February 19, 2008
Yesterday a GamePro editor created quite the stir by speculating that Microsoft may be acquiring Epic Games for approximately $1 billion. While Microsoft would certainly be interested in Gears of War and Unreal Tournament, the majority of the buyout would certainly be for the Unreal Engine 3.
Of course this is all purely speculation – however, Microsoft is holding a briefing tomorrow (February 19) where they are expected to make a couple announcements, and Epic is having theirs on Thursday (February 20). Coincidence ... or the announcement of a big acquisition?
It's become quite a task in this industry to find out when a large company will be buying another, and most of the time any false accusations are almost immediately shot down by the smaller company. This is not the case in this incident, however. Epic Vice President Mark Rein told GamePro that if they wanted speculation, they should start out at least $2 billion as Epic wasn't going to be cheap.
What does this mean for gamers? Besides the fact that Microsoft would have a powerful engine licensed for all their future games (Unreal Engine 3) and Gears of War 2 and Unreal Tournament would certainly become Xbox 360 and PC exclusive. Or this could just be a crazy rumor and nothing more. Find out later this week.
January 20, 2008
Playstation 3 owners looking forward to what is arguably the console's biggest release of this year will be getting a reward for all their patience: a Metal Gear Solid 4 demo in February.
This shocking news is from poster TomEmo12 on the gametrailers.com forums where he posted a picture of the British magazine PSW stating a fairly straightforward remark that a demo will be on the Playstation Network in February.
Details are extremely sparse, and Konami has yet to confirm anything, but it appears to be one single player level from the game. If true, this a complete turn around for Konami, who was quoted at TGS 2007 as having no demo planned. Being that the game has become quite the poster child for the console, it would probably be in both Sony and Konami's best interest to get a demo out as soon as possible.
I personally look forward to playing this game, having really enjoyed Metal Gear Solid 3 (and the tactical card game on the PSP) and as long as it doesn't come out for the Xbox 360, it will probably be one of the games that convinces me to purchase my own PS3. Releasing a demo would also be both great publicity for Sony and, so long as the demo is good, a sales boon for Konami. Apparently, that's something they really need for this title.
January 8, 2008
Citing “very reliable sources” and “seeing evidence themselves”, Xbox Evolved is claiming that Rare's Goldeneye 007 will appear on Xbox Live Arcade. Originally for the Nintendo 64 and remembered nostalgically as one of the best (and first) multiplayer console first person shooters, Goldeneye is reported to come with updated graphics and Xbox Live multiplayer support.
Xbox Evolved also reported that through a complicated agreement between Microsoft, Rare, MGM Studios (the owners of the Bond movies), and Activision (new owners of the license to make Bond video games), Goldeneye 007 will be released shortly before Activision's first James Bond game. Even more interesting is their evidence that Rare will be releasing more of it's back catalog from the Nintendo 64, including Bango-Kazooie and Perfect Dark.
What I find most intriguing about this rumor is that if it is true, more Nintendo 64 games could find their way to the Xbox 360 Arcade, so long as their developers and/or publishers are not owned by Nintendo. Less interesting to me is the actual game, Goldeneye. Truth be told, I can't stand some of the first 3D games from the Playstation and Nintendo 64 platforms.
Detailed 2D and stylized 3D graphics from older consoles are fine by me, but those first attempts at 3D look so jaggy and rigid, I find it hard to stay interested. With the likes of Halo 3 and Call of Duty 4 to “compete” against is a game like Goldeneye still worth playing?
January 3, 2008
With the Nintendo Wii outselling every console in existence at the moment and the Nintendo DS selling every handheld in existence, why not make the two a little more integrated with each other? Eric A. Taub of the New York Times recently caught up with Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's President and Chief Operating Officer, who certainly had good news for the future of the DS.
It would appear that Nintendo is going to release yet another DS model which will allow both complete as well as demo DS games to be downloaded to the Wii and then played on the DS via the built-in wireless service. Not only will this sort of service allow you to get the latest DS games without leaving your house, but popular games will (of course) become much easier to get.
Does anyone else hope this feature is actually utilized as opposed to announced and then hardly used? I'd like to see new titles as well as popular ones thrown up on the Wii Network, not just old and third-party games that are fun to play for about five minutes ... until you remembered how boring most older games used to be.
