The future of venerable accessory maker Mad Catz is in doubt, and their continued existence may depend greatly on the success of Rock Band 4.
As part of their regular SEC filings, the company revealed that an independent auditor has issued an "audit opinion letter." According to Mike Futter at Game Informer (who worked as a financial reporter in a former life)
This happens when a company is at risk of defaulting on its debt obligations. Mad Catz’s 2016 success hinges on the performance of Rock Band 4 (via co-publishing agreement with Harmonix), according to form 10-K filed with the SEC on June 25.
Mad Catz is co-publishing Rock Band 4, with Harmonix, and will be manufacturing the new instruments for the game. This is a significant outlay for the company, and could mean disaster if the game doesn't do well.
Indie developer Wolf Brew Games is cooking up something with Slain! which can only be described as metal as hell. A "gothic combat-puzzle platform adventure with gore galore" and a soundtrack by Celtic Frost songwriter Curt Victor Bryant. It's coming to PC later this year, and to PS4, Vita, XB1 and WiiU early next year.
We’re just gonna be over here, on our PS4’s, at the following link.
Where to begin? Seriously, I don’t even know how to start this or where to start it in relation to this episode. It’s pretty much all Batman related, but it isn’t good news. Well, I take that back. Everyone seems to be okay with the game proper, but when it comes to the PC version, it’s just one big mess. This is the one I was looking forward to. This was my big summer game and the one that would hold me over for a good while until the fall. The one that I would jump into at any given time just to play the combat. The one I wanted on PC cause it was sure to be the better version.
It's a truism of many creative fields. The simpler the concept, the harder it is to achieve greatness. Which is why Poly Bridge (note, I haven't played it, but I've been hooked on videos & gifs of the game) stands out. I've been playing physics games for nigh on 20 years at this point, but developer Dry Cactus manages to strike a proper balance between sandbox and objective modes to craft something engrossing. It's available now for $11.99 on Steam and Humble.
(Note, this is an early access game, so the usual caveats apply)
The first episode of the rebooted King's Quest will be released at the end of next month. Entitled King’s Quest: A Knight to Remember, the first of five chapters will hit the PS3. PS4 & PC on July 28, and the XB1 July 29, at a cost of $9.99. Additionally a bundle of all 5 chapters, plus a bonus epilogue, can be pre-ordered for $39.99. Dates for future episodes was not announced.
Ubiquitous voice actor Nolan North was a guest of honor at Tampa's Metrocon earlier this month, but a just-posted video of his appearance is shedding some light on a couple of upcoming games. North is good friends with former Uncharted lead writer Amy Hennig, and had some thoughts about some changes made to the series when she left Naughty Dog last year.
"I can't really say too much about that..." North began. "But I will. We had shot eight months of her story and it was all thrown away. The Last of Us guys came in, they wanted... You have to understand, new producers, new people, they want to do it...
"I don't know what happened exactly, Amy is still a very very dear friend of mine, and she's brilliant, but The Last of Us guys were the next team there, so they took over and just wanted their own flavour. They got rid of some of the other people involved and just redid the thing.
At the time of her departure, Hennig was rumored to have been forced out by The Last of Us leads Neill Druckmann and Bruce Straley, who then took over as creative leads on Uncharted 4.
Nolan also spoke about the still unnamed Star Wars title at EA Visceral, which is now led by the same Amy Hennig. According to the actor, the game is "a brand new Star Wars franchise in the style of Uncharted." It isn't the canceled Star Wars 1313, but it's "along those lines." Previous rumors said this game would be an open world title, similar in feel to a GTA or Batman Arkham game in terms of structure. Since we don't even have a title on this game, we obviously don't have a release date, but there's a good chance it may be in stores next holiday season.
In the wake of the tragedy in Charleston, SC, Apple has seemingly pulled all games based on the American Civil War from the app store.
As of the writing of this story, games like Ultimate General: Gettysburg and all the Hunted Cow Civil War games are nowhere to be found. Apple is famous for reaching for the axe rather than the scalpel when it comes to political issues (like rejecting Hunted Cow's Tank Battle 1942 for depicting Germans and Russians as enemies), so this move doesn't come as a great surprise.
