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Ghost Recon Phantoms, the free-to-play online shooter that debuted in 2012 as Ghost Recon Online, is closing for good on December 1. The decision was made following a slow but steady decline in users over the past couple of years that left its average concurrent player count for the last 30 days at just a little over 800.
After more than four years of battles, fights, deaths and a lot of fun, we have made the difficult decision to close Ghost Recon Phantoms. It s a tough day for our studio and indeed the team, some of whom have been working on this project since its inception some 7 years ago, Ubisoft wrote in the closure announcement.
GR Phantoms has been a tremendous undertaking and we really relished the opportunity to bring to you a different take on the GR franchise. We are proud of what we have achieved but of course, a game like this would be nothing without its community. We d like to sincerely thank you for your support, enthusiasm, patience and above all, your loyalty. For the hours played, the fun in your company, the never ending deaths at Balaklava Sub-Pen, the fights to control Tomsk-9, the sounds of shotguns and the fear of the P90 SD WAR, we are grateful.
The message doesn't mention why the plug is being pulled, but Ubisoft said in the shutdown FAQ that Ghost Recon Phantoms was not as successful as we had hoped for.
A game always has different factors that influence its success, internally as well as externally. We can't pinpoint one or more reasons that easily, it says. In the end the game reached the last cycle of its development. As for a possible follow-up, Ubisoft said that Phantoms has been developed as far as we could take it, and a sequel or successor of any sort is unlikely to happen.
Ghost Recon Phantoms, and the in-game shop, will remain online until December 1, but Ghost Coins will no longer be available for purchase. There will also be no refunds offered on leftover virtual currency, or conversion of that currency to a different game, so if you've got it, you might as well spend it.
Electronic Arts has given up on its attempt to trademark the word ghost, which caused something of an uproar when it came to light in January.
EA wanted to trademark the word for its Ghost Games studio, the maker of the new Need for Speed game, while Ubisoft, publisher of the Ghost Recon games, not so spookily opposed the move. But in a filing dated February 24, EA formally withdrew the application, without prejudice, with Opposer's [Ubisoft's] consent.
As NeoGAF points out, the withdrawal filing only applies to serial number 86568854, for Computer game software; Downloadable computer game software via a global computer network and wireless devices; Video game software. A second application, under serial number 86568852, for Entertainment services, namely, providing an on-line computer game; Provision of information relating to electronic computer games provided via the Internet, remains in place but will presumably be withdrawn soon as well.
No specific reasons for the withdrawal of the application were given, but an EA rep indicated that the matter has been concluded to everyone's satisfaction. "We now have an agreement with Ubisoft to carry on with our respective trademarks," he said. "Nothing will change with respect to our use of the Ghost Games studio name."
Ubisoft and Electronic Arts appear to be caught up in a low-level but interesting beef over a trademark filing for the word ghost. Back in March 2015, EA applied to trademark the term for its Ghost Games studio, currently working on Need for Speed, relating to entertainment services, namely, providing an on-line computer game [and] provision of information relating to electronic computer games provided via the Internet." Ubisoft, naturally, is against the idea.
Ubisoft first published opposition to the trademark application in August 2015, but the legal action was only filed on January 29. In it, Ubi's lawyers point out that the publisher has been using the Ghost Recon mark since November 13, 2001, long before Applicant [EA] filed the Applications on March 18, 2015 and long before Applicant's November 19, 2013 claimed date of first use. Furthermore, the goods and services covered by the trademark—the providing an on-line computer game and so forth—are identical and highly related to the goods and services offered by Opposers [Ubisoft] in connection with the Ghost Recon marks.
Applicant's Mark so resembles Opposer's Ghost Recon marks alleged herein as to be likely, when used in connection with the goods and services identified in the Applications, to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to deceive, the opposition filing states. Consumers are likely to believe, mistakenly, that the goods and services Applicant offers under Applicant's Mark are provided, sponsored, endorsed, or approved by Opposers, or are in some way affiliated, connected, or associated with Opposers, all to the detriment of Opposers.