I know Mario Party DS was hard to come by this holiday season and this service would have made getting this game a lot easier. Of course, what do you actually "give" as the gift? A picture of the Mario Party DS and a little Wi-Fi antenna? Heh, I'm sure Nintendo will come up with something to alleviate this "problem".
January 3, 2008
The annual Consumer Electronic Show has attracted a few interesting rumors this year. Brier Dudley of The Seattle Times is predicting that Bill Gates himself will unveil a new Xbox 360 SKU with a built-in HD DVD drive.
Dudley is also predicting that Microsoft may be licensing out the Xbox 360 architecture to companies such as Toshiba, to make their own branded consoles, perhaps with DVR functionality too. Of course this rumor is rampant with no real evidence to support it, plus we've heard it before. But it would make sense for the Xbox 360 to make a big splash with the Wii getting so much attention this holiday season. And with this being Gates' last year at the helm.
The other big rumor is that Sony will announce a Skype program for the PSP and, unlike the Xbox 360 rumor, this one is is all but confirmed. A picture found by ubergizmo.com in a Sony press video meant for CES shows two happy PSP owners with the words "Make Calls With Skype" plastered in the middle.
Is anyone looking forward to either of these improvements? While new features are always a great addition, I'd really like to know when Sony's going to take advantage of their Sony Ericsson division and make a full fledged PSP Phone.
As for the Xbox 360 rumor, I already have the HD DVD drive and actually like having one drive for games and one for DVDs. But still, having everything integrated into a single unit would defiantly help in their "format wars" with Sony.
December 17, 2007
The Witcher is an RPG game for the PC that's received a lot of good press, but seems to have trouble finding an audience in the States (overseas I hear the game is doing gangbusters). Perhaps it's the game esoteric title, or that it's a PC-only title, or that near-bankrupt Atari is marketing the game. Whatever the reason this game hasn't received the sales that it deserves.
Well good news as it appears that CD Projekt, the makers of the game, now has a job opening for console programmers on its website. More specifically, the company is looking for programmers and producers familiar with the Xbox 360 hardware.
Of course this could mean anything, its only a single job posting, but porting a PC game to the Xbox 360 is a relatively straightforward procedure, especially for those with experience in this type of work. Of yeah, and this job posting was make directly on The Witcher website. All signs point to an Xbox 360 release of The Witcher sometime in future which would add another great RPG to ever expanding library of great Xbox 360 RPGs.
And for those of you who want to see what all the fuss is about make sure to download the newly released demo of the game. You can play the Prologue and the entire Act 1 and experience all the monster hunting, fisting fighting, gambling, and carousing that you can take!
December 12, 2007
Earlier today GameSpot reported that Blizzard has indeed confirmed that they are working on a new MMORPG that is NOT related in any way to World of Warcraft. I've been meaning to write about this for some time now but never really had the chance but now that the "cat is out of the bag" I thought now was as good of time as any to tell you what I know about Blizzard's new MMORPG.
For those who are regular readers to the site you'll know that my track record is pretty darn good when it comes to spilling secrets in the world of gaming. From confirming that Command & Conquer 3 was to be released on the Xbox 360, to breaking the news on the Zune release date, to detailed information on WoW Battleground enhancements I only release information that I am sure is correct. And the following info I am 100% sure is correct.
With that in mind here is what I know about Blizzard's new MMORPG. First is that it has only been under development for a very short period of time. Blizzard held their first internal meeting to discuss this new MMORPG they were going to develop with a small group of core developers during the last week of March 2007. Only the top developers from the WoW team were invited to this meeting and it was extremely small ... and top secret (of course). Even Blizzard at that time didn't know what type of MMORPG they were going to develop. This meeting was to act as an initial brainstorming meeting where this core group could throw around ideas and see what they would want to develop as a next game. Each member of the team was asked to present their ideas for what sort of new MMORPG they would like to develop that was specifically NOT WoW related.
From that meeting in March they began to start the initial development of this new MMORPG, and have begun work on it since April 2007. Right now they are only in the initial stages of development and are only working with a small group. But from what I know the general concept, genre, and intellectual property have been determined. Now all that needs to be done is to make the game!
