Another day, another developer left unimpressed by Microsoft’s anti-independent developer stance with the Xbox One. Dean “Rocket” Hall, designer of Day Z, popular Arma II mod and soon-to-be stand alone PC zombie survival sim, discussed making the title a multi-platform affair with Eurogamer on Thursday.
Like Lorne Lanning, Hall was approached by Microsoft to develop the currently PC-only title for its seemingly anachronistic big publisher box, Xbox One. But the bizarre restrictions that it has put on developers left him with an easy decision: he won’t be making Day Z for Xbox One, but might for PS4.
Getting a booth at E3 isn’t cheap. Last year, the then struggling — now dead — THQ couldn’t afford to maintain a booth, and some developers revealed costs to be around $45,000, though that likely rises with larger booths in more prominent positions. So it is no wonder that at this year’s E3, Ouya, the tiny android console, was nowhere to be seen on the show floor.
Being a crowd-funded console, Ouya obviously doesn’t have the absurd financial power of Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo, and no doubt the developer does not want to be seen squandering the cash of early adopters, especially given how lukewarm the console’s initial reception has been. Missing out on such a huge show is problematic, however, as the Electronic Software Association, big publishers and the press have made this spectacle one of the most important events in the annual gaming calender.
Thus, Ouya took advantage of the show without throwing money at the ESA by setting a booth up in a car park outside the conference centre. It was a smart decision, allowing them to still get appointments with the press and have a physical presence at E3. But according to Julie Urhman, Ouya founder, the ESA did not take kindly to the developer failing to pay its tithe.
Green monsters. Not the kind with an X sewn on their chest, bleating about online connections and draconian DRM while artificial intelligences train camera on them; or the kind which represent the jealousy that could easily breed in those of us who don’t get to go to massive events like E3. This green monster is jade. I’ve been caught by it, spending each day, as I do, neck deep in video game news, PR and announcements. It’s easy to become a cynical old tree and scoff at every predictable turn in our beloved industry, especially since it runs on such old tracks. But once in a while you get so surprised by something, so happily caught off guard, that you can’t help but laugh.
I certainly didn’t expect it to happen at E3, in the middle of a press conference by one of the biggest companies in the business. Sony’s presentation started in a similar way to most, with the obligatory fancy logo and a montage of games familiar and new. The shockingly cuddly Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, stepped out and began talking standard guff about numbers and figures and plans and goals. Then it got a little fun, a little surprising, less fun, more fun again, sport was mentioned, the fun came back, and then finally it became sort of brilliant.
UPDATE: Reports from the show-floor seem to have confirmed that the female fitness trainer from Wii Fit U will be playable in the latest Super Smash Bros. Bros! This game is going to be flippin’ nuts.
Nintendo has long been an increasingly odd duck in an even more odd industry. The House of Mario seems content to march to the beat of its own drum, forgoing the usual shooters and brown-haired-white-guy-with-stubble-and-witty-one-liners standards, instead focusing on more all-encompassing titles — the Pixar of the game world, perhaps. So it was no real surprise when Satoru Iwata announced earlier this year that, instead of doing the big to-do Press Conference at E3 this year, they would be putting out several Nintendo E3 Directs over the course of the week.
Well, E3 2013 is finally here and the first Nintendo Direct has come and gone. So it’s my great pleasure to tell you things about video games, because that is what I do — as an esteemed member of the video game journalism club, with a shiny badge and everything — and that is what you want. Feast your eyes on my glorious words and Nintendo’s even more glorious trailers after the jump!
Roll up, roll up, and prepare your minds for the most fantabulous, amazifying, splendiferate collection of gaming news to grace the last 24 hours. Probably. E3 rumbles forward at speed and Ubisoft stepped up to the plate with merely a glint of fear in their eyes. The overall experience of the Ubisoft press conference could be described as a roller coaster, but one of those coasters for kids where it just goes up and down a little while Disney-esque music plays. Entertaining without thrills.
