This Week's Top Stories: July 11 - 16, 2011
- Posted July 16th, 2011 at 18:49 EDT by Michael Harradence
Welcome to another instalment in our weekly news digest where the team at PSU Towers picks our favourite slices of gaming gossip from the past seven days, before proceeding to offer our two cents on each story for good measure.
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BioWare hints at Mass Effect 3 demo
Sometimes it’s refreshing to get a bit of a no-brainer, and in this case, there's no need to flex the old grey matter. From the look of it, BioWare’s planning a demo of the much-anticipated Mass Effect 3 – ‘nuff said, really. Still, while I’m salivating at the lips at the possibility of getting a playable teaser of Shepard’s sci-fi swangsong, I just hope that the developers pick a demo-worthy slice of the Mass Effect 3 pie to act as an appetizer. After all, demos of sprawling RPGs such as this aren’t always suited for the inherently bite-sized nature of playable teasers, but BioWare’s already shown they know a thing or two about this following their taster of Mass Effect 2. Let’s hope they roll it out side of Christmas.
Visceral job ad hints at Dead Space 3
Chatter on a third entry in Necromorph-dismembering franchise Dead Space is nothing new; after all, EA has been dropping hints left, right and centre ever since Dead Space 2 hit shelves back in January. However, with developer Visceral Games recently confirming it’s on the lookout for new blood to work on the series, the possibility of Dead Space 3 has just shifted up a gear from ‘very likely’ to ‘duh.’ With Dead Space 2 selling by the bucket load (especially in comparison to its predecessor), a sequel was always on the cards, plus EA has said that it aims to attract a ‘broader audience’ with a third game. Whether or not that means adhering to the same formula as earlier games or injecting a few fresh ideas into the proceedings remains to be seen, but sign me up.
Capcom to reveal new game at Comic-Con
2011 is a pretty big year for Capcom. Aside from announcing fresh IP in the form of Dragon’s Dogma and bringing us the likes of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition, the industry veteran is also celebrating the 15th anniversary of its most successful selling franchise ever – that’s Resident Evil, in case you didn’t know. Unsurprisingly, the company is pulling out all the stops at annual nerd fest Comic-Con next week, with a new game announcement planned, as well as various other goodies. The fact they’re unveiling a new game at the event has my curiosity more than a little piqued, and personally I’m hoping against hope that it’ll be a new entry in the long-dormant Dino Crisis series, or perhaps even a fresh Onimusha game. But the realist in my tends to doubt it, and when you consider this story, it's pretty clear what we'll be getting.
EA acquires PopCap Games for $750 million
PopCap is one of the most prolific of digital-based game developers out there, and with Electronic Arts being the industry juggernaut it is, I wasn’t at all surprised to hear they’ve snapped up the developer. EA hasn’t exactly been shy when it comes to producing content suitable for mass market consumption - its strong presence in the realm of digital distribution has seen to that - so the pair is pretty nicely matched. Combine this with PopCap’s insanely popular IPs such as Peggle and Plants Vs. Zombies, and I imagine EA bigwigs will be replicating Scrooge McDuck's dive into the money bin in the not-too-distant future. Speaking of dosh, it was a pretty meaty deal, clocking in at a staggering $750 million dollars. Blimey.
Sony confirms $20 million investment plan for PSN-exclusives
Sony’s PSN service has provided a launch pad for some of the PS3’s most celebrated and innovative projects to date, so the fact the electronics giant is investing $20 million dollars into producing more exclusive nuggets can only be a good thing. If that means we’ll be getting more from the PixelJunk and Flower camps, then PS3 owners should be in a for a treat over the next few years. Sequels to existing games aside, it goes without saying that this initiative also provides ample opportunity to cobble together some intriguing and new IP, and with Sony giving developers absolute creative freedom and a meaty budget to boot, we’ve every reason to get excited. I’d love to see the likes of thatgamecompany – a studio that has become renowned for its numerous idiosyncrasies over the years – to keep pushing the boundaries of game development that bit further. Needless to say, I’m stoked – and you should be too.