And with Blizzard's track record expect to see something sometime in around 2014, and expect it to change multiple times during development. Remember that Blizzard spent seven years developing WoW from start to finish and just the "Friends and Family" Alpha Test for WoW lasted over a year. This game will go through the same spit and polish that WoW had to go through, although they do have considerably more experience this time around and are using the core WoW team to build the game architecture.
Unfortunately even I do not know what game genre they are developing or if it using an existing IP or a new one. That is one secret that nobody outside a very small handful of people know about. But I do know that they are going to be trying something different from WoW and it have a completely new gameplay experience than WoW. I wish I had more to tell you other than this, but as I start to hear more I will let you know. Stay tuned...
November 30, 2007
Wow, in just the last 12 hours a lot has developed over the "Gerstmann incident". Lets see ... Gerstmann confirmed to Joystiq that the firing did happen, the Kane & Lynch ads that blanketed Gamespot's front page are no longer being shown, Gerstmann's video review of the game has been removed from Gamespot, Gamespot's forums have exploded with posts talking about the incident (with one thread having over a thousand posts), the Eidos forums were temporarily shut down, and it's not even noon yet!
And the strange part of this ordeal is that now I'm quite curious about Kane & Lynch, a game I couldn't have cared less about just a mere 12 hours ago. I definitely want to give this game a try now. Remember kids, there is no such thing as bad publicity.
I have a feeling that this is one of those stories we are going to be talking for a very long time and will have quite an impact within the industry and review scores, true or not. Hopefully it will all be for the best, reviews might actually start to accurately depict the game quality and not the advertising budget, and in the long run and Jeff Gerstmann will find a new job (I have a feeling he'll have no trouble finding one).
By the way, this is the video review which was the main culprit to Gerstmann's firing. According to the rumor it wasn't just the fact that he gave the game a 6.0 out of 10 but rather the "tone" of the review. I have to say that for a review of 6.0, which is supposed to represent a "fair" game, Gerstmann's review is quite negative. You be the judge:
November 29, 2007
A very interesting story has been zipping across the Internets today concerning video game "journalism" and review scores. According to the rumor, Jeff Gerstmann, a very popular and well known editor at Gamespot, was fired because he gave the game Kane and Lynch a score of 6.0. Eidos, which just happened to have an enormous marketing campaign plastered all over the Gamespot site right now, was not too pleased with his review and demanded the score to be changed.
But why would Eidos want the score changed so badly? Well it seems that Cnet, the owner of Gamespot, promised a certain "type" of score in exchange for their marketing dollars and that "understanding" didn't come through. Of course, Cnet didn't exactly promise a specific score, but rather a "positive tone" to the review. Gerstmann refused to change his score/review so he was fired. No official word has been made at Gamespot, and no word from Gerstmann so this is all hearsay and speculation at this point, but Gerstmann has not been on the site or in his regular Gamespot segments for several days now.
Could this rumor be true? Who knows ... but it should be pointed out that Gamespot has changed scores in the past. Last year Gamespot reviewed Company of Heroes and gave it an 8.9, but a few days later changed their score to a 9.0 and gave the game an "Editors' Choice" award (the official word is that they changed the score because of an SLI issue that was fixed, but that seems a bit too convenient).
But the real question is this, do gaming publications trade good reviews for exclusive access, marketing dollars, behind-the-scene interviews? Could the influx in thousands of dollars in ad revenue in any way shape and form affect the so-called "game reviews" that you read? I mean, what are the chances that upsetting one of the few big-game publishers in the industry could possibly hurt your chances at future access to their games and content?
(Please note, the previous paragraph should be read with a tone of heavy sarcasm to get the full effect. Thank you.)
All I have to say is this -- Gamespot Perfect Dark Zero review ... final score, 9.0 and an Editors' Choice award during the launch of the Xbox 360 and an enormous Microsoft marketing campaign at Gamespot. Amazing coincidence ... or was Perfect Dark Zero, the launch title for the Xbox 360, just that good of a game. You decide.
Oh yes, bonus fun at Penny Arcade with their take on the rumor.