC.
Awesomenauts Assemble! will be available for the PS4.
The beta for Warface begins with three versus modes that will be carried over from the closed beta as well as two co-op settings. According to Major Nelson, “There will be a constant flow of new content, settings and modes that will keep the players entertained and wanting more. Furthermore, [there are] daily new missions built for beginners and experts alike.”
If you are trying out Warface for the first time, newbie tips from developer Crytek can be found on Major Nelson’s blog. They are meant to help the new comers hold their own against the more experienced Warface gamers.
This is the first of Crytek’s free-to-play games. The development team wants to deliver the “best free-to-play experience possible” and would like you to register your feedback at warfaceXbox.com if you participate in the beta. Crytek hopes to “transition entirely” to a free-to-play business model within five years.
New developer takes over
The creators of Divekick, Iron Galaxy Studios, will be working with Microsoft, supporting Killer Instinct: Season 2, according to the CEO of the studio, Dave Lang.
Lang is enthusiastic about working on Killer Instinct, stating, “This is an amazing opportunity to work on a game and a genre we are super passionate about. I was a fan of the game. And to get to now take it over and start with this great base … we can’t wait to show people what we’re going to be doing down the road.”
In addition to the next Killer Instinct, Iron Galaxy is working on the Vita port of Borderlands 2. As for Double Helix, the developer of the first season of Killer Instinct, they were acquired by Amazon last month and are currently putting the finishing touches on content for the game. Fulgore, Arcade Mode and online lobbies will be available on the game on April 9th. The Double Helix team has also been working with the Iron Galaxy team to get them up to speed with all things that are Killer Instinct.
Interceptor Entertainment, the new owner of 3D Realms, has responded to Gearbox regarding their accusation that 3D Realms, and Interceptor, are infringing upon Gearbox’s copyright. But Interceptor believes that the Duke Nukem trademark was never assigned to Gearbox and remains the property of 3D Realms.
According to the filing by Gearbox, “All future development in the Duke IP is a development right exclusively held by Gearbox. Development efforts such as 3DR’s Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction effort with others was not only unauthorized, but a material infringement of the Gearbox’s rights.”
3D Realms made an official statement regarding the accusation, saying, “On March 17, 2014, 3D Realms filed its answer to the complaint by Gearbox Software in Dallas, Texas. 3DR denies all allegations set forth in the complaint. In its answer, 3DR has submitted evidence showing that Gearbox at no point intended to enter into good faith negotiations but instead sought to force former owners, Scott Miller and George Broussard, to improperly surrender what rightfully belonged to 3DR.”
The statement continues, “It is our position that 3DR retains the right to develop the tentatively titled ‘Duke Nukem Survivor’ game for specific platforms. This game was previously licensed for development to Interceptor Entertainment. Furthermore, it is our position that the Trademark for ‘Duke Nukem’ was never assigned to Gearbox, but remains the sole property of 3DR.”
To clarify, an Interceptor spokesperson explained that Duke Nukem: Survivor is actually the “working/tentative title” of Duke Nukem: Mass Destruction, the game that is at the center of this dispute.
Interceptor issued a statement in support of 3D Realm saying, “As an independent and young studio, we have been very fortunate to work with companies such as Apogee and 3D Realms on amazing IP’s [sic] such as Duke Nukem and Rise of the Triad. As true fans of these companies, their games and the amazing minds behind them, we have nothing but respect for the intellectual properties they have created as well as their rightful owners. We were extremely excited for our next reveal, but unfortunately due to the actions of Gearbox Software, Interceptor Entertainment decided to put this reveal on hold in respect of their lawsuit. However, 3D Realms and Interceptor Entertainment were rightfully developing our game and as you can imagine we were quite shocked when the accusations by Gearbox arose, as we have always acted within our legal rights. It’s unfortunate that Gearbox has shown no intention of finding a peaceful solution with us. We will however continue to work towards a solution.”
According to Sercan Sulun, PlayStation’s Eurasian Software Market Manager, while there isn’t any information about a new The Last of Us game, the game will be available on the PS4 this summer “as a physical and digital copy, with enhanced graphics” and will include all of the DLC.
This is big news for PS4 gamers who are eager for some first party content. This is the first triple-A game announced for the PS4 in the 2014 calendar. Currently The Last of Us has sold over six million copies since it was released in June of 2013.
Let the banning begin!
