News: May 2012 Archives

XSeedXSeed Games has released Ys Origin as a download for the PC through Valve's Steam service. This action-oriented role-playing game is a prequel to the Ys series, and was originally released for the PC in Japan in 2006.
Just about everyone is rightfully excited about the most recently announced Humble Indie Bundle V. The latest pay-what-you-want bundle includes downloadable versions of all games for Mac, Windows, and Linux without digital rights management. For whatever you choose to pay (a portion of which can be dedicated to charity), you get copies of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Limbo, Psychonauts, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP. Pay more than the current average, and you also get a copy of Bastion.
UbisoftPublisher Ubisoft and Developer Techland have released Mad Riders for the PC through Valve's Steam service. Also released this week for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, the game has players engaging in off-road, arcade-style racing.
MicrosoftMicrosoft has once again added games to the Xbox Live Arcade program. The latest additions are an off-road racing game and a series of games we think of every time we bash a "Treasure Goblin" in Diablo III. Read on for more details...
SonySony's game Resistance: Burning Skies for the PlayStation Vita is now available in stores. The game has players taking on the role of Tom Riley (a New York firefighter and National Guardsman) as he fights back against the Chimeran invasion of the Resistance series.

SonySony has released a new slate of games through the PlayStation Store, this time replete with several titles for the PlayStation 3 and Vita. This week's games include games ranging from basic chess to off-road racing, along with several previously released titles. Read on for the full list and more details...
THQTHQ announced that it has named Jason Rubin as the company's President, with Brian Farrell remaining Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Rubin co-founded Naughty Dog (the studio behind the Crash Bandicoot and Jax and Daxter franchises), and co-founded Flextor (a "media mash-up tool" that was acquired by Fox Interactive Media). Here at FI, we find this particularly ironic, as several of us sat through Rubin's speech at the 2004 DICE summit (that paid homage to Tara Reid) in which he encouraged developers to act more like rockstars, and grab the credit they deserve from publishers seeking to smother and commoditize those ambitions. Now, Rubin can proceed full-steam-ahead as he works with THQ to put those "Rockstar" developers in their place. Rubin is expected to help THQ transition to making quality core games rather than licensed dreck.


Read on for information on more senior staff changes at THQ...

United Nations Space CommandAh, the things we miss thanks to a long, holiday weekend. Still, this one is too good to ignore. On Thursday of last week, BBC News was discussing an Amnesty International report referencing the United Nations Security Council. Unfortunately, the original broadcast used the logo of the United Nations Space Command (from the Halo franchise). The BBC later apologized for the error (and fixed it in later broadcasts). Fortunately, the mistake was captured and the YouTube video is posted after the break...
Iron Man Mode: The Blog has been working to raise money for the Child's Play charity, by chronicling experiences in a series of games that end when the player dies. The site met its (modest) goal today, but check it out and consider a donation. It's for a good cause.
Warner Bros. has released the Batman: Arkham City - Game of the Year Edition for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. This compilation includes the original game that sees Batman trapped in segments of Arkham City that have been walled off as an asylum. It also includes all the downloadable content released to date, along with the new "Harley Quinn's Revenge" mission that adds around two hours of additional play to the game.
SonyA user on Neogaf spotted this patent (brought to our attention by Eurogamer) that threatens to interrupt your gaming with advertisements. The patent is a general description of a process that would slow your play, alerting you to the imminent advertisement. You would then be forced to view advertising content chosen from a server, and be warned before being plunged back into play. Ick. Let's hope this is purely speculative. Sony may, but that would push us at FI over the edge and make us take up a hobby, like crocheting.

