This Week’s Top Stories: August 22 – 27, 2011

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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U.K. PS3 sales up 65 percent

Sony’s announcement of a PS3 price drop last week has already sent waves across the pond to the U.S., where retailers have noted a ‘substantial’ spike in sales across the region. As such, it was only a matter of time before news would reach us of a similar turn of events in good ol’ blighty, and sure enough, things are looking pretty rosy for Sony in the run-up to Christmas. Specifically, a retailer (who wishes to remain anonymous) told MCV that PS3 sales sky rocketed 65 percent week-on-week, which is perfect timing considering Sony has just rolled out an extensive marketing push in the U.K. With the summer draught thankfully coming to an end, September marks the first of four mega months for the games industry, culminating in the Christmas console punch-up on the back of a tidal wave of triple-A titles. And, with PS3 packing some meaty exclusives of its own in the next few months, the price cut puts Sony’s flagship console in an extremely competitive position indeed.

Sony has ‘no desire’ to release a new home console

Sony has shed a little more light on when we can expect a successor to the PlayStation 3 this week, with Shuhei Yoshida, head Sony Worldwide Studios, stating the company won’t churn out a shiny new platform until devs aren’t able to squeeze anything more out of current-gen hardware. Frankly I’m surprised the firm even needs to step up to the plate and broach the subject of PS4 at this stage, as Sony’s made it abundantly clear that it is backing PS3 for some time yet. Sure, Nintendo’s rolling out fresh hardware next year and Microsoft’s heavily rumored to be beavering away on a new Xbox, but it’s obvious PS3 still has plenty of life left in before it retires. Let’s face it, the machine turns five this November, and it’s only now that we are starting to see third party developers really get to grips with the machine. Furthermore, first-party studios such as Naughty Dog and Sucker Punch are chiselling deeper and deeper into the console’s beefy innards and coming up with gold dust each time. A PS4 is inevitable, sure, but to release in the next few years would be a colossal waste of time and money – keep it in the oven until at least 2015 I say.

Sony to reboot PlayStation Home this fall

In the three years since PlayStation Home opened its doors with a beta back in 2008, Sony’s online social networking platform has garnered a reputation not unlike marmite – you either love it or hate it. Some gamers love nothing more than to spend copious amounts of time wondering around in the virtual community, nattering with other users and pimping out their avatars with the latest clobber. Others…not so much. Still, Sony’s keen on pushing the online space forward, announcing plans to give the service a massive overhaul in order to accommodate more of a focus on social gaming. Personally I’m not interested in Home in the least, though nonetheless this sounds like a step in the right direction. I’ve read plenty of feedback from users moaning about the fact they don’t have much to do in Home as of late, and social-oriented games should be just the meal ticket Sony’s online space needs to attract more punters, and more importantly, sustain their interest. As mentioned I don’t use Home, but I can see how its planned reboot would offer far more incentive for folk to join its 23 million-strong user base in comparison to its current incarnation. After all, Home is all about the social end of the gaming spectrum, so a boatload of new titles – providing the quality is there – should be just the ticket.

Resistance may be handed to new developer

Insomniac has hinted that it may not be looking to churn out future entries in the Resistance franchise, suggesting it may pass the buck to another studio. Of course, this isn’t the first time the Chimeric blaster has been handed to another developer, with Sony Bend tackling PSP outing Resistance Retribution, and Nihilistic handling Burning Skies for Vita. However, to date the core numbered entries have all been developed by Insomniac, who it’s worth pointing out isn’t slated to work on Resistance 4 after the third game hits stores next month. As such, it is conceivable we may see a new console outing developed by an entirely new studio. Given Insomniac’s new status as a multi-platform developer, I don’t think this should come as a surprise; the developer is keen to spread its wings after all, and probably doesn’t want to be bogged down with one franchise every couple of years. We needn’t worry however, as Insomniac said it couldn’t see Sony palming the franchise off to any old Tom, Dick or Harry, with Resistance surely ending up in the hands of another “high calibre” developer. We can only hope.

SCEE looking to address ‘weak’ U.K. PS3 sales

Sony’s been a bit hush-hush when it comes to how its flagships console has been performing in old Blighty as of late, but it would appear things haven’t been so rosy. Just this week, Sony Europe’s New Kid on the Block, Jim Ryan, said the firm is eager to address the system’s “weak” sales in the U.K., confirming that the platform hasn’t been performing as well as expected. Obviously the price cut will facilitate this process – and already has, with sales up 65 percent week-on-week – but more importantly, the Fall/Holiday line-up is bound to send PS3s flying off the shelves when the likes of Uncharted 3 hit stores. If you ask me, a good few bundles wouldn’t go a miss either, perhaps a couple of starter packs offering new adopters an introduction into some of the PS3’s best exclusive franchises – PS3 160GB + Uncharted 1 & 2 perhaps?

