“Here it is, I think: the moment the world of video games definitively chunked up into discrete groups and congealed,” Matthew Burns begins, in this rumination on developer culture and identity. …
Both the PlayStation 4 and next Xbox console will incorporate free-to-play an in-app purchases in a significant way says Epic Games vice president Mark Rein.
At the Game Horizon conference in Newcastle, UK (running May 8-9), Rein revealed the console makers' push in the new direction that is meagerly represented on current consoles.
"The next-gen consoles are going to be fully embracing the free-to-play and these IAP-type business models," Rein said [as reported by Joystiq], "So in case you don't know that I'm putting that out there. Sony and Microsoft are both going heavily in that area."
He indicated that this is "what they're telling developers."
This supports free-to-play statements Sony made when the PlayStation 4 was announced back in February, but this is the first we've heard of Microsoft moving in that direction.
[Image from Epic's Infiltrator Unreal Engine 4 demo]
'Tis the season for financial reporting. Capcom has released its results for the year ending March 31, 2013.
The past twelve months saw a significant decline in operating income in the amount of 10.1 billion yen ($ 103 million), a decrease of 17.6 percent from 2012. Capcom's net income was also down by more than half, despite a boost from improved currency exchange.
Unexpectedly, Resident Evil 6 sales dropped off quickly in response to less than overwhelming critical and fan response. Dragon's Dogma has sold more than one million copies in Japan, and Devil May Cry is reported to have posted "solid sales" despite Capcom's recently stated desire to dramatically shift away from outsourcing.
Of concern is Capcom's outlook for the coming months. The publisher expects that costs for next generation will soar. This is in stark contrast to what we heard from EA yesterday, who will be holding overall operating expenses flat (though moderately increasing R&D with funds that would have otherwise been used to compensate the 10 percent of its workforce laid off last month).
The prime difference seems to be that EA has focused on creating in Frostbite 3 an engine that will support a variety of different genres and titles. Furthermore, by unifying development on a single, flexible platform, the body of support across internal studios grows. The economies of scale are a critical piece of EA's strategy.
Capcom did not share news of anything comparable, and the documents do not mention the Panta Rhei engine displayed at the PlayStation 4 reveal. Additionally, a statement regarding the coming months before the release of next generation hardware is concerning.
Even though a full lineup of new home video game consoles will eventually be released, the industry is likely to be in a period of scant new product releases over the near future, awaiting the full-scale launch of the next-generation machines. In the meantime, development costs are projected to soar as advanced and multiple functions are added to hardware. Business alliances and consolidations may therefore occur in increasing numbers.
Capcom only mentions two titles in its forward-looking statements regarding fiscal year 2014: Monster Hunter 4 for 3DS (Japan only) and Lost Planet 3. The passage above seems to indicate that Capcom will be forgoing cross-generation development in favor of strictly focusing on new hardware.
This is counter to the approach taken by EA, Ubisoft, and Activision. Cross-generation development enables publishers to tap into the install bases for current generation consoles rather than relying strictly on consumer adoption of new technology.
We expect Capcom to reveal more about its next-generation plans at E3, but for the time being, the company's slate of upcoming titles is looking a little thin.
Sports has been a huge part of Electronic Arts success, and not surprisingly, it will remain so for the foreseeable future. During yesterday's earnings call the company talked about what's in store for some of its sports franchises.
The call referenced fiscal year 2014 (as opposed to the calendar one), which we are currently in and which ends on March 31, 2014. As it's a forward-looking statement, some things could still move around or be announced in the future. For instance, the company's next-gen sports slate currently lists Madden, NBA, and FIFA as the only titles to appear for the upcoming consoles until the end of the fiscal year. However, EA says that more announcements will be made regarding next-gen at E3 in June.
FIFA – EA has re-upped its licensing agreement with the governing body until December 31, 2022. As this maintains the status quo (and EA's exclusive use of the World Cup,etc.), rival Konami and its Pro Evolution series can also keep its deals with individual clubs (like Manchester United), the UEFA Champions League, and the Copa Santander Libertadores. FIFA 13 continued to mark the franchise as a huge success for EA, tabulating worldwide sales of more than 14.5 million copies in fiscal year 2013 (ending in March of this year). This is 30 percent up from FIFA 12.