38 Studios is Kaput

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Earlier this month, it became clear that 38 Studios was in serious financial peril. The developer of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was having trouble making an interest payment on its Rhode Island-guaranteed loan, but things are clearly far worse than that indicated. We'll just point you to this Joystiq article, since they've done all the heavy lifting. Apparently, staff members weren't paid this month, and everyone has been fired. That means that 38 studios will probably only continue to exist as an entity trying to acquire more funding (that will never arrive) until the state of Rhode Island takes possession of the studio's intellectual property and tries to sell it. Scott Jennings has other excellent commentary.
Tripwire Interactive has released the Red Orchestra 2: Game of the Year edition as a download through Valve's Steam service. This is largely the same game that was released in September, allowing up to 64 players to battle on maps that simulate the series of battles that led up to the Battle of Stalingrad from both the Russian and German perspectives spanning from July 1942 to February 1943. The new content is free to anyone who already owns the game, and includes a new map, plenty of tweaks to existing play, and a new mode to help new players learn the ropes.
Paradox InteractiveParadox Interactive has released its game Crusader Kings II for the Mac. Previously released for the PC, this sequel to the original Crusader Kings is a much-updated chance to enjoy strategy and politics set in Europe of the 11th to 15th century. There are many ways to navigate the role of ruler in Crusader Kings II, but we assume they all end in plague.
MicrosoftMicrosoft has released several more downloadable games for the Xbox 360 through the Xbox Live Arcade program. This week's entrants include two compilations of old Sega games, and a racing game for the Kinect (revised so that you don't need a Kinect sensor). Read on for more information...
Activision BlizzardBlizzard Entertainment, part of Activision Blizzard is proud, and gloating that Diablo III sold around 3.5 million copies within 24 hours of release. Another 1.2 million people also purchased World of Warcraft subscriptions that grant access to Diablo III (helping to prop up the falling World of Warcraft subscriptions. After a week of availability, Blizzard claims that 6.3 million people are now playing Diablo III. That's a lot.
Electronic ArtsGreg Zeschuk, of Electronic Arts' BioWare division, confirmed that it has fired staff previously working on Star Wars: The Old Republic. This article in the Austin American Statesman reports that EA confirmed some employees are being let go while others are being re-assigned to other projects.


UPDATE: Some rumored estimates place losses at around 200 people.