For the benefit of our overseas readers: last week 9 black parishioners were killed in an historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina by a out-and-proud racist. The shooter was enamored with the flag of the southern Confederacy (technically the battle flag of the Confederacy) which attempted to secede from the US during the American Civil War. This has triggered a lot of soul searching about that particular flag, which is seen by many in the south as a symbol of regional pride, but by the larger nation as a symbol of racial oppression and domination. Many retailers have announced plans to stop selling merchandise which includes the Confederate battleflag, but this seems like an extreme reaction. These games aren't exploiting the flag, they're using it in it's proper historical context. As someone else on Twitter said, you can be sure they're not removing the documentaries of Ken Burns, or the books of James McPherson from the app store, so why take such steps with games?
Bethesda used their first every E3 press conference to show off a new Doom, which we'll be playing come Spring. But it does bring up an interesting question: what took so long? Id announced Doom 4 back in mid 2008, years before the company was acquired by Bethesda. Since then we know the game has gone through a lot, with at least two full on restarts which are publicly known. So what was so lacking in those games which required a complete rethink of the project? Bethesda's Pete Hines spoke to Polygon about one of the versions, with a leaked internal trailer for it posted above.
"You can probably close your eyes and imagine a 'Call of Doom' or a 'BattleDoom' game, where it starts to feel way too much like: 'Wait, this doesn't feel like Doom, it feels like we're playing some other franchise with a Doom skin on it,'" he said.
Considering when this decision was made, that was actually a very brave move on Bethesda's part. 2010-ish was the height of the Call of Duty franchise in the public consciousness, and every publisher wanted to have their take on the series in stores. That Bethesda knew they had such a game - and one with a pedigree and visual style which could make it stand out from the pack - and still pulled the plug says a lot. A Doom which isn't Doom wouldn't have flown with longstanding fans of the series, and an "unrealistic" shooter may not have found traction with a lot of CoD fanatics. We can't say if it was the right move until we see some reviews on this new Doom, but I think I'm safe in calling it a bold move, at a minimum.
With each new announcement or E3 showing of No Man's Sky, gamers have been told about the vast scope of the game. It simulates entire planets you can explore, and then get in a ship and fly off to another in a vast universe with literally millions of stars. These adventures will include combat both on the planet against hostile alien species and mysterious self-replicating mechanical enemies and in epic space battles against, as yet, unknown foes.
However, the question that hasn't been answered is "why?" What motivates the player to explore, combat space foes, and play after the initial novelty of discovering the sandbox's tools and limitations wears thin? Even sandbox games have goals - though most of them come from the player, the games still reward their progression and provide goals. For example, in The Sims, players try to achieve their sim's life goals by advancing to the top of a career, getting married and having a huge family, becoming the town cad, or a variety of other goals. In Cities: Skylines, the goal is to make the perfect city and grow it larger, and in Sid Meier's Pirates, you want to amass a fortune, rid the seas of the ten Great Pirate Captains, gain noble rank, marry a beautiful noble woman, find the lost Aztec treasure, plunder the Spanish Treasury Fleet, save your family, and rid the world of the evil pirate who took them from you. So even sandbox games have goals, and Polygon managed to discover some of them.
In No Man's Sky, part of the progression plan is to get richer, to buy a bigger, better ship, that can help you get richer and go further.
As in many space-trading games, you can choose your own path. You can be a warrior, a pirate, a trader, an explorer. In order to do these things though, you need to gather resources. these can be won in space-combat (we don't play any space-combat) or it can be won by exploring and gathering.
In addition to acquiring currency to buy bigger and better ships, players can find blueprints that allow them to upgrade their equipment on planet including your suit, weapon, and jet-pack. Finally, there will be crafting to create resources that are more valuable to free up precious ship hold space as well as crafting to improve gear.
At it's heart, No Man's Sky is a sandbox game. However, these goals may give it enough depth to have greater long-term appeal. While a loose, optional story would be nice, I can already imagine certain IPs being used by the modding community to take advantage of the game's focus on space exploration.
No Man's Sky is in development for the PS4 and PC and is expected to be released during the 2015 holiday season; a release date has not yet been announced.