European PS3 sales at 22 million

PS3 may not be pulling in quite as many punters in the U.K. as Sony would have liked, but the PAL market in general seems to be doing pretty solid. That’s at least according to soon-to-be SCEE overlord Jim Ryan, who revealed that PS3 has flogged 22 million units in Europe to date. Not too shabby. Of course, Ryan was quick to note that its predecessor achieved lifetime sales of 50+ million, though considering PS3 is only just about to turn five (out of a 10-year lifecycle), there’s still plenty of leg room. By comparison, Xbox 360, which launched over a year ahead of PS3 in PAL regions, has sold 13.7 million units across EMEA territories (Europe, Asia and the Middle East).

Twisted Metal (re)dated for U.S.

Folk were understandably a bit gutted when the awesomely-named Eat Sleep Play announced that vehicle combat romp Twisted Metal would miss its October date. In fact, it would miss 2011 altogether, instead being shoved back into early next year, for reasons David Jaffe attributed to the title requiring a little more TLC. Fitting then, perhaps, that he announced this week that the game will be released on February 14 in the U.S. – aka Saint Valentine’s Day. To be honest, I still don’t think Twisted Metal being pushed back is really that big of a deal; for one, there’s a plethora of triple-A titles out this year, and if it means the game will receive an extra coat of polish, then I’m all for it. Plus, it’ll just mean that 2012  – at least as far as Sony goes – will get off to that much more of a bang if we’re able to enjoy a meaty exclusive like Twisted Metal. Jaffe and chaps will deliver on this one though, make no mistake – those guys are all about old fashioned fun.

GameStop reveals Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Ultimate Bundle

Blimey, Assassin’s Creed fans sure are going to be spoilt for choice this November. Not content with offering punters a choice between the standard, Special, Collector’s and Animus Editions, Ubisoft has now unveiled in conjunction with GameStop an Ultimate Bundle SKU, which throws in a heap of goodies including a rather scrumptious-looking Ezio figurine along with a replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s fabelled ‘Flying Machine.’ In addition, the UE also chucks in some of the features seen in the aforementioned Special, Collector’s & Animus releases, such as the bonus in-game content, Assassin’s Creed Embers short movie and game soundtrack. I’ve lamented the price of this sort of thing in the past (I’m looking at you, Skyrim) but in this case, I would happily pay $99.99 USD for the Ultimate Edition, as would I gladly plonk down the cash for the Uncharted 3 Collector’s Edition. As it happens, I’ve secured my pre-order for the 70 quid Animus Edition of Revelations – how about you folks? Are you planning on forking out for something a little more substantial than the bog-standard retail release?

Insomniac says it ‘can keep pushing PS3’

I think the general consensus among gamers now regarding the PS3 is that there’s still life in the old dog yet. Indeed, we’ve been hearing a lot of chatter regarding the move to next-generation platform as of late, or the untapped potential that still remains in the current, albeit aging hardware. Needless to say, it still baffles me as to why we’re hearing developers talking about PS4 when Sony’s black behemoth hasn’t even had its 5th birthday yet (that’s in November, in case you didn’t know), but apparently some folk are keen to get their mitts on new hardware (such as a former Activision bigwig, for example). However, Insomniac wisely pointed out this week that not only is there plenty more juice to be squeezed out of PS3, but more importantly stressed the necessity of learning the ins and outs of developing for a specific platform. Specifically, mastering a system leads to better iteration of content, which is vital if you’re to churn out quality games. However, with a high console rollover (in other words, seeing a new platform release every 4-5 years as was the case back in the old days) makes this exceedingly difficult to achieve. Regardless of how you feel on the subject, I think we can all agree that we want developers get the most out of whatever hardware they are working on, and if PS3 sticking around on the market for another couple of years ensures a quality gaming experience, then may it live a long and prosperous life. And let’s be honest here – who wants to splash out on another platform when we’ve invested so much money in our current telly box? 

Does Skyrim’s timed- exclusive content warrant a boycott by PS3 owners?

Everyone’s got an opinion when it comes to the likes of timed-exclusivity of downloadable content — be sure to hit the link above and let us know what you think on the matter. Are you miffed that Bethesda is bringing Skyrim’s first batch of DLC to Xbox 360 30 days before PS3 can get their mitts on it? Or are you not in the least bit fussed? Be sure to let us know.