SonySony has released a new slate of downloadable games for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita through the PlayStation Store. This week's offerings include quite a few inexpensive titles, as well as some previously released retail games, with choices ranging from an Inspector SpaceTime adventure (or something like that) to a game that has you arranging physical cards to battle digital tanks. Read on for the full list and more details...
Take Two InteractiveTake-Two Interactive announced the results of its fiscal year and fourth quarter ended March 31, 2012. The year didn't go so well, but Take-Two hopes the future will prove brighter. Read on for more details...
Remedy Entertainment has released Alan Wake's American Nightmare for the PC. Previously released on consoles, this is a standalone experience related to the original Alan Wake that has Wake working to stop his murderous double and fend off vicious creatures long enough to survive until he sees the Arizona dawn.
Activision BlizzardActivision Publishing, part of Activision Blizzard, has released Men in Black: Alien Crisis for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii to stores in North America. Based on the film Men in Black 3 that reaches theaters on Friday, the game has players stepping into the shoes of MIB agent Peter Delacoeur as he battles alien threats. Predominantly a third-person shooter, the game also features car chases and is compatible with motion controllers for the PlayStation 3 and Wii.
UbisoftUbisoft's game Ghost Recon: Future Soldier for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is now available in stores. A PC version is expected to be available next month. The game once again follows the Ghosts (an elite team of special-ops soldiers, as if there's any other kind in videogames) as they hunt high-value targets around the world. The game includes 14 single-player missions and an extensive multiplayer experience with multiple classes.
CapcomCapcom's game Dragon's Dogma for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 is now available in stores. Dragon's Dogma is an action game with role-playing elements that has players setting out with three AI companions to find and kill a dragon that stole the Chosen One's heart.
CCP GamesCCP Games is launching the 17th major content expansion for its massively multiplayer online game EVE Online. Called "Inferno," the new content adds a mercenary marketplace, makes it easier to declare and wage war, adds new missile effects, improves factional warfare and enhances the game's graphics (along with numerous other tweaks and fixes).
SonySony has released Sorcery for PlayStation 3 consoles with the PlayStation Move controller. The game has players mastering arcane skills to battle against the nightmare Queen and her magical minions, using the PlayStation Move controller as a magic wand.
NintendoNintendo's game Mario Tennis Open for the 3DS is available in stores in North America. The game has players once again taking to the courts as Mario and his friends (or enemies) play singles or doubles tennis matches.
Nintendo's Purple 3DSToday, Nintendo has released the "Midnight Purple" version of its 3DS handheld console. So, just in case you haven't already purchased a 3DS (for the current price of $170) because it didn't look at all like an eggplant, now you have no excuse.
CapcomCapcom's game Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, released in March for consoles, is now available for the PC. Developed in collaboration with Slant Six Games, this is a team-based third-person shooter that reinterprets the events of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3. The single-player campaign has players working for Umbrella Corporation to destroy evidence of the t-Virus outbreak. The multiplayer has U.S. Special Ops battling against Umbrella Corporation forces, with zombies and Bio-Organic Weapons complicating matters.
Dragon's Lair BoxDragon's Lair from Digital Leisure can now be downloaded to the Xbox 360 for 800 points ($10). This latest adaptation of the coin-operated laser-disc classic, has players guiding Kirk the Daring through the dragon's lair using a series of (the original) quick-time events. This version supports the Kinect sensor, for Xbox 360 gamers who want to flail around as much as Dirk himself.
GameStopRetailer GameStop announced the financial results for its fiscal first quarter ended April 28, 2012. Sales at GameStop stores fell compared to the last year, but GameStop is working to combat the contraction through online sales and mark-ups. Read on for more details...
UbisoftUbisoft announced selected financial results for its fiscal year ended March 31, 2012. For the year, Ubisoft reported a profit of €37.3 million (around $47 million) compared to a loss in the previous year of €52.1 million. Ubisoft credited its solid financial year to core games such as Assassin's Creed: Revelations and casual games such as Just Dance.
SegaToday's addition to Xbox Live Arcade is Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II. It can be downloaded to the Xbox 360 for 1,200 points ($15). This episode has Metal Sonic returning to race across four new zones.
THQTHQ announced its financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter and fiscal year ended March 31, 2012. THQ is in the midst of restructuring, and expected a serious loss despite strong sales of Saints Row: The Third. That said, THQ lost a truly spectacular amount of money, and is only beginning its turnaround effort. Read on for more details...
SonySony has released a new batch of downloadable games through the PlayStation Store, including several re-releases of retail games, an audio-visual experience and a bizarre boulder attack game. For the full list and more details, read on...
According to WPRI (a Providence, Rhode Island television station) 38 Studios (the company founded by Curt Schilling that released Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning) is in trouble. Reportedly, state leaders are meeting with the leadership of 38 Studios as well as the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (EDC) that made a $75 million, taxpayer-backed loan to 38 Studios (from which 38 Studios has so far received $50 in payments). Presumably, 38 Studios is in serious financial trouble and Rhode Island officials are working with the company to ensure it continues operating. 38 Studios currently employs 288 workers in Providence and 91 in Baltimore (at Big Huge Games).


UPDATE: 38 Studios delivered a check to cover the $1.125 million interest payment that was overdue to the EDC (after reportedly asking for the check back when it admitted to having "insufficient funds," the check finally cleared). 38 Studios has reportedly had trouble paying employees (and is laying off contractors), but the Governor of Rhode Island announced a release date of 2013 for the company's massively multiplayer online game, and if 38 Studios goes under, Rhode Island would own the company's intellectual property. Largely, this has been an embarrassment to Rhode Island, and will make tax breaks and development incentives harder for other companies to come by.