Shacknews was fairly kind in their assessment of the situation. "Batman: Arkham Knight PC suffering from poor optimization." RPS was rather less forgiving in the video they made of the problem: "Batman Runs Like A Batdog."
While the console versions of Batman Arkham Knight have been receiving glowing reviews, the PC version runs like a lump of guano. Even super high end PCs seem to be having problems maintaining a steady 30fps. Rocksteady even issued a statement on the problem.
“We’re aware that some users are reporting performance issues with the PC version of Batman: Arkham Knight. This is something that Rocksteady takes very seriously. We are working closely with our external PC development partner to make sure these issues get resolved as quickly as possible.”
We should note that situations like this are the reason Valve recently implemented refunds on Steam. If you've purchased the game, and it runs like crap, you have the option to ask for a refund rather than just wait for a patch.
We’re back from E3 and we’re not sure what to think of everything. Microsoft, we felt, had a very decent showing and Sony was more than we ever expected as far as the megaton’s were concerned. While we do hit each and every showing at E3, it’s the remake of Final Fantasy 7 that gives us the most conversation. It’s a nostalgia I am not familiar with, but one I wish I was after listening to James talk about it and reading the chat room.
As we close the book on yet another E3, it's always fun to take a step back from the craziness of earlier in the week and really look at what was shown at the expo.
- People still love Final Fantasy 7. A game released nearly 20 years ago, which is tough to find in any sort of playable state right now (seriously, the PC version is almost unplayable IMO) still inspires massive reactions. And not just amongst Gen-Xers who played it during their formative years. Young gamers who weren't even born when the game first launched often have a soft spot for it in their hearts, a love not really shared with many other iconic games. Sony and Square Enix' announcement that they would be doing a full remake took everyone by surprise, and got people talking. But a note of fear is starting to creep into the discussion. There's still more excitement than trepidation, but considering that the best case scenario for a release is late 2016, there's a lot of time for feelings to shift.
- BC on the Xbox One is a great headline for Microsoft, but will it move units? Sony jumped out to a big lead when the XB1 and PS4 launch two years ago, but Microsoft has narrowed the gap significantly since then. Announcing some degree of backwards compatibility (exactly how many non-MS games will get the treatment remains to be seen) goosed gamers, but will it translate to sales? Maybe you get some fence sitters to trade in their 360s towards an XB1, but will it make a substantive difference over the long haul? It's a smart move by Microsoft, I just don't think it's the game changer others seem to be predicting. Because...
- Sony had the best show of any major publisher - by a slim margin - but it still has problems. Last Guardian, Final Fantasy 7, Shenmue 3 (even if I have major reservations about that situation), Horizon Zero Dawn, Uncharted 4, timed exclusivity on CoD & Destiny DLC. That's a hell of a lineup, with one major problem: only the CoD & Destiny content packs are coming this year. They're obviously getting a ton of multiplatform games, but their big exclusives for this fall are Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection and Dragon Quest Heroes. After a very light holiday season in 2014, they're not doing any better this year.
- I'm still not sold on VR as a significant platform. Seemingly every publisher had a VR game to talk about. Early reports called some of them "amazing." Later reports began to complain about motion sickness or eye- and neck-strain from wearing heavy headsets for even modest periods. Still later reports revealed that a lot of the "amazing" games were extremely limited and repetitive. I'm sure some devs will do great work on the platform, but right now I can't see any of these being any more popular than Kinect was in it's heyday. It's an (expensive) toy which gets played a few times, then quickly forgotten. Except instead of costing $80-$100, these units will run you $250+.
- Everyone was making a MOBA, now they're all making CCGs. A lot of MOBAs and MOBA-derivates were on display at the show, but clear signs of fatigue are visible. There are a ton of games with no particular identity or distinguishing characteristic, and many of them will be dead or dying by this time next year. Good thing the publishers have a new rabbit to chase: collectible card games. Now that Blizzard is making money hand over fist with Hearthstone, everyone else wants in on the action. And why not? They're not nearly as expensive to make as MOBAs (which weren't as expensive as military shooters, which weren't as expensive as MMOs...), they can be easily tied into existing properties, and they come with an easy business model. In truth, I'm not against companies copying one another - most of the great products in history were inspired by competitors - but considering the speed at which they were announced, we're going to be deep into the CCG glut by E3 2016.