The anti-cheat switch has been turned to the on position for the PC version of Titanfall. Respawn Entertainment has outlined measures they are taking to remove cheaters from the general population. Rather than banning them from playing the game completely, cheaters get to play among other cheaters.
According to a statement by Respawn, “Since the launch of Titanfall, we’ve been collecting data on people who are cheating on PC but not immediately enforcing bans. As of Friday, March 21st, that has changed and we have started banning cheaters in Titanfall.”
When a cheater is detected they will be removed from the general matchmaking and only allowed to play matches populated with other designated cheaters. If you are partied with a banned player, you too will be treated as banned and put into the all-cheater matchmaking. Luckily though, if you abandon the party you will be free to return to the side of the game that is free from hackers, aimbots, and other cheats.
I have to admit, many of the measures taken recently to clean up multiplayer gaming is making me rethink my decision to stay away from multiplayer mode.
UK offers special tax incentives
The game development industry in the UK just got a bit of a boost. Recently the European Commission (EC) has approved tax breaks for the industry. It is thought that this will benefit about 25 percent of the games produced in the UK.
A spokesperson for the EC confirmed, “The European Commission has concluded that UK plans to grant certain tax relief to producers of video games are in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission has found in particular that the measure provides incentives to developers to produce games meeting certain cultural criteria, in line with EU objectives.”
To qualify, the games need to pass a “cultural test.” To pass the test, points are given depending on where the team originates from, what roles they perform, and if the game development takes place in the UK. Additionally, if a game’s environment is set in the UK, there are British characters, and the game’s focus has something to do with the UK then the game would be eligible for the tax break.
We’ll have to wait and see how this effects the games we play. Will the UK industry focus on earning points to get the tax breaks or will they focus on making a quality game? Can they do both consistently?
Is Alistair returning?
The voice behind Dragon Age’s Alistair, Steve Valentine, reports that Alistair may well be returning for Dragon Age: Inquisition. A few days ago Valentine tweeted, “Somethings come as a surprise, even to me, guess where I am today @dragonage #BioWare #DAI” and posted a picture of himself in a sound booth.
While Valentine didn’t confirm that he would be doing the voice for the Alistair character again or voicing a new character. However BioWare did offer a clue when they tweeted, “Great to have @SteveValentine back in the booth! What do you think he’s saying into the mic? @dragonage #Alistair” along with the same pic of Valentine in the sound booth.
Alistair was in Dragon Age: Origins as the companion and romantic interest for the main character and had a small cameo part in Dragon Age 2. If Alistair is returning, we don’t know yet just how big a role he will play in the game.
There has been no launch date confirmed yet for Dragon Age: Inquisition other than “sometime before the end of the year.”
Facebook acquires and Notch declines
There is a whole lot of hype surrounding virtual reality among the game industry and gaming enthusiasts, but VR has yet to be proven successful in the market place. Consumers still tend to think of Virtual Reality as the early manifestations of the 1980s.
Recently Facebook acquired Oculus VR for $2 Billion, which may be what Oculus needed to get a decent start in the market place. Facebook’s huge marketing resource could help Oculus and the Rift move from niche market to a household name, important if you want to generate the interest of investors and game makers.
According to Mark Zukerberg, Facebooks CEO, “We’re not going to try and make a profit off of the devices long-term. We view this as a software and services thing.” Because of this, Oculus will reportedly have the freedom to price the retail version of the Rift low enough to be accessible for average consumers.
Yet, despite the benefits, there are genuine concerns. Despite their stringent emphasis on privacy, Facebook really doesn’t offer that much by way of privacy. They target advertising and other promotional campaigns based upon the user’s age, gender, interests, location, and browsing behavior. While it may not be seen immediately, Facebook’s ultimate intention is to build and monetize a business out of Oculus and the Rift. Zuckerberg himself states that Facebook sees value in Rift as a platform for “software and services,” suggesting a heavier handed approach to the Rift’s functionality.
Still, Facebook and Oculus are so different, it is an odd pairing to say the least. It is difficult at this time to say how the social networking giant will establish a meaningful revenue model out of VR. While it’s not fair to assume there will be an inherently negative impact for Rift users, it is also naïve to believe that Facebook won’t significantly change how Oculus and Rift evolve over time.