Take-Two InteractiveRockstar Games, the premier label of Take-Two Interactive, has released Max Payne 3 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. Max Payne has come a long way in the last decade, offering another noir-(ish) single-player campaign along with multiplayer competition, combining cover-based shooting with Max Payne's signature bullet-time action. The game takes place several years after the previous games with Payne (addicted to painkillers) protecting a Brazilian mogul and his wife.
Activision BlizzardActivision Publishing, part of Activision Blizzard, has released Battleship for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, DS, and 3DS to stores in North America. The game is based on the film that will reach theaters later this week, in turn based on the classic Hasbro board game. According to Activision, "The game takes a hybrid approach combining military strategy and fast-paced first-person action gaming as players take control of a powerful naval fleet and experience the cinematic action of war at sea." Here at FI, we plan to wait for the board game (based on the Activision game, based on the film, based on an older board game).
Rising Star Games has released Akai Katana for the Xbox 360 to stores in North America. Developed by Cave Interactive, the game is a side-scrolling shoot 'em up (sorry, we still have trouble leaving "shmup" be, as if it's actually a word) set in an alternate version of Japan's Taisho period.
AtlusAtlus has released Game of Thrones for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. A version is also available for the PC as a download. Based on George R. R. Martin's series A Song of Ice and Fire (that is currently also the source material for an HBO series), the game gives players another venue to explore the world of Martin's books. Concerning the story, Atlus quotes Martin as saying "I'm largely happy with it."
Activision BlizzardBlizzard, part of Activision Blizzard, has launched Diablo III for the PC and Mac. Available both in stores and as a download directly from Battle.net, the game can now be acquired everywhere except for Latin America and Russia, where the game will release on June 7. It's been more than a decade since the release of Diablo II (and its expansion Diablo II: Lord of Destruction). Now players have a new (and much prettier) opportunity to save Sanctuary from the forces of the Burning Hells. While the game is surely a massive upgrade over previous installments, the most remarkable feature is the real-money auction house that makes it easier for players to exchange items (and easier for Blizzard to take a cut of those transactions). Diablo III was massively pre-ordered, and while things appear to be settling down, those who attempted to log on in the middle of the night overcrowded the servers and experienced occasional bugs. That will probably continue as the hordes of enthusiastic gamers log on for the first time, but taper off soon.
Square EnixSquare Enix announced the financial results for its fiscal year ended March 31, 2012. Square Enix reported a profit (unlike last year) thanks to the success of certain console titles. Read on for more details...
AtariAtari announced selected preliminary financial results for its fiscal year ended March 31, 2012. Atari lost less money this year, and plans on closing one of its development studios. Read on for more details...
CapcomStreet Fighter X Tekken was released for consoles in March, and can now be downloaded to the PC through major portals. This latest fighting game from Capcom features 38 characters from both the Street Fighter and Tekken franchises and includes a new "Scramble Mode" that has four players battling at once.
Spiderweb Software has released its games Avernum X, Avernum 5, and Avernum 6 as downloads through Valve's Steam service. All three titles are role-playing games that have been available for years, but are now easily accessible through Steam. Each game (in old-school, isometric style) offers around 40 hours of play.
SonySony announced its financial results for its fiscal year ended March 31, 2012. Sony Reported a far more brutal loss than last year, but total game-related hardware and software sales appear to have fallen only slightly. Read on for more details...
THQTHQ has launched Nexuiz for the PC. Previously released through Xbox Live Arcade, this is a CryEngine 3-powered arena shooter that has the Kavussari and Forsellians resolving conflicts through broadcast arena combat. The game can be downloaded through Valve's Steam service.
NintendoNintendo announced that, effective May 20, the price of the DSi will be reduced to $100, and the price of the DSi XL will be reduced to $130. The price reductions are designed to move more units (of Nintendo's last-generation handhelds) for the summer season, when Nintendo hopes more travel means more portable gaming.
Tecmo KoeiTecmo Koei announced certain financial results for its fiscal year ended March 31, 2012. The company reported net income for the year of ¥4.640 billion (around $58 million) compared to net income of ¥2.741 billion in the previous year. Game software was still the greatest contributor to operating income, with Tecmo Koei reporting particularly strong sales of Ninja Gaiden 3.