- Publishers seem to be learning what to show at E3, and what not to show. There were some outliers, but for the most part the publishers realized that some announcements don't work well at E3. Microsoft was smart not to try and shoehorn a quickie Crackdown or Scalebound demo into their presentation. Same with EA and their Star Wars adventure game and Sony with Ratchet & Clank. Some bits of news just won't penetrate the E3 wall of sound, and others won't be received well in this environment. Better to give them their own time and space, and save this show for the announcements which will penetrate properly.
All in all, I'd call E3 2015 a solid show. I do think publishers may be leaving money on the table by not having new, high level properties out for this holiday season, but considering the industry trends the past few years, I can't really blame them. Publishers know that what's popular today, may be passe in a few years, and they're working to create new properties, and we saw some of them this past week. Will they be the new pillars of the industry, or forgotten alongside the likes of
One week before it's slated release, the Batmobile edition of Batman Arkham Knight has been canceled over "compromised quality." This $200 collectors edition would include, among other goodies, a Batmobile statue created by popular manufacturer TriForce. Presumably something occurred in the manufacturing stage of this statue to trigger the cancellation. Which is odd, since the company has a great rep in this field, and has provided such items for CEs before with no substantive problems.
Here's the statement from Warner Bros Interactive:
Dear Batman: Arkham Fans,
We regret to inform you that we are not able to release the Batmobile Collector’s Edition of Batman: Arkham Knight due to unforeseen circumstances that greatly compromised the quality of this extremely limited run of product. We are deeply apologetic for this unfortunate outcome. If you did pre-order the Batmobile Collector’s Edition, please go to the retail location where you pre-ordered the product and you will receive a full refund of your deposit or it can be rolled over to another Batman: Arkham Knight edition or another product of your choice. We will be providing everyone who purchases Batman: Arkham Knight with the New 52 skin pack, including Batman, Robin and Nightwing, free of charge.
The game itself is still slated to ship next week, but if you pre-ordered the Batmobile edition, you should check in with your retailer, as you may need to place a new order.
This impressive E3 trailer is of Gigantic, an upcoming third-person MOBA in development by Motiga, a freshman studio made up of veterans that formed in 2011. Their first offering is gorgeous, ambitious, and gigantic.
The gameplay of Gigantic promises a twist on the traditional MOBA by being in 3D, focusing on gargantuan boss battles, and by having playable heroes designed to be attractive to different play-styles. Pixel-Dyanmo has a report based on the E3 PC press conference:
James Phinney, creative director at Motiga, made an onstage appearance to talk about the game’s character development. He stated that hero creation started with basic shooter controls and the development team drew from MOBAs and other strategy games. This led to characters being designed with different skillsets and playstyles in mind. A few examples that were given were ones that can summon minions to fight for them or a four-armed female who uses healing beams. During battle, players can also grab upgrades to alter the way your character plays, potentially changing them from a support to an attacker.
It is expected to launch next year for PC and the Xbox One, but gamers can sign-up to hopefully gain access to the closed beta coming in August on the game's website now.
Arguably the biggest bombshell dropped on the E3 show floor was the revelation that Square Enix is working on a remake of Final Fantasy 7, one of the more beloved games of all time. But what else do we know about the project? Apparently they're going to make some changes to the game, in part because they're already releasing an HD port of the original.
“We’ve announced an HD port version on the PlayStation 4, and then we have the remake coming to PS4,” Nomura said through a translator. “You’ll have this extremely, very, very pretty FFVII existing on the same plane. We feel that if that happens, it’s like, why have the same exact game?
Another quote says "there will be more plot devices in the story," implying an expansion of the story. I think we can also assume the game will be fully voiced, a feature not really feasible on the 1997 original.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't note that Square Enix' statement says they have "begun production on the full remake." Considering the sometimes glacial pace of development on Final Fantasy titles, it may be a long time before this is actually in our hands.
The initial PC Gaming show was disappointing. Lack of flow and energy exacerbated a near total lack of real info being imparted. Lots and lots of technical jargon and generic platitudes, but almost no real news.