Bethesda won’t release a demo for Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
As awesome as it would be to get an early peak at The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim prior ot launch (although some of my co-workers have already had that privilege, the lucky buggers), I’m not surprised that Bethesda has decided to forgo the possibility of a demo. As the firm pointed out, the game is just far too huge for a playable teaser to do the experience a smidgen of justice. As mentioned earlier, RPGs are notoriously difficult when attempting to condense into demo form. Having said that, those of us who are well acquainted with TES will already know what to expect to some degree, and while I can’t speak for everyone, I personally would welcome a teaser, perhaps in the form of a brief dungeon quest or a dragon battle. Essentially, something that depicts the some of the game’s new mechanics, such as the improved combat and streamlined inventory. November 11 can't come soon enough.
PSP rises back to top of Japanese sales charts
PSP has continually proven that there’s still life in the old dog yet, and if this year is anything to go by, then it looks like Sony’s slab will continue to pull in the punters for some time to come. PSP has been engaged in a weekly portable punch-up with Nintendo’s 3DS as of late, with both platforms trading places on what seems like a weekly basis. However, overall, Sony’s handheld has remained in pole position for most of this period, with sales bolstered by some meaty software releases. The same could be said for 3DS though, and it’s unsurprising that the recent launch of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time sent sales of the Nintendo platform through the roof, at least temporarily. This week however, it seems the hype has dissipated somewhat, as folk in the Land of the Rising Sun have started plonking down the cash for PSP again, putting it back in the lead. Indeed, it's a crying shame Sony's pocket brick hasn't managed to repeat the same success in western regions as of late.
NPD: L.A. Noire tops U.S. June software sales
Team Bondi’s lauded thriller L.A. Noire has managed another month at the top of the U.S. sales chart, though it wasn’t without some pretty stiff competition. For one, we’ve had Duke Nukem Forever, which despite its critical mauling was always going to sell by the bucket load. As such, the King takes second place, with PS3-exclusive superhero sequel inFamous 2 at number three. Props to Cole McGrath’s electricity-charged romp though, as it managed to top the PS3 sales charts for June 2011. Unfortunately it wasn’t plain sailing for everyone, though with some notable third-party offerings failing to attract much attention. I was pretty shocked to see Shadows of the Damned – the crazy collaborative horror from Suda51 and Shinji Mikami – to only manage a lacklustre 24,000 units sold. Alice: Madness Returns and Red Faction: Armageddon didn’t fare much better either, shifting 115,000 and 96,000 units each, respectively. Then again, when you’re competing with the likes of Nintendo and Activision, any lesser-known franchise or fresh IP is likely to struggle. Unless of course you’re Rockstar, who can dip into their massive cash-filled clown pockets to market their latest endeavour till the cows come home – something that obviously paid off for L.A. Noire.
There’s been quite a bit of chatter on next-generation consoles lately, and with it some pretty wild theories (PS4 out next year with Kinect-style motion control – yeah, right!). However, GameStop’s recent comments that it doesn’t see Sony and Microsoft’s new platforms on the market until 2014 sounds bang on the money as far as I’m concerned. Sony has said numerous times that it will be supporting PS3 for many years to come, and it’s pretty clear that there’s still plenty of years left in Microsoft’s box. Okay, so maybe the Big M will push out new hardware first – after all, the successor to the 360 will supposedly be announced at E3 next year for release in 2013 – but there’s no doubt in my mind that we won’t see PS4 for another three years or so. PS3 is only half way through its life cycle and only really hitting its stride, and there’s plenty more devs can squeeze out of it before consumers need to be swayed by another piece of flash kit. Furthermore, Sony just doesn’t need PS4 right now. Sure, Wii U will be out next year, but that’s basically Nintendo playing catch up to the HD era. From what we’ve seen so far, it certainly doesn’t offer anything that PS3 and 360 can’t do already (ok, so the whole screen-in-your-hands thing is pretty neat, but I’m talking about console innards here) so I doubt very much if Sony and Microsoft will be feeling the pressure. Not yet, anyway.----