A tincture of trepidation may be colouring your expectations, given that previous incarnations of Ubisoft’s stage presentations have included things like the dread mind-magician Mr Caffeine. Such worries have been unfounded this year — which is slightly disappointing — as all they did was chat awkwardly for a while and show off some pretty cool looking games in various genres. In favour of a wacky waving inflatable arm flaling tube man, Ubisoft hired actress Aisha Tyler to be a mouthpiece and completely legitimate, real gamer person on stage; it seemed to pay off, as she was only slightly awkward — which is about all you can ask for in a corporate presentation.
Apart from games, perhaps. Of which there were a moderate amount.
My low expectations for the EA conference kept me in good stead today, as reveal after reveal left me unfazed and smug. For a company so happy to churn out the same old crap every single year, the whole concept of the “next generation” seemed laughable, and for the most part EA was more than happy to tell us all about the sports playing and gun shooting you’ll be doing on your PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Yet, the womb of the Elder Gods also saw fit to let slip a few surprises; possibly even good surprises — no, not the tentacles of Ammutseba, Devourer of Stars. Temper your excitement, however, because all but one of these surprises were nothing but horrible little teases. For shame, EA. For Shame.
The first day of spectacle, announcements and Ubisoft’s Aisha Tyler (I prefer her in Archer) desperately trying to make hashtags is now behind us. The focus of this year’s E3 has undoubtedly been the “next generation”, but the term is merely a piece of console jargon. What we witnessed was slightly prettier games for a couple of new consoles, but the same old philosophies that have been going around for the last few years.
If there truly isn’t anything new under the sun, then the E3 conferences — if not the whole show itself — are the proof-filled pudding. Cars, guns and sports dominated Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony’s over-the-top shows, and they all started to blend together. My cynicism and general distaste for the big publisher console orgy aside, there were a few highlights.
We’ve got four conferences to get through, so without further ado, let’s recap Microsoft’s.
Online retailer Amazon.com has launched their very own Indie Game store.
In what is likely a move designed to compete directly with Steam’s Greenlight service, Amazon has set aside a section of their Downloadable Games department specifically for independently released games. In their own words, the new storefront “helps independent game developers reach more customers, and helps customers learn about more creative games and the people and processes behind building those games.”
In honor of the launch, Amazon has discounted a few hundred games. Among the reduced-price fare are the fantastic FTL: Faster Than Light, Hotline Miami, and Don’t Starve, a game our own Editor-in-Chief Andy Astruc raved about when he reviewed it last month. Several multi-game bundles are available as well, such as the “Oh So Fine and Dandy Bundle” which offers up six of Double Fine’s double-finest – including relatively recent release The Cave – for a measly $10.00.
Double Fine has two games in the works right now: Broken Age, the adventure title that spurred the recent Kickstarter trend, and Massive Chalice, the studio’s new Kickstarter-funded project. Tim Schafer and Brad Muir sat down with Games Industry International to discuss their recently announced title and their thoughts on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
The studio has titles on both consoles as well as Mac and PC, and Schafer considers Double Fine a platform agnostic developer, yet neither of its new titles are planned for current or future consoles. According to Schafer, it’s simply a matter of how easy it is to self-publish games for Mac, PC and Linux.
Rumours make for piss-poor news and tend to be the cheapest weapon in a journalist’s arsenal — indeed, we’ve taken a few potshots at their prevalence in our industry before — but humour me for a moment: Prey 2 might be in the works again. Yes, it’s an unsubstantiated rumour in that Bethesda’s keep schtum, and it comes from Kotaku of all places, but Prey 2!
According to a tipster Kotaku’s had a back and forth with, Bethesda has tossed the troubled title to Dishonored developer Arkane, and they are planning to release it in the distant future of 2016. Rather than working off the foundation — which we saw a little off way back in 2011 — it’s one of those reboot dealios, inexplicably inspired by System Shock.
More details from the tipster and a report from Prey 2 fansite Alien Noire make the whole thing seem like a terrible mess, with a desperate Bethesda trying to recoup their losses and a studio that’s far from keen on their new project.