UFC – The first game based on the fighting license formerly owned by the now-defunct THQ is currently not expected in fiscal year 2014. The title is being made by Madden/NBA/Tiger/NCAA developer EA Tiburon.
Tiger Woods – The franchise was not listed in the fiscal year's forecast, and Joystiq has confirmed that neither the next Tiger nor UFC will be coming out before March 31, 2014 (the series traditionally comes out at the end of March). There is also a rumor that Tiger 15 might not come out at all.
NBA – It appears the franchise is back to its NBA Live moniker (over the cancelled NBA Elite), and it's being listed as a quarter three release for FY 2014, which puts it on target for a customary fall release alongside the next NBA season. Whether this gets delayed again naturally remains to be seen.
Other EA Sports titles, like Madden, NCAA, and NHL are expected to abide by their usual release schedules.
The last week as been “pretty amazing,” says developer Rob Maher. His team – composed of himself, programmer Tyler Bud and composer Nigel “Saskrotch” Shields – just got Rex Rocket funded on Kickstarter. It was a small goal compared to other Kickstarter projects, just $ 6,000, but to Maher it’s monumental. “I mean it’s kind of a dream come true for us to put our game up on Kickstarter and have it supported by all these different people, and it’s really been exciting for myself and the team.”
Rex Rocket draws from Maher and Bud’s Nintendo-fueled childhood, taking cues from Mega Man, Metroid and Mario, telling the story of a has-been hero drawn once more into the line of fire. Now, with the project fully funded, Maher and the team can focus on the game full-time. There are still 20 days left to earn more, however, and the team has big plans, including possibly achieving another dream, seeing Rex Rocket published on a Nintendo platform. And, even now, before the Rex Rocket Kickstarter is closed, Maher is planning the team’s next game, Blossom Tales.
But let’s take it one thing at a time.
Gallery: Rex Rocket
According to GamerZone, a notable games developer has updated his LinkedIn profile, stating that he is “creating wildly cool environments for a soon to be announced title for Crystal Dynamics”, the development team behind the recently released Tomb Raider reboot.
GamerZone has also mentioned that there is a job posting on the the official website for the development team, calling for a Senior Artist “to be part of creating the foundation for a brand new AAA game”.
Nothing is set in stone obviously, but it’s pretty clear that Crystal Dynamics is working on a new title. Just how long until this “soon to be announced” game is officially unveiled is still open to speculation. Here’s to hoping that McCulloch had E3, which is just one month away, in mind. Until any further news though, we’ll have to just wait and find out.
A new Indie Royale bundle, called the Lunar Bundle, gathers several “out-of-this-world” indie gems, with an initial offering of four games and spots for three more to be added throughout the next six days of the promotion.
Pid is first on the list, the puzzle-platformer about a lost boy stranded on a strange planet from ex-Grin folks at Might and Delight. It’s joined by Cargo Commander, an action-platformer from Serious Brew, in which your goal is to loot expensive cargo in the alien-infested reaches of space. The final two are Telltale’s Back to the Future, which takes place six months after the events of the third film in the series, and Dungeon Hearts, a hybrid strategy and pattern-matching affair from Technobabel.
All four games are Windows and Mac OSX compatible, and available as Steam codes for those who pay the minimum asking price or above. Agreeing to pay $ 8 more for the bundle will net you an additional perk: the album Reawakening from C64/Amiga chiptune artist TDK.
If you've been wondering why Blood Dragon carries the Far Cry 3 name, the game's director, Dean Evans, is here to make it abundantly clear. Fans of Ubisoft's open-world jungle adventure will recognize the liberation of the enemy outpost and the opportunities for indigenous fauna (translation: dragons) to play a role.
Not only is the commentary pretty amusing, but the video provides a good look at the weaponry and over-the-top combat. The action is set to the original music provided by Australian group Powerglove, which we shared with you earlier.