At least one of the best-regarded independent game developers is not happy about the deal. Markus “Notch” Persson was in talks with Oculus developers to bring a VR version of his game, Minecraft, to the Rift. Not long after the news broke that Facebook had acquired Oculus Notch took to Twitter and posted “We were in talks about maybe bringing a version of Minecraft to Oculus. I just cancelled that deal. Facebook creeps me out.”
Minecraft was first released in 2009 for the PC and quickly became a global phenomenon selling over 14 million copies. Thirty-five million copies of the game have sold across platforms, including iOS devices. While Facebook likely cares little and will feel little pain from Notch’s decision, it is still a PR blow for the company.
After a few hours of tweeting his discontent with the Facebook purchase, Notch posted on his blog that he had received a developer kit for the upcoming Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and became excited about the technology. He had even flown to California where Oculus was headquartered to discuss a VR version of Minecraft. However, he continued, now that Facebook is involved, everything changed for him.
Notch’s blog statement follows:
“Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.
Don’t get me wrong, VR is not bad for social. In fact, I think social could become one of the biggest applications of VR. Being able to sit in a virtual living room and see your friend’s avatar? Business meetings? Virtual cinemas where you feel like you’re actually watching the movie with your friend who is seven time zones away?
But I don’t want to work with social, I want to work with games.
Fortunately, the rise of Oculus coincided with competitors emerging. None of them are perfect, but competition is a very good thing. If this means there will be more competition, and VR keeps getting better, I am going to be a very happy boy. I definitely want to be a part of VR, but I will not work with Facebook. Their motives are too unclear and shifting, and they haven’t historically been a stable platform. There’s nothing about their history that makes me trust them, and that makes them seem creepy to me.
And I did not chip in ten grand to seed a first investment round to build value for a Facebook acquisition.
I have the greatest respect for the talented engineers and developers are Oculus. It’s been a long time since I met a more dedicated and talented group of people. I understand this is purely a business deal, and I’d like to congratulate both Facebook and the Oculus owners. But this is where we part ways.”
Notch obviously remains enthusiastic over virtual reality technology and he may well build a VR version of Minecraft for other platforms such as Sony’s recently announced Project Morpheus headset. Carl Manneh, a CEO of Mojang, Notch’s development studio, stated that the company is “currently not developing any VR applications [or] implementations,” however the company is “obviously following development very closely.”
Well all that is well and good, I would just like to interject a bit of unsolicited advice to Notch and his team at Mojang …. Minecraft on the 3DS would be just awesome!
Coming to Steam
Big announcement recently by Microsoft considering that there has never been a Halo game on Steam. Microsoft confirmed that Halo: Spartan Assault will launch on April 4th through Steam for $5. Originally the game debuted on Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 last summer.
Additionally, from April 3rd through the 9th, you will be able to download Halo: Spartan Assault for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 for $2. On April 10th, all platforms will see a permanent price drop for the game to $5.
The game includes 30 missions having you battle the Covenant within a story line set between the Halo 3 and Halo 4 events. It isn’t yet known if this means that other Halo games will be hitting Steam at some point.
Launch date coming soon
Sony reports that their PS4 racing game, DriveClub, is making “spectacular progress” despite losing its game director and layoffs at Evolution Studios. The Sony spokesperson states that the game is “going from strength to strength” and staffing changes have had no affect on the game’s ongoing development.
According to the unnamed spokesperson for Sony, “We have full confidence that the game will deliver on its PS4 promise to be the first truly socially connected racing title and we are very pleased and excited by the caliber of work from Evolution Studios. The progress being made on the game is spectacular. So we’re looking forward to sharing an update on development, release date, and videos of the game in action in the weeks to come. We thank you for your patience and assure you, it will be worth the wait.”
Originally billed as a PS4 launch title, DriveClub was delayed. Sony dispelled the rumors that the delay was due to experimentation with Project Morpheus, their virtual reality headset.
Release date announced
SEGA announced a few days ago that Alien: Isolation will be releasing globally on the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and PC on October 7th.
If you are unaware of the game, it is a first-person survival-horror shooter game which the Creative Assembly development team hopes captures the essence of Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic, Alien. You are tasked with evading the Xenomorph threat on the outer fringes of space.
The team has been diligently working to try and get the game outputting at native 1080p on both the Xbox One and the PS4, which has caused the game’s launch date to lag a bit from what was hoped. Still, I think October is a perfect month of this horror-survival game to launch, don’t you?