This is actually the second bit of trademark trouble EA has run into recently; in January is came to light that it had abandoned a trademark filing for the upcoming puzzle platformer Unravel, because of a conflict with a children's tabletop game called Beary's Unravel Games. Despite not being granted that trademark, EA said Unravel's title will not change, and I suspect that Ghost Games will remain so named regardless of how this all works out. EA has until March 9 to file its answer to the opposition.
Humble Bundles normally pass me by these days, but this week’s Humble Tom Clancy Bundle, is worth a second look. For whatever fee you fancy you can get Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, Rainbow Six 3, Rainbow Six Vegas, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Ghost Recon and access to the multiplayer beta for Rainbow Six Siege. Pay over the average of $8.09 ( 5.29) however and you also get Rainbow Six Vegas 2, Splinter Cell, and Splinter Cell Conviction.
Less Patriot Games, more Pay-What-You-Want Games, eh? Eh?
A multiplayer beta for forthcoming tactical shooter Ghost Recon: Future Soldier runs from 19th April until 2nd May on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, publisher Ubisoft has announced.
The trial will let up to 12 players choose from three classes - rifleman, engineer or scout - and access two different game modes.
Conflict sees players battling it out to complete various objectives around the game map, while Saboteur asks you to locate a bomb and then detonate it at your opponent's HQ. Both modes are playable on two maps: Pipeline and Mill.
Conflict will be available from 19th April, while Saboteur unlocks on 26th April.
Anyone who owns an Xbox 360 copy of Splinter Cell: Conviction gets access to the beta. If that's not you, you'll need to pre-order Future Soldier for a key.
Publisher Ubisoft has also announced Ghost Recon Network, a companion service that lets you tracks stats and connect with other player via smartphone, tablet or a web browser.
The app will let you customise weapon load-outs on the go, access your player performance details, challenge friends, check up on their progress, manage your squad and unlock various in-game extras. See the screens below for a closer look.
It will launch in tandem with the game on 25th May, though anyone in on the beta will get early access to a few of its features.
The PC version of the game follows a few weeks later on 15th June.
The PC version of forthcoming tactical shooter Ghost Recon: Future Soldier launches on 15th June, publisher Ubisoft has announced.
It's optimised for DirectX 11, features an online widget for improved multiplayer and party functionality, and boasts fully customisable keyboard controls.
As for DRM, you'll need to log on to the internet for a one-time uPlay product registration when you first boot the game up. No connection is needed thereafter unless you're after online multiplayer.
Finally, Ubisoft has also released the game's system requirements:
Minimum hardware requirements:
The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions arrive three weeks earlier on 25th May.
For more on the game, see Eurogamer's recent Ghost Recon: Future Soldier preview.
Once upon a time gaming required a single disc, or cartridge, or, going back further, a cassette tape, and a gamer.
Now, the biggest game companies in the world are dreaming up ways for you to play their biggest franchises wherever you are, on whatever device you might have to hand. These disparate experiences, on a mobile, on a PC, on a home console, are different, but they connect to each other, fuelling each other and the progress you make in one, all encompassing, resource gathering profile.
One of the companies at the forefront of this sea change in the way we play games is Ubisoft, which, with the upcoming release of Ghost Recon Online on the PC (and, later this year, on Wii U), hopes to tap into the modern way we play on a much deeper level.
To coincide with the launch of the free to play shooter, Ubisoft will release a companion experience, as it calls it, called Ghost Recon Commander, on Facebook and mobile. This game connects and contributes to the core Ghost Recon Online experience.
This, Ubisoft's digital boss Chris Early tells Eurogamer, is the latest fruit of the French company's analysis of core gamer "day parts" - that is, how and when they game throughout the day.
Ubisoft's "experiement", as Early puts it, with this was Assassin's Creed Brotherhood companion Facebook game Project Legacy, which let players unlock items in the console game.