- Tripwire is publishing Rising Storm 2: Vietnam.
- Gears of War Ultimate Edition coming to PC. Will support 4K resolution and unlimited refresh rate on PC.
- Developer SCS announced American Truck Simulator, a spinoff of the Euro Truck Sim which is a cult hit. No joking, this will sell a lot of copies.
- CCP out to discuss EVE Valkyrie, their VR title.
- Live demo of Strife, the retro shooter which had a big Kickstarter. Looks like a Doom-era shooter, but with procedurally-generated levels.
- Expansion announced for Pillars of Eternity. "The White March, Part 1". Higher level cap, new abilities & companions.
- Frontier Development (Elite Dangerous) with Planet Coaster, a spiritual successor to Rollercoaster/Theme Park Tycoon.
- ArenaNet out to talk about Heart of Thorns, the next expansion for Guild Wars 2. Adds guild halls to the game, standalone maps your guild has to conquer before owning it.
- A new expansion for Arma 3: "Tanoa", a tropical island setting.
- Frictional Games' Soma gets a date: September 22.
There were lots of other guests out there to talk, but most revealed nothing of substance. This was a good idea, with a good host - streaming personality Day - but the show was just dreadfully dull and lacking in substantive info.
Square Enix' effort showed how difficult it is to do such a presentation well. They had a good amount of content, but the actual presentation killed much of the excitement.
- Show opens with Just Cause 3, which includes all of the explosions. An open world game which makes you feel like the most powerful badass ever. Launches December 1.
- A new NieR game was announced, but it seems to be relatively early in development. Squeenix won't even tell us the full name until later this year.
- Another quick look at Rise of the Tomb Raider, and the new mobile game Lara Croft Go (inspired by the well-received Hitman Go).
- The same trailer for the Final Fantasy 7 Remake we saw yesterday at Sony's event was played again. Same for the World of Final Fantasy trailer.
- More mobile game: Kingdom Hearts Unchained X.
- A real look at Kingdom Hearts 3. For a game which has been in development this long, it doesn't look too impressive. No release window announced.
- An extensive look at Hitman, which will have constant additions of missions and assassination contracts. Some contracts will be available for a limited time, and will be one shot only. Coming December 8.
- A new Star Ocean, in collaboration with Tri-ACE was announced, with the preposterous title of Star Ocean Integrity and Faithlessness. Coming next year to NA & Europe.
- We get our first look at the gameplay from Deus Ex Mankind Divided. Very little gameplay is shown, but what we see looks beautiful.
- Show ends with the announcement of a new dev studio - Tokyo RPG Factory - and their first game Project Setsuna, which is slated for a 2016 release.
That's the whole effort. Not a bad lineup, but an incredibly awkward presentation made it tough to get invested in anything. We also got precious few new release dates. The games coming this year have dates, nothing else, which is disappointing.
While much of Sony's presser focused on returning properties, they also had a couple of very interesting debuts. Most intriguing to me was Horizon Zero Dawn, from Guerrilla Games (Killzone), a third person action RPG set on a post-apocalyptic earth where robot dinosaurs rule, and humans are reduced to near-stone age levels of technology. You play as Aloy, who can use parts from the robots to build weapons capable of taking them down.
It got a bit lost in the mix yesterday, but WB Games and Avalance Studios have announced a September 1 launch for Mad Max. Rather than follow the events of the recent film, the game see Max battling the warlord Scrotus, and I love the confidence the game- and film-makers have to use names like Scrotus and Furiosa. It's embraces the over the top nature of the series.
The next Transformers title from Activision goes back to the classic Generation-1 cartoon which was a huge part of so many kids' lives back in the 1980s.
Transformers Devastation - developed by Platinum Games - will let you play as a quintet of Autobots - Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Grimlock, Sideswipe & Wheeljack - as you fight the Decepticons, with a particular focus on the Constructicon gestalt Devastator.
This is a big departure from the previous Transformer titles Activision has published, which adopted the visual style of the Michael Bay feature films, or even the more recent CGI animated shows. It's a gamble to bank on the nostalgia of 30 year olds, but one which often pays off.
Transformers Devastation will hit current and last gen platforms this fall.