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon arrives on May 1, 2013, for PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3.
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Yesterday, Game Informer had the opportunity to interview Nordic Games Publishing about the acquisition of almost all remaining THQ intellectual properties. During our interview, we asked about the publisher's plans for the future of some of the biggest franchises now in Nordic's hands. There is a great deal of uncertainty, and frankly, significant reason for concern.
During our conversation, CEO Lars Wingefors made it very clear that his company had no interest in development. Rather, we should think of Nordic Games as a "middle man." In addition, he was quite clear that the reason they didn't bid in February was that acquiring the IPs would have cost too much and, in there was no desire to absorb Vigil Games.
For comparison, Saints Row and Volition were purchased by Deep Silver parent Koch Media GmbH for approximately $ 22 million. Wingefors told Game Informer that he doesn't "have those kind of resources." Interestingly, the budgets of the two Darksiders games amount to what Deep Silver paid for Saints Row and Volition. According to an anonymous source with knowledge of the matter, the budget on Darksiders was approximately $ 20 million. That was boosted to $ 25 million for the sequel.
With that understanding, it's hard to imagine that Nordic Games Publishing will have the wherewithal to take on multiple major projects simultaneously, especially with Wingefors admitting that there are no plans for even how to begin to work with the new acquisitions, or even if existing servers and digital platform presences for released titles under their umbrella will be in effect following the conclusion of the sale. Throughout our conversation, it became clear that Wingefors isn't sure where to start with his company's new treasure trove.
Given the equivocation, it's critical that I point out that there is absolutely no guarantee about any of Nordic's new intellectual properties. No commitments have been made to develop a new Darksiders title. Red Faction may remain buried on Mars. The Titans may have hung up their questing gear for good. There are a lot of new toys for Wingefors and company to play with, but we don't know which will be coming out of the packaging. It's a safe bet that something will happen with some of the franchises, but which will get attention and which will languish is anyone's guess right now, including Wingefors'.
In stark contrast, Gearbox's Randy Pitchford was ready with a concrete first step for his studio's acquisition of the Homeworld series as soon as the announcement of the purchase was issued. He shared this via Twitter,
Homeworld Step 1: Bring solid, pure builds of the original game and sequel to modern digital PC platforms.
Regardless of their feelings about Gearbox, Homeworld fans know what to expect first from the developer.
It also isn't likely that there will be sales of the bundled properties that Nordic isn't interested in paying to have developed. The significant legal fees involved in this type of transaction (and the related economies of scale, as detailed by Wingefors in our interview) were a motivating factor for the nearly full sweep executed in the auction.
Until the deal is finalized and Nordic is ready to share the plans with the public, fans of Darksiders, Red Faction, Titan Quest, MX vs. ATV, and the other properties will have to keep their fingers crossed. Whether Wingefors' "right team, right terms, and right financial solution" can be found for sequels worthy of these series is unknown to even the company, which just spent $ 5 million. For the sake of the fans of these rich and varied franchises, we hope the games they are waiting for arrive soon and in top form.
Whore of the Orient, the next game from the makers of L.A. Noire, looks to be in jeopardy following multiple reports of its team being laid off by Kennedy Mitchell Miller. MCV Pacific, Kotaku, and Player Attack report sources who’ve said KMM has shuttered the Whore of the Orient division; KMM absorbed the remnants of L.A. Noire developer Team Bondi in 2011.
KMM partner Doug Mitchell didn’t comment on the reports when speaking to MCV, but noted the company is still “actively pursuing the right investor to partner with” on Whore of the Orient.
Online sleuth supereroregatory dug up a blog post, now deleted, by a purported partner of a KMM staff member which indicated Warner Bros pulled out from the game in December 2012, and that any new deal with a new publisher, expected to happen this month, “would come too late.”
As Kotaku notes, KMM Interactive, the company’s games division, advertised for a Lead Engine Programmer as recently as April 5, raising doubts over the Whore of the Orient team being laid off so soon after. In any case, without a partner to invest in it, the game’s future is in doubt. If it does come out, rumors suggest the earliest we’ll see it is 2015.