"The Project Legacy is an example of how you can, only at lunch, but whatever, play a Facebook game that's going to give you some benefits to your gameplay in the evening," Early explains.
Face it, at lunch I'm not going to sit down in front of my console at that big screen TV, nor am I necessarily going to want to sit on my phone at night.
"Face it, at lunch I'm not going to sit down in front of my console at that big screen TV, nor am I necessarily going to want to sit on my phone at night. It's about creating compelling experiences for the platform."
More and more publishers are investing in providing an experience across multiple platforms so gamers can stay engaged in universes and brands throughout the day, and the emphasis is on social.
One high profile recent example was EA's Mass Effect 3-related app Mass Effect Data Pad. Not only did this contain codex entries and a feed of the BioWare Twitter page, but it allowed you to gather resources by deploying ships to conflict zones across the galaxy. These resources would then contribute to your Galactic Readiness in the main game. But it was a two-way street: characters in the main game would send you text messages, commenting on the story and the decisions you made as Commander Shepard on console or PC.
This was a single-player experience. For Ubisoft, the future of gaming is having all your friends involved in your game, working together, whether they're core gamers or not, to fuel your progress.
This is what Early hopes Ghost Recon Commander will achieve. "One of the concepts we're looking at with Ghost Recon Online and Ghost Recon Commander is, how do we change that companion gaming emphasis to not just be about you and your different day parts, but how do we let multiple people contribute to the same gameplay experience?" he says.
"How do I let multiple people play Ghost Recon Commander and be part of my support team for Ghost Recon Online, where my play in Ghost Recon Online now actually benefits their Facebook play and their Facebook play benefits me?
How do we create a play environment that lets many play with a few and still have a meaningful relationship?
"The Facebook game reach is a broader, larger number of people than a core game reach. So with that ratio in mind, how do we create a play environment that lets many play with a few and still have a meaningful relationship?"
This is just the beginning: expect all Ubisoft's big franchises to employ a similar strategy to the one used for Ghost Recon. That means a Facebook and mobile experience for Assassin's Creed 3, due out later this year, and Splinter Cell 6, whenever that's released, although Early isn't saying how they will work yet.
Core gamers may baulk at the idea of playing a Facebook game, but according to Ubisoft's research, you're perfectly happy playing on the gargantuan social platform if it benefits your core game.
"I've heard the same thing. There are no gamers on Facebook. Gamers don't really play on Facebook. Maybe they'll use it to talk to their friends but that's it," Early says, before highlighting the success he saw with Assassin's Creed Project Legacy.
"It was a very good companion gaming strategy where you saw benefits flowing in both directions. The experiment side was, we only promoted it through Brotherhood. So the question was, would we get gamers who were either on Facebook or to adopt Facebook, to go play there? The answer was a resounding yes.
"We had a strong number of players, into the seven digits of people who connected their games together through uPlay so they could receive the benefits back and forth. That was all the answer they needed. Gamers, given the right content, would play on Facebook."
Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter and Halo: Reach lead designer Christian Allen has taken to Kickstarter to fund his resurrection of old-school, hardcore tactical shooters.
He's after $200,000, and he's got until 1st April to make it. So far he's had 151 backers who've pledged a combined $7448.
"For years, fans of tactical shooters have been crying out for someone to make a quality, hardcore, close-quarters combat tactical shooter," wrote Allen on his Kickstarter page.
"But in contrast to these requests, game publishers eschew realism and tactics in exchange for ease of use and 'cinematic' flavour.
"[tactical shooter fans] don't care about a blockbuster cinematic experience; they can already get that from COD or Uncharted. They want a focused, challenging experience that leaves them satisfied in conquering it."
Christian Allen, founder, Serellan
"This campaign aims to see if my theory that real tactical shooters aren't dead, and that enough people want one to justify the cost of development."
Allen has started a new company called Serellan, and formed a small, experienced team.
"We are focusing our initial development on a hardcore CQB tactical shooter," he shared.