Namco Bandai GamesNamco Bandai announced its financial results for its fiscal year ended March 31, 2012. For the year, Dark Souls was the company's best-selling game, with networked content helping to drive the improved results. Read on for more details...
Activision BlizzardActivision Blizzard announced its financial results for its first fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2012. The company reported a significant profit, but a profit symptomatic of a serious underlying problem. Read on for more details...
Skyward SphereCCP Games has launched a pod (a small replica of a basic EVE Online ship) into space, containing the names of all EVE Online players. Dubbed "Skyward Sphere," the pod should have reached an altitude of 100,000 feet thanks to a weather balloon, before it returned and was retrieved by the Icelandic Coast Guard. Video feeds from the pod's journey should be available soon through this page. Rumors abound that the project ran into difficulties when thousands of EVE Online players began spamming trade requests in and around Iceland, causing untenable lag and creating collision detection problems for the pod and its balloon.
ZeniMax MediaBethesda Softworks and id Software (both part of ZeniMax Media) have re-released Wolfenstein 3D. The game is 20 years old today, meaning that the cutting-edge first-person shooter is now playable for free in your browser.
MicrosoftThe big day is here. Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition can be downloaded to the Xbox 360 for 1,600 points ($20). Frankly, we find the excitement over this one a little puzzling. We suppose there's a chance that there are plenty of people who want to play Minecraft but don't have a PC and have an Xbox 360. Really, though, we're worried everyone is just going to purchase another copy so they can play Minecraft and increase their Gamerscore. Of course, if you haven't heard of the game, you mine things... and then craft other things.
SonySony has once again updated the PlayStation Store with more downloadable games. The noteworthy addition this week is Datura, but there are also some digital re-releases of games and a new PSP mini. Read on for the full list and more details...
Paradox InteractiveParadox Interactive has released Warlock: Master of the Arcane as a download for the PC. This 4X-style strategy game has players battling over the world of the Majesty games as a great mage bent on world domination.
SonySony has released Starhawk for the PlayStation 3 to stores in North America. Developed by LightBox Interactive, Starhawk is a multiplayer online shooter that also allows players to construct offensive and defensive structures (that can spawn vehicles). Set in the distant future, the game casts players as human colonists or mutated outcasts, competing in harsh environments to control sources of Rift Energy.
Her Interactive has released Nancy Drew: Tomb of the Lost Queen for the PC and Mac. Available in some stores or as a download, this latest adventure game based on the teen sleuth (who has remained a teen since the 1930s) has Nancy Drew investigating a series of suspicious accidents amongst a university dig team investigating ancient Egyptian remains.
Bloomberg is one of many companies covering the recent rout in many Japanese gaming stocks. Japan's Consumer Affairs Agency is considering whether "Complete Gacha" violates Japanese law. Complete Gacha is a system in which players can pay a fee for individual in-game items (usually randomly acquired) that in certain combinations can be redeemed for a valuable in-game item. The Consumer Affairs Agency is concerned that the system is misleading and may lead to "unjustifiable premiums" (users shelling out far too much cash). Gree's stock valuation dropped 23% and DeNA dropped 20% (its daily limit). Other companies affected include Konami, Namco Bandai, and Capcom. If judged illegal, this will result in dramatically reduced income (and possibly a more comfortable ethical position) for several Japanese companies with social gaming operations.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts announced preliminary financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter and full financial year ended March 31, 2012. EA managed to turn around the previous year's loss and make a profit, so read on for more details...
We got a press announcement from the band Hella Donna, promoting a YouTube video for their song "Block by Block," recorded entirely using footage from the game Minecraft (embedded after the break). Ordinarily, we don't pass this type of announcement along, but Hella Donna describes itself as a "Saxon Power-Pop-band," and we don't understand what that means. If the hyphen was in another place, we'd assume this to be anti-Norman music. How often do we get to make 11th century jokes? Anyone want to explain the music genre to us?
Xbox 360 CouponIt appears that the rumors are true that suggest Microsoft is evolving the model of console ownership. This coupon offers a 4GB Xbox 360 with a Kinect Sensor for $99 and a two-year commitment to maintain an Xbox Live Gold Membership at $15 per month. This is a model familiar to cell-phone users, and while the 4GB model won't satisfy hardcore gamers for long, this does seem like a way to get a different type of user (particularly those interested in the entertainment and set-top-box functions of the console) to join the fold.