"This game will get back to the core of what is loved about the tac-shooter, featuring realistic weapon modelling, outfitting and commanding your squad, objective-based, non-linear missions set in real-world locations around the world, single player, co-op, and multiplayer.
The funding will help Allen prove to investors that the appetite for such a game exists.
"My approach is to look to the fans and what they have been asking about for so many years," Allen explained in a separate interview with Hookshot Inc. "They don't care about a blockbuster cinematic experience; they can already get that from COD or Uncharted. They want a focused, challenging experience that leaves them satisfied in conquering it.
"Pitching that to a publisher, though, is like pitching a new flight sim. They think the genre is dead, like point and click adventure games supposedly are - Double Fine showed them the error of their ways."
"This game will get back to the core of what is loved about the tac-shooter, featuring realistic weapon modelling, outfitting and commanding your squad, objective-based, non-linear missions set in real-world locations around the world, single player, co-op, and multiplayer."
Tim Schafer's Double Fine studio received overwhelming Kickstarter support for an old school point and click adventure project. Double Fine sought $400,000, but has received - with eight days to go - a staggering $2.4 million from 69,507 backers.
Christian Allen and Serellan will reward Kickstarter funders in different ways. There are three tiers of involvement: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Pledging $50 or more gets you into the Silver tier, where you'll be able to vote game content. Pledging $100 or more gets you into the Gold tier, allowing you to submit content for the game. And pledging $1000 or more gets you into the Platinum tier, where you'll participate in "creative meetings, visit the studio, and much more".
The rewards continue to scale up to donations of $10,000 or more, and they all stack, meaning that at $10,000 you receive every tier of rewards.
Pledging top whack - $10,000 or more - gets you a custom Baretta gun by Christian Allen himself. You can opt for a BBgun replica if the laws of your country/state don't allow this. $7500 or more has Christian Allen fly to your home town to organise a LAN party; $5000 or more involves a trip to the studio and to a shooting range; and $2500 has your face and name put on a team member in the game.
UPDATE: Ubisoft's unverified list of 2012 release dates is "inaccurate", the publisher has told Eurogamer.
"We're thrilled and kind of amused to see this line-up news," a Ubisoft statement handed to Eurogamer begins.
"It shows that players are anxious to hear about Ubisoft's upcoming releases. This reported line-up is inaccurate. We guarantee you that you'll hear directly from us soon about the amazing variety of games Ubisoft has slated for fiscal year 2012-13."
ORIGINAL STORY: Ubisoft will release Assassin's Creed 3 and Splinter Cell: Retribution this year, according to an unverified release schedule posted by Gameranx.
Eurogamer has been trying to contact Ubisoft all morning, but has been unable to verify the document with the publisher.
But it sounds about right.
Ubisoft has teased that 2012 will bring a "major" new game in the Assassin's Creed franchise. Eurogamer since discovered that this game will conclude the story of protagonist Desmond Miles before the series' doomsday date arrives in real life. That doomsday date is 2012, so we'll need the concluding instalment this year.
PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U and Xbox 360 versions of Assassin's Creed 3 are apparently on the way. Nintendo mentioned an Assassin's Creed Wii U game when the console was unveiled at E3 last summer.
This is the first time we've heard the name Splinter Cell: Retribution, but we knew a new Splinter Cell game was in development at Ubisoft Toronto, and has been for several years. That project's being lead by ex-Assassin's Creed frontwoman, Jade Raymond. Retribution's down to appear on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.
A Prince of Persia game for Wii and 3DS is also mentioned. Could it be a new game, or is it the downloadable Prince of Persia port that was released for WiiWare and the 3DS Virtual Console last month?
A game called Just Dance Final Party is listed for Wii, PlayStation Move and Xbox 360 as well. And what a dramatic name - do we take this to mean Final Party will be the last Just Dance game from Ubisoft?
We doubt it.
We've reproduced the full (and as yet unconfirmed) Ubisoft slate below. Curiously, there's no mention of Rayman Origins, which is scheduled to launch on PlayStation Vita next week.