We at FI question two aspects of this offer: First, this offer seems particularly appealing to those who can't easily lay out the cash for an Xbox 360. If this offer is exclusive to Microsoft stores, those tend to be in areas with substantial disposable income and customers more likely to spend upfront than to enter a long, liability-laden contract. Second, this offer is emerging toward the end of the console cycle. Does that mean Microsoft hopes to leverage all contracted console owners into purchasing the next console (at an upfront discount while extending their contracts)? This part is pure speculation, but is this also an indication that Xbox consoles might be incrementally iterated more frequently, and require a hardware upgrade every year or so, in the manner of the smartphone market? This reeks of paradigm shift if it's anything more than a throwaway experiment.

CCP GamesCCP Games is excited to celebrate the ninth anniversary of Eve Online making the game one of the longer-running graphical online games. As such games usually do, players will receive special anniversary benefits, but were just impressed that a game whose central tenet seems to be having players screw each other over has lasted so very long.
AtlusAtlus Online has launched the persistent online real-time strategy game from ZQGame, Shadowland. The game has players managing and building empires in the midst of a conflict that has undead forces invading a continent inhabited by humanity.
Gameloft announced selected business results for its first quarter of 2012 ended March 31. In recent years, Gameloft has expanded from solely publishing mobile games to also releasing social games and games on smartphone and tablet platforms. That migration has served the company well, as Gameloft reported consolidated sales of €44.8 million (around $59 million) in the recent quarter, compared to sales of €39.5 million in the same quarter the previous year. Gameloft also emphasized that some of its recent rapid growth is also thanks to the "freemium and paymium models put into place twelve months ago." Gameloft claims around 45 million active monthly users for its various titles.
ZeniMax MediaIn August of 2007, Bethesda Softworks (part of ZeniMax Media) launched ZeniMax Online Studios, headed by Matt Firor (formerly of Mythic Entertainment). Since then, there's been a lot of speculation concerning ZeniMax Online Studios. Many expected to hear about a massively multiplayer online Fallout, and assumed that the stealthy operation was waiting for Bethesda and Interplay to settle their differences. Bethesda announced something a little different. ZeniMax Online Studios is hard at work on The Elder Scrolls Online (set in the same world as other Elder Scrolls games such as Skyrim. The game is being developed for the PC and Mac. If the upcoming MMOG interacted with Skyrim folks here would be looking forward to selling countless brooms, pickaxes and underpowered staves that have filled the chests in our various domiciles.
Winter Wolves has released Loren: The Amazon Princess as a download for the PC, Mac and Linux. This role-playing game (in the style of early PC dungeon crawls) features turn-based combat and has players helping Princess Loren search for her mother, the Queen of the Amazons.
MicrosoftAs the title says, two more games are available as downloads for the Xbox 360 through the Xbox Live Arcade program. Read on for more details about each...
En Masse Entertainment has launched its massively multiplayer online game TERA for the PC. An acronym for "The Exile Realm of Arborea," TERA has been operational in South Korea for some time, and now is Live in North America and Europe. The game promises an enhanced version of combat in which reflexes, aim and position determine success in combat (something that didn't work for http://www.frictionlessinsight.com/archives/2006/06/auto-assault-re.html or Tabula Rasa, among their other problems). Unlike so many of the recent free-to-play games, TERA actually requires a subscription, with game-time being tradable in-game is currency, in the manner of Eve Online.
SonySony has released more downloadable games for the PlayStation 3 and Vita, as well as a token tiny game for the PSP, through the PlayStation Store. The highest profile game of the week is Awesomenauts, but there are also downloadable versions of previously released games. Read on for the full list and more details...
Warner Bros. has released Mortal Kombat, previously released for consoles, for the PlayStation Vita. The Vita version of this reboot of the classic fighting franchise includes an extensive story mode, tons of challenges and the ability to battle other gamers online.
505 Games505 Games has released Sniper Elite V2 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 to stores. The PC version of the game can be downloaded through Valve's Steam service. The game is a third-person tactical shooter set around the end of World War II. Assuming the role of American OSS agent Karl Fairburne, players take out targets in Berlin and strive to stop the Soviets from taking over the German V-2 rocket program.

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This page is an archive of entries in the News category from May 2012.

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